As an avid fan of WordPress and blogging, I love seeing a well-crafted blog post. I once posted on Twitter the following tweet…
“Writing is a skill, blogging is a craft.”
But why do I think blogging is a craft?
At an early age we are taught the skill to simply write. We write in the classroom when learning to spell and then move onto constructing sentences and paragraphs. Some people progress to being able to create great literature with all these new words and that is where we start moving into learning a craft.
I love this notion that anyone can share their thoughts, feelings and ideas on a media platform that they control. Not everyone has it in them to write a book but, with the following seven eight (more on that later) basic rules, I believe many people can learn to write great blog posts that will wow their readers.
Create an attention seeking headline
Some people will think of a headline first and then create their blog content afterwards, or vice-versa, and I’m sure there are some bloggers who take a photo or create an image, then craft everything around that. Whichever way you do it, you are going to need a headline. For some writers, they will spend agonising hours perfecting the headline because it plays a very important role in getting the reader to click through to find out more.
I have previously blogged about what makes a good headline. To delve into this subject matter more, have a read of that post and think about how you can attract attention with your headlines. No, not now – later! We have another seven rules to cover.
Use an image
Images are the bane of my life but I know that they are highly relevant to break up the streams of text and, just like the headline, they are one of the key elements to attracting attention – particularly when shared on social networks such Facebook and Google+.
The image needs to be relevant to your post. If you are blogging about cats, then don’t use an image of a dog. If you write with humour, then why not source a humorous image that fits your character.
Choosing an image will come down to personal preference a lot of the time and also what you can afford, unless you look at sourcing images under a Creative Commons licence.
The prelude (but not to a song)
The prelude is the introduction before you get into the meat of your blog post – think of it as a free taster session in a supermarket. It is a good idea to explain what you are writing about, why and what the reader will gain. To me this means taking the following action and the effects are:
1. Entice the reader so that they engage enough to read the rest of the post.
2. Wrap the ‘prelude’ text around an image that is placed to the right – this makes those first few sentences easier to read as their eyes don’t have to move from left to right as much.
In this particular post, the prelude was a story based on a tweet. It was a dangerous decision because there was every chance that you, the reader, would either; dislike Twitter and/or disagree with my tweet. If you are still reading, I hazard a guess that it paid off.
Sub-headings are pretty self-explanatory but one that many bloggers forget to implement which I think comes from reading stories. Writers of stories don’t break up the story as much, apart from chapters which have much longer periods. Think of your sub-headings as a beginning to each new chapter and you should do fine.
Very often new bloggers have this notion that they need to dump all their thoughts down and then hit publish! What we end up with is loads of words on the page. It may all make sense but there is no room to breathe and to let your reader’s eyes rest before they lose track of where they were.
Sub-headings are also a great way of guiding your reader through the story that you are telling or the information you are providing – that really depends on what you are blogging about of course.
Do you need to wrap-up what the post has provided to your reader? This is the point of winding it down. It has been tiring writing all that content, making sure all the sub-headings complement each other and working out the headline, but you’re spent.
What do you mean “What about the content?” The content under the sub-headings was the content! All the hard work is done now, or is it?
Invite the reader to add their thoughts/opinion. Is there a way of nudging your reader to share their experiences? The hardest bit about blogging is blogging to an empty space.
Yes you have readers, you can see that you have visitors to the page, but they just won’t leave a comment, a thank you, not even a “Stu, your blog post sucks!” It’s like being ignored in the playground, all those other blogs have hundreds of comments and mine has zilch, nada, tumble weed…
If you don’t leave them room to add to your post, or if you don’t even ask for them to comment, psychologically they have no reason to add anything. ‘Don’t ask, don’t get’ is never truer in the blogging world.
Edit before hitting publish!
I started this blog post with seven rules and then there were eight!
As usual I forgot to think about editing. I was in such a rush to write the post that I didn’t think about editing. When I had finished, I hit publish because I was in such a rush for everyone to see my badly written work, with the spelling and grammar mistakes because, hey, who’s reading anyway? No one leaves a comment so no one must be reading right?
Editing is probably the most important rule because it means you can cross off all the other rules:
- Nifty attention grabbing headline? – Check!
- An image that says “WOW!”? – Check!
- A prelude that engages your reader? – Check!
- Sub-headings that help guide your content? – Check!
- A conclusion that wraps it up? – Check!
- Lastly, you have not forgotten to edit before publishing? – Check!
Now we are onto the exciting bit! You have created a blog post that you would swear blind needs to be shared with the world. Email it out in your newsletter, tweet it, add it to Facebook, do it all again later!
Do a happy dance when your readers start sharing it, and finally, finally you get a blog comment. Oh, it’s spam…never mind, there’s always next time.
Do you have a checklist you like to complete when writing a blog post?
Do you think there is anything I missed?
If so, please leave a comment below and then share with your audience if you think these 8 rules, plus now your own, will be of benefit to others.