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I built my first online journal in 1996 before they were called blogs or even weblogs. I have been coding websites before there was WordPress, and CSS was a new technology. Now I spend my time writing blog posts for my travel blog, The Frightened Traveler, and publishing stories on Medium.com, and I’ve learned a thing or two. There is a formula that works best for creating these pieces.
Good writing is good writing no matter where you post, but if you genuinely want to get ahead of the game, follow the tips below.
Steal All the Best Topics – But Research Them Yourself First
Don’t ever kid yourself that anything you can think of will be unique. Everything you envision is a product of what you have been exposed to in your life and the experiences you have had. Don’t try to reinvent the light bulb, copy the light bulb, and create your own spin on it.
For blogs, I like to do a search on Pinterest for a topic and scroll through the pins that come up. Look at the headlines, and if something jumps out at you, read it. Take notes and figure out how you can do something similar, but different. You want to put your own spin on it. Plagiarism isn’t cool, but trying a new turn on an idea is the highest form of flattery.
After you have a list of possible ideas for blog posts, open your Google keyword planner, and see if people want to read what you want to write. If enough people are searching for the topic, it’s a good bet that your post could generate some traffic.
Consider Your Audience, or Consider Them Gone
I can’t stress enough that if you find a topic you are interested in, you check to see if the blog post has a lot of likes and shares. Most blogs will have a bar that shows the number of shares to social media. If people are sharing, you know they care enough about the subject to read more.
Use Buzzsumo. If you can afford it, it is an indispensable tool that will tell you if your topic or idea has merit. It will tell you if others who wrote about this topic got any traction with it. If they did, it’s your job to do better and improve on what they have done.
Consider what your readers want. Do your homework. There is nothing worse than publishing and having no response.
Put a Personal Spin on the Story
Whatever subject you are writing about, make it a point to add something about your personal experience. I’ve found that adding a personal touch to a post gives it that something special that will make people read and share more readily.
There is a point where you can be too personal.
Sometimes, in particular niches, people only want information, and adding too much personal information will turn the reader off.
You’ll know when you’ve crossed a line. If you do, fix it the best you can and don’t make the same mistake again.
Put Some Serious Work into Your Headline
I wouldn’t be wrong if I said the most critical part of your post is the headline or title. If you don’t make an impact in the beginning, your post will never be read and acted on.
Write several headlines and see which ones work the best. On blogs, I’ve found longer, more descriptive headlines work best.
One of the best tools I’ve found when it comes to checking the effectiveness of headlines is the ShareThrough Headline Analyzer. You will get a headline quality score, among other things. I ran my headline through the analyzer, and it came out above average.
It was good, so I ran with it. Try it for yourself and see if it improves your headlines.
The Opening is an Opportunity
After your headline, your introduction is the most important.
When you get a reader’s attention, you want to drag them into the story and give them no choice but to find out what happens next.
The first line is especially important. You want to grab the reader by the shorts and don’t let go until they read and share.
Quotes, facts, shocking details, and questions work very well in your introduction.
Headings Make the Heart Grow Fonder
The worst thing you can do is have one long page of text.
You want to break it up with headings that introduce what you will be talking about in the section. Don’t be boring, try to generate some interest and lead them down the page.
Don’t be afraid to use different levels of headings to break information down even further. Headings, when used with formatting techniques like lists and quotes, will add visual interest to an otherwise dry experience.
Using Bold and Italic
Don’t be afraid to use bold and italic sparingly in your posts.
Use bold to call out unfamiliar or essential words. You don’t want to use bold too much. Like anything, use it in moderation.
Bold can also be used to highlight the first sentence of a long paragraph. I always tend to use shorter ones, but sometimes a topic needs to be discussed at length. You may need to make the paragraph longer and more involved. The bolding helps to introduce what you will be discussing.
Google Considerations – SEO is Your Friend
Making content that Google loves will also create content that readers love. Both are looking for the most exciting and engaging information on a given topic. Design your content for both, and you will never go wrong.
Embed Links When You Can
Google likes links. They want outbound links that connect to sites of authority. You can find a lot of information on the web about the kind of websites Google likes you to link to in your posts.
Google also likes internal links to pages within your own domain. It helps them index your site and creates a better experience for the user.
Keywords are King
You should use keywords, especially in headings and the first paragraph of your post. Keywords and keyphrases help Google figure out how to best rank your pages in the search results.
Try to shoot for longer keyphrases (long-tail keywords) as it will be easier to rank higher for them. It would be tough to rank on the first page of Google for most single keywords.
As much as you want to sprinkle keywords throughout your post and headings, don’t overdo it. Google hates keyword stuffing, and so does your reader because it sounds forced and unnatural.
Closing Like a Champ
After you have created an excellent post, don’t leave the reader hanging. Summarize what you’ve talked about and make an impactful closing statement.
An engaging conclusion is as vital as an attention-grabbing introduction.
Editing and Proofreading – Always Do It
After you’ve finished your first draft and before you publish, go back and edit where necessary. If you have sections that need more explanation, add to it and make it more robust. In places where you are too wordy, remove the filler and make it easier to read.
Proofread your work checking for spelling and grammar errors. When done, check your work with Grammarly to ensure you’ve missed nothing obvious.
Read your work aloud and fix any areas that don’t flow properly. Spend as much time polishing your work as you did creating it.
Your reader will thank you.
Publish Your Masterpiece
When you are happy with the work you have done, it’s time to publish. Make sure you reread your published work to make sure that it is formatted correctly.
Many little things make a good post. But, if you pay attention to these big things that we talked about, you will come out with a finished product that your readers will rave about and share.
Don’t leave it up to chance. Do these things every time!