Write Better Blog Posts: How to Engage Your Audience


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If you haven’t noticed, content creation (aka writing blog posts) is the heart and soul of blogging. For some, it comes easy and for others, like me, we have to work hard at it. I enjoy it, but that doesn’t mean it comes naturally or that it’s easy for me to sit down and crank out a new post.

Some topics motivate me and others feel like having to write that essay in 9th grade…”Mrs. Smith, do I really have to write about The Scarlet Letter?”

We all have those days when we just don’t feel like writing. This is when you need to focus most and persevere.

Consistency is one of the foundations for success as a blogger. Especially as a new blogger.

Write. Whether you feel like it or not. Set a schedule and stick to it.

Your readers will come to expect this from you. Especially, after you have a following and an email list built up. Not only new content but relevant and engaging content. Content that’s educational perhaps and helps solve a problem or teaches them something new.

Remember, Google’s business model is all about serving its users (you, me and just about everyone else in the world) the most relevant content from the keyword or phrase we type in. Write what your readers are searching. You’ll get better at it the more you write. So, just write.

Don’t wait until you have an email list or thousands of visits to your blog. Start posting on a regular schedule from the beginning.

Write Better Blog Posts: How to Engage Your Audience

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Finding time to write

I know there are more strategies out there, but these two, are what I’ve found to be most effective, for staying consistent:

A weekly schedule

Get on a weekly cadence where you work on the next week’s post (or further out if you can get a month or two ahead of schedule).

Block off a few hours, a day or two every week for writing content. How much time depends on the type of post you’re writing. If you’re writing on a topic that you’re familiar with, you may only need an hour or two.

On the other hand, writing more of an in-depth, epic piece, may require 5, 10, or even 20 hours or more to accomplish. This type of post is where you spend time digging deep and explaining every aspect—in an attempt to become the authority on that particular topic.

Be sure to build this into your schedule since it could take up to a month to create. You can work on this type of post, in parallel, with the other topics that won’t take as long to write. That way, you don’t lose your consistent schedule.

Are you someone who would rather knock it all out at once? Give a monthly schedule a try.

A monthly schedule

Plan out your weekly post topics for the next month. Once you have those, block off an entire day to knock them out.

I actually like the idea of this strategy, but it’s just not feasible for me right now since I work full-time. But, someone who’s able to devote an entire day to writing could use this approach.

This strategy takes discipline because it will be easy to get distracted. Put the phone away. Don’t touch social media until you have at least 1000 words. Then, award yourself with some social time.

It’s actually healthy to step away for a few minutes to clear your mind. I recommend you work for 25 minutes, then take a 5-minute break. Go for a quick walk or do something completely different. Our brain needs time to digest and process information.

I find that I usually think of more ideas during the break. Give this a try and see if you’re more productive.

Think of the monthly schedule like the snowball approach…start with the easiest topic first, second easiest, and so on.

You’ll start to feel accomplished as you finish them which will be the motivation you need to keep pumping out content.

Finding time between full-time work and family

Since I work full-time, I use a blended approach. I typically use a weekly schedule but when time permits, will sit down for a large portion of the day and get as much done as possible.

I’ve had to get strategic with the time I spend on my blog to ensure that I’m still fulfilling my duties at work and I’m spending quality time with my wife and kids.

Get up early.

I start my day at 5:00 am to get a solid hour of blogging in before my wife and I get the kids up and around for school.

I use this time to either write content, make enhancements to the site or market my content.

This probably sounds like death for those who aren’t morning people. But, give it a try…see if you’re more productive in the morning.

Family comes first and should always be prioritized over your blog. It’s easy to get consumed in your blog, especially in the beginning. Don’t neglect your duties at home. Get up before they’re awake.

I use my lunch break.

It doesn’t take me long to eat. So, I’ll utilize the remaining time to work on my blog. Then, I’ll utilize any other downtime I may have during the day.

I ALWAYS make sure my 9-5 work is done, done well, and done on or before time. Let’s face it, there’s always downtime. Use it to your advantage instead of surfing the web, social media, water-cooler talk, etc.

On weekends, I’ll work on content while my girls are watching cartoons. It gives me a solid hour to work. But, I make sure they’re up and fed first. Why are kids always starving? 🙂

Hook em’ with your headline

Your headline, aka subject or title, is one of the most important aspects of your post. Why? Because that’s the first thing a reader will see and you only get one chance at a first impression.

This along with a relevant and engaging image will be what brings people in your metaphorical door.

Remember that person you saw across from you at the bar…you walked over and said, “did it hurt…when you fell from heaven?” Later you found yourself drinking alone at home binge-watching the latest Netflix series?

 

Don’t let that be your blog post.

Create a compelling, engaging, and intriguing headline. One that will make readers want and need to read your post—have no other option but to read it.

Targeting a specific keyword?

Make sure your headline includes the keyword. This is a must for on-page SEO!

For instance, you have a health and fitness blog and write a post about the newest diet fad called the LETO Diet. An ok headline would be, “The New LETO Diet”. A better one would be, “The New LETO Diet: What You Need to Know”.

An even better one would be, “10 Things You Must Know About the New LETO Diet”. Which one would compel or entice you to read? Include words like “need” or “must” to create a sense of urgency and a fear of missing out (FOMO). Use this to your advantage.

Be sure not to blow, the importance of, your headline off but give it the proper attention it needs.

NOTE: You could have the most epic post ever, but who cares if no one reads it. Give them a reason to read it with your headline.

Write a compelling intro

You’ve hooked ‘em, now how do you persuade them to keep reading? Start with an intriguing story.

Stories are just fun to read and they help build engagement from the get-go.

Another strategy is to start with some data, which Neil Patel does quite often. This can be beneficial for a couple of reasons.

  1. You’ll link to another article which provides a backlink to that other site.
  2. It provides helpful and relevant information for your reader.

Why is that helpful for you? It starts to build a relationship with the other site. They may choose to share your post or provide some love later down the road.

Even though your reader may leave your blog to read the other article, you’ll have helped them find what they need and that helps build credibility with your brand.

A third strategy is to start with a question. Then spend the rest of your post thoroughly answering.

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Read: How to Create Blog Post Ideas: A New Blogger’s Guide

Read: How to Create a Blog Name that WINS

Readability is key

Would you rather read an article that requires you to have a thesaurus handy or one that limits difficult words?

Unless you’re writing to a very technical audience, I would recommend that you limit challenging words and write to an audience on about an eighth or ninth grade level.

According to this post written by Marieke van de Rakt over at Yoast, “Words with four or more syllables are considered difficult to read…”

By no means am I saying that your audience can’t read on a higher level—it just makes for an easier and more pleasant read.

In general, most of your organic traffic, coming from Google or maybe even Pinterest, are trying to find an answer to a question, learn how to do something, or just want to be entertained.

Give them something entertaining to read. Don’t make it a thesis or technical white paper, unless that’s the audience you’re trying to reach. For most blogs, it won’t be.

Have you noticed that I only tend to write two to three sentences in each paragraph? How many of you scrolled up to check? 🙂

Writing clear paragraphs with short sentences also helps increase audience engagement.

When I land on a site and see huge blocks of text, I typically go back to find another. I look for a resource that has easily digestible tidbits of information.

It not only makes your post easier to read and digest but helps make it scannable. Especially when you pair it with subheadings.

Include an engaging image, GIF, or video

Although blogging is all about the copy, we’re visual beings and like to see images, videos, GIFs, infographics, etc.

NOTE: Always include an image or some sort of visual with every post.

You’ll want to ensure it ties back to your headline and overall theme of your post. For example, don’t include a picture of a space cat if you’re writing a post on the latest DIY hacks.

 

Funny? Yes! Relevant? Probably not.

I know people love cats and all, but it’s not relevant and may cause people to think your just a spammy site. On the other hand, you may have some people think it’s funny and draw them in to read more. It goes back to knowing your audience.

My hypothesis is that you’ll see more success with goofy images and GIFS, that may not be super relevant when you have an established subscriber base who know your sense of humor.

Free Photos.

Sites like Pexels, Unsplash, and Pixabay have free photos you can use on your blog. You’re allowed to use these images without the permission of or attributing the photographer. Feel free to modify and edit the photos to your heart’s content.

GIFs are becoming more and more popular. It’s a great way to engage with your reader and infuse some humor into your post. Sites like giphy.com have tons of GIFs for use and even allow you to upload your own.

Be sure to read their community guidelines before sharing. Although it’s not required, they respectfully ask that you give credit to the original creator and use GIPHY’s embed option.

Embed a YouTube or Vimeo video. Create a how-to video and record yourself using the product/service. Record a quick intro video explaining what the post is about. Believe it or not, people like to see your face, not just the words you type.

They’re able to put a face with a name and also hear your voice while they read your post. This happens to me all the time when I read a post of someone that I’ve watched on video or listened to on podcasts.

If you want to stand out, drive traffic, and build an email list, you’ll need to include relevant and engaging content other than plain text.

Link, Relate, Help

One of the factors, that impacts SEO and that you can control with on-page SEO, is to link to your other relevant posts.

The amount of time someone spends on your blog tells Google that he/she really likes your content. Google’s in the business of serving its readers with relevant content.

If your audience spends a significant amount of time reading your blog posts, Google will see that as a good thing which will help your content rank higher.

Couple this with other SEO tactics and you should see your page rank increase.

A strategy I’ve used before is to create a series of content and then link each one to the other. This helps build interest and anticipation which will draw your reader in and make them want to read more.

Check out Problogger’s 10 Steps to Writing a Successful Series on your Blog for tips on creating a series of posts.

As I mentioned earlier, most readers that land on your blog are looking for an answer. Be helpful. Give them the answer. The more helpful you are, the longer they’ll stay on your site and the more likely they’ll become a subscriber.

It’s a win-win.

Be relatable

Another strategy you should implement with every piece of content you create is to be relatable. Use personal stories, write like you’re talking to a friend—it creates a connection.

I like to connect with my readers by sharing the fact this is my side hustle.

I still work full-time. So, I struggle with finding time to work on my blog and business. I’m married and make it a priority to spend quality time with my wife and two girls.

But, I still make time.

It’s so easy to “waste” time on social media, Netflix, sporting events, etc. I put waste in parenthesis because I realize it’s relative.

We need to relax and clear our minds, every now and then, by catching up on social, binge-watching the latest craze, or cheering our alma matters to victory.

But, I decided that I wanted something more and made a conscious decision to spend my time creating. I can either spend an hour on Netflix or write a new piece of content.

I choose the latter, most of the time.

But, everything in moderation. My wife and I still currently binge-watch a handful of shows once we get our girls down at night.

See how I did that? I won’t relate to everyone. But, I bet a good number of you feel like you know me a little better and may even be in the same boat.

Let’s row this boat together. It may be upstream at times, but it’s worth it!

Done forget the Call to Action (CTA)

People like to have something to do, they like to click on buttons, images, links, etc. So, give them that pleasure.

Anchor Text is one of the highest converting CTA’s.

What is an Anchor Text CTA?

It’s when you use a clickable text within your content that leads to a certain action. The action could be to subscribe to your email list, it could be to download a freebie, or even purchase a product.

It could simply ask your audience to read your next post.

Between 47% and 93% of HubSpot’s leads come from an anchor text CTA.

That sentence is actually an example of an anchor text CTA. I’ve provided a call to action for you to go read HubSpot’s article on how they generate leads.

Be sure to read it because they give some great examples of why anchor text CTAs outperform end of post and banner CTAs.

NOTE: if you’re attempting to funnel readers to perform a particular action like subscribe to your email list or buy your product, you’ll only want to show one CTA.

I see time-and-time again where bloggers give multiple CTA’s which can cause call-to-action overload.

Although, it’s relevant to the content you’re writing about.

For example, in this post I’m trying to give you as much information and resources as possible to help you write better content. So, I’ve linked to several external resources for further reading.

If your main goal is to convert, only give them that one thing to do. Make it both simple and clear.

Conclusion

In closing, writing blog posts that engage your audience takes practice. Like anything in life, the more you practice the better you’ll be.

It’s a combination of art and science, in my opinion. There’s definitely a creative component, but there are specific strategies and steps you can do, every time, to write better blog posts.

Let’s recap…

  • Develop a schedule and be consistent
  • Hook ‘em with your headline
  • Write a compelling intro
  • Make your post easy to read
  • Include images, GIFs, or video
  • Link to internal and external posts
  • Be relatable and help solve your audience’s problems
  • Always include a CTA

What other strategies do you use? Let me know in the comments below.

Don’t forget, if you found this post helpful, please be a pal and share. The blogging gods will reward you.


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