How to Communicate Effectively within Your Written Posts
When establishing your personal brand by blogging, it's important to know that blog writing differs in many ways from other forms of writing. This is mainly due to the fact that most readers scan online content and don’t spend a lot of time on any given web page. Also, readers are bombarded with catchy titles and flashing links that draw their attention away from your content.
So a unique style of writing has evolved with many specific parts:
Topic: The topic is the single subject or idea that your post is all about. Generally speaking, you have only one topic for each blog post. When you first start to write, be sure you’re crystal clear about the point of the post. Don’t ramble or bring in too many counterpoints. Feel free to outline your post if you need more structure.
Title: The title is the name of your blog post. Always start by writing the title first. This technique helps you stay on topic.
A strong title not only keeps you on task but also grabs the attention of your reader. Several formulas seem to work as titles, including the following:
Numbered lists: These lists always grab people’s attention. Some examples include Five reasons why . . . or Three mistakes policy makers make when . . .
Quick tips: Show your readers how to do something new or useful. By offering a learning environment, you can keep readers engaged for longer. Start titles with How to . . . or Quick Tips to . . .
Debunking myths: This formula works really well! When you challenge popular opinion, you get readers excited and ready to watch a battle. You can grab readers’ attention by starting with Why most people are wrong about . . .
Blatant controversy: Controversies always make people curious. Saying something controversial, such as Facebook will ruin your chances of getting a job or Why you should be afraid of getting Googled, can get people reading in a jiffy!
Hook: The hook is a journalism term that refers to the opening passage of an article. It’s what keeps the reader reading. Because the hook in your blog post is an important part, it requires some extra time crafting.
According to ProBlogger’s Darren Rowse, here are just a few techniques for writing strong hooks:
Ask intriguing questions. When you ask a question, the reader tries to answer it in his head. Questions create curiosity; for example, What does a project manager have in common with Papa Smurf? or Can you name the three reasons why most mutual funds fail?
Tell a story. Telling a story brings readers into your world and provides context. Try weaving in a personal story at the beginning of your post and then extract key lessons learned from it.
Use statistics. Starting with startling facts that challenge someone’s view of the world also creates curiosity. Did you know that more than 40 percent of workers have never even met their boss in person? To find interesting stats, subscribe to the Pew Research Center newsletter.
Upload a picture. Sharing a picture on your blog helps support the point of your post. Provocative pictures keep an audience engaged and entertained. The key is to find and use images that emotionally reinforce your topic and are visually interesting.
Headers: Headers are basically titles for the main points of your blog post. Because your readers are most likely going to scan your post, help them out by using headers to break up the article. Your blogging platform should let you format text as you write. The title of your blog post is usually an H1 header, the largest sized header, so use H2 or H3 headers for your subject markers.
Length: Most blog posts are between 300 and 800 words to account for readers’ short attention spans, which means you need to be able to get to the point fairly quickly and then move on to the next point without lingering. If you plan on exceeding 800 words, consider breaking the post into two parts or writing a series.
Tone: When it comes to the tone of your blog posts, forget what your fifth-grade English teacher taught you. Using first person in blog writing is completely acceptable, and you can even begin sentences with and or but for a more casual feel. In fact, your tone should be as intimate and candid as possible.
However, writing conversationally doesn’t mean you patronize your reader; it means you avoid jargon when possible and explain it when you can’t, share your opinion, and use an everyday tone of voice — your own voice.
Call to action: A call to action is what you want your readers to do about whatever it is you’re saying, and it’s usually located at the end of your post. Do you want them to share a comment, rethink an idea, subscribe to a list, visit a website, or change a behavior?