Writing effectively is as much an art as it is a science, and blog writing is no exception.
Having a blog can be a great way to connect with your audience and share your knowledge. It’s also a way to establish yourself as an expert in a particular area.
However, there are literally millions of blogs published everyday. How do you stand out in that? How do you ensure you have exactly what your audience is looking for so that they stay on your site and don’t go elsewhere?
When I first started blogging, I had no idea what I was doing. Truth be told, I’m still not sure that I do sometimes. But one thing I have learnt is that structure in a blog post is very important. Blog writing is a lot more like essay writing than it is writing fiction.
Don’t believe me?
How to structure a blog post
Have a clear introduction
Every blog post should have a clear introduction that maps out what your blog post is about. Some writers also include an anecdote or explain why they’re an authority on the topic.
It’s a good way to draw your reader in and show them why they should follow your advice and not someone else’s. It’s also something I’m terrible at doing—my mind just goes blank! I’m planning on working on them this year, so if you have any suggestions I’d love to hear them in the comments 🙂
The average attention span in 2017 is just eight seconds. That means most people won’t have the attention span to read your post, no matter how much work you’ve put into it.
So how do you get their attention?
Headings allow users to skim your post and refer back to the points they’re most interested in. They should be enough to whet their appetite, nothing more. The longer you make your headings, the more difficult you make it for readers to skim read.
Keep paragraphs short
The shorter your paragraphs, the easier they are to skim read.
This is one of the main ways that blog writing, essay writing, and everything you’re taught in Creative Writing class differs.
Blog writing isn’t about making paragraphs as long as they need to be, it’s about breaking it up in appropriate places so that your readers find your post easy to digest.
Longer paragraphs, much like longer headings, make skim reading hard.
Write in plain English
Blog posts aren’t the place for purple prose and intricate metaphors.
The longer, more complicated your sentences are, the more difficult it is to retain your readers’ attention.
Keep it simple. Always.
Use compelling imagery
Using imagery that ties in with your points breaks up your blog post and helps to keep your audience’s attention. Pretty images also catch someone’s eye as they scroll through and give them a reason to pause.
However, all images used in your post should relate to the contents of your post in some way.
Have a conclusion
Tie things up at the end with a conclusion summing up your points, much like you would in an essay.
This is another thing I’m bad at and want to work on this year. There’s nothing worse than reading something that stops abruptly without so much as a ‘bye’.
Have some sort of call to action at the end
You’ll notice on The Writer’s Cookbook I have an ‘over to you’ section where I suggest topics for further discussion, and also a link to my free email course.
Blogging is all very well and good, but why are you doing it? What do you want your readers to do in exchange for this titbit of information? Sign up to your mailing list? Leave a comment? Share your post?
Make sure the call to action at the end of your post is clear and direct.
Blog writing is far more like writing essays than fiction. It’s important to:
- Have an introduction that explains why they should read your post on the topic, not someone else’s
- Break it up using headings
- Keep paragraphs short
- Writing should be in plain English. You’ll lose people if it isn’t
- Save the purple prose and complicated metaphors for your epic fantasy or poetry
- Use images that tie in with—and back up—your arguments
- Wrap things up with a conclusion
- Have a call to action at the end, even if it’s just a link to your social media accounts
Over to You
What ingredients do you think a great blog post needs? Which blogs do you think do a great job of this?