I'm sure that any blogger will say that there really isn't a set of rules for writing a blog. We'll all agree that what's right for one person isn't for another and ultimately, the key is in making it yours - the beauty of the blogosphere is that everybody approaches it in a slightly different way and the reason blogs are blowing the glossy magazines out of the water is simply because they're written by real 'everyday' people with different (and honest) opinions and approaches. There's no right or wrong and part of the fun of it is just learning as you go. However, one thing I really have had to grasp along the way is how to get the most out of my blog posts. There's definitely been a shift in blogging the past couple of years - even though I've only been doing this 3 years I've noticed such a change in that amount of time. People expect much more from blogs these days - everything's become much more visual, there's more pressure to get everything right straight from the get go and ultimately, social media is the key to getting your content out there (when i first started blogging - I didn't even have Twitter - shocker!) I thought I'd share a few simple tips I've learnt along the way when it comes to getting people to click that 'read more' button...
1. The 'intro' image
1. The 'intro' image
First impressions count for everything - and it's no different in the blogging world! The first image you place in your post will have a big impact on whether or not your readers choose to click the 'read more' button. Blogging is very visual and the header image can totally make or break a post, no matter how well written and informative it is. The majority of readers will make up their mind on whether or not to read a post on the cover image alone. I always spend some time considering which image out of the 4 or 5 I'll usually use within the post is the strongest. Composition of a photograph often has a lot to do with it. Do you want to place some text on the image? Therefore you might want to choose one that has a good bit of 'blank space' ... or possibly one where the product isn't central in the photograph so there's room for a snazzy title. If it's a 'collective' sort of post (such as a 'haul'), you might want to pick one where you can see all of the products clearly or choose not to give everything away by using one taken at an angle with some products out of focus. If it's a review, you might want to pick a more 'obvious' image. I used to post my images in a logical order, for example - the product in the packaging or box first. Although it can make for a nice image, especially if it's a luxury item and the packaging is quite sleek, I often find that using a photo of the product open/in use where you can clearly see the colour in the pan is much more interesting and enticing than a neatly packaged box. It all depends what you want your post to look like.
2. The post title
Similar to the header image, the way you word your title will also have a large baring on whether or not people choose to read your post. Try to get a bit creative with your titles. In my earlier blogging days, I simply used to type the name of the product and the word 'review'. Although it's obviously appropriate to feature the name of the product, try and think about what else you can say to gather a bit of intrigue. For example 'the perfect winter blush | *product name*', or 'a new found favourite... | *product name*' It just makes things a little more interesting and hints towards what you're going to discuss in the post. People will want to know why this product is your new favourite and are therefore more likely to read your post. Collective posts or hauls are always the perfect excuse to get a bit creative with your titles too...
3. Day and time
Throughout my years of blogging, I've become quite 'in-tune' with the best times to publish my posts. This can differ for everyone depending on what your blog is about, who your audience is and where in the world your main audience is from - but in general, I'd say the best days to post are always Sundays or early to mid-week. Timing wise, early evening seems to work best for me (around 7.00 - 8.30) as that's when the majority of people are home from work or school and have sat down on the sofa with a cuppa! If I post on a Friday or Saturday night, I always find that my post is a slow burner because that's the time when a lot of people are out socialising. It's well worth getting Google Analytics, having a gander at your stats or posting at different times to judge what's working best for you and your blog. Posting at the right time can make a huge difference as to how many views your post gets.
4. Length and layout
Ok. So they've clicked onto your post - how do you keep them reading? I don't think there's any right or wrong answer for this one simply because everybody has a different preference, but it's well worth considering how you're going to lay out your post. If it's a short and snappy review, it's often nice to have a couple of paragraphs together after a couple of photographs, with maybe a swatch at the end. If it's a haul or favourites styled post, I find it best to break up the text with individual photographs of products just to give the post some pace and make it easier for people to dip in and out as they please. In some instances, your reader might only want to find out about one particular item so this layout style comes in very handy. If you already have a full review of a certain product you've featured in a collective post then it's always good insert a link to it so they can easily find out more. In general, large blocks of text can put people off and it makes readers much more likely to skim read. A lot of people will skim-read regardless, especially if they're not a regular reader - so have a think of ways to keep their attention. Maybe pop the price of the item and a link in bold at the beginning, or think of a few sub-headings to break up the text - think about where you're inserting a line break. All in all, It's your blog and you make the rules but it's well worth thinking about what keeps you reading when you click on to other's blogs.
5. Sign it off...
It's always nice to try and encourage people to interact with your post and your blog. A good way of doing this is asking a question at the end of the post (but only if you're genuinely interested at what others have got to say and only if it's appropriate!) If I've tried something from a certain brand and liked it, I might ask people what else they could recommend from the same brand. I might be interested to know if other people have had a similar experience or have found a better version. Similarly, if I've not enjoyed a product, I'm always intrigued to know if others have found the same problems or niggles and how they might have overcome it or used the product in a different way. Blogging is a fab way to discover products you might never have tried before and I'm always amazed at how helpful and chatty other bloggers are. It's always good to start a discussion.
6. Promote, promote, promote!!!
I'm the worst for this one and it's one thing I really want to concentrate on more in 2015 - promoting your post is so important. When you've spent time and energy tapping away, taking and editing photographs and putting a post together (if you're a blogger you'll know that even the shortest of posts can take hours of work from start to finish) you want to promote it as best you can in order to get it seen! Twitter and Instagram are probably the best ways for doing so (personally, I don't use Instagram but blogging has definitely shifted in favour of it the past year or so) As soon as your post goes live, pop out a tweet to let your followers know. Drop in a link and the #bbloggers hash-tag - and if you've got a particularly good header image, why not tweet a picture too? Beware of over-promoting though - as this can do the exact opposite of what you intend to do, but it's well worth tweeting about it a couple of times over the next few days in order to gain more exposure to your post from different groups of people. Readers may have missed your update in their Bloglovin' feeds so Twitter is a fab way of making sure you get it out there and maximising your potential exposure.
Have you got any top tips for getting the most from a post? Sharing is caring! Let me know :)