The best way to attract a loyal readership is to publish quality work.
Posts filled with typos, unedited and long-winded rambling, or horrible to look at formatting will turn away readers faster than a 404 error message.
This week we will turn our attention to some tips to improve your writing and formatting before you hit that publish button.
1. Choose a topic that connects with Mainers.
BDN Maine has a wide audience with interests ranging from food to parenting to outdoors and politics. As a blogger, you should play up your expertise by diving into the deep end of your niche topic, but keep it accessible to someone who isn’t as familiar with your niche as you are.
Topics that typically do well on the BDN Network tend to fall into one of the following categories:
- Funny or poignant stories … that are relatable to Mainers.
- Tips and information you can use … that Mainers would care about.
- Reacting to the news of the day … and why it should matter to Mainers.
- Relatable human-interest stories … that happened in Maine.
Notice a theme?
Posts that feature these elements are more likely to be featured on bangordailynews.com in the homepage grid, or in our print newspaper.
2. Format your post carefully.
Formatting a blog post makes it easier to read. Although some of these suggestions may seem tedious while you are editing a blog post, you should know: ignoring these steps you risk confusing or boring your reader.
- Include a clear image that is intentionally centered on its own or set to “left” and wrapped in the text. When you add a photo to your post, WordPress will automatically resize it for you.
- Link to all supporting sources in your post. (Not sure how to add links? Here’s a guide.)
- Break up long paragraphs. Readers prefer to scan short paragraphs. As a rule of thumb, your paragraphs should not be more than 4 or 5 lines deep. You can make blog post look less text-heavy by using bullets, images, and sub-headings (like this blog post).
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3. Spend time crafting the right headline.
The best headline will capture the meat of your story in fewer than 54 letters. It will attract readers by making a bold statement, compelling a specific call to action, or asking a question that compels the reader to click on the story in order to find the answer. A few things to remember about headlines:
- Only capitalize the first word and proper nouns in a headline.
- Your headline is not a book title — creative yet unclear headlines do not attract readers. Your readers will likely see a link to your blog post without much context about you or your blog on the BDN network or on social media; your headline needs to capture their attention on its own.
- Practice writing strong headlines. Many of our bloggers swear by the Blog Post Headline Analyzer by CoSchedule.com.
- Triple check your grammar and spelling.
4. Check your grammar and spelling.
There is nuthin worst then bad grammer and speling!
Make sure that you run your work through a spell check — at the very least — before you publish a blog post or article. It helps to develop relationships with other writers so that you can get honest feedback on grammar, spelling, tone, length, voice, and other particulars.
Here is a popular Internet meme that demonstrates some basic English grammar rules in a fun and humorous way:
Here are a few reputable resources that address proper grammar and spelling:
- The Purdue OWL is the Online Writing Lab hosted by Purdue University
- The Elements of Style by E.B. White and William Strunk Jr.
- The Hemingway Editor is an app that proofs and edits English text.
5. Include an excerpt.
Since the Bangor Daily News blogs are published on WordPress, writers may benefit from a handy feature called Excerpt.
What is an excerpt?
This feature allows writers to include a brief summary of the blog post. For a detailed description, instructions on how to use, and examples of what it looks like check out this tutorial here.
The excerpt will show up in many places your post is syndicated — Twitter, Facebook and the BDN website, to name a few places.
6. Write descriptions with the images in your post.
The image data is so important because when a reader adds your post to Pinterest, Pinterest will make the title of the pin be the title of the image. This blog post from WPBeginner.com explains why.
Adding a title, description, caption and alt text to your image also makes your blog more likely to to be found in Google search results.
7. Select a featured image.
Selecting a “feature image” in your blog post means that an image will be the one that appears in the preview link when shared across social media platforms and the BDN Maine network. Posts that don’t have featured images are often passed over for being featured on BDN Blogs Facebook Page and the BDN homepage.
For more information on blogging, check out our other posts on Maine on the Blogs or visit us on Facebook where we feature BDN blog posts everyday! Interested in writing a blog for BDN Maine? Pitch us.
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