How to Write a Great Blog Post

great blog post

If you’re a blogger like me, you make a lot of mistakes. I’ve been making them on this blog since 2004. Even today I got feedback on a post I wrote April 18, 2012 where I made a typo/spelling error. Can you find it? Second to last paragraph. (Five gold stars to the first who catches it.)

I think a lot about blogging, puzzling over which posts resonate and which ones die a terribly obscure death. Oddly, the ones I think will take off are they dying ones, and the stupid ones I think no one will read go crazy. Here’s one that did well, much to my chagrin: “10 Reasons Why I’m Not Cool.

As I’ve been analyzing my posts, here’s what the great ones have in common. These are blog posts that people share, either via Twitter, Facebook or Pinterest, or even real world word of mouth.

  1. An awesome, catchy title. I’m terrible at titles. Absolutely awful. Most of the books I’ve written don’t have “my” title as the selected one. I need the help of marketing types and sales people to help me figure out a great title. But there have been some things that have helped. First: the title needs to resonate with your reader (not you). It has to hint at a huge need. Two stand out to me: “The Sexy Wife I Can’t Be” and “Find Your Passion in Three Steps.” Lately I’ve been using Google Adwords to find the kinds of titles people actually search for. What I think would be a great search ends up being small. (How to: Place your title in the first box, do the captcha image, then hit SEARCH.) You’ll be able to see how many people actually search about your topic, and see alternatives that have higher search rankings. For instance, “awesome blog post” has only 4,400 people searching for it, but “How do I blog” has 124,000,000 people using that search. Wouldn’t you rather title your post after a higher search? Another help: the book Advertising Headlines that Make You Rich by David Garfinkle. Now before you think I’m a slimy saleswoman, remember titling is my weakness. Garfinkle gives you actual titles (this blog post title is one) that you can copy. These are proven titles that truly work.
  2. Pinnable image. A few years ago, the word “pinnable” didn’t exist in the internets. But now with Pinterest, we’ve added not only vocabulary, but a way to waste hours of our day pinning recipes, cute outfits, and wedding gowns. Since this social network rocks the traffic, we need to pay attention to it. I started pinning in December. And since then, my pageviews have tripled. So I pin one image per post. If you’re a pinning neophyte, I’ve developed a system to create really eye-catching pins for free. Click here for 10 Steps to Make a Pin using PicMonkey.com. (free PDF).
  3. Click to tweet option. It’s really good to give your readers things to do and avenues to share. You should have a pin button, facebook, twitter, G+, linked in, and any other places you frequent. Author Media provides this service if you’re lacking cute share buttons. To offer a click to tweet option on your blog, go to http://clicktotweet.com/ and paste in your catchy phrase. Click GENERATE. Then share the link they give you in your blog post. (Click to tweet this.)
  4. Vulnerable, open story. The posts I write that get the most shares and interaction are the ones where I dare to be vulnerable and truly open about my life. These might involve rants, fears, hopes, stories–anything that gives my reader a glimpse of my humanity (no, I’m not a cyborg). A recent post that exemplifies this is the letter I wrote to the boys (now men) who molested me. I get a lot of emails thanking me (so humbling and sweet) for being real. I refuse to hide behind a blog persona. I don’t think people get set free that way. They need to know they’re not alone, and when we share our honest stories, we help them realize they’re no different than the rest of us. We all experience bewilderment and heartache. Why not commiserate together?
  5. Key Words and SEO that rocks. I “cheat” on this, using Scribe SEO to help me find good keywords and write great SEO descriptions. Here’s a good article about SEO (Search Engine Optimization). In WordPress, I use WordPress SEO by Yoast, which is terrific. It takes a little extra time (a few minutes) but it will help people other than your family and friends actually FIND you and your great blog post.
  6. Ask the reader a question. Typically I do this at the bottom of every post. Because blogging to me is a two-way communication event, I want to know what my readers are thinking. If I ask a question, they answer. And then I have the privilege of chatting back.
  7. Link love. If you look over this post, you’ll see that I linked all over the web. You don’t want to saturate your post with links, but you’ll want to have at least three links in your post. It’s okay to link to your own stuff, but remember to be generous with others. To me it’s like a fun little secret when I link to a friend. I don’t go around announcing my link to them, so it becomes a fun surprise when they notice. Another good practice is to capitalize on a current news story by linking back to that particular event.

Well, that’s how to write a great blog post. I hope these seven tips will help you write an amazing one this week. Do me a favor and write a post with all seven elements, then come here and share the post. I want to cheerlead you! Rah rah rah!

Q4U: Did I miss anything? What, in your opinion, makes a great blog post? And if you write a great post this week with all seven elements, hop back here and share yours.

  • will.tombs@coull.com

    Great article Mary- Another tip is to diversify your content through video and photo (as you mentioned). This will help to keep your audience captivated.

    *Bloggers*
    Please take 2 minutes out of your day to complete this short survey :)

    http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/DV2958N -

  • http://notquitearunner.blogspot.com/ Amy

    Thanks so much for sharing these tips. I am in the process of putting my blog together (I have the vulnerable story part going; it’s the rest I need to work on) and these are helpful. Also, thanks so much for sharing your story. Although I haven’t had the experience you had being molested, I grew up feeling a lot of shame and unworthiness and have really struggled with accepting God’s grace. I became a Christian at 11 years old but it wasn’t until I was nearly 30 that I finally began to understand what grace really means. And now that I know, it’s about applying it and blogs/stories like yours help me with this so much. It’s nice to know I’m not alone.

    • http://www.marydemuth.com Mary DeMuth

      You are NOT alone in your feelings. I think we all struggle with those kinds of feelings in one way or another.

  • Josie Barone

    I am horrible when it comes to images! Something so simple, I most often go without. Lazy I guess. But, what I have noticed with the last four posts posted is when I write in response to what God is giving me, the posts seem to relate with the readers. Instead of generating the ideas myself, I am surprised with the direction He directs me. I feel vulnerable, yet free simultaneously because I know this is what He wants me to write, whether it generates a ton of feedback or not.
    I would say the posts that draw me in on your site are the ones shared that help me to heal from my hurts. I hope this helps. Keep up the amazing work. Much appreciated.

    • http://www.marydemuth.com Mary DeMuth

      That does help, and fits in with the brand of living uncaged

  • harrisonwilder

    This was so helpful! Can’t wait to write my next post and start implementing some of what I’ve learned. My site is still hosted by wordpress. Do you think I need to self-host if I really want to improve SEO?

  • http://jenniferclarktinker.wordpress.com/ Jennifer Clark Tinker

    Thanks for the advice. Your pinnable image on this one really grabbed my attention. I am really trying but haven’t quite made all 7 in one post.

    • http://www.marydemuth.com Mary DeMuth

      Thanks Jennifer. :)

  • http://www.leahadams.org/ Leah Adams

    THANK YOU!! I wondered how to do the ‘click to tweet’ thingy! this is a great post.

    • http://www.marydemuth.com Mary DeMuth

      I’m glad to help.

  • http://www.dalecallahan.com Dale Callahan

    Great stuff. Practically, how long does it take you for each post?

    • http://twitter.com/MaryDeMuth Mary DeMuth

      about an hour.

      • http://www.dalecallahan.com Dale Callahan

        Thanks. Wow, you are much faster than I am! I just happened to notice your new post on PLATFORM FB page and read your post. Wow again. Thanks for sharing. Canot imagine how difficult it is to relive this in your ministry – but I think we all need a wake-up call. Was thinking about the culture of “boys” in the recent rape case of the high school athletes. With two young boys I look at this the other way – do not want them to be the one causing the pain.

        • http://www.marydemuth.com Mary DeMuth

          So well said.

  • winterscasa

    Love this! I will be diving into this post later. For now I only have a few minutes. However, I would LOVE for you to look over my most recent post – if you have time – to see what you think. I tried to write a post that would create more traffic to my blog. I included several of the elements you suggested. (I still don’t get SEO, etc.). Also, I never know what to sign in with when commenting on others’ blogs. I want people to be able to click on my name and get to my blog easily. THANK YOU!!!
    http://inthemidstof.wordpress.com/2013/03/18/10-things-you-should-know-about-pms-for-women/

    • http://twitter.com/MaryDeMuth Mary DeMuth

      Your post with the PMS list was great. Lists are always helpful. Subscribing to Scribe SEO will help you understand it.

  • http://www.tanyamarlow.com/ Tanya Marlow

    This was so helpful. Most of these tips I knew already, but I didn’t know HOW to do them. The links to SEO and searches etc was really helpful!

    • http://twitter.com/MaryDeMuth Mary DeMuth

      Glad to hear it.

  • http://www.annepeterson.com/ Anne Peterson

    (I still can’t wear heals well), heels

    I just love stars.

    • http://twitter.com/MaryDeMuth Mary DeMuth

      ***** I love them too.

  • http://www.jmlalonde.com Joe Lalonde

    Great advice Mary. I, too, suck at writing titles and need to be more conscious and deliberate in creating them.

    • http://twitter.com/MaryDeMuth Mary DeMuth

      If I can do it (and learn) so can you.