Anatomy of a Great Blog Post
October 2017 - Want a sure-fire way to get more traction on your business blog posts? Make sure each post contains these important pieces.
1. A Title that Says “Read Me” <Triple Exclamation Points>
Nearly all readers base their decision to click open your blog post on the title alone. Most professional copywriters will tell you they spend half of their time on the title and half on the internal content. Your post can be the best article ever written but if it has a ho-hum title it will be relegated to the land of no-clicks. Here are some suggestions for writing headlines that inspire action.
2. Amazing First Twelve Words
Some professional writers will tell you the first 50 words are the most important of any part of your post. That’s too many. Most people will click away long before 50 words. But if you are a writer and enjoy weaving a good story, twelve words seems too little. To give those skimmers what they want without ruining the opening of your piece, consider an introductory summary sentence. In those 2-3 lines you’ll tell the reader exactly what is instore for them by setting up a question or a problem and then solving it.
The intro sits above the piece in bold with a couple of extra lines before the body of the article begins. This hooks people right away from an information perspective without ruining your story hook. Check out the bold sentences at the beginning of this article or look at this example:
Considering a trip to the Big Apple but worried it will break your budget? Here are the top places to stay in New York City if you absolutely hate hostels.
3. A Story Hook
This is radically different from the summary sentence. The summary sentence is to hook people with short attention spans—about 80% of the population. The story hook is for the rest of us. This is for people who want to be “seduced” with the story. Your goal in the first paragraph is to create a connection.
Readers should reach the end of the first paragraph and want to read the second. If you don’t evoke that feeling, assume they’ll be gone. Set the story with something that relates to the theme but does not have to be directly in line with it. You can start with a personal recollection, something that happened that week, a story from history, or something from popular culture. It doesn’t matter what as long as it’s intriguing.
4. Eye Candy
Images evoke emotion and grab attention. Check out some blogs to figure out how you want to use them within your posts. Some people use a large, impactful image at the top of their blog post. Others, create a title image that lays the title of the article over an image or graphic. Some use GIFs or short videos peppered throughout. Some people use an image after every header.
What you decide to use depends on your audience and why they’d come to your site. Does your audience come for infotainment? Then multiple images and video clips may fit your needs best. If you serve an academic crowd, a few National Geographic quality images are a better fit than South Park GIFS.
5. Research or Examples
It’s funny. People are quick to believe anything about Hollywood stars, Big Foot, or political figures but you try to tell them about how to do something, they want proof or examples. Plus, links to high performing sites make your site look better in the eyes of search engines. Here are a few other reasons you should do it. (Look! Research.)
Your blog should be at least 300 words and can go to several thousand words, but if you choose to create something on the longer length, it should be a very well-researched feature with lots of examples and visual interest.
6. Bullets and Headlines
Bullets and headlines allow people to skim the content quickly. Give them the gist of your opinions, observations, or points in headlines or bullets. As much as we all wish people would read our carefully selected words, expecting them to is an exercise in disappointment. Instead, give them the info they need in skimmable format. There are plenty of people who share and interact with content they never read word for word. (Maybe you’re even one of them and you’ll never see this sentence.)
7. A Call to Action
You have taken all this time to create an interesting, well-written post. Maybe your readers even made it to the end. It’s time you leave them with food for thought or something to do. In marketing, we call this a call to action. If you don’t have an offer or want any specific action from your readers, then ask them to share the article if they enjoyed it.
A Final Word About Your Post
These are the basics of what you need in an effective business blog post. However, when you take the time to create this masterpiece, ensure you share it multiple times on social media with new lead-ins that encapsulate reasons people should click. For example, this article could be posted to social media with:
What do you need for a great blog post? Find out <URL>
Does my blog post need images? Find out <URL>
Blog post essential checklist. No download required. <URL>
When you post content multiple times, try new approaches with the lead-ins each time to see if you can get more clicks. Which ones are most effective?
Your final step to creating great content is to repurpose pieces of your post that you worked so hard on. Here are some ideas on how to do that. See? More research.
Christina R. Green teaches small businesses, chambers, and associations how to connect through content. Her articles have appeared in the Midwest Society of Association Executives’ Magazine, NTEN.org, AssociationTech, and Socialfish. She is a regular blogger at Frankjkenny.com and the Event Manager Blog.
She’s a bookish writer on a quest to bring great storytelling to organizations everywhere.