Almost anyone can blog. Far fewer people know how to blog successfully.
Consider how many blog posts are written each day. How many of those actually have readers? And how do you compete with the ones that do?
If you’re just starting a blog, the amount of internet clutter might seem overwhelming. But here’s the good news: The internet is full of bad blogs. They are “bad” in my opinion because their approach (and often design) is outdated.
If you want to compete, start by excelling at the basics that others fail to do. A user-friendly blog that understands how digital audiences consume content is bound to develop a higher readership than one that reads like it’s still the ‘90s.
I’ve been taught to show, not tell when I write. So today, I’ll take you through how I created this blog post following my own advice. How’s that for meta?
Write a headline that hooks, but use real bait
The challenge is to write a headline that is worthy of clicks, but doesn’t trick your readers with fake bait. Easier said than done, right?
Take advantage of online tools. I love using CoSchedule to test and refine my headlines. I start by coming up with a headline that summarizes my subject, without giving away the juicy information I want readers to learn.
See the evolution of this title:
“How to save the internet from more bad blogs” was the winner! You can see how minor tweaks will impact your score, but sometimes it’s hard to tell the difference between a 71 and a 74. This is a good problem to have. When you have more than one good title option, go with your gut.
Don’t you dare forget photos
If you don’t have images on your blog, you’re shooting yourself in the foot.
According to the Visual Teaching Alliance, visuals are processed 60,000 times faster in the brain than text. Visual storytelling is powerful, and it is what users come to expect when they go online. Marketers understand this, and so do successful bloggers.
Sharpen your radar for bad stock photos
Horrible stock photos are easy to spot, and unless used ironically, they should be avoided at all costs.
I still use Shutterstock and other free websites such as Unsplash and Death to Stock to find images for different blogging projects. However, I veto anything that feels too staged. Definitely take a hard pass on anything where the subject makes intense – sometimes creepy – eye contact with the camera, such as these gems that came up when I searched for my blog’s featured image:
There were plenty more like these, along with some that were less posed and more aesthetically pleasing. Still, my search results from “girl blogging” seemed too generic. When this happens, you should modify your search or rethink the image concept altogether.
I gave my blog topic some more thought, and decided it would be more unique to show a contrast of something outdated and something new to represent my theme that successful blogs adapt to changes in technology and user experience design. Voilà:
Throw in some subheads (just like this one!)
Blog posts are not a space for long rants or novels. Internet users are impatient, and want content that is easy to read. Subheads prevent your post from getting too text-heavy, and help your reader flow through the post.
Keep it short and sweet
Once again, this isn’t the space for the next great American novel. If you have a lot to say, create a series of posts and spread them out in your blog schedule! This will help prevent another issue bloggers face: irregular posts. Keep your blog alive with new content.
More to come…
If these tips seem like no-brainers to you, then your blog is likely already off to a good start. I’ll continue to write posts on blogging best practices, and hope you check back as I dive a little deeper.