Has this happened to you?
Now that you’ve started a blog, you spend hours writing a post, wracking your brains for the best ideas and then carefully crafting every powerful word on the page.
And then it falls flat.
You get only a handful of comments and can count the social media shares on your fingers.
And after all the work you’ve put into the piece!
It’s a bummer, isn’t it?
You may wonder: Why did my readers click away?
Perhaps your post is lacking something important. It needs one vital ingredient to really stand out:
A clear destination.
Why Every Powerful Post Needs a Clear Destination
The simple truth is: if readers feel disoriented, they tend to leave.
Your blog post needs to be a journey for your reader, a journey with a point of departure and a clear destination.
And it needs to be a journey worth taking.
So, where do you want to take your readers?
Do you want them to learn something new, to feel inspired, or to be transformed?
These three outcomes represent destinations that your readers want to visit. And each demands a different style of blog post. We’ll take a look at some examples further below, but first let’s consider what causes readers to abandon the journey. Or fail to even start it.
The 3 Fatal Pitfalls Every Trip Leader Must Avoid
As the author of your blog post, you’re like the leader of the expedition. And you must hold your travelers’ interest or they may desert you along the way.
The following are the most common mistakes that cause readers to click away.
Pitfall #1: Your post has no destination
This often happens when bloggers become so self-absorbed, they forget about their audience. Check out the following introduction to see what I mean.
I was most likely being what British people refer to as a prig.
My wife won the day, though. She sounded off a rejoinder that stung: “You know, sometimes I wish you were like the person who writes on your blog.”
Do you get a sense of where this is going?
No, I don’t either. Click.
Pitfall #2: Your post sets off in the wrong direction
If you point readers in a particular direction but then veer off, they will feel tricked.
Can you guess what the following post is about?
What do you think this is about?
You got that wrong.
As it turns out, this post is about a cat!
Pitfall #3: Your post meanders instead of marching
If a post shuffles from one topic to another, your readers will get disoriented.
If you want to see how a blogger uses a catchy title and then proceeds to say nothing much in 710 words while galloping from blogging to Snapchat to writing catchy titles to people’s willingness to jump somewhere, you should check out the post The One Thing Gurus Always Get Wrong About Blogging.
Can you see how we tend to click away if there’s no clear destination?
That’s why you need to make sure readers know where you’re headed.
How to Signpost Your Post’s Destination
Your headline should clearly “signpost” where your blog post is heading.
It’s like the sign on the front of a bus. I mean, you’re not going to hop onto a bus to go to New York if it says Los Angeles, right?
Your headline must do the same thing – indicate a clear and appealing destination.
Is your headline the right signpost?
If you write a headline that takes the reader off-track, you’ve just killed your post.
Take a look at one of my worst headlines. It’s so bad, you wonder what the hell I was thinking…
Dragons, Mommy Rabbits, and the Terror of Fictional Improvisation
Any idea where this post is heading? No?
Writing a headline that points to your chosen destination is vital for reader engagement and social media shares.
Like this one, for example:
The Ultimate Guide to Writing Irresistible Subheads
Or this one:
10 Powerful Secrets of Bestselling Authors
These headlines work because they act as a compass directing you to the post’s destination.
Ideally, the headline and introduction should work together to point to the journey’s end.
Mapping Out the Journey in Your Introduction
Take a look at how talented online writer Gregory Ciotti structures his introductions. In his post How to Write With Substance, Greg leads with this sentence:
After a couple of paragraphs, he ends the introduction like this:
As a reader, you know exactly where this post is going to take you, right?
This is the power of excellent introductions.
However, diving into a good story that illustrates the point you’re going to make can also work well.
I experimented with this strategy in my post: How to Write Better: 3 Secrets of Transmitting Naked Emotions.
Here is how I started the introduction:
Like I felt when I finally gave up screaming for help.
When I sank to my knees and wept by the side of the stream, watching my horse about to drown – and unable to rescue her.
The comments showed how this worked for my readers:
Glen Long said:
In this case, leading with a story worked. However, if you employ this strategy, it needs a spellbinding tale.
‘In the end is the beginning, and in the beginning is the end’ implies that the headline and introduction need to foreshadow the destination of your post.
But what is your destination?
The Top 3 Destinations for Intrepid Readers
There are three different destinations that make the reader’s journey worthwhile: learn, inspire and transform. Each one requires a different kind of blog post.
Let’s look in detail at how to set up each kind.
If your destination is for the readers to learn something, it means that by the time they’ve finished reading your post, either they will have gained new information or they’ll have discovered a new way of doing something.
It can be challenging to write a useful educational post because you need to meet your readers where they are and then lead them, step-by-step, to a new level of skill or understanding.
Here are three examples of how to posts.
- A 6-Step Writing Process to Blog More and Stress Less by Will Blunt on Jeff Bullas’s blog. This post has a clear destination which is already spelled out in the headline.
- Neil Patel from QuickSprout.com is known for his detailed how to posts like this one: How to Halve the Bounce Rate of Your Blog with Interactive Content.
- My post on Write to Done, How to Write Better: 7 Instant Fixes, attracts hundreds of new readers each day.
As you see from these three posts, how-to posts are driven by step-by-step instructions, not so much by stories.
Of course, learning can also apply to getting news. Writing to inform or to entertain follows a different pattern from how-to posts.
When you write to inform, it’s important not to bury the lead. This term is used in journalism and means that you should start out with the most newsworthy aspect of a story.
Here is how journalists structure their articles:
- Start with the lead content
- Add supportive content
- Finish with a conclusion
Take a look at these two examples of informational articles:
- NASA’s Kepler Mission Discovers Bigger, Older Cousin to Earth. In this article, you’ll see exactly how the writer leads with the news in a nutshell and then adds detailed background information.
- In contrast, WTF Weds: European Showers shows how to entertain and inform readers at the same time. The author writes about an “evil shower” she encountered while traveling in Europe.
There you have the scoop on “learning”-style posts.
But If your destination is to inspire, you need to use a different set of tactics.
There are several ways to inspire your readers. Here are three effective ways to rouse them:
- Give a pep talk, painting a radiant future.
- Issue a challenge.
- Tell a story.
Here is an example of a story that worked well for me.
In a post called How to Fight Your Way Back to Health After a Bad Diagnosis, I tell the story about how I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis. At one time, it was so bad that I couldn’t even drive a car because I could hardly grip the steering wheel.
For an athletic person like myself, this was a crushing blow.
In this post, I explain how I fought my way back to health until I was well enough to resume my beloved karate training as a black belt.
The key point of an inspiring post is to show a pathway that others can take to get the same result. As I say in my conclusion:
For inspiring posts, you can either use your own experience or tell your readers how others overcame their challenges. It’s important to evoke emotions when you write an inspiring post.
An inspiring story for writers is Rajesh Setty’s article How to Publish a Book: My 1000 Day Journey.
Read it right to the end. There is a surprise twist where Rajesh reveals how old he was when his first book was published.
An example of issuing a challenge is P.D. Simeon’s post about the Great Writing Challenge, which garnered over 500 enthusiastic comments.
Transformational posts are the kind you always remember – those which not only touch your life, but change it.
At the heart of transformational posts lies a personal story of survival against all odds.
One of the best examples of a transformational post is Jon Morrow’s How to Be Unforgettable.
It had a huge impact on me. Since reading Jon’s post, I always ask myself this question after completing a draft post of my own:
A transformational post needs a profound message – again, illustrated by an unforgettable story.
If you have a story from your own life, be brave and publish it.
If you don’t have a story from your own life, you can also use other people’s transformational stories. You can often find such stories in the news.
Don’t Risk Wasting Your Journey by Forgetting This Element
Okay, so you now know the three most potent destinations to take your readers.
Learning. Inspiration. Transformation.
But there is still something missing . . .
You’ve just led your readers through a great journey. But you’re not finished yet.
You also need to give them something to do next.
You need what is known as a “call to action.”
Because once you’ve delivered a great experience, readers will be receptive to your suggestions.
You can ask them to . . .
- Put what they just learned into action
- Share your post on social media
- Write a comment
- Buy a product
Just make sure you suggest only one action, otherwise your readers may fall prey to decision paralysis.
So let’s bring it all together . . .
The Trip Leader’s Essential Checklist
Before you write and publish your next blog post and invite readers on a journey with you, make sure of the following:
- Get your people excited about what’s going to happen on the trip. [Indicate your destination in the headline and the introduction.]
- Then lead your people through the trip, offering explanations and entertaining them along the way. [Keep on track in the body of your post.]
- Once back to base, share memories and thank your group for being on the tour. [Remind readers of the journey they have just taken in the conclusion of your post.]
- Suggest swapping photos or otherwise keeping in touch. [Add a call to action at the end.]
In other words, take your readers by the hand and lead them through your post.
What’s Your Destination, Trip Leader?
If you want your readers to stick around, creating posts with clear pathways is crucial. It’s a skill worth mastering, so practice!
Your headline creates anticipation, your introduction outlines the destination, and the body of your post delivers on your promised journey.
And when you get to the conclusion, that’s the time to remind readers of the places they’ve just visited and let them know exactly what to do now that they’re back.
Are you nodding along?
Maybe you now understand the rewards of a clear destination?
But, that information is useless . . . if you don’t take action.
So bookmark this post and keep it close to hand.
Then choose your destination and go for it!
94 thoughts on “Is Your Writing Missing This Crucial Ingredient?”
Good to see you back on BBT!
I’ve come across many posts (heck, I’ve probably written a few myself) that managed to succumb to all these pitfalls. Deaf to the cries of its readers? Check. No destination? Yep. Meandering? Oh yes.
I love your thoughts on signposts (headlines) and guiding your readers throughout your posts. That’s why I love the posts here on BBT (and on Write to Done!). I know exactly what to expect based on the headlines. The introductions confirm my expectations and guide me into the body of the post. The closings wrap everything up for me.
Put them all together and you have awesome, clear, *focused* posts that refuse to leave the reader hanging.
Great work, Mary. I’ll be tweeting this right away!
Hope your 2016 is off to an awesome start. 🙂
Hey Kevin, thanks for your kind words!
Yes, it’s so important to grab the readers’ attention and make sure he or she really reads right to the end.
I love your imagery for this problem. It’s one of those things that tend to happen to a first draft, at least mine. Something unnecessary always seems to just wiggle it’s way in and jumble up the path. Reading the post out loud usually helps as it really accentuates any twist or fork in the road. Sometimes as I’m reading my eyebrows go up in surprise and I go “what was I thinking?” Before quickly removing a paragraph or two… sometimes even pages of text, haha.
Ha ha! When I look back at posts, for example at my ‘Mommy Rabbits’ post, I just wonder what the heck I was thinking….
Reading aloud is good. I do that regularly near the end of the editing process.
i have got a lot from this content and it has left me with great work to do. But i also want my photo to appear with my comment what do i need to do?
To get an image of you in the comments to appear is easy. Just go to Gravatar.com and set up an image there, using the email you usually use. The image will then travel with you, wherever you comment.
Hi Mary, your post is both educational and inspiring to me. I especially like the way you use the concept of signposting. When I was writing my PhD, my mentor always used to remind me of providing enough signposting for the reader. It was a new concept for me because I started out as a creative writer. Once I learned to signpost my academic texts, the habit snuck into my creative writing too. Then my editor told me I was explaining myself too much and not leaving enough room for the reader’s imagination. I concluded the following: there is a fine balance you have to find between guiding a reader to your desired destination and remaining cryptic just enough to give their imagination space to work… 🙂
That’s a very interesting observation, Andrea.
I’ve just been writing some fiction and I think your point is very important for fiction writers: ‘…there is a fine balance you have to find between guiding a reader to your desired destination and remaining cryptic just enough to give their imagination space to work.’
However, for non-fiction you need to be a ‘firmer’ guide.
Thanks for the excellent guide! I think the step by step walk through of how to lead your readers down a path could apply to a blog writer in any industry. I appreciate you breaking it down for us.
I know I am the meanderer a lot in my posts. Sometimes it is just hard to find the right idea to base a longer journey around. It’ll definitely be one of the goals for me to work on through 2016!
I can feel a new post coming on, Lucy: “Are you a Meanderer or a Planner?”
I was struck by what you said: “Sometimes it is just hard to find the right idea to base a longer journey around”.
In my experience, creativity is heightened through sticking with an idea and really digging deep.
Hi Mary, you are right, it is very easy for a reader to click away from the site, if the Headline of the post is confusing. For writers to keep their readers, they must Learn to write Transformation and inspiring post which will force the reader to stay Longer on the site and read the post or maybe subscribe to the writers list for more information.
You’re right, Lucy, readers hate being confused; they want clarity. You have some great resources on headlines here on BBT!
Awesome information. I have bookmarked it. Yes, good headline is the first thing we need to work on. I often give quotes and bulleted lists in my posts.
Perfect example to follow is Jon Morrow style. His posts keeps you engaged till the last word.
Thanks, Rajkaran! Quotes and bulleted lists make the process of reading easier and draw the reader through a post.
I totally agree about Jon’s posts! He knows how to capture the readers attention and to keep it right to his last word.
What an inspiring post that was. I enjoy every bit of your article.
Creative writing though hard to do is rewarding for bloggers, because it allows you take your readers on a journey to a destination as you rightly mentioned.
And unless you are able to assemble your ideas in their minds correctly, you loose them along the way.
I love your example of Jon’s post on how to be unforgettable. It has often given me a kick in the butts whenever blogging seem a tedious task.
Thanks for this post. I will definately print this out as a guide for my future posts.
Yes, Anuoluwapo , Jon’s post on being unforgettable is my guiding light as well!
Great post Mary! This reminds me of the Stephen Covey concept of “beginning with the end in mind.” When we know where we want our readers to end up, then it’s much easier to map out the journey that we want to take them on.
Very true, Ed. It’s much easier to write posts when you know where they are going to end up.
Terrific post Mary!
This is the first time after reading a post on BBT that I have decided to go back and scrap a whole blog post and start it all over again applying what I just learned from you.
I simply loved the concept of taking the reader on a journey with a clear destination while making the experience interesting and pleasant for them.
You may be able to use the draft you had, but rearrange the components according to the ‘journey’ principle, Ed.
What a really great post you wrote here. I think one of the key points of emphasis that I need to start doing for myself and post that I write his focus more on the editing side of things.
Because it’s by editing that you will be able to get a clear destination for readers to follow. I know there have been times where I try to be “cute” with an introduction and it basically lead readers nowhere.
I need to be much more devoted to the editing process to make my weak introductions much stronger.
Thanks for this great post here on BBT. Happy New Year to you as well.
Yeah – editing can sharpen your posts, Andrew. Although the stage of editing is sometimes a bit late for determining a clear destination. I think it’s good to think of your destination all the way through.
This was to me, an entertaining learning experience. I don’t think there is anything more important to any writing, than to create a picture in the readers mind and I was walking somewhere very nice just now. I am going to check out your blog right away!
That’s nice, Amanda! I’m glad this was an ‘entertaining learning experience’ for you. A warm welcome awaits you on WritetoDone.com 🙂
I was educated, inspired and transformed all in one go, and you certainly took me on a well signposted journey. Thank you, Mary. Interestingly, I recently pulled out some old articles I wrote a few years ago to see if they were worth resuscitating, only to shudder in embarrassment at how rambling and wordy they were. I will be a much better tour guide in future.
PS. I loved, loved, LOVED Rajesh Setty’s story. Now there’s a journey!
As any blogger to pull out articles we’ve written years ago and there’ll be a collective shudder…! You may find that you can resuscitate them and then operate on them with a scalpel to remove wordflab and improve the flow.
As to Rajesh Setty’s story – yes, it’s beautiful and deeply inspiring.
Hi Mel and Mary,
Your comments made my day here. Thanks a ton for the kind words.
I’m so happy you saw our comments, Rajesh. Your story was absolutely compelling, and I will remember it next time I feel like I’m battling against the tide.
I am guilty! I tend to “fall in love” with my posts because I know what I mean. It’s clear to me what the destination is, even if I don’t explicitly put it in the post. Geez, I’ve got alot to unlearn and re-learn about writing that sells!
Thanks for the clarity and guidance. I’m already applying your suggestions to my next post!
Ah, I’m guilty as charged too, Annette! I always fall in love with my posts – until I look at them again with the eyes of an editor…
The great thing about being a writer is that we never stop learning, don’t you think?
Wow, what a great post. I think I’ve fallen into all of these pitfalls in the past. I am going to check out all of these links. I thought this was relevant – “If you don’t know where you are going, any road will get you there.”
– Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland
Ah – I’m a great fan of Alice in Wonderland! I love your quote. I’ll use it for my next post on WritetoDone.
This is really great. I try so hard to do what you suggest here, but clearly, this little recap points out some of my very favorite downfalls! oh no. Thanks for a terrific guideline:) Maybe I can stay on the road and out of the ditch if I use it often. ha.
I think meandering happens for me because I try to mix my “useful” with a “story” then, trouble. You did it exactly right in this post, so I know it can be done. I’ll keep trying:)
Using stories in non-fiction is a great strategy, Sue-Ann. It’s a bit tricky, though. The best way to do it is to keep your destination in view when you’re writing the story within your non-fiction piece.
I always ask myself: is this story moving the reader toward the destination or away from it?
Fantastic stuff here, Mary. I’m glad I discovered you last year, I’ve been reading everything you’ve put out since.
You’ve inspired me to start taking on the challenge of writing transformational posts. After all, those are the types of posts that attracted me to Jon and BBT in the first place. =)
Thanks for the great stuff here.
Oh, I’d love to read your transformational posts, Mike!
Just wanted to tell you I spend a good time reading this too.
And the CTA button is just vital. I’m implementing it. thanks.
I’m glad this post was helpful, Devendra!
Do you use any online tools to help you with naming your blog?
I’m such a linear thinker that most times it’s really hard for me to come up with a snappy title.
Thanks so much and Happy New Year!
Coming up with great headlines is an art. Here at BoostBlogTraffic you have some fantastic resources on how to write headlines.
Sometimes, if I get stuck, I’ll head over to http://coschedule.com/headline-analyzer
It can be helpful.
I like your idea of signposting what your posts are and what the reader is going to get out of reading. This is something I’ve learnt is also useful in planning each post I write. I always ask myself what readers are going to be able to do, be or have out of reading my post as I start planning what’s going into each post.
I would have read those first two posts regardless of whether they paid off, or not, simply because their story openings are intriguing.
I agree that Headlines are a good way of signposting. I also use headlines to signpost who out of my readers are most likely to find a post useful too.
I like what you say, Tom: “I always ask myself what readers are going to be able to do, be or have out of reading my post.”
This is a lovely stance of modesty. Instead of shouting, “Hey, listen to ME!”, you are considering the needs of the reader.
Knowing your objective in writing a post or article is important in ensuring that you deliver your message to your target readers.
You’ve managed to condense my post into one sentence! Congratulations.
These are great lessons here. Most especially for fledgling bloggers.
I might have written a couple of directionless posts in the past, too, owing to being self-absorbed.
Funny how rookie bloggers are quick to think that they are the only ones in the blogosphere. And that people should therefore care about what they have to say.
But then, as we’ve learned thoroughly in 2015, your opinion counts for poop. Who is to tell if your content is great but your audience.
I read the post: The One Thing Gurus Always Get Wrong About Blogging. It’s definitely an interesting example that, well, made me sort of *sneeze*. How great.
This is worthy of a consistent read and should be a permanent guide to editing blog posts before publishing. P.D. Simeon must’ve used the tips too in the Great Writing Challenge post. Very touching, inspiring.
Thanks for the awesome share.
– Yusuff Busayo
How nice to get into a conversation with you here, Jussuf! I agree with you: new bloggers usually focus on themselves at first – and are then surprised that nobody is listening.
It usually takes a while to understand that we need to focus on the needs of our audience.
Thanks for your thoughtful comment!
Hey Jussuf, it’s so nice of you to mention me here and pay me such a nice compliment!
I’m amazed that my post on WritetoDone got over 600 comments…
When I first blogging I was a terrible blogger. Instead of taking readers to a destination, I got them lost. So, they clicked away. When I read those posts, I wonder I was thinking by then.
I always remain thankful to bloggers for sharing their tips and tactics. They’ve taught me how to write content that gets read.
This is one of the blog posts that make me to become a better blogger. I will put into action what you have taught me. Thanks for sharing!
Well, it’s easy to be hard ourselves, especially when we look at our first blog posts. I must admit, I blush when I read my early stuff…
However, we need to accept that being a writer means being on a never ending journey of learning.
It is okay to make mistakes.
It’s okay to write stuff that doesn’t work. All we need to do is to notice, reflect, learn and do our best to improve.
Actually, I think the main thing is to remain playful and be willing to experiment. 🙂
Great post. Thanks for sharing!
Thanks for taking the trouble to comment, Parveen!
When I first started blogging I was a terrible blogger. Instead of taking readers to a destination, I got them lost. So, they clicked away. When I read my first posts, I wonder what I was thinking by then.
I always remain thankful to bloggers who share their tips and tactics. They’ve taught me how to write content that gets read.
This is one of the blog posts that make me to become a better blogger. I will put into action what you have taught me. Thanks for sharing!
Found a typo in this article, somewhere in the middle, you’ve said “It you have a story from your own life, be brave and publish it.”
I think you meant to start the sentence with “If” not “It”
Akhil, you get the ‘Eagle Eye Spotter Prize’.
Akhil, Mary is right. You should get the ‘Eagle Eye Spotter Prize!’
I’ve made the update to the post. Thanks. 🙂
Mary, I love the travel metaphor used throughout this post!
I even read the post from beginning to end. No “clicks” here. 😉
Off to share it now…
Ha! I’m glad I was able to hold your attention, Lorraine 🙂
Interesting writing will do that. 😉
By the way, I asked you a question in your Facebook Masterclass group. I tagged you, but I’ve yet to receive a reply. It’s about that plugin I suggestion.
Look for the post. It was dated January 4th, I think…
And now that I’m on my laptop instead of my phone, I’m going to share this post a bit more!
Thanks for inspiring me today, Mary! 🙂
Time to get SH** done!
‘Interesting writing’ – that’s a really nice compliment, Lorraine. I love writing for BBT, especially because I enjoy working with Glen Long as an Editor. He is awesome!
As to your question on the Masterclass Insiders Facebook group, the answer may be useful for readers here. The question is: Which works better to keep out spam comments, the Anti-Spam plugin or Akismet? I must admit, Anti-Spam is working a lot better than Akismet.
It took me a lot of experimentation before realizing that Anti-Spam was the plugin to use. Many people swear by Akismet (and some use both), but I prefer to use Anti-Spam by itself.
Oh, and Mary… you’re welcome for the compliment! 😉
hello Marry thanks for the valuable article people fail in blogging because its a time consuming thing, and no one has time today, one needs to work smart and hard for 2 years at least after that you can Imagine an autopilot Income, the beginning is horrible when you are desperate for traffic, follow right traffic masters is very Important, right Information is very Important and need to work on it absolutely, today Inbound Marketing is the goldmine for website traffic, penguin and pandas detect bots and traffic exchanges in seconds, so I would follow your advice of content production, networking and right promotions so keep writing with focus keywords and and promote well 🙂 that’s the key to success Its very true. thanks and regards great article as always.
Thanks for your thoughtful reply, Rohit.
I’ve been thinking about this post and it strikes me that it also applies to fiction. I know that some people are ‘pantsers’ and start writing into the blue beyond of story.
However, I think it’s much easier to write if you have a clear destination for a scene or a chapter. And somehow you need to intimate that direction you are wanting the reader to go in-without giving too much away!
Thanks for the journey. I appreciate to learn more about how to write a post with a crucial ingredient ☺
I look forward to reading your posts, once you’ve got into your stride, Leib.
What a perfect post for you to have written, Mary. You’ve always been stellar at focus and clarity. This one is jam-packed with actionable, smart advice. Nicely done 🙂
Let me hand you a compliment too: I always suggest to my blogging students that they read and print out your post here on BBT: The Ultimate Guide to Writing Irresistible Subheads. I’m happy to see it in the list of popular posts in the sidebar!
Thanks Mary. It’s one of my favorites that I’ve written – and BBT was for sure my best guest posting experience. Good peeps!
thanks and regards great article as always.
Thanks, Baselo! I had a look at your blog and it looks funky. I couldn’t quite work out what the language is, but I love the look.
I’d just like to thank you for sharing this. These strategies are certain to assist me to “find myself” in the land of blog. It makes perfect sense. Personally I’m a sucker for metaphors and cliche’s, they simplify the process of visualization and plant ones buttocks firmly in the appropriate seat, namely perspective. This article has triggered a “click” moment in my mind, bringing together many pieces. Thank you once again.
Hey Matt, thanks for your comment. I like what you said: “This article has triggered a “click” moment in my mind, bringing together many pieces.”
Those “click” moments are precious, aren’t they?
Great information here! I’ve been following this routine and it has given me some great results. The thing I do to make sure I stay within the realms of the topic and lead my readers to the destination is to write an outline before going into he meat of the post.
One thing you mentioned I need to work on is writing transformational posts. Most of my posts are more so learning posts. If you’re consistently able to do this, then this is a great indicator that you’re on the right track!
Thanks for the share Mary! Have a great day!
Hi Sherman, I’m glad this is working for you! Like you, I’m a great fan of outlining. It saves a lot of time and the post has good bones, right from the start.
Mary, thank you for another stellar post! I really like how you’ve not only categorized the kinds of destinations, but also explained exactly how to write to make sure readers stay along for the ride.
Thanks for your kind words, Vinita. I think the challenge with this kind of post is that you need to demonstrate what you’re trying to teach… 🙂
Thanks for this incredibly helpful post, Mary.
When writing, I often get off track when I try too hard to follow a path. Sounds kinda weird but I write with more clarity and structure when I’m simply telling a story via email. Or teaching someone in a forum.
But when I sit down and try to focus on writing a killer piece, my brain either locks up or goes off the rails. So in order to complete a professional post, I have to trick myself into the mindset that I’m simply writing an email.
Nevertheless, I keep guidelines such as yours at the forefront of my conscience. I try to absorb and truly learn the techniques so they become second nature…almost automatic. If that makes any sense.
Thanks again for taking the time to teach and inspire us!
Thought I’d jump in here with an idea that might help.
A book called “Accidental Genius” was one of the best books on writing I’ve. Especially for getting unstuck.
It illustrates how free writing (meaning no agenda, just letting it rip without stopping) is one of the best ways to get out of your own way.
When in stuck, I just do 20-30 minutes of letting my mind ramble. Usually a fee paragraphs in things start to click with a clearer idea or solution to a problem.
Hope that helps!
P.S. the audio book is narrated by the actor who played Balki on Perfect Strangers. That part alone is funny to me.
I’ve heard of “Accidental Genius”…never read it. Sounds like I need to!
There’s so much pressure to write “killer content”, “tell a story”, “take readers on a journey”, “make every word count”, “enchant your reader”, be “original, unique, and mind-blowing”…ugghh…it’s easy to get hung up on being awesome (i.e. second-guess your writing and compare it to your mentors’).
Balki talking about genious…I have to get it now!
Thanks again my friend. I truly appreciate your input.
A note from Blaine’s Ego: Of all the words to fumble on, he misspells “genius”. Sorry, but as Blaine’s ego, I had to write this self-conscious correction. It’s what I do. 🙂
Thanks, Mike! I bought ‘Accidental Genius’ on your recommendation. It’s brilliant!
Well, that’s very interesting, Blaine. I’m actually just mentoring a blogger who is an excellent writer but somehow gets into the way of his own way when writing a blog post.
There is something I noticed in your comment. You used these expressions: “killer piece”, “professional post”.
I reckon you’re trying too hard! You’re expecting yourself to jump over an impossibly high hurdle.
Try writing a bad piece; the badder, the better. 😉
This will unlock your brain!
Yep, you nailed it: I try too hard.
A lot of smart writers have shared a lot smart advice. But you’re the first to suggest writing a bad piece.
I love it!
One of my biggest hangups:copy-editing and proofreading as I write. Why? I’m not a fan of the post-editing process. It saps the life out of me.
I can “just write” and bang out a cohesive piece. But it’ll have a zillion proof errors (forms of “to be”, an occasional mix of verb tenses, stuff like that).
It would be nice to have an editor who is willing to accept my “raw version”, and just jump in and make corrections for me. I’d pay real money for that. My current editor is awesome, but they expect my best and final draft before taking a look. [Sigh]
So I end up editing a piece before sending it to an editor. Sounds backwards. And exhausting. And it is.
Anyway, I’m gonna try your method: Write a bad piece. I love it!
Ha! I like it, Blaine! I’d like to know how you got on with writing bad and even badder 🙂
Thank you. I was inspired and transformed all in one go, and you certainly took me on a well signposted journey.
Thanks for your lovely feedback, Arsh!
Excellent article Mary, really enjoyed the read thanks.
Thanks for stopping by, Ken!
First and foremost, this list is really good. Boy! I can imagine the amount of energy, time and countless concerted effort to make this list stand out. it’s nice. I’ve gone through the links and they sure are helpful. Thanks.
Have an awesome week.
much love, George
I’m glad you found this post helpful, George.
Great advice. I’m always looking for ways to improve my writing. I added this post to my WordPress Roundup for January – http://wpresstic.com/wordpress-rewind-jan-2016/
Hey Nick, thanks for adding this post to WPresstic. Your blog looks very interesting!