The five elements of a perfect blog post

“How do I create the perfect blog post?”

That question by a young student stopped me in my tracks. After all, is there such a thing?  I had to dig deep on this question and turned to the qualities of my favorite bloggers to find some common themes.  They seem to fit for me — leave a comment and let me know how they land on you!

1. Hoist a hearty headline. Your title is the first thing people see in their blog readers and it may very well determine whether somebody reads your post or not. Headlines can be painful to write — it’s like ad copy. It has to be short and impactful. Try to use an action word that grabs attention. Jay Baer is a master of this on his Convince and Convert Blog. His headlines grab you, shake you, and demand your attention.  I can almost visualize Jay thinking up an active verb to draw you in!

2. Offer an original (personal) view. There is really only one way to differentiate yourself as a blogger.  Challenge yourself to write a post that ONLY you could write. Don’t pontificate about what’s “out there.” How does the subject relate to YOU, your observations, your experiences, your life, your stories? This isn’t narcissism — it’s the soul of originality.  I love the way Danny Brown accomplishes this. He writes about how his life is going in the social media context. He finds a way to connect with us every week because he shares what is unique to him — a discovery, a victory, a disappointment.  It is uniquely Danny every time.

3. Have the courage to be real. When you are creating a work for the world to see, it is frightening to be imperfect.  And yet, how can you be original WITHOUT being imperfect?  The best bloggers are real. Human. Less cautious than the average author.  A role model for me in this respect is Gini Dietrich, especially when she uses her video blogs to connect with readers in a highly personal way. Gini lets us know when she’s stressed, disappointed, worried, mad — basically what is happening with her in the moment. For heaven’s sake, she even had a video of her Thanksgiving dinner!  I think there is awesome power in that authenticity.

4. Don’t just write, re-write. People will spend more time with you if they enjoy your writing.  And to demonstrate a best practice, I’d like to introduce you to the sweetest writer on the social web: Stanford Smith of the Pushing Social blog. This man is an artist and I can guarantee you that he sweats over every phrase and challenges himself to discover new and exciting ways to tell his story.  A blogger can’t hit it out of the park every time, but when they do, it’s probably because they found a way to make the words sing. A trick — read your post aloud to see if it has a natural, conversational tone.

5. Entertain me. “Entertainment value” is not a phrase commonly used in business classes or journalism schools. And yet with the cacophony of voices vying for your attention, isn’t entertainment paramount today?  Are you more likely to enjoy and remember a post titled “An analysis of SEO implications for blogging” or one titled, “How to be a Google Whore” — which used humor to illustrate a dead-serious issue in our field? Mix it up. Add video, photos, interviews, reviews, humor. Be surprising.  I think Joey Strawn is a great example of an entertaining and slightly off-kilter blogger. He is even drawing cartoons to go along with his blogs.

Now you might find it odd that I haven’t mentioned anything in here about the actual subject you are writing about!  Does it matter?  If you create a post with 1) a captivating headline, 2) a unique personal view 3) a personal risk, 4) an entertaining spin through 5) words that sing, won’t that be a joy to read? Of course it would because you’ve crafted a perfect blog post!

What do you enjoy about your favorite blogs and bloggers?  I would love to hear about what makes a post memorable for you …

You too can blog like North Korea

The tension on the Korean Peninsula is no laughing matter but the official North Korean response to the U.S.-South Korea military exercises was an entertaining example of Cold War Era propaganda. Take a look:

“The situation on the Korean peninsula is inching closer to the brink of war due to the reckless plan of those trigger-happy elements to stage again the war exercises targeted against [North Korea] in wake of the grave military provocation they perpetrated against the territorial waters of [the North Korean] side in the West Sea. The army and people of [North Korea] are now greatly enraged at the provocation of the puppet group, while getting fully ready to give a shower of dreadful fire and blow up the bulwark of the enemies if they dare to encroach again upon [North Korea’s] dignity and sovereignty even in the least.  The group should not run amuck, clearly understanding the will and mettle of the highly alerted army and people of [North Korea] to wipe out the enemies.”

In a world of social media nicey-nice, wouldn’t it be a lot more interesting if we all blogged like North Korea? It might go something like this …

From MySpace:

“The imperialist force of Facebook has greatly enraged the united citizens of MySpace. We will not be bowed by these Zuckerberg puppets. Prepare to run amuck when you see our wrathful might. Or, call us.”

From the music industry:

“We are greatly enraged by the reckless bullying of our profit margin by the iTunes enemy.  If they dare encroach on our sovereign territorial waters in the least, the capitalist swine will be sliced into ribbons by our dreadful noodle-maker.”

From Adobe

“The trigger-happy Steve Jobs has denied our Flash animation product and has tested the will and mettle of the highly alerted people of Adobe. We will pierce the heart of his iPad with a showers of grave provocations from our PR department.”

From Justin Bieber

I am more adorable and talented than the reckless pretender Taylor Swift. I am greatly enraged and my hair is dismantled by her provocations. Should she encroach another awards show, I will have Usher crush her bulwark.”

See, wouldn’t the social web be MUCH more interesting if we blogged like North Koreans?

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