First, why blogs? People say blogs are the best and cheapest way to get your business out there, to be seen on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter, linked to your website. People are right. Plus, writing a blog can make you a real person to your potential customers, creating an intimate connection, a relationship, at least digitally, that can turn into revenue. And let’s be honest: revenue is what you want. You may have other reasons for running your business, and I hope you do, but if you’re not making money, you’re not really running a business. You have an expensive, time-consuming hobby. A weak blog won’t do anything for your business, and a lot of blogs are weak. You know that; I know that. You don’t read them; I don’t read them. No one reads them. So here are three rules for how to write better blog posts so that people read them and you can get all the good stuff, including revenue, that a blog can bring you.
Rule 1. Make It Personal
Blog posts are not articles or white papers. They originated as diaries that people kept on the web. Diaries are personal. So start with something you care about and don’t be afraid to put emotion in it. Especially if your emotion is shared by the readers that you want to reach. Say you’ve created a new app for finding missing socks or an easy way to return all those wire hangers from the dry cleaners that clutter up your closet. Begin by talking about how much you hate losing half a pair of socks, or the last time a bunch of wire hangers clonked you on your head. Don’t make it about a hypothetical person. Make it about you. You should always start a blog post with the most emotional, important thing you have to say. Don’t wait until the end of the post to reveal it. No one will get that far. And maybe your English teacher taught you to avoid emotion in your writing. Forget that. In fact, forget everything that your English teacher taught you about writing. Ninety percent of the bad writing in the world is due to English teachers, and I was one, so I know. Emotions create connections, and creating connections is a big part of what blog posts are all about.
Rule 2. Keep It Short
It’s really hard to say anything worthwhile in 500 words, and after 1,000 words you’re really trying your readers’ patience. So a blog post should be between 500 and 1,000 words.
Rule 3. Put a Good Headline On It
The web is like a tabloid newspaper. Remember them? A lot of stories, a lot of content crammed onto one page, with headlines screaming for your attention: “Ford to New York: Drop Dead,” “Headless Body in Topless Bar.” People are going to read those stories. So what makes a good headline, which is the first thing your reader is going to see? Numbers help. People want to know what they’re going to get from an article before they start reading. Nothing tells them that more quickly than a number in the headline. I’m giving you three rules for writing blog posts – not two, not four – because not all numbers are created equal. Three is a good number. So is five. Seven is lucky. All the other numbers up to ten are worthless. No one cares about two, four, six, eight, or nine. Why? I have no idea. But you’ve got to trust me on this. Above ten, nothing is good until you get to 25, 50, 99, 100, or 101, like the Dalmatians. But if you’re writing between 500 and 1,000 words so you can really forget about numbers above 10.
Also, a good headline uses verbs. Headlines without verbs are labels, and labels belong on cans. Verbs say something is happening, something exciting, something you need to know about, or something you need to do right now, like “Write Better Blog Posts,” not “Rules for Better Blog Posts.” “Rules for Better Blog Posts” is a label. Also, it sounds like something you might hear in school, and nobody really likes school. “Write Better Blog Posts” is an imperative, urgent, telling you to do something right now.
Follow these three rules, and your blog posts will get better. That’s a Rhetoriq guarantee.