Whether you’re getting ready to publish your first blog post or your 1000th, you might be wondering: is it the best post it could possibly be? What can I do to make it better? Is it everything my audience is looking for … whatever that may be?
Your blog posts, as they stand, might be totally ineffective — and you don’t even know it. Here are a few questions to consider — deeply and seriously — before publishing your next post.
Am I truly passionate about this topic?
We’ve all been guilty of writing something with a catchy headline because we hope it will catch potential readers’ attention. That’s part of any online publishing strategy. But it becomes problematic when you start writing posts you don’t really care that much about, just because you hope it will get you more readers. Because as cool as it is to draw more people in … once they’re there, if they can tell you don’t care about the words you’re writing, they will leave. And they won’t come back.
The best blogs out there are the ones that feature content written by bloggers who care so much about their blog’s topic that their enthusiasm literally leaps off the screen. Many of you have told me this happens when you read my content, and well, all I really have to say to that is: “Good!” I am passionate about writing. I could write about writing for days on end, if I had the means. The fact that this shines through my writing means I’m (hopefully) doing something right. Make sure you’re so excited about your content that you can barely stand waiting to publish it.
Does this help my readers in some way?
I used to complain a lot on my blog. And these complaints were personal. But I’ll admit, it took me way too long to realize that, for the most part, those posts featuring me venting my frustrations without much added value or substance were selfish. While there may have been others out there dealing with similar frustrations, people don’t just read blogs to find relatable voices. (It’s a big reason, but not the most important one.) They also read blogs like mine to find solutions. And when I spent 500 words whining about whatever was bothering me that day, and didn’t have any solutions to offer — well, that just wasn’t very helpful, was it?
Everything you post has to add value to your reader’s life in some way. You are allowed to complain and address things you think are dumb and call people out — it’s your blog, you can do whatever you want. But keep in mind that helpful, actionable, applicable content is what keeps readers coming back. You have to give them the means to trust you to help them out when they need it most. Blogging isn’t a one-way scream session. If you want an audience, you have to be here for them. It doesn’t work the other way around.
What have I learned from writing this post?
Here’s the thing about writing for an audience … if you’re not getting anything out of it, anyone who happens to stumble across it won’t benefit, either. Let’s return to my previous example — complaining about my selfish frustrations on my public blog. Before I published each of those posts, I should have asked myself: “Meg, what have you learned from this?” Because the answer would have been … well, nothing. I vented my frustrations, the root causes of which I already knew. I offered up zero solutions because I had none. I learned nothing, neither did my readers, and honestly, we all sort of just wasted a bunch of time.
One of the best ways to know you’re providing valuable content is to ask yourself whether or not you’re learning from your own words. Listen. I’ve been writing a long time. Whether you consider me an expert or not, understand that I am ALWAYS LEARNING. I share the things I’m learning because if they’re changing my process as a writer, there’s a chance they’ll change yours, too.
Meg is the creator of Novelty Revisions, dedicated to helping writers put their ideas into words. She is a staff writer with The Cheat Sheet, a freelance editor and writer, and a nine-time NaNoWriMo winner. Follow Meg on Twitter for tweets about writing, food and nerdy things.