Editor’s note: This is a contributed post by Issa Mirandilla, who writes about freelancing, writing, marketing, careers, personal finance and other business-related topics. Give her a nudge on Twitter or visit her website here.
Remember how Ratatouille’s Chef Gusteau said: "Anyone can cook, but only the fearless can be great"? You can easily rewrite his inspiring words as, "Anyone can write a blog post, but only the fearless bloggers can be great."
See, a good idea or topic, decent spelling and grammar, and a strong mastery of the essay form are enough for a good blog post. But if you want to write a great blog post, or one that makes people go "Wow! I’ll share this on Facebook!" instead of "Meh, this is nothing special", you have to go further than the essentials.
Here’s how you can do it.
Recommended Reading: 6 Simple Tips To Write Your Next Killer Post
1. Hook Them With The First Sentence
Admittedly, this is the hardest part of writing a blog post. That’s because the first sentence should be able to reel in the reader, and at the same time, give them an idea what your post will be all about.
You can start with a:
- Thought-provoking question – "Do you know what a blog post and a sandwich have in common?"
- Quote – "Ernest Hemingway once said: ‘There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.’
- Statistic – "According to the Official Federation of Bloggers*, 99.9 percent of bloggers experience writer’s block."
- Story – "The other day, I had a Newtonian experience. That is, an apple fell on my head."
*Disclaimer: This is a hypothetical example. As of this writing, the Official Federation of Bloggers doesn’t exist.
2. Make Every Word, Phrase & Sentence Count
Because Internet users’ attention spans are shrinking by the day, you have to work harder to hold your readers’ attention from the beginning until the end of your post. To do that, every word, phrase, sentence, and even punctuation mark must add something to your piece.
A handy trick is to read your draft out loud. If it feels like you’re explaining things too slowly, or you’re falling asleep to your own voice (gasp!), you may need to edit the extraneous bits. Your draft could possibly feel "incomplete", in which case, you can insert additional information to clarify your thoughts or strengthen your arguments.
3. Shorten Your Sentences, If Possible
In relation to the tip, here’s a rough guide to help you decide whether you should cut down a kilometric sentence.
Do your eyes glaze over while reading a sentence? Do you read a sentence out loud, and lose your breath by the end of it? Do you see too many adjectives, adverbs, and other words that don’t add anything to a sentence?
If any of these happen, shorten it! Otherwise, that kilometric sentence is probably fine as is.
4. Use Simple, Yet Precise, Words
You know how MS Word’s "Shift + F7" pulls words from the more obscure parts of the thesaurus? Well, you might not want to rely on that function too much. Readers hate it when you bombard them with highfalutin jargon. Not only do these words sour the reading experience, but they also make your blog post look stilted and pretentious.
Instead of trying to sound "smart", try to sound sensible. Use words that best convey your idea and can be understood by the layman. For example, "to utilize resources" can be shortened as "to use resources".
5. Play With Analogies
Blogging is like dating. It’s not enough that you make a great impression on the first date. You also have to show, again and again on your following dates, that you’re a person worth someone’s time, commitment, and love.
See what I did there?
6. Throw In A Few Pop Culture References
Pop culture references add flavor to your blog post. They give your readers the impression that you’re relatable, and therefore likeable.
That said, be mindful of your audience when using these references. You may think that "The Beatles" are the greatest rock band of all time, but referencing the Fab Four while writing for "One Direction" fans may not be the best idea in the world.
7. Make Your Post Unique (Even If The Idea Isn’t)
Let’s face it: coming up with 100% original blog post ideas is anything but easy. If you run your topic through a quick Google search, chances are someone else has already written about it. So, what should a blogger do in this scenario? It’s simple, really.
Find a new angle.
If someone already came up with "5 Reasons Why You Should Try Freelancing", you can write a post about the darker side of freelancing like "20 Reasons To Say ‘No’ To Freelancing". Or you can run with "5 More Reasons Why You Should Try Freelancing".
8. End With A Punchy Conclusion
So, you’re done with your introduction and body. Now, it’s time to write the conclusion, which is just as hard to write as (if not harder than) the introduction. The easiest way out of your dilemma is to summarize all your points in the conclusion. Then again, that would be boring, since that’s what most bloggers do.
Instead, you can either end with a thought-provoking question or a call-to-action; or restate your main point, and persuade your reader to care about your point.
A Few More Tips (a.k.a. Something That Resembles A Conclusion)
These rules aren’t set in stone. Feel free to use them – or not – depending on what’s appropriate for your piece. What matters is consistently writing posts that are engaging, informative, and unique enough to keep your readers coming back for more.