If you’ve been blogging for a number of years you’ll know how much the industry has changed. But if you’re new to the online world, you may not know just how much it has developed over time.
The blogosphere started with people wanting a creative outlet. We blogged about our lives, our thoughts, our likes, our dislikes – anything and everything was written about. Personal blogs, whether they were lifestyle, fashion or food, where big news.
You could write 300 words every day about what was going on in your life and be done with it. You didn’t have to think about SEO, crafting the best headline or tactical ways to increase subscribers to your mailing list. I’m not even sure mailing lists have been as big as they are until right now! People had blogs to document their lives – there was no other reason.
Today, we’re in a completely different position.
Now, personal blogs seem to be few and far between. Bloggers today are blogging about what they know. They’re writing about their experiences and they’re using their skills to help others. Readers are selfish – we want to find something in whatever we’re reading, whether that be entertainment, a piece of information or a full tutorial. Which is why “how to” posts are more popular than they’ve ever been. We need to cater to our audience.
The way we consume content has changed. Which means we need to update the way we create it.
What Works Now
The way blog posts work now is completely different to how they were structured a few years ago. There’s so much more to think about now. I know bloggers that spend days crafting their blog posts because so much goes into it. So let’s look into the ways we can update our content.
#1 Your Headline
Before, you could write any headline no matter how vague it was. Now, your headline is everything. According to CopyBlogger, 80% of people will read your headline but only 20% of people will read the rest of your post.
When this was a lifestyle blog, I used to use song lyrics as my post titles. These had no reflection at all as to what my posts where about. When I look back, I honestly think, “what the hell where you doing?”
Your post title is one of the most important aspects of your content. It needs to be crafted in a way that makes your audience want to click on it but doesn’t give everything away.
Mariah from Femtrepreneur is always amazing at coming up with headlines. This one, “16 Badass Strategies for Growing Your Email List” tells you what the post is going to be about, without actually giving the strategies away. Plus list posts always work well and she’s got the word “badass” in the title – who wouldn’t click on that?
Lauren from Elle and Company also comes up with the best headlines. Remember how I said “how to” posts are so popular? This is when it works really well. You know exactly what this post is going to tell you, you know you’re going to get something out of it and you know it’s going to benefit you.
As for the title of this post, it’s a little different but still works. Rather than it being a list or “how to” it’s a fact. It intrigues people enough that they’ll want to click on it and they know they’ll get something from it when the read the rest of the post.
I’ve mentioned CoSchedule’s headline analyser in many posts before, but this is exactly how I come up with all my headlines. They’ll soon turn into the easiest part of your blog post.
Further Reading: How Do You Even Know What To Blog About?
#2 The Length of your Content
This has changed dramatically over the past few years and it all comes down to a little search engine called Google. Let me explain.
Google is powered by algorithms. These control what the search engine favours when it’s looking for results. So many “rules” have come into place (like the recent update where Google penalised every website that wasn’t mobile-friendly).
But the one that relates to content is called “Panda” – you’ll start to notice that they like to call all their updates by animals. Panda targets sites that have thin content. So if you’re still writing 300 word blog posts, these just won’t cut it anymore.
After Buffer carried out some research, they found that the average reading time for a blog post is 7 minutes. That equals about 1,600 words. Which is a lot more than the usual 300, isn’t it?
It’s even better when you’ve got proof. For the first two parts in my 101 websites series the average reading time of each of those is about 6 minutes. And for my post about the different benefits of social media, the average reading time for that is almost 10 minutes.
There are some bloggers who still post content that’s not more than 500 words long and there’s no problem with that. But for new bloggers or bloggers like me, who have changed direction (and if you seriously want to up your SEO), long form content is the way to go.
Further Reading: 5 Tips for Content Originality
#3 What Goes Into your Content
Did you know that content with visuals gets 94% more views? That tells you one thing:
You’ve gotta give the pictures as much love as the words.
Now I don’t mean you need to take multiple photos for each post. But take what I just did above with the headlines – I used as screenshot of each example as I went along. They count as images.
As you’re going through your post, think about where you can include examples and always include an image. It’ll be easier to come up with ideas for these than you expect. Take Mariah’s post about email list strategies that we spoke about earlier. For almost each of her 16 points in her post, she used an example:
Many people are visual learners – I’m one myself. So by explaining something by words and including an image too, you’re catering to everyone.
Include as much information as possible for your readers. A tip I learnt from someone a while ago always stays with me as I create every single post:
As you’re writing each post, think about what’s missing or your readers. What would they need as an extra as they’re reading this post? What would they want?
Which is why I created an awesome checklist for you, plus some extra tips that aren’t mentioned in the post!
#4 Additional Benefits
This follows on directly from what I just said – our readers want spoiling and it’s our job to spoil them. The best way to do this is to create awesome, out of this world freebies.
Why give away free stuff you ask? Well there are lots of reasons. It’s a sure-fire way to grow your audience and community, you’ll become a trusted resource in your industry and if you want to make money from your blog in the future, it’ll definitely increase your profits in the long run.
It’s even better when you can create these in exchange for the golden email address.
Everyone who carries out this marketing strategy always sees big results. Your freebie or content upgrade could be anything – a checklist, a graphic, a short eBook – as long as it relates directly to the post you’re creating.
Now, I aim to have one of these in every post I create.
Not only are these ways to get your creative juices flowing, but they’ll benefit both you, your audience and potential members of your community in the long run.
Still want the free checklist? Click this button to get it!
Have you thought about the way creating blog posts has changed? Will you use the checklist to update your content?