If you’re anything like me, you can’t wait to hit “Publish” as soon as you are done writing your post. You are probably running a bit behind on your publishing schedule and the post needs to go out – now.
Or, you are sure that this is the post this is going to viral. You have this feeling in your gut – and heart. You know this is going to work. This time. You are sure of it.
Either way, I totally know where you are coming from.
It is hard to hold it off any longer, after you have spent few hours frantically scribbling (or typing) away.
However, I must advise you to hold your horses. I know, it is harder said than done, but trust me on this.
The simple reason being, you can pretty much improve any blog post you have written by following these five steps.
Step 1. Consider your message and audience
Why did you write this particular post? What is the purpose of it?
- Do you want to connect with your audience by talking about an issue that you feel is often ignored?
- Do you want to build your authority and show your expertise?
- Do you want to get your audience to start thinking about your products and get them ready for an upcoming promotion?
Make sure that you remain on point with your message throughout the post. See that your writing flows naturally. That is it coherent at all times.
Give your post a read over and you might be surprised to see yourself covering points that you originally did not want to include – that may or may not be a good thing.
You might be caught totally off guard and discover to your utter amazement that you have gone out on a tangent and the message you end up delivering is totally different to what you wanted to say in the first place.
Again, this might not be a total disaster, and all you need to do is to tweak your headline or sub headings to fix the issue.
Step 2. Open your post with a bang
It is very important to nail the opening of your blog post. Make it as strong as it can be.
Looking it totally from a practical point of view, the first few words appear in search engines, in email and on social media sites. People often decide if they want to go ahead and read the rest of your post based on how strong (interesting, relevant, thought provoking) your opening paragraph is.
Sure, you have got their attention with the headline, now you continue to build interest by carefully choosing your first words.
- Ask a question.
- State a startling fact or a statistic.
- Make a shocking claim.
- Reveal something about yourself.
- Make a big promise.
- Use your first sentence to start telling a story – fiction style.
Step 3. Make it easy to read on a screen
A lot of people, especially newbie bloggers or people coming from literary or academic backgrounds, are still making their posts really hard to read on a computer, tablet, or a phone screen.
They don’t realize that reading on a screen is much harder than reading printed material. You’ve got to make it easy. Also, let’s not forget that you are writing for an audience that is notorious for their short attention spans and are known for their scanning abilities.
- Write short sentences and shorter paragraphs (it is okay to write a one sentence paragraph in the world of online writing).
- Break up your text by bullets, numbered lists and images.
- Use sub-headings to make it digestible.
- Use lots of white space to make it easy on the eyes.
- Use a font that is easier to read online. Arial and Helvetica are two of my favorites.
Sit back and see if your post looks appealing. If not, continue formatting it till you are happy with the results.
Step 4. Re-think your headline
You might be surprised to see this as the last step when surely it is the most important?
Yes, your headline can make or break that post – it is that important, however, your post will not succeed on the basis of your headline only.
No matter how irresistible your headline may be, it is bound to fail if the post itself can’t match it. In fact, your audience will often forgive a weak headline and read your post on the basis of the opening paragraph or at the hint of what’s to come, but it won’t be as understanding if you promise them the world and deliver nothing.
So now that you have finalized your post, does your original headline still make sense? If not, go ahead and tweak it now.
Ideally, your headline should do three things for you:
- Make your readers curious. You want them to click on your post if they come across it via any social media platform such as Twitter. Also, you want your email subscribers to open it.
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- Spell out the benefit clearly. For instance headlines like these work really well:
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- And lastly, it should self-select the audience. So the wording needs to be tight and specific. It shouldn’t be so general that people don’t know if the post applies to them.
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I won’t be eating Sushi again … creative, yes, but busy people who are pressed for time might not find it compelling enough.
As you can see, the top three tell you exactly what you can expect, while the next three are vague and incomplete.
By following these four steps as you edit your post, you can make it 10 times better.
Now you are ready to publish your gem.
Go on, click that “Publish” button.