Do you sometimes wonder what makes one blog post tick with its audience and the other one sink deep never to be remembered again?
Great ideas, sure. But that’s not all. Ideas on their own don’t make great posts. They are important, but they’re not everything.
Emotional connection with a reader. Yes, that too. After all, your blog post must somehow speak to the people in the way they want to hear. But that’s still not all.
The final element is form. Even the greatest idea won’t catch if it’s not dressed in a way a reader expects and understands. Below is a list of essential components making that form.
Essential Elements of a Killer Blog Post
The Obvious Stuff
1. A Solid and Original Idea
This may sound like a no brainer but I am often amazed by the amount of content that lacks original ideas.
But here’s the brutal truth. The number of ideas you can come up for your content is limited – by your knowledge of the subject, experience, involvement, motivation to learn new things or creativity. That doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t strive to at least present the topic in a completely new light, through your personal experience.
2. A Catching Headline
According to Copyblogger
“Without a headline or post title that turns a browser into a reader, the rest of your words may as well not even exist”
A headline is what your readers will see first, be it on social media, in their RSS readers or Google search results.
A good headline’s job is to grab the readers attention and make them desire to click on the post to find out more. Ultimately, your headline makes a promise of what the post is going to deliver.
3. A Mesmerizing Introduction
A headline is a promise of value you aim to deliver in the post. Those first few sentences after it are supposed to reassure your reader that she made a good call by clicking on your headline.
But a good introduction plays one more role in your post than just reaffirming the readers choice. It also pushes them to read more. It introduces the problem you write about and glides the reader to start reading about solutions you prescribe.
Introduction is also one of those elements readers carefully read. Don’t take my word for it. Just look at this typical reader behavior. The image below shows how we read. Notice that the top of the post is read in full but then readers start to skim the copy, almost fly through the middle bit only to regain their concentration closer to the conclusion.
And here is the trick. Unless you grab your readers attention with your opening statement, they won’t go any further.
And for more information on how to start your post with a bang, check out this short guide.
When skimming your copy, your readers need a road map. They need to know where they are at all times, if only to know whether they should stop and focus a bit more on a particular passage.
Subheadings create those road signs marketing the readers journey through the post. They make the post much more pleasurable to read. Just compare two versions of this very post. One written without any subheadings, the other properly formatted. Which one looks more inviting to read?
(Image from Rob Cubbon’s great post on blog post formatting. Seriously, read it!)
5. A Strong Conclusion
Conclusion is one of the most commonly ommited elements of a blog post. I think I can understand why so many writers decide not to write it though. It’s hard to summarize a post into one or two paragraphs once all points have been made.
Yet, your users will be looking for a form of conclusion. It gives them a chance to get a quick summary of your ideas and discover if there isn’t anything they’ve missed while skimming your copy.
The Not-So Obvious Stuff
The above is what your reader would immediately notice if missing. But that’s not all when it comes to creating a killer blog post.
Here are few other things you should remember about:
1. Proper Research & References
Facts, figures, references – they are what make a solid post today. They also show that you have made your homework, researched the topic thoroughly instead of just writing a very shallow advice. And they give a visual clue too. Just check how this post by Dan Shure uses images to introduce complex ideas.
2. Solid Formatting
I already spoke about a reader behavior. You know that your readers won’t read every word of your post. Therefore, in order to communicate all your ideas you should format the post to make it as easy to skim as possible. Elements such as:
- bulleted lists
- text in bold
will make it much faster for your reader to absorb information.
Videos are very helpful to gaining the users attention to a particlular idea you try to convey in a section of your post. Being very visual they are also great at helping them to regain their focus. Here’s an example, notice how the video is strategically placed in the middle of the post.
Quotes from industry leaders make up for quite an interesting content. And regardless of whether you are one too, they add a seal of approval to your writing.
There is also one more aspect of them – posts including quotes get shared more than ordinary posts.
5. Citations and References
Pointing your readers to more advanced resources is a surefire way to increase the value you deliver. But, a common mistake is to simply link to popular blogs in your area. What if you’d put some effort into this and referenced academic writing, research papers and findings, reports or whitepapers instead? Especially if you want your post to build your image of authority, such references can only increase your perception as an expert in your field.
Not every blog post reads well. Similarly, even those that do rarely leave an impact on you. Ideas and emotional connection play a significant role in making a post memorable. However, the final, equally important element is form a reader understands and expects.