The beauty of blogging is that it can truly be whatever you want it to be. You can blog about any topic(s) you choose; you can write as often as you’d like; and you can make your posts as long, short, detailed, text-heavy and/or graphics-heavy as you’d like. You can use your blog as a personal or public journal or you can use it as a library of resources to share with potential and current clients. There really are no rules! Thank goodness!
BUT – if you DO want to utilize your blog to as a way to share your expertise, gain more interest in your product(s) and/or services, and attract a loyal following that will hopefully turn into loyal clients, then there are a few rules/practices you really should consider following.
For those who actually want to utilize your blog for those reasons, here are some best practices to follow:
- In addition to a well thought out title and great content, you also want to make sure you’ve added a Custom Title Tag, Meta Description and Meta Keywords for search engine optimization (SEO). If you’re using the Thesis WordPress theme, these fields are located directly below the area where you type in your content. If you’re using another theme, these fields may be available within the theme or you may choose to install an SEO plugin.
- Next, you’ll want to make sure your blog post looks good! No one wants to read a long post with nothing bolded or highlighted in any way. Break it up to make it easier on your readers and add in some bolds, italics, the Click to Tweet plugin, a different color, etc. If you can utilize bullet points or larger headings, even better!
- What I enjoy most about blog posts are the nice graphics. From a featured image that appears in your blogroll to images within your post, they all help draw attention to the material, keep readers engaged, and give readers something visually appealing to share on social media. Whether you create your own graphics (via PicMonkey, Canva, Illustrator, or PhotoShop), hire someone to do so, or simply use attractive, post-appropriate photos, they can all help keep your posts interesting and visually appealing.
- When you’re all done writing your content, make sure you close out the post with your signature for a more personal approach. Want to make sure your signature looks the same on all your posts? No problem! I use the Add Signature plugin, then I simply insert an image (my name in my favorite font, saved as a PNG) in the plugin and set it to automatically appear below every post. (Note: That plugin does say that it’s a bit outdated, but I haven’t had any issues with it. If I every encounter any, I’ll certainly switch, as there are others out there similar to it.)
- The last piece of the blog post anatomy is the opt-in (well, ALMOST the last piece). There’s a good chance that most of the people reading your posts aren’t actually on your email list. They may have seen your post on social media or had a friend send it to them. Having a opt-in area right below your post is a great way to capture the reader before they leave your site. Give people an opportunity (or, multiple opportunities) to sign up for your list so they can receive other posts just like the one they’re reading – delivered straight to their inbox.
I use the Magic Action Box plugin for the opt-in form below my blog posts (see below). They have a free version and a pro version, so check out the differences and then go ahead and install + configure the one you choose. In fact, the wonderful Leah Kalamakis wrote a post about Magic Action Boxes, what’s so great about them, and even how to set them up. Check out her awesome tutorial here.
When your post is all done (so…you’ve written, edited, styled, added graphics, taken care of your SEO title/keywords/descriptions, signed it and added your email opt-in), it’s time to share it! Again, if your goal is for people to actually read your blog posts (which is probably the case for most people who actually have a blog), then you’re going to want to actually send it out. That’s where having an email newsletter comes in.
If you have an email list (i.e. in MailChimp), simply put together a nice email “campaign” for your subscribers and send them your blog post. You can put the whole post in the email or just a small portion with a “click here to read more” link. Just like with your posts, you can make your newsletters look however you want them to look. They can be short and sweet, they can include content exclusively for your subscribers, or they can just be a way to let people know you have a new post ready for them to read.
Finally, make sure you have sharing buttons at the bottom and/or top of your posts. If I want someone to share my posts, I’d better make it easy for them to do so. I’ve been on plenty of sites where I read something that I’d love to share. But, there either aren’t any sharing buttons or maybe they only have a Facebook Like button and not a Facebook Share button. If you want your content shared on Facebook and/or Twitter, make sure those buttons are there or else it won’t be possible for your readers to show you some love through sharing. I use the Share This plugin on all of my sites, and I love it!
There you have it! The anatomy of a blog post – complete with plugins to add functionality and make your life and your readers’ lives much easier.
Does some of this stuff sound a little scary to you…or are you thinking you don’t have the time, patience or know-how to accomplish it all?
Have no fear!
I offer these services for my clients, and would love to help you get your blog posts out there. Check out my WordPress and MailChimp Management Packages here, and contact me if you’d like me to take this slightly tedious yet oh-so-important task off of your plate.