Guest post by Karol K. of newInternetOrder
On your quest to write epic shit, you’re going to have to put more thought, more soul and more effort into each of your blog posts.
That means not publishing posts prematurely, before you’re sure that each post is insanely useful to your audience.
Before you publish your next post, try asking yourself these 9 questions first to make sure you’re not publishing prematurely:
1. Would it be better to divide the post into multiple posts?
Every post should touch upon just one central idea. Trying to explain every possible aspect about a given field in a single post is rarely a good idea. “The meaning of life” posts, I call them.
A better idea is to pick just one issue and address it in an easy to read, understandable single piece.
It’s easy to get caught up in this. Let me explain why. You, the author, are quite familiar with what you’re writing about. Whatever you’re about to write seems like common, obvious knowledge for you. That’s why you can consume much more information than someone who is new to this. You can wrap your mind around several different ideas within a single article. So you end up writing a huge monolithic piece that won’t be easily digested by your audience.
You don’t want to write a post that’s challenging to follow. People should enjoy reading it your post. It should be fun. A fun post is a concept much easier to achieve if you remember to share one idea at a time.
Easy reading is damn hard writing, but I promise you, sticking to just one single idea is much easier to write and to read.
2. Should I erase the first paragraph?
Here is an old writer’s trick that maybe you’ve heard of. Try this with one of your previous posts. Erase the first paragraph and see if the post gets any better. You will be surprised how many times your initial first paragraph is totally unnecessary.
What’s the deal? While writing a post we feel like we need to introduce the reader to the topic, so we try to do it in the first paragraph. But very often we tend to share unnecessary information that no one cares to read.
This is a mistake many of us make on a regular basis. Our English teachers might be to blame here. In school we were taught to always construct our articles in an introduction-body-conclusion manner.
Yes, you need to introduce your article, but make sure you’re getting to the point right away instead of just making small talk.
3. Did I create anticipation for the next post?
This is a nice trick. Try to end your post with a teaser, so to speak. Tell your audience what’s coming next.
This technique should create some anticipation if you’re planning to write a follow-up post.
If you want to put this technique on steroids just use a date along with the information. Something like “On Feb28th I’m publishing part two of “how to create a mind blowing CV”… you get the point. If you want people to be waiting at the door tell them when the door opens.
4. Did I end with a call to action?
Tell people what you want them to do next. You don’t want them to just leave your blog and do nothing.
Ask them to subscribe to your RSS feed, or leave a comment, or retweet your post. Remember, if you don’t ask, the answer will more often be “no.”
You can also end your post with a more detailed question to elicit more comments. Something regarding the post itself and the idea it shares. For example, if you’re writing about new trends in advertising, ask your readers which advertising trends they think are most important.
In a nutshell: end your post with a question mark or request.
5. Is the post helpful in a meaningful way?
It better be. Otherwise it’s not worth reading, and therefore not worth writing… Maybe I’m exaggerating a bit, so OK, you have to make it either helpful, entertaining or inspiring.
People tend to ask a certain question while reading a post. That question is: “what’s in it for me?” If the the answer isn’t clear during the first two or three paragraphs they will just stop reading and move on to the next thing.
If it’s neither helpful nor entertaining nor inspiring, scrap it. Don’t hit the publish button.
6. Will people want to share it?
This somewhat connects to the previous point, but it’s not the same thing. You might think that if something is helpful people will want to share it with their friends, but that’s not always the case.
We, internet users, tend to read many things during the day or week, but we don’t share every single piece with everyone we know. That’s because even though a post might be helpful and valuable, it isn’t catchy, it lacks something, or isn’t “mainstreamy” enough to share it with our friends.
This is a kind of an x-factor. Something that can’t be really defined, but we can tell its presence when it crosses our path. So just ask yourself: Will my readers find this post worth sharing with their friends?
7. Did I give for free what other people usually charge for?
Every blogger is told that they should create valuable content. But how can you tell whether or not the post is valuable enough? Let’s translate value into money, something fairly easy to do.
Whenever you finish writing a post try to imagine a situation where a hired consultant advises their client using quotes from your post. Or, imagine a paid product that contains the same information as your post. Is that possible? Or would your content sound silly in either of those situations?
If you could charge for the information, you wrote yourself a piece of good, valuable content. Publish it.
8. Did I erase something because I was scared of saying it?
Afraid of a nasty backlash? Don’t be. You can’t please everybody, so don’t even try to. It’s better to a disagreeable response than no response at all.
So go back to your post, remember all the things you’ve erased because they were too outrageous at first glance, and put them back in the post. Read it again and make your decision to publish then.
9. Was I real?
What does “real” mean? Real means to be in tune with your style and your way of writing. That’s why you need to read your post after you’re finished writing it. See if it sounds like you. See if it’s honest. Do you really agree with the overall look and feel of the post?
Sometimes the outcome is surprising and you’ll find your post needs some heavy editing before you hit “publish.”
That’s it for the 9 questions. I’d love if you could help me out. Tell us what you think should be the 10th question on this list. See you in comments!
Photo by Helga Weber