“You can write for books. You can write for mobile. You can write for Twitter. You can write blogs. Each platform requires a different technique.”
– Paulo Coelho
People read differently in different mediums.
What may work in those mediums won’t necessarily work on a blog.
Newspapers are designed to fit as much text and photos into a limited space. That’s why you see a giant headline and blocks of text.
A block of text on the internet is one sure way to get readers to hit the back button and go back to browsing Facebook.
The physical look of a blog post matters.
Everything you do is about your readers. Make it as easy as possible for them to read your posts.
Here are a few tips when writing a blog post:
Avoid blocks of text
One or two sentences per paragraph work best.
This isn’t a hard and fast rule, but blogs tend to be written in a casual tone. It reads as if someone is talking to you. This gives the impression that it’s a real person behind the text, not a paper pushing soulless robot vomiting words.
Work on your headlines
Headlines are the most important part of a blog post. If your headline doesn’t make people want to click through in the first place, then no one will read your masterpiece.
The difference between a good headline and clickbait:
Clickbait compels the reader to click through, but doesn’t deliver on the promise of the headline.
A good headline makes people click and delivers on the promise.
For more on headlines, Writing Headlines That Gets Results
Break the content with subheads
Plenty of readers like to scan blog posts, often looking for specific parts of a post. Give them a hand and provide subheads.
Subheads act as sign posts for your content and helps break the monotony of words on a page.
For more on subheads and formatting blog posts, A Comprehensive Guide to Formatting Your WordPress Posts and Pages.
Always include a photo
Not only do photos set the tone for your post, but it serves as an inviting figure for readers.
Don’t just use any photo on the internet. You might get in trouble.
Use photos with a creative commons license.
Here are a few resources for free photos:
Unsplash.com – Free (do whatever you want) high-resolution photos.
ImageInject – WordPress plugin to find free images.
The number of words don’t matter… or do they?
When we talk to our writers, I tell them to write until they get their idea across. The number of words don’t matter.
This is a common question because most writers are used to writing for a magazine, newspaper or school. In those formats, word space is an integral part of the recipe when putting a piece together.
For web, this is less of an issue. For Zerothreetwo, we have one rule.
Write as many or as little words as you need to say what you want to say.
That said, posts with 2000 words or more have the most traffic. Google tends to reward longer posts because they generally have more meat in them.
But longer doesn’t mean better. If your content doesn’t deliver any value to your reader, don’t expect anyone to read it.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
When we were starting out, SEO seemed like a magic trick of sorts. How do we rank in Google? What key words should we focus on? What do you mean they need to crawl our site? Bots?!? What is this madness?!?
We aren’t experts, but we’ve gotten a few rules of thumb that should help you.
- Guests posts with bigger blogs help.
- The longer your site has been alive helps.
- 2000 word posts help.
- Writing helpful posts help.
The short fast rule to good SEO – Google is continually making their algorithms better. Their goal is to find content the reader wants to read. Writing for Google means writing for human beings. Don’t write for mindless bots.
To dive deep into this topic, The Beginners Guide to SEO.
Every niche is different. The best time to post for blog “A” doesn’t necessarily translate for blog “B”.
You’ll need to determine what works best for you.
In Zerothreetwo, we tend to publish posts in the morning of a weekday (except Friday) whenever possible.
The most important thing about a schedule is it keeps you consistent.
This is the dirty little secret that will separate you from the rest of the bloggers.
Most blogs die because they can’t commit to the consistency of maintaining a blog. If you can get over this hump, this will make you better than 90% of what is out there.
If you commit to 3x a week, post 3x a week. If once a week, then post once a week. If once a month, then post once a month.
The important thing is to be consistent.
Don’t waver. Don’t let up. Don’t take a week off just because you feel like it.
A few reasons for consistency:
People will look forward to reading your blog and they need to know when to expect it. Many still like to check blogs by just typing it on the URL. Not everyone signs up for your newsletter or follows your social media accounts. Staying consistent means your reader will know what to expect and can depend on new content.
Being consistent means you are working on your content. Like any skill, it takes consistent practice and time to become good at anything. Over time, you will get better at it. When you start out, you will not be good.
Types of content – evergreen vs. non-evergreen
Evergreen content stays useful to the readers today, tomorrow and well into the future.
Non – evergreen is the opposite.
A few examples:
Evergreen – travel guides, how to guides, answering frequently asked questions, etc.
For Zerothreetwo, many of the posts that drive significant traffic were written years ago. Here are a few of them
For whatever reason, these posts continue to drive significant traffic to the blog.
What evergreen content can you write?
Unless you are incredibly attractive, write world class stories, or lead an unusually interesting life, you likely aren’t going to become an online celebrity.
And that’s ok.
It’s rare for people to follow you just because.
One sure fire way to gain an audience is to be helpful.
Everyone is looking for help in one way or another. Chances are you can contribute to that as well.
One of our rules for content in Zerothreetwo is to always be helpful. We find ways to contribute to the betterment of the reader. Be genuinely helpful without expecting anything back in return.
There’s a reason why this buzzword has been thrown around lately. People want to connect with a real person. If you aren’t being authentic to your readers, you may as well be a mind numbing robot.
Just be yourself.
No one else has your unique sensibilities. That’s the only thing we can do if we want to stand out. No sense trying to be someone else. Just be open and honest to your readers.
On the next…
Next week, chapter 4 of the Zerothreetwo Blogging Guide – Promote your blog. We’ll talk social media, newsletters, etc.
Till next week.
PS – If we missed out on anything or if you have any questions or if we should elaborate more on something, feel free to send us an email.