Monday 4 March 2013

How to Write a Great Blog Post

I get a lot of value from both writing and reading blogs.  Blogs are first-hand accounts of the world as bloggers see it.  They are honest viewpoints of someone’s real life experience.  A trusted blog is like advice from a friend – personal and often (but not always) useful.  I even feel the same way about my own blog posts – after a while it feels like someone else wrote them!

So what makes a great blog post?  In the vast sea of information out there, what makes something worth reading?  I don’t pretend to be any kind of expert, but I have been blogging for a few years and one or two people have stopped by to have a read.  So here is my top six pointers for creating great blog posts:

1.     Address a real need.  Like how to give up caffeine, how to write a blog post, or what lead and lag indicators are.  By a real need I mean needs that more than one person might have.  One of the joys of blogging is that you have no idea whether other people have the same issues as you, but you write about what you think is important.  And people either respond or they don’t.

2.     Give practical advice.  It’s hard to give a personal view on a theoretical topic.  Of course we all know that in theory there is no difference between theory and practice, but in practice there is a great deal.  Anyone can read theory from a text book, bloggers tell you when happened when they actually tried doing something.  The joy, of course, is that the path is rarely straight.  It took me 3 or 4 attempts to give up caffeine, and it would have been pointless to lie about the difficulties. 

3.     Get to the point.  Blogs are not essays, and most get to the point in 500 words or less.  I can think of at least one notable exception, but for the most part you can read a couple of blog posts before you finish your first cup of green tea in the morning.  I think people appreciate that.

4.     Make it easy to read.  Six points.  Top ten ways.  Three things I Learnt.  You get the idea.  This is fast-food information, not curl-up-on-the-sofa and get-in-the-mood reading. 

5.     Don’t aim to please everyone.  Some blog posts upset some people.  You just have to add value for that group of people who might be interested.  And yourself, of course.

6.     Write so you can be found.  No matter how great your advice is, how brilliant your breakthrough, if it can’t be found by people who need it, it’s no use.  As I started to write this blog post I titled it “The Joy of Blogging”.  It appealed to my long memory for self-help books, but wouldn’t have helped anyone find my six pointers.