Billions of blog posts are published every day. What makes the viral ones so special? What makes someone pause and take the time to read them?
In my experience, it all comes down to this:
A reader will read something he believes has the ability to improve his life.
Convincing a reader that your blog post will do just that is the key.
But it does take some doing. You’ve got to ease a reader into your post step-by-step, all the while promising them that exceptional change they’re looking for.
And so here I’ve come up with 5 crucial parts of a blog post that will take your reader from having a problem, to viewing your solution, to taking action, and finally becoming an advocate of your advice.
It starts with the all-important title…
1. The Title – Compelling Readers to Click
The title is unmistakably the most important part of your post. If no one finds it interesting enough to click on, all the work you’ve put into the post would have been in vain. It sets the stage for everything that follows.
Your title needs to do two things:
- Grab a reader’s attention
Titles appear in crowded spaces — your blog feed, search engine rankings, social media. You must stand out to get noticed. There are several characteristics of a good title that have proven to draw more attention than others.
- Convey the exact results your blog post will bring
State the life-changing improvement your readers will get from your post (like “How to Get Enough Sleep to Run 500 Miles”). Or better yet, state the consequences they will need to face if they don’t take your advice (like “Why Sleep Deprivation Reduces Your Productivity by 85%”)
- Set expectations for the post content
The one thing far worse than a bad title is a good title that doesn’t deliver on its promises. Tell readers exactly what they can expect from your post. No more, no less.
Writing a blog title is half science, half art. A blog title template could help to get you started with an idea, but you need to use your intuition and experience to make it perfect.
Spend enough time thinking this through. The life of your post depends on it…
2. The Introduction – Heightening the Senses
Once you get the reader on the page, you have about two paragraphs to convince them they’re in the right place.
Reader’s remorse is alive and well. And it happens within seconds.
How many times have you clicked a link, quickly scanned the post, and then immediately decided it was not for you?
Along with other things such as headings and images, your introductory paragraph is your saving grace here.
So keep the following in mind:
- Start with a problem statement
A good way to start is to describe the problem your blog post is solving. And do it in the language your readers would use. The more personal and life-like you make the problem sound, the more likely readers are to relate to it, and keep reading.
- Give a sneak preview of the outcome of the article
Build some anticipation by giving readers a glimpse of the end. Write something like, “So by the end of this post you’ll know exactly how to [insert solution here], but first…”
- Don’t let it drag on for too long
Readers are busy people. If you don’t get to the good stuff soon, they will lose interest. Use two to three paragraphs max!
3. The Body – A Masterpiece that Solves a Problem
Once you’ve gotten the click and helped your readers relate to the problem, you need to deliver.
Deliver on the title’s promise. Deliver on your reader’s expectation.
Make it Actionable
The best way I’ve found to do this is to sprinkle your post with actionable items — things that your readers can do right away! Focus on providing long-term results, but also show them how to get a quick win (as Pat Flynn would say), something small they can do that will get them results fast.
Keep the following in mind while writing the body:
- Try to format your content into a list
List posts are great in so many ways. They provide structure to your post, prevents you from rambling on and on, and provides a way for your reader to track their progress throughout the post. And almost any content can be written as a list post. An opinion post becomes “10 Facts About [blank].” A how-to post turns into “5 Steps to [do blank].” And a review post transforms to “7 Exceptional Qualities of [product].” You get the point…
- Make your post scannable
Except for you and your proof-reader, no one is going to read every word in your post. Not even your mother. There’s just too much info on the web, so consumers need to weed out things that won’t help them in some way. So make your posts easy to scan by using bullet points, small numbered lists, block quotes, and click-to-Tweet’s. Paragraphs should be broken down into more digestible chunks — use at most 5 sentences per paragraph.
- Use headings as goal-posts for readers
As you read through a blog post, your brain interprets headings as goal posts. It’s much easier for a reader to aim for the next heading than to aim for the end of the article.Using headings (h1, h2, h3, h4…) throughout your post will help draw readers’ attention down the page. And it’s good SEO practice as well!
- Interlink other posts
If some section requires further explanation beyond the scope of your post, provide a link to another article that you or someone else have written. This not only makes your posts concise and to-the-point, but also gets the reader to view more than one page on your blog (increasing the chances that they’ll subscribe or comment).
- Use ample images
A picture says a thousand words. So using 5 images will bump your word count up to 5000, right? In many cases, yes! Pictures trigger a different part of the brain and explain a concept in ways that words could never do. I don’t think you can have too many images in a post.
4. The Conclusion – Bringing it All Together
The perfect ending to a blog post is one that brings the main life-changing promise back into focus. Remind readers of the problem you introduced at the start, and summarise the ideas you’ve proposed to solve the problem.
Keep this short as well. A conclusion should be just that… a conclusion.
5. The Call to Action – Get Your Readers Moving
Readers often reach the end of the post and then don’t know what to do after that. So this is the perfect opportunity for you to suggest an action for them to take.
This action might be related to the change you are wanting to bring to your reader, or it could be one that encourages the reader to engage with your blog. Some common actions you can try out are:
- Leave a comment (spark ideas by asking them a question)
- Subscribe to the newsletter (provide an inline optin form or a link to an optin page)
- Share the post (make sure your share buttons are prominent at the end of the post)
Any one of these actions can improves your blog a lot in the long run.
So there you have it — 5 parts of a blog post that changes lives.
Use these parts in your next blog post, coupled with amazing content, and you’ll quickly begin to build raving fans.
So here’s my call to action: What other parts can you think of? Anything I’ve missed? Let me know in the comments below.