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How to Write a Successful Blog Post

How to Write a Successful Blog PostOk, so maybe writing a blog post about how to write a blog post feels a little bit like you've been dropped into the middle of the movie Inception. Like the kids are saying these days, this is so meta. We get it.

But, as we know many of you are interested in blogging for your small business, we want to give you some footing to start writing blogs that are engaging, useful, and representative of your own personal voice. Here's a guideline for how you can formulate your blog, adapted from Buffer.

The headline

Did you know that 8/10 people will read your headline, while only 2/10 people will actually read what you wrote? This statistic from Copyblogger is a reality check for bloggers everywhere, as it seems your headline really can make-or-break your entire blog.

The length of the headline

According to KISSmetrics, readers most absorb the first 3 words of a headline and the last 3 words of a headline. Ideally speaking, a 6 word headline is the most successful, but it is not always possible to consolidate a headline in that way. Instead, focus on putting your most powerful words at the beginning and end of your phrase for ultimate grab.

For SEO, 55 characters and less will fit your entire title on a search results page.

The psychological component

It is important for your blog title to be compelling in a way that appeals to your reader's interests. Here are some tactics that Buffer recommends:

  1. Surprise - “You're Driving Away Potential Homebuyers (Here's How)”
  2. Questions - “Do You Know Where to Get the Best Return for Your Home Improvement Dollar?”
  3. Curiosity gap - “5 Reasons to Hire a Realtor. Number 3 Is the Biggest Surprise!”
  4. Negatives - “Never Have to Pay Rent Again”
  5. How to - “How to Invest in the Perfect Home”
  6. Numbers - “10 Affordable Ways to Make Your Home Green”
  7. Audience referencing - “For People in the Midst of a Multiple Bid Scenario”
  8. Specificity - “The 3 Golden Rules for Structuring a Successful Purchase Offer”

Whatever tactic you decide to use, all of these elements are eye-catching and intriguing in some way. You can also use tools like these to help gauge the success of your blog title.

Use a Featured Image

Using an image on your blog post is right on up there with your headline in terms of importance.  Imagery not only visually breaks up the text, it is especially compelling for online readers.

...in fact, did you notice how we consistently place an image up at the top of our blog posts? The positive psychological effect of having an image at the start of your content is not only due to the image itself, but the fact that there are fewer characters per line right up at the top of your article.

If there is less text up at the top of the article, then psychologically speaking, the mind believes the text is easier to comprehend and less complex. Nice!

Use headers to break up text

Just as online readers tend to scan headlines, they absolutely scan your body of text as well.

There is nothing more imposing to an average online reader than to see paragraphs and paragraphs of text, no matter what the quality of writing is. Breaking up the text with headers and subheaders is a way to engage and encourage the scanners - and to structure your writing.

And don't forget subheaders!

Subheaders are another way to break up the text, and are a way to visually prioritize your items, much like you would in a fleshed out essay outline.

Write the right amount of content

What is the right amount of content, anyway? Well, there is no set length for the ultimate blog post. Some subjects will require more writing than others, and some are better left simply stated.

However, there are some pretty compelling studies which support the golden number of 1,500 words.

These lengthy posts, according to Quick Sprout, are more likely to get shares on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn:

"Posts on Quick Sprout that are longer than 1,500 words receive 68 percent more tweets and 22 percent more Facebook likes."

Great! So more words the better, right?

Not exactly. The Nielsen Norman Group found that people really only read 28% of the words in a blog post. As you can imagine, this also means that readers don't respond to walls of text as well as they respond to scannable content. This means that you should break up your content as best as possible, using:

  • Lists (both bulleted and numbered)
  • Blockquotes
  • Bold text
  • Links
  • Short paragraphs
  • Visuals (images, graphs, video)

Organize your content

While optimal blog posts aren't structured like an essay you would have written in college, there is some crossover thinking in terms of your organizational process.

  • Introduction: This is where you invite readers into your content. Colloquial, casual language is great here, as well as anecdotes. Build relatability with your audience here as you lead them to your...
  • Thesis: No matter the content of your article, every blog post should have an overarching, persuasive reason for being written. While you may not literally be trying to support an argument in the article, there is a presiding subject matter which structures your content. Often, this is reflected in your title, but should also be re-articulated after your introduction.
  • Body/Supporting Evidence: Now, support your claim as you would in an essay, with multiple points, only instead of doing this in paragraph form alone, break it up with headers, subheaders, graphic content, bulleted lists, etc.
  • Conclusion: Sum up your main points for those who aren't interested in actually reading your entire article.
  • BONUS: Social shares, contact us, reference material, links to your other articles can and should be either sprinkled throughout your entire article, or in a specific section towards the bottom of your article.

It's aliiiive! Now what?

Now that you've written a gem of an article, it would be nice to sit back, relax, and watch the hits roll in. Unfortunately, your work is not yet done. How will people read your article if they don't even know it exists?

Implementing a social media share strategy is an optimal way to get your content noticed. You should also optimize your website for SEO, making sure your content is appropriately tagged with keywords, metadata, and a searchable URL.

In sum?

A good idea alone does not magically build itself into an engaging blog post. Augment your good ideas with a strategy in mind, using an organized, visually engaging layout filled with eye-catching keywords and carefully constructed titles.

Most importantly? Be patient. Building a blog following takes time. Learning how to blog well takes time. Practice will make perfect, and if you blog it, they will come. Keep at it, chief.

It's a lot to absorb, and even more to actually perform.  We get it.  We help our clients with this on a full-time basis. 

Looking for aid with your content creation? We're happy to help! Don't hesitate to send us an email or give us a call. We'll be happy to help.

 

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Jason Finn

Founder & Chief Geek

Jason has nearly 20 years of consulting experience, predominantly in the technology space. Most recently he was the COO and Director of Technology for Rich Casto & Company, a national training and consulting organization in the real estate industry.
As a consultant for IBM, PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP, and Envision Consulting Group (now IMS Health), Jason has served clients of all sizes, including Big Pharma, Fortune 500, and Global 1000 companies:

  • Allstate Insurance Company
  • AOL (America Online)
  • Astellas Pharmaceuticals
  • Eli Lilly and Company
  • Ford Motor Credit
  • Wockhardt USA (formerly Morton Grove Pharmaceuticals)
  • Norwich Union
  • PNC Bank
  • Reynolds and Reynolds

Sarunas Budrikas

Creative Director

Sarunas is a web design and development expert with hundreds of successful projects in his portfolio. He is passionate about delivering extraordinary user experiences for every client and consistently goes above and beyond everyone’s expectations. As an SEO expert and strategist, he can optimize your website, or app, to get the most out of it, day in and day out. Sarunas holds a degree in Electrical Engineering from Kaunas Technology University, in Lithuania. Sarunas now lives in Chicago, and calls it home.

Alexandra Olsavsky

Client Experience Specialist

Alex specializes in content generation and social media promotion for Geek | Chicago clients, helping to solidify their presence in the online community. This includes blog writing, graphic design, co-ordination and design of weekly newsletters, and active engagement on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and LinkedIn. Outside of Geek, Alex is a classically-trained soprano who professionally performs around the city of Chicago (most recently with the Chicago Baroque Band, and with the Rolling Stones for their "50 and Counting" tour).