WordPress.com bloggers alone publish more than 80 million blog posts every month.
It’s incredibly difficult to break through the noise and publish blog content that gets visitors and social media shares. There is just not enough demand for all that supply of content.
Just publishing a new blog post is easy but only few understand how to really create engaging content. In this guide, I will give you all the ingredients you need to create amazing blog content that people love. Let’s get started.
Stop creating generic, boring and common sense content
Let’s be honest, most blog posts are boring and go completely unnoticed. There are too many forgettable look-alike blogs and me-too articles. Internet is polluted by bad content, bloated with common sense advice from people imitating and copying each other.
Most bloggers churn out farmed content. They are content machines. They write many “unique” articles focusing on “keywords”, but they are answering questions nobody’s asking. Their content is generic, lacks insights, ideas, substance and value. It’s not passionate, remarkable, useful, appealing, entertaining nor interesting.
Everyone is on a quest for more page views, social shares and followers. The default approach is to publish as much as they can hoping that some of the content sticks. But nothing sticks.
Avoid that stuff. It’s not the right approach. Don’t just repeat someone else’s advice and what everyone else is saying. Don’t publish the same rehashed content, don’t do another tired old top 5 list, and don’t bring in the same podcast interview guests that everyone else is.
Put strict quality control measures in place before publishing a new blog post
You need to put strict quality control measures in place when publishing content. It needs to be of such high standards that it could be published in a magazine or in a book.
Have a checklist of things to do before posting an article and take the time to go through the list. Click on that “Preview” button to check how the post will look like to the visitors before you actually publish it. Use these “Elements Of Style” of blog posts in order to improve your writing.
Make sure your content is better, more informative, more educational, more entertaining than the best content out there on the same topics.
Ask yourself challenging questions: Is this post actually interesting? Will it teach people something new? Will it offer a new perspective on the topic? Will it entertain my audience? Does it challenge the reader to think differently? Is it better and easier to understand than what’s on top of Google’s search results?
When you’re happy with the result then you’re ready to click on the publish button.
Where things go wrong: Blog posting frequency and the article length
New bloggers ask questions such as “how often should I publish new content?” and “what’s the optimal blog post length?”. This is where things go wrong for many.
Forget about the advice that says you should publish new content all the time. Limit your output. Instead of publishing several mediocre pieces of content, create one truly valuable post that is full of quality.
One of the best pieces of advice for a newbie blogger is to publish new content regularly but there’s no right or wrong posting frequency. There are successful blogs with any possible posting frequency and format of content. Some post short posts multiple times every day, some post once per week but a long post, some mix and match these approaches.
There are plenty of benefits in publishing new content consistently when you are starting out. Consistent new content builds trust and a consistent audience. It brings a stream of traffic and gives readers a reason to subscribe to you, follow you in social media and check back. It helps build a buzz and expectations around yourself and attract an audience that loves your content and is eagerly awaiting to hear from you next time.
More new content brings more opportunities for shares in social media, links from other blogs and traffic from search engine thanks to the different keywords and topics you’re covering. Frequency of new posts can affect the search engine algorithms so you may rank higher. Search engines crawl and index sites that are updated regularly more frequently.
In my early years of blogging I posted new content every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. I did that for 2 years without missing one day. Most of my posts were in the range of 300-700 words.
There was no scientific reason for this schedule, I picked it because it fit me well in those years. This helped me establish my authority in the field and grow an audience.
More recently most of the posts I publish are 2,500+ words, but I publish them much less frequently. I also spend a lot of time editing, updating and improving my content archives.
Again I picked this because it fits me better at this point in time, but there are some statistical studies that have found that long form articles are shared far more often than shorter articles. Word count of a post seems very closely related to the number of shares the post gets.
Think about what is right for you. You have to find a posting schedule that works for you. You don’t want to stress yourself too much by going for a too frequent schedule that you cannot achieve. That may make you lose motivation and quit blogging.
Be realistic about how much content you can create and how frequently. Think also about what you are trying to achieve and how each article fits in a bigger picture. This will help you decide how to approach each individual blog post idea. Some might work best in a video, some might be best with little text and lots of images, some might be best with a long and detailed post.
It helps to add variety to your blog content. If you post the same type of post all the time it is difficult to reach a wider audience, your blog becomes too one-dimensional and visitors might feel jaded. Bring something new to the table. Keep it fresh and interesting. Mix things up. To help you get inspired and hopefully get you new content ideas here is a list of types of posts you should consider.
BuzzFeed’s rules for creation of content that gets shared
BuzzFeed, the website that creates most shared content in the world, has these internal rules for creating content that gets shared:
Keep it short.
Ensure the story has a human aspect.
Give people the chance to engage.
And let them react.
People mustn’t feel awkward sharing it.
It must feel authentic.
Images and lists work.
The headline must be persuasive and direct.
Six of the most engaging concepts for online content
Your audience is busy, distracted and has an infinite number of choices online. One of the biggest mistakes bloggers make is that they create content about themselves and not about their target audience.
Unless you are interesting to them (and this is a relationship that takes a lot of time to build), visitors don’t normally want to hear about you.
There is no love at first sight in blogging. Visitors don’t want to spend time on someone they don’t know talking about things with no relevance to them. They don’t care about you. They want to hear about themselves, about things that matter to them, information that they can use.
Focus on the content quality instead of the quantity. Publish only such great quality blog content that people cannot ignore you. The quality content is everything and has to be the cornerstone of your blogging strategy, so you must start building lots of it to attract visitors.
You need to go above and beyond the average article. Make sure that each post that you publish falls within one of these concepts:
1. Humorous and funny content that makes people laugh
People love to divert and have fun. They love to be entertained. They love to just hang out, or just waste time. They like to be creative and share new experiences.
2. Relatable and empathetic content that people can identify themselves with
People love recognition. They want to earn respect. They love to stay in touch with their family and friends. They love to meet new people. They want to feel like they belong. They want to promote themselves and their views. They want to change opinions. They want to express themselves and share their knowledge. They want to share content that resonates with their own experience and their self-identity.
BuzzFeed’s guide to shareability People like to share things… That say something about themselves: “I am a person who knows about typography.” That are highly visual: “100 Beautiful Examples Of Tilt-Shift Photography”. That have a call to action: “Add your own image in the comments!”
3. Serviceable content that has helpful, useful and educational information
Be a resource, share your expertise, your experience and know-how generously. People like to keep up to date on the topics that they care about. They love to learn something new. People want to feel progress, they want to do better.
Give away your secrets. Teach people, inspire people, help them, answer questions real people have and make their lives better. Tell people about your problems and how you have solved them.
Interview authorities on your topic. Curate their lessons learned and takeaways. Do original research with surprising data and inspirational real-life examples.
4. Breaking news, trends, celebrities and events
Break news stories if you can. If you can break a story before anyone else, you will be heard. Most of us cannot break news, but we can still be timely and topical. Think opportunistically about the news and tap into the existing conversations.
Create posts about topics that people care about and are excited about. Cover celebrities and other personalities.
People love to learn about the experience and lives of big personalities. Trends, people and events. Celebrities, writers, politicians and sports stars.
Identify an idea or a name that’s got everyone’s attention and find a way to connect your own topic to it and attract attention to yourself.
The key is to bridge the conversation and make it relevant to the audience you are trying to attract.
It can be done by quickly summing up the trending story and straight away leading into your main content with bridge such as: “This story is a nice reminder of…”, “The same thing happens in our field”, or “What’s the takeaway from this story?”.
5. Deep and personal content
There is one thing that every blogger has that is very unique. You are unique, you write your own content, and no other blog can copy that.
Personal opinion counts and it is the person behind the blog that makes the content stand out. Bring yourself to the front. It should be clear who is behind the post.
Always incorporate your own thoughts and analysis. Don’t censor yourself, write from your heart and be yourself.
Great blogs stand out because they have unique brands behind them. There’s only one Gary Vaynerchuk, one Perez Hilton and one … YOU!
Develop your own unique style and voice, and write creative and interesting articles. A blog is first and foremost a diary of sorts. The human element is so important.
Live an interesting life. Valuable skills translate into valuable content and valuable content translates into valuable opportunities. Fully embrace your passions and obsessions.
If you can tap into this goldmine, well then the content you pump out will be golden as well. By sharing stories about your life and making connections in this way you make readers feel like you are a real person and not a machine just cranking out content.
I have a definitive guide on picking the right topic: What Topic Should I Cover On My Blog? How To Find Your Sweet Blogging Spot.
6. Seasonal end of the year content can work wonders too
Holiday season can be a great opportunity for you too. Publish a post summarizing your lessons learned and other takeaways from the year.
A concise post of best practices is a very useful, practical and sharable type of article. These articles help people get introduced to you and your field.
A year in review – best, worst, funniest, strangest. Any other top list of the year. A list of resources, books, articles, or people who helped you, inspired you, and/or entertained you during the year. Predictions for the upcoming year.
What should your audience know about and prioritize next year to be on top of their game. Events, trends, strategies, people. “New Year’s Resolutions” posts too. Your goals, hopes, expectations.
Everything is permitted. There are so many opportunities in the variety of things you can talk about for the end of the year season.
How to structure a blog post for optimal sharing and consumption
These are things to keep in mind when structuring your content. Visitors are very skeptical as they have suffered a lot of bad content and poorly designed blogs. Modern life is hectic and people simply don’t have time to work too hard for their information. Many bounce right away, most leave within few seconds. Do this to establish credibility and trust with the visitor:
Make your blog post headlines irresistible
You have to get someone to click on your link and visit your blog in the first place. Your first touch point with a potential visitor is your article headline. Be it in search engine results, in emails or in social media news feeds.
I have created a very detailed guide with lots of headline formulas to help you out with this. See my rules and formulas for headline writing.
Use stunning images to help visually draw in the visitor
Aim to have a great image towards the top of your article. Images catch the eye better than text and tell stories more quickly. They get your visitor more involved and play a big part in holding the attention of your visitor for longer.
Here’s my guide (which includes resources for where to find images free to use) on using stunning imagery.
Don’t take ages to get to the point, start with a hook
If your headline works and a person clicks on your link, the first 5 seconds are critical. The back button on a browser is your enemy. The probability of leaving is very high and the decision to stay or leave will be made in these first few seconds.
Create a compelling introduction to your article that grabs your reader’s attention within the first 2-3 sentences. Make the reader excited to read the post. Tell them what they are missing out on, what you will help them with, surprise them and leave them with questions rather than answers.
Touch on your key points clearly and concisely. Be detailed but brief. Make it dazzle them, make it epic. Online users adapt quickly to consistent patterns. It makes them tune out.
Our brain is very well aware of changes. The human mind loves to hear or see something cool, something new, useful, provocative and fascinating. We love a surprise, a laugh, great and unbelievable things. All of these stimuli get the mind attracted and interested, and make the visitor stay on your blog for longer. These are some of the ways to hook your visitors:
- Contrary hook. Challenge existing ideas, encourage debate.
- Indirect hook. Delay telling what the story is about, tease the reader.
- Attack hook. Stir something up.
- Humor hook. Make people laugh.
- Unexpected hook. Break a pattern, say something surprising.
- Question hook. Start with a question.
- Curiosity hook. Start with a puzzle, leave reader with questions rather than answers.
- Quotation hook. Start with a quotation.
- Celebrity hook. Start with a mention or a comparison to a popular name.
- Stat/fact hook. Start with an interesting statistic or an interesting fact.
Make your blog quick to load
Make sure your blog is lightweight and is loading fast as people are impatient. Here’s my guide for speeding up your blog.
Have a great looking blog design
Many blog designs look pretty amateur, they are full of pop-ups, banner ads and other irritating distractions. They do not look good on mobile devices.
Get a WordPress theme with large fonts, good color contrast, white space, easy to find search box, useful 404 page and mobile responsive design. By having a well designed blog you put yourself ahead of the rest. See my guide on making your blog look pretty.
End on a high note
Give your reader a sense of conclusion, a sense of closure. Briefly summarize your points at the end. Make your reader feel like it was worth their while to spend time with your blog post.
Make it easy to discover more good stuff
Clicking links remains the most-used feature on any blog. Place specific and relevant links in key places of interest to offer a deeper or follow-up information on the topic. Include internal links to relevant posts to get people to stay longer and introduce them to your content archive.
Don’t be afraid to link away from your blog as well (but do make sure those links open in new window as seen below). If you link your readers to new useful information, they will return to find out where the best information is.
Add a call to action
For most blog posts you might want your visitors to take an action after reading your content. Make sure to ask them to as that will increase the chance of them doing so.
Encourage users to return. Provide opportunity to subscribe to your newsletter and follow you in social media to make sure your readers come back. Ask them to comment on your post, to subscribe to your newsletter, or to share it in social media. Ask whatever it is that you are trying to achieve.
Get into the habit of promoting your content
Congrats! Your new post is now online ready for anyone in the world to take a look at. Your work is not done though.
Just publishing a great piece of content is not enough. Not many people will see it unless you already have an established audience. You need to get into the habit of promoting your content and building your audience. Share it to these 33 places where you can distribute and promote your content
Analyse the performance and results
So you’ve started doing everything you can to create better content. But how do you know if your content or your posting frequency is actually getting better? It’s difficult to guess this. Many times posts that you don’t expect to do well actually do. Some posts you don’t even want to publish, but when you do people like it and share it.
Public response is what counts and what determines if your content is good. Always measure how each article performs and how your visitor numbers trend over a period of time and base your future decisions on insights you get.
Take a look at your analytics to identify how your content performs. Figure out why people reacted the way they did.
What made them like that piece of content so much? What made them stay on your blog for such a long period? What made them share it with their family and friends? Figure out what works well and then do more of that and less of things that didn’t do so well.
I hope these questions resonate with the way you’re thinking about your blogging. Do get into the habit of asking yourself some or all of these key questions before publishing a post. After a while it will become second nature to you and you’ll be able to optimize your content even without checking the list.
Your content will be stronger after doing this and you will see an increase in visitors, time spent on your content and social media shares.