As a blogger, you dream of writing that post that shatters the status quo. The post that causes people to stop whatever they’re doing and makes an everlasting impact on everyone who reads it.
But the problem is that most bloggers don’t understand the fundamentals of a great blog post. They don’t understand how to craft an ADD-stopping introduction, how to write scan-then-stop-to-read subheads, or how to truly engage a reader with every word they write.
Before you can write that legendary blog post, you need to know how to write a good one.
Start with a Simple, Keyword-Relevant, Power-Word-Laden Headline
The headline is and always will be the first part of the post that people see:
- On Google, it’s the blue title tag.
- On Facebook, it’s the bolded text.
- On Twitter, it’s the default tweet.
- In email, it’s the subject line.
- In backlinks, it’s the anchor text.
No matter how people get to your post, they read the headline before they get to your site. Not to mention, the headline is the only reason they came to your site in the first place.
How do You Write an Epic Headline?
- Start with the benefit: Learn How to Write a Good Blog Post
- Edit down to the keyword: How to Write a Blog Post
- Add power word(s): How to Write a Legendary Blog Post
Then Snag Their Attention with an Eye-Catching Image
The goal of the post image is to immediately grab their attention and redirect it to the headline. Here a few things I keep in mind when choosing an image:
- The color red does the best job of grabbing attention.
- The quality of the photo communicates the quality of the post.
- If you include people, animals, or arrows, choose photos where their eyes direct your attention to the headline.
How do You Choose an Amazing Image?
- Go to compfight.com and filter your results to only include Creative commons.
You can use these as long as you attribute them back to the artist.
- Search for your headline’s power words.
Instead of searching “blog,” “blog post,” or “writing,” I searched “legendary” and found an image of the Trojan horse.
- Choose one of the first images that you see.
If one photo grabs your attention amongst 40 other photos, it’ll grab attention on your blog.
- If the license allows, you can resize and edit the image.
The post images on IncomeDiary are 345×180 pixels. I’ve yet to find an image that fits that ratio. So I can only use Creative commons photos that also allow me to remix or adapt the work.
- Attribute the image in the post.
Link to the artist’s photostream on Flickr somewhere within the post or on the page that you use the image. I choose to attribute images in the bottom-right corner of the post.
Rope them in with an Artfully Crafted Introduction
Copyblogger taught me a lot about refining headlines, but they also taught me about the second most important element in copywriting: the first sentence.
As they put it, the point of the headline is to get them to read the first sentence. The point of the first sentence is to get them to read the second sentence. And so on and so forth.
Then, if they get through the intro, they’re likely to keep reading.
How do you Write an Introduction?
Start with a quote, ask a question, reveal a stat, elicit imagery, and otherwise inspire curiosity. Oh yeah, and make it short.
Make yourself relatable. Empathize with they’re hopes, dreams, and struggles.
Reveal a common problem and make sure they understand why it’s a problem that’s important to fix.
Promise to solve that problem if they continue reading the post.
Maintain an Authentic Tone to Your Writing
The most important thing you can do as a blogger is maintain an authentic, conversational tone. This is much harder than it sounds.
I think one of the reasons Michael’s posts are so engaging (despite the dyslexia-induced grammatical errors) is because he hasn’t had any formal writing training. He simply writes what he thinks as he thinks it.
Meanwhile, the rest of us were taught to write with the goal of hitting a certain number of words.
How do you Write Well?
- Use small words.
The point of writing is to communicate as effectively as possible. The best way to do that is with simple words.
- Write short sentences.
It’s a lot easier to comprehend a short sentence than a long one.
- Use contractions.
If you talk with contractions, use contractions.
- Include expletives.
Use words like, “Oh yeah” and “You know.” If you say it when you talk, you should say it when you write.
- Edit it out loud.
When you’re done writing, read it out loud. If you struggle to carry a natural tone, it’s bad writing.
Teach through Examples, Metaphors, and Stories
Once your introduction has them reading and your writing has them engaged, it’s time to solve that problem.
My favorite tools for teaching people are examples, metaphors, and stories. You can simply tell somebody about a concept or strategy, but it won’t stick unless you offer up an easy way for them to remember it.
How do you Include Examples, Metaphors, and Stories?
When I’m blogging about blogging, I like to use examples from the post I’m writing within the post (Inception-like). Follow up every concept with an example.
Using a metaphor to explain a concept is like using counting sticks to teach math to a four-year-old.
Did you notice how many Super Bowl commercials used 1-minute or more to tell a story this year? Telling a story is the most powerful way to teach somebody something.
Summarize All Your Points through Subheads
When you’re writing for the web, understand that most readers start by scanning the subheads. If the subheads do a good job of capturing their curiosity, they’ll stop to read the rest of the content.
For instance, if you started “reading” this post by scanning through the subheads; let us know in the comments. This will also show that the subheads did a good enough job of making you stop to read.
How do you Write Subheads?
Similar to headlines:
- Start with the section topic: Subheads
- Make them actionable: Summarize through Subheads
- Clarify: Summarize All Your Points through Subheads
When you’re reading a post, you should be able to scan the subheads and know exactly what that post was about.
Know that Principles are Merely the Foundation for Creativity
I understand that compiling a set of rules on how to write a legendary blog post is like telling a painter how to paint.
So I want to make sure that you walk away from this post understanding that these principles are simply common elements I’ve found in the best blog posts I’ve ever read.
If you want to truly be remarkable, you should be prepared to break the rules and reset the status quo. But you also need to recognize the basic elements of a masterpiece.