As inbound marketers, we often find ourselves pressured for time and, consequently, tempted to write a mediocre blog post just to “have something out there”. While having a lot of content on your corporate blog helps a lot, writing the perfect blog post instead of a mediocre one helps even more.
And, yes, I know that “if I don’t feel it, I don’t write it” doesn’t really work – deadlines are deadlines and they have to be met. But simply going back to the basics can help a lot, so here’s a checklist to help you write the perfect blog post even when your muse isn’t around. Look at the elements below each time you set to write a new post:
An Enticing Headline Is Essential for a Perfect Blog Post
This one should go without saying; who’s going to click on something that doesn’t sound inviting? Nowadays, we see hundreds of headlines every day; we literally can’t click on them all, so we have to make some merciless “triage”. This triage starts with the very headline. Does it sound informative? Is there something helpful for me there?
Sure, some of your faithful readers might click anyway, just because they love your writing. But a poor headline won’t attract any new audience. The perfect headline for the perfect blog post has to have most of these features:
- A number: “6 Essential Elements for a Perfect Blog Post” tells you the story and answers a question – how many elements should a perfect blog post have?
- A promise: “a Perfect Blog Post” – this part of the headline implies that, after reading this article you will be able to create a perfect one yourself.
- It’s succinct: ideally, your headline should have no more than 6-8 words. If you can’t keep it that short, try to never go beyond 15.
- An audience reference: make the reader feel compelled to read your article by using a title like this one: “All Marketers Need to Read these Recent Stats”.
- A question: “Want to Write the Perfect Blog Post? Here’s How to Do it”.
A Killer First Paragraph
OK, your audience clicked on the headline, but this doesn’t guarantee that they will keep on reading. There are a number of reasons why they could leave your page: they don’t like the look, your website is not mobile responsive, they don’t have the time to read such a long blog post and so on. However, the top reason why they bounce of your page is that they aren’t “hooked” by your first paragraph.
Here’s how to write a killer first paragraph:
- Start with the audience’s point of pain: in this article, I referred to the lack of time for writing the perfect blog post. Most people can relate to that.
- Continue with a promise: “Don’t have time to write the perfect blog post – this will help you”.
- Keep it short. Go straight to the point.
- Use a personal anecdote. If your blog post is about a solution to a problem, you can summarize your own experience with it. Again, don’t write too much.
- Crack a joke – but only if you’re sure you can really be funny and if it’s appropriate given the context. Otherwise, stick with one of the other ideas.
- Start with some stats: “20% of marketers don’t know what makes a perfect blog post” – this one’s completely made up, but, generally speaking, stats are a great way to get someone’s attention.
Subtitles Are Your Best Friends
I’ll say it again: people have very little time to read lengthy articles online, so make their lives easier by adding subtitles to your blog posts. This way, they can skim the text and read only what they are truly interested in.
For instance, some of you may be interested in this entire blog. But others already know how to write a great headline; they just have some trouble with the opening paragraph. So I made it easy for them to find what they were looking for.
Similarly, bullet points also help a lot. They keep the information tidy and easy to digest. But don’t add bullet points just because they look neat. Do it only if you have a list to share.
A Tailor-made Call-to-Action
I’m going to go ahead and assume that you don’t just write because you feel like it. You probably write as a means to reach more people, help your audience with relevant information, and, ultimately, get conversions. But how are people going to know about that if you don’t have a relevant CTA in the blog post?
If you look at the bottom of this page (and at the bottom of the majority of blog posts on this website), you will see that most of them end with a personalized CTA. Of course, it would have been much more comfortable to simply add a “Contact Us” button that I use every time. But how is that relevant? Instead, I chose to have a custom CTA for each blog post, assuming that each reader has different needs.
Social Sharing Buttons
Of course, you’ll be the first to share your perfect blog post on social media, but why not give others the same opportunity? Add visible share buttons at the end or on one of the sides of your blog post. Make sure to include all the relevant social networks.
Furthermore, if traffic is important to you, encourage people to share it. You’d be surprised at how many people have grown so accustomed to the social sharing icons that they simply don’t see them anymore. Remind them that they could share the article yourself!
A Featured Image
Visual content is of the utmost importance. It doesn’t just make your blog look better, it also helps with gaining social traffic. On both Facebook and Twitter, people are more likely to share and click posts that contain an image.
There are plenty of free stock websites that you can get royalty-free images from if budget is a concern. Download it and overlap your headline over it for full effect. Whatever you do, the essential is that you make sure the image is relevant to the blog post in question. In other words, don’t just choose images because they look inspirational.
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