What makes a good and effective blog post?

Are you wondering how to create a blog post your readers will enjoy and that brings value to your business? One of the reasons I like blogging is that it’s a very flexible medium. There are no real rules: articles can be long or short, strictly business or riotously funny, stick to the facts or be used to give your own opinion. Anything goes. And yet anything does not necessarily make for a good and effective blog post. 

Start with the end in mind

Writing for the sake of it rarely turns out well. Think about the purpose of your article. What do you want it to do? For example, you might want to tell your audience about a new development in your industry that is of interest to them, or you could want to have a wry look at a situation your community is experiencing. 

 

Knowing why you are writing and what you want the outcome to be will help you start to think about the structure of your article and judge whether you are on the right track. Don’t start writing yet though…

Think about your reader

You are writing because you want to bring in business, but buying from you might not be on your reader’s mind at all. People are not always ready to buy when they first come across you and so you need to think about where your readers are in the customer journey.

 

First and foremost, they are likely to have come across your article in search or clicked on the link on social media because they hope it is going to tell them something about a topic they are interested in. What do they want to do? What problem might they have which has led them to your article? What is their interest? Are they looking to learn or be entertained? (You can do both if you want.) If you are a lifestyle brand they might be looking for inspiration.

 

I’m going to put a quick note about search engines in here. This article is focusing on what makes a good and effective blog post for your reader, however, some of you will rightly say that part of being an effective article is being found on search engines. When you are thinking about your reader and their interest in your topic, think about how they will phrase that. The title for this post is a question I was asked directly. If I hadn’t been asked it though, I could have looked at Google and seen what questions people asked (Google cheerfully prefills the search box for you) and scrolled down to see what ‘people also ask’ then written an article around that. By knowing what people are looking for, you can write articles which use those phrases and answer those questions. 

 

There are various pieces of software which will help you do this. Some have free options, or a trial. But if you are new to blogging, think about what questions your customers ask you in the course of your business. It’s a very good place to start because you know YOUR customers want that information.

A woman sitting by a pool reading on her phone. Photo by Kvnga on Unsplash

Is this going to be part of a series? If so, where do you need to start, and what will you lead on to until you reach the 3rd or 5th article? You will want people to come back (or click through) so you need a promise and a next step that entices them.

What are the key points?

You now know why you are writing, what you want your article to do, and what your reader will want from it. Make a note of the key points you are going to cover. This enables you to focus on what matters and avoid waffling. It also means you won’t get to the end and realised you have missed out something you were keen to talk about.

Think about your reader’s level of knowledge of your topic. Are they new to this, experienced, or somewhere in between? This will help you pitch your article to them. 

Don’t assume knowledge

Try to avoid jargon and acronyms if you can, particularly if your article is going to be read by the general public. For instance, if you are a website developer, you know what SEO and copy are, but your customer might not know anything about search engine optimization or what they need to write to go into the design you are creating. Likewise, if you are an accountant, you might talk about balance sheets and profit and loss statements all the time but to the uninitiated (your potential clients), you might as well be speaking a different language. After all, if they were financial whizzes who knew exactly what they were doing with their cash, they probably wouldn’t need you.

 

Think of something you don’t know about in your life that no-one has ever explained to you and you’ll see exactly what I mean. (Make-up and the rules of netball remain complete mysteries to me.)

Write an introduction that gets straight to the point

Your reader has clicked on your article because they are interested in what you are going to say. They want to know immediately that you are going to talk about the topic you have billed in the headline, or the social media post that brought them to your website. You have got their attention, don’t waste it!

 

For instance, in 2020, I read a lot of articles, emails, and social media posts which told me it had been a difficult year. I didn’t need anyone to tell me that, I doubt you did either. Once we had got past that, there were often interesting topics being discussed but I had to be willing to get past the introduction in order to find out. Your reader might not give you that attention. You need to hit them with an interesting angle or opinion which makes them eager to read on.

A single bright yellow sunflower against a bright blue sky. Photo by Johan Nilsson
Your readers don't want a sea of sunflowers, they want to see a specific one. Note how the bright yellow sunflower stands out against the bright blue sky. You're not distracted by anything else.

Let your words breathe

If you have got this far down the page, you will have noticed that I have used subheadings throughout and pictures to break up the text. This does two things:

 

    1. It stops your brain from seeing a big wall of text and thinking, “yikes! That looks like work!” And instead gives it space to take in the information without feeling overwhelmed.
    2. It allows you to skim. If you hadn’t bothered to read this article (I hope you did) but just looked down the headings, you will have taken away the following messages about writing a good and effective blog post:
      • Start with the end in mind
      • What are your key points?
      • Don’t assume knowledge
      • Write an introduction that gets straight to the point
      • Let your words breathe
      • Think about your reader

 

This turns your article into a simple ready reckoner which allows the busy reader to judge whether they want to read it in full or bookmark it as a useful resource to come back to later.

Don’t worry about how long it is

One of your questions when you started this article might have been: “How long should a blog post be?” You will find various answers about this but in my view, there is no ideal length. If you’ve read down to here and you’ve had your questions answered, then this article was the right length. If you feel I should have written another 1000 words, let me know.

 

People will read a long article if it keeps their attention. Likewise, they won’t feel cheated by you writing a short one that they enjoyed. If you can give someone a quick win in 300 words and you don’t feel you need to add anything, your article is doing its job.

Link your article to your products and services

Your blog is a hardworking part of your website. It brings traffic to your online store. You need to show your website visitors that you have products or services of interest to them. Use your blog to showcase what you have to offer. You will have noticed that I linked out to another article I have written higher up the page, and now I’m going to tell you about one of my offers…

If you would like help to know what to write about on your blog and how to make use of it, book a Blog Rescue session with me. It’s a 60 minute consultation which takes place over Zoom. I’ll look at your blog beforehand and ask about what you do and who it is for. Then during our meeting I’ll help you come up with ideas for what to write about and ways you can make use of your articles so they contribute to your business. Hit this button if you’d like to book.

If you’re looking for more free information, check out these articles.

One Response

  1. Hi Rachel,
    I must admit I did spend a bit of mental energy wondering what you meant by good and effective until you explained that this was an exact question you had been asked.
    Your articles are always so helpful with practical information we can implement straight away. What I also like is the implicit permission built into what you say here, ie. there are some guidelines and tips and there is flexibility and freedom to make your blog personalised and fitting with your style.
    Lots of food for thought and action here, thanks.

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Rachel Extance

Rachel Extance

Award-winning journalist and blogger. I help businesses communicate who they are, what they do, and why. If you struggle to talk about yourself in your marketing, get in touch with me.

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