Ever written a blog post you thought could win a Pulitzer prize, only to click on that pesky “stats” page to find that it’s only been shared once? And that share was your grandma on Facebook?
Yeah, we get it. After all the work of building a blog and growing your writing skills, it can be super frustrating to have your content stuck on your page and showing no signs of going anywhere.
It is often said that in a digitally networked world, “if it doesn’t spread it’s dead.” It’s not enough to just write stellar posts, they must also be easily readable and shareable for your audience.
But don’t get discouraged! Here are 5 simple things you should include in your posts to ensure it will spread like wildfire.
1. A useful topic
One reason your posts haven’t been going viral might be that you’re not writing about something that your audience can use.
When you pick a topic, ask yourself:
- What is my target audience, and what do they need to know?
- What is something I’m good at that I can teach my audience?
- How can I provide value to my audience?
Remember, your content is your product.
What successful company sells products that consumers can’t actually use?
You should always provide something valuable to your audience. For example, if my audience consists of ladies desiring to become entrepreneurs, instead of writing a post about how your work day went yesterday, perhaps write a post entitled “How To Start Working From Home Today.”
See what I mean? Write something that provides the audience with something, rather than writing a description of your experience.
Posts with something to give are more valuable and shareable.
2. A clear point
Remember those old language-arts classes about writing a thesis statement? Surprise, those skills really did turn out to be necessary in your adult life!
For a quick review, a thesis statement is “a statement that is put forward as a premise to be maintained or proven.”
Now, your blog doesn’t need to resemble a collection of persuasive essays with a formal thesis (if it does, I think I figured out why your content isn’t being shared), but point remains: you should always have one clear, concise and arguable point that is maintained and/or proven throughout the post.
I can’t tell you how many posts I’ve read where I quit halfway through because I wasn’t sure where the author was going, why they were writing the post, or what exactly they were trying to write about. Don’t try to tackle too many things in one post, and don’t be wishy-washy about your subject matter.
For example, the point I introduced to the reader at the beginning of this post was tips to help your blog posts become more shareable. If I started telling a story about my first blog post, you would have my full permission to stop reading immediately, because that’s not part of this argument and doesn’t fit within the goal of this post.
Now, let me tell you a long and pointless story about my first blog post (just kidding—please keep reading).
After choosing your clear and persuasive point, you may want to consider the following things that immediately turn the reader off if you do them while making an argument.
- Selling yourself short by saying something like “although I’m not expert” or “I haven’t figured it all out yet.”
- Unnecessarily saying “I think that” instead of just stating information.
- Discussing an issue without actually picking a side.
If I’m reading your blog, I expect it to be your perspective. You don’t have to make yourself sound smaller by claiming to not be the best or making it clear that you “think it” or be unwilling to make a judgement call.
Speak with authority and people will listen.
3. A catchy beginning
The first two things that a reader sees on social media or on your blog are your headline and lead, so make them good.
Think about these two things as your window display: Will you enter a store with a window design that doesn’t interest you? Probably not.
In the same way your headline and intro sentence must grab the reader’s attention.
Your headline is what catches the reader’s eye, and your intro is what pulls the reader in. You need both to get clicks.
Here are a few quick tips on headline writing.
- Be directly relatable to the reader (ex. You will love _____)
- Make them sound urgent (ex. Things you need to know now about _____)
- Consider making your post a list or a how-to so you can say “5 ways to ____”
- Try multiple headlines with different social media graphics and see which does best
- Don’t use terms in the headline your reader won’t recognize
- Shorter is usually better
- Describe what you’re really writing about, no false expectations!
And here are a few ways you can start that lead sentence:
- A rhetorical question for the reader (ex. Have you ever _____?)
- Something funny or sarcastic
- A quote that relates to your topic from someone well-known
- A relatable personal story or anecdote
- Share a shocking statistic
I actually tend to write introductions last unless I have a really great idea off the bat.
It’s ok to do some brainstorming or come back to it once you finish everything else. After all, your headline and lead sentence should match the rest of your post, so writing them later in the process isn’t the worst idea!
4. An attractive format
When I click on a blog post only to find a huge block of text, I am usually not inspired to keep reading.
Think about it like receiving a gift: I will probably enjoy the present wrapped up in a pretty bow more than the one is the plastic Target bag, even if they contain the same item.
Your format is the packaging and your content is the product.
Your audience will be more likely to share something with a bow than in a plastic bag.
It’s good practice in the blogging world to use shorter sentences and paragraphs. Try to keep your paragraphs down to 2-3 sentences. Posts are really more readable when the text is more broken up, especially considering how many people read blogs on mobile.
Something you see on a lot of LadyBossBlogger’s posts is the extensive use of sub-headings, and we have found that it really helps with the readability of a post.
If you have a hard time breaking up your ideas into headings or creating lists, try making an outline before you write your posts. I personally sit down and make a list of the main ideas I want to include before every post. Those ideas become my sub-headings, and I fill in my paragraphs around them.
Another really popular format is the listicle—the way this specific post is formatted.
Anytime you can break down your points into a list of 5 or 10 things, you should capitalize on the opportunity. Posts entitled “5 ways to____” or “10 things you should remember when ____” are really popular right now—and for good reason. There are interactive, exciting, and easy to read.
The last thing I will say about format is that you must do the dreaded act of editing. I get it—it’s hard to sit down and closely read through a post you just spent hours working on and would really like to never set eyes on again.
The thing is, if you don’t catch your own mistakes (and you will make mistakes), your readers will. Having grammatical and stylistic errors makes your post less attractive to your reader and thus less shareable.
If your errors are significant enough to cause confusion or annoyance, there’s a good chance that the audience won’t even finish reading your post.
Take the time to edit. If you have a hard time with it, try reading your post aloud (you catch a ton of mistakes this way, I swear) or have someone else that you trust do a read-through for you (other people catch so many things you would never notice on your own).
5. An easy way for readers to start sharing
Make it so convenient for your readers to share your post that they actually have to try to avoid sharing!
Don’t make your readers search for a way to share—have your share buttons right at the bottom (and/or top) of your post for an easy way to click. Also, have your social media links and subscribe form nearby; if your readers are willing to share your post, there’s a good chance the next click will be to join your community and read more.
Another big tip is to use Search Engine Optimization (SEO) tricks to get your posts more visible, which will lead to more interaction and more shares.
Here’s a few ideas to get you started.
- Keywords are everything; put them in your url, headline, and first/last sentences
- Use the “alt-tag” and description options when you add images
- Get as many internal and external links as you can in each post
- Read this post for helpful resources that will make you a master of SEO
If you’re on social media, hashtags are everything! Try using a platform like hashtagify.me to search the most popular keywords of the day to get your content out there and ready for sharing.
Also, a pretty graphic never hurts in the sharing process. We use Canva and love it!
That was a lot of information! But don’t be overwhelmed—you don’t have to start over. A few simple tweaks to your already masterful posts should get you the clicks you’re looking for.
Remember, to write a shareable post you need 5 things.
- A useful topic
- A clear point
- A catchy beginning
- An attractive format
- An easy way to share
So get out there and start blogging!
Oh and speaking of shareable posts, feel free to share this one:)
Bethany Peterson is a junior at Wheaton College (IL) studying Interdisciplinary Studies and Journalism with a minor in Spanish. She has worked in blogging for three years, first as a staff blogger for 31Women Ministries and now as an intern with LadyBossBlogger. She serves as Co-Editor in Chief at the Wheaton Record and hopes to go into journalism after graduation.