How to write a successful blog post

Many of us write well. Many of us also engage with really important or popular issues in our blog posts. Yet, some bloggers turn out more successful than others. How does that happen? What’s the big secret?

The most fundamental answer to this question about the big secret of writing a successful blog post is that there isn’t one. Readers know good content when they see it. They will not read anything that does not add value in some way (unless it’s your mother reading, of course!). So writers need to focus on quality first before anything else.

Yet, I’ve seen many great blogs that fail to engage the reader even with good content. “How does that happen?” I’ve asked myself many a time and have come up with the following cautionary points meant for good writers.

1. Do not reproduce a form that works on paper on the screen. Some very intricate blog posts are written simply as long essays in the same format as they would have been put down on paper. Paragraph after paragraph assail the reader without any visual cues or breaks or headings. Sometimes, content that is relatively easy to grasp, such as stories and anecdotes work just fine in this form but analytical essays that require a lot of critical thinking on the part of the reader are very hard to follow if the form does not help content on the screen.

2. Focus on those first few lines and the title. Remember that unlike anthologies, blog posts are often visible to readers only as the title and the first few lines in various feeds. Therefore, both of these have to catch the reader’s attention and provide a good sense of what the post is going to be about. Drab titles won’t work. However, simply catching attention followed by disappointment in terms of expectation will not help the cause at all.

3. Provide a point of connection with the reader in the initial lines. Whether your post is about a sudden thought you had, a DIY task, a short narrative or anything else, make sure that you are able to elicit the interest of your reader based on some commonality that goes beyond your own personal interest. Your topic should be introduced in a way in which others will want to read about it.  You must put yourself in your readers’ shoes and look at your topic.

4. Provide glimpses of depth but don’t lose the reader in the deep. Point to the overly complex arguments that require investment of time and involved critical thinking perhaps in your other works such as books or essays or articles but don’t attempt to put them in the blog itself. I have observed through experience that with some exceptions, most people have expectations that a blog will be short, will touch on topics, will elicit emotions or start an argumentative point rather than carry any of these all the way through as an argumentative essay or a memoir or a story would.

5. Get the reader involved. Again, experience has taught me that an essay frequently imparts some kind of knowledge and the tone and the sequence of information/ arguments/ examples provided does not always expect the reader to “talk back.” The blog, however, has to involve the reader in order to thrive. So the writer has to engage the reader by eliciting their reactions through subtle methods, not just by simply adding a question at the end. Since the blog is also a living form in that it does not end with a single post but lives on the next time with the next post, it can morph by reacting to readers’ views. That’s what sets it apart from other forms of writing.

Advertisements

36 thoughts on “How to write a successful blog post”

  1. Thank you for sharing this article quite interesting and, hopefully true happiness rays began to warm our hearts and make the heart glad, when we can share it with sincere to each other. Affectionate greetings from Gede Prama 🙂

    Like

  2. Really good list 🙂 My pitfall is thinking each post has to surpass the previous and that I have to cover EVERYTHING in one post. Thankfully, personal blogs don’t have deadlines, haha.

    Like

  3. Blogging is not writing. We use words to do it, but we use words to make a grocery list, too. Your list is fine for blogging. I just hope serious writers are not confusing a blog with writing.

    Like

    1. A blog is another form of writing. You have to think of an idea, present it in a appealing format, and engage with readers. Blogs are as much writing as a poem or a book; it’s just different.

      Like

  4. Very useful, thank you! I like your point on reader engagement– that’s why sometimes highlighting an issue with a provocation or less popular perception can awaken interest and invite dialogue 🙂

    Like

  5. Very interesting post, and clever of you to come up with these points. I’ve intuited that a blog is different from every other literary form. It’s difficult to define because it’s still an evolving form! I haven’t seen anything so far that addresses what a blog IS or can be, but yours is a very fine introduction.

    As much as I love essays, I find myself getting impatient when a blog I’m reading turns into an essay. But, I still tend to write my posts as essays. I haven’t been able to put my finger on what other “form” I’m supposed to write in, and I’m a writer whose creative process is inspired by form.

    I also like that you didn’t give a “step-by-step” or “how-to.” You offered a great spring board for thought. Very well done! 🙂

    I love that you said, “put yourself in your readers’ shoes.” That wisdom goes back centuries (do unto others as you would have them do unto you) and it still is, and always will be, good advice.

    Like

  6. Great stuff for the new blogger. I am really enjoying the learning curve. You’re right, the format is different from the kind of writing used in both academic and novel-length fiction or even short stories. Also different yet again from flash fiction or twitter, so it is helpful to have such a succinct and useful set of pointers.

    Like

  7. Great post & very useful. Been struggling to get more than couple of comments on mine and now know why (although posting irregularly a problem too). Many thanks – always enjoy your blog and feel one of very best I follow. .

    Like

  8. Good to read this. I’m still trying to find my blog style, but have realised I look to read blogs that are between 150 and 700 words in length. Anything longer I say I’ll come back to when I have more time and I never do. Doing the visuals is something I need to work more on.

    Like

  9. This post is great because for a lot of people (me included) it’s against our common sense. I’ve been writing essays for academics for ages, and it’s always “write long essays” and “be serious,” but blogs aren’t like that at all. I’ve been experimenting with my own blog formats and intros and things, and I think this post will prove to be very helpful– for me and others. Thanks!

    Like

  10. Sometimes I feel as though getting and giving comments is akin to an alignment of the stars or another type of unexplainable anomaly. One day I’ll got to the Reader and start scrolling through blog posts, reading and feeling as thought I’ve got a comment worth sharing on every second one I see. Then other days, I can’t think of a single thing to add to a discussion. You have to be in the right frame of mind to wade in, I suppose. I do think it is the entire post that must engage – not just a question tagged to the end. But oh what a delicate science/art/magic process it all is.

    Like

    1. I agree – great post! – I think we, writers also know deep down when we’ve written a good post – even before we get responses (although the responses or lack of responses do validate and confirm for us). It’s that feeling as I press “publish” – that secure feeling of tightness, knowing I’ve followed the basic rules of blogdom. (as opposed to a sloppy feeling of “oh well…- good enough.”) Thanks for the great post about the qualities of strong posts! 🙂

      Like

Comments welcome

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s