Sex, violence and death… according to Ray Winstone, these are the three great elements in any best-selling drama. Shakespeare knew this too.
Blog posting is no different from any other kind of writing when it comes to substance. You can have the most SEO-friendly title in the world, but unless you start with something riveting, write a middle that crunches with deliciousness, and finish the job with a BANG…!
Then your readers will skim and skip half way down at best. And forget any comments.
So what makes for a cracking blog read?
1. Feel it
Writing about a museum? Don’t just look up adjectives on Thesaurus.com. Kick off with a gruelling description of how suicidal Goya felt when he painted the horror film image of Neptune devouring his only son.
Need to do a piece on hot tubs? Describe the sensations of slipping into an outdoor hot tub on a starry winter’s night.
Closing your eyes and really feeling the stuff will help you communicate something really intimate to your audience.
Goal: Play on emotion and senses for a deeper impact.
2. Be contemporary
Say you’re grappling with an assignment on website security. You want to convey the importance of protecting blog sites or email password. Be specific and current. Look up recent news stories about large-scale brute force attacks and the hacker organisations behind them; tell people what’s going on in the world of web security right now.
Yes, headlines quickly become old news and some stories only have temporary value, but that doesn’t mean they’re not useful at the time. Not every blog post needs to be timeless. When providing solutions to contemporary problems, relating a post’s content to current events gives power to your message. (Just make sure you credit your reputable news source.)
Goal: Give your statements extra support from trusted outside sources.
3. Fine detail
If you’re writing on “cheapest new cars 2013”, obviously, include the prices. But even better, include the prices for models with different equipment – what do three doors, five doors, sunroof and add-on sports bumpers cost? What about diesel vs. petrol? Finally, research and include the prices in other countries and currencies if you’re aiming your article at a global readership.
Really, really, really useful detail is what makes readers share stuff, bookmark it and keep referring back to it.
Goal: Make your article so useful your reader can’t live without it.
4. Break it up
If it feels boring to write about, the reader will be feelin’ ya. Humour doesn’t work in every context, so sometimes it’s worthwhile to break up the text with extras, like relevant quotes, anecdotes, coincidences, lyrics from songs, bizarre facts and so on.
“If the facts don’t fit the theory, change the facts.” – Albert Einstein
For example, if you’re writing a piece on fruit and veg based diet plans, ask your readers if they knew that lemons contain more sugar than strawberries. When writing an article comparing high street banks, include quotes from leading economists. Give your post an extra dimension.
Goal: Astonish/wake up your reader.
5. Make sense
Law students learn to construct essays in a very specific way. In the beginning they provide an argument. In the middle they present facts for and against the argument. At the end, they state how they’ve proved their case.
Similarly, short story writers and novelists need to provide a hook or “ticking bomb” at the beginning, highs and lows in the middle, a slow rise to a final climax, and an ending that resolves the characters’ problems.
Being methodical and logical throughout a blog post gives it a natural flow. Making notes before writing helps.
Goal: Tell a story with a beginning, middle and end.
6. Provoke a reaction
Ending a blog post with a question works well. Challenging the reader works even better.
With so much waffle and rubbish online these days, 99% of blog writers are in a complete rut. They keep rewriting and churning out articles that say nothing and just hope someone will happen across their site, read a bit of their post and click on the compulsory link. Yawn…
I bet you can’t think of six more ways to make a blog post highly entertaining.
Goal: Yeah, you get the picture.
(Image courtesy of marin, FreeDigitalPhotos.net)