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13 Ways to Add New Dimensions to Your Next Post

What do you see when you look at this image?

bubble blowingImage by Lord V

OK – so it’s two flies right? Yes it is…. but look a little harder.

Have you ever used one of those crazy eye cross eye 3D multidimensional pictures? This is one of them. Relax, cross your eyes a little and stare (for a more details version of how to see the 3D impact read here). Do it right and the the ‘flies’ become one very 3 dimensional ‘fly’. If you like the effect I’ll show you some more in a link at the bottom of this post.

What does a 3D image have to do with Blogging?

In this post I want to share 13 ways to make your blogs go deeper and become more multi dimensional.

  • How deep do your blog posts go?
  • Do you bang out a post that covers the basics of your topic and then hit publish?
  • What would happen if you just took a few extra minutes once your next post was finished to ask yourself – how could I make this post more useful to readers?

Over the last few weeks we’ve been exploring 10 points in the writing of a blog post where it is important to ‘pause’ and take a little extra time in crafting the blog post.

Today I want to explore a question that you can ask yourself after writing a blog post (and before hitting publish) that I have found can exponentially increase the impact and effectiveness of a the post.

It is a question that I think can help good posts great and help it to stand out from the clutter of millions of posts going around the blogosphere at any given time.

The question is simple:

“How can I add more depth to this post?”

A theme that I continually go on about here at ProBlogger is ‘creating useful content‘ for readers. The question about ‘adding depth’ is all about making your post more useful. An alternative way of asking it would be:

“How can I make this post more useful?”

13 Ways to Add Depth to Your Next Blog Post

Following are 13 of simple techniques that can add a new dimension to your post – techniques to make good posts great:

1. Use Examples

Too many bloggers simply talk in theoretical terms and don’t ground what they are talking about in reality. There’s nothing wrong with ‘theory’ but you can do your reader a real service with two simple words – ‘for example’. Show how the theory can be applied in an actual situation and you’ll make your post much more effective. Readers will not only come away with an idea of how to do something – they’ll have seen it in action – something which takes them a step closer to actually implementing it in their own lives.

Adding examples to posts is something I’ve been doing for years without really thinking about it. I just searched on Google for “for example” on ProBlogger and found it used over 1000 times.

For example (I had to add one here didn’t I) – check out my post on how to find new RSS subscribers to a blog where I give give examples on every 2nd point that I make.

2. Add an Analogy, Story or Metaphor

An example need not just be a ‘link’ – it can be some kind of story or analogy that helps readers to unpack what you’re writing about.

As I’ve discussed earlier in this series – stories are particularly effective ways of opening blog posts – however they are also useful within and at the end of posts. They engage the imaginations of readers, help to reinforce what you’re saying and can be very persuasive tools.

As Brian Clark of CopyBlogger writes – “Stories allow people to persuade themselves, and that’s what it’s really all about.”

Personal stories can also be very effective at establishing common ground between you and your readers – something that makes people be able to relate to you.

Read more on using different types of stories on a blog.

3. Add Your Opinion

If you’re writing about ‘news’ or linking up to something another blogger is saying – don’t just report the news or tell your readers to go read something because ‘it’s good’ – tell your readers what YOU think about what you’re linking to.

Giving your opinion takes your post to a new depth, it stimulates readers to think about their reaction to what they are reading, creates conversation, adds value and helps to make your post unique. Don’t just echo the news around the blogosphere – inject something of yourself into it.

4. Suggest Further Reading

One of the simplest ways to add value to a blog post is to recommend other reading that a reader could do on your topic. This can be done formally at the end of a post with a ‘recommended reading’ type list of links – or informally during a post when you hyperlink relevant articles on key ideas that you write about.

Further reading can be both internal links to other things you’ve written on your topic and/or external links to what others have written previously on the topic you’ve covered. Only do either of these if they do add value and are on topic.

5. Add Quotes

An effective way of adding authority to a blog post is to add the voice of another person using a short quote. Most students know the power of using quotes in the writing of essays (they show you’ve researched and read widely and grasp a topic) – the same thing is try with blog posts.

There are two main ways of using quotes in blog posts:

  1. quote someone talking about your topic (I did this above in the ‘stories’ point with a quote from Brian Clark).
  2. quote someone talking about something unrelated, but still relevant to your topic (something I did in my post – What Thomas Edison Can Teach You about Blogging).

6. Interview Someone

If you can’t find an existing quote to use from someone – create one by approaching them for a quick comment or interview on your topic.

Identify another person who has expertise on the topic you’re covering and then asking them a specific question (or more than one) on that topic so that you can use their answers within your post. Effectively this is what journalists do when they’re working up a story.

While this might sound like a long process – with instant messaging, skype and email it can actually be very quick to get comment from others.

7. Add Reader Comments/Tweets

Another way of adding other ‘voices’ to your blog posts is to actually use the words of those reading your blog by elevating their comments into the post itself.

I’ll share some ways to do this below but first let me say how powerful this is as a technique as it shows your readers that you notice what they say, that you care about them and gives them a moment in the spotlight which can make a lasting impression. It all comes down to making your readers famous.

  • Use Comments from Previous Posts - if you’ve written on the topic you are blogging about before check out the comments section on that post. Hidden away there you might find gems of wisdom that you can pull out an include in future posts.
  • Ask Readers in a Post - this takes a little thinking ahead but if you know you’re going to be writing on a topic a day or two ahead of time – post a question on your blog asking for readers to give feedback on that topic. Then use some of their comments in your next post. For example – I asked readers about how they’d promote a blog here and then used their responses as a post later in the week here.
  • Do a Call for Comments on Social Messaging Sites – I do this regularly on Twitter and Plurk. All it involves is to ask your followers/friends a question as you write your post and then to include some of the best ones within your post. To see this in action – I did this recently in my review of the iPhone as a blogging tool and when I wrote about the benefits of Twitter.
  • LinkedIn Q&ALinkedIn has a great Question and Answer feature that is fantastic for gathering the opinions and ideas of those within your network. I’ve used it on occasions to generate some great discussions which could then be used to add depth to blog posts.
  • Email readers – if you don’t have enough Twitter followers or LinkedIn contacts – why not email a few of your most loyal readers and ask them if they have any thoughts on a topic you’re writing about.

I can’t express to you how much of an impact that using readers comments in blog posts can have. When I do it I get a lot of emails of thanks from those that I use the comments of and also find that it adds a lot of wisdom to my posts.

8. Set Homework

If your post is a ‘teaching’ or ‘how to’ type blog post an effective way of adding depth to your post is to actually set your readers homework or some kind of ‘assignment’.

By finishing a post with a task to go away and do you help your readers to immediately apply what they’ve just learned (most of us learn better by ‘doing’ than just consuming information) and you increase the ‘participation’ levels on your blog (it takes readers out of ‘lurking’ mode).

I discovered the power of homework on my photography site a couple of years back. Our readers there loved the idea so much that we now have a weekly assignment in the forum. Heaven forbid if we miss a week – our readers love it so much that if we do miss one they certainly let us know! Read more on setting readers homework

9. Offer Points of Participation

I’ve touched on this earlier in this series also but it is amazing how much value can be added to a blog post simply by inviting readers to respond and participate in the post. Ask for comments, add a poll, invite readers to blog about the topic on their own blog…. again this is about giving readers an opportunity to bed down what they’re learning and reinforce it in their minds by ‘doing’ something.

Many readers learn best not just by listening to others but by putting their thoughts into their own words.

10. Add Illustrations or Charts

I will talk more about this in the next post in this series of ‘crafting blog posts’ – but it is amazing what a simple image or chart can do to illustrate a point. I’m not just talking about eye catching title images – but those that actually add value to your posts.

This will of course relate more to some types of posts than others but when you do it it is like adding a visual example to your posts. I find this is most effective either when doing a ‘how to’ or tutorial type post (I do it on photoshop tutorials on DPS) or any posts that you quote any kind of statistics in).

11. Look at the Flip Side

A simple technique to add depth to any kind of post that shares an opinion is to explore not only one side of an argument but two. I find it quite amazing how many bloggers write posts that are one dimensional and that argue strongly for one perspective but fail to show that there might be another point of view.

You don’t need to sit on the fence with your posts and can still express your preference strongly for your argument – but at least show that you’re aware of other arguments as it’ll show your readers that you have thought through an issue fully in coming to your point of view. You’ll also find that it doesn’t alienate as many readers who don’t share your opinion and gives a better foundation for constructive dialogue.

12. Look Forward and Create Momentum

One very effective way of adding depth to your post is by telling readers that you’re not done yet and are going to write a followup post in the coming days.

While this doesn’t actually give immediate extra value to a post it creates a sense of momentum and signals to readers that the topic you’re writing about means something to you and is worthy of further exploration.

So before you hit publish on a post consider whether there is any areas within it still not explored that could be the subject of a followup post. A great way to do this is to use mindmapping to plan your next blog posts.

13. Make an Honest Appraisal of Your Post

Before hitting publish on your post ask yourself again – does this post matter?

Is your post useful to readers in some way? Does it inform, entertain, inspire, educate, provide community, motivate or do something else that will enhance the lives of your reader?

Not every post you write will set the world on fire (and that’s ok) but every post should add value to your reader and take you closer to your blogging goals.

If it doesn’t – don’t publish it. Go back to your post and keep adding value.

9 More Thoughts on Adding Depth to Posts from my Twitter Friends

As I was writing this post I decided to put my advice into action by asking my Twitter followers for their experiences on the topic. Here’s just a few of the responses (you’ll see a few new ideas and recurring themese):

  1. @ruraldoctoring – add personal experiences, quotes, open up possibilities for opposing views–>depth. I hope.
  2. @Jonathan_Gunson – How? Try reading your draft posts out loud to someone who cares. Their reaction can produce deep insights you never imagined.
  3. @mark_hayward – give the post some thought while running, write a rough post or outline, do research, and continue to refine over several days.
  4. @ashishmohta – adding some real time example, case studies about 1 hour ago
  5. @DanBlank – To add depth, I add images, and take time between writing sessions, often using ideas that germinated in my head for days.
  6. @johnwroachiii – I have my wife read it and give me her unanwered questions.
  7. @tynansanger – leave it until the morning then look over it again. see if any new news has added to or taken away from the story
  8. @cornerscribe – I let a post “rest” for a while. That helps me see where I need to add detail and depth.
  9. @Arbenting – I usually let a post sit for a day or so before going back to it. Once I re-read it I’ll usually find things that need expanded.

How Have You Added Depth to Your Blog Posts?

There’s lots to digest in this post I know – but I’m certain that among the ProBlogger readership there’s a lot of wisdom and experience that could be added – so what have you tried to add depth and new dimensions to your blog posts?

PS: If you want to see some more 3D Crazy Cross Eye Images – check out 9 more here.

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. Darren !

    Excellent post as usual. I have just started blogging, and I have found your blog extremely useful. I find that adding more depth to a post is a great way of adding value for your readers. The techniques you have provided here really help in getting back to the basics of good writing !

  2. Taylor says:

    Dude, what happened to your site? Oh man. That’s definitely not good.

  3. axel g says:

    The way of the future and the unexpected…

  4. We’re currently doing a major server migration @ b5. This is a temporary glitch (if you’re seeing the Kubrick theme), and will be solved in the next hour or two (fingers crossed) :)

  5. Sayz Lim says:

    Maybe he is updating his blog design, but this post really too much for me. Can’t understand it at once…

  6. Glen Crosier says:

    This is a brilliant post and one I’ll keep coming back to – I’ve noticed how easy it is when you get ideas to fly off into “preaching” mode. The idea is you’ll come over with authority but end up lacking substance (really I should put an example in here right :))

    The tip about creating anticipation is a great one and I’m presently trying to run “key themes” through a series of posts and keep referring back to previous posts as well as looking forward.

    Cheers
    Glen Crosier
    Brighton, UK

  7. Julien says:

    Hi there

    I read your blog quiet regularly and enjoy the content. Here is a question I hope you or some of your readers will be able to answer and help with…
    How do I increase the traffic of my blog when taking into consideration that it’s quiet unique and is hard to just stumble onto it without seeing advertisement…looking at the statistics I get from it, people spend on average 10 min on it…which is not too bad I think…the page views are around 6 per visit. I only get around 100 visits a day…through some advertisement…basically leaving the address in places I comment etc…
    Could anyone advise me on how to get a bit more traffic on this type of blog: http://mylifeiscrap.com
    email: [email protected]

  8. Amy Derby says:

    Great post, Darren. I’m working on implementing some of these ideas at my writing blog, so this was a very timely piece for me. The twitter thing is very creative. I’d never have thought of that one!

  9. Bonnie says:

    This information is great! I’ve bookmarketed this post and will refer to it as I write my blog posts.

    I use mindmapping for larger projects, but never thought of using it for blog posts! I’m also going to incorporate creating forward momentum in my posts.

  10. Mike Nichols says:

    Lots of good suggestions here. I’ve used a lot of them on my own, but will be using many of the things you have listed.

    In particular, using examples and metaphors in my posts. A lot of my posts are reportage and I have been trying to keep my opinions out of them. But I think that some illustrations, examples and metaphors would not only make the point clearer but inject some life into them.

    I always have a small section at the bottom of my posts where I express my own opinions about the post’s contents. I think I’m going to expand it, as well, to include more of your suggestions.

    Thanks again for a very useful post! Even though the theme is Kubrick!

  11. I find that the posts that I write over the course of a couple of days, adding and refining and really crafting, have the most depth. Sometimes the perfect turn of prhase or analogy doesn’t come to me until I’ve let things sit for a day or two!

    Right now my blog is more of the personal, day-in-the-life kind of blog, but I’m working toward turning it into a source of information/inspiration of a more formal type. I like the idea of adding things like further reading, or homework, or participation as a way of making this transition.

    Great article, thanks for the tips!

  12. I’m so dizzy I can barely see the keyboard. And I still can’t see the 3D images right. I must be doing something wrong.

    Anyway, great suggestions. I realize now I’ve encountered them applied many times throughout this blog and I agree they do offer more depth to each post or article.

  13. Doing things like add analogies, pictures, examples, etc… is basically a way to get the reader to see what you see in your head as you are writing the post. I think it’s very easy for bloggers, or any writers for that matter, to skip these essential steps and assume that the reader can read their mind as they write. The really good writers go the extra mile to get their point across. You laid it out nicely.

  14. L-Jay says:

    My blog is about my adventures so I ‘live’ my articles first. I also add in conversations I’ve had about certain topics and I especially love putting in urban legends, myths and folktales. A lot of my ‘depth’ comes from the ‘here say’ so it is important for me to mix with the locals so I can get the really good stuff that no tourist or travel website can (or will) get.

  15. Awesome post. Your opinion is important.

  16. Dot Com Dud says:

    ARGHHHH! I can’t see the fly!

  17. rlharris says:

    I think this article is well put together. Do you have some new advice on attracting visitors. — http://www.revenueherald.com

  18. meghnak says:

    Great post with many useful suggestions. I will try to implement them while writing posts.

    I take good research as one of the methods to add depth to the article.

  19. Krissy says:

    Thanks for taking the time to write this post. It was very helpful!

    How have I added depth to my blog posts? I, like you, like to offer points of participation. I have a photo shoot on my blog, and give weekly assignments. In the summertime it is more like monthly, but they have been going on regularly now for over four years. I also draw my readers to come back to participate in the same thing on certain days of the week. This adds fun and constancy for them. I like to add humor to my blog. But sometimes I am very serious, and will go very in depth on many serious subjects. My readers know that I have opinions, of which I proclaim deeply, and they are not bothered by that. Sometimes I will interview somebody. I also write a lot about medical issues, because my husband had a stem cell transplant (bone marrow transplant) in 2006 and I like to keep people informed (with personal stories – as you stated) with his progress, and also I like to raise awareness for causes such as bone marrow donation, and Red Cross blood donation. I guess my blog is a big hodge podge, LOL, and eventually I will have to divide it up into separate blogs, b/c it has grown into a conglommarate of unrelated pieces, LOL. It started out merely as a “journal” and I didn’t know what I was doing. As I said, I will have to divide it into separate blog subjects eventually, but until then, it is my little blog, with my few little readers, and they like it, LOL…

  20. Dan Mihaliak says:

    Excellent advice. I really like the part about using twitter.

  21. Ryan McLean says:

    I really like the idea of giving homework. This is a cool idea which I think I will use in the future months when my blog gets a little bigger

  22. Shafar says:

    Great Techniques Darren… Thanks

  23. Mario Lat says:

    Gee, thanks for the insights. Those are great points to remember. Sometimes I publish too soon and then edit my posts after a few days. It is truly a good idea to let it be saved but unpublished for a while, allowing yourself for a later review. I am subscribing to your site, thanks a lot for the generosity of sharing the wisdom.

  24. SEO Genius says:

    Excellent post, i tend to add new dimensions to my post by displaying my own personal opinion and asking others what they think.

  25. I tend to take the opposite approach, subtracting dimension from my content until I get to what matters.

    This post sums up my approach to writing Twitter posts:

    “The motive for our questions is surely the search for truth. On a personal level, one cannot know some elses’ truth, only one’s own. When I ask a question of myself, I see how the answer affects me. If I feel at all smug, right or wrong, justified, self-righteous or angry, I think again. If I feel relieved and humbled, then I stick. A bit of humble pie is good for the soul.”
    ~ Maguru, Pavlina forum: http://www.stevepavlina.com/forums/spirituality-consciousness-awareness/7283-rabbit-hole-will-never-end.html#post73665

    I’d apply it to other writing, too, but it takes a long time to get to the heart of what you’re trying to say.

    A case of:

    “If I had more time, I would have written a shorter letter.”
    ~ T.S Eliot

    ;)

    The question I ask myself when writing Twitter posts is, “how can I go deeper?” I can just sense when I’ve written something shallow; something that doesn’t resonate. Sometimes I end up deleting that particular “tweet”; sometimes I end up writing something that reflects what I wanted to say in the first place, free of the

    So I guess my contribution to this article is that Twitter is a great way to add dimension to your next posts and writing in general since it invites you to write more deeply, without using excessive amounts of your time. Fun to use, too!

    – Bruce

  26. Olivia Mayer says:

    Very informative post with lots of goods ideas gathered in one place. As for adding depth, I try and use comparisons where appropriate to put information into perspective for my readers.

  27. MaxBro says:

    Excellent post, Darren.

    I’ve recently completely altered how I write posts for my blog. I write articles weeks in advance as opposed to a day or so before they are published. I have fully written things in my Docs folder that won’t see the light of day for weeks.

    I think this approach allows you to concentrate your efforts onto one really good post at a time. It’s what I call the sniper approach: aim, air again, adjust your sights, and then fire and hit your target dead on.

    If you put a lot of time into writing an article, it only makes sense to plan out how that article is going to be successful across the web. Wouldn’t it suck to spend four hours researching and writing something only to see 0 comments and no bump in traffic two days after you hit publish?

    I think if bloggers spent more time planning out and fine-tuning their content, as opposed to throwing any old random stuff that comes to mind out there, they might encounter greater chances of success. At the least, this method results in better material, which will do wonders for your rep.

  28. thanks for this post

  29. Angel Cuala says:

    Another quality article, Darren. This is you, and this is why you call yourself Problogger.

    Anyway, of all the tips you mentioned it is the adding of a quote at the end of each post. And no, I do not copy from elsewhere as I am making them specifically for the post and this is one of the reasons i am taking too long t finish one. it is very rewarding for me when my commentators love them.

    Another thing that i am just starting to learn to do is the use of analogy, but I already have finished some like this one – What Bloggers can learn from Cinderella and another one on my main blog – How to Blog like a Boxing Champ. Hope you allow me to post them here.

    I honestly think that readers find it intriguing on a blogger who can think of such analogies. For me, one does not to be a genius as creativity is better than intellectual being. It is the imagination that counts and the willingness to serve your readers rather yourself.

  30. Redfeeds says:

    Great tips! It really discusses about what how to be more professional blogger and I do really agree with number 10. Add Illustrations or Charts because my blog really looks plain without any graphic and it does not attract people to read more.

  31. Seriously what is that image meant to do :@

  32. Paul says:

    I also had problems seeing the fly.
    After trying for about 4-5 mins, my eyes were hurting and I wasn’t able to concentrate on the post itself. Risky thing to put that pic at the beginning. :)

  33. Ebony Jones says:

    Great tips! Especially the quoting, using examples and giving pointers for further reading.

    Too many times bloggers post things as factual without any backing at all. Doing the things suggested will add more credibility to your content and hopefully more repeat readers.

  34. Sunil says:

    I visit your site quite often Darren. I also use the techniques explained in your blog and that has helped me get some traffic. Thanks Darren, you’re posts have great content.

  35. Great post! Im a huge fan of interviews. I think it can be easy to just link to other sites or talk about other things and not go into more detail. I think it’s important to make things very clear to the audience whether they’re an expert or novice about the topic at hand.

  36. Jacob Cass says:

    A post I will be coming back to but not for the fly… could not see that at all.

  37. WeightLoss says:

    Thanks for this. I’ve been trying to use these rules on my blog.

    I think I’m doing pretty well.

    Thanks again.

    -James

  38. Hi Darren,

    I have found quotes to be incredibly valuable for posts on my blog about leadership; I use a quote in almost every post. I have found it builds reader loyalty for they return to not only read what you write next, but the value added of the next “signature” quote.

    Thanks,
    Jon
    Blog about Leadership

  39. Jess says:

    Thanks for the post

    That fly is grotesque – I eat my breakfast when I read your blog – Yuk!

  40. I have found adding video posts to be quite effective in engaging the reader.

  41. Robert says:

    Thats a very interesting idea you have there Darren.
    It really sounds good and think its really worth giving it a try.

    It really has taken my attention all the way.

    Nice 1

  42. Baz Anderson says:

    I appreciate the post. It’s easy to get locked into one way of writing on a blog. I’ve found it a growth experience, though because I’m challenging myself to write more and better posts, and to questions some of the basics thoughts I have when I come up with a post concept before I’ve even written anything. This have definitly helped shake up that initial concept process.

  43. Please check out my blog and let me know if it is even interesting. Thanks.

  44. you’re a superman darren, well, written no doubt that you’ve reach these far, I try to actualized what’s written in this post…

  45. Richard says:

    thanks for some interesting tips and advice Darren, i`ve just launched a blog at adelto.co.uk/blog (have a look and let me know what you think) its only just gone live so i am trying to get as much information to help me get some readers and traffic. i`ll keep visiting problogger to make sure i`m making my posts as interesting as possible.

    thanks

  46. I could always use more depth in y writing. It’s often very tempting to just slap the idea on the screen without putting forth the extra effort it takes to transform a post or article into something inspirational or exceptional.

    Thanks for the reminder!

  47. Wakas Mir says:

    Nice one Darren.. as always great tips for the bloggers .. I would agree with them all, my favorite one is giving an example.. it shows the reader that you know what you are talking about..

  48. Will says:

    I’d love to be able to implement point 6.0 and interview someone. But like with journalists, I think you need to be established and have a good reputation before this can work well. I am a new blogger so I have a long way to go just yet :)

  49. ITrush says:

    Hmm, looks like my screen doesn’t show up that 3D effect ;p. Kidding aside, thanks for giving this wonderful tips to us, it’ll surely help both newb and pros in adding new dimension to our posts.

  50. This is a great article and I will implement its insights into our Successful Web Women program.

    Specially women think in pictures and images. Therefore, it is great to encourage them to blog as well in pictures.

    Thank you so much
    Yani