Blogging is not just about finding a good topic and writing your thoughts on it. It’s a strategy you use for building trust with your target audience. You want to educate them not only about the industry but about your brand, too.
Is there a sign that shows you how successful the blog is? – It’s all about the shares.
Shares: How Does a Blog Post Get More of Them?
Maybe the lack of shares doesn’t mean you’re doing everything wrong. Maybe you’re great at some aspects of blogging, but you’re missing out on something else. What is it?
Let’s take one of the most shared blog posts of 2017: Study Finds That Second-Born Children Are More Likely to Be Criminals. The post has been shared across multiple platforms and it attracted a lot of Facebook engagement.
This is not just a post that families share for fun. It’s also a post based on research, so it’s the combination of good research, great headline, and engaging tone that makes it successful.
There are several factors that lead you to a well-shared WordPress blog. Today, we’ll provide the ultimate guide on how to meet all those standards that lead your blog to success.
Basically, you have to pay attention to two general stages:
Sounds simple enough, doesn’t it? Well, it’s the steps within those stages that set you up for success. And it takes a bit of an effort to get them perfect. Let’s focus on the writing part today, shall we?
The Writing Part: How to Set Your Post Up for Popularity
Step 1: Choose a Good Topic
The above-mentioned blog post worked because its topic is relevant to a specific target audience. The reach is pretty broad, actually; they mostly target Facebook users.
It’s clear that the intention of this post is to get more shares all over social media. People will tag their younger siblings, just for fun. However, the topic also provides value for the reader. They will learn something new; something amusing.
There are few tips to follow when trying to choose the perfect topic:
- Choose something you’re interested in. If the topic is not for you to research, it won’t be fun for your audience to read. That’s straightforward logic!
- First, you should consider your niche. The blog post we’re analyzing was published on a website with a pretty broad niche. Make the most out of life is their motto, so they can afford to write about any topic that appeals to their general audience.
Since most bloggers have a specific niche, however, they should stick to it. Just analyze the trends, recent research studies, and popular topics on the most successful blogs from the niche. Such a research should help you identify few topics you can work on.
- You can use BuzzSumo to specify and narrow down that idea. If you type Instagram stories in the search bar, this is what you get:
See? Ideas! Since you used a general keyword, you got general ideas. You can take things further: type brand Instagram stories and you’ll get a list of posts that are more relevant to your search.
- Of course, you cannot copy other people’s topics. However, this research can help you analyze the competition and come up with your unique angle on a popular topic. For example, you can write about a particular brand that engaged its followers with Instagram stories and deliver specific steps for your audience, based on that example.
Step 2: Outline the Post
What did your professors teach you in college? An essay needs an intro, body, and conclusion. Outline before you write!
Possibly those are not pleasant memories, but hey; academic writing was useful, after all. Those assignments taught you a valuable lesson: writing is much easier when based on an outline.
The blog post also needs an intro, body, and conclusion. Fortunately, the structure is not as stiff and bulky as the essay format. So outlining can be actually fun!
You don’t need a lengthy and overly detailed outline. This step is necessary just because you want to add some structure to your ideas. It will be a rough guide for your post. Here’s an example:
Intro – 5-4 sentences on the popularity of Instagram stories.
- How this brand used Instagram stories.
- What success did it achieve?
- What can we learn from this example?
Conclusion – wrap it up in 5 sentences
You see? It’s a really simple and quick step to go through. It will help you conduct a more relevant research, and it will definitely help you keep the content focused.
Step 3: Do the Research
Do you know what the biggest secret to successful blogging is? It’s not just talent. It’s not just creativity. It’s all that, plus diligent research!
Let’s be honest: sometimes you don’t know anything about a particular topic that’s trending in your industry, but you still want to cover it. Sometimes you know a lot, but you cannot rely solely on your base of knowledge. You need authoritative links that support your claims and convince the audience that this is not just an opinion piece.
- Don’t link to Wikipedia. I know that it’s a good place to get basic information, but it’s not a link people would appreciate in a blog post. Wikipedia, however, can lead you to other sources that you can reference. Just check at the bottom of the page. That’s a trick that can save you a lot of time in research.
- It’s important not to refer to journal articles just for the sake of referring to journal articles. The language in those research studies is complex and most of your readers won’t like to bother with it. This means that you’ll have to extract the most important details from that content, explain them in a way that your audience can understand, and link to the study, so they can see that you’re not making things up.
- You may also link to other blog posts, which support your point of view. However, these should be highly authoritative blogs!
- You don’t have to link to studies every single time. A good research also involves examples. For this article, I made an effort to search through well-shared blog posts and took them as an example to support the tips.
- Check the facts. Whenever you intend to include a link in your post, make sure you’re directing your readers to something truthful.
- You have to take notes during this process. What if you get this really cool idea and you plan to include it in the post, but you forget where it came from? Write the notes and accompany them with links. This is mandatory when you’re working on long-form posts.
Step 4: Set the Headline
Study Finds That Second-Born Children Are More Likely to Be Criminals
Let’s analyze that headline: why does it work?
- First of all, it’s straightforward. Remember those clickbaits? They. Do. Not. Work! You’ll Never Believe What Researchers Found about Family Relations would be a clickbait. Yes; maybe such a headline would lead to a high-quality post, but having enough experience with clickbaits, people simply assume that those posts are a useless waste of time.
Your headline has to capture the essence of the post. It must show a potential reader exactly what the value of your content is.
Let’s check some of the headlines on The New York Times:
Trump Says He Plans to Send National Guard to Mexico Border
Environmental Search Shows that Segregation Hurts Everyone
‘Glee, Satisfaction and Weeping’: How America Reacted When Martin Luther King Died
See? These are all very, very specific headlines.
- The headline must trigger the curiosity of your audience. Although it practically tells what the post is going to be about, it mustn’t reveal everything. It must inspire people to click the link and see what you have to offer.
“What does this have to do with shares?” – I hear you ask. Well, a great headline gets more traffic when you share it. If the post is good, more people will share it. If the headline is good, more people will click the link. Then, more people will share it. Do you see my point?
- CoSchedule’s Headline Analyzer is a pretty cool tool that helps you craft the perfect headline. It’s not perfect, but it does give you ideas on how you can make your headlines more captivating.
Step 5: Write That Thing!
You have a great topic, awesome headline, a good amount of data to support your claims, and a structured outline. Oh; you’re more than ready to start writing that thing!
- The first important thing to have is a timeframe. When do you plan to publish this post? You can’t work too long on it, since your audience may lose interest in this topic. You’ll benefit from blogging only when you maintain your regular publishing flow. So set yourself a deadline that will keep you focused.
- So how do you write this post? There are no weird “hacks” here. Just follow your plan and do what you do best: write. If you’re not blogging for the first time, your audience already got used to a specific style. If this is your first blog post, then you should identify the writer’s voice that will set you apart from the competition.
- Stay away from online distractions while you write! Tools like StayFocusd and Strict Workflow will force you to resist the temptation to scroll through Instagram in the middle of a sentence.
- Keep it simple! Clean sentences, short paragraphs, bullet points, lists, and clear subheadings – that’s the secret to a readable blog post. If you want people to share this content, you have to get them to read it first!
Step 6: Edit!
When you’re writing a blog post, you deserve the freedom to throw in all ideas and thoughts. Even if it seems like rambling, you should allow yourself some freedom of expression. Still, it’s recommended to follow the outline. If you really think that an additional section would be beneficial, edit the outline to fit it in.
Once you’re done with the first draft, it might look like a total mess. Or it will look totally perfect. You wrote it and you understand it.
Guess what: it can never be perfect. The first draft is just a draft, and it needs some polishing out before it’s ready for the eyes of your audience.
During the editing process, you’ll cover few steps:
- Make the intro more engaging
- Make the headline and subheadings more engaging
- Simplify the content
- Check the links
- Format to perfection
There are few tools to help you during this process:
- BestEssays.com.au – an actual editing service that connects you with professional editors. If you don’t have the time or you don’t know how to handle this step, hire an editor.
- Grammarly.com – editing software that’s better than Word’s Spelling & Grammar feature.
- WhiteSmoke.com – another option for editing software that opens your eyes to the most common mistakes in writing.
- Trello.com – a tool that lets you collaborate with an editor or with other bloggers, who will help you edit.
- HemingwayApp.com – a cool tool that warns you about too much complexity in your content.
It Gets Better with Practice
So what’s the most important lesson we learned? Great posts get shared.
- Pick a topic
- Pick a headline
Those are the six main steps that get you in the right direction. The good news is that you’ll be getting better with practice, so keep practicing!
Once you write a great post, it will be ready for a successful promotional stage.