When you're busy doing a brain dump for your business's latest blog post, it's easy to lose sight of the fact that you're not writing for the sake of writing. Save that for your diary.
The purpose of a blog is to be read. And if you’re really successful, people will want to read it. And then maybe, maybe, they’ll like it so much that they’ll share it with their friends.
But pulling this off requires you to remember the reader, their attention span, and their tastes. Here are a few basic tips to keep in mind the next time you’re writing a blog post, in order to improve your chances of writing something that will be pleasurable and easy to read.
There have been many times where I’ve pushed my chair back from the keyboard after a couple hours of madly typing and rewriting and rewording and rephrasing, only to realize that I’ve typed out a 2,000 word paragraph that has a total of maybe three incredibly long and rambling sentences. Maybe, if I’m lucky, I might be able to make sense of what I’ve just written. Maybe. But it certainly won’t be comprehensible to anybody else.
Just as books are organized into chapters, blog articles need to be broken up into sections. Every time you move your topic forward or adjust your focus, write out a sentence or title that summarizes the point of the next section. Then use Heading 2 tags to make it into a section title.
H2s are necessary for a couple of reasons. First, they make it easy for readers to gloss over an article and get the gist of it. A reader should be able to understand all of the main points of your article by just looking at the headings. This sort of structure helps us to organize things in our brain, and to hold onto what we’ve just read.
The second reason you want to use H2s is that search engines like Google and Bing tend to look a bit more closely at H2 text than they do at everything else. This is why your section headings should summarize the text of the section that follows, with keywords strongly related to what you’re talking about. Google uses those section titles to help figure out what a page is about, and as a consequence, how that article will rank for relevant searches.
So yeah, there’s an SEO-related payoff for using H2 headings. But if nothing else, use them in order to make your content more comprehensible to your readers.
If you’re a florist writing about what flowers are most appropriate for funerals, then you proooooooobably don’t want too jokesy with your writing. If you’re writing something technical that’s supposed to serve as a straightforward guide or a set of instructions, keep the sentences terse and to the point. Your writing should be focused and to the point. Don’t digress.
On the other hand, if you’re writing something a little more fluffy or casual, feel free to let your personality and your unique manner of speech show through more. Don’t force it; if you don’t have a sense of humor, don’t try to spontaneously grow one. But you can relax and be more conversational.
There are a few reasons for doing this. For one, pictures look nice. They’re pretty. But there’s actually a better, more vain reason for doing so: most modern website and blog templates tend to place thumbnails or smaller versions of images next to links to blog posts. If you look at the “Read Our Latest Blogs” section on the main page of our site, the “Posts for the Webmaster” sidebar farther down and to the right, or our main blog page, all of the images featured next to the blog titles are automatically derived directly from the images embedded in each blog post. Without those images, you would just have blocks of text on all those different widgets and pages, which definitely wouldn’t stand out very well.
If you’re using WordPress, don’t forget to select a “featured image” (which is the one WordPress uses for all those pretty thumbnails and featured post images). The featured image menu is usually in the right-hand column of the blog composition page in which you write blog posts. Generally speaking, your featured image should be an image that you use within the blog post itself, though you can actually select any image that you’ve uploaded to your site.
This is kind of an obvious one, but one that almost everyone who has had a blog has broken this rule. You get burned out, or busy, or lose inspiration. I was literally pacing a couple of days ago trying to figure out what to use for a topic for my next blog post, and I’ve let that stress completely shut down my creative process. But always keep an eye out for ideas that catch your interest. Keep a notebook on you for those moments of inspiration; even if you know for sure that you’ll still remember the idea the next time you have time to sit down and write a blog post, write it down anyway.
If your blog goes through too many dry spells, your readership will dry up as well.
This really is a rule more than a tip, and it’s a rule that you’ll inevitably break. But do your best to break this rule as little as possible. Even if you end up writing a blog post about writing blog posts. 😉