10 tips to help you write a good blog
The blog section here at Dreamstime is about 15 years old. Back in 2005, not many people knew what a blog was; that’s how old it is. Over time, we’ve read some great blog posts here, but also enough articles that needed improvements.
Anyone can write a blog post on Dreamstime's blog section if it's photography or design-related; you only need to have an active account. Since the blog section is moderated, here are 10 tips on writing a blog post that would be accepted, and users would want to read:
1. Do your research
2. Find a good title
3. Start with a great picture
4. Lay out a structure
5. Take your time
6. Take a break
7. Provide useful information
8. Keep it simple
9. Use some tricks
10. Promote it
11. Get feedback
1. Do your research: It should go without saying, but once you have a blog post idea in mind, don’t just start to write about it, but take a bit of time instead and do some research on the subject. See what others had to say on the same topic what more needs to be said, find some useful links and resources, think of a good call to action, get enough knowledge before sharing it with others. It’s like learning to walk before you start running. Keep handy whatever you find, you may need to refer to them in your article.
During research, it would also be a good idea to think about your target audience: who might read your post and what expectations would readers have from your blog?
2. Find a good title: A lot of people don’t pay too much attention to the title, but a great headline is one of the most essential elements of a blog. Statistics show that out of 100 people seeing your blog post, 80% won’t pass the headline. It doesn’t mean that whatever your title may be, 80% of your audience won’t read the article. It only means that the biggest opportunity to get people to read your blog post lies in the title, and if you don’t write a good one, nobody will read your other 2000 words of your content, no matter how wise they are.
A great blog title should be easy to read and understand, not too long but not too short (50-60 characters or around 7 words should be enough), something that would make them eager to read the rest, while fully disclosing the subject of your article. If you don't have something good before you start writing, just think of a working title and you will perfect it later. Your title will also become the page title, it will be displayed in search results, so make sure to improve it before you hit that publish button.
On the other hand, I feel like nobody is a fan of click-bait, so please make sure to avoid it in your blog posts, as it would only bring very short-term results from your target audience (and that's only IF your article gets accepted in the first place with such a title).
3. Start with a great picture: I see this mistake all the time. People write an excellent, useful article, with a great title, but they start with an average photo and keep the good stuff for the end. Think about the newspapers and magazines: they always feature their best image on the first page. That’s because the cover image is what sells the paper. And the online world is pretty much the same, the world of information hasn’t changed its structure, even if they changed the medium in the past years.
We don’t have a separate place for a featured image or where to insert custom alt tags here on the blog section of Dreamstime, because it would be confusing for lots of authors. But the first picture will be the first seen by the visitors who come across your blog post. If it’s not a great one, you will miss tons of readers just because of this.
You can also add videos to Dreamstime blogs. The tool to add videos is right under the tool to add images. But make sure to start with a great still picture, you can add videos later in the content.
How important are the social networks and search results of the search engines for content creation? The first picture is the one that gets included in social media posts or search engine previews when your article gets shared. Always make sure to choose the best one you can find, as a lot of web traffic to your blog post comes from these sources.
I understand that most of us are trying to promote our stock photos, illustrations or videos by writing helpful blog posts around them, nothing wrong with that, a little bit of brand awareness never hurt anyone (even if we don't encourage content marketing through Dreamstime blogs for external products and services). But choose the best Dreamstime picture you can find to start your article with, even if it’s not your own. You can promote your pictures later; however, you need to bring the readers to that point, otherwise they won’t click on your item.
4. Lay out a structure: We all know the saying, failing to plan is planning to fail. If you start writing without a structure in mind, you will probably lose your ideas as you go, and instead of elaborating on a few main points, you will end up with fewer points in total. When I started writing this article, I laid out these bullet points (tips) first, and then I wrote the rest of the text.
It all depends on your style, but I’ve found this system to be very productive, especially with all the distractions around (yes, I’ve visited 50 other web pages, had two coffees, ate lunch, sent three emails and played with my kids from the moment I started writing and until I finished this blog post). Having a structure also helps readers deal with their distractions, as they may have other things to do while reading your article. Knowing where they left off make readers come back, while the prospect of starting the whole thing over again until they figure it out where they left off will often make them feel like giving up. Long story short, if you want a great user experience for your readers, lay out the structure towards the beginning, then continue with the rest of the blog content.
5.Take your time: Have you noticed how often than not, the second part of the blog posts on the web becomes much more rushed than the first half of the content? Sadly, this happened with this article as well—the end.
...Just joking. Take your time and treat every paragraph as the first one. If you have other things to do, leave the article unpublished and come back when you have more time. Having a structure like the one I was talking about in the previous point will help you with this.
It’s better to write a comprehensive post that people would want to read than to just throw some words out there and hope that no one would pay that much attention to them anyway, maybe it will show up in search engines.
You can also use the word count (if you're writing in an external editor first), to see how many words your post has. Again, there's no clear recipe of how many words a good blog post should have, but from my experience, the audience won't engage when you write less than 3-400 words, and you may lose a lot of readers on the way if you go above 2000-2500.
The most important readers, the ones you should care about, are those who read the whole thing. They would be the ones who will engage with your writing and leave comments, share your article with others, even become fans or customers.
6. Take a break: And by this, I don’t mean you should take a real break, although it may help or it may be even necessary sometimes. By taking a break, I suggest you should give the readers time to breathe.
Avoid long, boring paragraphs, include pictures between them, give the readers a break when you jump from one idea to another. There’s no clear rule on how long a paragraph of a great blog post should be, but if it starts with one idea and ends with another, it has probably lost its focus.
7. Provide useful information: As you can see, I’ve structured this blog post in 10 different points (tips), and I’ve provided some links as well, where I felt necessary. Don’t be afraid to provide external or internal links, some people need further clarification on some subjects, and offering additional (useful) resources will only support your ideas. That’s why I said in the first point that you should keep handy whatever you find during your research.
The links weren’t invented by the internet. They appeared in books or educational articles way before the internet was invented, they were just called in-text citations, followed by references. So you can use them with confidence, they will just make your web content look more educated.
8. Keep it simple: Long or short, your article should still be simple and easy to understand. People who want academic education usually go to universities. On the web, people search for simple, readable bits of information when they read your post.
The best way to check if your article is easy to read is by reading it yourself! Yes, just reread the whole post right after finishing it. Decide for yourself if it’s a good piece of information or maybe you can say the same thing more simply.
When you’re satisfied, you can also share it with a friend, colleague, mother in law, police officer, whoever, so you can get their opinion as well.
9. Use some tricks: Many famous authors have (or had) a few tricks to engage readers or write better. I’m neither an author nor famous in any way, so I can’t help you with this, you need to find your own magic tricks while you’re writing.
You can add a small joke here and there, you can omit something or add something that should not have been there, you can write the story backward (starting with the end and ending with the beginning). I don’t know what you can do, but you should take a creative approach when writing blog posts, or else the readers will soon decide to get back to the search engine or social media post or from wherever they may have come.
The attention span on the internet is rather short, so if your text doesn’t have anything unexpected, it will be forgotten in no time. Whatever that unexpected element might be, it’s totally up to you.
10. Promote it: You’ve done your research, came up with a great title, chose great photos, took your time, used your tricks. After much hard work, it would be a pity to keep your blog to yourself.
Even if we have a very large community of readers on Dreamstime, you don’t need to stop here. If you have a social media page (or more), do share your new blog post with your friends or fans. If you have a blog elsewhere, link it to your Dreamstime blog. If you write new articles, you can link to your older articles. Tell a friend, tell your mother, tell your boss, share the link on your favorite forum. Any new reader might become the best reader.
You can also find and share your Dreamstime blog's rss feed on your personal website. To burn a feed of your Dreamstime blog, you go to FeedBurner and where it says 'Burn a feed right this instant', paste this link: https://www.dreamstime.com/username_blog_rss - just make sure you change 'username' with your actual username (mine is dudau for example).
11. Get feedback: comments on blogs are a given. A lot of websites are removing them altogether or restricting them, but Dreamstime feels that it's natural to encourage discussions between users. However, the way you accept, respond or learn from feedback defines you as an author. Take your time and read all the feedback you get from readers, reply to as many comments as you can, learn from criticism if there is any, and whatever you do, make sure to see feedback as an excellent opportunity to improve your writing skills.
There's no option for readers to enter their email address in order to subscribe to your blog, but instead, there is the option for them to add you as a favorite author if they click on your profile picture and check your portfolio, so that whenever you write a new blog post, they will get a notification in their Dreamstime profile. Go ahead, you can test this out right now, click on my profile picture and then on 'Add to favorites' in my profile page. You will see how you will get a notification whenever I write a new blog post :)
These being said, are you ready to start your new blog? (that was my call to action, by the way).
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