How to write a great blog post

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How to write a great blog post

This post explains how to blog. Great blog posts have a few things in common, notably they are readable, interesting to read and discoverable. Why am I mentioning this? We’ll I’ve been blogging for a number of years now and I keep getting people contacting me to ask what they should write to enter the TechEd Challenge to win a fully funded TechEd Europe Place.

Humans…

The first and foremost thing is to make sure you are writing your article to be read by a human being. Yes it’s true that everywhere you look you’ll find articles that encourage you to write “SEO friendly” content, and there must be some of that, but ultimately your content needs to be understandable by a human being. Actual flesh, skin, bones and brain read great blog posts – not robots. That is what we are after – something that people can read. There are few things here that matter, the first is that you need to remember what you learnt about writing at school, grammar, punctuation and spelling. Obviously you want your post to have the correct spellings in don’t you – there isn’t a lot of excuses with spell check built into the OS these days.

The next thing you need to remember about the spelling, punctuation and grammar stuff is not to worry about it too much. I prefer to read blog posts that are written conversationally, just like this post is. I feel that it portrays much more of the writers personality and if you think that throwing in a bit of slang is a way to get your personality across then do what you need. I also prefer to keep the swearing to an absolute minimum – not that I do day to day – but it can be off putting to read F*** this and that. Chances are that for this competition you don’t want to portray that kind of persona either.

We work in a world where acronyms surround us all the time, it could be VBC, TBC, DNS, DHCP or ACK. Not everyone understands those acronyms so try to expand them the first time you use them for example I’d expand VBC to Visible Butt Crack (VBC) above, and so on. The second time I’d just use VBC. You might also want to link the word to a definition.

Content…

The next step towards a great blog post is the more complicated one. Making it interesting.

We’ve asked for reviews of Windows Server 2012 but to just review the product like the thousands of journos who’ve done the same would be a sub par effort. Those dudes do it every day so to get seen you need to be more creative. How about explaining how you used Windows Server 2012 to solve a problem; how you built your lab; how you won some business; how you replaced VMware; how you replaced Linux; how you hosted Linux vms on Hyper-V; how you love Dedup; how you love DHCP failover and clustering….the world is your oyster. Readers will appreciate your story and so will the judging panel. They will also appreciate inspiration so make sure the post gives them something to go and do after they’ve finished reading it…make them want to comment and subscribe.

Robots + Humans…

Back to the final thing, make it discoverable. Include a density of keywords in your first paragraph – this is that SEO thing which really does matter. Make it obvious in the first 156 chars as to what the post is about…if you are wondering why it’s because that’s what search engines use as the description that people see in results. Do the same with the title, here you have half the char count though, make the title of the article something that people want to click, but don’t link bait. Link bait is something that pertains to be something it’s not.

The final point on making it discoverable, be sure to reuse your keywords throughout the post – this post is about writing great blog posts. I’ve used that phrase enough (there I did it again) that it’s not offputting. If you’re talking about a Windows Server 2012 review, be sure to mention Windows Server 2012 a few times and not WinSvr or 2012.

All that said, you have what you need to enter the TechEd Challenge to win a fully funded TechEd Europe Place.

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4 comments

  1. reubenjcook - May 13, 2013 9:16 pm

    Simon – a great post on posting!
    Our blog at http://blog.thefullcircle.com is well overdue a post or 6 and too many in drafts – that’s a tip from me, just get it out there even if only partial, split into parts, etc. better to generate discussion than languish in drafts!
    Hopefully see you in Madrid!

    Reply
    • Simon May - May 13, 2013 10:45 pm

      Great point…just get it out there…who else has some great tips?

      Reply
  2. Ashley Lawrence (@ashalaw) - May 16, 2013 5:09 am

    I always try to be as visual as possible. Including quirky images that get across an emotion of how the topic made me feel. Screenshots of stuff if its software I’m writing about so people can quickly scan the page and see if the thing I’m doing is the same as them without having to read every word I’ve written.
    As for getting content written – My mantra is never try to force people or yourself to write something because you need some content on topic x. People can smell authenticity, or a lack of it, a mile away. Occasionally you can spur someone or yourself to write that blog post they’ve been planning for a while at the right time, but when the motivation to have a blog is about writing stuff you think is cool and feel passionate about in the first place, you can usually tell when it’s been forced. After all, we aren’t professional writers. We’re enthusiastic amateurs and it’s a labour of love.

    Reply
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Simon May is an Infrastructure Technology Evangelist at Microsoft concentrating on Devices and Services but with special interests in deployment and device management. Simon is a professional public speaker and the author of several books on Windows.
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