Guys, thanks so much for the encouragement on the last post, if you haven’t read it, click here to read more about the social media trends that are here to stay. Today I talk about, what makes an article or a blog post awesome – some lessons that I have learnt over the last few years.
Honestly, I have been blogging for over 10 years now, but not with all my seriousness – back in the day, I was writing about anything on my personal blog and to my surprise, Google was picking it up. Hence, I would have comments and views from arbitrary readers globally. What can I say, times were simpler – I did not need any SEO expertise, photography knowledge or even my own domain. These things are now called – the basics.
Times have changed, and content marketing is important for anyone and everyone. Having a perception or a point of view is a given. Churning out blog posts every single day is not necessary/convenient but what your post conveys, the point that it makes is what matters.
So here we go, here is what I think a good post needs:
1. A point
Why are you writing the piece, do you have a point? Whether it’s a work of fiction or a review or a piece of advice – is there something in there which benefits your reader. If not, then don’t write it – writing for the sake of it shooe’s your audience away.
What makes a killer article is its relevance, context and purpose; not your finesse and eloquence with words. People are getting all of their material off the internet – you need to make it worth their time; else they are going to SWIPE LEFT.
By the way, I know tons of great writers who have no following or are limited to status messages on FB/LinkedIn, cuz their anecdotes serve no purpose as opposed to the “below average” writers (in terms of writing skills) whose articles/posts go viral.
I never write if I have no point to make; while my reasons of writing less frequently are not the dearth of ideas – it is how much of “me” is consumed after every post I publish. Shamefully, I wrote only 7 posts on our blog last year – but each of them resonated with different personas of our audience. (Btw, I do not advise such low number of articles since it is not a good sign – out of sight is out of mind)
2. How long is too long and how short is too short?
Yes, I am talking about the length of your article. The real answer to this is – till you’ve conveyed everything that you had to. My articles are usually over 1000 words and I try to keep them below 2000 words (for me that is hard); but then no one is here to read a saga. If I feel am unable to express my point of view in those many words then I more often than not: convert the post into a series of articles. I think the concept of this is like of a TV series and if you have your audience hooked; then they are going to come for Part 2 or the corresponding parts.
However, if your articles are around 200-300 words, I would feel you don’t need an article but you need a status message/caption/tweet on the right social media channel.
3. A picture is worth a 1000 words
Yes, it is, a “plain piece” out of a novella is not the format of this medium. But, you must again optimize the size and number of images that each post carries. For instance; when I write on LinkedIn I mostly use stock images and I don’t add too many but when I write a travel post then I make sure that I have original high-quality pictures with neat layouts. Half of the content on lifestyle blogs is pictures.
A few lessons that I have learnt on images:
- Use free stock images or link up the original source; it’s okay to pay for an image once in a while – those photographers worked hard. I use Unsplash and Pixabay.
- Use Canva to make promotional posts and banners – it is a great tool and most of the features are free. I design all my header images on canva; it’s a blessing for all content creators.
- You might think that the image does not necessarily contribute to the SEO, however it does. Hence, change the name of the images when you upload them and don’t forget to add captions.
4. Syntax and Semantics
The first draft of your article; there is usually nothing wrong with it – you are happy and it is awesome. However, don’t post it yet, and here’s why: let a whole day pass or have a friend/colleague look at it – this is when you start finding grammatical (and many other) mistakes. In this day and age, it’s tough to not spell check while already writing the article but grammatical/structural mistakes are natural to have. (Use Grammarly, sure, but it is no match to a peer review)
I have had my partner (who’s also my sister) seldom saying this to me, “Did you even read it once?” Sigh!
Other than that, introduce as many internal as well as external links in your article; this is great for your website and is also a good impression on the research that went into a piece.
5. Writing & Editing Sessions
This is a very personal thing, however, I need to say this – your mood plays a vital role and it gives an overall tone to your article. If I break an article into 2-3 sittings; it seldom comes out the way I expected and this is due to the different frames of minds that I would have been in; every time I sat down to write.
While there is no hard and fast rule to it; my recommendation is to finish the article in one sitting and then use a couple of more sittings to improve it. This is my technique but to each his own.
6. Have A Format
An unstructured post is a big blow to the overall readability of an article, with tools like Yoast: there is a lot of help available to make sure the green light appears while you edit your post. People using WordPress know what I mean.
However, here are some important rules of the game: your post, in general, should have a compelling headline (click bait), your introduction should set the stage and what follows are your points as headers and subheaders. Finally, there is a conclusion, which has a clear call to action. Having a clear, well-structured article is more important than your vocabulary, eloquence or aesthetics.
7. A post is not a post; it’s the whole package
So now you have a great post in hand, but is that enough? Unfortunately, no!
How do you make sure that your post has the “reach” that it deserves? Promoting your post once it has been published (whatever be the platform) is probably more important (also more work) than anything else.
Here are some of the things that I do:
- Use my social media accounts for announcing it – Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest being the primary four channels, since ours is a lifestyle blog.
- Post it in relevant groups on Facebook in order to increase views and engagement
- On an average, I never do more than 1 post a week; hence I promote it for the whole week and use Hootsuite for scheduling teasers and previews.
- Paid promotions is another great way to target the right audience, however, this depends on the brand/business and it’s vision
I know there is a lot more, I didn’t touch upon, stuff like audience personas, SEO optimization, themes, the right topics, analytics and more; but the above are the foundation before you dig deeper into the content creation game.
What did you think about this post? What is your process when you write a blog or what are some of your recommendations? I would love to hear.