Ali is our Head of Content and Blogging Trainer. She is author of 'Publishing E-Books For Dummies' (Wiley, 2012).
Are your posts as successful as they could be? Perhaps not – especially if you don’t know these seven crucial rules.
If you stick to all of them, you’ve got a high chance of producing a very successful post: the type that readers engage with and share. It’ll be an important step on their road to becoming your client or customer.
Here’s what you need to do:
Rule #1: Give readers what they want
Every post you write should offer something valuable to the reader. That usually means making it useful (e.g. a “how to” post) – but you could also write something funny or uplifting.
Tip: Use prospects’ question and readers’ comments to address real-life problems on your blog.
Further reading: Get to Know Your Readers: An Example of When It Counts (Darren Rowse, ProBlogger)
Rule #2: Write a great title
Your title is the first – and potentially only – part of your post that readers will see, so make sure it grabs attention. You may want to brainstorm several titles so you can use the best.
Tip: Borrow your title from a book, magazine, or blog. You might notice that the title of this post is reminiscent of Stephen Covey’s book 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. That’s no accident.
Further reading: Attention-Grabbing Titles (downloadable guide) (Zen Optimise)
Rule #3: Make your introduction engaging
Introductions that go on for too long will lose the reader before your post’s properly begun. Keep yours focused and to the point, and hook the reader with a clear promise about what they’ll get from reading your post.
Tip: Write your introduction after writing the rest of your post. It’s a good way round writers’ block, and often makes for a better opening.
Further reading: 7 Gripping Ways to Start a Blog Post (and 14 Examples) (Ali Luke, Zen Optimise)
Rule #4: Structure your post well
If your post is poorly structured, readers will get lost part way. A well-structured post is one that is in a sensible, logical order, with clear divisions and (where appropriate) links between sections.
Tip: Set your post aside for a day after drafting it. You’ll find it easier to look at it objectively and consider whether you need to move sections around, add new material, or cut anything out.
Further reading: 8 Under-Used Blog Post Structures to Try Today – and 24 Inspiring Examples (Ali Luke, Zen Optimise)
Rule #5: Format your post for easy reading
Sit back from your screen and squint at your post. Does it look like a mass of grey-black text? If so, you need to add formatting, like subheadings, bullet points, bold text and images to break it up.
Tip: Make sure you’re consistent with formatting features: e.g. you might use bold for the first sentence of each section.
Further reading: A Comprehensive Guide to Formatting Your WordPress Posts and Pages (Pamela Wilson, Copyblogger)
Rule #6: Link to other posts
Your post doesn’t exist in isolation: whatever you’ve written about, there’s a good chance that you or someone else has other posts that relate to it. Add at least one or two links to enhance your post.
Tip: Watch out for broken links over time as sites change things around or go offline altogether.
Further reading: How to Remove Broken Links From Your Website (Daniel Scocco, DailyBlogTips)
Rule #7: Check your spelling and grammar
Although one typo won’t ruin your whole blog, constant spelling and grammar mistakes are off-putting for readers and give the impression you don’t really care about your content.
Tip: Read out loud or print your post and read it through on paper. You’ll find the typos jump out at you. If you’re not great at spelling and grammar, get a colleague to help.
Further reading: 15 Grammar Goofs That Make You Look Silly (Brian Clark, Copybloger)