When you first dive into content marketing, one of the first things you’ll probably focus on is blog posts. After all, your blog is one of the most valuable tools in your content marketing strategy. But if you just jump into writing posts without including three important ingredients, you may be setting yourself up for failure.
Yes, writing is a creative discipline, but there’s a method to the madness if you’re looking to succeed with your posts.
Whether you’re just getting started with blogging or looking to attract more visitors, make sure that you include these three important things when writing your posts.
1. Main Point
Every post needs a purpose – a main point. Maybe you want to argue your viewpoint on an issue. Maybe you want to show your audience how to do something. Or maybe you want to share the latest developments in your industry.
Either way, you need a moral to the story. Otherwise, there’s no point in sticking around to read the ending.
Your argument, or main point, should be the first thing you establish before you write a single word or create an outline. Establishing a main point will keep your posts focused and offer more value to your readers.
It’s tempting to go with the flow and write what’s on your mind, but that’s not the type of content that gets shared. And the post probably won’t be of interest to your audience.
So how do you find purpose?
Know your audience. It’s as simple and as complicated as that.
If you know your audience, you know what they want, what they’re searching for, their problems and their questions. Let these be your guide when finding purpose for your posts. Focus on solving their problems and answering their questions to help them reach their goals.
Let’s say you’re writing a post for your company’s blog, which offers social marketing services. You decide to write a post on the future of the industry, which includes a little ranting about where social media is headed, and a few tidbits of data from Twitter.
What’s the point? What can your audience really do with this information? Nothing.
A better way to approach this topic (the future of social media) might have been to discuss specific industry trends that will affect your clients and their businesses.
What to Do
- Get to know your audience. You should already know them at this stage, but if you don’t, you should start working on that right now.
- Answer questions and solve problems. Give your audience practical tips, tricks and tools.
- Make sure your point is clear.
2. Compelling Title and Intro
Titles and intros are the two most important parts of your post. It doesn’t matter how valuable your tips are or how great your how-to tutorial is if no one is clicking on your post or reading past the first paragraph.
Your Facebook feed is a great place to find examples of catchy titles. Here are four I found in my own feed this afternoon:
- I Cut My Wardrobe in Half & It Completely Changed My Life
- 10 Keyword Tools You Need to Know
- Everyone’s Talking About This Firefighter’s Obituary
- Are You Making These Five Retirement Mistakes?
What makes these headlines so catchy? They play on your emotions and your pique your curiosity. Let’s take a closer look at which emotions each title invokes.
- Curiosity and fear. How could cutting your wardrobe down really change your life? (curiosity) Am I missing out on this life-changing thing? (fear)
- What keyword tools am I missing? I need to know about these tools right now.
- Why is everyone talking about an obituary (of all things)?
- What mistakes? Could I be sabotaging my retirement, or am I doing everything right?
Why do emotions matter? A while back, CoSchedule used their social sharing analytics tool to see how posts with emotional headlines were received. Posts with a higher emotional value were shared more often.
But it’s not just about playing on emotions. Headlines also set the tone for how the reader will read your post. They set the stage for what’s to follow and gives your readers an idea of what the post is about.
Never underestimate the importance of your post’s title, and don’t be afraid to spend a lot of time on writing it. Upworthy creates 25 titles for each post.
And try to avoid clickbait titles – overly exaggerated titles designed just to get clicks – unless you can deliver on the claim in your headline. Facebook is cracking down on these types of posts, too, because users complain about them.
Just as important as the title is the intro paragraph.
You’ve lured in the reader with a great headline, but your first few sentences put them to sleep. They click off your site and go about their day.
You have seconds to grab your reader’s attention. Make those seconds count.
Here are some tips to writing an attention-grabbing introduction:
- Say something unexpected or unusual.
- Be brief. What happens when you land on a page and see a wall of text right off the bat?
- Don’t repeat your title. Unless you really need to for emphasis.
- Explain what the article is about in one to two sentences (also known as a thesis).
- Tell readers why your article is important. In the intro paragraph of this article, you’ll find the following sentence: “But if you just jump into writing posts without including three important ingredients, you may be setting yourself up for failure.” I explain that if you don’t include a few important things in your post, you may not get the results you want.
- Refer to a pain point in the introduction. Readers want solutions to their problems. Promising to offer that solution (and delivering later on in the post) will keep them reading.
About 10% of the people who land on your page will never scroll down – Schwartz. Keep that in mind when you write your first paragraph. It will push you to create an intro that draws in as many of the 10% crowd as possible.
What to Do
- Come up with dozens of catchy headlines for each post. Try this headline formula from Copyblogger if you’re stuck.
- Avoid click-baity titles and posts – you may lose the trust and respect of your readers this way.
- Write an intro paragraph that hooks readers to keep them reading – and eventually sharing.
3. Actionable Steps
You’ve hooked readers with a killer intro paragraph, and you stayed on point until the end of the post. But readers aren’t sharing or commenting. What gives?
You probably forgot to give them something to do after reading your post. Yes, after all that work researching and piecing together a great post, you have to take the reader’s hand and guide them to the next stepping stone.
Take a breath. Try not to punch a hole in the wall. Fixing the problem isn’t as hard as it sounds.
If you’ll notice, I’ve included a “What to Do” bullet point section after each sub-header. These are actionable steps the reader (you) can take to use the information I presented.
Guide your readers by telling them how they can use the information, or give them an actual step-by-step guide. It doesn’t have to be something complicated or detailed, and it can flow right into your content. In other words, you don’t have to create a separate “what to do next” section.
More often than not, your posts will naturally include actionable steps, especially if you’re writing a how-to article.
How can you know if your post is “actionable?”
Ask yourself this after you’ve finished writing and reading your content: Do I know what to do with this information? If the answer is yes, then you’ve done your job to explain which steps readers can take to implement your information into their lives, work, etc.
What to Do
- Tell readers what to do next
- Offer examples or suggestions on how to implement the information into real-world scenarios.
So to recap: Every post should have a point, a catchy title and intro, and actionable steps the readers can take after reading. Including these three key elements will ensure your content provides value and will ultimately help generate more shares.
Do you have a formula for writing blog posts? Did we forget an important ingredient? Let us know in the comments!