A blog post requires a certain type of structure
Planning and Structuring your Blog:
Pick a good title
Deciding on a good blog title is kind of like adding the icing on the cake after writing an article. You may start off with a working title but by the time you have completed the article, you may decide to change it to something that fits better.
Put some thought into the title. Make it catchy and include at least one keyword in it. If a title is catchy, it is more likely to attract people if they come across it. For example, a title like ‘7 exercises to get a Kim Kardashian Butt’ sounds more catchy than ‘7 exercises to tone your leg muscles.
Try not to change your title once you have published it, unless you really have to. If you do so, you may have to set up a redirect to avoid any broken link 404 error messages from visitors linking to the old url address of your post.
Don’t underestimate what a blog article is. Writing blog articles requires a special type of format, the same way that a university thesis or an academic essay requires a special type of structure, referencing and language. Blogs are no different. Many people don’t realise this and don’t write in the best way that is suited to a blog.
For example, not using enough paragraphs seems a simple rule and harkens back to high school days when a teacher would tell you to break up your prose more. This rule doubly applies when it comes to blog articles.
You’ve got to bear in mind, that people may read your articles on their smartphones. With less space on the screen, a paragraph (even of 300 words) can seem a very long thing indeed. It can be a little tiring to be met with a long line of text and no breaks – kind of like a long waterfall of words flowing in front of your eyes. Therefore it helps to break up text with paragraphs.
Headings and subheadings
For the same reason as paragraphs, you need to break up your prose with subheadings. It makes a blog article more readable. I have read many articles by people, where there is one long flow of text.
In some cases, it may be well written, but the reading experience can be a little tiresome, especially on a smartphone.
By adding subheadings it’s like inserting friendly signposts every so often, just to give the reader a mini break and breather from reading the text. It also helps the reader to keep going, especially when it is a particularly long article.
The main point
Get to the main point of your article quickly – ideally in the first paragraph. If you are writing about an article for how to sleep better, then tell the reader early on that that is what the article is going to talk about. Don’t leave the reader with any doubt as to what they are reading. Once you get to the main point, then you can start to elaborate and discuss it more.
I should add, that I do not always follow this rule with my blog.
Again, the point of the blog, is for a reader to build a connection with you. You do this by showing your personality, your knowledge and sharing life experiences. It may help to give an anecdote.
Perhaps you helped treat your mother-in-law’s snoring problem (sorry, I grew up with 1970s TV comedy – lots of mother-in-law jokes back then). You may also want to include your opinions, observations, lessons or anything thing else you have learned personally about this particular problem.
Bear in mind, confidentially is doubly important when writing about your patient experiences. You may have to change names or even specific details so that even if the person you were writing about was to read the article, they would not be able to tell, that it was about them.
Alternatively, if you have a good relationship with the patient, you could ask their permission to write about it, but again, leave out any identifying information. You have to be sensitive and not reveal anything potentially embarrassing about anyone. And that includes your mother-in-law, who snores like a pig. Only joking.
A narrow topic or niche
As mentioned before, it is better to focus on a narrow topic, rather than talk generally about lots of different areas. Also it can be beneficial to write different variations of articles based on the same topic.
For example, you may be writing about the Alexander Technique as being beneficial for posture. Well, the Alexander Technique has plenty of other benefits, but rather than write about all of them in one article, you could write a separate article about its usefulness for speech and elocution.
Another alternative, would be to discuss some new research, which talks about the benefits of Alexander Technique for back pain. Or perhaps you could discuss an article in a newspaper about a famous actor that has used the Alexander Technique to help them project their voice better whilst performing.
By writing many different articles on the same theme, you start to gain a level of authority and expertise in that particular area. And yet again, the niche should be relevant and something of genuine interest to the reader.
Grammar and Typos
The more you write, the more mistakes you are likely to make. Finding typos is a tiring and almost torturous process. Well that’s my experience of it.
For a reader, even small spelling mistakes can be a little irksome to read, and if you allow any comments on your website, there will usually be someone who points them out.
Make sure to read through everything you write to check if it makes sense and capture any typos. Don’t underestimate how easy it is to miss misspelled words. It is worth reading the post in different formats – e.g. on your laptop, your smartphone, as a PDF, or on paper in order to see them with different eyes. Another useful strategy is to take a break of a day or two from the draft and then re-read it with fresh eyes to capture the spelling mistakes. Also periodically re-visit your writing in the future. There is a good chance, you will find some more typos that escaped the first time.
You can pay people who do proofreading. They usually charge by the word. Or you can ask a family member and friend. Another tactic is to read the text backwards. Yes, it is pretty tortuous stuff. I apologise in advance, if you find any typos in this text. Feel free to email me to let me know if you feel inclined, and I will correct them.
Physician Heal Thyself first
I am very guilt of leaving lots of spelling mistakes in my posts. The reason is that I have written lots of content in a short period of time. In the first four months of 2018, I managed to write approximately 100,000 words in blog posts, articles and eBooks. Typos are inevitable.
I am aware that there are likely a few spelling mistakes on my blog posts that I still need to capture.
My free eBook ‘How to Set Up a Complementary Therapy Business on a Budget’ still had typos in it 4 years after I had written it, which doesn’t really give a good impression to readers. It helps if you have someone who can proofread through your work and highlight any spelling mistakes.
Keep sentences short. Don’t start a sentence with the same word too many times in a paragraph.
Keep language easy to understand. Not everyone is going to be reading or speaking English as a first language, so if you use too many complicated words, slang, or jargon, they may not understand your meaning. In London, many of your potential clients may be from other countries.
The same principle applies to any specialist language that is unique to your therapy. For example, in Traditional Oriental medicine, there is a whole subset of language.
For example, it talks of Qi/Ki energy, yin and yang, channels, pathogenic factors and organs. Most people don’t really understand it or will try to fit it in with their own understanding. Confusion can entail.
Avoid jargon if possible or if you do use it, then explain it in a simplified or ‘dummies’ way, so people can understand what you are talking about.
It’s the same way that medical doctors will use Latin to describe medical problems because they know that most people will not know what they are talking about. The problem with this is that it creates a barrier between practitioner and patient. It also adds an aura of self-importance to doctors who understand the code.
It is kind of like how the priests in the middle-ages, would be the only people to understand the Bible and so they could control the local people by setting themselves up as the only authority that could interpret God’s teachings.
Essentially it is another way of manifesting power and control over someone else. Or in other words – acting from the ego.
For some reason, it is recommended to include some pictures for your blog articles. Apparently, Google likes pictures on blog articles, but it is not a fixed rule. Some of the most popular blogs I have come across have absolutely no pictures.
Nonetheless, these days it is recommended to include at least one picture in your article. There is a possibility that if you use too many pictures in one page, it can slow down the loading of the page on some computers and smartphones, so it may be advisable to limit the number of pictures on a page.
On a picture, it is worth adding an ‘alt’ description on it and include any keywords you may be focusing on for that article. If you use WordPress.com, you can enter this relatively easily. Pictures should be relevant to what your blog article is about, but it should also be eye-catching.
You also need to consider the copyright of an image. I strongly recommend you do not just take any image off the internet from a google image search. You do not have the rights to them and furthermore, these images will be used multiple times by other websites. They lack originality.
The best is if you use your own. Some people are very good photographers. Or perhaps you have a friend, who is happy to donate images for your use. Otherwise, it is possible to take really great shots with an iPhone these days.
Stock Photo Websites
If you are after a specific image, check out stock photos. These are various companies that sell images on the internet. Some like 123rf are relatively inexpensive. Some sites are free such as Pixabay.com and Pexels.com. For this eBook, I used free stock photos from these websites.
Whenever you think of downloading or buying an image from a stock photo site, you need to check the usage rights of the picture.
Most stock photo companies will let you purchase and use images for websites and blogs, but if you want to use an image to place on a product to sell (e.g. A mug or t-shirt) you will need to purchase an extended license, which can be up to a hundred pounds for one image. In this case, it is better to get your own image taken. Don’t forget to accredit the source of the image, especially if you use one from a free stock photo website.
If you include an image on your blog, make sure the image itself has a hyper-link in it, to take the reader to the body of the article, when they hover over it and click on the image.
Decide if you need pictures or not
If you are planning to make an eBook like this one, I would advise against using any pictures as it can make the process a little more complicated with getting the layout on the page running smoothly, especially when you convert to a Kindle format. It is much easier to make a book with text only and probably looks more professional.
On the other hand, using a few images does afford the opportunity to break up the text and insert a little humour.
So, to recap:
- Use paragraphs to make text more readable on smartphones. Keep sentences short.
- Use subheadings to break up long bits of text.
- Get to the main point of the blog article quickly. Don’t leave the reader unsure what the post is about.
- Include an anecdote or story from personal experience to create a connection with your reader.
- Narrow down the topic of your post to a specific niche relevant to your reader.
- Go through and capture grammar and spelling mistakes thoroughly.
- Avoid too much jargon.
- Include photos, but make sure you have copyright to any images you use and credit the source. Take your own photos or buy stock photos. Do not take from the internet.
Click here for next post: Chapter Seven (Coming Soon)
Pictures taken from: www.123rf.com, www.Pexels.com and www.Pixabay.com
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