How to Structure a Blog to Maximise Engagement and Impact by Ben Brown
Every day there are 2.75 million blog posts published on WordPress alone. That is just one of the many platforms that bloggers use. According to one data source, that is only 27% of all posts, which makes the total number of posts per day over 10 million. That is a lot of words competing for people to read, so how do you get heard over all that noise?
This sells your blog post. Here are a few ways to generate that winning headline.
Be clear first, clever second - Eg. The quickest and easiest way to… How you can…
Be specific - use numbers, percentages etc. that communicate what you promise. - Eg. X Questions answered about… Take X minutes to get started on…
Address an emotion - fear of missing out, desire to achieve happiness, wanting to be liked or loved. - X may be causing you to miss out on Y
Make it searchable - if you want to increase engagement with your blog, then include keywords. Is the title something people would type into Google?
Something I learned during my work in Sales and Marketing. Copywriting is an art - you want people to read the next sentence and then the next, and this starts with the headline and then the introduction. The purpose of each sentence is to get people to read the next one.
Include a hook in your opening sentence/paragraph. (A hook is a compelling statement that introduces your blog post).
Ask a direct question. - What if you could have your voice heard by thousands of people? What would you say? What would message would you deliver?
Include a “shocking” statistic - Did you know that 95% of teachers don’t use Twitter to its full potential? - I made up that number btw - so don’t use it,
Show what the result of reading the blogpost will be. - Imagine having a professional learning network that extended across the globe. Imagine asking a question and being given the answer you needed quickly and accurately.
Use a cliffhanger - “These 3 tips can help you achieve virtually anything, let me explain…” or “My Twitter network has grown massively over the past 6 months, so why do I still feel as though there is something missing?”
The Body of the Blog Post
Use subheadings they pull the reader through long posts. Have a look at them alone and see if they achieve one of the following elements - Curiosity, surprise, personality or emotion. They need to pique interest too. Your eye will catch them and encourage you to read a long bit to get to that section.
Writing with I or You?
Use “You” instead of “We” and “I” - the reader is the hero of the “story” it is about them. The exception to this is when you include a personal story that establishes you as an expert or authority - but even then make sure to appeal to their “Youness” as you do.
Look at this example written with “I” and then with “You.”
“When I first joined Twitter, I spent hours, days, if not months, lurking. I didn’t know what to say, and I didn’t know who would listen, after all, I had no followers. Who was there to listen? I was insignificant and what I had to say was unimportant. I bet you felt that way too. I bet some of you may still feel that way. Here’s where I can help.”
“When you first joined Twitter you spent hours, days if not months lurking, you didn’t know what to say, and you didn’t know who would listen to you, after all, you didn’t have any followers, so who was there to listen? You felt insignificant and what you had to say unimportant. If you still feel this way, I am here to help.”
Use trigger words to engage people and persuade them to read on.
Yes, there are a lot of things to consider.
Yes, it takes time.
Yes, it is essential to use them.
Yes, you’ve guessed it. “Yes” is a trigger word.
There are 17 to consider using - You, Their, Name, Because, Yes, Win, Stop, How, Instantly, Today, Everyone, Want, Easy, Discover, If, Worse and P.S.
Place them strategically in your headlines, subheadings and introductions.
Speak in their language and make it easy for everyone to understand.
You should not communicate in a very verbose and convoluted manner.
In other words, use contractions and limit your vocabulary. Even though you are speaking to educated people, they still prefer to have easy words to read in a blog. Technical blogs may get critical acclaim from a few close friends or people interested in a particular field with a quick grasp of the jargon but keeping it simple allows many more people to access your writing.
Have you been asking questions?
As you write, use questions to engage your reader. Asking the right questions encourages agreement.
Your thoughts are much appreciated…
Writing in passive voice distances you from people. I would appreciate your thoughts is much more personal than your thoughts are much appreciated. Yes, you should write using you. But not in the passive voice. Are you making claims?
If you make a claim in the post, then it needs backing up with a link or a screenshot. It adds authority by linking to research etc.
Is your post easy to scan?
Most people are lazy, you are also probably a little lazy when it comes to reading too, especially online content. You don’t want to read thick dense blocks of text, so you scan the page instead.
Most people do this, they pick out individual words and sentences that catch their eye and their interest. So, use subheadings every few paragraphs and make sure the paragraphs are short. Bullet points and numbers also make things easy to read.
Do you have a content style?
If your content is always presented in the same way you start to build up a recognisable brand presence, which makes your content easier to read. The consistency between blog posts increases familiarity which makes people more comfortable with your style. They may even look forward to your next blog post because of it.
Linking content is important.
This can be tricky to do, particularly as you write more and more content, so find a way of summarising your old content so you can link articles. The benefits are worth the effort, as people will visit more pages of your blog and increase the traffic and it’s ranking.
To avoid losing your reader, especially in a long post do the following.
Remind them of the first step they can take.
Give them the confidence to implement two or three tips at a time
Remind them of the end result
(if you are selling something, you can also add in a nudge about an “upgrade” that makes it easier for them to achieve the result).
I think that by taking 5 or ten minutes to work through the steps outlined in this short article, your engagement levels will increase significantly. It may take longer, but I guarantee you will be happier with what you produce.
The Power of Three.
Good bloggers take the time to choose each word with care, they know the rules, but they also know when to break them. Take the time to be deliberate, determined and emphatic.
Did you see what I did there? Appeal to your readers. What are their desires? Their wishes? Their dreams?
Keep it short and sweet.
Limit your conclusion to nor more than 200 words (three paragraphs) and don’t include any new information.
Call to action.
What is the goal of your blog? What do you want your readers to do? Ask them to do it. That is a call to action and often is the whole point of the blog. If you aren’t calling people into action, why are you writing?
Now, it’s time for you to get writing.
Ben is a former primary Deputy Head, SENCo and Behavioural Specialist with far too many years of experience in Year 6. In 2017 he left teaching and spent several years working in sales and marketing and learning about business leadership. He now works with a tribe of headteachers who collaborate and support each other in achieving their visions. Find him on Twitter @EdRoundtables. https://edrt.co.uk.
Ben, thank you for this fantastic blogpost! You have knocked it out of the park! Honestly, writing a blog is one of the best investments that you can make! Ben has given you the blueprint - Go use it!
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