Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Blogging Basics: Formulating a Post

Last time, we discussed how to make hyperlink signatures in order to lead others directly to your blog and streamline the process of blog visiting. This week, we'll address the nitty gritty of putting together a post that will draw readers and keep them.

Our previous five pointers were: 1. Choose your link, 2. Choose your signature, 3. Make your hyperlink, 4. Add your signature, and 5. Post it following your comment.

When I talk about putting together/formulating a post, I know very well you all know how to write a post. However, there are things that can make it so people are more likely to stick around and read your entire post, rather than just skipping along after a quick glance. And why do we write blog posts? Ostensibly so someone will read them, right?

Before I hit the five pointers, I want to give you a disclaimer: Not every rule has to be followed. When I give out these Blogging Basics tips, I don't expect you to do everything to the letter of what I'm saying. All I'm doing is passing along things I have learned along the way, that may help you, and that you may or may not find meets with your personal preferences. Do I follow all the rules? Not necessarily...

Without further ado, the basics of formulating a post:

1. Choose a catchy title. Those of you who are also writers know this one already, but, surprisingly, it is often forgotten with blogging. Try to choose a quick, clever title that will catch the attention of those scanning through new posts to read. Make sure it is an honest title, though. Don't say the post is about one thing then switch it on the reader. They won't appreciate it.

2. Keep it brief. We're writing blog posts, not magazine articles, and attention spans online aren't as long as they may be elsewhere. There are always exceptions to this rule (I'm sure my posts are longer than the "standard"), but overall, try to keep it somewhat brief.

3. Provide quality content. On the flip side of the "keep it brief" pointer, don't make it so brief that you're not actually saying anything. Find the balance you're comfortable with and go from there. Don't post just to post. Post because you have something to say, something others want to read.

4. Use photos/images. This is especially true if your post is longer. Images break up the text and give the eye a rest. They may also draw the eye to the blog post, which benefits you. Do make sure it is an image you are allowed to use. Look for Creative Commons photos or use your own!

5. Make it yours. Add your own flair. Your personality will show through in what you're writing, and that may ultimately be what gains you readers. It's the other half of providing quality content. Content + personality makes for a winning combination. If you're writing about things that interest you, you'll find this happens on its own.

These are just a few pointers that may help you with writing a post people will enjoy reading, and one that will hopefully draw readers to that post. Feel free to share your own pointers in the comments. Tell us what draws you to a post and what drives you away.

What is your top pointer when it comes to writing a blog post people will want to read? What Blogging Basics topics would you like to see covered in this series?

May you find your Muse.

The Warrior Muse


Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Shannon .. excellent pointer tips - good for us to be reminded about ..

I'm looking forward to the A - Z this year .. cheers Hilary

klahanie said...

Hi Shannon,

As per usual from your good self, some excellent points. I like to think I always use a catchy title. I always keep my posts relatively brief. Folks have to bear in mind that we can read a lot of posts in one day. A post that goes on and on and...can become rather tedious.

Although I understand, not logistically possible for bloggers who get a lot of comments, I endeavour to comment back to each person who commented to me. At the very least, I think a person can do a group acknowledgement of the comments they have received. It adds the personal touch.

I would add that I write in a one to one style. I do not write to an audience. An intimate style works for me.

Even though I would never get involved in this alphabet challenge, I wish you and all those who participate, much fun. And in the spirit of a sharing, caring community.

Take care, Shannon.

Gary :)

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Make sure there is something for everyone. (Which is why I have several small topics in every post.)

katie eggeman said...

I have a few daily memes, I use, and have been followed by a few folks as a result. I don't do them unless they are short and fun. They are mainly weekend questions so folks can pass if they want.

Arlee Bird said...

Good advice for year round blogging and not just for the April Challenge.

Writers Workshop
An A to Z Co-host blog

Anonymous said...

Excellent tips for the challenge, only a matter of weeks now.


Francene Stanley said...

I like to read about other people's experiences that maybe include a little personal pain or joy.

Rob Z Tobor said...

I am only any good at that last point, I do stamp my own personality on my posts particularly in the A to Z . . . . . . . But the quality is rubbish.

The one thing that drives me away from blogs is too much hard sell, I understand why some do it but I would rather not see it in the A to Z

Rob Z Tobor

Sanderella said...

I am scared!! Ha Ha So many on the list! I am afraid I won't be able to get to them all! Help! sandysanderellasmusings

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Shannon. This is some very good and helpful information...ditto on what Lee said, year round blogging tips.

JoJo said...

Great pointers. I tried really hard to keep my posts short'ish as much as possible and not use the gobs of photos I usually post. We'll see how successful I am! lol

Unknown said...

I've been blogging for a few years and still struggle with each post. Titles are very hard for me--only on rare occasions does the right one pop up out of nowhere. All these points are helpful, and thanks for the reminders/tips!

Jan at Website
Beyond Acadia
Swamp Lily Review
Faith Talk

Jo said...

I am trying to make my blogs a bit shorter. For the Challenge I am certainly making what I write quit a bit less, one item and one recipe. Your tips are very useful.


J.L. Campbell said...

Useful tips, Shannon. I'm trying to keep my kid lit posts to a paragraph. My other blog will run a bit longer, but I'll do bullet points to make it easier on the reader.

Jamaican Kid Lit

Chuck said...

Good stuff as always, Shannon. Although I curiously almost never follow any rules...not because I don't want to or don't understand them, more like I forget about them as I am typing! I guess you could say I go with my flow...

I am sure all that will be on display during the A-Z...again.

Tina said...

More great advice from a great blogger. The two I'm personally working on not just for the challenge but for Life is Good as a whole is brevity and titles. I've found that followers come out of the woodwork if I can come up with a good title.
Thanks for all you do for the challenge - you're such an integral part of our team.
Tina @ Life is Good
Co-host, April 2013 A-Z Challenge Blog
@TinaLifeisGood, #atozchallenge

D.G. Hudson said...

I have a suggestion to do with comments. I've recently totally blocked ANON comments since spam has been increasing.

Some of the bloggers may want to do this during the A to Z challenge, if not always. As a result, I haven't had the problems some blogger friends have experienced. No spam either.

I'm sorry I won't be able to participate this year, but I'll be dropping by and commenting during the challenge as a way of supporting the rest of the bloggers.

Michelle Wallace said...

I struggle with post titles! You are so right, a short catchy title captures the attention.
Great tips Shannon!

Jolie du Pre said...

My posts fall high on Google when I use the correct keywords in my title and in my content. Falling high on Google means more readers to my blog. (I don't depend on just followers and subscribers.)

AJ Lauer said...

Good titles can be so important! And images are great too. They really do help personalize the post and give those of us with visual memories something to latch onto.

Love to see that so many people are using the signatures! (I'm not going to right now *sticks tongue out*)

Mary Aalgaard said...

Photos. They draw me into other's blogs and I love using my own as photography is another creative outlet for me.

Play off the Page

Silvia Writes said...

I love posts with photos/images/art. They not only give the eye a rest, but help me visualize the writer's point much better. Thanks for all the pointers!

Andrea said...

Sometimes I do get caught between brief and making sure I include the real matter at hand.

Shannon Lawrence said...

Hi Hilary, thanks!

Gary, yes, a one-to-one style is good. Your posts are always very personable.

Alex, that's a good one!

Banker, sounds fun!

Lee, that's my hope!

Yvonne, it's getting close!

Francene, a more personal touch, definitely.

Rob, I agree. Nobody wants to spend their time reading someone's sales pitch all the time.

Sandy, just get to who you can! You'll do fine.

M.J., thank you!

JoJo, is there such a thing as too many photos?

Jan, I have trouble with titles, too. Sometimes a great one comes along, but others I struggle with.

Jo, thank you, good luck on shortening them! That's something I have to work on, too.

J.L., that should be perfect. You've got me beat, I'm sure!

Chuck, ha, me, too!

Tina, I agree. When I have a good title, I get way more visits. And thanks!

D.G., I've had to do the very same thing on two blogs! The spam just blew up all of a sudden. I've been meaning to do a post about that, actually. Glad you'll be around to support the A-to-Z'ers.

Michelle, it really does, but it can be tricky to find one!

Jolie, absolutely! Not that I've got that down, but it's true.

Ayjay, ha! What? No signature!? Join the crowd! ;-p But you're right, tons of signatures. So great!

Mary, I love taking photos, too. I need to get better about using my photos in non-wordless wed posts.

Silvia, me, too! Sometimes there's such a cool photo, too.

Andrea, me, too. I want to cover everything, and I'm a wordy writer at heart.