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Does Your Next Blog Post Matter?

Does-Your-Blog-Post-MatterIf your next blog post doesn’t matter – don’t publish it until it does.

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:

“So What?”

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).

This sentence is usually something like ‘this post will teach readers how to hold a digital camera‘ or ‘this post will answer the question of “What is a Blog?”‘.

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.

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. Sucker says:

    Good point, but it sure would get lonely if people decided not to post the ‘pointless’ posts. I mean, probably 99% of blogs are based on pointless posts!

  2. Bruno Auger says:

    I agree
    You just want to keep the post straight forward with no addition fluff. I really duuslike reading on and on about something when they could of stopped 2 paragraphs before.

  3. I find it very easy to cover too much in one post. Not necessarily too much length as much depth. It’s easy for me to get caught up in the ‘spirit’ of the post that I sometimes end up with a less clear point.

    I’ll try to start asking “So what?”

  4. Louis Liem says:

    I agree, Darren. And we need to do it in balance of committing to regularly posting every a couple of days. Lately I have been trying to meet my own deadlines which haven’t been so successful. I have missed many opportunities and in my effort to chase them, I neglected my posting schedule.
    I have many post ideas in my draft and need to be poured into writings right away, but it seems that there’s no time to long and deep post since there will be another ideas coming up.
    So what I do is making a category like “quick tips” to accommodate those short posts to give them a place in my blog. Also as another source where I can expand them into longer articles in the future.

  5. writer dad says:

    I rarely use bullet points, but the points are always there. I take time to craft a story out of each and every post. They’re never long, five or six hundred words. But when they’re over, the message is clear. And yes, they always matter.

  6. Staying on topic within a blog post is one of my biggest weaknesses. I feel like I want to say too many things at once. When this happens I’ve learned to cut and paste that off topic part of my blog into another document to be worked on later.

    It’s all about understanding your audience and enjoying your work to reach your goal. When we can rework the blog post to make it matter and it fits into the overall theme then it gets the green light.

  7. Mike Nichols says:

    I have written essays all my life, and the “so what” question has been one I have had to answer frequently.

    My problem has been trying to achieve too much in a single post — mistranslating the literary essay into an impossibly long blog post. There have been many times I’ve written in far too much detail on a subject, when my readers want points they can easily take home with them. I’ve learned from them to either make the longer posts into two or more, or just to heavily edit that bloated, ponderous thing before clicking the publish button!

    The “so what” question reared its head just last week, and for only the second time in my blog’s history, I missed a day posting. It was more important to have a post that fulfilled the needs of my readers than to post for the sole purpose of meeting some self-imposed deadline.

    Thank you for this post! It has a lot of food for thought.

  8. Sid Savara says:

    Darren -

    I agree that blog posts should have meaning. I am working on a post for my blog right now that should be published in the coming weeks that also discusses the importance of quality.

    I work very hard on most my blog posts, and review and polish the drafts before publishing. That’s also why I never press “publish” – one trick I have is I always schedule my post to publish at least one day in advance. That way, I have a day to consider whether I really should be posting that – and consider, am I adding anything worthwhile?

  9. Jess says:

    Thanks Darren

    Some of the points you made apply to many forms of writing

    In creative writing studies we are always told it is not what you put in that matters but what you leave out….This is so true. I have realised with my personal blogs that I am going to have to go back and scrap some of my posts because they are completely pointless and if anything inhibit the blog rather than help it.

    Now! I gotta get busy thinking about a catchy title for the comp

    jess

  10. Netizen says:

    - Darren -

    In other posts you have written about the importance of a regular post shedule. (for example posting every monday and friday or once a day)

    But this collades with what you wrote today…

    So what`s more Important? regularity or relevance?

    Of course blogs have to focus on a topic, but posts that not necessary matter are part of blogging as well. Especially for non ProBloggers, who write their blogs more for fun than profit these posts are often important to keep up some regularity.

    regularity vs. relevance

    I would like to hear what you (and others) think about it.

  11. jhay says:

    It matters, a lot. It’s even essential methinks. If your previous post didn’t do well, your next one will the opportunity to strike back, and vice versa.

    After all, blogging is a continuing work, perpetual even. Unless you one is going to stop blogging, the next post should be really thought of and planned very well.

  12. Many people are too lazy. Then they wonder why anything fails. Well hello! Develop something good by putting a little effort into it.

  13. Kelvin Kao says:

    What if the answer to “Does your next post matter” is “yes, but only to me” or “yes, to only one reader, though”. Is that still worth it?

  14. So What? is indeed a critical question.

    However, it is only half of the equation that I recommended to SOB Liz Strauss back in early 2007:

    “So What?” and “Who Cares?”

  15. It is true. I think we sometimes feel an anxiety to post! We must, we must, we must Post! But if the content is not quality it is just better to take a day away. As always a great post!

    http://stock-market-club.blogspot.com

  16. Darren Rowse says:

    Netizen

    good question. I actually don’t think that this post clashes too much with having a regular posting schedule – the idea is to post content that matters regularly.

    For me personally, I’d rather not post something if I didn’t feel what I did have to publish mattered – but in my own blogging my goal is to post something useful to readers on a daily basis and I work my butt off to make sure I achieve it.

  17. Netizen says:

    - Darren -

    Well, I didn`t meant that it clashes completely… When talking about regularity vs. relevance, I wasn`t refering to complete offtopic posts. All posts should matter.

    I just think that it`s sometimes hard to decide wether an article matters or not. If you`r too picky it can result in a lack of content, if you`r too loose you`r going offtopic.

    The right balance between matterness (=relevance) and postcount isn`t always easy to find so both articles should be linked somehow since the decisions affect each other.

  18. Great content. I’ll keep coming back for similar posts which I cannot wait to read….

  19. Smart Boy says:

    Loved the article. Indeed – cutting out the extra junk from a blog post is crucial to success. Not only does it allow for a better read; but it can lead to extra blog posts – and putting that “fluff” to use!

  20. MaxBro says:

    Why is it impossible to produce relevant content on a regular basis? Why should one cancel out the other? Setting the goal of writing a post that matters is more of a general rule that you should follow whenever, not just a form of style.

    It’s possible to pump out several posts a day that matter just as it’s possible to write one post a month that’s utterly meaningless. But the goal is the same no matter how much you publish: to produce content that matters to your readers.

  21. nikola says:

    for me every post matters….

  22. Great ideas as usual Darren:

    When I am crafting my posts I start with a title then go from there. Often I go off the “beaten path” but I either change my title or split my post into another idea.

    I am also glad to see only three points. Too often the 22 point post is too overwhelming!

  23. Hamdani says:

    -Netizen-

    I agree with you that this post had collide with the importance of a regular post schedule. (in Darren example posting every monday and friday or once a day).

    -Darren-
    On your respond, that also collide with your post on what make content viral. Because only good content have the potential to become viral. We can’t write anything on the assumption that is what our reader want to read (as what you always suggested write something from the perspective of your reader).

    But who are we to decide that is good for our reader, because one who decide solely what matters and what not, already find a solution to old problem, ” a solution that can fit all situation”.

    My opinion, we write and let them decide what matter to them. We bring forward an issues, matters or suggestions and let them decide.

  24. patti digh says:

    a very wise writing teacher of mine (Sebastian Matthews) once asked me three questions that might also apply here:

    What is your occasion for speech?

    Where are you standing telling your story?

    Why is it yours to tell?

  25. I like the point you were bringing across. I think that we all have to step back and evaluate our goals.

  26. Great points, you need to give the reader a reason to read and if you can’t do that then don’t bother.

  27. Kat Rice says:

    Thanks Darren, I think I really needed to read this post. Its not that I don’t know it, in fact, I think some of the best blogs remind us of what’s important. It reminded me to re-evaluate what I’m writing and who my target audience is. Also, not to ramble which I have a tendency to do. Anyhow, thanks so much, as always I enjoy your work.

  28. May says:

    I disagree with you for a change. Often my most “pointless” aka “fluff” blogs are the ones that get comments rolling in and make people more willing to talk to me via the blog comments in my experience. If I spent all my time on the more serious stuff I don’t think I’d be as successful as I am.

  29. I agree with May, a lot of times my pointless, thrown together posts are the ones that get the most feedback. I think the fact that I write on a less serious level is the only reason I get as many readers as I do. But that most likely would not work for a lot of bloggers.

  30. At the end of my post I have to be able to come up with two relevant questions to ask my readers. Something to get them thinking and engaged. If I can’t come up with a couple of questions, then my post needs to be revamped, because clearly it didn’t serve a purpose.

  31. Kristi says:

    All of my blog posts have a goal, but sometimes that goal may only be for me to get some thought or feeling out of my system by sharing it with others. Even if only one person comments on that post, it makes a big difference to me. I like to think the things I write for myself will mean something to others… maybe something they experience also, but never express.

  32. Angel Cuala says:

    Does Your Next Blog Post Matter? – Of course, it does because this can make or break your future. I feel that readers have high expectation towards our posts as competition now is very stiff.

    However, I believe we must balance things carefully. For me, it is alright to make some fluffy posts once in a while to let your readers that we need to laugh sometimes too – an icebreaker thing.

    Although we are trying to build an image of something, doing something strange may also help you to be remembered.

  33. Cory says:

    Hello this is Cory from Azeroth Now! and I had a question to you about this. I write everyday and I do make sure of it, and it is mostly 600 words+ as that is what my goal normally is for each post. Anyways, I get around 300-400 Unique visitors a day after being a blog that is almost 1month old, but the problem is that from all the traffic Bounce Rate is 56.70% and my New Visits are at 83.18% %

    Is this something wrong or is there something I should be doing differently? I seriously am trying my hardest to find ways to produce good quality traffic, I have read all of your guides on everything and for some reason my traffic is very low and my revenue streams are also low (around $1.50 a day).

    I will be checking back on this particular article, and would love if you would either email or respond back here to maybe see what is wrong with my content or layout or something.

    -Cory Buckley
    http://www.azerothnow.com

  34. For myself, when I come across a new blog, I don’t want to see the first post state that they have “nothing to write about today”. I understand everyone has writers block or just a bad day, but can’t you just skip that day or post a picture of some cute animal?

  35. This all seems subject to the reason why a blogger blogs. Not all bloggers seem to write for their readers (linkbait etc).

  36. Roschelle says:

    As usual always very useful information. Clearly in reviewing some of the comments to post on my blog…you are almost immediately able to tell which ones are “hits” and which ones are not. Usually things I do in a hurry or when I’m distracted end up having a big fat 0 in the comment section.

  37. SEO Genius says:

    Great post something that i use myself is ensuring i have a goal for the post that i am writing some clear defining points here.

  38. shawn says:

    as long as the content is unique, that’s all that matters!

    http://www.ShawnDrewry.com

  39. Thank you for this post

  40. Great article..pointless posts = 98% of the blogosphere.

  41. WiseCrunch says:

    Sometimes pointless posts can also make a difference.

  42. axel g says:

    Another great post!

    The readership won’t come back for more if we post too many really short or fluffy posts.

    I reckon it’s better to take a short break from posting as opposed to posting just for the sake of posting – which would only water down the rest of the content…

  43. Chris says:

    I try apply 3 tests to my posts…

    1) Am I really passionate about this topic?

    2) Are there very specific, actionable steps my readers can apply?

    3) Is there an objective method my readers can use to measure the benefit they get from my information?

    If I can answer “Yes” to all three I usually have a decent post.

  44. sean says:

    hmmm… food for thought there. this will definitely make me a better blogger. It won’t do much for the current of my blog though – except make me realise how much better it could’ve been.

    cheers, sean

  45. Sometimes I thought that the post won’t be a hit and it seems like an ordinary post.

    However, my readers found it otherwise!

    Therefore, what may not be important to you, may be important for others :) (and vice versa, I guess)

  46. sami says:

    i totaly agree with .
    i think that blog posts should have meaning. The readership won’t come back for more if we post too many really short or fluffy posts.

  47. I am constantly amazed at how many blog articles start one way and then lose direction and/or focus. It almost seems that the writer loses their way while writing the actual article. That is why the planning and outlining you are always talking about is so important so you stay focused and your articles are more to the point for your readers.


    Last Blog Post: “10 Reasons Why Neither Political Party Is For Me” at http://www.PoliticalDisgust.com

  48. onemansgoal says:

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    http://onemansgoal.com/449/good-and-easy-ways-to-make-money/

  49. Zombie Money says:

    I like posts that are straight to the point and not long winded :)