The blog post meta: A post about how to blog
I thought it would be pretty easy to run a blog cause the content on careerlions.com is all about our personal interests. Truth be told: it isn’t always easy to juggle my time and energy between work, the blog, social life and working out. However, the decision to start documenting our adventures in the lifestyle design and personal development domain is still one of my best ones! My main objective is to always create content that is fun and inspiring. More importantly, every blog post has to contain something to learn from! Since we always think sharing is caring, today I am elaborating on the five best tips that got me started in the writing game. We’ll dig into the “secrets” to writing our blog posts. This article, we are going meta!
It all starts with the headline
Actually, it all starts with an idea, but that’s a hard one to get a grasp on. I get inspired all day every day from all kinds of sources. So, it’s hard for me to explain exactly how I come up with ideas and topics for blog posts. But whenever I have that idea, the first step for me is to come up with a title for the post. Since the headline is one of the first things (potential) readers see, it is important to make that header as attractive as possible without it being clickbait. For this I enjoy Tim Ferriss’ method on How to create headlines that get retweeted.
His main suggestion is to focus on a personal obsession (that makes you a bit weird) and then connect it to something that interests more people. For example, for a period I was (and pretty much still am) intrigued by former Navy SEAL Jocko Willink. I read the books, listened to the podcast and followed the Instagram. Basically, I was obsessed and looking for ways to implement his lessons from war battles into daily (business) life, as extreme examples grab my attention. I wrote an article about the subject with the headline: What we can learn from Navy SEALS (the obsession that made me weird) about business and leadership (the subject that interests a broader audience).
Habits of great bloggers
All the basic principles of writing and publishing blog posts is covered in one of the courses on creativelive.com. In the course called How to write a blog post that drives traffic, former Engadget editor-at-large Darren Murph takes you through all the steps that go into the matter.
A personal favorite is when he elaborates on the habits of great bloggers which are:
- Find your zone. What is the best time for you to be most mentally engaged?
- Be ready to write anywhere, on anything. I always bring a small notebook with me, and if not I’ll just use my phone. The weirdest moment for me to takes notes was during a bathroom break of a boat ride on the canals of Amsterdam.
- You’re competing with millions for valuable eyeballs.
- You can’t afford to waste time blogging.
- Great bloggers are great marketers.
I love to think I am on the way to making these habits my own!
Writing in well form
Writing is a craft that, like all other crafts, takes a great amount of time to get into. Let alone to master the skill. It can be overwhelming, which makes it hard to start. For these moments, it’s good to have a trustworthy starting point. One of the go to guide’s I love to reach for if William Zinsser’s On Writing Well. In this book, Zinsser elaborates on several principles, methods, forms and attitudes one can apply when writing nonfiction. I especially love the part where he explains the different forms to write in, for example about interviewing people and how to carefully pick your words when using quotes. “The nonfiction writer’s rare privilege is to have the whole wonderful world of real people to write about. When you get people talking, handle what they say as you would handle a valuable gift.”
Making blog posts stick to readers
Some stories just seem to stick, while others don’t. In Made to Stick, brothers Chip Heath and Dan Heath explain this phenomenon through the SUCCESS checklist of writing a story. In a nutshell, the SUCCESS checklist can be explained as follows:
- Simple – Keep things as simple as possible, get to the core in a compact matter.
- Unexpected – The writing variety of the element of surprise.
- Concrete – Use clear and concrete descriptions.
- Credible – Don’t overhype and go overboard.
- Emotional – Playing with emotions always keeps people on the edge of their seat.
- Stories – Formulate strong storylines.
- What Sticks – Applying all of the above.
And then there’s typography
Now we’ve covered the basics on writing a blog post, content wise. But there’s also something called typography which can best be described as the style and appearance of printed matter. So that means that not only do we need to ensure a blogpost is attractive to read based on the content, it’s appearance has to be appealing too. I am a real rookie when it comes to typography. Therefore, my advice would be to just consult Chris Do’s manual. Chris Do is the founder and CEO of Blind, Inc., a company that helps other companies to define their strategy and branding. Let’s just say, he’s the expert and we trust his word on this matter. What also helps is to find a review partner.
In conclusion, there’s so much more into writing blog posts than I thought before getting into it. I hope that this posts helps you out to get you started (of course, this is also my personal reminder hehe). Do you write blog posts? If so, what are your tips and tricks? Also, we would love to see your blog. Please share in the comment section below.