How to Write Long-Lasting Blog Posts

20,000 year old cave painting. Perhaps the artist was blogging to educate others about hyenas...

It’s not a stretch to say that most bloggers want an audience for their work. And it’s also a pretty safe bet that all businesses that blog are hoping to see some financial results from their writing as well. But the challenge comes in the process.

How do you write blog posts that last when readers are used to switching up topics every 140 characters? How can you create the Think and Grow Rich of blog posts? The How to Win Friends and Influence People of the net that gets mountains of traffic and provides useful information that readers return to over and over again?

The secret to writing long lasting blog posts is not actually much of secret: it’s work. You have to work hard to craft quality copy, select a relevant topic, present it in a readable format and then get it in front of the people who need to read it. But the payoffs totally justify all the sweat and thought you put into it.

The time you spend in the beginning researching your topic and informing your readers can result in long-term sales, increased readers for your work, and an increase in thought leadership in your market.

Quality is King

Don’t be fooled: content is just content, and if you don’t put much into creating it, chances are readers aren’t going to get much out of reading it. High quality content, on the other hand, is a thing of useful beauty.

High quality content provides actionable information and is a joy to read. Everything clicks – from the title to the topic to the formatting and graphics, leaving the reader more informed about the subject (and hopefully wanting more). It also helps to be creative, either by using humor or presenting a topic in a clever way.

When it comes to quality, don’t forget about things like:

  • Grammar
  • Spelling
  • Well-researched, correct information
  • Links to resources

It helps to get a friend or colleague to proofread your article for you.

Choose the Right Topic

Take the time to seriously think about your topic before writing. What do your readers really need to know? What stumbling blocks and problems do you have intimate experience addressing that hasn’t been covered ad nauseum by a million other bloggers?

Posts that have the longest shelf life tend to be what journalists call evergreen, meaning that they focus more on timeless issues and less on the news du jour. That’s not to say that you shouldn’t cover the daily ins and outs of your industry or topic, but when you’re shooting for longevity, approach the news of the day from an angle that will still be relevant after the next upgrade or product redesign.

Say, for example, you’re writing about using Facebook as a marketing tool. The “newsy” way to approach this would be to provide an in-depth look at how the features included in the new redesign can be used to market your products. This can be a great article, but as soon as Facebook rolls out another upgrade, which seems to happen every twenty minutes or so, this article becomes obsolete.

A long-lasting, evergreen article would focus on the benefits of using Facebook for marketing while not getting too bogged down in the specific functions. You’d talk about the viral quality of posts, the ability to create your own community and encourage brand loyalty, etc. These kinds of topics tend to be upgrade proof.

If you’re writing about a topic that’s been covered before, it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s bad – just make sure to put your own special twist on it. Take this post as an example. Articles about creating good content are all over the web, but this article focuses on how to create long lasting content – not just blog posts that will draw attention for a few days then fade into the internet ether.

Make it Readable

You’re writing to be read, and readability has to do with the way the content actually looks on the page. Researchers have shown that most people looking at information online are initially scanners not readers, and scanners don’t stick around to wade through long paragraphs. If I’m reading on my laptop or my mobile phone, I tend to hit the back button when I come across a post that’s nothing but a wall of text. And I’m not the only one.

So make the format of your post easy to digest and process by focusing on some key areas:

  • Use headers to break up the sections of your post so readers can quickly find what they’re looking for. Each header should provide a brief thematic overview of the next few paragraphs.
  • Bold is your friend. Bold important sentences and insights to make them stand out for your readers.
  • Write short paragraphs. Remember, most people aren’t going to be willing to climb that text wall. Make it easy for them.
  • Write minimally. Be precise with your word choice. Don’t take 10 words to say what can be done with 5. This doesn’t mean that you should mince your words or skimp on the detail, but make sure each word is carrying it’s weight. This is a sign of quality writing.
  • Bullets save eyes. If you’re running down a lot of information at one time, consider adding bullet points or numbers to break up the format.
  • Include other media. The phrase “a picture’s worth a thousand words” still has resonance today, but now you can add short videos, charts, maps, audio and other media to the list of ways to enhance your writing. Adding supplemental media to the post can be a good way to offer more value and keep the reader engaged.

Aim for the Pillar Article

Pillar Articles are like the Mount Everest of blog posts – big, powerful and majestic. The posts tend to be long and meaty and provide in depth, detailed insight into the issue at hand. And they tend to get read a lot. For a very long time.

Pillar articles are usually of the explanatory and “how to” varieties, although the presentation and style can vary from topic to topic. They tend to be long, comprehensive, and leave the reader with a sense of confidence that they understand the intricacies of the topic.

Pillar articles can be a powerful weapon in the blogger’s online arsenal, but they take work. Anything you can write in 30 minutes isn’t a pillar article. If you’re not having to consult your notes, do research, and really grapple with the tone and style of the piece, it’s probably not a pillar article. If you’re not a little drained after writing it, guess what? But the good news is that all that sweat and intellectual equity you put in will pay off through an extended, long-lasting readership.

Promote Early and Often

Now that you’ve got this steaming hunk of brilliance on your blog, don’t be afraid to let the world know about it. I mean, if a pillar article is written in the cloud and no one reads it, does it still exist?

Shaky philosophical appropriations aside, don’t be modest. And don’t be a one-hit wonder. Use your social media channels to get the word out as much as possible. Make sure your blog has ways for readers to Like, Share and repost the information to their networks as well. Add a link to the content to your email signature and on social bookmarking sites like Reddit and Delicious. It could even be a good idea to have section of your blog that features your pillar articles, either on their own page or in a sidebar area.

Your article was written to draw an audience over time, so make sure you schedule promotions that extend beyond just the first couple of days after you’ve published. Get people talking about your work and you’ll be seeing sustained readership for months to come.

James Wilson is a full time internet marketer and freelance writer. He specializes in turning small websites into profitable ventures with minimal investment cost.
Image credits:
Carla Hufstedler
Giorgos Vintzileos

2 Responses

  1. Priit Kallas says:

    Hi Ginger. I agree with you that you need to write quality content. But longevity of the post has nothing to to with quality. If I predict tomorrow’s weather 100% correctly then it is very high quality post. But it will not be relevant the day after tomorrow.

    For instance i have to revamp my Facebook training materials (which are very good 🙂 every now and then as Facebook keeps changing. I don’t need to do that with more basic social media strategy material as the fundamentals stay the same for a long time.

    So, long-lasting post has to be a quality material but quality post might not last long.

  2. Ginger says:

    The goal shouldn’t be “how to make your blog post last” – but “how to write quality content” — because THAT’S what’s going to keep your blog post alive.

    It’s like everything else in life. If you’re only out there to trying to find a way to get rich, you’ll come up with the cheesiest and worst ideas imaginable.

    But if you put your heart into it and really care about what you are doing, and who you are talking to, then the rest will write itself.

    I’m -immediately- turned off by people and content that seek only to please others by telling you there isn’t any work involved. Simply because there is NO such thing.

    Thanks for writing something I can agree with.

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