Picture this scene:
A gnarly hunchback in a dark cave (office).
Deformed hands poised over keyboard.
The glare from a computer screen casting light on the dark circles under their eyes and shadows in the hollows of their cheeks.
Where once a creative human full of hope and inspiration sat, a withered husk remains. His contorted expression fraught and wild with desperation.
He's tormented by rejection.
He's laboured over his novels. He's laboured over his blog posts. He’s poured his heart and soul into all the words he’s ever spilled forth.
Frantic for the world to hear his message.
But nobody does.
Nobody cares about his posts. Or by extension his novels.
He receives few views, and even fewer likes.
If you listen really hard. In a moment or so you’ll hear the subtle crack of his spirit breaking.
Although allegorical, the above story is all too common. It’s one that many writers can relate to. And it’s about time that it came to an end.
Blogging is a tough nut to crack. There are many bloggers out there who’d tell you they have the perfect formula. Formula’s are great and all, but I’d prefer to learn the tools for myself. And if you’re still here reading then you do too. Good for you.
The truth is that blogging is a huge topic. Certainly too much for one post to explain. Which is why I’m going to keep it simple.
For now we’ll just look at the concepts of engaging writing.
Know Who Your Readers Are
The most important thing before you even start writing is to have a clear goal in mind. Can you answer these questions?
Who might read my blog post? Why would they be interested? What might they get out of it? How can I get the message across in a way that makes sense to the reader?
When you can get inside the mind of the type of person you are trying to reach you can create content that they will want to read.
This isn’t an easy task. So if in doubt ask someone who knows your industry. Ask people in your social networks what they think about your niche.
Let that sink in a moment. 37 seconds.
What’s the point? I hear you cry.
Well first off, you will have to expect that people are often looking for a specific bit of information and will likely scan your post first before investing time in reading it all the way through.
Secondly those blog posts probably hooked them in with a click-baity headline and then lost them within the first paragraph. They failed to deliver on their headline and they failed to hook them in with their introduction.
So here are 5 things you absolutely needs to consider while writing your blog posts:
1. A headline that gets your readers attention
Forget what you know about journalism headlines.
Blog post headlines don’t need to be snappy.
In fact according to Hubspot, Blog posts with 6-13 word long headlines tend to drive more traffic. While CMI suggest editing down your headline to 8 words can result in a 21% increase in click through rate.
The things that matter more are creating curiosity in the reader. Asking them a question they need to know the answer to or even just plainly stating the answer you have to a question they already had.
This technique is known as the curiosity gap.
There are many ways to create a headline that grabs the readers attention. Too many for the purposes of this post but I recommend this article by LocationRebel if you want to research this further.
The two most popular headline styles are the Listicle and the How to. Which also happen to me my favourite ones to read!
2. Storytelling Introductions
Hooks. I mentioned them earlier and this is what will make or break your post.
You’ve piqued their curiosity, you’ve gotten them to your blog post page and now you have to reel them in with your opening words.
One of the best hook methods I’ve seen is the storytelling approach. You’ll notice that’s what I did at the top of this post. And if you’re still here reading I thank you.
The story can take many forms and is most authentic when it comes from personal experience.
It’s an anecdote of sorts. And yes, although the story I gave you was allegorical it is an experience I have had myself.
I can conjure those images and evoke those feelings of despair because I have felt like that hunchback. I have found myself tensed and hunched over keyboards and you know what?
Lots of writers have experienced that too. It’s something that I felt my readers would relate to.
That is the aim.
To hook your reader in. Give them a reason to continue reading. Give them a reason to invest emotionally in your message.
3. Using Curiosity and Emotion to Keep Them Reading.
Human’s are curious creatures. We like to explore the world around us and understand the nature of things. Our interests differ but that spark of curiosity is the same in all of us.
If you can write in a way that creates a gap between what your reader knows and doesn’t and do it in a way that is enticing, you will naturally lead them through your post from beginning to end.
Don’t reveal everything at the start. Offer hints of what will be coming. Use emotional language and power words. Words that evoke strong feelings.
For example verb choice can often end up being bland and just switching in a more active verb you can change the sentence.
This is all good news to the creative writers like us. We naturally gravitate to those power words and conjure vibrant imagery with ease.
4. The Power of You
Blogging has the unique ability to be build rapport with readers.
Blogging is an informal platform. That’s not to say it’s casual. But it is much less formal than newspaper or magazine writing.
Something else that you may or may not have noticed in this post is the frequency I have used the word YOU. And if you think about it, it makes sense to speak to the reader like a friend or a confident.
We’re in the middle of the conversation together. I am asking you questions and then as you consider those questions I reveal answers.
The whole post is designed to be a conversation between friends sharing information.
Speaking to the reader in this way has the benefit of making them feel like you are talking directly to them, and only to them.
The benefit for the blogger is that this helps to build a bond between you and your reader. Blogging is a long game. You give out value and potential customers come to you, get to know you, and eventually might even buy from you. But relationships take time to grow and nurture.
Blogging is personal. It reaches other people with an exchange of information in a way that makes the reader feel satisfied on many levels. Assuming you’ve also given them the information they wanted in the first place!
This style of writing only really works if you’re authentic. Blogging isn’t about hard selling and that’s why its a beautiful medium for creative people who naturally shy away from marketing themselves or their creations. Blogging is about building relationships and trust between you and the public.
5. Understanding Pain Points and Solving Problems.
One of the best approaches to deciding what to write about is to think about the ways your audience suffers.
If you understand what issues they have you can offer a solution.
In a world where it can often feel like everyone is against us, it is comforting to find resources and information that can drastically help us grow both as human beings and as professionals.
In this post I started with the very simple pain point many writers have. Not knowing how to market their book or use blogging effectively.
I used a story to hook the reader with the themes of anxiety and rejection. And then went on to give 5 tips to help solve their problem.
Hopefully by the end of this post readers will have a better understanding of what constitutes a good blog post and how to go about writing one.
If you made it all the way to end of this post hurrah! I’m glad I was able to help. We welcome comments especially ones that help understand what you like and what you’d like to see more of.