Monday, 18 January 2016

How To Write The Best Blog Post

So, a huge thank you to those of you who responded to my Twitter poll and told me that you wanted me to start a new post series dedicated to bloggers and blogging. Because almost all of you voted 'yes' to the series, I have happily been writing away and now have seven posts ready especially for you lovely lot.

Now, I don't profess to be the Queen of Blogging - far from it. But in my day job I work as a Social Media & Digital Marketing Manager, so blogging and social media is in my veins. I live and breathe it - sad but true...and I wouldn't change it either! Although Lady Writes was only fully launched last August (five months ago) I've got five years blogging experience through my first blog as a parent blogger for several years, and through my job too. So, I really want to share with you guys some of the things I've learnt along the way, either through my daily work, or through trial and error as a blogger myself.

This post in the series is all about writing the best blog post possible...

Frame
Framework is key in any piece of written content, and by framework I mean something as simple as: a beginning, a middle and an end. It sounds simple but break down your post slightly more and you've got a ready made template. So - the beginning. It's your introduction. Don't dive straight in - you wouldn't want a guy to try and passionately kiss you the very second you met him on a date now would you?! So don't jump straight in with the content either! Soften it, slowly ease in, give some background - use a bit of 'fluff' as us copywriters call it. Fluff is good. Fluff is your friend. Then when you've used a generous amount of fluff - but not too much that you disengage your audience - then introduce your topic fully.

Then there's the middle - the juicy bit. Here you want to make sure you cover the facts. If it's a product or brand review - you want the details here. It's up to you how you lead this, but make a check list of things to cover and use the order that makes the most general sense. Don't jump from price to colour then back to postage cost and back to product quality. Stick the prices and practicalities together and group things into semi sections - it rolls better that way.

The end - this needs to be your conclusion. Your thoughts and opinions can take the lead here. This is where you recap your post as well as your key points. I don't recommend you repeat yourself (whether facts or feelings) at any other point in the post - but in the conclusion, it's fine to revisit key points. Just remember to change the wording a little. Repetition is not good with written content.

Your Voice
Tone of voice is key when building your brand, and I'm going to write a whole blog post on this in the coming few weeks, but for now just remember that your voice is what makes your blog unique. Don't write like everyone else - write like you. If you talk in short, snappy sentences generally then make sure you write like that. If you tend to be a thought-train writer (like me) and go off on lots of tangents, then write like that. Your voice is your brand. BUT, do NOT write as if you're speaking. Literarily speaking what works verbally doesn't always work when written and can sound horrible when read, so make sure you're using your voice to dictate - but your knowledge to write. Remember - 'Be you - everyone else is taken.'

Imagery
Use emotive photo's in your posts. Visual content is HOT right now in every type of online content from websites to social media and blogging. People want content delivered through imagery as much as written content - if not more these days. So you need - not want - you need, your images to reinforce your blog post. If you're writing about something fun then use bold, bright colours with a twinkle - it's emotive. If you're writing about something more serious then set the tone with your pictures. A good tip too (and sometimes I rebel against myself on this!) don't mix using black and white images and coloured images in the same post. It's not visually cohesive - it just doesn't sit right. Go for one colour palette and stick to it.

Engage
You want to keep your audience engaged, so make sure you reference them directly in the post. Use 'You might be the same" or "If you're like me...". However you use it, make sure you're talking to them - it's written for them after all! You want to make it sound like you're speaking directly to every individual person who's reading your post, so make it personal - talk to them. You wouldn't go on-and-on about yourself if that blog reader was sat in front of you now would you? No. So make sure you're always flipping it back to them - how do they feel? What might they think?

Question
...This leads nicely to questioning. I use a lot of rhetorical questions in my blog posts. It keeps the audience engaged but it doesn't have that awkward pause in the blog post where the topic just stops...a bit like an awkward silence. Change "What do you think?" to "I'm sure you'll agree, but...?" - the latter is easier for you to continue writing than the former.
...However, I do recommend one place that's good for a true question - the very end of a post. If you want to encourage blog comments, to keep the reader engaged then ask their opinion to do so. It's fully acceptable at the end of the post, but avoid it elsewhere.

Title
When giving your blog post a title go for something that is self-explanatory. This is because in the world of blogging and online media, if people don't know what you're writing about then you're risking them not reading it at all. Keep the headline fun and punchy, use that title box to draw them in. Give them a hook, the post is the catch.

Link
If you're talking about other brands, bloggers, places, people or sources - then link to them in the post. It's not just good for them, it's good for you too as your post looks well researched and thorough and keeps the reader thinking about your topic even when they've moved on to linked webpage. Also, it gives you an excellent promotional key - it means you can tag every brand, person or blog etc. that you've linked too when you go on to promote your blog post. For example if you mention a brand in your post - Tweet or Instagram them and tell them they're mentioned, it's only a good thing and you might even get a retweet out of it too - taking your post to a greater readership.

Proof
This is so important! Always proof read your posts! I know the odd uncapitalised 'I' quite often sneaks into my blog posts thanks to an iffy tab on my Mac, but I also know that because I get so excited about writing, sometimes I get caught up in it and have to just get the words out - then I go back and check for spelling or grammatical errors. It's also through proof reading that you'll notice if something doesn't flow or gel the right way - however it's more likely to stand out as something that needs amending if you proof read out loud - that's a key tip. In your head, when proofing, you can make the content sound how you want it to, not necessarily how it does. So always proof out loud - it's okay, it's not the first sign of madness....I hope.

So there you have, these are the top ways to write the best blog post. I hope they help you and have given you at least a pointer or two on ways to writing an even better blog post!
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