How to Write a Blog Post that People Will Read
Three reasons to Blog
Blogging is the main way that businesses, practices, and individuals write for the screen. It’s a great way to convey information to people beyond a tagline or slogan.
It’s also free — if you already have a website, you have a place to blog. If you don’t, there are places like LinkedIn, Medium, and Quora to post articles and direct traffic.
- Blogging gives the opportunity to tell potential clients about you and your services.
- Blogging establishes the writer’s authority– it shows that you know your stuff.
- Blogging drives traffic to your website and increases SEO ratings. Search engines like change.
As mental health professionals, most of us have written for many years for many different purposes. We listen and talk for a living. We are adept with words, information, and advice. But with writing online, we need to be careful.
Why Writing for the Screen Needs to be Different
Most of us have seen the articles about how people read words on screens differently than they read books. Some have seen the studies and rush to the proclamation that we are losing the ability to read books and to concentrate on words. Whether that is the case or not, those of us who are interested in reaching people on the internet better not jump over the first and basic point:
People read words on screens differently than they read words on paper.
This means we need to write differently.
When people read material on a screen, they skim. Their eyes scan the page for keywords and they overlook the rest.
So if you sit down to write, and write paragraph after paragraph of text, your readers will miss a lot of what you say.
So What Do We Do? We go back to the 9th Grade!
Ah, 9th grade. Dances, acne, an all-absorbing crush on the guy in algebra class: the joys of being a Freshman with all of high school before us. NOOOOOO!!!!
Actually, I was only talking about learning to write essays.
The main principle behind internet content writing is formatting what you write from the very beginning. Remember back in 9th grade when we learned how to write the ever-dreaded Five Paragraph Essay?
Mrs. Mullally was the wonderful woman who taught me how to write essays.
She walked us through research, picking a thesis statement, picking three points for the supporting paragraphs, and that ever-horrid conclusion paragraph that always felt like a cop-out. She legalistically pushed us through brainstorming, writing outlines, and painstakingly editing rough draft after rough draft.
I’d hate her, but she was so dang nice. She also gave me a deep and abiding love for Shakespeare.
Truth be told, I never followed that procedure when I was writing in school. I was good enough to thrive on the “Three A.M. with Two Cans of Jolt” method through the remainder of my education (I think I just dated myself).
When you write for the screen, it is not as easy to just throw words down and then make them do whatever. There needs to be a plan. It doesn’t need to be as dry and rigid as Mrs. Mullally’s process, but you should know what you are writing about and where you are going — because you are the travel guide who is going to take your reader by the hand and lead them through.
You don’t want to lose your reader.
How to Write Your Post
Step 1: Pick Your Headlines
Decide what your main point is and then create a headline from it. Put a lot of energy into that headline because that headline will be what is drawing your reader in from Google, LinkedIn, or wherever they just found you. Some writers recommend taking the same amount of time as writing the whole paper. There are tools and templates for creating an attention-grabbing headline. Google it. Don’t be afraid to use them.
Then there is the rest of your post. Have it mapped out just like you would a road trip — but instead of this kind of itinerary:
First Day: Trip to Colorado
- Las Vegas – leave here at 8 a.m.
- St. George, UT – early lunch here
- Beaver, UT – get gas here
- Greenfield, UT – stop here for the night
Your post will be:
Headline: Attention Getting Statement
- 1st Point – You want to hear this
- 2nd Point – And this too
- 3rd Point — Consider this
- 4th Point — and because of all of this, you should do _______ (call to action)
All of these points will be labeled in your post as H2 headers. Those are important. Their larger font will lead the reader’s eye. H2 headers are the road signs that tell your reader what the next destination has to offer. Google also likes them.
Then you write the paragraphs that your subheaders just highlighted.
Just like you would try to be fairly consistent on breaks for a long road trip, you should be consistent with the amount of text under each header. Try not to write more than 300 words per section. If there are more, consider breaking it up under another sub-header (that’s what H3 headers are for)
In reality, what you are doing is writing several small blog posts that tie together, leading your reader from one to the next.
Step 2: Give Your Reader Wide Open Spaces
- The page should have lots of white space. It should not be covered in words. Writing in sections accomplishes some of that, but not enough. There are other devices that break up the page.
- Smaller paragraphs — any time you have an adjustment in thought, start a new paragraph. 2-3 sentence paragraphs are ideal when you write for the screen.
- Pictures – put in pictures or infographics to draw the eye and keep the reader focused on your theme
- Bullet Points – when listing something, if you are listing three or more things, put them in bullet points whenever possible.
- Font – use a readable font. Also, utilize bold, italics, or underlining to call attention to a point.
- Restate key points in quote blocks like I did above so that you can emphasize what you really want the reader to understand.
Final Destination: A Call to Action
A “Call to Action” is very simple. You are telling your reader what you want them to do next. Do you want them to schedule an appointment? Download a PDF? Sign up for your email list? Make a commitment to change their life for the better?
Focus on structuring the page for this as you write, and your reader will be right there with you, instead of zoning out. As you sum up what you are saying, tell your reader what you want them to do next.
For instance, I would say something like:
“if your energies are better spent elsewhere, I provide formatting services where I take your writing and make it screen-friendly. I also provide full blogging services that represent you – communicating the key ideas and issues that embody your practice.”
“So click on the button below to get in contact with me.”
What do you know? I did just say that. So click on the button!Get in Contact with Me
Next time: Search Engine Optimization techniques