According to WordPress, as of March 14, 2014, there were 76,774,818 WordPress sites around the world. In addition to those blogs, there are ones residing on different platforms or hosted solutions like Blogger.com. More importantly than how may blogs there are, are how many people are reading those blogs.
In that same report, WordPress states that:
"Over 409 million people view more than 13.1 billion pages each month."
With those kind of numbers, it should be simple to gain readers to your own blog, right?
However, there are a few things you need to do in order to grab those readers, and one of those things is to provide regular content. If the reader knows she can count on a new article every day from your site, then she's much more likely to visit your site every day.
It's a catch-22 situation
The problem arises with busy website owners, who are often running more than one site, trying to keep a business going and maybe even working an outside job and raising a family. That doesn't leave much time to write blog posts. It's a catch-22 situation.
More blog posts = more readers
More readers = less time
Less time = less blog posts
Blogging Has Evolved and So Must Bloggers
Photo Credit: ~Aphrodite
Blogging first became popular in the '90s. Students, moms and everyday folk started blogging about everything from trying out recipes in a book to how to feed your family on under $50 a week. As with most things Internet-related, if it's a good idea, it grows and expands and morphs into something new and more exciting. Over the last two decades, blogging has changed a bit.
Today, blogging is seen as a necessity by most businesses and a way to reach readers and customers. With so much competition and so many blogs out there, it is more important than ever that bloggers have a unique niche and a strong voice. Anyone can write an article and slap it up on a blog, but will that post be readable, timely and helpful to readers? Does it go beyond where other articles go?
Bloggers must evolve by providing excellent content, content not found elsewhere and providing it quickly and regularly. This seems like a daunting task, but having a template to write from can help. The formula below is one you can copy and past into your WordPress dashboard and write a quick post from. However, I will also break down each element to help you not only write quickly, but write effectively so that your readers will not only love your articles, but want to share them with others.
According to a study by Hubspot, businesses that blog can see 126% more lead generation than businesses that don't. Add that to the statistic that Content Plus discovered that shows that 60% of people feel more positive about a business after reading unique content on that business' website and you really don't have much choice but to jump into the blogging game if you want your business from online sources to grow.
Blog Post Template
- Great Headline
- Attention grabbing
- Good SEO
- Action words
- Hook the reader with a catchy opening
- Sum up why you're covering this topic and introduce the topic to the reader
- Tell what you'll cover in this article
- Section Two of Your Post
- What others have done
- Section Three of Your Post
- Tools and techniques to help the reader (such as this template, an infographic, etc.)
- This should go above and beyond what anyone else out there offers
- Leave the reader with a final thought
- Possible call to action (CTA)
- Possible teaser for next article
Breaking Down the Sections of the Template
Photo Credit: Randy Stewart
Your headline is one of the most important parts of your blog post. If you need to spend some extra time on something, creating a unique headline is a good place to spend that time. However, even when it comes to great headlines, there are some tips that will help you come up with an eye-catching one without completely reinventing the wheel.
Jerry Low wrote about headlines other A-List bloggers have created. He gives 35 examples of excellent headlines that grab the reader's attention. Some words that can entice a reader to visit your site and read your article include:
- Top 10 Ways (or use a different number) to ______________ (fill in the blank with your topic)
- Easier Plan for ______________ (fill in the blank with your topic)
- Don't Make the Mistake of ______________ (fill in the blank with your topic)
- Get Ahead by ______________ (fill in the blank with your topic)
- How-to Gain More ______________ (fill in the blank with your topic)
You get the idea. You want to entice the reader. You have about three seconds to capture her attention amidst millions of other blog posts out there. Your headline truly counts.
The introduction is your chance to pull the reader on into the post. Start with an opening hook. This is what "hooks" your reader into wanting to read the rest of the article. You want him to feel he can't walk away from what you're writing because there is something more just around the corner.
There have been books written on the opening line. If you study what's out there, you'll see what I mean. Novels, articles, newspaper pieces... they all have opening hooks. There are many ways you can grab the reader's interest.
- An interesting quote
- A startling statistic (that is how I opened this particular article)
- A fact that the reader might not know
- A question that gets the reader thinking or questioning things
At first, it may be a challenge to come up with something that hooks the reader, but the more you practice the easier it will be for you to write an opening line that sparkles.
The introduction should also inform the reader about what you'll be covering in this piece. Remember that you want to entice her to read the rest, so give her a teaser. For example: In this article, you'll learn how to write a blog post from a simple formula that will save you time and effort.
Section 2 of Your Post
Photo Credit: kenteegardin
Now it's time to get into that research or special knowledge that you can offer readers. If you're writing about how to choose the right golf club and you have a pro golfer on your friend list, you might get a few tips from him and add those into this section.
If you don't have unique knowledge, but simply know the topic well, you can source some statistics and facts and then analyze it. No one else in the world looks at things quite the way that you do. No one has had your experiences or "speaks" in the same tone as you. Let this shine through in your writing. Don't be afraid to get personal with your readers and share info about that time that your dad tried to remodel the kitchen and almost blew up the house because he forgot to turn off the gas line. Readers, especially blog readers, love the personal touch. It is what makes blogging so intriguing to us. It's a way to connect on another level with people around the world.
Section 3 of Your Post
In this section, you should offer the reader some special tools or information. It could be as simple as a template and then explaining how to use that template as I've done in this article. It could also be:
- An embedded video
- An infographic
- Written instructions
Also, although I call this "Section 3″, if you need more space, you can certainly morph this portion into several different sections or subsections. Even though you are in a hurry to get your posts written and you want to save time, you also want to cover a topic thoroughly. Be sure you've covered every angle. Do a quick Google search to see if other sites are covering the same topic and figure out what you can offer that is more than they are offering.
Photo Credit: Kris Olin
Your conclusion is the last chance you have to talk to your reader. You want what you've said to stick with her. Some businesses use this area as a call to action (CTA). For example, they might mention that if the reader needs more help with kitchen remodels that there is a free consultation available by clicking on the button to the right. Although this can be effective, readers are smart. They know you are calling them to action and trying to sell them something.
With that in mind, don't be afraid to sometimes just wrap up the topic and encourage the reader to move forward with their renovation plans (or whatever the topic is you're writing on). I have had readers message me before and thank me for not always trying to sell them something or push things down their throats. This can build trust over time with readers. Yes, a CTA is sometimes very effective. My advice is to vary it. Use a CTA sometimes and other times just wrap up the article and let the reader decide if he wants to take an action. The button on the right will still be there. You just won't be blatantly self-promoting it.
Blog Faster But Not Weaker
Time is a factor for every business owner/blogger out there. Although the template above can help you plan your posts and keep you on track by making sure you cover all the important points, it shouldn't be a substitute for solid copy for your website.
Google does factor in quality when ranking your site, so spurting out information without backing it up with facts or unique details will only hurt your blog in the long run. Blog fast, blog smart, blog quality.