When you graduated high school, you jumped for joy not because you were glad you made it, but because you thought you’d never have to learn another mathematical equation again. The Pythagorean Theorem? Forget about it!
But there’s one formula you can’t pass up as a blogger:
Confused? Let’s break it down and look at each variable.
A: A Valuable Idea
It’s common sense that a valuable idea is the first key ingredient to successful blogging, but many novice bloggers don’t take this variable into account. It’s not because they don’t know it’s important. More often than not, it’s because the writer hasn’t learned what a valuable idea is yet.
A valuable idea is:
- Fresh: Regurgitating information readers have seen countless times doesn’t do anything for them. However, if you can spin the idea to offer new information or teach the concept in a different way so that the audience learns something new, you’re going to offer more value. If the idea you come up with has been done before, consider what you can add or tweak to offer this fresh perspective.
- Audience-relatable: Many beginner bloggers want to blog about what’s on their mind without giving a thought to what their readers want to know. No one wants to read your life story unless it’s entertaining, educational, or benefits them in some other way. Can your audience relate to the subject? If not, can you spin the idea to make it more relatable? Going ahead with an idea that your audience doesn’t care to read about does nothing for you and your blog.
- Emotional: People are driven by their emotions. Emotional content is what’s going to succeed in the blogging world. Ask yourself if your idea causes an emotional response, such as happiness (for learning something new), anger (for sparking controversy), or pleasure (for being entertained).
Why is this so important?
Your idea is what guides your entire blog post, and without an idea that readers find valuable, no one is going to care about your post.
B: An Eye-Catching Headline
Jon Morrow, author of 52 Headline Hacks, is one of the most esteemed headline creators around. In a Write to Done interview, he said:
"To most bloggers, headlines are an afterthought, something to slap on the post before publishing it, thinking it will have little or no impact on the popularity of the post. Epic mistake. The difference between a good headline and a bad headline is often thousands or even tens of thousands of visitors."
Furthermore, Brian Clark of Copyblogger says that 8 out of 10 people will read your headline, but only 2 out of 10 people will continue reading.
Think your headline isn’t as important as your content? It’s one of the most important elements. Without a headline worth clicking on, no one is going to bother reading your content.
An eye-catching headline usually incorporates these elements:
- It connects with readers’ emotions.
- It promises something new and exciting within the content.
- It sparks curiosity.
Learn more about crafting eye-catching headlines with FreelanceWriting.com’s Headlines That Sell.
C: Audience-Based Content
We’ve already talked about how your idea should connect with your audience, but you also have to craft your content in a way that hooks your readers and pushes them down the page.
This is particularly true of your first sentence. Mary Jaksch of Write to Done says in her article The New Style of Writing for the Net (Are You Up with the Play?):
"Yes, the first sentence is where most bloggers lose their readers. That’s sad, because if you can get them to read the first sentence, and then the next sentence – they’re likely to read right to the end."
Audience-based content is usually about the reader. To connect with them, you can:
- Tell a story about them
- Ask them questions
- Tell them what to do
- Speak in conversation
If the content isn’t directed at them, it should at least aim to entertain them.
That’s not to say you should never talk about yourself or use first person. Effective ways to use first person include when you’re showing humility, when you’re offering your opinion, or when you’re sharing personal experience to emphasize why the subject matters.
D: Statistics, Resources, and/or Examples
One area many beginner bloggers fall short is when giving statistics, resources, and examples. In fact, many novice bloggers don’t incorporate these elements at all, but they’re important for adding value.
How do they add value?
- They help strengthen your argument.
- They give readers more insight into the subject, getting the most out of your post.
- They help readers better understand the concepts presented.
The issue is that when people hear they should include these elements, some will simply throw in links and random stats wherever they can, thinking this will add value. But using them improperly can also degrade the content.
Use them to support your content.
Statistics should always back up your claims, resources should expand on the topic and offer readers with new information, and examples should help explain your point.
For instance, you might say that Facebook is a fast-growing social network, with a 22 percent increase in users from 2012 to 2013. You wouldn’t say that Facebook is so fast-growing that the average person has 130 friends. While the stat is interesting, it doesn’t help prove your point.
Whitespace is the emptiness between your lines, paragraphs, and other article elements. This emptiness is important for guiding readers down the page and processing the information. When used properly, it can also help set the tone for a piece, such as by making it more suspenseful.
Use these tips to utilize whitespace:
- Write short paragraphs. That space between each paragraph creates an important visual appeal on its own.
- Include photos and use the space around the photo to your advantage.
- Use lists. (See that whitespace there to the right?)
F: Highlighted Key Points
The Nielsen Norman Group found that only 16 percent of visitors read web pages word-for-word. To really offer value, you want to make sure the other 84 percent get the most out of your content. You can make this easy for them by highlighting your key points.
Do this by:
- Using subheadings.
- Bolding key phrases.
- Setting apart key quotes or examples.
- Including lists that highlight key tips or takeaways.
I know the “Blogging Better” formula looks complicated, but you don’t have to be a math guru to see significant improvements by incorporating these elements into your blog posts.
Now that you’ve learned the formula, I want to know how you’re going to put it into practice. How can you improve your writing to make the “Blogging Better” formula work for you?