Monday, 5 November 2012

How to Write Great Blog Posts and Become a Better Blogger

The process of creating quality content for your blog, at a regular period of time can be quite hard. However those who are able to do so ultimately go on to become some of the best bloggers out there.

Here are a few elements of a quality blog post, all of which will allow you to become a winner in the blogosphere:

1. Start with the visitors in mind: First things first: as a blogger, your first priority should be to think of your visitors and the people who would be interested in what you’re offering, aka. your potential customers. All your content should be created with the sole purpose and aim of catering to the needs and interests of the people in your niche, and providing them with solutions.

2. Plan your posts: Plan your posts before you begin to write them. This will allow you to structure your posts, and make it easier to write them. Planning a post in your head works, however I recommend keeping a pad and a pen handy and making a list of all the points that you would want to include in your post, the order in which you would want to put them in, and make any notes. The planning phase is closely tied to the first point, and ensures that any content that you develop is findable, readable, understandable and shareable.

3. Do your research: It is essential to do your research before sitting down to write about something. If you’re blogging about a particular niche, you already know quite a bit about it and you probably make a conscious effort to keep on top of any and all developments in that niche. However at the same time, you should spend some time doing a bit of research on it. This will allow you to verify your facts and get them straight, as well as learn about any new developments that you might not have been aware of. Thanks to the internet, looking stuff up isn’t as time-intensive as it used to be. You can of course look stuff up on Google, as well as on social media (such as Twitter or LinkedIn) or do it the ‘old way’ and hit your local library. And of course, remember to properly quote and accredit everything that you use in your post.

4. Think of what format will be the most suitable: The great thing about writing for your own blog is the freedom that you get when it comes to creating content for it! For instance you have list-based posts, info-based (paragraph) posts, interviews, video-based posts, infographic-based post, case studies, Q&A post, link-based posts where you list down links to older articles from your own blog, or interesting links from the internet, etc. It all essentially depends on the subject/theme of what you’re writing on and what the best way would be to write about it. For a comprehensive list of 52(!) blog post types, check this link on ProBlogger.

5. Titles are important: The title of your post is perhaps the most important part of it – it is the first thing that your visitors will see (which means that whether a someone goes on to read the full post depends on it) and it will also show up in the SERPs. Give your post the best possible title that you can possibly give. From a SEO perspective, there are certain rules that need to be followed, such as the inclusion of keywords. However that is not to say that you cannot craft a great title for your post. The title needs to be catchy, an attention-grabber, and relevant to the post.

6. Calls to action: A good post makes a great point, and then asks the reader to do something, essentially known as a call-to-action (or CTA for short). A CTA, usually placed at the end of a post but can be put just about anywhere, is something that calls upon the readers to take a specific action – such as leaving a comment, asking for the answer to a question, asking them to subscribe to your blog, buy your new plugin, ‘like’ your Facebook page, or anything else.

7. Categorize your posts: Your blog should already have a certain number of specific related categories. Any post that goes up on your blog should be able to fit into at least one of these categories. For instance if you have a blog on ‘technology’, it would probably have the following categories: windows, mobile, Android, iOS, gadgets, gaming consoles, etc. Any post that you do should be relevant to one of these categories, and hence be able to fit into one of them.

8. Meta descriptions are essential: Meta descriptions are very important from an SEO perspective. These descriptions are the ‘snippets of text’ that show up in the SERP when your website or one of your pages shows up on Google. Use meta descriptions to accurately describe what the post/page is about, and use a maximum of 160 characters for this purpose.

9. Add multimedia: The hallmark of a good blog and in particular a good post is that it consists of a variety of different elements, and does a great job of creating a balance between their usage. Text, pictures and images, infographics, embedded videos, tweets, and the like, all these things should be used in a post, without one overshadowing the other; a big wall of text, or over-usage of images in a single post will end up looking quite. However it is important to add images and videos wherever required, as it might help get your point across in a much better manner (infographics can be quite useful here).

10. Don’t think too much about word count: Simply put, quality always takes precedence over quantity in my book. Concentrate on quality, instead of focusing on writing at least an x amount of words. It all depends on what you’re writing about, and the depth and detail you would want to go to. Some posts might take 400 words, others might go on to 4000. Bottom line is that quality > quantity!

10. Proof-read your posts: Proof-reading your post once you’re done writing them, and before you press the publish button, is vital. Check your posts thoroughly for any grammatical or factual errors. Edit sentences if required. Split them into paragraphs wherever necessary.

11. Add an author bio: It is essential to add a little something about your own self to the post. Readers are interested in knowing about the person who wrote the post (and other details about him/her, such as what he/she does for a living). It also helps to add a bit of credibility to your post; for instance, as a professional photographer with 15 years of experience behind you, putting this bit of information in your post would give it that much more credibility if your post is on ‘DSLR photography tips on how to use a wideangle lens for landscape photos’.

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