The Seven Secret Steps to Irresistible Blog Posts

Oct 5, 2011   //   by Andrew   //   blogging, Contests, Copywriting, SEO Blog  //  19 Comments
La Defense, Paris

Go on. Follow these irresistible steps to success...

It’s easy to get hung up on the words you write. As a top blogger, you’d be foolish to not at least consider them. After all, words, sentences and paragraphs are your bread and butter.

But once you’ve worked out what to say and the tone in which to say it, do you take the time to consider the format?

Because if the layout of your copy isn’t readable, nobody’s going to stick around to see what you’ve written. And that renders all your well-chosen words redundant.

So read on and learn the secrets that are going to ensure your target audience is going to read all the way to the end.

The Seven Secret Steps to Irresistible Blog Posts

Master the Art of the Paragraph

We all remember when we’re obliged to start a new paragraph. When you change topic, change time or change place. That’s what your teacher told you at school, so you just keep ploughing on with the same rambling paragraph until you’ve exhausted the topic, run out of time, or moved to sunny Tijuana.

You credulous buffoon. Why on earth did you think your teacher was right?

Here’s the one time you need to change paragraph. Doesn’t matter if time, topic and place are still the same, there’s one point when you need to hit that return key.

When dramatic effect demands it.

A quick, single sentence paragraph is visual shorthand for “this bit is important”. So make use of them when you’re sharing something groundbreaking. And watch as your reader starts to scroll down looking for the next one.

Or for something just as arresting…

Hit ‘em With a Hail of Bullet (Points)

What have great bloggers and successful gangsters got in common? Other than a penchant for whisky cocktails and jaunty hats?

That’s right – they both know how to fire bullet points with deadly accuracy.

Why are bullet points so effective?

  • Visually arresting – a bullet point hits you like, well, a bullet between the eyes. You can’t ignore it. You stop and read.
  • Clear and concise – it’s impossible to ramble on a bullet point. You’re throwing out pure, distilled information
  • Breaks up blocks – people won’t read a wall of text. Liberally scatter your bullets, and your layout remains fresh and interesting.

Stop Skimmers by Sprinkling in Subheadings

Skim readers love subheadings. It’s pretty much all they’ll stop for.

And you want a skim reader to stop, because if they don’t, they’re scrolling all the way to the bottom, off the page and out of your life.

So unleash a few content speedbumps to slow them down. Enticing and enlightening subheadings help your readers to find the content they find most useful or interesting – so they’ll make a bee-line straight for it.

And then they’ll read it.

And if they’ve slowed down long enough to read a whole subsection, they’ve slowed down long enough to write a comment, hammer out a tweet, or buy your eBook.

Not bad for a bit of bolded text.

The Internet Can’t Say No to a Funny Picture

He might be able to write Shakespeare, but he can't format it

By now, the reader’s concentration is beginning to flag. All the typographical tricks are keeping them on the page, but you need to cut them some slack.

So throw in an illustration or two.

Preferably one that backs up your points – and don’t forget to add an amusing caption, just to re-enforce your message. Because long after they’ve forgotten the exact wording of your advice, they’ll remember that the funny monkey told them just how to keep people reading.

Beef Up Arguments With Block Quotes

By now, you’re coming around to my way of thinking. You’re plotting sublime subheaders, and coming up with cunning captions.

But something’s nagging at the back of your mind. Wouldn’t this post be truly, completely irresistible if you could just see a second opinion?

Block quotes are a great way of providing a second opinion. As they’re generally from another authority on your subject of choice, they carry weight.

And because they’re visually interesting, they fulfill the same role as bullets points and subheaders – they force the reader to slow down and pay attention!

Mr603 – Outspoken Member of the Twitterati

Yeah. That’ll just about cover it.

Think About Your Font

What font is your blog written in?

I can say with some certainty that you’re probably not going to have a clue. Which is frankly ridiculous if you want to create a truly irresistible post.

The art of font creation is a huge subject that I don’t have space to get into here. But prove the power of the font to yourself. Copy this post into a word processor.

Now set the font to Comic Sans or Vivaldi.

I think that proves my point. Don’t you?

 Avoiding Irritations

Follow the six secret steps, and you’ll have framed your content in an absolutely irresistible way. But don’t rest on your laurels yet, dear blogger.

Because you’ve still got a final chance to throw it all away. By irritating your readers and driving them from your site, never to return.

Irritating blog quirks could fill a whole post to themselves, but there are two content killers that you’ll need to avoid at all costs:

  1. Pop Ups: I know you want your reader to sign up to your mailing list. But please don’t hurl a pop-up at them after they’ve just started to read. It’ll break their concentration and raise their hackles. Just don’t take the risk.
  2. Pagination: We’ve all got mouse wheels. So don’t split your post into seven chapters across seven pages. Because a blog reader will scroll for miles and miles to read your content. Just don’t expect them to click.

So there you have it. The seven secret steps to making your blog’s content truly irresistible. You don’t need to use all seven techniques in everything you post, but keep all of these techniques in your locker, and you’ll find your audience to be far more responsive.

And who can blame them? You’re totally irresistible.

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Andrew

Andrew Nattan is the wholly modest genius behind the Unmemorable Title copywriting blog. If you really loved this post, you should probably follow him on Twitter and subscribe to his RSS feed. And if you didn’t, you can always email him threatening messages.

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  • Ben Locker
    Twitter:
    says:

    Irresistible! Also a good idea to stick the first para in bold or give it a drop cap – gets the eye started on the page.

    Great post Andy.

    • Andrew
      Twitter:
      says:

      I did consider the old bold paragraphs, but part of me thinks it’s overkill.

      What I do think draws in the user is a really bold or artistically rendered first word or letter – like you’d see in very old books or on certain blogs.

  • Ivin
    Twitter:
    says:

    Hello Andrew. I must admit. I’m a skimmer. I leave thoughtful comments, but skim a LOT! Here and there is a post that I cannot leave, but very few and far between. Sometimes, on the other hand, the post is so light or bad quality, you can’t get soemthing worthy to comment on. Obviously it wasn’t the case here.

    • Andrew
      Twitter:
      says:

      Glad you enjoyed it Ivin!

      Do you tend to skim because there’s not enough quality out there, or because people just aren’t presenting quality content in an accessible way?

      I’m a skimmer too, and most of the time it’s because I don’t have time to wade through impenetrable walls of text. There’s some great content out there, but people don’t seem to know how to put it in front of a reader!

      • I skim a lot as well. It’s mainly a case of formatting, as you say, and boring content. If it’s too dry I’m gone, even if the topic is something I should be educating myself about. Also subtitles are such great entry points for those of us with the short attention spans.

  • Sebastian
    Twitter:
    says:

    I still have comic sans on one of my first sites… every time I look at it I die a little inside. One day i’ll get around to changing it.

  • Ileane
    Twitter:
    says:

    Hi Andrew, I like your tips. I haven’t used too many of the funny images. Well actually I do but they reflect a twisted humor that only I can laugh at, most people take them seriously (I keep myself amused that way).

    What do you think about adding a video or audio clip? Is it more of a distraction or do you have some tips for making the video irresistible too?

    Thanks Andrew and I really agree about the pop-ups too :)

    • Andrew
      Twitter:
      says:

      If you take a look at my latest blog post (see the CommentLuv link), you’ll see that I do like to add the odd video clip here and there on occasion.

      I think if you keep video content to a minimum, you shouldn’t distract users too much. As long as it’s pertinent to your topic. As for irresistible videos – I think humour always helps!

      And I’m glad that yet another person agrees with me about the horror of pop-ups…

  • David Leonhardt
    Twitter:
    says:

    Not only great advice for blogs, but for any writing. I used most of these tools when writing my book several years ago.

  • Louise
    Twitter:
    says:

    I like this post I do.

    Most important to me is having a cracking tone of voice. I can happily forego illustrations and bullets if I’m carried away on a tumult of riveting text; even the mind-numbing Dos and Don’ts of SEO can sound exciting with a bit of style sauce. And that, you give admirably.

    Nice one. x

  • Stacy
    Twitter:
    says:

    Hi Andrew,

    This is a great list! All of these points really make for a quality post that draws the reader in, even the skimmer! I tend to be a skimmer at new blogs (such as I am here today) and I read your entire post!

    One of my personal favorites is writing a one sentence paragraph for dramatic affect. It’s a great way to bring your point across and also catches the attention of skimmers.

    Thanks!
    Stacy

  • Good tips Andrew, lot to learn from your post. Writing blog post is easy but most important we should keep our readers stay with us. Latest Google’s Panda updates give weight on content, quality and structure of a post for ranking. Thanks for sharing Andrew.

  • George says:

    Good blog posts have a common trait. They are written with passion. The words flow with consistency and the writing style does make a great difference.

  • Joshua says:

    Hey Andrew! Great article. I love the beginning and I 100% agree with you.

    I wrote an article about that specific point alone and how we really need to make it easier for our readers to read out post.

    Some people write these HUGE paragraphs and expect people to read through them. Unfortunately humans aren’t patient enough.

    I would also add a video to your articles if possible.

    I try to do that for every post to cover those people who rather watch then read.

    • Andy Nattan
      Twitter:
      says:

      Thanks for the comment Joshua!

      I’d have to disagree on the video point, just because of the number of people who are looking at content on the go. It’s not always possible (or desirable) to watch a video in the office, on a train, or on a mobile device.

      That means significant portions of your audience are missing out, and it’s not something I’m particularly keen on.

  • Nick Harris says:

    I try to cover my bases and do all of these things but it’s far too easy to forget one or three of them, especially when I’m excited about some new ATV related news and not thinking SEO. I’ve added some of these steps to a reminder list I’m building, thanks Andrew.