What is your process when writing a blog post?
If you’re like many of the writers who submit potential posts to Writing and Wellness, it may not be much different from the process you use when writing an article or story.
And that’s a mistake.
Because a blog post is different from any other form of writing.
If you don’t follow the “rules,” you risk losing many of your readers.
What rules are those? Read on!
1. When Writing a Blog Post, Think of the Reader
Ignoring this rule is something I see writers do all the time.
If you’re writing a story or poem, you can write for yourself and still succeed, as what you feel as you write will likely translate when the reader reads it.
You can do the same, somewhat, when writing an article for a magazine, particularly if you’re recounting an event or providing straight information.
A blog post, on the other hand, is much more about giving readers what they’re looking for. Think about your attitude when you’re perusing the Internet. Most of the time, you’re looking for information that will help you in some way.
When writing a blog post, you have to keep your reader in mind. What do they need? What will this article help them with? Are you including tips to make it easy for them to get the information they looking for?
Don’t forget to consider your particular kind of reader. What do readers come to your website for? If you’ve built an audience that’s interested in romance, for instance, it’s probably not a good idea to stray too far from that subject.
2. Nail the Headline
If you want people to click on your link and read your blog post, you must have an attention-grabbing headline.
Yet most writers spend less than five minutes coming up with one.
Remember: If you don’t get the reader’s attention with the headline, you won’t get readers. Period.
And in many situations, the headline is all your readers see before they decide whether or not to share your post.
On top of that, headlines help search engines direct readers to your post. If you get them right, you’re likely to get more eyeballs on your writing.
How do you come up with the right headline? Refer to #1: Think about your reader.
What do they want? What problem are you going to solve for them? What helpful information are you going to give them?
How are you going to get them excited about reading your post?
I also suggest testing your headlines on Coschedule’s headline analyzer. It can help you get better at writing attention-getting blog post headlines.
3. When Writing a Blog Post, Use the Right Subheadings!
It’s rare for me to receive a blog submission that makes good use of subheadings.
Many of them don’t have subheadings at all. Those that do often have plain, boring subheadings that add nothing to the value of the post.
Consider this: technology company Chartbeat examined data from 2 billion visits across the web over the course of a month. They found that over half (55 percent) spent fewer than 15 seconds on a page.
What does this mean? Most web readers skim.
Think about how you read a blog post. Do you study every word like you do when reading a book? Probably not. You’re scanning, skimming, and scrolling. And that’s why you must include attention-getting, relevant subheads in your article.
Subheads catch the eye. They slow the reader. They give you another chance to get the reader’s attention.
Here’s another reason for subheads: Google likes them. As long as you format them as subheads (heading 2 and heading 3) and include keywords in them, Google will find that information, boosting your chances of showing up higher in search engines. (Find more on how to use subheadings, check out this post.)
How do you create good subheads? Ask yourself: If I were the reader, what information would I be looking for from this article? Then use your answer to create your subheads.
4. Deliver Information in Small Chunks
This is somewhat related to #2, but it also requires you to think differently about your post.
When writing a story, you may have a long stretch of information that relays one scene or one idea.
That’s a no-no in a blog post. Remember that your readers are skimming. Give them the information they need in small sections.
You may notice that I’m using a lot of paragraph breaks in this post. That’s the standard format for blog posts and other website articles.
It’s a different reading experience when you’re scrolling than when you’re using other methods (such as print or ebooks). Your eye flows down as much as left to right, and it helps to have that white space in between the paragraphs.
“When you clump together a bunch of sentences into one paragraph,” writes Fernando Graciolli, founder of Writtio, “you take away the reader’s ability to scan your post. It’s like sticking them in a rainforest packed with trees and telling them to find their way out.”
So make friends with that “return” button, hit it often, and think about your post in chunks separated by subheadings.
5. When Writing a Blog Post, Write a Little Longer
When blogs first started showing up in the 1990s, the rule was to keep them short and sweet—say about 500 words or so.
Unfortunately, many writers are still following that rule, which has now been replaced with a new one: longer is better.
According to a study from SEO company Backlinko, the sweet spot for a blog post is about 1,500 words. Their investigation showed that the average Google search results page generally featured posts with roughly this number of words.
Other studies have found similar results. Social media marketing company Buffer reported that the ideal blog post would take about 7 minutes to read—and be about 1,600 words long.
SEO expert Neil Patel has investigated the issue too and reported that long-form posts (1,500-3000 words) performed better overall than short (500-800 words) ones did.
So set the old rules aside and embrace the new ones by making sure you’re covering your topic well and giving your readers what they need. Of course, you can always write shorter now and then if you want to. Just be aware that in general, longer is better for building your blog audience.