10 Tips for Writing Better Posts

By Skellie

A blog is only as good as its content. Increasing the quality of our blog posts can bring traffic, inbound links, social bookmarks, subscribers, comments, and other rewards every blogger works hard to achieve. This post lists ten simple things you can do to produce better posts, every time.

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1. Write headlines that promise value. The reason numbered headlines are so in vogue is that they’re incredibly specific about what the reader will get by reading the article. You can be both specific and gripping without numbers, however, as long as you use your headlines to give readers an enticing preview not of what your article is about, but what it has to offer. A good strategy is to think of your headline as the sign on a door you want readers to open: what kind of sign would make the reader want to peek inside?

2. Begin with a gripping lead. A great headline will get your readers to open the door, but the strength of your first paragraph will determine whether they step inside. The first few sentences of your posts should expand on the headline and get more specific about what the content has to offer, whether it be entertainment, humor, information, or important facts.

3. Signpost your logic with sub-headings. I tend to go against the grain in my reasoning for using sub-headings. As far as I’m concerned, sub-headings help your visitors read, not simply scan. Good sub-headings give readers an angle to approach the following paragraph, help interlink your ideas, and break up complicated thoughts into manageable chunks.

4. Utilize whitespace and images. Whitespace is the empty space in your blog layout (whether it’s white or not). Whitespace around your text makes it much easier to read, and a simple way to introduce more whitespace into your posts is to use frequent paragraph breaks. Another strategy to make your posts more readable is to break up your posts with relevant and illustrative images.

5. Weave appropriate links into your words. A good rule of thumb: whenever you write a string of words specifically relevant to content you’ve seen elsewhere, or a previous post you’ve written, turn those words into a link. There are a great number of benefits to doing this. You may be noticed by those you’re linking to, you can get traffic from trackbacks, it can encourage readers to explore your blog, and it adds another layer of depth and detail to what you write.

6. Suggest further reading. When appropriate, direct readers to other content you’ve written on the topic at the end of your post. Some bloggers do this with the ‘Related Posts’ widget, but you’re more likely to capitalize on reader attention of you suggest the links within the body of your post, while they’re still in ‘reading mode’.

7. Engage the reader. A simple strategy for increasing your comments is to ask readers what they think. Opinions are much more freely given than experiences, so asking for opinions is likely to produce better results.

8. Rigorously edit what you’ve written. Check for typos, make sure your links work, check that your logic is clear and your formatting is displaying correctly. Fixing up your posts at a later date may cause the post to re-appear in feed readers, which won’t be appreciated by those who’ve already seen it.

9. Make it shorter. Delete unnecessary words, sentences, and paragraphs. Retain only the minimum amount of information needed to make your point. Readers are more likely to commit to reading something they know they will finish. You don’t need to make every post you write short, but you will always benefit from making it shorter.

10. If you have the time, let your posts marinate. When you’ve been working on a piece of writing for an hour or two it can be hard to look at it with fresh eyes. You’ve probably noticed how different a piece of writing can seem when you re-read it a few days later, once you’ve had time to forget the thoughts behind each sentence. Letting your posts sit for a time will allow you to better look at your work from the perspective of a reader, and work out what needs to be improved.



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39 Responses to “10 Tips for Writing Better Posts”

  • blogstheme.com

    Also you could use a spellchecker in order to know for sure that your post is written correctly, and if you dont want the grammar nazi to come and take you for a spin.
    And it’s important to write about interesting topics, there are so many blogs where every single post is just boring, they just dont bring any value, all they do is read something and make a review of that article, the blogs need to have original content, that wasnt told yet to the public. It takes a lot of skills to create something new and interesting.

  • Daniel

    Yeah grammar and spelling are very important. Good point.

  • Hans-Eric Grönlund

    In my experience your #9 is of great importance. It helps to make the content flow, which is what’s going to make your readers stay.

    Great post!

  • Technobuzz.net

    @ Hans

    Yes u r right.

  • David Cumps

    Letting it sink in and editing it for 2 days always helps me out, increasing the quality of the post.

    Great advise

  • Aseem Kishore

    Grammar is a pain! I wish there was an editor that could link in to Word’s grammar checker sometimes! I use Live Writer and it checks for spelling, but I sometimes miss the S or ED at the end of a word!

  • Beau

    @ David Crumps

    I agree, for me atleast, #10 is the most important. You should let a post breath, like a bottle of red wine, before you post. When I write I just let it flow. So, I tend to get off topic or add extraneous topics. Normally, when I let it sit for a day or two and read it from a fresh perspective it is easier to edit.

    Beau

  • Skellie

    @ Blogstheme: My spelling has actually improved a lot since upgrading to WordPress 2. For example, I realized I was consistently spelling separate wrong! It’s a really useful little touch.

  • Skellie

    Whoops, that should be *Firefox* 2. Forgive me — I’ve spent all day wrestling with multiple WordPress installs :-P.

  • Daniel

    Yeah Firefox in-built spell checker is amazing.

  • 60 in 3

    #10 is the one I find most valuable. Write the post, save it as a draft and then come back to it an hour or two later. Read and reread and listen to how it sounds in your head. I often find that sentences I wrote out initially now sound very awkward and need to be changed. I also find typos and spelling issues this way.

    Gal

  • Susan Flemming

    >>>>Fixing up your posts at a later date may cause the post to re-appear in feed readers, which won’t be appreciated by those who’ve already seen it.

  • Susan Flemming

    Sorry about that… my post got cut off for some reason. The rest of my post read:

    Thanks for mentioning that. I wasn’t aware that would happen. All the more reason to see if I can get some of my blog features working properly.

  • Missy

    You forgot #11, read copyblogger. lol.

  • Costa Fong

    Agree with all but agree the most with the Marinating part. many a times a new word or a new phrase to describe certain things comes up after one or two days, to make the pst more attractive.

  • Chris Jacobson

    Those are some great valuable tips. Thanks.

  • Brad Shorr

    #10 is huge for me as well. My problem is over-marinating. I have an impulse to tweak endlessly. That’s not good, either, is it? #4 is underrated. Some blogs have sidebars that are wider than the post area. That doesn’t seem right.

  • Matt

    Over-marinating is my problem also. Sometimes I’ll read something in the news which provokes a great idea for a blog post. But I like to let ideas stew in my subconscious, so it might be a three days before I’m ready to post about it. But by then, the issue or story is old news!

    That’s the thing about blogging: Time is of the essence. It requires quick reflexes and a “seize the day” attitude.

  • Alfred

    Awesome set of tips, my writing style is pretty poor to be honest. Been reading all the posts in the WordPress category here, and must vote this one as the best 😀

  • SEO Genius

    Great article mate, tips i am soon to be implementing in to further articles of my own.

  • lindsay

    I agree with you to make the post shorter, poeple reading the posts want to the point fats, not a long drawn out story.

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