Intentional Blogging [Lesson 5: Content]

Creating Compelling Content

Once your start writing, remember a few things:

  • Be true to your voice.
  • Remember your blog’s focus.
  • Know your audience.

Writing your first post is a daunting task. It may be the hardest post you’ll ever have to write (which is a great reason to get it over with). The best way to do this is to begin. Just do it.

Better yet, write the first five blog posts to get started with a bang.

As you craft your first post (whether it’s your first or five hundredth), it may help to have an outline. When you’re just beginning, this structure can help guide you to write better content. Eventually, this will become second nature to you.

Here are the essential elements to crafting an excellent blog post:

1. Catchy Headline

A good, focused blog post is usually only about one topic with a few supporting points. Before you begin, figure out what you want to write about.

In fact, choose a mock title just to give yourself some initial structure (you can always change it later).

Good titles are interesting, descriptive, and engaging. It should read like a magazine headline or a TV newsflash, daring the reader to click the link. They should cause you to do a double-take when you glance at them. Here are a few examples that have worked for me:

  • “The Very Best Way to Get Rejected”
  • “One Weird Way to Get a Larger Audience”
  • “10 Signs You’re Doing Networking All Wrong”

The trick is to catch people off-guard with something unusual, while providing enough information in the headline that people will want to click it. Otherwise, you’re merely being controversial.

2. Startling Opener

First impressions matter. Make your first few lines count.

When it comes to the Internet, when people’s attention spans are even more limited, the opening line of a blog post is crucial.

Bottom line: If you don’t hook your readers immediately, you will lose them forever.

Start off with a quote, a question, or a bold, audacious statement. You only have one shot. Make it count.

3. Meaningful Main Points

Every story you tell or idea you share needs to have some kind of structure. They don’t all need to neatly fit into a three-step process, but you should consider your main points before beginning to write.

What will the meat of your post be about? What do you want to leave with your readers? What’s practical or actionable? What are your supporting reasons? Use this area for this section.

While planning your post, list these out in bullet points (these can become your subheads). Then, write more of the meat of the post, based around these main points.

This is an outline of sorts for you as you write, but it also helps guide the reader through the content of your post.(Chances are he or she will initially scan your article, so give the reader something to scan.)

4. Powerful Call-to-Action

You’ve hooked your reader with a good title. You’ve drawn her in with an interesting opening line. Then, you’ve led her through the meat of the article with good main points.

Now, you need to wrap it all up.

Don’t leave the reader wondering why she bothered reading your post in the first place. Give her something to take away.

Do you want your audience to reflect on a particular idea? Want them to do something?

This is the part of the post where you invite your readers to answer a question, leave a comment, or share your post. Make it clear and actionable.

A good practice when preparing to write a post is to follow each of these four elements, treating them as steps that help you write your outline:

  1. Choose a topic
  2. Write an opening line
  3. List your main points
  4. Draft a rough call-to-action

If you do that every time, you’ll struggle less and less with writing posts regularly and sharing them with the world.

So, how about it? Want to give it a shot?