Baking and blogging are both amazing when done right — and disastrous when they get botched. But in both cases, if you follow the right recipe, success is guaranteed.
Writing the perfect blog post is a bit like baking the perfect cake — I know, I know, but bear with me, here. Just like turning out that perfect rainbow layer or red velvet, a great end product depends on sticking to a proven recipe for success.
Step One: Assemble Your Ingredients
The first ingredient is an attention grabbing headline or title. While this is the shortest part, it’s strategically crucial: after all, if a reader isn’t impressed by a headline, they won’t bother reading the rest. Especially online, where people have literally millions of other pieces of content they could choose to read instead, catching their attention is essential.
Following your amazing headline with a great lede leaves readers hungry for the rest of your article. This brief overview of your topic gives readers a taste of what you’ve prepared.
Next comes the body of your post, where you frame the question or problem relevant to your audience, and continue to explain its intricacies or how to solve it. Slicing up articles into smaller chunks with subheadings lets your reader see at a glance what they can expect as they travel down the page, making it more likely they will stick with you to the end.
Finish your post with a call to action or conclusion. This will depend on the overall function of your blog and what your product is; this could be where you link your product to your solution, or pose a question to prompt discussion in the comments.
To continue the cake metaphor, the length of a post depends on the type of taste you’re catering to. Working out how much to make is a simple matter of figuring how many people want cake and multiplying by their appetites, but the ideal length of a given blog post is a more controversial subject.
Buffer Social’s in-depth research into ideal lengths of online content suggests 1,600 words, or about a 7 minute read. Neil Patel at QuickSprout stresses a variety of lengths can work, but generally agrees that longer posts of 1,500 words or so tend to perform best in terms of SEO and shares.
However, Joe Bunting at The Write Practice suggests different lengths depending on purpose — and interestingly, not in terms of topic, but in terms of traffic goals. For example, he’s a proponent of posts as short as 250 words to maximize social media shareability. That said, all three caution against making a post artificially short or long: let your content guide you.
Step Two: Let It Bake
So you’ve mixed up your batter (or first draft) — now it’s time to get it in the oven. Just as taking your cake out too early will leave you with an underwhelming, soggy mess, not spending long enough editing, rereading, and polishing your work will leave you with a sloppy, error-filled blog post that nobody wants to read. Take time to make sure your post has a logical flow and is free of typos and grammatical errors.
Step Three: Think About Presentation
The biggest difference between amateur and professional baking is presentation. Just as we know just by looking at a dish if we want a bite or not, readers get a lot of info by scanning a post before they start reading. When your post is baked and ready (leave it to cool first before putting it on the plate) it’s time to think about icing it with the right choice of fonts and, importantly, images. Jeff Bullas gives a wealth of advice on what to consider when “plating up” your post, including font choice, color, and other design elements.
Images grab the eye and make the reader want to find out more about the story they illustrate. Use your own images, or use any of the thousands of creative commons images available for the taking online — just be sure to credit the photogs appropriately. Jennette Fulda has some great advice on finding free images to brighten up your blog.
By using this recipe and adding some secret ingredients of your own, you’ll be turning out delicious blog posts by the pound that will make your readers hungry for more.
Longneck and Thunderfoot offer brand publishing services and strategies to transform your company blog into a sophisticated trade publication that drives visibility and influence in your market. Learn more about brand publishing here.
(Main image credit: vnysia/flickr)