Many writers, bloggers, and marketers want to know what the magic trick is to get readers to stay on the page, to read their entire post all the way through, to even leave #gasp a comment.
Is it possible to get this result every time?
Nah. Let’s be real. In an ideal world, sure. However, people scan. They skim. I know I do. Be honest, you do, too. So let’s capture what we know and build that into the structure of our blog posts! If you know that’s an issue, solve that issue.
This is a pretty basic structure, yet it works. You clicked on this post because you want to know how to blog effectively every time. That’s a problem for you and you’re looking to know how to fix that problem. I’m giving you ways to design your blog post in a manner that will keep readers coming back.
However, I better deliver, otherwise it’s just clickbait. If you’ve read my other posts here, you know I don’t write clickbait posts. My posts have meat. They’re curated 90% of the time, which adds to my credibility here on Medium.
Point is, if you promise, don’t only deliver. Over-deliver. Every time.
Want to know how to write a post people want to read? Sure you do. Learn more here:
How To Write A Blog Post People Read
Unsure how to structure your blog posts? Here’s a quick guide to get you started!
So in this structure, you state the problem and provide the solution. Pretty basic. Can also be kinda ho-hum boring. How to make it interesting?
2. Provide Sources
I don’t utilize facts in my posts unless they’re backed up by solid research. Data. Studies.
So, provide those facts. Link to them. Seems pretty basic, or maybe that’s just the journalist in me. I read a post last week here about “makeup that can make you sick” with zero source material whatsoever. As an avid makeup collector, I wanted facts, man!
When I contacted the writer to suggest he offer up some sources and alternatives, he blew me off. “Google it yourself.” Yea, no. This is ineffective writing at its best. Or is it worst? You get my point.
Article writing 101: It’s our job as writers, as responsible writers, to provide facts, resources, and studies to back up the information we are providing.
Which brings up another important point: don’t bring up something in your posts which you don’t answer. More on this point below.
3. Add Visual Interest
If you’re new to blogging (or Medium), you may be unaware of all the different ways you can add visual interest to your posts. Here are a few easy tips to help you:
- Add subheadings. This breaks up your copy and is especially helpful for those of us who skim, scan, and move on. You may even get people to go back up and read all the way through. Here’s an excellent article on subheadings from ProBlogger (great resource).
How many? The rule of three is always a good way to go (The rule of three* is a writing principle that suggests that a trio of events or characters is more humorous, satisfying, or effective than other numbers, and it’s also the minimum number of items needed to form a pattern.)
- Add photos. I prefer royalty-free photos from Unsplash for my personal blogs (and what Medium uses anyway). The quality is amazing and you don’t risk being sued by the photographer. If you prefer illustrations, Pixabay is a viable option.
- Add formatting. Bold, italics, bullet points, numbered lists, embedded links, etc. Break up a wall of text with these options, however, don’t go crazy. Use as appropriate. It’s not difficult and it will make a huge difference in reader experience. Read here for Medium’s desktop formatting guide (also available in iOS and Android).
- Add pull-quotes. What copy do you specifically want to emphasize? Be selective and don’t over-quote. Two pull-quotes are plenty for one post.
Extra tip: keep your pull-quotes short. One short sentence or two is fine. A wordy, long, full paragraph is way too much.
- Embed other relevant articles. As you can see throughout this article, I’m linking to other posts I’ve written that add additional source material to back up my message. Be judicious. If you’re linking to another post (yours or someone else’s) just to add content, you’ll lose the reader.
Provide Solutions AND Alternatives
What works for me may not work for you, so always offer up alternative options.
Take that makeup example above. The writer listed chemicals found in makeup that can make you sick (e.g., lead), but didn’t discuss specific brands nor any alternatives. As a reader and consumer, I would love for him to have provided which brands are ‘bad’ and which are truly ‘safe.’
I realize maybe he didn’t want to discuss specific brands — personal choice — yet, there are green, clean makeup sites. Many alternatives. As a reader, I felt cheated. There was no pay-off. So I did end up on Google, found a few blog posts on the topic, and learned more on my own.
As a fellow writer, I felt bad for him. This was a missed opportunity because he lost readers.
Here’s a personal example. Let’s say I’m writing about social media marketing tools. I use Hootsuite and pay for the Pro version because that works for me and my BadRedhead Media business, where I handle over 60+ accounts.
If you’re an author and only need to schedule for 3 accounts, I recommend free Buffer instead. It’s much less expensive and the mobile version is far superior.
Want to learn more about this topic? Read here:
How To Share Your Blog Posts For Maximum Visibility
Want more eyes on your posts? Here’s my quick-start guide!
By providing you with a solution as well as an alternative, I’ve met the problem/solution expectation I set out at the beginning of my hypothetical blog post. I’ve fulfilled my goal and provided the reader with the information they need as well as established my own expertise via sharing experiences.
Avoid Hanging Topics
I always picture little pieces of paper hanging off a hole-punch when I discuss this. 😛
As I mentioned above, if you bring up a topic or question, always provide an answer or solution, or at the very least, admit, “Hey, I don’t know,” and solicit readers for their responses to generate a discussion.
You will easily avoid this trap by stating your problem/solution statement clearly at the beginning, and then providing effective, value-added content throughout your post. If you keep that in mind without meandering away from your main keyword or topic, you’ll be fine.
Simple test: when you get to the end of your post, ask yourself this question — Did I answer the premise of my post? Did I stay on topic? Does it make sense?
If the answer is yes, cool. Finish up. If not, go back and fix it. Read it aloud to your cat. I guarantee you’ll find mistakes and typos. You expect nothing less from others, so expect the same from yourself. Blog posts and articles are a reflection of your writing, so if you want readers to purchase your books, make it awesome.
Which, finally, brings me to this:
- What if you’re writing fiction or poetry or creative nonfiction (which I also write)?
- How do these concepts apply?
- Can we still be effective with these strategies?
You bet. You may not be able to use the problem/solution technique, yet the rest still work. Here are a few of my non-business articles as examples:
How My Divorce Made Me A Better Person
Four life lessons learned after divorce that helped me. I hope they help you, too.
This Is How Abuse Exhausts You
Emotional abuse can be just as exhausting and insidious as physical abuse.
If I missed anything, and I’m sure I did, please tell me below so others can benefit!
*Pop quiz: How many times did I use the rule of three in this post? Leave your answer in the comments!
To learn more about Twitter, Facebook, book marketing in general, and her books, visit Rachel’s BadRedheadMedia.com site, or connect with Rachel on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn, or join her Street Team!
Join her #BookMarketingChat on Twitter every Wednesday at 6 pm pst/9 pm est. Just type in the hashtag to join the conversation!