How to write a successful blog post

A few weeks ago, I did a presentation on the use of inbound marketing in the health and fitness industry. I appreciate all of the feedback from the class and from Professor Kane. It is always interesting both in my business and otherwise to see how people react differently to the same content.

As a follow-up to this presentation, I wanted to share how I write the best posts that I can in order to maximize engagement with my content. A few people in the class requested specific examples of this, so I thought I would share some things I have discovered throughout my blogging experience.

The top 3 elements of a successful blog post:

  1. An eye-catching title

A title is crucial. This is the first thing that the audience will see, so I have to grab their attention with some good “click-bait” if I want them to come to my blog.

headlines-1

  1. Unique and interesting content

Let’s be real…If the first few sentences of an article or blog post aren’t captivating, the reader is going to leave. That first paragraph is vital to drawing in readers. Once they’re hooked, I have to keep their attention with easy-to-read formatting (short sentences and paragraphs), images, and charts because even if the content is good, a reader will rarely stick around to read a long, essay-like post.

  1. Multiple Calls-to-Action (CTAs)

Using lots of CTAs is the best way for a blogger to encourage visitors to stick around. A CTA can be in the form of an email sign-up, an e-book download, a webinar sign-up, etc. As I mentioned in my presentation, CTAs are important for my business in that they help generate leads in the form of email subscription, and those leads will (hopefully) become buyers of my products.

Now that we have identified the 3 components of a good blog post, let me delve into HOW to incorporate them…

1. Title

Below is a list of my best-performing (in terms of title-clicks) title formats with an example of each:

  1. Talk about controversial topics:  Why I don’t use protein powders…anti-protein
  2. Use How tos and Lists:  3 Reasons Your Weight Loss Program Isn’t Workinghow to.png
  3. Make it personal:  Gratitude: What I Learned From Carlycarly-post
  4. Ask QuestionsWhole eggs or egg whites?question.png

These posts received some of the highest hit rates out of all of my blogs (the personal post was #1).

Now…what about engagement with the actual content?

 

2. Content

The title is a start, but to get people to stick around and actually read my posts, I focus on hitting these 4 criteria:

1. Be consistent

I post on my blog twice a week, I email my subscribers once a week, and I am on other social media platforms daily so that I can drive traffic to my blog. I am also consistent in my themes and topics so people know what they’re going to get when they come to my page.

2. Know your audience

What do they struggle with? What do they want to learn about?

3. Make in interesting

The eye-catching titles that I listed above also give insight into the type of content that leads to more engagement.

  • Controversy is KEY. I spoke about the importance of being polarizing in my presentation. Yes it will create trolls, but it will also lead to loyal followers. People have to know what you stand for in order to truly engage and trust you.
  • How tos and lists create easy-to-read content that gets a lot of engagement, which makes sense if you think about it. Most people come to the internet to learn how to do something or to find information quickly, which means they’re searching “how to…” or “list of…”.
  • A blog HAS to be personal. Information is so easy to get nowadays and there are a zillion health and fitness bloggers out there saying the same thing as me, so the way I stand out is not WHAT I say but HOW I say it. I can come up with systems or hashtags (a couple of my proprietary systems are #WOA and #SOS), and it is with this unique content that I can generate leads.
  • Questions are super simple and very effective. I like to take questions word-for-word that my followers send to me and make them into blog posts. If I answer the exact question my people are asking, they’re probably going to read my post.

4. Spell-check

This one is obvious. Grammar isn’t the end-all-be-all, but I personally get turned off if a I read a blog with a lot of spelling mistakes or blatant grammatical errors.

5. Make it visually appealing

I try to make my blog clean and visually appealing. If a page is messy or hard to read, I’ll lose my reader. Adding images and videos also helps keep the reader from getting overwhelmed with pages of straight text.

visual appeal.png

3. Calls-to-Action

A call-to-action prompts the readers to actively engage with the content in some way. You can ask them to answer a question in the comments, subscribe to your blog or email list, download a free PDF, etc. The CTA is important to keep people engaged, especially if you’re eventually trying to sell them products. If I put in all the work to create a good post for my readers, I don’t want to waste it by neglecting to invite them back for more. Here’s an sample CTA that I included in one of my recent blogs:

CTA.png

So these are some of the things I’ve learned that help me increase engagement. Every industry will be a little different in terms of what draws in a reader, but I bet a lot of these elements span across industries.

10 comments

  1. This was a great post. Reading your blog already caught my eye to read some of the other blogs that you’ve posted in the past. The title and first paragraph are definitely what keeps me either engaged or not. Also, I think that calls-to-action really drives the retention rate and is very important. I realized that when asking people questions and to share their opinions, they’re definitely more excited and more willing to become engaged.

  2. This is an awesome article and definitely one that each and every one of us in this class can really learn from! It’s great having a post that perfectly summarizes everything that we need to do in order to be effective communicators online. I often laugh at some of the more “click-baity” headlines that I see on most websites, but if the content is good enough (which it appears to be in your case), the “click-bait” headlines serve a higher purpose than just getting clicks! Too often I see absurd headlines on FB (“You won’t believe what happened to this dog owner!”) with people in comments posting underneath (“He got dirt on the rug, saved you the click”). But even in the newspapers that I read, if the headline is not catchy or intriguing, I just won’t read the article. By thinking out what you want to say and thinking of the proper way to say it, you immediately earn more clout from your readers.

  3. I really like this post, it’s really neat how you break down everything here into a science almost! It must be an interesting challenge, knowing what boxes to check in order to create engaging posts, while still also keeping them authentic. I especially liked your point about consistency and how you use social media as a daily supplement to your blogs and emails. This was definitely a really good way to follow up on your presentation!

  4. It is great to read through your play-by-play perspective on how to optimize a blog post’s potential. The idea of controversy being key aligns with some of the start-stop-continue responses regarding blog posts going forward in which students might consider taking a stand on particular issues — will be interesting to see if people gravitate toward this approach for the rest of the semester. Ultimately, your post effectively harnesses the advice it dishes out including full employment of creative content, a relevant topic, a short, eye-catching title and a picture that appears next to the title on the feed to grab readers… like me!

  5. Really great post from your own experience. I think many of these lessons could easily be applied in this class as well!

  6. Fantastic post, you’re a natural! I thought it was really interesting how you discussed the importance of how you say something as being more important than what you’re actually saying. I find this to be true in nearly every facet of my life, especially in the context of leadership. I also think that having a call to action is crucial to engage your audience. Given the difficulties of advertising agencies to really engage customers nowadays, perhaps they should consider a similar call to action, or even write blogs of their own!

  7. This is a great follow up to your presentation, and one that follows your own criteria. I thought it was interesting to have mentioned calls to action as well as titles as two of the things that create a great blog post. Having a recipe to engagement through all your platforms was also helpful and makes it a point to show how vital social media is to the traffic on your blogs.

  8. I liked your perspective on how to structure a blog post in order to get the most engagement. I think it is interesting to consider how you write a post when it is for your own enjoyment verse if you are writing with a business focus. The focus on engagement from strangers might be higher for the business post whereas a writer may not worry too much about strangers clicking on his or her post if was written for enjoyment. Like you mentioned, I think visuals are important in all scenarios. People make immediate judgements on the quality of the post from how it appears (sound familiar…? looking at you book and cover). The content will often we judged based on how it looks first before someone reads its text. Lastly I agree the title is really important. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been roped into clicking on an article solely based on the title!

  9. I loved this post, I think I’m going to bookmark this post and refer to it every time I have to blog for this class! It is very insightful, speaks from experience that you clearly have a lot of, and provides very clear and descriptive examples. I know that for the companies that rely on inbound tactics in order to drive conversions from their blogs, the blog content also has to be highly optimized for search, meaning it has to contain all the relevant terms and phrases that a user might look for before landing on your blog page. For example, a user looking to learn more about the effect of eggs on his or her diet would type “eggs or egg whites” into google search bar, and see your blog as one of the search results. The blog essentially offers a solution to a user’s problem, which might be different for users at different stages of the marketing funnel (or their health journey), and it’s important to have posts relevant to each type of users that you want to attract.

  10. Loved this post. So informative and your tips are great. I really enjoyed how you used personal examples of how you apply everything to pull together a great blog. I never thought about it but I do tend to click on articles that have how tos and lists, at least now I will know why there are so many of them out there. I never thought about how much content is available and the challenge of grabbing your audience and keeping them engaged throughout your content. I admire the effort it must take you to keep relevant and in touch with your followers.

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