I read an ungodly amount of posts everyday. Unfortunately, the majority of them suck. Many of them are superbly written and well-organized but still bore the snot out of me. Why? Some say that I’m extremely opinionated – a harsh and perhaps unfair judge. Sometimes, especially if I haven’t dosed myself with caffeine. However bad posts are the result of failing to answer 5 important questions.
Here they are:
1. Do I Give A Damn About This Topic? Writing posts that don’t interest you is a recipe for bland, soul-sucking, drivel that no one wants to read. I can spot these auto-generated, search inspired posts by their lame and generic recitation of the subject. The author’s voice is lost because they are going through the motions.
If you aren’t passionate about your topic then don’t write anything until you have something to say. Worse, if your blog is boring you to tears then shut it down. Life is too short to write crap you don’t believe in.
2. Does my Reader Give A Damn About The Topic? Your reader is short on time and chronically ADD. They have a firehose of information surgically attached to their mouth and they are gasping for air. To stay sane, you reader has developed a sensitive and precise filter that sifts through and finds information that matters to them. Off-topic or poorly timed posts get the dubious honor of being bookmarked for “later” (later will come when hell freezes over).
3. Do You Have a Point? What is your opinion? What is your argument? I love reading HuffingtonPost and the OpEd section of the New York Times because I know exactly where the writer stands. Trust me, your reader doesn’t want a reasoned, evenly balanced, point of view. This lukewarm, Goldilocks content confuses and irritates your reader. If they want fair and balanced news, they’ll flip on CNN. Instead, they want to hear your point. Right or wrong they still want to know where you come down on the issue.
4. What’s Your Hook? You have 3 seconds (about 3 sentences) to grab your reader by the collar and pull them into your post. A hook states your point and why it matters. For example, the hook for this post is that “Even well-written posts suck because they fail to answer 5 important questions”. This hook challenges your belief that well-written posts are inherently good. You are reading this sentence because you want to know why.
5. Do You Have Evidence? You need to lay out a credible and concise argument for your post. If you are writing a straightforward how-to post then clearly detail your steps and process. Spend the time to marshal your stories, data points, quotes and citations to satisfy your reader’s left-brain rationale. Compile your evidence into a logical sequence that walks the reader bit-by-bit down the path of reason. Evidence is where you establish your credibility and leadership so make sure you get it right.
This is why a well-written post with perfect grammar, active verbs, and a perfectly sequenced set of thesis statements get ignored. Blogging is about heart, relevance, and reason. You need all three. Heart unleashes the power of passion. Relevance gets you a date with your reader. Reason turns the encounter into a relationship.
Does your next post answer all five questions? Talk to me about it below.