Blogs are very powerful tools and have great potential for encouraging meaningful and far-reaching engagement. The following points will help you make the most of your blog posts. The list is by no means exhaustive but will go a long way to help drive traffic and grow natural interest and support.
1. The Title
In the words of pioneering US copywriter and advertiser, John Capels, “If you use a poor headline, it does not matter how hard you labor over your copy because your copy will not be read.”
If your title isn’t engaging or eye-catching, the rest of the blog or article is unlikely to be read. This doesn’t mean you should give your posts tabloid-sensationalised or misleading titles but there is always a way to draw in a reader. Short titles and intriguing titles are definitely best. Avoid being too cryptic, though.
Titles like “How to…” or “5 ways to…” tend to draw a reader in more readily than a more dry and matter-of-fact title. These sorts of titles don’t always need to be used and sometimes don’t fit but creating a number of posts like this can really help to drive traffic.
2. Make your blog post easy to digest
- Cut back the preamble and cut to the chase.
- Avoid big chunks of text. You will lose your reader.
- Some websites are even making a new paragraph for each new sentence.
- You can also break up text using subheadings.
- Bullet Points also make a post easier and more desirable to read.
- Punctuate text with relevant pictures that have captions and tags.
- Pick out quotes, factoids, pertinent points and repeat them as highlighted quotes. Consider: Could they be made into an image (featuring your logo/name) that can be shared by readers on social media?
- Ask questions at the end to encourage comments and discussion.
3. Writing style
Settle on a style and tone. Remember, blogs help readers get to know you more personally so writing that is full of life and character helps people engage more readily. Avoid the sort of formal, distanced language that you might find in a school newsletter, e.g. “We are delighted to announce…”
4. The content itself
- If you’re a business or organisation, help your readers get to know you and get to know your readers and supporters – don’t just report on events.
- Key team member profiles bring life and interest. Email a few standard questions to everyone with a few additional questions tailored specifically to each person and their role. The odd cheeky or off-topic question can add a touch of colour too. Ask them to answer each question in three or four simple sentences and you will (very easily) have generated lots of varied and interesting blog posts that will be easy to read and digest as the text will be naturally broken up by each Q&A.
- A day in the life of our patron/CEO/star fundraiser is a good way to highlight your work in a very real and friendly way.
- Recent research. Do you have access to unique data and/or carry out research that can be written up in a way that might be sought after online? Posts showcasing interesting statistics will attract attention.
- Did You Know? Is there a range of surprising facts that might seem obvious/old news to you but might be very new and interesting to someone who hasn’t thought much about your area of expertise or business before?
5. Getting it out there
- Once you’ve published a blog post you will obviously want to get it out on all social media.
- Is there a prominent set of social media sharing buttons on each blog post so readers can share it quickly and easily on their own social media?
- Email anyone you’ve mentioned or tagged in a blog post. This will be welcome mail for them and they’re likely to share with their audience.
6. A note on SEO
In short, don’t worry about Search Engine Optimisation too much. Not long ago, people were writing blog posts very strategically, trying to second-guess the Google algorithm by repeating key words within their text. This often resulted in very dry, repetitious content. It may have got them higher in the search results but people didn’t really find it useful when they clicked on it. Google have since cottoned onto this strategy and actually seem to penalise posts that try to be too clever. Instead, the advice today is that you should just write with heart, passion and genuine interest in your own topic and Google will spot that your post will be of interest and relevance to readers. Combine this with the other tips above and you will naturally rise up the search ranks. It takes time (sometimes a couple of years) but it’s worth it.