If I could describe the whole post in one word, what would be it?
Why would anyone want to read this post?
What would anyone do after reading this post?
It’s every writers’ wish to write in a plain and clear language. After all, writers write so they can communicate with their audience, and they naturally want to be understood.
It’s easy to lose grip of the original subject once you dive headfirst into writing. Ideas that were lurking in the back of your mind jump right in the middle of the action to push you off topic.
To deal with this situation, I’ve come up with three questions to help me stay on track as well as write more engaging posts.
If you can get to the core of your post idea, you will develop a better understanding of your subject matter. Asking a question like this will force you to think and sort through the mess of jumbled thoughts. When you finally reach the word that you think defines your whole post, you’ll be clear-sighted about the whole thing.
One way to get to that word is to brainstorm. Write as many words as you can think of that even remotely represent the primary idea of your post. Then, making use of Darwin’s survival-of-the-fittest rule, remove the unrelated words one by one until you are left with only one word. If you are still unsure about the final word, combine two or more words together to make a new word. This will not only improve your brainstorming skill, but will also help you answer your first question.
If getting to a single word seems like too much of a restriction, make it a sentence. For this post, my answer is this: Write clear, purposeful, and benefit driven posts.
People are intrigued to read only the kind of articles that they think will benefit them in some way. I, for one, am attracted to simple and followable advice.
Even if what you write is for entertainment, you readers can still gain something from it. Talking about a celebrity’s latest scandal? You must know that your readers would be dying to learn the inside details. They would be keen for you to add some spice to the story. At the end, they must be satisfied that what they read was indeed worth reading.
You can apply this to virtually any niche. Why would anyone want to read your post? Know the needs of your audience and feed them.
Finally, where would a reader go after reading your post? What would he do? Would he head to Google to search for more of similar material, or would he simply move on to read the next blog in his feed reader?
As a blogger, you must control what your readers will be up to after they are done reading your post. I don’t mean controlling in an authoritative sense, but in a way that you care about their needs and want to help them out.
To do this, link to other resources that’ll help explain the vague or difficult areas in your writing. For example, if you use a difficult term, link it to its Wikipedia entry so your readers can quickly learn more about it, as opposed to noting it down and searching about it themselves.
Similarly, listing bunch of related posts at the end of every post will ensure that your readers get to read other angles you covered in the past. I love the way Lorelle does it. She ends her posts with a list of recommended readings from her own and other blogs, and she does it manually. Well, I am too lazy to do this kind of thing, but I use Related Posts WordPress Plugin that automatically selects the related posts from my own blog.
Remember, that you ultimately write for your readers. You write to be read. And if you are clear about the key idea and the benefits of your posts, you’ll write more clearly and will be read more! What else does a blogger want?
Can you think of any more need-to-answer questions before writing a post?