In our series on How to Craft a Blog Post we’ve been talking about ‘points to pause’ while writing a blog post. So far we’ve looked at choosing a topic, titles and opening lines and today we’re going to get into the meat of your actual post.
Here’s the question that I think we should all be asking before we hit ‘publish’ on now blog posts:
This simple, yet profound, question was one that I heard a lot of bloggers emerging from SOBCon with earlier in the year. My co-author Chris Garrett is one speaker from that conference who I know used it as a central theme in his presentation.
Other similar questions might include:
- What’s the Point?
- What am I trying to communicate?
- What impact do I want to have on my reader?
- How will this benefit my reader?
All of your hard work in choosing topics, titles and opening lines will go to waste if the actual meat of your post has no real point to it, if it doesn’t communicate anything, if it doesn’t have any impact upon your readers, if it doesn’t really matter.
If you want a post to be more than just something that people flit past it needs to ‘matter’ to people on some level. Otherwise it will never get traction.
Why Many Blog Posts Don’t Have Points
The reality is that many blog posts that I read (and I’ll admit to writing a few) have no real points (or they are unclear).
There could be a variety of reasons for this including:
- laziness – sometimes it is just easier not to really think through the direction of a post
- busyness and distractions – life gets cluttered and many of us as bloggers have too many things on the go at once – leaving us unable to focus our attention fully upon the task at hand.
- pressure of deadlines – feeling the need to have to post something every day can mean many posts get published that are not thought through
Three times to ask ‘so what’ as you’re crafting your next blog post:
1. Before You Start – I find that my blog posts are significantly better if I identify a goal that I want to achieve with the post before I start writing it. For me this usually happens during the topic selection process and leads me to write a simple sentence at the start of each draft (which I usually delete later, unless it becomes part of my introduction).
Important Note: I write blogs with a ‘how to’ type form so my goal sentences reflect this – however this same thing can apply to other types of blogs. The answer to the ‘so what’ question can be to teach, inform, entertain, inspire, build community etc. It need not be to ‘teach’.
2. While You Write – with the post goal statement at the top of your draft it is important to keep it in the forefront of your mind as you develop your blog post.
I attempt to include a statement of what the post will achieve within the post (so the reader sees it) but constantly attempt to remind myself what I’m trying to achieve with the post. This is not always easy (and sometimes my posts do evolve beyond my original goal – read on for more on this) but I find that unless I do it I can end up with posts that have a wishy washy point.
3. Before You Finish – if you’re anything like me, your blog posts ‘evolve’. I often start out with a goal statement and then proceed to go ahead and write a post that ignores the statement. Don’t beat yourself up about that – but DO ask yourself the question of ‘so what’ again at the end of your post.
Have you written something that will matter to your readers? Have you written something that meets a need that they might have? Have you fully explored the topic? OR…. Have you written something just for the sake of writing something? Does what you’ve written have a point?
Don’t Try To Achieve Too Much in a Single Post
A trap that I used to fall into regularly with my blogging was to try to do too much in every post that I wrote. I’d try to write posts that explored lots of themes, that tried to inform, entertain and inspire, that tried to get readers to have a sense of belonging…. etc
The reality was that the posts ended up being ‘epics’ and didn’t really achieve anything.
If you find yourself with lots of goals for a post – why not split them into multiple posts.
This is what I did earlier in this series when writing about crafting blog titles. I originally has this post on Crafting Titles and this post inviting readers to improve titles as one single post but before hitting publish I asked myself what my goal was with the post and realized that I was trying to do too much and that could better achieve my goals of ‘teaching’ and ‘involving readers’ in two separate posts.
What’s the Point of This?
The take home message of this post is to take your time in identifying goals for each post.
This exercise need not take a great deal of time or even be something that you formally set time aside to do for each post (for me it’s become a natural part of my blogging) but it is something that will help to lift the quality of your blogging significantly.
The benefit of identifying a point to your posts will especially help you in the next two steps in this process of crafting a blog post – ‘calls to action’ and ‘adding depth’ (things we’ll explore in coming days).
Read the Full Series
This post is part of a series on how to craft blog posts. It will be all the more powerful if taken in context of the full series which looks at 10 points in the posting process to pause and put extra effort. Start reading this series here.