Blogging: How to format your posts (so people will read them)

by Julie on June 24, 2009

gluedtothescreen

by Julie Roads

Blog writing is not essay writing, novel writing, poetry writing, speech writing – it’s blog writing. You can tell by the way it reads and you can tell by the way it looks. People move fairly fast within the blogosphere, and if your post looks long, they simply won’t take the time to read it.

Notice that the emphasis is on looks.  Typically, format trumps word counts. It’s true – looks really are everything…on a blog.

The key is to add variety; eye candy, if you will. No one wants to look at an endless flow of words. We want excitement, we want bite-sized and digestible – then we’ll be glued to the screen. (Oh, and please write well, provide value and information and don’t yell at us – otherwise, I don’t care how pretty your post is – and neither does anyone else.)

Blog Formatting Tips:

  • Short paragraphs. Not long ones. Break things up. Readers will choose a 750 word post with small paragraphs over a 300 word post squished into one big paragraph.
  • Bullet points. You can use numbers, circles, diamonds, arrows, whatever you want. Lists are helpful, readable and actionable.
  • Quotes. Blogging software, found within the formatting tools, offers a quote function (quotation mark symbol in a box). It typically indents, shades and sets apart portions of your content. Use it for actual quotes, important points and images.
  • Images and video. We’re all children at heart, and by that I mean, we like to look at pictures. I use Creative Commons to find images, photos, illustrations and video. Feel free to insert them at the top, bottom and anywhere in between. Audio podcasts? Yes, those too.
  • Bold, underline, italics, alignment. Change it up, our eyes are getting bored. Speak with passion, let us hear you.
  • Sub-headers. Break your posts down into sections and create bolded subheads to mark them as separate when appropriate.

How do your posts look? Don’t forget – blog posts live forever, so there’s always time to go back and reformat old posts. You’ll look mahvelous in no time.

Julie Roads is a writer, blogger, speaker, consultant & teacher – best places to find her? On Twitter and her own site, Writing Roads (or right here on Soc Media 101 pssst – check the right sidebar!).

Image credit: Still Burning

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Eric Mott June 24, 2009 at 8:06 am

Thanks! I’m new to blogging so this advice helps. I can’t get our cats to read my writing quite that intently, but they do walk back and forth across the keyboard all the time.

2 Julie June 24, 2009 at 10:44 am

So glad it helped, Eric – thanks for making me laugh this morning.

3 Mark Sherrick June 24, 2009 at 8:03 pm

I’m NOT new to blogging, and this advice helped. I have been a longtime proponent of short paragraphs, but some of the other tips are great too. Great post, Julie! 🙂

4 Jenny June 26, 2009 at 9:38 pm

I second Mark. I’ve been blogging for years but this is new stuff to me. Thanks for the info. I’ll be interested to see how it helps my site. 🙂

5 Julie June 27, 2009 at 2:36 pm

Jenny and Mark – I’m so glad this was useful! Let me know how it helps…

6 Wesley Coll March 10, 2010 at 9:52 am

Hi, Julie. Before I came to this, I’d already written to you, asking for suggestions on how to design format a blog. Please refer to my msg and reply at your earliest convenience.
Thanks again,

Wesley

7 Rich May 2, 2011 at 7:45 pm

Thanks for this very useful information. I am currently in a class and this will be very helpful with my social media class.

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