1. Provide Something Valuable
You can do this a lot of ways, often by providing information, entertainment or both. People are busy and not many will read what you have to say just because it’s well written or funny. On the other hand, if you provide your reader with something genuinely valuable to them, most will tolerate any stylistic failings and keep coming back for more.
What’s valuable? Well, things that are rare are valuable. If you are getting ready to run a race and the only information you can find about the course comes from someone’s 3 year old race report, then that race report is pretty valuable to you. Of course, if you’re not running the race, the report wouldn’t interest you at all. That leads to our second point…
2. Know Your Audience
As we all know, different people find different things valuable. You have to think about who you are talking to in order to understand what they will find valuable. If you have no idea what your target audience will find valuable then the chances are high that you will struggle to engage them. If you are working to build an audience for a new project or brand, it helps to start with a very narrowly defined group so that you can create content that will appeal to their specific interests. There may not be a ton of people out there who build miniature ships in bottles, but those who do are really going to love your writeup on an easier way to get that sucker in there!
3. Organize Your Information
When you do write that prize-worthy post on the minutiae of miniature shipbuilding, be sure to make it easy for people to find what they want to know. If information is the valuable thing you are providing, serve it right up on a silver platter. List-based posts like this one are a great way to achieve that goal, with their familiar format making them easy to navigate quickly. If the valuable thing you are providing is more tangible—like a discount code or free sample—by all means make that super obvious.
We implore you, if nothing else, to use paragraphs. Plenty of good blog topics call for long posts, but you are actively repelling readers if you lump everything into one big mass of text. Think about how magazines use design elements and images to break things up and create interest. Speaking of which…
4. Use Images
A blog post without images is like a magazine article without pictures, boring. What does that picture of me throwing a stick have to do with anything? I’d argue that it’s a pretty good illustration of the importance of knowing your audience and what they find valuable, but it doesn’t really matter that much. Mostly it’s a cool picture and maybe you read this far just hoping that I would explain what was going on there. It’s definitely more relevant than this photo below, right?
5. Know Your Voice, Use Your Voice
On a personal blog, obviously, the voice should be your own. The challenge there is for you as a writer. It can take a lot of time to find a voice that feels authentic to you, so don’t be afraid to experiment. Think of bloggers or other writers that you admire and ask yourself what you admire about their writing. The goal is not to replicate their style but rather to understand better what you appreciate about their approach.
When writing blog content for a business or other organization, the question of voice is a bit more open and should be driven largely by considerations of your audience. The first choice you must make is about tone. Is this a formal place where we use fancy words and avoid contractions, or is it an informal place where slang is okay and capitalization can get creative? Either can work, it just depends on your audience and your brand.
Is your voice funny? Humor is a great way to keep your content light, but it is not the easiest thing to pull off and bad jokes are often worse than no jokes.
Is your voice controversial? Taking a strong stand can generate a lot of attention, particularly if your opinion is unpopular or unusual. The pitfalls to such an approach are obvious, but sometimes it’s the best way to get the message out.
Is your voice authoritative? If you’re trying to convince your audience that you are an expert, everything you do should reinforce that.
Ask yourself these questions, which will lead to many more. As you answer them, keep your target audience in mind and work on developing a voice that they will find uniquely compelling and relevant. Once you have developed that voice, be sure to actually use it and don’t be afraid to double down on the things that make it unique.