Ah the wonderful world of blogging. You hurriedly type out a piece on your lunch break or when you have a spare minute, click ‘Publish’ and leave it at peace to be shared by industry bigwigs. Right?
Sadly not. In an industry where content is indeed king there are still many people who believe blogging is a simple, menial task that any member of staff can take care of. Oh how wrong they are. There are countless factors, both large and small that need to be taken into account right from the start of the writing process to ensure that your posts reap rewards. Whether these rewards are more views, comments and shares or even new business opportunities, your blog content should be working towards encouraging them.
In addition to abiding by the generic advice to “create killer content,” I’ve found the best way to encourage these interactions is by heeding ten more specific blogging commandments…
1. Thou shalt not shamelessly self-promote
If you’re planning on writing a post that’s purely about your products or services, then stop right now. Shameless self-promotion is never going to work. Your blog is there to establish your expertise in your industry, and to give readers valuable information that works towards convincing them that you’re the business for them. This means your posts need to be focused around industry news, debate, tips and advice, with information about and links to your products or services slotted in sparingly and where appropriate.
2. Thou shalt not keyword stuff
As well as keyword stuffing being one of Google’s main offenders, it’s an archaic SEO technique that reeks of spam and desperation. Instead, utilise keywords in optimal places. Add one as close to the start of your title as possible, use them in subheadings where appropriate and two to three times in your actual body of text. If you’re writing for the right reasons then your keywords should really slot in of their own accord, as seamlessly and as naturally as possible.
3. Thou shalt not steal (content)
It’s one thing to take inspiration from someone else’s blog post, but quite another to steal it altogether. Google got wise to this a long time ago and, whether you copy a post word for word or try to switch the words around a little, you’ll be penalised for it. And what benefit would it give your readers, regardless?
If you find a post that you love or agree with, then put your own spin on the subject and write it from a different slant. You could even fill in the blanks with points the original author missed out. In an age where the internet is full of almost identical blog posts, your readers will thank you for poking your head above the noise and handing them something new.
4. Thou shalt not write endless reams of text
Like it or not, blog posts are usually a skim read rather than attentively taken in. Readers are hungry for information they can quickly consume but will provide invaluable benefits, so it makes sense that your text should be broken up into bite sized chunks rather than left in a continuous stream. It can make a blog post seem longer than it actually is and can be quite intimidating to look at.
Instead, break up your content with subheadings, bullet points, shorter paragraphs, shorter sentences, images and videos.
5. Thou shalt not be an image sheep
I’ve come across numerous blog posts that use exactly the same images, whether from a stock website or a quick Google image search. Even if it is a particular lovely picture, that doesn’t stop me from losing a bit of interest in the post itself.
If your readers are browsing through a number of posts and seeing a stream of the same images, then chances are they’re thinking along the same lines, so why not stand out from the saturated search results by creating your own pictures? Anne Reuss gives some great suggestions and techniques for self-taken imagery in her post, ‘Can we get Some Diversity with our Images?’
6. Thou shalt not withhold sources
Not bothering to link to the sources of your facts, figures, statistics, inspiration and other research is something that can appear quite deceptive, and can prove even more frustrating. On the other hand, a reader being able to click through and actually see evidence of where a figure has come from builds a great trust factor. It adds credibility to your content and shows that you’ve researched the piece thoroughly to give as much value to your readers as possible.
7. Thou shalt not leave thy blog to run itself
After crafting a great post it can be tempting to leave your blog to gather likes and shares by itself, a technique which turns the effort you put into all of that content into a giant waste of time.
Not everyone will happen across your blog on their own, meaning you need to muck in, take pride in your work and spread it across the internet. Push out your posts on social channels, link to them in email newsletters, in relevant areas of on-site content (if you think they’ll benefit page visitors) and on other relevant websites. Making such a concerted effort is something that won’t go unnoticed by potential readers and prospects.
8. Thou shalt not covet thyself
While we’re on the topic of post sharing, are you returning the favour? One of the biggest parts of blogging involves networking; building relationships with your readers and other writers. This isn’t just something that comes from sitting back and basking in the number of shares or comments your posts receive, it’s about reading other industry work, sharing your favourite pieces, leaving comments on them and responding to any commentary on your own posts. Think of the blogosphere as a playground – just being nice goes a long way in forging valuable new friendships.
9. Thou shalt not let thy blog go stale
If your blog isn’t regularly updated there’s every chance it’ll give the impression that your products and services are neglected too. It’s easy to let other business concerns take priority and just forget to write a post, but setting aside a good few hours or a whole day of your time to really immerse yourself in the task will be a huge help. If all else fails, there’s always the option of hiring a professional content writer to create blog content for you.
10. Thou shalt not lose thy patience
Blog success doesn’t happen overnight. Not to anyone. Even industry leading bloggers started out with a readership of zero. All you can do is go into the blogging world with a clear plan in place and in possession of some serious determination and patience. Keep practicing, keep reading around, keep networking and keep abiding by these ten commandments. In the end it’ll all pay dividends.
So there you go! Those our the 10 commandements of writing a blog post that people want to read. Do you follow a set of your own commandments for blogging? Tell me about them below!