by Guest Author
This is a guest post from Leo Babauta of Zen Habits. If you want to guest post on this blog, check out the guidelines here.
In the last few years at Zen Habits, I’ve gone from 7 posts a week to two or three … and yet my blog is growing in readership faster than ever.
That’s not to brag, but to illustrate a point: frequent posting isn’t necessarily effective blogging.
If your goal is to reach a wider audience and establish yourself as a blogger, your aim should be to have a big impact with each post. And if your goal is just to put your thoughts out there, maybe to stir up some discussion in the blogging world … you should also aim for high-impact posts.
High-impact posts are measured not in terms of page views, but on how they affect discussion. Are people talking about the post, on blogs or Twitter or forums? Are they responding in comments or via email? Are they forwarding the post to friends via email, Twitter, and other social networks? Are they bookmarking it on Delicious or voting for it on Digg or Stumbling it? These are just some of the ways you can tell what kind of impact your blog is having.
First, let’s look at the opposite of high-impact posts. These are the kinds of posts you’ll see on many blogs, by the hundreds, that no one will find useful and bookmark or forward or talk about:
- What I did today
- A few favorite links
- What I ate today
- Sorry I haven’t been blogging in awhile
- Tagged: Why I blog
- Blogging love
- A dream
None of these posts are useful to people, or interesting. They’ll go out into the world and make not one drop of difference.
There’s isn’t a formula for writing a high-impact post, but here are some tips from what I’ve learned:
- Extremely useful. Be as useful as possible on a topic that people want to learn about.
- Complete guides. An extension of the above tip, but as complete as you can be — someone should be able to read the guide and do whatever it is you’re teaching.
- Great headlines. The headline should make people think, or curious, or promise to be really useful.
- Controversial. Don’t just say controversial things in order to get noticed, but if you can think beyond the conventional and say something different, or in a different way, you’ll get people thinking and talking.
- Short. Not all high-impact posts are short — in fact many aren’t — but if you have a post with one brilliant idea, written concisely and memorably, it’ll have a great chance of getting spread. See Seth Godin for some great examples.
- Memorable. Don’t ever be run-of-the-mill. Do something different, in a way that people will remember. Be bold!
- Consistent. One memorable post is good, but if you’re consistently useful and memorable, week in and week out, people will come to expect it of you and each post will have greater impact.
- Full of resources. Link to other guides or great blogs or books. Save people hours of time researching a topic by giving them the best resources.
- New ideas. Don’t repeat the same ideas — come up with some of your own.
- Looking at new angles. Even if you don’t cover every aspect of a topic on one post, you can go into a lot of depth if you consistently cover different angles of a topic. The more angles you can look at in different posts, the more completely you’ll cover a topic.
- Fewer posts. While the big blogs like Lifehacker and Gizmodo can put out a dozen posts a day, smaller blogs have to make their posts count. By reducing the number of posts you have, you are less likely to overwhelm the reader — and so the reader will be more likely to read your posts. They’ll also be more memorable if you can pour everything you have into each one.
Leo Babauta writes about simplicity and productivity at Zen Habits. He’s also running a bootcamp for beginning bloggers: Blogging 101: How to Create a Blog that Rocks that starts next week.