You’ve finished your blog post—finally. You type the final few words, breathe a sigh of relief, and hit “publish.”
You might be making a big mistake.
I know how tempting it can be to hurry blog posts out into the world—especially when you’re busy and just getting the post written at all is a huge achievement.
Don’t worry: I’m not going to suggest that you spend hours trying to perfect your post (I’m a firm believer in “published is better than perfect”).
Instead, I have seven quick tweaks that could make all the difference to your post—and to the results you’ll get.
If you want to write blog posts that get more readers, more engagement, and more interest in what you offer … these tips should help.
Note: While I’m focusing here on posts you write for your own blog, you can use almost all of these quick tweaks for posts you produce for clients or as guest pieces.
Writing great titles is a real skill—and you could easily spend hours crafting a new title for your post.
I don’t think you need to do that, though.
The title you already have for your post might be good enough already, and by adding a power word (or phrase), you could take it from good to great.
Let’s look at a few before-and-after examples:
Before: 7 Tweaks for Your Blog Posts
After: 7 Quick Tweaks That Could Make All the Difference to Your Blog Posts (the title of this post!)
Before: 8 Ways to Open Your Next Blog Post
After: 8 Attention-Grabbing Ways to Open Your Next Blog Post
Before: What to Look for When You’re Choosing a New WordPress Theme
After: 7 Crucial Things to Look for When You’re Choosing a New WordPress Theme
Before: How to Create a Content Calendar for Your Blog
After: How to Create a Content Calendar for Your Blog (and Why You’ll Want To)
While the “before” titles are all fine, the “after” versions add just a little bit more to really sell the post to a potential reader. Remember, some people will only see the title of the post before deciding whether or not to read it—so you want it to sound as attractive as possible.
That often means making a more specific promise to the reader.
“Ways to open” your next blog post, for instance, might sound useful. But the addition of “attention-grabbing” makes it clearer what you’ll get if you read the post, … making it sound much more valuable.
“7 crucial things to look for” when choosing a WordPress theme immediately gets you thinking: What are those things? What if you haven’t even considered one of them before? If the title is just “what to look for,” it’s easy to pass it by—you might think you already know what to look for.
And the addition of “why you’ll want to” in the final example means that you don’t ignore that post, thinking you don’t need a content calendar. It piques your curiosity: Well, why would you want one? Once you’re curious, you’re much more likely to click!
Take it further: If you have a bit more time, brainstorm several ideas for each post’s title. You might find you come up with something you like more than your original version.
A single image can do a lot of work by setting the tone for your piece and creating visual interest and more whitespace—making your post look attractive to read. If you don’t already include images at (or near) the top of your posts, I’d definitely recommend giving them a try.
If your latest post needs an image, use a site like Pixabay or Pexels to source a Creative Commons licensed image that you can safely reproduce. It won’t cost you anything other than a couple of minutes of your time.
Of course, you can also use your own images: You might want to take your own photos for your blog or even produce your own artwork. This can add a lovely personal touch as well as allowing you to create exactly the image you want.
Take it further: A branded image can add a sense of consistency to your blog, and it’s a great way to show your blog’s URL (or whatever branding you want to use) when your post is pinned, tweeted, etc. Kirsten Oliphant has some great tips about creating branded images here.
One very easy and effective way to encourage readers to stick around on your blog and read more posts is to link to posts they might be interested in. I know it sounds obvious, but it’s something that many bloggers neglect to do.
When you’ve written your post, if you can’t immediately think of any posts to link back to, search your site for the topic in question. (For example, if your post is about easy games to play in the car with your kids, it might make sense to link to other traveling posts with a post like “what to pack for a long car journey” or “how to keep your kids entertained on a plane.”)
If you’ve been blogging for a few years, you might be surprised just how much you’ve written and then forgotten about!
You can use your site’s own search feature, or if you prefer, you can go to Google and type in your search term plus “site:yoursite.com” to search your archives. (You can use this for any site, too, not just your own.)
For example, if you wanted to find posts about blogging here on Craft Your Content, you could run a search for “blogging site:craftyourcontent.com” and get the following results:
I’d suggest that you always include at least one link to a past post, and ideally two or three links. You can use an existing sentence or phrase as the link, or add the title of the post and use that as the link.
Take it further: Go back to older posts and add links to content that you’ve posted more recently. This is a particularly good thing to do with old posts that get a lot of search engine traffic. (In Google Analytics, you can see your most-visited posts under Behavior→Site Content.)
Subheadings break up a post and make it easy for readers to scan if they’re skimming for information. They also help readers who’re reading every word by offering “signposts” to help them stay oriented within the post.
Subheadings also create more visual interest and whitespace, making your post instantly look easier to read.
When you add in subheadings, make sure that you’re consistent about how you format them. Normally, your subheadings should be in Heading 2 style, which you can select in WordPress from the “paragraph” dropdown:
If you have sub-subheadings (nested subheadings), you can use Heading 3 for these. Just be careful to make sure you’re always using the correct heading style for the level of subheading—it looks a bit sloppy if you chop and change for no reason.
Take it further: Think of your subheadings as a list, and make them match one another. In this post, for instance, all the subheadings start with a verb in the imperative (“Use…” “Put…” “Add…”), and they’re all a similar length.
In addition to adding subheadings, you can put key points into bold text to help readers pick them out. Again, this is not only useful—helping scanners figure out what’s important—but also makes your post look more engaging and interesting.
It’s up to you how exactly you add the bold text, but I’d suggest that:
You can also use bold text as a low-key subheading, like I do with the “Take it further” sections within this post.
Take it further: Establish a consistent pattern for how you use bold text—for instance, you might decide to start each of your subsections with a key, bolded sentence immediately after the subheading.
Does your post have a conclusion and a call to action? Or does it just … stop?
I’ve never seen a blog post that had no introduction at all, but it’s quite common to come across blog posts that don’t have any sort of conclusion. This happens especially often with list posts, where the blogger will finish their final point and then abruptly end the post.
I can absolutely see why this happens: You work through all the points on your list, and then you just want to be done! (Or maybe you want to keep your post as short as possible.)
A blog post without any sort of conclusion, though, can be jarring for the reader, and even worse, it means a lost opportunity for you.
Your conclusion should sum up the post. It might be just a sentence or two, but it needs to be present.
Your call to action (CTA) should follow on from your post, and it should invite the reader to do something. That might be something like “try out one of these tips this week” or “leave a comment below” or “what could you do to take the next steps with your book?” The point is that you’re giving them a suggested next action. (If you don’t, chances are they’ll wander off to read something else.)
If you’re writing for a client or for someone else’s blog, do keep in mind their guidelines about CTAs: Some editors like them to be as unobtrusive as possible, while others have a standard type of CTA they use on every post (like giving the reader a question to think about). If you’re not sure, check with your client.
Take it further: Vary your calls to action. Think strategically: What do you most want readers to do? You might even consider chaining together calls to action—for instance, you might end your most recent post by linking to one of your older posts, and that older post might end with an invitation to join your newsletter.
This is a small thing, … but it does make a difference. Whenever you finish a post, before you hit “publish,” check that you’ve given it the right category.
If you don’t set a category, your post will default to “Uncategorized”—which looks a bit amateurish and isn’t at all helpful for your readers.
If you’ve not already got an appropriate category for your latest post, then create a new one.
Keep an eye on how many you’ve got altogether though—especially if you use them on your blog for navigation purposes (for example, if you have a list of categories in your sidebar that readers can click on to look at posts in a particular category).
Take it further: Rename the “Uncategorized” category as something else (even “General” would be better), or set a different existing category as the default. That way, even if you do forget to set the category, your post should end up somewhere sensible!
We’ve taken a look at seven simple but important tweaks you can make when you finish a post. Most of them will take no more than five minutes to put into action. Here’s the list again so you’ve got it handy:
Which of these tweaks do you think would have the most impact on your own blog posts (or the posts you write for your clients’ blogs)? Share your favorites in the comments—or let us know about any quick, powerful tweaks that I missed.
Ali Luke has been freelancing and blogging since 2008. These days ,she juggles freelancing, blogging, novel-writing and two young children. As well as blogging for a number of large sites (ProBlogger, Daily Writing Tips and more), she writes about the art, craft and business of writing on her long-running blog Aliventures.com. If you'd like to spend more time writing, download her free ebook Time to Write: How to Fit More Writing Into Your Life, Right Now -- it's a short read, with ten practical tried-and-tested tips.