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Nine Ways to Spice Up Any Blog Post—Fast

This guest post is by Ali Luke of Aliventures.

Did your latest post get all the readers, comments and tweets that it deserved?

Probably not. You wrote a great piece, but somehow, it seemed bland. Your ideas were good, but the post lacks a little something. What you need is more spice.

Here are nine ways to add some heat to your post, and grab readers’ attention.

#1: Add a snappy title and subtitles

You know that posts need great headlines. Often, the headline is all that a potential reader can see before clicking through to read the whole post—on Twitter, for instance, or in a CommentLuv link.

When you’ve got a post ready to go, though, it’s easy to just hit the Publish button, leaving it with whatever title first came to mind. Don’t do that. Give yourself time to pause and rethink. Is every word in the headline pulling its weight?

Further reading: How to Craft Post Titles that Draw Readers Into Your Blog

#2: Introduce powerful images

You might think images don’t really matter. After all, you’ve written great content—surely no-one cares whether or not there’s a pretty picture with it?

The thing is, images are eye-catching. They can make your posts look more polished and professional. And a great image can even set up the mood or tone of a post.

You’ll want to include at least one image per post—probably at the top. But if you’ve got a longer piece, it’s often worth adding several images to help break up the text. You can see how I did this in a huge post, Freelance Writing: Ten Steps, Tons of Resources, with ten images, one for each step.

Further reading: Blogosphere Trends + Choosing and Using Images

#3: Tap into readers’ concerns

Your readers don’t just want interesting information. They want posts which solve a problem. That could be something simple and basic (“How do I hold my camera?”) or something huge, like “How do I get out of debt?”

If you know your readers well, you’ll know what their common worries and struggles are. You can use these in your post, by empathizing with how they feel and by showing them the way forwards.

Further reading: How to Create Reader Profiles/Personas to Inspire and Inform Your Blogging

#4: Add a personal anecdote

This isn’t a technique which you’ll want to use in every single post, but it’s very powerful when used sparingly.

Readers love stories, and they love to feel a sense of connection with another person. By telling a brief story from your own life, you hook the reader on an emotional level, not just an intellectual one.

My favourite example wasn’t originally a blog post at all. It was live, from Darren speaking on stage at BlogWorld Expo. He retells the story in the video post What My 4-Year-Old Son Taught Me About Successful Blogging.

Further reading: The Power of Being Personal on Your Blog (which also includes an anecdote!)

#5: Offer “take home” or “action” points

Sometimes, you’ll have a great post packed with useful content—but without anything for the reader to really grab hold of.

To help your reader engage, offer “take home” points, summing up the post, or “action” points: something that gets the reader thinking or some next step they can take. I’ve noticed that when I do this with posts, I get more comments and retweets than otherwise.

This is particularly crucial if you’ve written a post which is heavy on theory. There’s a great example here in Charlie Gilkey’s The Four Key Dimensions of Business, where he ends with four straightforward questions to help people start using what they’ve just read.

Further reading: How to Create Compelling Content by Inspiring Action

#6: Get readers to react

Sometimes, bloggers aim to use the power of reaction in quite a cynical way. They post rants—angry pieces which are just intended to start an argument or to get attention.

But when you encourage thoughtful reactions, you help readers to share their ideas—and to share your content. You turn them from passive consumers of your content into active engagers with it.

Getting readers to react might be as simple as asking “What do you think?” In most cases, though, you’ll want to pose a question or ask their opinion on something specific.

Further reading: 7 Questions to Ask On Your Blog to Get More Reader Engagement

#7: Include quotes from other bloggers

When you’re reading blogs, you might come across a great quote—a sentence or a paragraph which really resonates. Why not share it with your readers?

Including quotes from other bloggers can help you to back up your own opinions and facts: it proves that other experts in your field are saying the same thing as you.

Plus, quotes help break up a long blog post. They allow you to introduce a different voice into your piece, and can provide a starting point for discussion.

Further reading: Blogosphere Trends + Effectively Using Quotes

#8: Use an analogy

Maybe you’ve written a great post that explains exactly how something works, in painstaking detail. The problem is, your readers aren’t engaging with it—they’re not even reading it.

Can you come up with an analogy that helps the reader to understand?

A good analogy gives your reader a picture in their head, based on something familiar. It can give them that “Aha, I get it!” moment. It can help them look at something in a fresh way, like Starting a Successful Blog is Like Planning an Invasion. You can keep the analogy going as a running metaphor using language that relates to it (like “allies” and “skirmishes” in that post).

Further reading: Blogging is like…

#9: Make your language punchier

You’re a blogger—which means you’re a writer. You need to make every sentence and word work for you.

By “punchier”, I don’t mean you should be aggressive. I mean that your words need to be strong and engaging.

Cut out unnecessary words and phrases, like “it may be the case that” or “In my opinion” or “it’s quite probably true that”. You don’t need these wishy-washy qualifiers, and your sentences will reader more strongly without them.

Use everyday language. Short, simple words can convey your points far more effectively than grandiose, convoluted ones.

Further reading: Blogging is About Writing

I’ve given you nine ways to spice up your posts. Now it’s your turn! What’s your number 10?

Ali Luke is a writer, blogger and writing coach. She’s just launched The Blogger’s Guide to Freelancing, a fully updated and expanded version of her popular Staff Blogging Course. Grab your copy today for $29, and start using your blogging skills to make serious money.

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Comments

  1. #10 Give An Old Concept A Unique Twist – for example take your average approach to do any given activity and then imagine how your favorite celebrity, sports personality or chipmunk would do it.

  2. Akos says:

    I think blog posts can only survive in the online world, if they brighten the visitor’s day. I meen they solve a problem. Another important thing is to encourage the reader to retweet or digg it. This not only does the job of promoting, it also makes your post seem more longer :)

    P.S. Great post!

  3. Really loved this post because it went beyond what i was expecting. I looked at the first few points and thought “I do these in my posts already” but then I kept reading and realised I don’t do all of these and they are great points. The one I have to agree with most is the point about getting readers to react. If people react they will interact and that makes them actively involved in your blog rather than passively involved.

    • Strayblogger says:

      I was listening to a marketing podcast and it said that in split tests they were running, making a link say exactly what you wanted the reader to do outperformed regular buttons by a huge margin. Such as a link that read, “you should click here to retweet this post”. Makes sense.

    • Ali Luke says:

      Cheers John! Sounds like you’re already doing loads of great stuff – but it’s good to have a reminder once in a while. :-)

  4. This is an absolute goldmine, thank you! When I’m not blogging I’m writing technical design documentation for a range of audiences, so my style tends to be factual and dry. Using some of these techniques will definitely help, as I have a motivation and a passion for my topics that I should really work on showing through. Fingers crossed it’ll go down well with my readers!

  5. I trying to spice up my blog, I just wrote a post “The Thrill Of Chase Of A Prospective Client: Part 1 http://bit.ly/eELSS0 which is all about my real time pursuit of a prospective client.

    I’m blogging about it as it happens. Week by week. Day by day.

    I’m trying to use the live factor as a unique selling point. I honestly don’t know if I will land this client or not, or if this style of posting will work, but who knows!

    I’m all for experimentation.

    • Ali Luke says:

      Looks like a really interesting series! My one caveat would be to be careful because I’m not sure how your potential client might react if he saw it (or how other potential clients might feel) — being the target of a “chase” might be thrilling or might be a bit creepy…

  6. lifenbits says:

    Very nice post…I’ll be implementing these tips. Thanks.

  7. Bridget says:

    This is a great list, I usually have the most trouble with the titles. Adding images is such an important way to catch your viewer’s eye.

  8. Rosemary says:

    Hi Ali, Your Number #1 point needs to be scorched into my brain, as I tend to be a bit trigger happy with the publish button at the end of hours and hours of writing. It’s crazy because I know how important the title is yet I almost always go with the one that I ‘felt in my bones’ instead of crafting it and treating it as the hugely important part of a post that it is. I also like your point about giving readers something to ‘take home’ and work on, or maybe including a call to action. With regard to your point #2 about including good pictures I couldn’t agree more…I spend hours finding the right pics to ‘paint’ my post as well as to say it with words. To the point that in my last post one of my favourite commenters left a comment just saying how he was blown away by the pictures,,,to which I had to (teasingly!) reply that I loved them too, but would he please have a look at the words as well! Thanks for a really spicey (and informative) post, Ali!

  9. papa echa says:

    yeah nice list, i really agree with point no.2, put any great image into our post make it seems more attractive…

  10. Henk says:

    Wite about something you’re really passionate about – and is relevant. I often find blogs that are just someone’s personal opinion about life in general… Not sure that will build a big following!

  11. Mathew Day says:

    I have to admit my content can use some improving and I probably fail at doing half the 9 things you listed above. A few of them were pretty new to me and could definitely help take my blog’s content to the next level if done properly.

  12. When Ali Luke writes, I read it. Seriously, her advice is always spot on… and if her ideas for writing punchy blog posts aren’t enough, just take a look at her writing – she definitely applies what she teaches.

    Thanks for this Ali, it’s awesome! :)

  13. Quotes are cool. I like to use plenty of quotes within content. In WordPress, there’s a great quote formatting function, with quote marks. Blocks of text are boring so using a variety of layout features are important.

    • Ali Luke says:

      Yeah, the blockquote feature is really useful – it definitely helps break up those long chunks of grey text.

  14. I really like this!

    Sometimes I feel like my posts can be a bit bland because
    its usually informational and educational, but I always use a
    high quality and relevant image to go with it.

    I have always tried to cut out unnecessary words too, but now
    I have a guide that is really awesome to go by! Thanks!

    Gabriel Johansson

    • Ali Luke says:

      Glad to help! :-) It sounds like you’re writing really solid useful posts, but spicing things up a bit can make all the difference…

  15. Great tips. I’ve found that people love my pictures almost more than my content!

  16. Be real. Be authentic. Add your personal twist. A blog post is not a magazine article, don’t let it read like one!
    Great list of tips and additional resources Ali!
    Bernice
    In pursuit of happiness, or joy?

  17. Andrew says:

    Thanks for the post. As a blogger starting out I can say I don’t do a lot of the points you’ve mentioned, but I’ll be reviewing my posts and updating them accordingly.

    • Ali Luke says:

      Good luck! And don’t feel you need to get ALL the points into every post – just using one or two of them can really make a big difference.

  18. Brad says:

    Really solid advice here. You can write posts that address SEO concerns but at the end of the day it’s all about content. As Living the Balanced Life says: “Be real. Be authentic. Add your personal twist.” Could not agree more.

    Brad

    • Ali Luke says:

      Absolutely. And what people sometimes forget when it comes to SEO is that search engines really want to prioritise content which READERS will enjoy…

  19. A snappy title and some personal touch makes a blog post really catchy. The title will give the readers the first impression and the urge of reading the post. So it is important to deliver the message right from the title.

  20. Togrul says:

    I like these tips,

    Thanks for sharing. I think I might start using them to spice up my blog posts.

    Cheers,
    Togrul

  21. James Murphy says:

    I’m pretty new to blogging and am still learning my way around. Many thanks for the advice. Hopefullly that will help me in the future.

  22. The Dame says:

    I try to think how someone would search for the information my post is about and write my titles accordingly, so that theyre close to the search term, phrase or sentence.

    Images are extremely important. For someone like me who doesnt have time to read long reams of text, if the images dont attract me, I probably wont read the text.

    Ive had good feedback from people thanking me for being so honest about what Ive been through in terms of what Ive written about, such as my recent post on how to prevent depression, something I suffer from.

    I also noticed on a lot of successful blogs that the posts are ended with questions encouraging people to reply in the comments, something Ive implemented with great results!

    Thanks for this great post!

    • Ali Luke says:

      That’s a great SEO tip for titles. I sometimes use the Google keyword tool to figure out what search phrase people are most likely to use. (I have to admit that I get a bit lazy on this one, though..)

      And good point about honesty — I think those posts which really come from the heart are the ones which have the strongest impact on our readers.

  23. Jon says:

    It is SO much easier and more fun to read an article when it has subtitles for every paragraph. I have tried to do that more on my blog as well, but I must admit I really stink at it so far. Just seeing how you used subtitles in this post brings home the point that it makes it so much easier to see exactly what the post is about. Not to mention that for lazy people like me we can scan the entire post very quickly and read those parts that apply more directly to us.

  24. Yvonne says:

    Great post, thanks for sharing this. Making your post personal and catchy is what it is all about to keep your audience interested. I can certainly still improve my posts, and there are some great tips here to help me do that. Thanks!

  25. Thanks for this post! I’ve already worked on some of the advice before reading, but this now opened my eyes to even more great ideas.

  26. Strayblogger says:

    When I check my analytics I’m surprised how much traffic comes from adding an image to each post and using my keywords as the alt tag.

    So I have a question, I’ve noticed a decent amount of your posts here don’t have images… why is that?

    I guess you aren’t really stressing out about squeezing out small percentage increases in traffic with each post anymore though…

    You dominate Darren… I spend a lot of time here trying to learn from you. Thank you for all the great info.

  27. Blogger says:

    Its really help me great post. I observe every post of problogger always informative.

  28. The title will give the readers the first impression and the urge of reading the post. So it is important to deliver the message right from the title.

  29. Seenu says:

    However at the end of completion of article writing, once we need to go through whether the article is readable, if need to make some changes we have to make them.

  30. Lea Sadler says:

    I use the “powerful images” pointer whenever possible. But I take it a step farther and use only my own photographs. Some bloggers might debate whether this is the way to go–but my thought is this: when I use my own photos, it’s completely unique content–something readers won’t see any place else. This method won’t work for everyone, clearly–but it’s something to consider!

    • Ali Luke says:

      I think this is a FANTASTIC thing to do, Lea — and I’ve seen others do it to great effect (Benny from Fluent in Three Months, for instance.) It’s something I’d like to do more of myself … need to get into the habit of taking more photos first.

  31. thanks for the tips,iv been posting blogs for a while but have never really had very much interaction from my audience,ive seen a few tips here that can def help me in future and i shpould get more interaction from clients..great information,thanks again

  32. Joy says:

    Excellent tips for those of us new to blogging. I particularly like the idea of the personal touch, and using analogies, as I find I am more engaged this way, so maybe others are also. Thanks for setting me on the right track.

  33. Sharina says:

    Thanks Ali! This is a great, informative AND quick read. I just started blogging as a motivational tool for myself. I need all the help I can get. I’m an introvert and need to “skill up” my art, blogging, and get out of my hole in the ground. I’m clueless on how to engage or provide anything useful to go with my artwork, which I hope is at least good imagery. At the very least, unique. :) Thanks again!

  34. This is why i love Problogger, in the article of carlocab.com, this blog is not so useful? I have read a lot of good information, when i am looking for something about “blogging” i always refer to PROFESSIONAL BLOGGER and that is Darren.

    To spice up your blog or post, maybe you should not be hmmm, PLAIN? humor, i love this post, it’s complete. Great idea..”LET THE READER REACT” 2 thumbs up here, what about you..?

  35. Haren Yong says:

    Thanks for the tips as my Actress Obsession Blog where i feature up and coming as well as established actresses from the US, Canada, Europe & Australia is gaining traction and growing traffic quite nicely. How can i engage readers more and lift my blog to the next level? There’s been some nasty comments on the actresses i feature…is that a good thing and should i continue letting readers vent?

  36. Michael says:

    Basic. But that’s all what it takes. A strong grasp of the basics.

  37. You touched this point a little in #2 (Introduce Powerful Images), but I’ve found that having a video that is either relevant, or the center of your post works really well too. This technique is especially effective if you can reference specific time markers and events form within the video. It makes your whole post feel interactive.

  38. Emily Shelton says:

    These are great tips.

    My #10 is to try not to go over 500 words.

    I should note that I rarely follow my own advice. It can be a challenge because if you decide to write about a given topic, chances are you have a lot to say about it. But the internet readership is not generally up for a long read.

    My #11 is make people laugh. Aim to have at least one sentence that people will be tempted to read out loud to another person.

  39. Michael says:

    I think number four is definitely the most important. Blogs are suppose to have that personal feel, or at least I feel that way. And I love reading personal stories.

  40. Kris says:

    I love the tips. my number 10, do something no one else is doing. If you can put your name on their website you are just the same. Provide something different.

  41. Aly Porter says:

    Ali,
    Great advice! I have really been trying to improve my blog posts and these tips will get put to good use. :) Thanks again!

  42. Steve Bunyan says:

    I particularly like #9, I have often written things like “in my opinion”, and now I’m going to take your advice and leave such things out. Thank you.

  43. physcodog says:

    I have to say, as a new blogger myself, I really appreciate and enjoy your advice on making your website succeed. My main problem is consistency due to the everyday grind of my main job. I need to suck it up and just make a serious committment just like you and everyone else.

  44. I’ll try implementing this tips. Thanks for sharing. It’s very informative.

  45. Jerrick Yeoh says:

    If you use all 9 ways to spice your blog, then it would be too spicy. Just pick some point to use it in your blog would be enough. Always use case study or story with photo to describe the content that you want to share. This will make your blog more interesting rather than Wikipedia information.