I’m going to share with you an easy method for writing coherent blog posts, which will allow you to stand out from the crowd and attract a readership. Far too many bloggers are writing rambling, incoherent blog posts that go all over the road. A coherent blog post is one that holds together from beginning to end regarding its topic and stays on course.
Writing coherent blog posts means your readers will better understand you. They will "get" what you’re saying easily, and that leads to loyalty and word of mouth evangelism for your blog. That grows your readership, which is the basis for any business or blog monetization effort. Think about it: would you subscribe to a blogger whose writing you didn’t understand because it wasn’t clear and coherent?
For many of you who are new to blogging, writing for your blog may be the most writing you’ve ever done in a long time, and while it’s a blast, you may be realizing your writing skills are a little rusty. You can’t grow your subscriber base if you can’t effectively get your point across.
Time for some basics.
What I’m sharing with you in this post is by no means the only way to write a coherent blog post, but I feel it will match well for most bloggers on most subjects. If you’re having a hard time staying on the road (in a manner of speaking) when you write a blog post, try using this very simple method for getting some order into your chaos:
- Figure out the one thing you want to accomplish with the post.
- Write a headline that promises a benefit that will accomplish that.
- Say what the benefit or conclusion is in the first sentence.
- Create logical steps along the way to achieve the benefit or come to the conclusion.
- Make those steps into subheadings in your post.
- List the subheadings in advance, go through them in detail, and review them at the end.
- End with a strong conclusion that tells the reader to do something in order to achieve the benefit or which reviews the main points that support your conclusion.
Of course, you can already tell I’ll be doing exactly this in the post, so you can see how it’s done (sometimes things get a little weirdly recursive around here–everything is an example of itself).
Figure Out the One Thing You Want to Accomplish with the Post
The post should be about or should accomplish one thing, and one thing only. Have you ever read (or written) a post that seemed to be about several topics at once? It really ended up not being about much of anything. If it seems like you want to say two or three things at once, figure out what they all are, and start draft posts for each one of them. By keeping your focus laser-sharp, your posts will be more coherent before you even begin writing them.
Write a Headline that Promises a Benefit
I’m not going to try and play expert blog copywriter here, but we all know how important the headline is. If your headline can’t hook people in to read the first sentence of your blog post, what’s the point of writing it? Your blog post is in someone’s RSS reader or email inbox along with many other posts or emails, all of which want attention. As people scan through those headlines, they’re looking for something that will benefit them in some way.
You can make sure your blog post’s headline at least promises some kind of benefit that will be of interest to your readers, based on what you know about them. That’s what I’ve done with the headline for the blog post you’re reading now. Every blogger wants more blog readers. Seven easy steps to more readers? *Click!* I gotcha. Now I have to deliver.
Say What the Benefit or Conclusion is in the First Sentence
Providing benefit immediately in the first sentence helps to make sure the post will be read. The headline brought in the reader… now what? World-famous ad copywriter Joe Sugarman says the purpose of the headline is to get people to read the first sentence.
Guess what the purpose of the first sentence is?
If you guessed: to get the reader to read the second sentence, congratulations, that’s correct. Providing benefit immediately, in other words, explaining to the reader what will be gained by reading, is necessary to keep attention after the headline.
Create Logical Steps Along the Way
If you use this method, you already know your final point. You know what you want to accomplish. In order to lead your reader to that point, you have to create the steps along the way. There are many ways to create logical steps. In The Elements of Business Writing, Gary Blake and Robert Bly cover principles of organizational order:
- Location: Use geography to create an order. For example, in a post on a travel blog, begin with where a country is on the globe, then cover the country’s geography, then focus on major cities, and finally, focus on one city.
- Alphabetically: Great way to do a list without appearing to give preference to any single item.
- Chronologically: When telling a story, tell the events in chronological order. Never assume your readers know times and dates, always tell them.
- Problem/Solution: This is a basis for much sales-oriented writing, and with good reason. It’s highly logical and effective.
- Inverted Pyramid: Journalistic style where the lead sentence explains all pertinent points. Each sentence after explains more and more detail about these points. Who, what, when, where, and how are explained.
- Deductive order: Start with a general statement and work into specifics that support the conclusion of the general statement.
- Inductive order: Start with specific statements and build them into a general conclusion.
- List: What this post is you’re reading now. Usually headlines for these posts use a number, such as 5, 7, or 10.
- Priority sequence: Rank recommendations, problems, or other items from most important to least important.
This is the toughest part about writing coherently (or trying to) because without some idea of the order, it’s too easy to write our way around as though we were wandering around, lost. Use the points above to create an order to your points your reader will be glad to follow.
Make Those Steps into Subheadings in Your Post
Instead of starting at the beginning of a post and writing it straight through to the end, take those stepping stones you created and turn them into subheadings (heading 2 or 3 in your blog software–if your blog post titles are heading 2, make your subheadings heading 3). Now you can write at least one paragraph under each subheading. Organization and coherence is easy when you follow this method.
List the Subheadings in Advance, Go Through Them in Detail, and Review Them
In my day job, I teach software and web design. I’ve been a professional trainer for eight years. One strategy for adult learning is what we call the "3 Ts":
- Tell ‘em what you’re going to tell ‘em
- Tell ‘em
- Tell ‘em what you just told ‘em!
In other words, give people a road map. Go over the trip’s itinerary. Take your trip. After the journey is over, review the highlights. Simple, and highly effective. You have noticed I listed out all the points in advance of explaining them. Now, I’ll briefly go over the highlights:
- Figure out the one thing you want to accomplish, so you can stick to that.
- Write a headline that promises a benefit, or your post won’t be read at all.
- Say what the benefit or conclusion is in the first sentence, in order to hook your reader and lead them to the next sentence.
- Create logical steps along the way, like stepping stones, to help your reader over to "your side."
- Make those steps into subheadings, so you have a structure for your post.
- List the subheadings in advance, go through them in detail, and review them. Just like I’m doing now! Reviewing helps retention (and gives you another shot at inserting keywords if you’re trying to target certain keywords for blog SEO purposes).
- End with a strong conclusion that tells the reader to do something, because it’s only when you actually make a difference in the reader’s life that you will have a growing number of loyal readers.
End with a Strong Conclusion that Tells the Reader to Do Something
These seven steps for a coherent blog post will make your blog writing more accessible and understandable, which will net you more readers and subscribers. People avoid what they don’t understand, and they enjoy what they easily understand and agree with. This makes them more likely to subscribe.
Writing coherently increases the likelihood that your posts will be both understood, enjoyed, and acted upon. The "acted upon" part will not happen unless you encourage your reader to act. Do not overwrite your conclusion: keep it short, simple, and focused on what you want the reader to do.
If you really want to write coherent blog posts that will be clearly understood by your readers, I have a challenge for you: Write a post following my seven steps here, and then leave a comment below with a link to your post so we can see how you followed these seven steps and created a highly coherent blog post.
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