Today I asked my friend Matt Brennan, who is an excellent writer and blogger, what his thoughts are on what makes up a powerful blog post. He and I share many of the same views on putting value first and marketing by education, so I invited him to write a guest blog post today and help give you some tips.
Guest Post By Matt Brennan:
Matt Brennan helps businesses improve their bottom line by connecting with their customer base on a human level. He offers content marketing solutions for businesses and organizations.
If you’ve spent any time at all reading your industry’s blogs, you’ve probably seen one. They tend to grab your attention, and make you kick yourself for not writing it first.
Maybe the post generated hundreds of comments. Maybe it explained an issue better than anything you’ve ever seen. Maybe it landed the author a significant amount of new business.
Powerful blog posts work wonders. They draw attention. They benefit the author and help the community.
They also have a few things in common.
So how do you get there? How do you write powerful blog posts yourself?
A powerful blog post starts with an awesome idea.
What do your readers want to know? What can they benefit from? You can tell them how to do something, or provide your opinion on a hot industry topic. You can shine a light on something that they may not have known. You can review an industry book. The possibilities are endless.
There are those times however, when ideas don’t seem to be jumping out at you. That’s OK. Here are four idea generation techniques that can keep you writing:
What are the FAQ’s for your business? What questions do clients tend to ask you on a regular basis? If you’re getting asked a lot, chances are somebody’s probably searching for it as well. There’s a built in audience.
Use the Google Adwords tool to determine your keywords. Spend some time looking through suggested keywords. There’s probably a subject or two that you could touch on in that list.
Read a book about headlines. Once you know about adopting powerful headlines that have already proven their value, you can simply write a post to that headline. I’d recommend Jon Morrow’s Headline Hacks or David Garfinkel’s Advertising Headlines That Make You Rich.
Use a mind map to expand on current posts. There are a number of directions you can expand on your current published posts. Maybe you want to do an expanded opinion piece on a bit of industry news, or continue a list. Chances are you can find a subject you’ve addressed where there’s more to say
A powerful blog post is well written.
This starts with organizing your thoughts. If you need to use an outline or a mind map to figure out what you’re trying to say, then do it. Make sure that your post is well structured.
Blog readers have the attention span of a gnat. If you don’t grab their attention right away, it’s a lost cause. This means using strong verbs, and writing in the active voice.
Remember your English teacher drilling in the classic “Subject, verb, noun” sentence structure? That’s the active voice:
Matt walked to the library.
Matt read his book.
It’s easier on the reader than: The library is where Matt walked.
Grammar and spelling are also crucial to a powerful post. If you’ve flawlessly laid out your argument, but wrote a post riddled with mistakes, you can undermine your entire effort.
Mistakes erode trust. They make your entire web presence appear unprofessional. They draw attention away from where you want it.
Years ago, the college newspaper I worked for ran the headline “Keeping Are Campus Safe.”
I had nothing to do with this story or the headline. Students and teachers mentioned it to me all day long, usually while rolling their eyes and verbally bashing the paper. I became their sounding board for the sole reason that they knew I worked for the paper.
I’ve also written blog posts where the first comment is a simple correction on a word. Trust me, you want the focus on your ideas.
A powerful blog post contains a call to action.
It’s not enough that people read your blog. What do you want them to take away from the experience? A blog is not the place to make frequent hard sells. No one wants to invest in your writing, and feel like you’re pressuring them to buy a time share.
You can from time to time suggest that if all of this feels like too much, they should hire a professional. For example, if you don’t have the capacity to continuously produce powerful blog posts, you could hire a marketing writer. See what I did there?
If it’s comments and conversation you’re after, ask a bunch of questions at the end of your post.
What attributes do your powerful blog posts have? What has worked for you in the past? Tell me about some of your blogging success stories. What made your best posts work?