There’s no denying it: content is (still) king.
Network all you like, format your blog posts impeccably, and add the best images and videos that you can find, if your content is not great (not just good, but great) then your blog won’t get attention, shares, or comments.
See, there’s an art to blogging. An art to writing a brilliant blog post.
And you’re only some thousand words away from becoming a true artist of blogging.
My Hall of Fame
Since April 2012 I’ve blogged on a daily basis. At least one post on my main blog. Sometimes some 20 or so posts/articles across four different blogs.
I’ve managed to get well over a hundred thousand followers, and a few million visitors.
Now, there are some folks who have way more followers and get way more shares … but let’s see what my most popular posts are:
- The Portrait of a Writer (1) (2,480 likes, 406 comments, 193 shares)
- What I Learned in Five Years of Blogging (2,400 likes, 453 comments, 246 shares)
- What if I fall? (2,387 likes, 369 comments, 328 shares)
- Life is Pain (2,177 likes, 346 comments, 161 shares)
- Too Far Apart (2,076 likes, 277 comments, 171 shares)
Not bad for a skinny kid from Constanta, Romania. But I am not sharing these posts with you so I can brag.
The truth is that I knew each and every single one of those posts would get me a lot of attention. That they’d get shared around a lot.
I didn’t know how much, but I kind of knew (call it a gut feeling if you like), which is the closest any blogger gets to being a genuine magician of the written word.
All right, on with our thousand words for writing brilliant blog posts …
1. The image
You might wonder why the image and not the headline. Here’s the thing: most people don’t even bother clicking on blog posts that show no images.
Here’s a photo I chose for my post celebrating five years of blogging:
If you spend any time at all in your WordPress Stats, you know what that map stands for. And I bet that made you curious to want to know how some guy managed to fill in almost the entire map.
An image can make or break your post.
Fortunately, choosing a good image usually comes down to this: know where to look. Here are some of my favorite places to find interesting images:
- Unsplash (99% of the images used for this blog are from this website)
- Wikipedia: Public Domain Art
Keep in mind when using photographs or images: always ask permission and give credit, when it’s required.
After the image your next task is to write an attention grabbing headline.
Do your best to keep your headline as short as possible.
Short and sweet. That’s the idea.
3. Opening paragraph
Stephen King is know for laboring for weeks, sometimes months over the opening lines of his stories.
A good opening will get your post read. A bad opening will get your post ignored.
And it helps to get straight to the point:
- “If you’ve always wanted to share your thoughts and ideas and stories with the world, then surely you’ve asked yourself this simple questions: How do I become a better writer?”
- “Art is supposed to make you feel something, right? And what more can you ask from a book other than to be moved by it in such a way that you end up shedding a few tears?“
- “Hemingway famously rewrote the ending to A Farewell To Arms 47 times. Yes, folks, he did not write brilliant first drafts.“
Your first sentence is one of the most important elements of your blog post.
Get it right.
4. The Blog Post Itself AKA The Damn Thing
Buckle down and punch those damn keys.
And you might want to follow these rules:
- Write about something you care deeply about, something that sets your soul on fire.
- Do your research.
- Avoid writing about the same stuff, from the same perspective, as everyone else. Even if the topic is extremely popular.
- Write for humans – not to please Google.
- Edit. Fix grammar errors.
- Create something you’d be proud to call your last post ever.
- Do not write for your own gratification (or to impress yourself with the fact that you are literate)
- Write the kind of article that would make a stranger want to become friends with you.
- Spend as much time on details as it is necessary.
- It is not the idea, but rather the execution.
Of course, do not forget to spend time on formatting your posts:
- Bold: It pays to be bold as a blogger.
- Italics: Good if you want to empathize a certain word or part of a sentence. Do not overuse though.
- Strikeout: Run a line through
a wordor sentence.
- Bullets and Lists: Because humans are pretty much unable to spend much time reading something that doesn’t resemble a grocery list. And because it’s easy on the eye. Yes. That one too.
And keep in mind: you must always edit your posts. Not after publishing them, but before.
5. Know your audience
Knowing your audience is critical.
How else are you going to promote your blog?
If you do not know who should read your blog posts, who’d enjoy them, who would hate them, then you are not going to effectively promote your words.
Why go through the trouble of travelling to a desert if you only have sand to sell?
Know who your readers are, know who you’re writing for, know what they like and dislike in terms of blog posts.