Here in the United States, today is the Memorial Day holiday, and as with most summer holidays in this country, it’s an excuse to set off some fireworks. Fireworks are special. No matter how many shows you go to every summer, that first pop and burst of color leaves you ooo-ing and ahhh-ing. Want to see amazement in it’s purest form? Watch the face of a child seeing fireworks.
Wouldn’t it be great if those same feelings of wonder and amazement were felt by readers every time you wrote a blog post? We all talk about how “content is king,” but what does that really mean? How can you make your blog posts “explosive” so you build a community of people who can’t miss your posts? Doing this takes more than being helpful or even being personable. Here are the 10 tips you need to keep in mind when writing every blog post in order to make it truly awesome:
1. Write about things that matter.
So often we get caught up in the mundane, that we miss chances to start online conversations about topics that really matter. Of course, what “really matters’ is subjective, but if you have a social media blog and missed writing about how social media had a part in the Egyptian uprisings because you were too busy writing yet another post about how to write awesome headlines, you’re missing out on the big picture. It’s not that learning how to write a headline is unimportant. It’s that sometimes, we have to open our eyes to the world around us and prioritize topics, saving less important topics for another day. Bloggers have a chance to change the world, and I would even go as far as saying that we have a responsibility to help shape online content so it is more important and less trivial. Let’s not neglect our responsibilities.
2. Write about things you actually care about.
It’s pretty obvious when bloggers write something because they think they have to. That’s one of the great things about being a blogger, though – you don’t have to do anything. You don’t have to take every opportunity to rank well for a certain topic, be the first to report a news story, or weigh in on an issue that everyone is talking about. Write about topics that matter, but make sure they matter to you, not just everyone else. If you honestly believe a subject you don’t care about at all needs to be covered on your blog, have a guest blogger write a post, hire a ghostwriter, or create a link list of resources where others are talking about the topic. But doesn’t waste another second of your time writing when you don’t care about the subject matter. There are more important things to cover.
3. Give yourself blogging freedom.
Having consistent features on your blog makes sense. For example, here on the BlogWorld blog, I post the New Media News Break every Wednesday and Brilliant Bloggers every other Friday. However, some bloggers fall so deeply into a routine, that they don’t have any room for flexibility. Unchain yourself! You need freedom to write spontaneously and cover breaking news. This also relates back to my first to points. You don’t want your blog to be so structured that you feel responsible to spend your time working on your regular features and have no time to write about thing things that matter (and the thinks that matter to you).
4. Choose words artistically.
Language is a beautiful thing. Unfortunately, with today’s mindset that “anyone can blog,” language has been falling to the wayside. Sometimes, posts are total snooze-fests not because they have boring information but because the writing itself is boring. Think about the words you are typing. You don’t have to be Shakespeare, but take a little pride in your word and play with language in your blog posts. Remember, editing is key.
5. Tell interesting stories.
Storytelling is an important part of your online presence, as it can help build your brand and sell your products. I just created a huge list of resource where you can find people talking about the importance for storytelling and how to best tell your story. But storytelling isn’t just about manipulating the reader so they like you more or buy whatever you’re peddling this week. Sometimes, storytelling is just about being interesting and making it easier for people to understand your point. Not every story is in the form of “one time, this happened to me.” Here’s a really good example of a blog post/story from Elizabeth Potts Weinstein that breaks the traditional mold.
6. Clarify your message.
When readers reach the end of your post, can they answer the question, “So, what was the point?” I can’t tell you how many times I’ve read blog posts that were written with beautiful language and great stories about topics that really matter…and then, I reach the end and have no idea what the thesis statement was. You don’t have to smack your readers in the face with the point, but you should definitely ensure that your message comes across in at least two places: your introduction and your closing.
7. Stop worrying about length.
If I see one more comment about how important it is to keep your post under X number of words, I might scream! If post length was so important, Glen over at ViperChill would have no readers, since he usually goes on and on and on waaaay past the recommended word count. He’s not the only long-winded blogger either. People will read your content if it is good. Period. Does that mean it always makes sense to write 2,000 words? Certainly not. For some bloggers, that might never make sense. But don’t stifle yourself because someone else says you have to cap posts at a certain length. Write the number of words you need for the topic, edit to take out unnecessary content and tighten the post, and hit publish even if your post is super long.
8. Close the show well.
The end of a fireworks show is typically marked with a bunch of blasts in quick succession. It’s a kick, a punch, a POW to the already great show you just saw. Your blog posts show have that same fire at the end. Often, I see bloggers just kind of…well…stop writing. But if you do that, there’s no call to action, no reason for readers to leave feeling excited about what they just read. So don’t skimp on the closing paragraph. Make every word count.
9. Know your weaknesses and work on them.
As you look over this list, you might be thinking, “I do that well….I do that well…I need work on that one…I do that well…” and that’s a good thing. You don’t have to be perfect; you simply have to know where your weaknesses are so you can work on them. Otherwise, you’re just sticking your head in the sand and ignoring problems. As I’m writing this post, even I know that I need to boost my efforts with some of these tips, while others are tips I have down pat, almost like they are second nature. Whenever you write a blog post, be aware of your habits, both good and bad.
10. Blog often.
Lastly, I can’t stress enough how important it is to blog often. This is an art form, a craft, a skill. You need to work at it to get better. This does not mean you have to commit to a daily schedule, but if you’re only blogging once a month (or even less often), you aren’t going to get better as a blogger. Don’t have time? Make time. You make time to sit on Pinterest or Facebook. You make time to check your email seventeen times a day. You make time to do other things you like to do. Make time to blog. Blog when you have something important to say, but if you don’t have something important to say regularly, I question whether or not you should be blogging at all. And there’s nothing wrong with saying this blogging thing isn’t for you. Just make sure to admit that, rather than popping in every three months to write, “Sorry, guys, I’ve been really busy.”
Blogging is not easy. Writing good content is a talent that not everyone has, and even those with natural talent need to work at it, the same way a talented singer has to work on her scales or a talented baseball player has to work on his batting. Writing explosive blog posts – yes, every single time you hit the publish button – is possible, and hopefully the above tips will help you, but it doesn’t just happy. You have to be willing to work for it.
If you liked these tips about creating content, I hope you’ll consider joining us at BlogWorld New York next week for even more fantastic content tips!
Original image credit (without text): Tsuacctnt at Flickr Creative Commens