Posting good, evergreen content that educates, entertains, and/or inspires your target audience is the core of a successful blog – but great content that takes agonizing hours to write and doesn’t keep readers on the page is a waste of your time and theirs. Here are a couple of tricks that will help you write faster and retain readers:
Create a blog post template
Devising an article template will help you write posts in minimal time. Once you establish a basic “look” and layout for your posts and assemble your topic notes and/or resource material, you’ll do less searching for inspiration and more filling in the blanks. Think of this as a general plan – not a rigid template – that addresses your introduction, image placement, paragraph length, and closing statement.
You’ll write faster if you have a solid idea of the article’s overall content and direction before you begin. You can use your template to accomplish this – simply spend a few minutes jotting notes about the points you want to make in the intro paragraph, body paragraphs, and conclusion. Then go back and fill in the content.
Here’s a basic outline for a tutorial-type post:
- Compelling title: Your headline serves the dual purpose of conveying content and grabbing readers’ attention. It will also help with search engine optimization (SEO) if your title contains a keyword or keyword phrase.
- Intro with a hook: Your first paragraph will be your hook, designed to compel the reader to continue. If your intro is interesting enough to get people to read the first four sentences, they’ll be more likely to read the entire article.
- Describe the benefits: Entice readers with a promise. Tell them how they’ll benefit if they read your post. Explain the issue and how you’re going to help them overcome it.
- Resolution: What are the readers’ options for a workable solution?
- Implement the solution: Provide practical advice readers can easily follow and describe the steps they’ll take to get there. Demonstrate how they can get solid results.
- Conclusion: Tell them what you told them in the body of the post.
- Call to action: Invite readers to subscribe! Always include a call to action and ask readers to subscribe to your blog or newsletter email list.
Check out this great infographic! How To Write the Perfect Blog Post
Format each article to be “scannable”
How a blog post is formatted can influence whether or not you hold your readers’ interest. Although great content should be the core of every post, the way you present information can also affect your blog’s readership and ratings. Incorporating customary operating procedures into each article you write will help you both standardize your process and tick all the boxes required for building a successful blog. Here are a few basics you’ll want to be sure to weave into every post, every time:
- Avoid long paragraphs. Reduce large paragraphs into smaller groups of four or so sentences. If you format each post using small paragraphs, you’ll keep more readers on the page. Break up text with bold subheads. Bolded subheads will both stop and hold the reader’s eye and define blocks of information for them.
- Use bulleted and numbered lists. Avoid long explanations separated by commas; instead, break strings of data down into bulleted or numbered sections. This method will help the reader scan your article.
- Include links to relevant sources. Linking to pertinent information online is helpful to readers and good for you. Google likes to see articles refer to related content, and such links will build authority for you with search engines. Too many links can be detrimental, so don’t use more than one link every 200 – 300 words.
- Add images. Images break up the copy and provide visual interest. Strive to include at least one good image in every post, whether it’s a graph, infographic, screenshot, photo, poll, or illustration. Note: you’ll need to understand and adhere to copyright basics carefully.
- Decide on a post length. Blog posts should be long enough to successfully get your point across succinctly. You’ll read references to “correct” blog post length that range from 200 words to 1,200 words; some experts suggest that search engines prefer longer posts because it increases their ability to “read” what the post is about. You decide!
- Email posts as an excerpt. As I’ve mentioned before, I recommend that blog posts be sent to subscribers as an “excerpt” (first couple of paragraphs only) as opposed to emailing the entire article. Subscribers who receive the full article don’t need to visit your blog to read it. An excerpt will encourage more actual website visits, which will help boost your traffic stats.
Next week book blogger Casee Marie will demonstrate how to use WordPress’ Editorial Calendar plugin. Creating an editorial calendar is another smart strategy that can keep your blog organized and on track. Don’t miss it!
Do you have any tips and tricks you’ve learned that have helped you blog faster, better, more successfully? Please leave a comment and share!
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Photo attribution: sara b.