An “effective” article is a post that accomplishes something. Generally, it resonates with the reader. They sit back and say, “Man! I’m glad I came to this blog!” But more specifically, it moves the reader closer to an action, such as subscribing to your newsletter or clicking through to an older post. An effective blog post moves the reader from Point A to Point B, whatever that may be, and here are nine signs you’ve written one.
1. The headline grabs the reader’s attention
If the headline doesn’t grab the reader’s attention and pull them into the post, you might as well save your ink because he’s not going to read it. Seriously. The title is Just. That. Important. You may have written the most effective blog post in the history of blogging but if it doesn’t get read it’s not effective at all.
A good headline either promises a benefit, arouses curiosity, or promises a reward:
- Benefit: How Blogging Can Make You A Better Writer
- Curiosity: Ten Reasons Nobody Reads Your Blog
- Reward: Get 10,000 New Subscribers This Weekend!
2. A concrete detail highlights the benefits promised in the title
Whether you use images or not is entirely up to you. But your image and/or your first paragraph should concretely illustrate the promise you’re making in your headline. If your title promises blogging can make you a better writer, then open with a story or example of someone who did just that, something the reader can picture in his mind.
3. The opening paragraph expands on the promise in the title
Your opening paragraph should also expand on the promise in your title. For example, in the opening of this paragraph I tell you what an effective blog post is and why it’s important to write one. That information shows you why it’s so important for you to read the entire post.
4. Formatted for easy reading
By now it should be embedded in your brain that most online readers merely scan your content, they don’t read it word-for-word. A post is only effective if the reader gets your full message, so your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to make it as easy as possible for the reader to get the value from your post when he scans it. Use headings and sub-headings to highlight topic changes, use bullet points and numbers to highlight key points, and use bold and italics to stress the most important points.
5. Orderly and concise
Again, a post is only effective if the reader understands your message. Make sure your post flows in an orderly fashion from Point A to Point B to Point C, and so on. Don’t tell your reader the second step until you’ve told him the first, don’t forget any steps, and don’t leave out the last step in the hopes you can get him to buy your ebook.
6. Persuasive content
A persuasive post leads the reader through an argument in such a way that by the end of the post the reader is sympathetic to your cause. He may not agree with it, but he can at least see the reasoning behind your position. To understand why persuasive posts are so effective, just look at the last time you bought a new car. The salesman didn’t just point to a car and say, “You should buy this one today.” If he had, you wouldn’t have listened. Instead, hHe listened to you first, chose the car he felt would best suit your needs, and then listed all the features and benefits that were relevant to you. Chances are you ended up doing business with that salesman. It may not have been the first car he pointed out, but eventually you came to an agreement.
7. Interesting to read
Interesting is a relative term. You might love to read about tax laws but even if they were written by Stephen King I’d still find them as boring as watching paint dry. The key to writing interesting content is to know your audience and write for them, not the search engines. It’s not about flowery prose, either. Make your content relevant to your audience. Tell your readers why this information is important to them.
8. The post is believable
There are a zillion things you can do to increase your online credibility, but on the post-level, I think the best thing you can do is link out to your sources. If you’re trying to persuade me by telling me this new car you want me to buy gets 80 miles per gallon, then link to a credible study to prove it because unless I trust you implicitly, my first response is going to be, “Oh, yeah? Prove it!”
9. Includes a call to action
In the blogging world, everything needs to be “in black and white” as they say. Your reader can’t hear the tone of your voice. He can’t see you wink. He doesn’t feel subconsciously drawn to follow you over to the desk to sign that contract. If you want your reader to do something you have to tell him exactly what you want him to do.
In an effective blog post, everything from the title on should lead your reader on a direct path from Point A to Point B. Everything should be written to grab the readers attention, hold it, and persuade him to complete your desired action. In other words, an effective blog post takes careful planning and thought. If you’ve just been cranking out blog posts willy-nilly, then use these tips and see what a difference they’ll make for your blog.