(Again, reblogged from the Clark WP site.)
Welcome to part two! Did you have a nice intermission?
Here in the second act we will cover the last few general tips I have for you to make your content sing out like the proverbial fat lady. Because, remember: you may have composed the grandest aria ever but if your presentation is scrawny and slim, nobody can hear it. So let’s continue to make your presentation gloriously obese!
No, no. We’re just getting started!
What is a Good Post Length?
Common Internet wisdom, if there is such a beast, would have you believe a blog post should be no more than four hundred words. Give or take a few. But our fantastic teacher and collaborator, Lorelle VanFossen, believes the “perfect” post should be allowed to dictate its own length. Don’t worry about the so-called “Limit of 400”. If your pull-through is strong, a reader will plod on even till the end of a long post.
However, there’s long……….and then there’s llllllllllllllllllloooooooooooooooonnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnggggggggggggg.
Try not to go “Gone with the Wind” with your posts.”
And “Gone with the Wind” was a great story. A story of that great a length, though, better be of superior merit or you run the risk of just simply wearing the average reader out to the point of tears.
Yes Scarlett, marathon posts on the Internet should probably be avoided. Editing can be your best friend in the blog world. But let your content be the deciding factor here. If your topic and skills are strong in the Force, uploading a lengthy post doesn’t necessarily mean your reader won’t finish.
Consider, though, breaking a post up into a series or parts. If you’re closing in on a thousand words and you’re not close to the end of your fabulousness, why not split the post? Readers will go for sequels if they’re excellent. And then you’re not overwhelming the poor sods in one gulp.
Ego shatter time: Remember, my friends. You are probably not the only blogger your followers follow. Do not push their patience too far.
The blogosphere is a community. We pingback, we reblog, we love to link. It’s just like a hippie love-in, cyber-style. All of these things make blogging unique and exciting. And sometimes in a post, you’re going to want to share links either to other blogs you love, or maybe your various social media.
So you go bbbbblllleeeecccchhhhhh! and basically vomit up a link into your article, like:
Do not click on that garbage! And do not put that in a post!
Obviously, my next tip is:
Link dumps dirty up your sparkling blog.
Use the handy button with the chain icon up in your text editor’s toolbar to turn that link into a bit of text. You can find a tutorial on that process in an article that I posted a few weeks ago on Clark WP. It’s sexily titled “How to Create a Link in the WordPress Visual Editor.”
Yeah, see what I did there? That’s a pretty text link that doesn’t interrupt the flow. You can do that within your own masterpiece. If you don’t know about that function, go ahead and click on my article up there.
But not yet! Finish this article first! Jeez!
The Unending Conversation
This is essentially what good blogging is. Someone writes a brilliant post, another blogger responds, and so on. It’s an incredibly fun process to watch unfold, especially when something you wrote is picked up on by others like that.
But get over yourself just a second. Because this will never happen if you don’t treat blogging a bit more like a conversation than a monologue. Give other people the chance to participate when it’s appropriate to your topic. If you want the community aspect of blogging to be a part of your experience, then it’s important to make your readers feel like they’re a part of something.
Engage the reader as if in a conversation.
Think of your posts as an open letter of sorts. Invite discussion. And respond when the discussion ensues. This will build your readership and is a rewarding part of doing a blog.
Of course surly misanthropes abound on WordPress, too. That’s another road you can walk if you choose. It’s perfectly fine to be that way, but it’s bound to be a pretty lonely path. Besides, why are you blogging if you don’t want readers?
Danger Lies Off the Beaten Path
If you’ve created a nice trail for yourself, i.e. an engaging and fascinating topic, that’s a great post just waiting to happen! Keep on point, soldier. There’s a time and a place for stream of consciousness, but not in a “perfect” post, I’m afraid. How do you pull-through your reader if you let yourself go so easily astray?
I’m just saying that when you’ve hit on an excellent topic, stick to it. Hone in on your fine details and deliver a shattering thrust to your reader. I don’t mean run ’em through with a sword, that’s a metaphor. But a well-delivered strike will cap off your article and leave your reader satiated. And I know I’m mixing metaphors like a drunken gypsy astride a gavrotting wildebeest. Just showing you what it’s like when I let my hair down and cut footloose—
Stay relevant to your topic.
It’s ideal to make one fantastic argument with your piece rather than be all over the place. People appreciate good form, they don’t often get it.
Yet possibly, your topic is madness. In that case, disregard the above admonition and let it rip!
Yet Another List Post
Technically, this very article is a list post. I know, I know. Sometimes that’s acceptable, and I’ve disguised it somewhat. It’s just not the sexiest format to go with if you’re trying to create the “perfect” post.
Speaking for myself, I rarely make it through a post that is an itemized list. It’s too much like reading a shopping list. And, yes, I’ve posted lists.
This is something you need to reconsider, though. Shake it up. If you must list, disguise it a bit. Or use some of the other tips I’ve suggested, like breaking it up with images. For the love of the lord of your choice, don’t go over twenty, twenty-five items on your list. Reel that big fish in and trim it, okay? And, no, I’m not just pulling these numbers out of my ass! People make studies of this junk and I read the studies.
(Okay, I read one…. Okay, I had a conversation with Lorelle.)
Anyway! Just take my word for it!
Don’t make lists. They’re boring.
The Big Finish
Once more, here’s the list(ha!) of tips we’ve gone through:
- Break up your material into smaller digestible chunks.
- Consider breaking your post into sections with good headers.
- Use images in your posts.
- Try not to go “Gone with the Wind” with your posts.
- Link dumps dirty up your sparkling blog.
- Engage the reader as if in a conversation.
- Stay relevant to your topic.
- Don’t make lists. They’re boring.
We’ve tried to go beyond the usual with these two posts, and I hope you enjoyed them and got something out of them. I’m by no means an expert, but I play one on WordPress. Really, the biggest tip I can give you is to have fun with blogging. Make friends and broaden your knowledge.
And don’t worry so much about creating the “perfect” post. Just be perfectly yourself and the other stuff tends to follow.
- Thank you, thank you!
- I decided to reblog these two “perfect post” articles from the Clark WP site. When I told Lorelle this, she gasped and said “Never reblog!” It screws up search engines. Confuses the poor things so they don’t know where the fuck to go, I guess.
- A brave man admits his faults. So as a quick wrap-up, I shall ballsily acquaint you guys with just a few of the other things I have done wrong in my blog career.
- Made links out of a single word. (Some people don’t realize it’s a link.)
- Capitalized my tags. (Still do that.)
- Force indented paragraphs. (Stopped doing that one.)
- Hot linked to images. (Learned my lesson there.)
- Used different colored text. (Even though that option’s up in the toolbar, Lorelle says don’t do it!)
- Published without previewing. (Never again.)
- Relied solely on visual editor when writing posts. (Probably most of you do, but text editor is really better.)
- Man, that’s enough. I’m a flawed WordPresser and I am ashamed.
So do as I say, not as I do peoples. Heed ye the Words of Lorelle.