Dissecting the Anatomy of the 1% of Blog Posts that are Awesome

Less than 1% of blog posts are really awesome.

That’s a fake statistic.

But I’m sure we’ve both read blog posts that weren’t awesome.  I’ve even been guilty of writing blog posts that weren’t awesome.  (Yes, I heard that gasp!  Or stifled giggle…)

Awesome is subjective.   It’s hard to measure.

What elements help tip a post from “that was helpful” to “wow, great post!” so people want to read, take action, comment and share?

Of course, the content has got to be awesome.   We know that already though.  So let’s go to “what else?” you can do once you’ve got good content.

Here’s a quick guide that can help you get closer to that “awesome!” target with every blog post you write.

Snappy Headline

How are your headlines?  Blah, blah, blah boring?  Or spicy little curiosity-filled treats of word pictures?

A good headline can make all the difference in whether your post gets read.  So put some time into it.  The original title of this post was “Elements of a Good Post” — bland and not at all attention grabbing.

Tip: Twitter is a great place to test your headline writing.  Write your blog post.  Then write 5 different headline versions and tweet with them (not all at once, of course).  See what gets retweets and click throughs.

Best resource for learning to write better ones: http://copyblogger.com/magnetic-headlines/

Attention Catching Opening

How can you catch your reader’s attention from the very beginning of your post?  Try opening with…

  • a quote – famous or controversial
  • a startling statistic (did my totally made up one get your attention?)
  • a compelling question
  • words that paint a picture evoking emotion or the senses

Content that Delivers on the Promise

Whatever you promised in that snappy headline, deliver it.

If it takes 100 words, cool.  If it takes 1,000 words, cool.

And make it easy for readers to digest by using:

  • sub-headlines
  • bullet or numbered lists
  • images to illustrate or evoke emotion
  • shorter paragraphs for easier on-screen reading

Just be sure you show up with whatever you promised.

Multimedia Element

Go beyond words.  Image, audio, or video.

Could be as simple as an image that supports or illustrates your point or the emotions you want to convey.

Or it might be an audio version of your post, or a video blog.

But share more than plain black text on a white background.  Take advantage of the multimedia options you’ve got when you blog to draw your readers in.

Closing Call to Action

Tell readers what to do next.  Might be subtle.  Could be obvious.  But you should know what you’re gently prodding them to take action on or do next.

  • Leave a comment to join you in the conversation
  • Subscribe to your RSS or ezine
  • Purchase what you’re selling
  • Follow a link
  • Implement or do something

A call to action doesn’t have to be “buy my stuff!”

Maybe you want them to feel inspired after reading and share that inspiration with someone else.

Here’s my call to action for this post:  Please leave a comment and tell me what makes a blog post awesome for you. 

Image Credit: cteconsulting on StockFresh

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  1. Hi Michelle,

    I also like to consider the visual impact of a blog post. So if I land onto a page and it is a solid chunk of text, then I think to myself ‘Urgh… I’m not going to read that’ I then go looking for my trusty back button and I’m outta there…

    However if the post is well presented and has a visual appeal then I will stay and begin to read. This is then when (for me) the rest of the factors you mention come into play.
    Chris Cole recently posted… Writing blog comments that will get publishedMy Profile

    1. I tend to have that same reaction, Chris. It’s so much easier to read when the text is broken up with images or well formatted headlines.
      Michelle Shaeffer recently posted… 5 Ways to Make Your Site FlyMy Profile

  2. I know I need a great headline for all the blog posts I write but you have to admit it’s difficult to come up with a good one each time.

    We’re all marketers right? We all know we need to fit the keyword in somewhere.

    Most of the time I can think of something interesting and eye catching but other times it’s not so easy.

    I do have a swipe file for some of my niches but don’t for others.
    Jeff Wise recently posted… PopUp Domination 3.0 Review – New Features And ThemesMy Profile

    1. Jeff,

      The idea of keeping a swipe file for headlines is a great idea. I keep lots of swipe files for purposes like that. That reminds me that I really need to expand my swipe file inventory. When I come across great headlines, I still usually forget to add them to my list. Anyone who reads this who doesn’t already use a swipe file system for improving their content should seriously consider doing that.
      Ted recently posted… What Really Matters When Trying To Build A Successful WebsiteMy Profile

      1. Swipe files are a great idea for headlines. Also that Copyblogger link has a bunch of great templates–I like to use those when I’m feeling stuck.
        Michelle Shaeffer recently posted… Why Should You Be Blogging?My Profile

  3. Hi Michelle,

    I definitely agree with you on the importance of snappy headlines, often the headline tells me whether its relevant to what I am needing at the moment.

    A site that I like to use as a headline analyzer is here…http://www.aminstitute.com/headline/index.htm
    I enjoy creating titles and watch the scoring numbers go up as you get more and more creative.

    Thanks for sharing Michelle!

    Take care!

    Karlene Miller

    1. Very cool link. Thanks for sharing that, Karlene.

  4. One thing I love finding in blog posts is those little details, those hidden ideas, those novelties that they are opening our eues to.
    The awesomeness of a headline tested in tweeter… This is brilliant!

    I am not at all familiar with tweeter – I understand that each media has its own rules and its own uses, and I wouldn’t like to embark on a medium, if I was to feel uncomfortable with it. But this idea of testing our headlines fits with the image I have of tweeter, which is somehow a spur-of-the-moment, conversational one.
    Helenee recently posted… Greek Christmas Traditions updated Tue Nov 22 2011 11:54 am ESTMy Profile

    1. You’ve got the image right, Helenee. :) It’s very much a quick, conversational style. One of my favorite things about it.

      Those little ideas are always fun to find!
      Michelle Shaeffer recently posted… Better Mistakes?My Profile

  5. Michelle,

    Your fake statistic might be more accurate than you think. Most blog posts really aren’t all that awesome, including the vast majority of the ones I write. I think that in order to really produce a truly awesome blog post, you have to first decide who your exact target audience persona is going to be. Then you need to know what makes them tick and what makes them worry. Then write specifically to solve their problems and ease their worries.

    Even after doing this though, there are going to be some visitors who won’t think it is awesome. They won’t like it as much because they won’t fit the ideal target audience of the blog post in the first place.

    Nice choice of topics for this post.
    Ted recently posted… Tips For New BloggersMy Profile

    1. Knowing your reader is key. Don’t worry about connecting with everyone–just connect with the right people!
      Michelle Shaeffer recently posted… 5 Ways to Make Your Site FlyMy Profile

  6. Hi, I’ve justy started blogging but I have found that the subject matter is really important in my industry. Hitting hot topics seems to work well for me.
    Dee recently posted… The Future of POP Display – Augmented Reality.. Where is it Heading?My Profile

    1. Hi Dee, yes hot topics are a great way to get attention/traffic.
      Michelle Shaeffer recently posted… Better Mistakes?My Profile

  7. Great summary. Content that is real. If the writer is just re-hashing a list of “10 things you can learn from” blah blah it’s not for me. If they are being honest, revealing secrets and really giving away some great actionable advice then it’s a great blog post IMO.
    Dan recently posted… Is this the easiest way to get free traffic?My Profile

    1. I like that you listed actionable advice in your list, Dan. When I read business related blogs, that’s definitely one of the things I’m looking for–something I can take action on right now to improve.
      Michelle Shaeffer recently posted… How to Customize the Photo Strip on Your Facebook Fan PageMy Profile

  8. Great post. I need to get better at some of these things to make my blog posts more catchy. I admit I am terrible with titles. I am bad at them in my day job too. As a health blogger, what detracts from awesomeness of a blog post (for me) is inaccurate information. I have seen some blogs where the health information provided is not based on evidence, but is presented that way. Other times, research is not interpreted correctly. Although I will never be perfect at it, I try hard to provide accurate information in my website and blog. Very thought provoking!
    Kristen recently posted… Work-Life Balance: New Policies at the National Science FoundationMy Profile

    1. The good thing is that any skill can be improved. :) I don’t always hit the mark with my titles but they’re about 100x better than they were a year or two ago.

      Inaccurate info is bad–especially about health issues!
      Michelle Shaeffer recently posted… Yes, Social Networking WorksMy Profile

  9. That opener is definitely key. First impressions are important, so your title and opener better draw people in!
    Jon Anscher recently posted… The Importance of RSS for Content Writing ManagementMy Profile

    1. Nothing works like opening with a bang. :)
      Michelle Shaeffer recently posted… Better Mistakes?My Profile

  10. Headlines are great but if the post isn’t as interesting as the headline in the first few lines, I’m outta there. I think of great headlines as opening the door. The content is what keeps them in the store! Test the headline all you want but if the content doesn’t deliver, it’s no good. That’s my two cents! LOL
    Martha Giffen recently posted… Why Most Blogs Bore MeMy Profile

    1. I like that analogy — get the door open, but behind that door better be a prize worth stepping inside for!
      Michelle Shaeffer recently posted… Why Should You Be Blogging?My Profile

  11. This one is pretty close to awesome Michelle.

    I think also that we need to be the biggest critics of our own work because only then will we really succeed. I am the biggest critic of my work and I’d say that 10% to 20% of my posts that I believe are killer posts and will blow the market away.

    I hope you’re having an awesome weekend.

    Your friend across the pond

    David Verney recently posted… Fourteen Great Ways to Promote Your Blog PostsMy Profile

    1. That’s a good reminder, David. It’s important to take time to look at our work and watch for areas we can improve, as well as seeing what we’ve been doing well.
      Michelle Shaeffer recently posted… 5 Ways to Make Your Site FlyMy Profile

  12. What are you saying Michelle? Are you telling me all the comments I get that simply state “Awesome post” are lying? Now I’m really depressed.

    I tend to fail on the headline, judging by your tips. I could do with more multi-media incorporation in my posts too. I agree though; it is not often that I read a post or article and think, “Wow that was awesome.” I think Ted makes a good point; I have experimented with headlines without actually thinking about who I am aiming them at. I noticed this was the case when I would get an initial rush of traffic which would quickly die out. My bounce rate on those articles also spoke volumes. Of course, my poor results could have been more to do with being part of that other 99%.
    Frank Bowes recently posted… Avid Studio Review and CouponsMy Profile

    1. Ha ha — some of those could be real… but just keep a wary eye out for the “awesome post” spammers. :)

      Headlines are an art that’s always got room to move towards greater mastery. Just keep working on it.

      I’ve done the same with headlines before, we’ve got to think about both what will get clicks and what will draw in the readers to keep that bounce rate down.
      Michelle Shaeffer recently posted… How I Added 1,214 New Subscribers to My Email List in 1 MonthMy Profile

  13. I think of great headlines as opening the door.
    Karl recently posted… Eine kleine KerbeMy Profile

    1. I like that comparison, Karl. Nice.
      Michelle Shaeffer recently posted… How I Added 1,214 New Subscribers to My Email List in 1 MonthMy Profile

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