As a content writer, I’m always looking for new blogs to discover and subscribe to. From sports to entertainment, breaking news and lifestyle, the internet has tons of blog type articles to sift through. Obviously, some are more educational and better quality than others.
For me, it’s a simple and enjoyable way to not only stay informed, but develop and grow multiple voices (authority) and tones (emotion) as a writer. And it’s a necessary skill set for those that cover a variety of topics with diverse audiences.
Whether you’re writing for a personal blog, company blog, or are looking to guest post, below are six helpful tips to create an effective and worthwhile blog piece that will engage your audience.
1. Make a good first impression.
David Ogilvy, known as the father of advertising famously said, “On the average, five times as many people read the headline as read the body copy. When you have written your headline, you have spent eighty cents out of your dollar.”
What is true in advertising is also true with blog posts. If you don’t have an intriguing headline, chances are your audience won’t read the rest of the post. Other headline best practices include:
- Never go with the first headline you come up with, take the time to brainstorm several.
- Headlines should be between 40-65 characters so it’s more search engine friendly.
- Needs to promise your reader something valuable.
After you’ve written your amazing headline, ask yourself if it is reader benefit-driven. Will they read the next sentence? If the answer is yes, you have successfully made a good first impression.
2. Speak to your audience.
Before you start the actual writing process, take a moment to think about your audience. Who is the piece for? What takeaways do you want them to leave with? What are their values, generally speaking? I find it helpful to make a quick bullet point list in my notes app or at the top of the doc that answers these questions and reference it as I write. Remember, part of your job when speaking to the audience is to educate them and make the article worth their time. If you don’t know who your audience is, then some research is required.
3. Lists are great, but don’t have to be your crutch.
As you can see, I like list formated blog posts, but don’t think that it’s the only way to write a blog post. Yes, list blog posts have many benefits — they can organize your thoughts, are easy for the reader to skim through, and promise your reader something — but sometimes your content will need a different type of format.
What are other formats in blog writing?
- How-To format — Educates your audience on how to do something.
- What format — Introduces/highlights a timely topic, why your audience should care about it and has a call-to-action.
- Why format — Similar to a persuasive paper, it educates your audience on a topic they should care about.
- Curated format — Compiles quotes, resources, etc. on a certain topic. Acts as a resource for the reader.
- FAQ format — Addresses different questions the audience has on a specific topic.
- Featured format — Journalistic style that is in-depth, similar to a human interest story.
Click here, here and here to see the various formats other 97th Floor writers used for their blog posts.
At the end of the day, pick a format you are most comfortable with, works with your topic and writing style.
4. Make your blogs sharable.
When I say sharable, what I really mean is engaging. The most memorable blog posts I’ve read over the years are the ones I immediately share on social media so my peers can see it and I can later discuss it with them.
As a die hard baseball fan, this wouldn’t be a complete post without some sort of call-out. So here it is. One of my favorite blog posts of last year was a hilarious, but informative take on a recent bench-clearing brawl and why the culture of Major League Baseball allows it to happen. If you have five minutes to spare for some humor, I highly recommend reading it.
What I really love about it is how unique the writing voice and tone is compared to other online opinion/editorial sports pieces. When I initially read it, I felt like the author, Grant Brisbee, was sitting next to me in a noisy sports bar, enthusiastically telling me the play-by-play of the whole ordeal and how insane these “unwritten rules of baseball” are.
While it’s highly unlikely you’ll be able to incorporate Grant Brisbee’s writing voice and tone into every piece of content, you should work to create posts that encourage your readers to not only comment and share, but leave a memorable impression.
5. Tie in examples and analogies.
As you can see in the point above, examples help add clarity to the post. It can also add credibility to your writing and build trust with your audience.
6. Incorporate your keywords carefully.
Lastly, no matter the topic, it’s important that you optimize your posts so they become more search engine friendly and help you gain a larger readership. Once you have a solid draft, spend 10-15 minutes incorporating primary keywords into your body paragraphs, H1s, and H2s. This gives you enough time to optimize your content without going overboard. Most importantly, make sure that the additional keywords don’t weaken your writing voice and tone.
Whether you have a journalism degree or not, everyone should be looking for ways to improve their writing. So, when you have some spare time, read a book, or look for blogs on topics you’re interested in and read/subscribe to them. Find what makes the writing engaging to you and look for ways to incorporate it back into your own writing style.