Writing Effective Blog Posts

writers Have you ever dissected my blog posts to see how I do them? Not that there’s one right way and tons of wrong ways, and not that I know everything. ( Brian Clark and Darren Rowse know everything!) But I do have a way that I tend to write blog posts, and if you’re interested, I’ll break it down for you, if only to demonstrate the thinking behind what I’m doing.

First Moves

My first steps are to think up a topic, translate that into a good title, and then find a suitable Creative Commons photo on Flickr. That’s right off the bat, and that’s what gets things going. I think a solid title from the topic is my first start, because I’m trying to tempt you to read through on your reader of choice. The picture? I forget where, but someone nice told me a picture with a post draws our attention, and I agree.

My Lead Paragraph

My first paragraph is written conversationally and from my point of view. I often tell a really short story about something relating to the topic. Why? Because I’m trying to engage YOU right away. If I can ask a question that gets you thinking about yourself, that’s even better.

Structure

Note that I use the “strong” tag to separate segments throughout the post. There are a few reasons to do that:

  • It gives your eyes a way to skim.
  • It breaks up the post.
  • It rolls into an easy summary.

I also use bullets when appropriate. Same reason. It gives your eyes something to do.

You might also note that I try to keep my paragraph length short. There are two reasons. One is that it looks less daunting that way. Two, I’m a fan of the book THE SHIPPING NEWS, and that brevity stuck with me. Sometimes, I have to write a long post, but I try to stay somewhat brief within the post.

Lead With the Best Stuff

Other hints I have for getting people to appreciate your posts is that I put the best stuff up front, in case you don’t have enough time. Further, I definitely follow the old, “say what you’re going to say, say it, tell them what you just said” method. Only, I try not to be clunky with it.

End With a Question

This isn’t a gimmick, but it works really well. I ask the community (you!) what YOU think, because often times, you’ll add something way better than what I started with. It’s also a great reason to swing by and check out the actual page, instead of just sticking in the reader IF the topic is worth it to you.

Does It Work?

My blog traffic is increasing slowly over time. It gets big spikes here and there from reaching the front page of this or that news aggregator site, or from being linked by great blogs like Lifehacker or Problogger, but overall, the community is growing organically, and I like it.

So tell me, does it work for YOU? You come by here all the time. What do you think? And what would you tell people that I’ve missed here?

Photo credit, ccarlstead

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