Write Better Posts Or Die Trying

A while back I made two posts about our online brand identity. You can find them here and here. This follow up post is about how to maximise the potential of one of your posts. I’ll be discussing the easy ways to turn a good post into a great post. And we’ll be starting with…

Research
So many bloggers race to print news stories first. They’ll see a story on the news or read about it online and rush to be the first to post it on their particular hosts site.

Why bother? Wouldn’t you rather be right than first? Take your time, do some research on the story and see what else you can find out about it. If different reputable sources are reporting different versions of events, make sure you include both versions in your post and explain that things aren’t clear yet.

A common mistake is to simply link to a news story, but you may as well simply include a link to a news site on your sidebar and never post anything. At least tell your readers what you think of the story. Is it something that excites you or worries you? It’s your blog so make the post your own rather than just an advert for another site.

Formatting
This is a tiny point but can seriously affect a reader’s enjoyment of a post. Without spellchecking and text formatting a long piece of text can be quite bland or even annoying to read.

Sources
So you’ve made a wonderful post, corrected all the spelling and checked your facts, but at the moment it’s all text and not all that interesting to people who aren’t actively involved with the subject (and therefore presumably already at least as well read on it as you). What can you do to make people read that post? How do you make someone who already knows about the things you’re posting about read the post and, at the same time, have someone with no prior interest in the subject want to read the post too. Simple – add some source material. This can come in many forms but the simplest are links and images – the glitter of blog posts – sprinkled liberally around the post. Source material can enrich a post, making it more fun to read, and more educational.

To find your source material, start by collecting images and add the ones you find to be most relevant to the post. Don’t get rid of the others yet though. You may need them.

Now move on to links. Links should add education or entertainment to a post. You might link to the dictionary definition of an uncommon word or term you’ve used in the post, or to a Wikipedia article on something you’ve mentioned in passing that others may not be familiar with. From your leftover images, have a look through your post and see if you can add a link to them somewhere that would make sense in the content of the post.

The trick with links and images is to use them to garnish your post but not to let them dominate it. A basic guideline for source material is no more than two links and one image per paragraph with no more than four images in a post. It adds to the post without losing the main subject behind all the source materials.

As an example, I’ve left all source materials out of this post except for the links to previous posts. Doesn’t this one look a little bland compared to the others? Which brings us to…

Cliffhangers
No-one wants to read a gigantic post, even if it’s packed to the gills with extra source material. The best way to deal with that problem is to cut your large post into several smaller ones, each dealing with a certain aspect of the subject you’re covering. Unfortunately that presents a whole new problem – how to ensure that readers of one part will read the others?

Okay, I’m lying to you. This isn’t a new problem, it’s an old one and was solved decades ago with a cinematic process called cliffhangers. The idea is to leave your post having reached a conclusion for it’s subject but promise your readers more to ensure they return.

Give your readers a reason to come back for more. Tell them at the end of a post that you’ll post more on a subject, if you plan to, and give them a preview of what your next post on the subject will be specifically about. If you leave your readers with enough to think about, but promise more at a later date, you’re all but guaranteeing readers for your later post.

The effect this has on readers is a subtle unconscious one. They start to feel that you care about them simply because you’ve broken your posts down into more readable chunks, and they’ll start to reciprocate that care by reading your posts more thoroughly. Their senses of anticipation will be heightened as they associate your posts with their weekly television serials and, when you mention a follow-up, they usually can’t resist looking forward to it and they’ll probably tell you so in your comments. Speaking of which…

Comments
If your posts are the bones of your blog, then the comments you get are the flesh and blood. They’re what makes a post come alive and grow. There may be points you’ve missed in your post that your commenters point out or they may have a completely different point of view to you. Engage your commenters in conversation. Talk to them about their views on the subject. See what they think.

Some commenters will remember similar situations to whatever you posted about, expanding the scope of your posts beyond your original vision. I enjoy making my posts, but I love reading the comments on them and watching how the topic grows in them. Good comments and developing them into good conversation can make a post so much more.

Conclusion
In the end some of these are things I do on my page and they seem to work for me, others I’ve seen used and they work for others but aren’t my style. However these approaches (both the ones I practice and the ones I don’t) may or may not work for you. You may find that some are more enjoyable than others and that you concentrate on those. That’s a good thing. Only the things you really enjoy doing will work for you.

You may have your own techniques that you use to make your posts have more impact. These work for you where they wouldn’t for others because you’re a unique person (just like the rest of us) and your approach to writing posts will be different to mine. If I’ve given anyone some ideas with this post then it’s served it’s purpose. But always remember one thing:- it’s your blog, not mine and you’ll write it your own way and that’s the way it should be.

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26 thoughts on “Write Better Posts Or Die Trying

  1. Ooo, that must be weird. I rarely cut my posts down. The smallest subject can be made pretty huge with good writing and good comments, so I prefer to post about little things and see where that leads.

  2. I just post what I feel like posting when I feel like posting it. I concentrate on littering up other peoples blogs with whatever random thoughts thier post has inspired. :left: .Is that a bad thing :eyes: ..-=Ξ=-.

  3. The biggest problem I always have is to make my post in reasonable size. Sometimes, I make a post then cut all the necessary stuff, making it shorter with only important things I wanted to emphasize. This and a language, sometimes I still think in Serbian while writing in English :left:

  4. When I made a post about Serbian food I got lost in explanations and made a post 3 times longer than it is now. Then I stopped and cut the text but still spent a lot of time in rearranging it.

  5. Most people's english on this site is better than most english people's english so I wouldn't worry Rose.Nothing wrong with comments Aadil.I let my links and images do most of the explaining for me, Darko, with enough left over for some questions and answers in the comments. The posts I like best on other people's pages are the ones that force me to ask a question and actually learn something, so loads of info isn't always a good thing.

  6. I always feel I can't express myself good enough in English. Which reminds me, I really need to install a spellchecker soon…

  7. I usually prefer the shorter posts to the longer ones, because the longer ones tend to get too detailed. I like images/photos/clipart/something to spice up the words, to make it more appealing, and I understand you completely, Rose, because thinking in one language and writing in another isn't always easy. I feel the same.

  8. this post is exactly why i choose to view your blog mik furie. the advise and common sense easy-to-read explanations are like music to my ears. a learning process that sets the stage in motion.you provide many an opportunity for such a process. imo.

  9. Unfortunately I don't have the patience to write a piece of this and neither the eloquence to put it the way you do..When I begin writing in my notes the next time I return to it I usually don't know what or where to change and sometimes don't even know what I meant..Practice makes perfect but Coisy is a lazy git who prefers to watch than to be actively involved..

  10. cois, i would say that you have a talent for communication just in a different scenerio as mik stated in his post. you have the ability for composition and with experience you may just be a good communicator/orator. just wait and see. trust me, i have an insight for these things.

  11. Well, on the odd occasion when I do write a long story I do feel a bit awkward about the great stream of plain text it produces.On the other hand, I don't want to distract from the words or start relying on things that aren't available on other media, like smilies.

  12. None of these are magic rules that will make your visitors quadruple overnight, more little tricks that will allow most people (that elusive silent majority) get more understanding and enjoyment out of your posts, and therefore make them more likely to return.Where it falls down is obviously with blogs like Mart's which are comprised mostly of text based artistic pieces, in this case stories though they may be poems etc. The opposite of most of these guidelines should be applied to posts like that, if only not to detract from the value of the story itself.Clint, this post and the other two giants it links to (as well as a couple of others still to come) started out as one post. It was quite bland and disjointed though so I split it into different aspects of the main post and bulked them up a bit. This one took the longest as I just couldn't get it right. It still reeks of "I know better so you'd better listen to me." but I couldn't be bothered to edit it anymore.I've got a strange philosophy in life Deb. Where most people try to be humble and put their achievements down to beginner's luck and anything other than talent, I'll be patting myself on the back for the slightest thing then coming here to tell people about it. It means I come across as quite arrogant and attention seeking to strangers but those that take the time to get to know me (and those are the only type of friends I'm really interested in) know it's quite healthy for the psyche to celebrate the little victories. If during that someone else learns something or is made to think, all the better.:D

  13. that's what i'm talking about. here's my pat on your back even if you didn't ask for it mik! i kinda like arrogant long-haired men who, "looks like a girl" to small-fry. 😉 rib-rib poke

  14. *baffled when sees Furie running towards him.Notices boold on Furie's clothes. Holds dying Furie into his arms* Oh,my dear friend! How?! *notices the militants disappearing into the fields,and yells furiously* You tried to kill him just because he posted a comics, revealing how you abuse the name of God.You will pay for it you wretched fundamentalists!Don't worry,Furie,my friend,I'd bought G900 yesterday.I have called to the hospital.The operation room will be ready by the time we reach there.You are going to live and complete the series of the posts on how to write blogs better.

  15. *steals beautiful Sony Ericsson phone, knocks Kiran out and superglues a Furie mask on him, then disappears as the ambulance arrives*

  16. You're fortunate Furie!You're gonna see a beautiful doctor when you'll open your eyes after the operation.You will heal faster.:happy:

  17. That's what Furie mumbles when he is unconscious.He doesn't know he is already in hospital and the beatiful doctor has already said she's very eager to perform the surgery on him. *Looks at the doctor who is looking at a picture of a bike and wonders why she has tears in her eyes?*

  18. I think the troll had onions yesterday *sniffles* :yuck:*Takes the sharpest scalpell and tries to decide where to place the first cut…*

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