Writing Reader-worthy Blogs
I had a great conversation with our social media guru, Tim Grahl, yesterday. It was a kind of tutorial on blog-writing. Like most bloggers, I suspect, I would like my blog to be read and enjoyed by lots of people. He had some excellent simple suggestions that I want to pass on to you.
#1 Make the important stuff easy to see
You could spend all day, every day online, looking for interesting things. Even if people want to read your blog, they don’t want to wade through a lot of mildly interesting stuff to get to the important points. Tim suggested I break each post into bite-size pieces, with headers, and then put the critical info within each paragraph in boldface. Then the folks who want to take a leisurely wander through the post can do so, and those who just want to do a quick run to pick up the key points can do that, too.
#2 Create visual interest
Tim opined that pictures, graphics and videos are a great way to make your blog more 3-dimensional. I’ve been using pictures all along, but now I want to find ways to incorporate other visual elements – without making the post too busy or distracting. One other important thing he pointed out…I’ve been just pulling visuals off Google image searches, so I may be using copyrighted images. He suggested pulling images from the “Creative Commons” area of flickr, to make sure you’re not doing anything illegal.
#3 Put links in the post – and make them optional
You notice I’ve got a link to the place I’m talking about in the paragraph above. This was another thing Tim recommended. I’ve been doing a lot of the links in my posts using a feature in Typepad called “quickpost,” where the link you’re referencing is at the top of the post. Tim suggested this is harder for people to follow – that if you’re referencing another article, post, or piece of information, it's best to embed the link in the post at the point where you’re talking about it. He also suggested that the post should summarize what was important to me about the linked information – so that people can go to the link if they want to, but it’s not necessary. They can get my point without having to go somewhere else.
#4 Provide take-aways
Finally, Tim pointed out that people read blog posts (and pass them along), only if they find them valuable. He suggested that I should check to make sure that the post answers the questions, Why should I care? or What can I do with this? Technorati’s blog directory includes almost 75,000 blogs. Even if people are avid blog readers, they have to prioritize somehow, and personal benefit is a great sorting mechanism.
A post that does these four things immediately becomes both interesting and useful. How might you integrate this advice Tim offered me into your own blog?