Developing a template for an effective blog post can help you pound out more content in a shorter period of time. I’m a big fan of checklists and templates, but it’s also important to remain flexible and let your creativity fly. A good structure starts with a template or checklist then showcases the writer’s individuality. Here’s a basic checklist you can use to write a winning blog post, in less time.
1. Write a Good Headline
Crafting your headline can sometimes take as much effort as writing your entire post. Your headline is the first thing readers see, and it’s intended to entice them to read more. A good headline says, “Go ahead and click, you know you want to see more.” It’s a little bit like a good strip tease, it leaves some things to the imagination but definitely gets their attention.
If you don’t know how to write a compelling headline, you can always use the surefire headline templates at Copyblogger until you gain some experience. They also offer some great resources and pointers on creating magnetic headlines, here.
2. Make Good Use of White Space
Let’s face it, we’re information junkies and most of us spend way too much time on the Net. We read and consume massive amounts of information in digital formats. And all that screen time leads to eye strain.
Think about it.
If you visit a page crammed with colors, images, and big solid blocks of text that scroll on forever, do you take the time to read or do you just hit the back button and try another webpage?
According to the U1 Group, white space is critical.
“We recently did research for a government agency. One of our findings was that the agency’s website was overly cluttered. There was simply too much content packed onto the individual web pages, leaving users feeling overwhelmed and confused as to where to focus, let alone where to click, on the website.
Users found the website did contain useful information, but they felt unmotivated to read on when faced by dense pages of text. Part of the problem was the way content was presented on the website and that there just wasn’t allowed for sufficient whitespace.” (Read more here.)
Too little white space results in user overload and loss of interest. Embrace the enter key online.
You can also use bullet points and lists to help break up the visual monotony and keep the post flowing.
3. Utilize Images and Video
If there’s one thing visitors like on the Web, it’s videos. Most would much rather hit that play button than read to obtain the same information. They want to feed their overstimulated brains and be entertained.
However, be very careful about stuffing your posts with too many videos, or even autoplay features they can’t shut off. There’s nothing worse than finally getting everyone to bed and sitting down to consume some quality Net time and being greeted by a blaring autoplay in another tab. Some instances call for quiet reading, and you should respect your readers enough to provide that option for them.
Images can help you communicate effectively and break up blocks of text. But Derek Halpern has wise advice for using images: choose carefully, your images affect your conversions.
4. Linking Matters
One of the great things about blog posts is their ability to drive traffic. Search engines love blog posts and use linking to travel from one Website to another. When you write, be sure to take the time to go back and insert links. Not only do you want to cite sources of your text or images used in the material, but you want to provide further resources for readers who want to dig in deeper.
External links to other Websites should always be checked before including in your posts. Only link to reputable websites with quality content to avoid getting slapped with penalties from search engines for associating with spammy URLs.
Internal links are also an important part of your posts. You can get further mileage out of your old posts and drive search engine spiders deeper into your Website through internal linking. Darren Rowse at ProBlogger recently advised his readers to participate in repurposing old content.
5. Call to Action- The Point of It All
If you’re blogging for business, you have a purpose for your actions. You blog regularly (or pay someone else to do it) to help your online business and attract potential clients or customers. Don’t be afraid to ask them to do something in exchange for the “free” advice or information you’re providing. Ask them to click, enter an email address, or buy from your Website.
HubSpot has terrific examples of calls to action that entice readers to click. What you’ll notice about each one is they are uncomplicated. They present a simple solution to a common problem you’re likely to be experiencing. Their (often free) service solves your problem and provides one-click access to make it happen. Check out services like Evernote, DropBox, and Pinterest to see how this works so well for successful online companies.
6. Polish Your Reputation
If you’re going to be blogging regularly, you’re going to be the object of a little online scrutiny. Your words are either going to inspire and resonate with someone or irritate and even infuriate others. Plus, people are generally nosey and it’s easy to “snoop” online anonymously.
Google your own name regularly and monitor what comes up in search engine results. If you need help cleaning up your online presence, hire a reputation management professional.
You’ll also want to clean up your website and any other pages you’re driving traffic to so visitors will be left with a good impression of you and your business. Make sure your homepage, contact page, and about us pages are all in order, as well as your social media profiles.
7. Embrace Social Media
The lifeblood of any blog post is social media. Spending time on social media channels helps build your audience and advertises your latest blog posts, products, and thoughts. Social media is a large part of doing business online and if you just haven’t acquired a taste for it, you can always hire someone to manage your social media presence for you.
8. Don’t Forget to Have Fun
The heart of the Internet is certainly information, but presenting that information in a fun and lively package can help prevent writer’s block, boredom, and burnout. Infusing your posts with your company’s personality, values, and mission can help set your brand apart online.
9. Keep a Swipe File
I don’t believe in writer’s block because I’ve never had it. Seriously, almost ten years of writing professionally and I’ve never had the dreaded BLOCK. If I don’t know a lot about a topic, or have written everything I know, I read what others are writing about the subject. And I start a conversation with myself. Then I write. I write anything, even if it’s bad. I can always rewrite it later but I’m never faced with paralyzing fear and the endless blinking cursor on a blank page.
If you’re plagued by writer’s block, keeping a Swipe File is a must. Templates, writing starters, ideas, and trending topics can pull your butt out of the fire as many times as you need. Start a bookmark folder for when you’re surfing the Net to collect things you think you can use later. Use Evernote, OneNote, or OmniFocus to collect your ideas and snippets so you can access them quickly.
10. Always Keep Learning
If you don’t care enough about your business and industry to stay abreast of changes in your field, do yourself a favor and hire someone to do your blogging for your business. Keeping your mind fresh with new information will spark your creativity and your writing will reflect your interest.
Learning new things is good for your brain and it’s good for your business. Check out our post on how to get a DIY MBA to help your online marketing.
What tips do you have to write great blog posts fast? What would you add?
And in case you didn’t notice, if you’re not comfortable performing your own blogging, social media management, or marketing, it’s always a good idea to outsource. REV Media Marketing has just what you need to make it rain new business, online and off. Contact a marketing professional today to talk about what REV can do for your business.