You spend all night hunched over your keyboard, punching those damn keys. You write your heart out, even if your hands shake. You search for the perfect picture, rummage through your brain for that brilliant opening line, for the ending that will leave your readers in awe.
Finally, you hit the “Publish” button. It is done. And now you wait. And wait. And wait some more. Soon, a sort of restless resignation overwhelms you.
Twenty-four hours later, no one even commented on your post…
But what does this mean? Was your post bad? Was your opening line uninspiring? Boring? Bland?
Where did you go wrong?
If only there were some way to know for sure what happened…
1. The headline can make or break your blog post.
Few readers will read a post whose headline doesn’t entice them in some way.
A compelling headline is essential.
Think about it this way: your headline is not about you or your blog post, but about the reader.
When someone stumbles upon your post, all they think about is whether or not reading it is worth their time.
“What’s in it for me?” they all ask themselves as they try to figure it out.
This post, for instance, helps you in trying to understand if you’ve written a great blog post or not.
If this is something you’re interested in, you read on. If not, you go to some other place on the web.
2. The introduction both expands on the headline and makes the reader more curious to read on.
Introductions are tricky, because they feel like walking on tightrope.
If you give too much away, no one will read past your introduction. If you are too vague, it will leave readers confused, and, you guessed it, no one will read past your introduction.
The opening of a blog post should not just be concrete but it should expand on the promise made in the headline.
It also helps if you think of the emotional undertone of your piece.
Yeah, blogging tends to be a lot about sharing information, but there’s also a lot of emotion (great blog posts make it easy for folks to relate).
Keep in mind the emotional undertone of your blog post as you write your introduction.
What do you want your readers to feel?
3. The post is formatted in a clear and skimmable manner.
In this brave new world, readers have incredibly short attention spans; they will likely skim through your post — pausing here and there to read a snippet of text that catches their eye.
Formatting your post properly is crucial.
Subheads, bullet points, short paragraphs, bold-faced text — all of these give the eye something to “catch on” as the reader skims through your post.
Take advantage of whatever tools are at your disposal to help make key points stand out, otherwise people will give up on your post long before reaching your conclusion.
4. The ideas you present are clear and concise.
The best blog posts are the ones that express something that the reader intuitively has been aware of, but could not put into words.
Like drawing a map to someone’s soul, a great blog post manages to offer clarity, to lift the veil, to show the obvious that was hidden in plain sight.
This means that a how-to post is best structured in steps, one after the other. Events are usually best presented chronologically. An idea is usually broken down into clear parts. And so on.
The paragraphs should flow, one into the other, to create a coherent whole, to offer clarity to those who have none.
5. The post is persuasive.
A persuasive blog post depends on a few different factors:
- Knowing who your audience is. Different people, with different goals and desires and cultural backgrounds, tend to want different ideas, presented in different ways. Know who you’re writing for. That’s at least half the battle right there.
- A logical structure. Do not complicate your blog post for the sake of impressing people.
- Evidence to support your ideas. Statistics, interviews, quotes from respected works — these support your ideas and make it more likely your reader will find it persuasive.
- Tell them a story. Stories resonate strongly with people, never be afraid to use them in your blog posts.
- Emotions. When it comes down to it, people respond most strongly when their emotions are called into play.
6. The post is not boring people to death.
If your post is boring, chances are it will be skipped.
Remember, there are lots of other blogs out there. Like millions and millions of them, actually.
Now, it’s crucial that you know who you are writing for. Do your homework. Study the most popular bloggers in your niche. They write a certain way.
Everything from paragraph length to word choice is determined by their readers.
This also means that you have to be passionate about your topic. If not, your readers will pick on this by starting to yawn every 23 seconds or so…
7. The post delivers upon the promise made in the headline.
Want to know why people loathe those clickbait titles everyone seems to use on YouTube?
Because they promise one thing, and they fail to deliver.
Imagine going on a date with someone who kept boasting about how great they are at everything, only to slowly disappoint you by being the exact opposite.
You made a promise in your headline, keep it.
8. The post was written with a clear goal in mind.
This is what most bloggers do: they write because they want to say something. It’s like an itch they have to scratch. Whether it’s writing about their holidays, or their cats, or some hobby, they blog because (most probably) no one’s around to listen to them.
A great blog post is quite the opposite. It’s about the reader, and what the reader should do with the information, stories, and emotions that you share with them.
What do you want your readers to do after reading your post?
Ask yourself this question even before you start punching those damn keys.
Are you teaching your readers something? Trying to inspire them? Motivate? Is your post a wake up call? A rant? What is it, exactly?
Why should someone else invest 5-10 minutes of their precious time reading your post?
What’s in it for them?
How can you make this as clear as possible?
Obviously these rules don’t apply to every possible post.
The truly amazing thing about blogging is that some rules can be bend, while others broken.
If you post haikus, short stories, or other creative writing at your blog, then they might not apply these rules at all (though there are other rules of writing within your genre that do apply).
So, next time you sit down to punch those damn keys, keep these rules in mind.
Decide what the goal of your post is and write towards that goal. When you edit your post — ask yourself why would someone read it and what is it that they’d get out of it.