I’ve worked with hundreds of writers in the last year, workshopping hundreds of their blog posts.
I often give the same advice over and over again.
I’ve actually really grateful for that, because it’s helped me to be a better writer. I’ve said this before and I really believe it: teaching is how we learn best.
Here are the issues I find myself trying to help writers correct in their blog posts the most often. If you’re writing a post today, pretend like I’m sitting there with you. Read over it one more time and see if any of these are issues your post might have.
Start With a Story
Your post should start with a story. I want to know about you. When you start your post telling me a story, you draw me in, like a bee to a flower. You hook me.
You also convince me with your story that you’re the one to teach me whatever it is you want to teach in the body of your post.
Open up in the start of your story. Let your reader in. Share some part of your life, however small. I know that can be scary sometimes, but the reward is awesome. I promise.
Starting your blog posts with story is the secret sauce.
End With a Take Away
Make sure that at the end of your post, you’re giving me some kind of direction. Where can I go to get more information? What can I do next?
It’s not always appropriate — sometimes you’re not writing that kind of post — but you probably are more often than you think. Make sure that you’re not leaving your readers hanging at the end of your post, not sure how to implement the great information you’ve just given them.
If you’ve written a listicle, help your reader decide where to start. If you’ve written a post about how you’ve changed your life, make sure you end with how someone else can take the first step to recreating your success.
Make sure that you include links in your post so that readers can start doing their own research. You want your post to be their starting point to their own life changing experience.
Check Your Formatting
Is your subtitle properly formatted? This is the number one issue I run into when I workshop with someone. It should look like the subhead on this post. Scroll up and look at it.
If it doesn’t, highlight yours and when the little box pops up, click the small ‘t.’
Are your photos all properly cited? Make sure that they are. Even the ones you take yourself. Just use “Photo: Author” or something similar.
Have you broken your post up with plenty of white space? Reading large blocks of text is hard on the eyes and no one’s going to do it. They’ll skim. Or they’ll skip your post all together. Small paragraphs are your friends. So are subheads.
Don’t be afraid of bullet points if they work for your post, too.
The other night my family went out to dinner in a restaurant that was located in a hotel. It felt like we were eating in the hotel lobby. It was so weird. It didn’t matter whether or not the food tasted good, I couldn’t get past the weird ambiance. I doubt I’ll go there again.
You want to make your post easy for you reader to read. Think of it as a user experience. You’re setting the ambiance for your reader.
Have You Said Something Unique?
Read through your post one more time.
Have you said something that hasn’t already been said a thousand times before? Or have you said it in a way that’s unique to you? Is there some way you can turn a standard piece of advice on its ear or flip something you wanted to say upside down and give it a shake?
Make sure that you’re adding something to the conversation. That your unique, wonderful voice is coming through. That starts with the story at the start of your post. No one else has your experiences. And it continues with the angle you choose to take as you write your post.
Remember: Story, Take-Away, Formatting, and Uniqueness. You’ve got this!
Shaunta Grimes is a writer and teacher. She is an out-of-place Nevadan living in Northwestern PA with her husband, three superstar kids, two dementia patients, a good friend, Alfred the cat, and a yellow rescue dog named Maybelline Scout. She’s on Twitter and Instagram and is the author of Viral Nation and Rebel Nation, and The Astonishing Maybe. She is the original Ninja Writer.