6 Keys to a Successful Blog Post

What #blogoff2 is Teaching Bloggers

There are dozens of posts for Blog Off 2. Some have zero comments while others are well into double digits. Why is that?

Let’s take a look at 6 things the most popular posts are doing so you can put them to use for yourself. Each of these posts has:

  1. An Attention Grabbing Headline
  2. Emotional Appeal
  3. Useful Content
  4. A Current Topic
  5. Graphics
  6. Conversation

How well are you doing at putting these into your blog posts and articles? If you’re interested in improving your social media ROI, do keep reading…

An Attention Grabbing Headline
5 Steps to Patent Your Invention” Doesn’t that just jump off the page and demand your attention?

Okay, it doesn’t have the glitz and glam – or screaming hype – of “7 Things You Should Never Eat On An Airplane.” What it does do is appeal to the attention of an evergreen audience – inventors – as well as the ambition of every backyard mechanic and handyman in the world.

There’s a simple way to “grade” your headlines. Let’s look at the tool, then grade this headline. The tool is the 4 U’s:

  • Unique
  • Useful
  • Urgent
  • Ultra-Specific

Is the headline unique? Yes. It’s talking about inventions, and you know they have to be unique to get a patent. It also promises to get you through a notoriously difficult process in 5 steps.

Is it useful? Almost everybody has an idea for improving something, and lots of people have ideas for brand new products. What inventor wouldn’t want to know how to get through the patent process in 5 steps?

Is it urgent? There isn’t urgency in the headline, exactly. Urgency in the headline would mean including a timeline. For exmaple, it might say “Get Your Product Patented in 30 Days.”

However, just ask anyone who wants to get a patent if they feel urgency about doing it. The urgency for this headline comes from the built-in passion of the audience it appeals to.

Is it ultra-specific? You bet. The target audience is named in the headline – inventors. It’s clear that the article address one issue – how to get patented. And it walks you through the process in 5 steps.

Start grading your headlines today, and you’ll see an increase in reader response. You’ll also see an increase in readers.

Emotional Appeal
It’s one thing for a headline to grab your attention. The next step is for the headline to draw you into reading the blog post.

The popular posts from Blog Off 2 appeal to altruism, happiness, ambition, anger, and frustration. That’s quite an array, and it’s just a list of the surface emotions for the headlines. The blog posts touch more emotions while you’re reading.

Before you start writing, take a minute to think of what emotion you want to be the strongest in your post. Just as your blog post will have a single topic, there should be one emotion that you try to stimulate the most.

For example, what emotion is being stimulated by this post? Hope – to improve yourself? Ambition – to get better and improve your readership? Avarice – to have what the popular posts are getting?

You can see that choosing a single emotion only means that’s the one you are focused on. You have to be aware of other emotions that come into play because of what you’re writing. If I don’t want to stimulate avarice, then it’s up to me to use words and phrases that steer the reader toward other emotions.

Stimulate positive emotions by showing readers how they can do something, and encouraging them to believe in their own ability. Go in the other direction by bragging about something and building up its value.

Useful Content
You would never write a blog post that didn’t have useful content, would you?

Okay. But what about a post that simply discusses a topic. It doesn’t tell readers how to do something, or even point them to resources. It simply discusses a current, popular topic. Is that useful?

Have you ever just wanted to blow off steam?

In the case of two posts about LinkedIn, there’s more to it than that. Remember that this is social media. People are watching…

One of the blog posts discusses things that are wrong, or limited, with LinkedIn. It’s had 19 comments, and some conversations are happening. Do you think LinkedIn is likely to have a Google Alert for keywords related to their site?

Being useful means more than “how-to.” The post about Project Harmony is useful because it inspires readers. Being useful means you are writing with a purpose. Always write with a purpose in mind.

A Current Topic
Yesterday’s news…It makes reporters and writers everywhere cringe to be told they’re writing about “yesterday’s news.”

One of the big reasons newspapers are struggling is their inability to compete with the immediacy of mobile communications and the internet. Why would I wait until tomorrow morning to read about something in the newspaper when I can see it on CNN.com right now?

Human interest stories (Project Harmony) are almost always current. But it won’t stay current. When the post is written, it will draw attention for a few days then fade – most blog posts do that.

The post “6 Things SEO Experts Won’t Tell You” is going to have more enduring popularity. SEO is a big topic for business and, until the knowledge becomes as common as cell phones, people will be looking for “inside information.”

The blog post about getting a patent is going to have enduring popularity. The process is unlikely to change drastically – and if it does, then the author can update the article. It’s an evergreen topic – similar to wedding planning, personal investing, and goal setting.

You can jump on a bandwagon for a particular topic. Just make sure the band is playing and wagon is rolling. When the party is winding down, look for a new angle or a new topic.

Graphics
“A picture is worth a thousand words.” We all know it, and we are all drawn to look at a photo.

Think of the last time somebody at work brought some pictures in. Do you remember how everyone gathered around to look at them? It works the same way for your articles.

Why did I pick the caricature of a teacher for this post? Because there’s something in all of us that resists learning something new – it seems like such work. But the funny photo suggests that you’re going to have a little fun while you’re reading. (At least, I’m hoping it suggested that!)

Aside from making sure your graphic is relevant to the topic, be sure to keep the graphic simple. The cleaner a graphic is, the easier it is for a reader to see it. Easy to see equals getting attention.

Graphics with faces work better than any other for getting attention. Even a cartoon face is better that a chart, graph, or other graphic.

Remember that video counts as a graphic, too. The only catch to using a video is to keep it short, short, short. Try to stay under 2 minutes, and 30 seconds is plenty to support an article. Think of the video as animated bullet points.

Conversation
This is really the whole point of social media, isn’t it? You want to have a conversation with your audience.

What sense is there in making information available to your audience if you aren’t going to talk to them about it? That would be silly.

Should you always agree with your audience? Absolutely not! Always be polite, but you don’t have to agree all the time. After all, you’re the one leading the way and showing readers what they want. When someone writes a comment and is wrong, go ahead and let them know.

But what if you’re wrong? It happens. When someone points out a mistake, be sure to thank them – even if they’re rude about it. They have given their time and energy to bring you a benefit – they’re helping you be better – so say thank you. And good manners can do a lot to diffuse an angry temper.

You don’t have to reply to every comment, but you should let your reader’s see them. (Except for spam comments, of course.) The conversations between your readers are just as important as any conversation you engage in. As long as you don’t allow personal attacks, having readers engage in debates, arguments and conversations is a good thing.

Your Next Step
Let me give you the links to the popular blog posts again:

Now print a copy of each post plus a copy of this one. Then go through each one to find how it uses the six keys to being successful:

  1. An Attention Grabbing Headline
  2. Emotional Appeal
  3. Useful Content
  4. A Current Topic
  5. Graphics
  6. Conversation

Yep, I know…that seems like so much work. Only it isn’t – it takes just 20 minutes.

That’s right. Spend 20 minutes each day reading and studying successful blog posts. Make notes about what is working and how you can apply it to your own writing. I guarantee you will see significant results by January 1, 2010 – in just 23 days – by doing this exercise.

For everyone wanting more help, my coaching service is re-opening is February 2010. Get in touch with me by e-mail to show your interest, and I’ll follow-up in January.

Thanks for reading. Please do leave a comment to let me know if you found this useful, and to ask questions. I like questions – they’re fun to answer and make me feel, well…useful.  😉

About the Author

Conrad Hall is the author of Friends, Followers & Customer Evangelism – The 2010 Business Owners Guide to Social Media. He writes for Technorati and Blog Critics and maintains his own blog at The Marketing Spotlight.

He is a passionate writer and coach who helps clients create outstanding information products and promote them using traditional and online media. You can contact Conrad through Conrad Hall Copywriting.

One thought on “6 Keys to a Successful Blog Post

  1. sandyxxx

    Excellent site, keep up the good work. I read a lot of blogs on a daily basis and for the most part, people lack substance but, I just wanted to make a quick comment to say I’m glad I found your blog. Thanks,
    A definite great read…

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