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The Secret to a Successful Blog Post

This post has been submitted by Neil Patel. Neil is co-founder and CTO of ACS) and writes regularly on social media issues through the company’s blog, Pronet Advertising.

Are you looking to start a blog but have absolutely no idea how to write a blog post? On the outside it may seem simple as if you were writing a short essay. Unfortunately, that’s not exactly what you are doing. One thing I’ve learned and helped others learn is that blogging is actually quite different than what Mrs. Talbot taught us in the 10th grade. Instead of worrying about the placement of your concrete details, take a look at the following key elements that can make a great blog post:

  • Talk to your readers and not at them – Blogging is a two way street and you want to create a conversation. If you talk at your readers like a professor you aren’t likely to create much of a conversation. Take to your readers like you would talk to one of your friends, in a very casual setting, but leave the beer for later.
  • Get to the point – No one wants to read a ten page blog post. There is no minimum length requirement with blog posts so feel free to get to the point and don’t beat around the bush. People like skimming and reading a post with depth, precision, and as few words as possible can deliver value to your readers.
  • Don’t wander off topic – This might have come from Mrs. Talbot. Make sure you have a central idea and stick with it. If you are writing a blog post about the latest and greatest plasma television don’t talk about VCRs or the latest blue ray scoop.
  • Value is the key to success – Don’t you hate reading stuff that brings no value? There are only 24 hours in a day so make sure whatever you write has the potential to be beneficial to your readers in some fashion.
  • Entice your readers – If you can’t get anyone to read your content and interact with your blog, what’s the point of writing? You may be just writing for yourself, but chances are you want others to read your content as well. Use catchy headlines and ask your readers for their thoughts.

What other elements do you feel makes a great blog post?

About Darren Rowse

Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.

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Comments

  1. Jen says:

    That’s a clever post, Neil. Anything I can think of that might be added… can already be slotted in under one of the 5 points you’ve given! (Guilty of babbling and wandering, myself — one in 15 posts, at least, contains the phrase “but I digress…” )

  2. Gdog says:

    Excellent suggestions. Talking to my readers has helped my blog immensely.

  3. Joe says:

    I’m newer to this blog scene, but it’s obvious to me that getting to the point and not wandering is dead on.

    Too many bloggers ramble. If you’re looking for something more to write in your post, then it’ll be lame. If you’ve got a lot of good material and have to focus more on editing, it’ll be much better.

    When we have nothing interesting to share, we should do more research until we do.

  4. Tõnis says:

    Very good suggestions indeed. I would like to highlight the importance of talking directly about the point. Readers do not have time to read through your post anyway, so make it short and catchy!

  5. Annie says:

    Excellent! I’ve just started my first blog to see what all this blogging fuss is about. But now I’m having more fun learning about blogging! As far as the suggestions go, I think that if I can just hold back on the beer ’til later I may be okay! Eeek.

  6. Melanie says:

    Great post! I see you practise what you preach too; short and to the point! Definately well done!

  7. apple says:

    I guess this goes very well with the focused blogs, when you write on a specific topic only, and not try to tell you readers about everything that is going on in your life…

  8. Lou Lesko says:

    What a tragedy this post is. Mr. Patel has made some wonderful points about only one type of blogging. But his post falls way short in considering the thousands of other blogs that serve a greater purpose than that of commercial viability. There are soldiers in far off lands reading blogs about their families back home. There are young globe trotters writing about their travels for friends and lovers. And somewhere and elderly gentleman is writing about his past life for an audience of five.

    These are successful posts in spite of the fact that I am sure that none of those blogs follow any of Mr. Patel’s advice. Yet, I would argue that the these uses of the blogging medium serve a far greater good than counting Google Adsense links. ProBlogger is a unique site with some excellent information, but I wish posts like the one above that fly under the authoritative banner “The Secret to a Successful Blog Post” would show a little, humility and diversity.

    I respect Mr. Patel’s post, it is valid and valuable, but it is also narrow minded. The blogsphere is wide open for a lot more success stories. Some of them I’ll wager will break all the rules above.

  9. Phil says:

    Very good point by Lou – maybe the title of the post should be something along the lines of ‘the secret to a successful blog post on a commercial blog’. Still some of the points do apply and I suppose you could interpret all them to apply to most blogs so it is still useful info.
    One point that I think deserves mentioning is about formating of your posts – and this post illustrates it well – and that you should use smal paragraphs, headlines and bullet lists to present you information in a clean structured way. Its harder to read on a computer screen than on paper so formating and presentation is even more important.
    Im also not a fan of too much embedded multimedia- its distracting and annoying to lowbandwidth users.

  10. Steven says:

    Neil, I appreciate the fact that you mentioned keeping posts short. That is one thing that I have always noticed about you posts on Pronet Advertising, they don’t waste any of the reader’s time.

  11. Travis says:

    Great post!

    I would add two points -

    Get excited – If you are not excited about the subject chances are your readers will not be either.

    Be honest – A pitch comes across as one. Even if you are making a pitch don’t sugar coat it like a used car salesman.

  12. jim mollica says:

    • Share a link.
    Do you think it would help to cite other sources and give your readers a chance to see what you have found. If they are interested or differ in opinion, they may read it and come back to share their interpretation.

  13. I think Neil’s point is one of the primary downfalls of quite a few blogs that actually have some good content to share. While it’s true that there are more points that could be considered. It’s also true that not every point should be considered in a post. Also, considering that a post can be tweaked to no end just like any other piece of copy, I think that Neil demonstrates another principle of a successful post – getting to the point.

  14. Mathew says:

    Excellent suggestions. I’m thinking of starting my own blog and found this post very useful. Thanks everyone for your invaluable comments.

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