Blog Format Ideas for the Overworked Copywriter

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Blog Format Help for the Overworked Blogger

If you write and edit scores of blog posts every month like I do, you probably find yourself returning time after time to the same old blog formats. And I’m sure that some of your old standbys are on this list – I know mine are!

It’s not sheer novelty that makes a difference, but rather using a format that makes your content more clear, accessible, and easy to read (and, if we bloggers are honest with ourselves, easier to skim).

If you’re struggling to complete a blog post at the end of a long week, not only can these ideas help you format it, but they can also help you find a new angle that can rejuvenate a bland post.

Here are a few ways to keep your readers (and yourself!) engaged:

1. Embed a video or audio clip.

YouTube is a great source, whether you’re adding a weighty TED Talk or a little comic relief. NPR also allows you to easily embed audio clips from shows and interviews.

Example: How Many Hashtags Are Too Many?

2. Frame it as a Q&A – but focus on their questions, not the ones you want to answer.

Keyword research is a great starting point for how people ask questions, but knowledge of your buyer personas is priceless. What are their concerns and pain points? How would they phrase their questions? What information will help them the most?

Example: 5 Basic Keyword Questions Answered

3. Pull out important quotes.

Borrow an idea from traditional news media, and highlight a key quote from your post. Whether it’s a direct quote from a source or just a great line you wrote, it can help the casual skimmer get a feel for the post and draw them in to reading the whole thing.

Example: Effective Inbound Marketing Campaign, Step 3: Automated Lead Nurturing

Deactivate Your Facebook Page4. Don’t just add an image – add one with personality!

I’m a big believer in humor in life as well as in marketing, and luckily for me it gets results. The members of our design team have been remarkably tolerant of the fact that I like to create goofy images for my posts, like this one:

Example: How to Delete a Facebook Page

5. Give visual examples.

Along those same lines, using screenshots or other illustrations can often make your point more clearly than text can. It seems intuitive, but it can be easy to forget, especially if you know your topic very well.

Example: 3 Great Free Graphic Tools for Inbound Marketing

6. Make it a step-by-step how-to.

Don’t think there are enough steps? Maybe that’s not such a bad thing! For most busy people, 2 or 3 steps are more appealing than 6 or 7! If it’s more complex, like the post below, steps will help organize a large volume of detailed information.

Example: Want to Set Up an Ecommerce Store? Read This First!

7. Use section headings and commentary lines.

Well-worded section headings are a simple and effective way to help readers find the information they’re looking for in your posts. Likewise, a line of commentary text set apart and bolded can add context and flair to your copy. You can see examples of both in this post:

Example: How Inbound Marketing Can Revamp Your Website in 2014

8. The Old Standby: lists.

Whether it’s a numbered list, a checklist, or a bulleted list, giving your readers information broken up into easy-to-digest pieces makes them much more likely to read it. Plus, there’s something profoundly appealing about creating order out of 400 words of chaos.

Example: 5 Blogging Mistakes to Avoid in 2014

9. Add quotes from thought leaders.

Want to make your point even stronger? Add a quote from a leader in your industry or a respected public figure. People are naturally social, and we rely on social proof in decision-making. This post is all about quotes, but hey – it’s Nelson Mandela, so who cares?

Example: Workplace Reconciliation Tips from Nelson Mandela

10. Highlight main points.

I’m a big fan of bolding the main points in each paragraph to help people both see the value in the post right off the bat and find what they’re looking for. Used judiciously, it can be combined with other formatting, but be careful that your posts don’t look cluttered.

Example: Using the Hubspot Social Inbox for Increased Social Engagement

11. It’s simple, but… indent.

Especially in longer posts with sections, indenting certain portions of the copy can help break up the text and make it easier to read.

Example: Google+ Circles Offer Targeted Messaging

As Seth Godin points out in his post “Trapped by tl;dr,” it’s all to easy to give in to the “checklist, punchline mentality” that says everything should be shorter, snappier, and easier to consume. Once you start down that slippery slope, however, the quality of content often gets left by the wayside.

Sometimes you only need 250 words to make your point; sometimes you need 1,000. It’s the quality that matters – if what you’re saying is truly valuable to someone, do you think they’ll stop reading when they hit 300 words? Regardless of the length of the post, there are ways to make it easier to read and more appealing.

What are your favorite ways to format blog posts? Let us know in the comments!

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Emily Winsauer

Emily Winsauer

Content Marketing Manager at VIEO Design
As Content Marketing Manager, Emily is responsible for creating and consulting on a wide range of compelling content designed to help our clients better connect with their customers.
Emily Winsauer

@EmilyWinsauer

Content marketer @vieodesign by day, cook by late afternoon, reader by night, brunch eater by Saturday morning. Also hiker, dog lover, friend, and beer drinker.
The One Way to Trick Your Cat Into Sitting Still http://t.co/E0tPx4Wx7o via @mashable - 10 hours ago
Emily Winsauer
  • StuffinReneesBrain

    I really like the Questions example. That is not something that I have been giving a shot. Thanks for the ideas. I really like embedding podcast into a post.

    @iteachblogging

    • http://www.vieodesign.com/ Emily Winsauer

      Thanks, Renee! I’m glad you liked it. I was excited about the podcast thing, too. Thank goodness for public radio :)

      • StuffinReneesBrain

        It is funny that you say that about public radio because it made me think about the book that I just finished. I just finished Hatching Twitter and it turns out that the founders of Twitter started off creating a podcasting company. They wanted to change the world of radio.

        • http://www.vieodesign.com/ Emily Winsauer

          That’s so interesting! I had no idea. I’ll have to see if I can find a copy of that book. Do you have a favorite blogging podcast? I’ve subscribed to dozens, but I haven’t found any that I love yet and I got a little overwhelmed trying to listen to them all.

          • StuffinReneesBrain

            Emily,

            Well, I am a bit fond of my own podcast “I Teach Blogging” but to fair beyond the obvious, I am just getting started. I am still trying to find my feet about me.

            Here are the four that I listen to most:

            SEO Podcast Unknown Secrets
            The Smart Passive Income
            Learning with Leslie
            Entrepreneur on Fire

            The book is so good that I am thinking about reading it a second time before I return it to the library.

          • http://www.vieodesign.com/ Emily Winsauer

            Thanks, Renee! I’ll check out your podcast and the others ones you suggested. I’m always happy for new resources :)