By Karen Mawdsley, BTC Student
These days, it seems like everyone and their mother has a blog. With so many blogs out there, creating another one can seem like a pointless endeavor. But blogs can also be one of the most valuable tools for organizations, especially those in the nonprofit sector.
So what separates the great from the mediocre? Knowing how to write an effective blog post.
As a senior journalism student at the University of Maryland who has worked with both media outlets and nonprofit organizations, I set out to define what makes a great blog post.
(As did millions of other people, apparently; a Google search for “what makes a good blog post” renders 98.6 million results.)
Ignoring others’ opinions and going based on my experiences, here are the essentials of a good blog post:
- Catchy intro. There’s no cut-and-dry definition of what’s “catchy” but you know it when you see it — and when you don’t. There are many approaches to engaging introductions, so try out different techniques until you find one that works for your topic.
- Short and sweet. People can eat away 800-page books no problem, but somehow when they transition to reading on a computer screen, their attention span plummets. Keep blog posts brief and engaging so your audience gets through the whole thing and takes something away from it. A good rule? 500 words max.
- Conversational tone and distinct voice. The biggest thing that differentiates a blog from an article is the author’s tone and voice. In an article, people strive for a neutral, objective tone and voice. In blogs, though, readers want to feel like you’re talking to them. Make it informal and entertaining, but don’t sacrifice integrity while doing so.
- Strong purpose and message. The best blog posts have a clear, distinct purpose. If authors know why they’re writing, it’s easier for readers to know why they’re reading. Get straight to the point and stay focused; this makes for a strong and memorable takeaway for the reader.
- Quality content. High-grade content returns high-grade responses. A solid headline or a good lead-off paragraph can generate a page view, but it’s the actual content of the blog post that fosters audience engagement and sharing.
- Start a conversation. Pose a question; enable comments; encourage readers to engage with you and each other. There’s no better way to spread a message than to start a dialogue about it.
…And last, but definitely not least:
- Don’t forget that you’re online! All too often, people write blogs as they would print-outs, thereby eliminating the majority of blogs’ value. Hyperlinks and multimedia elements, such as photos, videos, GIFs and audio add so much to a blog. Be creative and resourceful!