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Tuesday, September 4, 2012

J.C Martin is Back with 5 Tips on Writing a Popular Blog Post

Does the name J.C Marting ring any bells? It should. She guest postedhere last week...and I left off her POST. She'd written a POST and then talked about her debut novel. Tina, the oh so clever and together scheduler of guest posters forgot to put the POST in the POST. So here's the POST. Sigh. My big apologies to J.C...
Tell ya' what: leave a comment on THIS POST, and I'll do a random number generator and buy you a copy of Oracle. Gladly. I'm excited to read it...but currently not able to read. Or schedule posts correctly. I've been ill. True story.

5 Tips on Writing a Popular Blog Post

Ever wished you had more people reading your blog posts? Ever wanted more people commenting, or linking to your post, hence driving more traffic to your site?
We all follow the popular blogger, who garners hundreds of comments and shares for every post they make. What is their secret? While I don't profess to be one of these super bloggers, I follow some of them, and have noticed some common elements in their blog posts.

1. First things first: write about something worthwhile
While we all have the odd post about your family holiday, readers want posts they could potentially benefit from. Hence, your blog posts should be informative. Know ways to keep ants away from your picnic? Or a sure-fire way to make soufflés rise? Perhaps you're well-versed in the art of haiku poetry. Share this knowledge of yours with your readers, so they can benefit from them, too.

2. The hook: a catchy title
The title is the first thing your readers see, so try and catch their attention from the get-go. A post called “Great Uncle Benny's Beer Mat Collection” might not catch the eye of many people (except perhaps beer mat enthusiasts). The title should give readers clues as to what the post is about.
A suggestion of some useful phrases to include:
  • How to…”, e.g. “How to Sleep in Class Without Getting Caught”
  • A time span, e.g. “Get a Booty Like Beyonce's in 10 Days”
  • A list (everybody loves lists!), e.g. “5 Tips on Writing a Popular Blog Post”
3. Brevity: the soul of a great blog post
Ever started skimming through a blog post, or giving up on it completely, because it was way too long? If you're like me, you probably follow dozens (if not hundreds) of bloggers, and just don't have the time to digest a 1,000+ word epic. Chances are you'll read and comment only on the shorter, snappier posts.
A good guide to the ideal length of a blog post: keep it between 300 and 500 words.

4. Bells and whistles: making your post reader-friendly
Big blocks of continuous text can be dreary and a strain on the eyes. Make your post reader-friendly by breaking up the text with some relevant, attention-grabbing graphics and images: a photo, a graph, even a cartoon illustrating your point. Just be sure to check copyright restrictions, and always cite your sources.

Another way to break up text is by using numbering or bullet-points, hence dividing the text into smaller, more manageable chunks.

5. Any questions?
Stimulate discussion in the comments by ending the post with a relevant question, something that makes your readers stop and think.
For example:
So there you have it: 5 tips on writing a popular blog post.
Which of these strategies have YOU ever employed? Do you have any additional tips of your own?
Do share your thoughts. ;)

J.C. Martin is a butt-kicking bookworm: when she isn’t reading or writing, she teaches martial arts and self-defence to adults and children. A writer of dark mysteries and gripping thrillers with a psychological slant, her short stories have won various prizes, and have been published in several anthologies. Oracle, released by J. Taylor Publishing, is her debut novel.
Born and raised in Malaysia, J.C. now lives in south London with her husband and three dogs.


mooderino said...

I found my posts got many more hits when my titles stated what the post was about (rather than clever puns and such which is what I went with when I started).

Moody Writing

Ghadeer said...

About keeping posts short. Especially true!

wildblogger said...

The first few lines or the first paragraph needs to be really catchy. They need to get the reader hooked. I call it 'the hook'! This seems to work every time!

Also I agree with the use of images to break-up the post into parts. I read somewhere that images also boost the search engine ranking!!

Thanks for the nice post!

Karen Baldwin said...

Great tips to blog by.

J.C. Martin said...

Hehehe, thanks for having me over again, Tina, and the e-mail correspondences have been especially entertaining! On a serious note, really hope you feel better soon though. And thanks so much for offering ORACLE as a prize, it's much appreciated!

Mooderino: Yes, as clever as witticisms and puns are, readers who have to trawl through multiple blogs want to know from the title just what the post is about.

Jnana: No matter how interesting and useful, my attention tends to wander halfway through a rambling post. Brevity is key!

Rohit: Good point. The first few lines must reel readers in!

Em: Glad you found them useful!

PK HREZO said...

Excellent advice, JC! Catchy titles are so important, especially if they're scrolling thru Reader.

Anonymous said...

I find trying to write about something "worthwhile" makes my writing voice sound stuffy and fake. Or maybe that's just how it looks when I'm done. I end up writing a bit of helpful and a bit of family, and I dare say I'm never going to be popular! Oh well. :) Thanks for the advice!

Jarm Del Boccio said...

Thanks, J.C...your post has served to confirm that I am on the "write" path!

Arlee Bird said...

Yup, I'd agree with these points.

Tossing It Out

klahanie said...

Oh my, those who write postings that go on and on and on and...can lose my interest, very quickly.
Especially when you consider I read and comment on a large number of blogs virtually everyday.
Catchy titles, perhaps a play on words, can bring in the interest. Vitally, the opening sentence should capture the reader's attention.
Then again, you want some real attention, interview or have a dog guest post on your site. Penny the Jack Russell dog and modest internet star, when she guest posts on my site, notes the visits go through the ruff, I mean roof!
Very informative posting. Any questions?
With kind wishes, Gary :)

D.G. Hudson said...

I try to do all of these five points, and several of them are basic journalism truths. Very good points, JC. I err on the
side of slightly longer posts.

Key words in titles help draw some traffic, and a great title is very important when skimming in Google Reader or other reading tools. I like using a photo (my own) early in the post to set the stage.

Good luck with Oracle!

Tami Von Zalez said...

Ah, what fun is it writing about something worthwhile?

Good tips - thanks for posting!

Angela Brown said...

I don't always get to, but I try to ask a question at the end of the post to encourage comments and/or discusstion. Tends be be very helpful.

Michael Offutt, Phantom Reader said...

My posts that get a lot of hits have a lot to do about pop culture.

Lynn Proctor said...

i don't tend to read too many of the helpful useful blogs---but i do so agree with you on the brevity thing!

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Check, check, and check! I like to keep it short. (Although my post tomorrow is threatening to explode.) Guess I inform people about new books and the fact they need to watch more movies.

Rob Z Tobor said...

I must admit I do fall down with that first one, because I go out my way not to write about anything useful. That might sound odd but I write a diary, my diary about life in the rural hills on the borders of England and Wales. Based on my day but modified and twisted a bit....(but in general true, sort of)

I have few followers but have worked out certain key words in the title and in the text can bring readers from interesting places via Google searches

I like to think I do three and four on the list but end with a question...... No; I am not convinced that helps. What I think should be on the list which is not is to post on a regular basis, I post every day but then my blog is my diary.

However my blog is obscure and of no interest to most, but I have a very small group who do follow on a very regular basis and to me that is very cool indeed.

Golden Eagle said...

I usually add questions to the end of my blog posts, whether they're personal posts or any other kind of article.

One tip I'd add is to use a little humor or really utilize your writing voice. Posts can come out flat without a personal touch, even if the subject they're talking about is important.

J.C. Martin said...

PK: Yes, when you have hundreds of blogs to scan through, a catchy title is a must!

Nicki: I'm sure writing a bit about personal stuff is fine, as long as you make it entertaining! Share some good news, a favourite recipe, anything!

Jarm: You're welcome, glad you found it useful!

Arlee: Cool!

Klahanie: LOL, a dog guest post is a brilliant idea! Who doesn't love four-legged blog guests?

D.G.: Thanks for reading! Key words in titles and in text definitely helps with SEO, although going mad on it just makes things repetitive and blatantly "I'm-doing-this-for-the-traffic".

J.C. Martin said...

Tami: It could be worthwhile in many ways! Even a funny anecdote worth sharing will draw readers!

Angela: Same here. I like to stimulate some sort of discussion with my readers to up the interactivity of my blog.

Michael: Good point, sometimes the topic is everything.

Lynn: I agree, sometimes you just want lighter reading!

Alex: You are the king of popular blog posts!

Rob: Of course, what you blog about is ultimately YOU, and as long as you're happy with you're reaching the right audience, all is fine! Very good point, a regular blogging schedule means regular readers will know when to pop back for updates.

Golden Eagle: Personal touches are super-important, as is humour! Great points!

Jai Joshi said...

Great tips, J.C.! I particularly like the first one, about writing something worthwhile. Very important.


Carrie-Anne said...

I'm by nature a very wordy person, and I've worked really hard to bring my average post down to under 1,000 words (though I don't think my average post will be all of 300 words anytime soon). Even so, I still don't get huge amounts of hits. Some of my posts with the highest hits, like my posts on twilight sleep and my annual Easter message to not adopt bunnies, chicks, and ducklings and then dump them, only have like one comment apiece.

At the moment I'm not blogging on my own topics anymore and am only doing so on the days of my (so far) four weekly bloghops. Those were the only days I knew I had pretty good traffic and a decent percentage of comments per hits. If not many people are reading what I spent so much time writing and editing, why bother?

Lynda R Young as Elle Cardy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lynda R Young as Elle Cardy said...

I know I'd certainly buy a book on ways to keep ants away from your picnic and if it's on a blog post, then even better! ;)

But seriously, great tips!

edit: silly typos

J.C. Martin said...

Jai: Thanks!

Carrie-Anne: I don't get massive responses on my posts either, but I suppose a following is just something you'll have to build slowly. Sometimes I also feel it's pointless spending so much time writing something few people will comment on, but if it reaches one or two people, especially new readers, then why not?

Lynda: LOL have a pet anteater? ;)

Duncan D. Horne - the Kuantan blogger said...

I find that meaningful and sincere posts, no matter how lengthy they are, will receive a lot more comments. ie. my children's births and wife's convocation.

Deniz Bevan said...

Great post, J. C. I was blogging for a year before I realised maybe I should break up the text with photos!
I still find titles difficult.

Unknown said...

Your novel, Oracle, looks very intriguing J.C. - I'm already puzzling what the oak leaf means? I also worked in pharmaceutical research *writing is much more fun* and studied Shotokan Karate *FBI training days* Best of luck to you:)