Work in an office and chances are, you’ve got a cheat sheet, a style guide, an outline, or a standard response. Scripts you stick to and checklists you check so your output is what everyone wants and needs it to be.
Blogging is as serious as working in an office, even if you blog at your vanity desk, at 5am before your family wakes up and claims you. Here’s your cheat sheet: stick to this and every blog post can be the best you can make it.
❏ A Magnetic Headline
If you’re not yet seasoned enough for this to come easy for you, check out these tips for writing magnetic headlines without the headache. 80% of readers only read the blog post titles– only 20% actually proceed to read the blog post. You want them to read your blog post. So hook them in with a great headline.
❏ An optimized and succinct meta description.
This goes to search engine results, and makes you look good. If you don’t have this, Google just takes the first sentence (or two, or three) from your first paragraph – as long as it fits. And when it no longer fits, it gets cut off. What the blog post is about might or might not be there. Add a description to your post! (Plugins like the All In One SEO Pack help you do this the easy way.)
❏ A timestamp
Neil Patel says he doesn’t trust blog posts without a timestamp. You should include the date on every post. This gives you accountability, letting your readers know your post is evergreen, with updated content.
❏ Social sharing buttons
Place them on the left side. Readers’ eyes move down, from left to right. Take advantage of that. Make it convenient for them to hit the Share buttons by putting those buttons where their eyes land. They might want to share the article already before they even finish reading the article. THAT’s why you place the buttons on the side, on a sticky widget, instead of at the top or at the bottom of the post.
❏ Visual magnets
Feature images should tell a little about your blog post AND make your readers look good when they share your blog post. Small or boring images don’t really have the visual impact to attract more potential readers from your readers’ friends, do they? Make your images big and appealing.
Infographics are great for social media sharing, and handy for your readers to print and consult over time.
Choose funny and warm rather than too-scripted stock photos. You can include a comic strip or cartoon related to your topic. Something to grin about in the middle of your piece!
❏ A first paragraph that hooks.
You can do this by:
- stating a problem your readers face and want to solve
- telling a story
The first few sentences should hook your readers and glue them where they sit.
❏ Visually easy text
- Keep each line at 50-60 characters wide (75 maximum).
- Use bullets or lists.
- Keep every paragraph at 2-4 lines. Use bigger paragraphs only on occasion.
❏ Stats and a stand
Give your readers facts: It gives you credibility. It shows you’ve done your research about what you’re discussing.
And give your readers your own feelings on the matter. Nothing dramatic or overblown. Reading is a conversation. Why do you think we get hypnotized by novels or memoirs? We fall into the personal journey of people’s lives, fictional or not.
A blog is just as personal. To have personality, express your conviction in every word, every opinion. Sure, someone might not agree with you– but that’s normal. You could even trigger discussion!
Don’t try too hard to be funny, but do make it easy for your readers to laugh with you, and adore your writing style. Express your true self. If you’re snarky, write that way!
❏ Links to high authority sites
External links give you credibility, both with your readers and Google. Whatever you write, however unique it seems to be, someone else has probably already written at least something about it. While I was doing this list, I found one on Hubspot!
Link to your sources. Link to your inspirations and influencers. Ideally, according to Neil Patel, a post should have a minimum of 4 external links.
❏ Sub headings
They break up the text in longer, meaty posts, AND give you SEO score. Make the most of your sub-headings. Say something with them. If your reader is only scanning through the piece, he/she should still glean information and/or get hooked into reading deeper through your sub-headings.
If you feel your blog post is too short to need sub headings, it probably is. So write more. Provide more details. The deeper you dig, the more you (and your reader) discover something unique.
❏ Close strongly
You started with a hook. End with a bang, or at least a strong sizzle. A strong conclusion makes the post memorable.
- Ask them something to think about.
- Provide a TL;DR (too long; didn’t read) summary. A wrap up. Some takeaways!
- Don’t forget the call to action. This directs your readers on what to do next: Comment? Share? Tell them. They’ll do it.
❏ A user-friendly comment system
Is your comment system easy to use? Or do you require ANOTHER sign-in? Weigh the pros and cons of easy versus verified commenting.
Which of these items do you often forget with your blog posts?
Share in the comments below!