A few people have asked me questions about blogging and blog posts lately, so I thought I’d publish some posts about what I’ve found that has worked for me
. First up is how to write a great blog post. This is by no means an exhaustive list; it’s just a list of the things I’ve found that have helped me.
- Pick an awesome title. Think of what would grab your attention if you were flicking through links on the internet; what would make you stop and read? Certain words at the beginning of a title work better than others. Good ones include How to, a number (as in, a list post), tips and why. Take a look at other popular blog posts and keep a note of good titles you could amend for your blog.
- Think about what makes you read a blog post or article. Once you’ve written your post, try to look at it from a stranger’s perspective, and judge whether you would find it appealing.
- Try to break the text up as much as possible. Use shorter paragraphs, and consider using bold headings. Think reading the Sun rather than the Times here. People reading articles on the internet often have other pulls on their attention (kids, TV, radio, people, work), and if they keep losing their place while reading, eventually they’ll give up.
- Lists are always handy – an easy way to get information across, and easy to read without losing your place.
- Pay attention to spelling, punctuation and grammar. The person reading your post doesn’t know you; they don’t know how you usually speak or construct a sentence. There are so many blogs out there with good content but poor punctuation and grammar. If you don’t use punctuation properly, your message can be lost. If you aren’t very good at these things, consider getting someone to proof read it for you.
- Similarly, good spelling and grammar are by no means everything. Content is king with blogs. You can have a post with perfect spelling, excelleing punctuation, amazingly correct grammar – but the content doesn’t appeal to people, so it will go nowhere.
- If you are referring to an old blog post, or another site, always link to it. Don’t leave your readers thinking “well what’s s/he on about here?” Use the opportunity to show off your other great posts!
- Don’t ever use acronyms without explaining what they mean the first time you use them. Even if you think it’s common knowledge and everyone should know it, you can guarantee there’s at least one person out there who doesn’t know it. For example, in a post about tax you would put “HMRC (Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs) provide your employer with a tax code; if you believe this to be incorrect, you must speak to HMRC and ask them to amend it.”
- Don’t waffle to fill space. If your post is short, it really doesn’t matter so long as you get your point across.
- If another person’s post has inspired you to write your own, that’s fine; put a link to their post at the top of yours and say “this post over here inspired me to write…” Don’t just steal a person’s idea though. That’s not very polite, and nobody will thank you for it.
- I always find it useful to preview my post before publishing it. Doing this helps me to check that the post looks good and like something I’d like to read.
- Stay on-topic. If you’ve decided to write a post about breastfeeding, don’t go off on a tangent to discuss why you don’t formula feed or when you’re planning to wean. Put those into their own posts.
- Similarly, if you have a lot to say consider splitting it out into a series of posts – like I did with my Birth Story, and the posts I wrote about my breakdown. You can put a link at the bottom of each post to point to the next one. This will also help to reduce your bounce rate, as people will hopefully follow links from post to post, rather than visiting once and leaving quickly.
- Try to maintain a certain amount of uniformity. Think about the font you use, whether you justify your text or have it centred etc. This will make your blog look nice, but will also mean your blog posts are instantly recognisable as yours.
- Photos are always useful. They break up the text, and tend to pull a visitor in. Also if there’s a photo on your post, you and your readers can use it to pin to a Pinterest board, where more people will see it.
- Don’t steal photos. If you’re going to use someone else’s image, credit them for it.
- You can use programs like Picasa, or sites like PicMonkey and Fotor to edit your pictures, crop them and group several into one file. You can also put a caption, watermark or link onto them if you wish. Canva is amazing for creating graphics that can be as simple or complex as you like.
- Don’t post your photo without at least cropping it. A photo that has been cropped and edited slightly looks more professional than something you just snapped quickly with your camera phone.
- You really can just use the camera on your phone.You don’t need some fancy singing-and-dancing contraption. That said, a better camera will take better photos – so if you’re wanting to use your photographs to show off products or anything even vaguely visual, a “proper” camera is worth the investment.
- Similarly, if you’re using your photo to show off a product – or how cute your child is – make them large enough that people can see clearly what they are. I would say the photo above is really the smallest you should go with any photo. Now that we’re all on broadband rather than dial-up, there’s no massive time delay waiting for photos to load, line by excruciating line – so make the most of it!
- Make use of Alt Tags. If you don’t know what an Alt Tag is… well I can’t really explain terribly well. But basically, if you edit your photo, there will be a box for Alt Text. Include a basic description of what is in the photo. This makes your photos more searchable on Google Images. And if someone finds a cool photo you’ve posted, they might stick around and read your blog.
So, there you have my tips for how to write a great blog post. Do you have anything to add? Have you tried anything on this list that did or didn’t work for you? If you disagree with anything I’ve written, or you have your own tips to add, please do comment!