Blogs ARE personal – be yourself!
Make your blog YOUR blog – bring to it your personality and let it shine through all your blogs. Let your readers get to understand you, quirks and all. But! Just because you have quirks, does NOT mean you should have no structure!
Structuring your blogs gives you several advantages:
- No thinking on how you will present your next blog (except for your topic)
- Consistency for you and your readers
- Ability to plan for future blogs
Your blog will be structured and enticing for the reader – it will explain your topic quickly, efficiently and impressively so that the reader will want to come back.
Title & Image
The title is THE most important element of the blog… in fact, you can spend almost 50% of your time just trying to create a title.
Why? Believe it or not, you are NOT special – your website is just one of thousands out there… do not deceive yourself, life IS difficult and we need a process to make is “as simple as possible”, though it will never be simple!
The title must intrigue the reader so that they click on it. That’s it! Simple!! However, with every search a user makes they received thousands, and thousands of results – why should they click on YOUR blog for the answer? Making your title short, emotional, enticing and you will have the clicks you need.
Once the reader clicks and brings up your blog, what is the first thing you what them to see? Something that is appealing and “rewards” them for their click – make them feel like they made the right choice. Have an image! Or a quote or a beautifully created blog.
A picture speaks a thousand words and so should your image. With the image, it should normally relate directly to the focus of the blog, but you could also present an emotion “counter-balance” that, though not directly related to the blog, that captures the readers attention with the feelings of “why?” When using “counter-balance” images you must make sure that you explain the picture in some way in the first paragraph of the blog.
You need topics… and you HAVE plenty whether you know it or not. Start now writing down blog topics for your area of expertise. Many of your initial ideas may be “small” but blogs are usually small – a page or 2 at most. And we need to start building our blogs as soon as possible and the little ones lends credence to our knowledge.
As you start writing, you will soon find that more serious blog topics in your area are needed and you will write these topics in more detail. Blogs should become your de facto “free-time” activity and building a list now ensures that you have a topic to write about at any time.
If you do become stumped at writing about a topic, try writing about an idea, political or otherwise, about your service. You can even write a blog about something unrelated to your service (like the latest trending topic on Twitter), but something that you are passionate about – this passion shines through.
This is my favorite section of this particular blog. Structure! Structure! Structure!
My goal in life to work as hard as it takes to allow me to do the important things with minimal thought about structure. I do not want to take time after time thinking about “how should I format this?” We need a structure that we can use over, and over, and over again for all blogs. And lest you think I am too strict in my approach (which I am) exceptions will prove the rule – you will have topics that stray from the norm which will make you think, but don’t think too much – it happens!
Use the following structure as your base, and modify for your personality:
The opening paragraph introduces the topic and explains EITHER what benefit the reader is going to have when they finish the piece OR a statement that proves too enticing for them not to read on. Keep this paragraph just to a few sentences – short and sweet.
This contains your “argument” for the topic. Many topics are instructional, so your main body will be listed points on how to complete something.
The main body shows your knowledge of the subject and is the “main meal” of the blog – if you fail in this section you will find your reader frequently other “restaurants” and ignoring you altogether.
Unless you are writing a very technical paper for ONLY the techno-geeks in your industry, keep your blogs simple and avoid sesquipedalian for the average reader. We want to be able to read it at a level we can understand, and I’ve never seen an MBA graduate complain about reading 4th grade level material.
Comments from readers are usually directed to this section – respond to ALL comments, critical or otherwise. For critical comments please take them seriously and read them as if someone else has written the blog – this takes the emotion out of the response. If you agree with the response then thank the reader and even update the blog immediately, letting the reader know what you have done. If you disagree, thank the reader for their comments anyway – try not to throw fuel on the fire, but definitely further explain your position if something was missing from the blog that can help the reader understand your position.
Keep your reply comments to one sentence if possible – we don’t like “continued reading below”.
If you have a problem or avoidance with formatting and correct-spelling, get over it! Oh, unless your building a red-neck website, that is, where this format is totally acceptable and required!
Spellchecker: Turn that darn spell checker on and keep it on. At the end of each and every blog, re-check for spelling and grammar. Grammar is a little harder to detect without your Minor in English, but review it otherwise. No excuses for misspelt words.
Headings: Use the default Headings for sections in your blogs. No need to change the font or font size to be “different” from other sites. The huge benefit of using standard headings is that you do not have to think, they are automatically consistent on your website without you doing anything and, more importantly, they are consistent on all other browsers out there. In addition, those of us that do like to change our computers for ease of use (like increasing all fonts to a readable size) may getting unflattering results if the standards are not used.
Indents: NEVER, EVER, AS IF YOUR LIFE DEPENDS ON IT, USE SPACES TO FORMAT OR “LINE UP” TEXT. Sorry, did not mean to shout – but this is a pet-peeve of mine (though I still love her and always will!) Spaces were not created for formatting – they were created for white-space between words to make paragraphs more readable. Using the Indent icon, bullets or even tables to align text and information will serve you better for all written media.
So you’ve written your first 6 blogs and you’re feeling really proud. Awesome – good job!
So you’ve written another 11 blogs, feeling a little tired, but they do look good. Great job!
So you’ve spent the last few weeks wondering what to write about and could not come up with anything, but you think that you’ve already quite a few blogs that will satisfy your readers. Hhmm… I think that we have a wee-bit of a problem here.
You need to decide on a regular schedule for writing blogs and stick with it. If you sit down and write 10 blogs all at once but publish them once a week or every other day. You need to show your readers consistency. Readers will be pulled back if they are confident that new content will be available. If your blogs dry up you can close the curtains since the only people that will be visiting will be ghost hunters.
At a minimum, strive for a blog a week at least.
Now that I’ve provided all the structure of a blog, remember that this is YOUR blog! If you are writing for personal pleasure and nothing to gain (except a world-wide appreciation of your thoughts & opinions) then feel free to “personalize” to your hearts content (but kept that structure so people “know” it’s you!); if you are writing for service or product, then make sure that you structure your blogs so that they are consistent within your industry and the Internet in general.