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7 Tips on How to Write Sticky, Memorable Blog Posts

Today copywriter Glenn Murray from http://www.DivineWrite.com shares 7 tips on writing sticky blog posts.

People don’t want to read your post. Chances are, they’ve dedicated the first hour of their morning to staying in touch, and even that’s more than they really have time for. They checked out 4 or 5 posts before they stumbled across yours, and they know they face at least as many after. Not to mention emails, tweets and voicemails.

So they’re really just looking for an excuse to move on. Don’t give them that excuse.

It’s not enough that your posts are relevant and informative. In fact, even if your content is unique – or even groundbreaking – your posts still have to be sticky and memorable. Fortunately, it’s quite an easy thing to do. Let me explain…

It all comes down to 7 Signals in your Copywriting

There are 7 simple signals that you can include in your copywriting, that will get your visitors reading, keep them reading, and help them retain your message.

1. Signal that your post is relevant to your visitor

Make sure your headline is relevant. Don’t make it obscure in an attempt to be clever (or keyword-rich). An obscure headline is just one more obstacle to a busy reader. KISS is the best approach (Keep It Simple, Stupid!). Also, make sure you include an explicit statement, fairly early in the post, describing your subject matter and main point. (It’s not always possible to be this explicit in your headline.)

Examples from this post: My headline isn’t fancy. “7 Tips on How to Write Sticky, Memorable Blog Posts.” It’s straight to the point, but still engages because it promises something the reader wants. And my explicit early statement? “There are 7 simple signals that you can include in your copywriting… retain your message.” Once again, not fancy, but promising.

2. Signal that it’ll be easy to read

We all know that most people scan. Nothing new there. But it’s easy to overlook in the rush to post. Don’t. Always make sure you make it very clear to your visitors that your post is going to be easy to read. Make your first sentence succinct and friendly. Perhaps even raise an eyebrow or two. And consider using bulleted lists, numbered lists and sub-headers in your post body. Also, if your post is structured around a numbered list (as this one is), say so in the headline.

Examples from this post: My first sentence is only 7 words long, with just 1 multisyllabic word (and that word is just 2 syllables). It contains a contraction and addresses the reader directly (“your”), suggesting that the entire post will be fairly conversational and direct. The first sentence is also a little confronting, which may cause readers to ask, “Why don’t people want to read my post?” My entire post is delivered in bite-size chunks (tips), and this is promised in the headline. What’s more, I’ve used the magic number, 7, which is supposed to strike a chord with more readers (thanks to @schebesta for that tip!).

3. Signal that it’s got personality

People don’t want to read the same old conservative ho-hum they read everywhere else. They want to read something engaging. More to the point, they want to engage with the blogger who wrote it. That’s what blogging’s all about, after all. So make sure your post reflects your personality. Write how you talk. Allude to your own quirks. Show you don’t take yourself too seriously (maybe be self-deprecating, but not obsequious). In fact, unless you’re a writer, even your spelling and grammatical errors can reflect your personality. (But be careful here, as this can also undermine your professionalism.)

Examples from this post: I’ve used a conversational style (contractions, “you”, short sentences). I’ve even used an informal acronym (“KISS”), a colloquialism (“fancy”) and a bit of slang (“ho-hum”). I’ve thanked someone in an informal way (@schebesta). I’ve used metaphors to color the copy (“raise an eyebrow”). I’ve even broken some rules of grammar (I’m pretty sure “Don’t” isn’t a full sentence, nor is “Nothing new there” – grammarians’ opinions???). There are bound to be plenty of other examples too.

4. Signal that there’s more to come

People know that each paragraph links logically to the next. But by making that link explicit, you’ll increase the likelihood that they’ll read on. (This is a trick I learned from Joseph Sugarman.) So, every couple of paragraphs, finish off with an explicit lead-in to the next paragraph. Lead-ins like, “I’ll tell you how…”, “He wasn’t the first…”, “This is just the first of many…”, and “You’re about to find out how…”. But don’t over-use them. Otherwise you’ll sound like an infomercial offering steak knives! (“But wait, there’s more…!!!”)

Examples from this post: “Let me explain…” That’s about the only one I’ve used, because most of the post is in the numbered list, and lead-ins would get in the way down here.

5. Signal where the meat of the post is

Scanners know that most of your intro can be skipped. So long as you’ve used Signal 1, above, many will scan the page looking for the meat of your post. Make it easy for them to find. You might use a numbered list or a bulleted list, for example. Or some sub-heads. Often, longer paragraphs suggest meat too.

Examples from this post: The numbered list is the most obvious cue. But I’ve backed it up with a sub-head (“It all comes down to 7 signals in your copywriting”).

6. Signal your professionalism

Even if you adopt a conversational style, some colloquialism, slang, humor, or whatever, you should always make sure your reader knows you’re a professional writing to your audience (not just a bumpkin bangin’ some words onto the page). Intersperse your post with some language that your reader will perceive as professional. Whether it’s a certain way of phrasing things, some meaningful jargon, or just a big word or two.

Examples from this post: There are heaps, but here are a few. I started out pretty casual: “People don’t want to read your post. Chances are…” But paragraph 3 is slightly more serious: “…not enough that your posts are relevant and informative.” Then each numbered item is a mix of casual and professional. E.g. Casual: “Once again, not fancy, but promising.” Professional: “An obscure headline is just one more obstacle to a busy reader.”

7. Signal when the reader can stop reading

This isn’t as obvious as it sounds. We’ve already established that readers are in a hurry, and that they don’t want to read your whole post. The important thing to realize is that this applies not just to the START of your post, but also to the END. If your reader can glean everything they want without reading right to the end, they will. This point is really the corollary of Signal 5, above. Just as you signal where the meat starts, signal where it ends. For a simple numbered list post, without a trailing discussion, the stop-reading signal is the end of the list. For other posts, a ‘Conclusion’ sub-head is a good idea.

Examples from this post: I didn’t feel any further discussion was needed for this post. The numbered list is enough. And without much following the numbered list, it’s clear that when it ends, the meat ends.

Don’t assume your subject matter will hook readers. Always craft your copy so that it gives readers the cues they look for. They’ll not only be more likely to read on, but also more likely to come back.

PS. There are, no doubt, other copywriting signals that readers heed when deciding whether to persist with a post. If you can think of any, please share…

Author Bio: Glenn Murray is a specialist SEO copywriter. He heads copywriting studio, Divine Write, and can be contacted on Sydney +612 4334 6222 or at [email protected] Visit http://www.DivineWrite.com for further details.

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. Brent Riggs says:

    My personal favorite technique is the use of clear SUBHEADS, callouts and bullet points… this allows the reader to know exactly what’s coming, and what is important to them. It’s VERY important as a good writer not to take for granted, the readers time.

    I’ve been writing professionally for a couple of decades, and it took me a long time to realize that readers are more loyal when you don’t abuse their time and attention.

    That’s how you KEEP thousands of loyal readers year after year.

    Brent Riggs
    http://www.brentriggs.com

  2. Martin@TF says:

    Interesting reading. I think that sums up a few interesting articles I read lately.

  3. Miranda says:

    Some great tips here. I think it is important to let the reader know what is coming. I also like the idea of signaling that the post will be easy to read. It needs to be something the reader knows s/he will be able to get through.

  4. Great tips to follow. Being professional and showing them there’s more to come I think are the most important. You need to give them a great article, that makes them want to come back. And then make sure you don’t disappoint.

  5. Thanks for sharing these tips. These will surely help us, especially the newbie bloggers in producing blog posts with good quality content.

  6. A Maui Blog says:

    This is on top of my TO DO LIST for A MAUI BLOG. That blog definitely needs a sticky memorable post because right right it does not have that. It a great “talk story” blog (if I may say so) but it needs some sticky posts to get readers remember it and come back. Thanks for the post.

  7. Glenn, great post. Thanks for sharing your copywriting secrets. I like the ‘Examples from this post’ bits. I’m going to use that in one of my upcoming posts.

  8. Fletch says:

    I gave up reading after the first couple of lines!!!

  9. Digmo says:

    I was about to set an article live and have not re-tweeked the introduction and content structure. Thanks for this.

  10. George Gonzalez says:

    Thank You Glenn! Reading this post was very informative, plus now I know I need to learn a lot more about copywriting.

  11. Very interesting and useful post! Great job, Glenn.

  12. lindy abbott says:

    “Don’t. ” is a sentence. It is imperative, giving a command and the subject is you, which is understood.

    Homeschool mom’s learn something when they teach.(;

  13. Outstanding example of a sticky and memorable post!!! Great point on not going “overboard” on keywords in the title as well!!! (Something I’m guilty of frequently!)

  14. I think this is a great post. One thing that I find the most helpful is number five. Sometimes when I write, I just let the flow of the words and information come out so much that I loose the purpose. It’s only after editing when I realize what I’ve done. There’s defiantly a lot of great tips here I’m going to try to be more aware of.

  15. Frank Dobner says:

    I wrote a blog yesterday and spent several re-reads taking out superfluous words and baroque-ish sentence structures. In light of your suggestions, I am sort of proud of it – http://thestartupsource.com/uncategorized/finding-your-voice-in-the-market/

    I would like to add that I think article length is very important. I actually think that when they see that they have scrolled down once and they are in peril of doing so again, they may jump ship sooner the end of the article.

    Twitter: http://twitter.com/frank_dobner

  16. Donovan says:

    This is a great post. The seven points hit home for me as I like to try to be as sticky as possible in my post. I’ve printed this out and will refer to it until it sticks to my brain like glue.

    Let me explain…

    Gotcha…it really works!

    Donovan “DFitnessguy” Owens

  17. Parka says:

    The tips in the book called Made to Stick is more fundamental than this.

    1. Simple
    2. Unexpected
    3. Concrete
    4. Credible
    5. Emotional
    6. Story.

    The post should at least come with some of these points.

  18. Anne Wayman says:

    Okay, good tips, but how, when I write a sticky blog post, do I help people find it 6 months or a year from now?

    Anne Wayman, now blogging at http://www.aboutfreelancewriting.com

  19. This is freakin’ good… Period! {Fist Bump}

  20. BLOGBOOZE says:

    I 70% agree with you regarding “People don’t read blog posts, they scan”. Why 70%? Because I do both. When it comes to reading If it’s too long, what I do it I scan it, rather than reading.

    What I did in this post is both… I read the first few topics and scanned the others.

  21. Nate says:

    I really enjoyed this post, especially the “examples in this post” portion which made it really easy for me to SEE what you were talking about without even having to leave the article. Thanks

  22. Great discussion. And I REALLY like that you practice what you preach. That’s when you can tell a post has come together.

    And I’m also fascinated by how fresh you made the routine [admit it: what you just shared has been regurgitated millions of time. ;-)].

    Ben Johnson said people don’t need taught as much as they need reminding.

    Good work.

  23. TechMata says:

    Thanks Glenn! ^_^

    But still the key to sticky blog post is usefulness. My blog is just a month old but people keep on visiting my blog because of my single post that gives them information on how to fix their laptop.

    This specific page had 284 Pageviews in just 14 days. And for me it is not bad considering that my blog is still new and I have really helped people. ^_^

    Just my 0.02 € ^_^

  24. Adam Bshero says:

    That’s a great post. I knew most of these things on my own, but I never actually sat down and thought about why I write the way I do.

    Wonderful post.

  25. “Don’t” is a sentence, but I’m not a grammarian. :>)

    I’m another reader in favor of the examples you provided. Thank you for the tip. I used some examples in my post on unusual ways to read the Bible. But otherwise, that’s been largely neglected in my writing. I’ll have to bring it back.

    - Marshall Jones, Jr.

  26. Vincent Chow says:

    Additional point: http://www.copyblogger.com/fancy-nancy/

    I believe when you need a dictionary to read the first paragraph of a blog post, you really wouldn’t want to continue, especially when you’re in a rush.

  27. Hi, thanks so much for these tips! My blogs usually do bring readers and responses. One thing I do is engage with the readers. Answer questions in responses and make clarifications where needed. I think they appreciate that I take the time to talk to them.

    Now, how can I make money from them?

  28. Kayla says:

    I just wrote a post on my blog about ‘sticky blogs’…althought its not published yet. How dare you beat me to it! :P

    You did mention some points that I didn’t in mine, and I love your out-of-the-box techniques.

  29. Sticker Boy says:

    It’s a pity some readers do nothing more than ‘scan’! Even if a post is well written and interesting it is tempting to scan to the end and not really take it in.

    I’ve learnt to slow down and read posts properly, the reader owes it to a good blogger!

  30. Very Evolved says:

    I would add:

    8. Connect to your audience. If the reader isn’t invested and emotionally engaged by your writing, then they won’t stick around either.

    Patrick

  31. Brian says:

    I’m going to coat-tail on what “Very Evolved” said… The way you connect to your audience is… Know who you are writing to. You need to pick a Target Audience and stick to them. You wouldn’t write to an audience of 14yr olds the same way you would write to an audience of 60yr olds.

  32. Brad says:

    Great tips Darren!

    Creating sticky blog posts is always a challenge for me. I tend to write longer posts, so I try to include bold headlines to break things up a little and shorter paragraphs for easier scanning.

    As for writing headlines, it’s very much a challenge to write a good headline that draws readers in without being gimmicky.

    Even after blogging for more than 2 years, I still have a lot to learn.

    Thanks for the great advice and keep up the good work!

  33. Darren,

    As always, super insightful and really is going to help me continue to write content with meaning that people will hopefully love.

    -James

  34. Tim Bowden says:

    That’s a really interesting post. I am forever trying to find ways to make my posts sticky. I find that my number of ‘New Visitors’ according to analytics is far too high for my liking. I do think that the first sentence or so is vital for making people stay at your blog as are the post headings.

    On my tutorial blog I try to make my headings as obvious as possible to describe the post, perhaps I should change tactics.

  35. Ryan McLean says:

    This is a great idea. I am working hard to build up my subscribers and this will help me a lot.

  36. David Spinks says:

    Thank you for a very clear and helpful post. I am definitely a violator of many of these rules. I often find myself conflicted when writing a blog post because I see myself writing more than people want to read, but I feel that I have to do the subject matter justice by thoroughly covering it. I feel that by following some of these rules I end up cutting out important aspects to the discussion. I guess you have to find a balance.

    Dave

  37. Glenn Murray says:

    Thanks for your great comments, everyone. Nice to know you found my tips useful!

    Some responses…

    @Parka: I agree 100% with your comment that a post should be Simple, Unexpected, Concrete, Credible, Emotional, and a Story. I suppose my post was more about the nitty-gritty writing techniques. Not so much *what* you say, but *how* you say it.

    That sounds like a good book though!

    @Anne Wayman: Yeah, helping people find your post in 6 months is a challenge. That’s where SEO comes in. I’ve written quite a bit about this in my SEO ebook – http://www.divinewrite.com/seobook .

    @BLOGBOOZE: Agree. In fact, that’s how I suspect most people do it. They read short posts and scan long posts. My post definitely relates more to long posts than short.

    @Nate: Yeah, concrete examples are a great way to illustrate ideas. I should have mentioned that under ‘Signal that it’ll be easy to read’

    @Demian Farnworth: Thanks. Although I haven’t previously read anything about *some* of my points, I’m certainly not arrogant enough to think I’m the first one to think of them! Some, on the other hand (like ‘Signal that there’s more to come’) I borrowed directly from Sugarman. I s’pose for me, the important thing is to present things in a slightly different light, to make them engage.

    @TechMata: Agree that usefulness is the key in terms of *what* you say. All my tips won’t help if your subject matter is rubbish. They will, on the other hand, help a lot if your subject matter is good.

    @Vincent Chow: Excellent point! When your readers have to resort to a dictionary, you’ve lost ‘em!

    @Elizabeth Bennett: Eventually, your commitment to engaging with your audience will pay off. Just keep at it and you’ll build a very loyal following. And if you get into some serious SEO, you’ll build more traffic. What you do to monetize that traffic is another question, but it’s a question that most webmasters would love to be asking themselves!

    @Kayla: I read your mind! ;-)

    @Sticker Boy: I agree that it’s a pity people don’t read instead of scanning. Nonetheless, I know I do it. We’re all time-poor :-( However, I think that over time, people become a little more inclined to invest more time in your posts. Especially if you take @Elizabeth Bennett’s approach and invest in your audience (thus leading to @Very Evolved’s point below).

    @Very Evolved: Yeah, definitely, engaging emotionally with your audience is important. One of the keys to this is writing a story, but again, that’s getting into the grey area between *what* you’re saying and *how* you’re saying it. Also, writing with personality can help engage your reader emotionally. And, of course, @Brian’s point is very valid.

    @Brad: We all have a lot to learn!

    @David Spinks: I’d be interested to hear which rules you feel compel you to keep your posts short. This post was, itself, quite long, and it observed most/all of the tips. Having said that, I certainly wouldn’t see these tips as *rules*. And I’d question any rule that compelled you to say less than you thought was necessary for your reader. Audience first, is the only real rule.

  38. Paul says:

    Brilliant. I should print that out and tape it to the wall next to my computer screen for every time I’m trying to write an article.

  39. Once again, a great post with informative content. Thanks for the information. I think I will take Paul’s advise as well.

  40. Rob Lambert says:

    I love how you illustrate each tip by pointing out examples contained within THIS post. Nice work.

  41. A well written, meticulously detailed post. The title is definitely one of the most important aspects of a “sticky” post – too many bloggers either spend little time on this, or else spend too much time trying to figure out how to stuff keywords in the title.

    Keywords are great for search engine spiders, but are often lousy for keeping readers on the page.

    Thanks for posting, Glenn!

  42. axel g says:

    Glenn!

    That was an enjoyable and informative read.

    Among other things, I like how you write in a personal voice – not unlike Darren +_+

  43. Well blow me down!
    You have shared some great tips here,..

    I try to strike a balance from the begining to the end of my posts. It’s hard sometimes to find that balance because you can get sucked into thinking optimization and not quality.

    Thanks for the read

  44. Good points – I covered this from a slightly different angle in my tips about how to keep readers on your blog.

    http://www.heatheronhertravels.com/some-tips-to-keep-readers-on-your-blog/

  45. J.D. Meier says:

    Really good job.

    I love the fact you gave both generalized prescriptive guidance, along with specific examples to illustrate. It doesn’t get better than that.

    Well done Jedi knight.

  46. Thanks for the tips. Isn’t it interesting that traditional journalism is much different than blog writing? Wonder how universities will incorporate internet writing into their curriculum?

  47. Brilliant! Thank you. And your post was a perfect example of the subject matter. You hooked me in and I read all the way to the end. Which is quite a feat, I should tell you. I never read an entire post word for word. :-)

  48. Joy-Mari says:

    I almost always skip intros; I want the meat. And I love using one-letter ‘sentences’ such as ‘Don’t.’.

  49. Natalie says:

    Thanks for such useful tips on writing posts. I want to add an other tip:
    At the end of the post, just after you finish “the meat” of your article, involve your readers in conversation and ask them to put a comment, mention their idea, add a tip, or give you a feedback of their experience in applying your suggestions in the post to their life or career, so you encourage your readers to get involve in conversations and to write comments for your posts. I usually end my posts with a sentence asking readers to put a comment. like this post: http://www.allsleepinfo.com/2008/12/how-to-become-morning-person.html

  50. oh amanda says:

    Perfect! I love reading a post that’s about…well, itself. Really, it was challenging and I *did* read every word!