This is a guest contribution from Jerry Low.
Here’s one thing I bet you don’t know about Isaac Newton – do you know Newton has the most valuable tooth in human history?
One of his teeth was sold in 1816 at auction for approximately $3,600. In today’s terms, that is about $35,000 – which cost more than a Ford Fusion Titanium car in the United States.
But how is this related to writing a great blogpost? Well, we will talk about it later (if you can’t wait, skip to point #2). But before we dig deeper, here are two more facts for you:
- According to studies, B2B companies with a blog generate 67% more leads than those that don’t have a blog.
- In another survey, 79% of best-in-class marketers rank blogs as the most effective marketing tactic.
Blogging is practically a given these days, regardless of your title or industry — and for good reason.
Though there are plenty of ingredients required to make it… rather than just write to an abyss, quality blog posts are one that you just can’t overlook.
But what exactly makes a great blog post? Here are eight tips to take your blog from good to great.
1. Make your titles count
Before anyone actually reads your post, they’re going to see your headline — and that headline often is the only consideration you get as to whether they read the post or move on, so make it count.
Coming up with decent headlines isn’t always the easiest thing to do, but by creating a good set of headline templates that you can use later for brainstorming and writing reference, you’ll save yourself time on the back end — not to mention beat out writers’ block when it strikes.
A little more on headlines
Keep in mind the following when it comes to developing headlines for your blog posts:
Don’t under-estimate the value of a good “how to”
Every article seems at least a little bit interesting when you add “how to” into the title. I wouldn’t be surprised to see “How to pour plain water into a glass in 49 ways” go viral one day. And you know what? I’d probably read it. “How to” just inspire curiosity.
Incorporate “How to” in different ways and in different places in your headline. For example, you might do “49 ways to pour water” or “How to pour water: 49 unique ways” or even “49 unique ways to pour water into a glass: the how-to you need to see to believe.”
By placing the “how to” statement at different points in your headline and adding in adjectives or other lead ins, you’re able to adjust your levels of directness or drama.
If it bleeds, it leads
Not all words are created equal, so use them appropriately and carefully. Some words are soft and picturesque, some are impactful, heavy, threatening, and powerful… you get the idea.
Words like “kill,” “bleed,” “scary,” “dark,” “war,” and “secret,” for example, are quite powerful and quickly draw intrigue. They can also drive directly to a point –or, conversely, simply create an interesting play on words. Consider your purpose.
For example, “The war on words” creates a very different headline than “Why are there so many bad blogs?” Frankly, it just sounds more interesting and impactful. Or, take the following — which of these two headlines would you rather read: “Bleeding Blue… Democrats Take All” or “Democrats Win Seats Tuesday”?
3. Ride on the famous
Famous people have pull and persuasion — use that. This isn’t to say that you can start making up quotes or statements supposedly from Sandra Bullock… but you can use what (and who) you know and have access to.
Every industry has its power players — allude to them or incorporate them smartly and relevantly.
For example, “8 Ways to Think Like Warren Buffet — Create a Powerful Rapport With Your Readers,” mentions a well-known industry authority in a non-attributive way that still establishes know-how and intrigue. “Develop a Steve Jobs-quality Vision for your Company” is another example — it includes a well-known, respected persona in a neutral way to gain interest and establish legitimacy. It works for all industries — fashion and beauty? Try something like “5 Fall Outfits Even Anna Wintour Would Approve of.”
2. Open with a bang
When someone reads your blog, you have just a few seconds to hook that reader, so make every word count and make every word interesting. If you can hook visitors to read even just your first two or three sentences, they’ll be more likely to read your whole post.
There are many different types of hooks you can use in your blogpost. To name a few:
- Shock the readers with interesting facts.
- Use a quote that meshes up with your topic.
- Ask a question to spark readers’ curiosity.
Make use of fact sites (example – this, this, and this) to find interesting facts and data. The story about Isaac Newton’s tooth earlier, for example, is a hook I use to attract more reads.
3. Write how you speak
People read when what they’re reading is fun… corporate or formal tones are not fun to read, so loosen it up a bit.
Write your blog in fun, easy-to-understand language that takes a more personal tone. This is what distinguishes your blog from a whitepaper or other corporate communication — and, it’s why people will read your blog. They want to know what you’re up to and they want to know you (assuming you have something to say, that is) — so let them get to know you. Share your thoughts in your writing and let them get to know you by not only what you say, but how you say it.
Nenad Senic says it beautifully:
“Write like you talk. I love English for that. No matter what industry you’re coming from, write the way you talk. Writing blog posts is like giving advice or/and making a point…Your goal is to be understood. You want to get your message across. You can’t do so with cold, bureaucratic-like language.”
4. Use images to your advantage
It’s common sense, but also statistically proven again and again: articles that incorporate images attract more back links and views. Choose images that are not only relevant, but that are actually interesting. Avoid generic clip art, people can smell cheesy a mile away.
Personally, Pixabay and Compfight are my favorite sources for high quality, beautiful, and free photos. I love Pixabay due to its flexibility (no attribution is needed for images found on Pixabay!) and Compfight due to its flawless user-experience (very easy to search images). And, in case you want more, here’s a list of 20+ free image sources for bloggers.
5. Give your post flow and structure
Good blog posts are easy and fun to read not only because of how they say and the tone or language — they’re also easy to read because they’re well structured. Things like sub headlines, bullet points, images, tables, and other visual elements help to guide the reader’s eye and makes it easy for people to follow and read.
Easy reading gets more reading — it’s true.
6. Be social, be friendly
Want to get your blog posts read more frequently? Make it easy for people to share on social media.
When people see something they like, they like to share it with people they know — so making it easy for them to do so will direct more traffic to your blog. Simple share buttons for the major social networks are free and easy to install on your blogs — in fact, 54 percent of the 10,000 largest websites now display social sharing links and, according to a recent study, websites with a Twitter share button get 700% more sharing than their social media unfriendly counterparts.
Not into the buttons or want to draw even more attention? Don’t be shy — use call to actions to better interact with your readers and encourage them to share the post.
7. Have your own voice
You remember in #4 when we talked about writing more in the way you speak? This is your voice — use it.
Your voice is your personality — and it’s what sells your blog and makes it unique. Don’t try to be someone you’re not and never be too shy to show your personality. Your blog is your own — you’re allowed (and supposed to) share your opinions and even stand up to criticism. It’s your opinion… that’s the beauty of it!
In truth, controversial posts often get more links and attention on social media… that isn’t to say that you should write with the intention of picking fights — just don’t be afraid to be yourself, opinions, personality, and all.
8. Ask for what you want
Ever read something and end up thinking something to the extent of, “and….?” Don’t write an “and…?” piece.
Make sure that every blog post has a specific point and a specific objective. That objective might be to gain social media shares, email sign-ups, or traffic to another page — the objective can change, so long as each post has one. Don’t be afraid to ask for what you want — directness is good and clearly communicates to your readers. A solid call to action will accomplish this beautifully — let your readers know exactly what you want them to do.
Not sure what will work?
Do some A/B testing to determine which approach works best with your readers.
Now over to you!
These are my tips above to keep your blog post on the “great” list.
There are lots of things that separate a great blog and great posts from the rest. Do you agree with the points I mentioned in this article? What’s in your must have factors for a great blogpost? I look forward to your input in the comment section.
Thanks Stacey, Great article
Thanx Stacey, great articles for me as beginner..
All the mentioned tips and tricks are excellent but to be “patient” is the most important one for newbies and intermediate bloggers.
Success and being known for your writing and blog content does not come overnight. Use these tips but learn to be patient and motivated to your cause. Be persistent and your writing and blog posts will earn you a name one day – don’t try the short cuts. There is no short cut to experience.
Excellent article Jerry, thanks for sharing and a great refresher for all of us.
Thanks for idea.. however, if you put one point.. promotion’ i think it will be faster for getting more popularity. Is it true? or today SEO had changed..
Please give me idea. Thanks
Great post for new bloggers. I find having a great headline, great content and great imagery is the trifecta for a perfect blog post.
If you don’t have a great headline, who will tweet, share or like it? Who will even click on your post it to read it?
If your content lacks quality, you will definitely lose readership, so when you blog, make it original, creative and let your personality shine.
Imagery seems to bring it all together. I also like using Pixabay. I also like Splitshire. Both these free image sites are easy to use and have great photos to choose from.
Hey Elna, glad you like my post. Yes Splitshire is another great source for some free beautiful images – will add them in the image source round up post when I got time.
I like your 8 tips and will implement. Ironic about your “how-to” statement. Instead of using the word “blog” on my toolbar of my website I call it “How-to’s”. Just sounded more alluring to me. Thanks again. P.T.
That’s a smart move. Have you track the difference in CTR (between How-to’s and Blog)? Would love to learn more about the stats.
Just took a quick look on your blog btw – looks great! :)
Stacey? Shouldn’t that be Jerry :)
Anyway, great tips. I especially like the tip about Pixabay and Compfight. I will definitely have a look at those two. I am always in need of quality pictures and it is great if they are free and do not require an attribution.
The tip about keeping it easy is very valuable as well. In the past I used to make my articles way to complicated. But my joy for writing increased when I started to focus on clear and easy writing. I think my readers are more happy as well.
What I also like is simplicity and minimalist design around a blog post. For example, I really admire the Zen Habits blog of Leo Babauta, There is practically nothing that can distract you when reading his posts. Very calming.
Yeah – not sure why some folks here thought it’s Stacey. Anyway glad you like the post, and thanks for the reference to Leo’s blog.
Sometimes my name appears at the very top if I’ve uploaded it – and people often don’t look past that! This one I changed to Guest Blogger though, so not sure why people still think it was me! Weeeeird. Good work Jerry :)
Your points are good but you missed one very important thing that you need do to achieve greatness. I know it sounds a little cliched BUT you just cannot ignore “networking with other members of your community”. For any upcoming blog, that is what is going to bring you in the limelight. Actively network with fellow bloggers and promote your blog.
All your points are very essential but I thing this “networking” part also merited a mention.
Excellent article. I’ve used many of the points you have addressed here and I agree with them all 100% especially the write how you speak. The catchy titles I’ve been experimenting with and I can certainly tell the difference with traffic. The “How to” posts absolutely catch attention as does that first paragraph which you mention. Spending time putting posts together shows when you visit blogs and really does make a difference to the readers.
Great blog post! Thank you very much for sharing. I am looking forward to trying out some of your suggestions on my own blog.
Having a point is certainly important. There are too many bloggers who think that a blog post is pretty much anything they want to write.
But finding a good point and arguing it well is an art and demands practice. Just write, write some more, and then some!
Good article. Thanks, I write articles on how to’s and I am just a baby in the blogging world. Just started a blog and need quality articles like this to grow.
Being social is indeed one of the key to success, with this you can reach brand awareness and attract customers!
Have to disagree with your title at least. The article summarizes good ideas for creating compelling content, however compelling content will not take your blog to greatness.
Greatness requires distribution. Writing for social sharing can get you some adoption. But guest posting, as you’re doing here on ProBlogger, is how you get distribution.
Don’t get me wrong, distribution with bad content will only get you so far, but it will get you further than great content with bad distribution. Best to have both great content and great distribution. But don’t think great content alone will get you the success you want.
Jack, absolutely agree! Which is why I wrote this a few weeks ago here: https://problogger.com/5-ways-to-grow-your-blog-without-relying-on-google-traffic/
Content is ONLY king if it gets read. So writing compelling headlines and adding beautiful images is only part of the game; getting distributed is another key piece of the puzzle.
Thanks for the comment.
It is well written post. In fact the power of how to amazing. It creates curiosity in every one,s Mind. Readers are usually people who love, thing done in better way. So when ever they came across HOW, they Cant stop themselves from reading it.
Thanks for the compliments. Well I guess you’d remember Newton has the most expensive tooth in human history for a very long time, yeah?
Great article. I used some of methods above to develop my blog. It’s so useful.
Thank you so much!
These tips are great for newbies, and serve as a good reminder for seasoned bloggers. :)
I love problogger.net, anytime i branch at this site i always learn new, great article
From number 1-8 all are excellent tips.
Keep it up
More of this
Wow! It was really fun to read whole article. I loved the way you grabbed my attention in the start by mentioning about Newton’s tooth. Thanks for giving such great tips.
this article is pillar and relevant to both newbie and pro bloggers. i have learn t a lot from this. every blogger should strive to create value. this is the single secret of success. write good contents, connect to relevant people and be friendly. thanks for this post
Thanks for sharing such an informative article with us. This post has provided me some good ways on how to write catchy blog post. Waiting for some more tips.
I love these tips of yours and surely gonna implement them to my blog.Thanks for sharing.
I will definitely follow this eight rules and try to increase the quality of my blog. There have no doubts that these are very strong and impressive tips.
Jerry thanks so much for this information. I am currently working on refining both my focus and my technique. Hard work but fun. You were very clear and concise and I feel like like I have a better defined direction thanks to you.
This is the beauty of building a business blog from scratch. Committed bloggers have to understand one thing. The fact is taking the blog to the public might step will require patience and “lots and lots of content.” This is also the beauty of “doing the transformation work” as an entrepreneur. Inspiration or desperation, just keep going and creating [lots and lots of content] for your blog and strive for excellence tirelessly building and sustaining positive relationships with your blog readers. When least expected, your blog traffic will grow so will your affiliate marketing revenue.
Great article and steps, well explained. To get highly interesting and authoritative blog you will need to work hard (of course), get super interesting and engaging content and make sure it is so interesting that visitors will start to boost it thru their social accounts. Then you get the online social signals and results.
Great ideas, they’ve already helped me come up with a handful of new posts that I’m excited to write! Thank you.
A little late to the comment party…
A nice bunch of tips. I found #3. ‘Write how you speak’ interesting.
Adding to it: take a go at using voice recognition tools. It’s been a big game changer for me. No more sitting down typing away. I walk around the room and speak what I want to say. Yep, there’s some editing to be done later but over time it decreases.
Long gone are the days labouring over the keyboard pushing out blog posts. I write (speak) less, seem to say more, have a unique voice and am actually enjoying blogging again.