The question that I get asked most frequently about blogging is:
“Is there a simple formula for writing effective blog posts?”
And the only honest answer is:
“NO! There is NOT a simple formula for writing effective blog posts.”
Well, okay . . . according to conventional blogging wisdom . . . maybe there is one simple formula:
This slide is from my social media presentation, which you can download by clicking on this link: Social Karma Presentation
The Two U’s
The first aspect of conventional blogging wisdom is to follow the Two U’s:
- Useful – Focus on your reader and provide them assistance with a specific problem
- Unique – Capture your reader’s attention and share your perspective in your own voice
Blogging is all about you. No, not you meaning me, the blogger — you meaning you, the reader.
To be useful, blogging has to be all about the reader. If you write only for yourself, then you will also be your only reader.
Useful blog posts often provide “infotainment” — a combination of information and entertainment — that, when it’s done well, can turn readers into raving fans. Just don’t forget—your blog content has to be informative and entertaining to your readers.
One important aspect of being unique is writing effective titles. Most potential readers scan titles to determine if they will click and read more. There is a delicate balance between effective titles and “baiting” – which will only alienate potential readers.
If you write a compelling title that makes your readers click through to an interesting post, then “You Rock!” However, if you write a “Shock and Awe” title followed by “Aw Shucks” content, then “You Suck!”
Your blog content also has to be unique—your topic, position, voice, or a combination of all three.
Consider the following when striving to write unique blog posts:
- The easiest way to produce unique content is to let your blogging style reflect your personality
- Don’t be afraid to express your opinion—even on subjects where it seems like “everything has already be said”
- Your opinion is unique—because it is your opinion
- An opinion—as long as it is respectfully given—is never wrong
- Consistency in both style and message is important, however it’s okay to vary your style and/or change your opinion
The Three C’s
The second aspect of conventional blogging wisdom is to follow the Three C’s:
- Clear – Get to the point and stay on point
- Concise – No longer than absolutely necessary
- Consumable – Formatted to be easily read on a computer screen
Clear blog posts typically have a single theme or one primary topic to communicate. Don’t run off on tangents, especially ones not related to the point you are trying to make. If you have several legitimate sub-topics to cover, then consider creating a series.
Concise doesn’t necessarily mean “write really short blog posts.” There is no specific word count to target. Being concise simply means taking out anything that doesn’t need to be included. Editing is the hardest part of writing, but also the most important.
Consumable content is extremely essential when people are reading off of a computer screen.
Densely packed text attacks the eyes, which doesn’t encourage anyone to keep reading.
Consumable blog posts effectively use techniques such as the following:
- Providing an introduction and/or a conclusion
- Using section headings (in a larger size or different font or both)
- Varying the lengths of both sentences and paragraphs
- Highlighting key words or phrases using bold or italics—but don’t underline—people will think it’s a link and click on it
- Making or summarizing keys points in a short sentence or a short paragraph
- Making or summarizing key points using numbered or bulleted lists
As a general rule, the longer (although still both clear and concise) the blog post, the more consumable you need to make it.
If writing is not your thing, and you’re podcasting or video blogging or using some combination of all three (and that’s another way to be unique), I still think the conventional blogging wisdom applies, which, of course, you are obviously free to ignore since blogging is definitely more art than science.
However, I recommend that you first learn and practice the conventional blogging wisdom.
After all, it’s always more fun to break the rules when you actually know what the rules are.