Even More Blogging Tips

Following on from my previous articles, Blogging Tips and More Blogging Tips, here is the third imaginatively titled Even More Blogging Tips For Teachers.

In this article I’m going to look at headlines, readability and shareability.

Headlines

The Headline is the first thing your readers see. It’s the hook that draws them into your post, and the thesis statement that defines its purpose. While a Buzzfeed style headline is not always appropriate or desirable, an interesting headline will be the first thing your readers see.

Your headline is both your hook and your thesis statement. Click To Tweet

Buffer has a list of eight headline styles that work, and the psychology behind them. These are primarily for marketing, but they can be easily adapted for any niche. The styles are

  1. Surprise
  2. Questions
  3. Curiosity
  4. Negatives
  5. How to
  6. Numbers
  7. Audience referencing
  8. Specificity

Check out their article for an explanation of each one.

Writing a good headline is 50% art and 50% skill. Pro bloggers will write 20 headlines for one post and analyse each one for impact. You may not want to do this, but paying attention to the headline and its impact can attract more reads.

There’s An App For That

As always, there are online tools that you can use. Two I’ve started to use are

You may not need or want to use them all of the time, and sometimes it may not be appropriate for an educational post. However, focusing a little more on the impact of your headlines may attract more readers, which is why you’re blogging, right?

Readability

Reading a blog post is not like reading a book. Most people don’t read part of a post, bookmark a spot, stop reading, and come back to it later. They want to read it in one sitting.

Length

Data from Medium, a free blogging platform, shows that the optimal post length on their platform takes seven minutes to read. Data from QuickSprout, an Internet Marketing agency, shows that the optimal length is around 1,500 words.

But, both end with a caveat. Length is only part of the equation, and quality writing will be read, regardless of length. Use as many words as you need to get your idea across, but no more.

Other things you should consider are

  1. Style – your writing style will affect the length of your posts.
  2. Frequency – do you post every day, or once week?
  3. Format – headings and short paragraphs, or long form writing?
  4. Purpose – what are you trying to achieve with the post?
  5. Audience – who is reading this post?
  6. Medium – videos, infographics, audio, etc.

Headings & Paragraphs

In the list above is format. This is important as some may not want to read a wall of text, especially if they are reading your post on a mobile device, or in a distracting environment.

Headings break up your text into easily navigable sections. If your post is long, headings make it easy scannable. They can also help by forcing you to think about the organisation and flow of your post, and clarify exactly what it is you’re writing about.

Additionally, if a reader does have to break and come back, it’s easier to remember a heading than to try to find your place in a sea of text.

I read somewhere that the ideal length of a paragraph in a post was between 3 and 7 sentences, but, as I can’t find the source, don’t take my word for it.

Keeping paragraphs short can force you to think about what and how you say. Being less verbose than you would be in speech makes your posts more readable.

Shareability

If you want your posts read by more people, sharing via social media is the best way to do it. Making your content easy to share helps both you and your readers.

Two ways to do this are placing share buttons on your site, and having shareable content in the body of your posts.

Share Buttons

The first rule is to place share buttons in a prominent position close to the content being shared; too far away, and your readers may not exactly what they’re sharing.

Where to place the sharing buttons is a different matter.

Studies show that readers interact with web pages in an F-shaped pattern. This would suggest that top and left are the optimum positions. But, there are also arguments for other positions, too.

The other thing to consider is the social proof that share buttons provide—positive and negative. Share buttons with zeros might put people off reading your posts. Large numbers might encourage more shares which will mean more readers.

There are plenty of plugins that provide sharing, but the Social Share Starter plugin can hide share counts until they reach an acceptable threshold. It looks nice and can be placed almost anywhere with a shortcode.

Shareable Quotes

Another way to get your post read by more people is to make one-click shareable quotes in the body of your post, or as a pull quote. There are a couple of WordPress plugins that can make this process easy.

Make it easy for your readers to share your posts. Click To Tweet

As Twitter is the primary social media for teachers, I’m going to focus on that.

Inline Tweet Sharer allows you to have tweets embedded directly in your body text.

Click To Tweet by CoSchedule creates a tweetable pull quote that stands out from the body of the text. It also breaks up long sections in your post, making it more easily readable.

Requiring a little more technical ability, Ivy by Filament can highlight tweetable quotes in your post body, and make any text one-click tweetable. Ivy can one-click share to Facebook, too.

Finally, you can code your own tweetable quotes if you don’t want to use a plugin, or are using another blogging platform that doesn’t have a plugin. Here’s a tutorial to do that.

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