If you’re reading this blog post, then you probably have felt the familiar sting of writing something you were really excited about, only to discover that just 12 people read it. We’ve all been there, trust me.
As a blogger and social media manager for Post Planner, I’m often asked the secret for pulling readers in and keeping them coming back for more. Luckily, my experience with Post Planner gives me the opportunity to see firsthand “blogging best practices” that work. In our case, we went from 9,000 readers a month to more than 500,000 in just little over a year, so I’m happy to say it has worked.
Want more than 12 readers to see your post? Here are seven tips to write a blog that people will actually read:
1. Know your audience.
Before you open your blog and let your fingers loose, you need to have a clear understanding of your target audience.
Ask yourself simple questions like:
• Who are they (gender, age)?
• What do they do for a living?
• What do they want to know about?
A better understanding of your audience can help you build engagement through your blog posts. Generic blogs about generic stuff fall into an Internet black hole—never catching anyone’s attention. Writing about things your audience really wants is what separates blogs with 12 readers from blogs with, well, more than that.
2. Choose a topic that interests you, too.
Without a topic, you don’t have a blog post. I usually start with brainstorming a headline and a few keywords. The first few things you type don’t have to be genius, but there has to be something there, enough to give you an idea of what you want to say and the direction you’re going to take.
For example, this blog started out as “how to write a good blog post” and slowly morphed in and out of different angles, like “tools to take your blog post to the next level” and “blogging lessons I wished I knew when I started writing.”
I’ve found that people skip or don’t spend enough time going through the different angles and ideas on what they can write. Give an idea time to roll around on that blank Word doc and develop in an open-mind state, instead of being too focused on writing for search only.
3. Find your writing style.
Once you have all your headlines and initial ideas sorted, it’s time to write. Let me ask you a quick question: What is your writing style? Do you keep blog posts short and sweet, to the point, or do you write long, detailed articles? Do you like fact speak or flowery sentences? Do you get personal, or are you all business?
For me, I prefer to keep it personal and write in first person if the topic lends itself to that. Since I know who my readers are, putting myself in my writing allows me to better connect with my audience through conversational posts.
Here’s what not to try: becoming someone you aren’t. I did this once and I was so focused on keeping my blog posts “professional” that my writing slumped into something dull and boring—because it wasn’t natural. So if it doesn’t come easily or feel right, don’t force it. Write your way and watch the words flow.
No matter your voice, though, there are some simple formatting tweaks you should think about adding to your blog posts to make them more inviting:
• Quotes. Break up monotonous text with a few bursts of inspiration, as long as it doesn’t interrupt necessary flow.
• Lists and subheads. Chunk your content into scannable pieces.
• Short paragraphs. They’re less intimidating.
4. Write a great intro.
If you want readers to continue reading your blog posts, you’ve got to grab their attention with an irresistible introduction. While the art of an intro takes time and a lot of practice, there are two easy tricks you can use to change the way you open your article:
• Start with a question. Worried people might be invading your privacy on Facebook? The idea is to get people curious enough to continue reading your article.
• State a fact or make a declaration. Everyone knows how to take a selfie.
It might sound obvious, but make sure your introduction actually relates to your article, otherwise you’d be left with angry readers who feel like they’ve wasted their time and that they’ve been cheated.
5. Pick a super-catchy title.
After you type that last sentence, it’s time to get creative with your working title. You brainstormed ideas to get you started writing, but now you have to go back to craft one that fits the final words on the page.
It’s harder than it sounds, and I have to admit that this is one of my weakest spots and one that I continuously practice.
“On the average, five times as many people read the headline as read the body copy. When you have written your headline, you have spent eighty cents out of your dollar.” —The Father of Advertising, David Ogilvy
To get you started on a hit title, here are a few go-to templates I carry with me:
• How to
• X Ways to
• Little Known Ways to
• X Reasons You Should
• Who Else Wants ?
• Here’s the Quick and Simple Way to
• The Secret of
• What Everybody Should Know about
• Do You Wish ?
• The Most Effective Way to Get
Then, once you’ve published a good amount of blogs, go back and study them. At Post Planner, we keep a document of every single blog post that we’ve written, as well as the number of shares they got on social media. That way we can determine our top-performing ones, what works and what doesn’t—and do it all over again.