David Airey is an independent graphic designer working with companies of all sizes since 2005.

6 tips to improve your blog articles

Pebbles

To write a great blog post it must consist of the following.

Tell us a story

If you’re like me, you don’t read blogs like you would an essay (i.e., half-asleep). You read blogs because they’re personal. You get to know the author in a way that isn’t shown in academic writing. Brian of Copyblogger writes a timely post to back this up: Tell a Tantalizing Story.

Address your readers

Don’t forget who you’re writing for. People will return to your blog because you’re speaking to them and not simply writing a diary. The more you can relate your words to those who are reading, the more they’ll appreciate what you’re doing and ultimately the more blogging success you’ll have.

Spend time on your headlines

The best headlines are not just written for Google or Digg. Besides, getting on the front page of Digg isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

I’ve previously written about how to improve your headlines.

Use images

A post with images is much more appealing than one entirely consisting of text. It’s more likely to be read from start to finish and can help you remember content.

Optimise images for the web so you don’t use unnecessary bandwidth. Stay clear of cheap looking clipart too — it can devalue your blog. Photographs are ideal, and illustrations can be equally effective.

Winter photo

Char from Essential Keystrokes writes about Thirteen Things Every Website Needs and has this to say about images:

A picture is worth a thousand words and a well-placed picture or graphical element will save your website from eternal loneliness.

For images, try this wallpaper resource or these royalty-free stock photography sites.

Ask questions

This is an important point to help prompt comments. There are other things you can do, such as install the subscribe to comments plugin, but if you don’t ask a question you can’t really expect a response. People might read your post, agree, and move on, but if you take the time to ask something you’d be surprised how effective it can be.

Give your own opinion

Splogs (spam blogs) are rife. There’s enough duplicate content on the internet to reach from here to the sun in manuscript form (maybe).

Don’t add to it.

If you find something worth writing about, and it’s already documented on another blog, add your own spin. Do a little research and combine a few stories along with your own comments as you go. It’s so much more interesting than a simple regurgitation, and you’ll keep people returning to read your thoughts again and again.

Blog tips elsewhere

Dawud shares his insight. Ben makes a great point of writing in bite size chunks. Leo adds the importance of cutting out what isn’t necessary. Mike writes a nice piece asking, “Do You Sound Like Your Blog?“.

What have you done recently to improve your blog publishing?

My second book on Amazon

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22 comments about “6 tips to improve your blog articles”

  1. Headlines…you would have to bring them up, wouldn’t you. Headlines are a part of my blog that I feel I could use some work. Mine are usually okay, not great in most cases though.

    And I could definitely use images more. I think I don’t out of laziness. And, there’s a bit of a design flaw on my blog that makes using images a bit difficult. I’m fixing that flaw with the next iteration of dmiracle.com.

    Really good tips, David. Thanks. And thanks for linking to me.

  2. this is not about this post but you chose an interesting person to quote for your banner. as designers, we woulda been thrown in the gulags or sent to labor camps for reeducation…and all our work would be destroyed…if we were under mao that is.

    as for a comment on this post…what i look for when reading blogs are information and opinion. personal stories are good too.

  3. David, you make some good points. It is very important to promote interaction and also post regularly to keep and grow you audience.

  4. Cool, this is interesting, and thanks for the mention by the way!

    I don’t think I could make up a good enough post for my blog. But creating a good article means doing your research (making sure to gets your facts straight), put time and thought into it so, as you said, so you’re talking to the audience not just writing a boring essay. And editing is a big part. You might think it sounds good, but leaving it and going back to it and reading over it a couple times is a good idea, some things you thought sounded good might not sound so good anymore.

  5. These are all good points to keep in mind, but tough to do! Sometimes I think I lose sight too easily of who I’m blogging for, or how to address my audience, or what tone to use, etc. Maybe it’s because my blog is still new, so a lot of what I do is trial and error in trying to find my little corner of the blogosphere. I’m having a great time with it, but there’s so much to learn and remember. Whoever said blogging was easy obviously never stuck with it very long. :)

  6. I’m a little late to the congratulatory party here. Interestingly enough it’s because I wrote a post today that for whatever reason, just wasn’t right to publish. Maybe I need to rework it using your tip #5 and ask more questions or something!! :)

    Great post, David!!

  7. Frank, there’s no doubt that Mao was a historical tragedy for the people of China. I’ll give him credit for the quote, however.

    Sean, editing — great point. Always re-read your post before hitting ‘publish’, then read it again. You can never proofread enough, and it always helps to get another set of eyes if you have time (some of you have pointed out my typos on more than one occasion and for that I’m grateful).

    Wendy, thanks for the kind words, and for asking the question of me in the first place. Do you store a few drafts that you work on from time to time before publishing?

    Charity, I’d never have thought you need so many hats to make a success of blogging. Researcher, copywriter, editor, proofreader, photographer, etc. etc. Thanks for stopping by.

  8. I agree with all your advice above – very sound stuff.

    Maybe I’d add to keep it focused and on-topic; short, bite-sized paragraphs of text; and avoid writing tomes.

  9. Thanks for the mention, David.

    Staying focused is in my opinion one of the major points when blogging. I’ve put “I talk about logos, design and creativity” in a huge typeface at the top of my blog, and try to stick to that. The reader has expectations even before your site has loaded, and will be irritated if the contents doesn’t match his expectations. I posted a post on photography yesterday, which I still don’t know if it was smart.

    A blog has to offer something unique, as you said. I bet your posts with sketchbook scans have been pretty popular. This is because it is unique content, and the concept itself is rather rare. Many people post unfinished stuff, but very few go all the way back to the sketchpad.

    I guess I fail on telling stories and using images, and probably catchy headlines as well. :D I need my blog to be somewhat academic, though, to be able to use it as a learning tool later.

    Thanks again. :)

  10. I’m still relatively new to the world of blogging, despite working in web and graphic design for over 15 years now – so it’s all still a learning curve for me!

    The main thing I’m doing to improve my blog posts is reading other blogs. After the initial overwhelming onslaught of potential daily reads, I’ve narrowed it down to just 20 – with yours being one of them naturally David!

    I’ve yet to master the question asking, and I still see my blog as a personal thing – not worthy of response. This is obviously the wrong attitude to have as I already have a few regular readers, but I plan to address the matter, starting with my very next post!

  11. Currently I’m working on making sure my content is as super useful as possible and that the post is readable. Sub-headings seem to be a great way to make a longer post readable.

    Excellent post here. And excellent blog. I was reading your post on what happens when you get to the front page of Digg. Does anyone know why the comments get so mean on Digg? Is it just to stir up controversy and get traffic for themselves? Anyhow, I hope they didn’t really get to you David.

    Best regards.

  12. I remmebered Jay Abraham said something like “Headline is an ad within the ad”. Using the tracking system in my blog, I realized that titles that strike a cord or are sensational usually get more viewership. Two of my blog posts were stolen by a scumbag blogger and I lamented through a post entitled “I was a Victim of Intellectual Property.”. As it was purely personal musing, I didn’t expect it would attract much attention and response. I was wrong, it did. Also, some post which I entitled “How Much …” also garnered more response/feedback. Since then, I put even more attention to headlines. And yes, recently, I learnt the power of images in blogs. It made reading more fun, and improve the overall asethetic appeal of the blog.

  13. Great post, David. I very much agree that a little visual stimulation always helps a blog post. That’s why I create mini banners for each one of my posts – to communicate the title of my message visually, as well.

  14. I must admit that this post just to the right moment. I am just starting my blog and this came like “mana from the heavens” since all your points/arguments passed my minad, but seeing them all together do create an amazing guide.

    The “ask a question” part is indeed a very good point, but do you believe that every post should have a question to be answered? Can’t that be called “comment begging” is some cases?

  15. Sully, the majority of commentators on Digg are those who enjoy snide remarks. I’d not worry about them. I’ve been told that the Reddit community is more sensible with comments but haven’t taken much of a look.

    Vivienne, it’s funny when a post you never thought would be popular suddenly gets a lot of interest. I agree that placing a question in your article headline can be of benefit (with the content to match of course).

    Romeo, I understand you might be reluctant to always ask. Not every post of mine includes a question. It’s not because I want to see how many comments I can get, but because I value your opinion.

    The comments left on my blog have helped me learn. I know that if I was reading a post that struck a chord with me and there was a specific question at the end, I’d be much more likely to comment.

    Questions keep the discussion focused too, adding extra value to the article.

  16. mhm! I will agree with the above David.
    Keeping a conversation focused is a very important matter indeed.

  17. Well, I wrote some tips! Now if only I could get myself to follow them…

  18. I certainly think that retroactive recognition (and hyperlinking) of your readers in every post entices them to come back again and again and/or subscribe to your blog.

    That is, if you get readers in the first place.

  19. Nice blog. I have been wanting to redo my ever so outdated, from the 90s, website and implementing a WordPress blog into it. This allows me to actually know how to do an interesting blog. Thanks David.

  20. Thanks Chief, WordPress is such a great tool. I’m learning how to create custom templates at the minute, which takes quite a while, but the functionality behind it is incredible.

  21. I’d also recommend a standard piece of writing advice: blog about what you know, or at least blog about topics you are honestly interested in. Everyone wants to drive traffic to their blog, and since “making money online” is a popular search term, it’s tempting to start blogging about that topic. Don’t jump on that bandwagon, or any other popular blog topic, just for the traffic boost. Readers will see right through your posts and in the end I suspect more damage than good will come of such posts. Stick to what you know and what you really like.

  22. Hi Bret, absolutely. It’s so much easier to keep a blog going when you have a genuine interest in the content.