The art of a successful blog

By Nicole Mercer, BiKBBI Communications Manager; 

There’s more to a great blog post than just words on a screen. What follows is my list of essential ingredients for a successful blog post.

First and foremost a blog should not be seen as a direct opportunity to flog! ie. Don’t confuse blog with flog!

The number one mistake that people make is that they use a great blog opportunity to just out-and-out sell. It’s the wrong approach and what  I see as an absolute missed opportunity. If readers think it’s a sales pitch, they simply switch off.

A blog is an opportunity to sell yourself as a credible contributor – a voice that can be trusted based on your experience and ability to structure. The selling of the product is therefore secondary, but subliminally still present.

Ok, on to the nitty gritty:

A blog needs a point and I’m surprised at how many blog articles I read generally that have absolutely nothing to say! Well, maybe they have plenty of things to say, but they just don’t have a point.

An blog is supposed to communicate your personal point, it gives readers something memorable to latch onto. They are more compelled to share it, comment on it, and engage with it. A blog with a point is an article that accomplishes a mission and is therefore successful.

There’s another benefit to having a point: Using specific keywords.

As part of a content marketing effort, you probably went through the exercise of planning the keywords to target, and creating content that would advance those keywords. Now, you can implement those keywords by writing an article with a succinct point.

Images

You won’t see an article in our blog without an image. It just doesn’t happen. I know that content is the most important thing for search engines and crawlers, but I’m not writing great stuff so crawlers can read it.

Your goal isn’t just to add eye candy, though that’s probably a good thing. Your goal is to add strategic images that help your readers, and enhance your content. Structure This is one of the most-overlooked aspects of an article.

In order to communicate a concept, you need to organise your thoughts. Otherwise, you’re going to have a scattered assembly of sentences and statements. That accomplishes nothing.

When you have a structure, it will be reflected in the layout of the article. An article will have headings, subheadings, paragraph breaks, and maybe a bullet point or two. All of these features provide flow for the reader, and make it easy to skim and digest content.

Here’s the model you should follow:

• Introduction: Set the stage for your discussion.
• Make your point. Explain it.
• Make your next point. Explain it.
• Do this for as many points as you have.
• Conclusion: Wrap up the article with a call to action.

That’s the general idea. However, it needs some specificity depending on the type of article you’re creating.

Unique content

First, you need to have something unique to say, from a thematic perspective. In other words, you don’t simply want to make the same point that everyone else is making. You need to have a unique angle, approach, or spin.

Second, you need unique content. You hopefully wouldn’t copy and paste content from another site onto your own. But you may be tempted to do a link roundup or “best of the web,” in which you curate a list of articles that you’ve found to be interesting.

I think this is a fine idea, and it can certainly help you to establish thought leadership and gain readership. However, because of the risk of duplicate content, I’d suggest doing this infrequently. Unique content is more likely to be linked and shared. People are going to go to your content because it’s one of a kind.

Substantial length

Ah, the perennial question: How long should my blog post be?

The short and easy answer is, as long as it takes to say what you need to say.

Our research, experience, and data all point to long-form content performing better in social sharing, search indexing, organic traffic, and conversions.

If you’re regularly creating content that is in the 1,000- to 1,500-word range, you’re doing well. If most of your articles are about 200 to 300 words then you could probably beef up a bit.

Attention to proper spelling and grammar

When I first drafted this article, I wrote this point as “Make your article grammatically impeccable.” And then I changed it. It needs to be proofread and copyedited…at least. Let me share a thought or two about mistakes. To err is human. Mistakes happen. Now and then, a typo will slip through. Work to avoid it, but be prepared to accept it. Being human has its drawbacks.

Here’s a helpful approach to proofreading and copyediting your articles:

• Just write the article. Don’t nitpick, parse, check thesaurus, or fix your spelling. Simply put the content on the page — structured, organized, but not proofed.

• Wait a few hours. A day is even better. You’ll be able to look at it with fresh eyes when you go in for the copyedit phase.

• Copyedit the article. Here’s where you give the article a renovation. You may change entire paragraphs, elide sections, alter wording, and adjust your approach. Your goal is to make the copy read well.

• Proofread the article. Examine every comma, apostrophe, capital letter, and spelling issue. This is where you make sure your article will pass muster in a college-level composition course. When you’re done, proofread it again.

In other words, you don’t simply want to make the same point that everyone else is making. You need to have a unique angle, approach, or spin.

 

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