What is a Blog?

A blog, short for “weblog,” is a text-based online diary or website product used for informational or entertainment purposes.

A blog can be written by a single writer, or a group of writers. And the information contained in this platform varies according to the topic or theme.

Generally speaking, a blog shares the viewpoint and opinions of its writers. However, blogs can also be written in a non-biased manner, depending on the desired goal.

Individuals can use blogs for personal reasons, such as sharing personal events. Businesses can use blogs for commercial purposes, such as informing clients about their products and services. Ultimately, the overall purpose of a blog is to connect the writer with a target audience by way of relevant content.

Structure of a Blog

In general, blogs have the following structure:

  • Main title
  • Table of contents and/or navigation bar
  • Main content section with subheadings
  • A sidebar with links to social media, e-commerce sites, or a call to action
  • A footer with relevant disclaimers and contact information

Writers can alter blogs to suit their needs. That’s why formatting a blog often takes practice and experience.

Why Are Blogs Popular?

Blogs are popular for the following reasons:

  • They provide accurate and up-to-date information.
  • Companies use them to keep their clients and suppliers informed.
  • Visitors can interact with individuals and companies through comments and messages.
  • Bloggers can earn money by doing activities such as affiliate marketing.
  • They generate traffic for websites and e-commerce portals.

Who is a Blogger?

A blogger is essentially anyone who writes a blog. This includes individuals, companies, and organizations that share information and points of view through this type of format. Bloggers are informers or storytellers that have something to say to the world.

With the tools available nowadays, virtually anyone can become a blogger. But the success of a blog depends on the right message reaching the right audience.

How to Write a Blog Post That People Will Want to Read

Have you ever passed a house that had a really cool front door? It could have been some cool glasswork or just a color that popped. It immediately gives the whole house a more interesting vibe, and it makes you want to see what’s inside.

Your blog is the front door to your website.

Don’t settle for basic brown or white. Give it some thought. Let it add some flair to your site. If you want your website to have that “curb appeal,” you want to make your blog stand out and say, “Come on in. There’s cool stuff here!”

Blogs can be fun or informative, or even profoundly personal. Some draw you in and keep you reading to the very end, while others you barely notice or, even worse, make you bounce out from boredom or disgust. 

Whether you are writing blogs for other people or creating your own, there are a few things you can do to ensure that your readers will actually want to finish reading your blog post. Here’s what you need to know.

Define Your Audience

Who do you want to read this blog? Once you know that, ask yourself the following questions:

  • What does my reader care about?
  • What are they looking for that brought them to my blog?
  • What emotions are in play?

Understanding your audience is crucial to creating a blog that will give them what they need and keep them coming back for more.

Think about everything, including age, gender, and even financial status. As you put your blog together, consider any factors that may affect how and why someone is on your site and reading your blog.

Choose a Topic Carefully

The topic of your blog is paramount. This goes for the overall concept as well as each blog entry.

Whenever possible, choose a topic you care about so that your passion comes through in your post.

If you’re writing for someone else, though, it may not always be something you care deeply about. However, once you try to understand the audience and why they care about the topic, you’ll find that it usually becomes interesting pretty quickly.

Now, before you can settle on a great topic, you need to clarify what you want to accomplish with your blog. It’s kind of like picking your destination before you choose a car to get you there.

What is your ultimate goal for the blog post? Do you want to entertain, inform, or sell? Knowing your blog’s goal can help you find a topic that will help check all of the boxes.

But no matter what your goal, it’s important to remember that readers want to be informed, and they need to be entertained. That doesn’t mean that it has to be amazingly witty or dramatic but keep it interesting enough to retain their attention.

Find Your Angle

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When you find your topic, you may think, “It’s already been done!” You’re probably right. The internet is vast, and most subjects have been touched on, but that doesn’t mean you don’t have something original to contribute.

Twenty people can all write about the same topic, and all 20 can be interesting if they each take a unique angle. Consider this example:

(Topic) 

The Amazing Honeybee 

(Potential Angles)

  • The Intricate Social Structure in a Beehive (They can “create” a new queen if the old one dies!)
  • How Bees Pollinate the World
  • Bee Keeping in Ancient Egypt (This was a real thing!)
  • How One Kid is Trying to Save the Honeybees
  • 10 Ways You Can Help Honeybees in Your Backyard

By finding an angle that is new, interesting, and relevant to your audience, you’re creating something that is unique – and adds value to your blog and your website.

Create a Structure

Good blogs have structure. And the best way to get that structure is by starting with an outline. Some people may not be big fans of this step, but doing an outline first is crucial.

An outline helps you plan out your blog post so that you know where everything goes and how much space each section gets. Once you have an outline in place, it can help you spot gaps where you may be missing information. It can also help make the writing part easier!

So, do yourself a favor and outline. 

When it comes to the content, it’s important to note that people read on the internet much differently than they do when they pick up a novel.

Readers want articles to be broken down into sections that they can easily digest. And to help them identify what they are going to be reading about, each section should be divided by a header that tells the content of the section. 

Your audience also wants content that flows logically, transitioning from one section to the next while using short paragraphs, bullet points, quotes — anything to make it easier for them to consume information quickly.

Craft a Great Opening

The internet is full of content. To keep your readers on your page, you must hook them right away.

Your opening identifies your style and tone. It tells the reader what you’ll be talking about and why they need to read it.

If your opening doesn’t evoke curiosity, amusement, or some other emotion within the first couple of seconds, your reader will click away and find someone else’s blog to read. 

Let Your Voice Shine

Don’t be dull. Blogs aren’t the place for stuffy, academic writing.

Even if you’re tackling a technical topic, handle it like you are talking to a friend. Use the first person to convey your own experience or use the second person to speak directly to the reader. Avoid using the third person as it distances the reader from the blog.

Your readers want to feel like they’re getting to know you. So, let them in!

If you’re worried that you’re going a little overboard with your voice and it’s bordering on obnoxious, stick with it for a bit. Your blog is fighting for attention on a crowded internet. That bold voice of yours may be just what you need to cut through the noise.

If, after a few tries, you see too big of a bounce rate, it may be time to dial it back. Go big first. Besides, you can have a lot of fun writing that way.

Do Your Research Right

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Unless your topic is a first-person narrative of something from your own life, you’ll probably need to do some research.

Don’t fake it. Do your due diligence and get it right. If you get things wrong, you will get called out. That’s pretty much guaranteed. But for every reader who has the guts to point out your error, dozens more will say nothing and just click away from your page.

The worst part is that you’ll lose credibility with those readers, and you may not get a second chance. 

Speak to Emotion

Regardless of what you are writing about, find a way to connect your topic to emotion.

What if you are writing about a technical topic? Then it’s even more important. People are driven by emotion.

A good example of this can be seen in effective advertising campaigns. Take Michelin, for example.

In 1986, Michelin ran an ad for car tires that didn’t tell us about the tread, or the special rubber used. The ad never even showed us a car. It just had a baby resting inside of a tire and a dad talking about tires: “Michelin. Because so much is riding on your tires.”

Or even better:

The Dawn dish soap ad that shows people using their product to clean baby ducks at an oil spill. Think about how those images affect the viewer. Is Dawn…powerful? Check. Environmentally conscious? Check. Aww…baby ducks! Check. 

The same is true for your blog post. It doesn’t matter what you are writing about, if you speak to emotion, you’ll take your blog from good to amazing. 

Finish It Strong

Have you ever been to a live concert and heard a band completely nail a song only to flub the ending? No matter what came before, that ending ruined it. It’s what you’ll remember.

Find a good way to end your blog post that ties the information together and hammers your point home. One great way to do this is to find a way to tie it back to your intro. 

Edit!

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Most writers don’t really enjoy editing, but it separates the good ones from the rest. If you’re not great at editing, make use of the grammar tools available to you like Grammarly or the Hemingway Editor. Or, even better, find someone who can help you out.

Typos and goofs all through your blog will guarantee that you lose credibility, and people will stop reading it. It looks sloppy and unprofessional. 

Come Up With a Compelling Headline

Wait. What? Why is the headline so far down this list? Because your best bet at writing a compelling headline that captures your blog post perfectly is to do it after you’ve written the post.

Don’t fall in love with a headline and try to shoehorn your blog post to fit it. That’s backwards, and while it may lead to a lot of clicks, people will be disappointed when they get there. 

You don’t always know where a blog post is going to go as you write it, even if you outlined it in detail.

Writing is an organic process, and every project tends to morph a little bit as you go. And, sometimes, those changes are the best part. Once you’re done, you’ll have a lot of good ideas for headlines. Write them all out and then choose the one you like the best.

Add Great Images

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Take the time to add a couple of strong, emotion-evoking images. They help to break up the text and leave a memorable mental picture for the reader.

Be sure to use high-quality images that will look great and fit the size you need on your screen. Hazy, pixelated images will give your blog the same appearance as a bunch of typos. It looks unprofessional. 

If you have the eye and the equipment to take your own photos, that’s fantastic. But not everyone can pull that off, and that’s okay. There are a number of duty-free image websites where you can source pictures for free or for a small fee. Just be certain to credit where you got them. 

Optimize for SEO

If no one can find your blog, how will they read it? Luckily, today’s search engines put the most value on content that meets reader expectations, so having a great headline and a blog post that follows up on that headline is a great start. 

Here are a few of the other basics you should consider:

  • Do a little research on keywords for your topic and incorporate them into your blog organically.
  • Use subheads and work the keywords in there, too, when you can.
  • Optimize your meta description to describe your blog post accurately.
  • Create a few links to other internal web pages or a few highly reputable external websites.

You don’t have to obsess over SEO to make your post SEO friendly. Focus on writing great, useful content, and you’re most of the way there. Then, add the other elements I mentioned to make it work even better.

Now, Go Forth and Blog!

A great website needs to be constructed thoughtfully. From your landing page to your opt-in or sales pages, you need to look at it from your website visitor’s point of view. Is it easy to navigate? Does it make sense? And most of all, is it interesting?

Your blog can be a tool that helps people find your website and start their exploration. It’s your front door. Make it smart, interesting, and well-written so your visitors will be intrigued enough to come in and stay for a while. Then, when they leave happy, they’ll keep coming back and maybe even tell their friends.  

How Releasing Your Copyright = Free Marketing

Every time we write, draw, paint, photograph, sketch, etc. something, we want to claim it as ours. Shout it from the rooftops, let everyone know: This is mine. I did this.

Copyright has always been the legal protection for writers, artists, thinkers, developers, photographers, etc., to protect their ideas from being stolen and reproduced. Now introduce the Internet. Suddenly, the established rules of copyright are flying out the window.

Why copyright doesn’t work on the Internet:

Blogs. Social Media. Wikipedia. Do these things ring a bell? The Internet brings together a bunch of different people, and they’re all there to do one thing: share information. (Ok, you can order a pizza and pay your electricity bill online too, but just humor me). And they can’t share that information if Continue reading “How Releasing Your Copyright = Free Marketing”

Astroturfing: The Icky Side of Social Media Marketing

It’s disingenuous. It’s dishonest. And, it’s everywhere.

It’s called “astroturfing”. Chances are, you’ve been exposed to it. And, if the folks behind it have done their jobs right, the chances are pretty good that you didn’t even know it.

Social media is powerful stuff. In its most basic form, it’s the high-tech equivalent of your best friend recommending Gap jeans or your next-door neighbor telling you that she never shops at XYZ grocery store anymore because the cashiers are rude.
The truth is, we’re all influenced by what our friends think. Most of us buy books or see films based on the recommendations of friends we trust. We’re probably more likely to try a new restaurant if a few people from work say the food’s good. And yes, if everybody jumped off a bridge . . .

Well, we’d probably at least think about it for a second.

But imagine if your friend was getting kickbacks from the Gap. If every time she plugged her favorite jeans, she got fifty bucks. Or if your neighbor was getting free groceries from XYZ grocery store’s competitors whenever she badmouthed the competition.

Ick, right?

Continue reading “Astroturfing: The Icky Side of Social Media Marketing”