Drag ‘em in.
Your blog is essentially competing for eyeballs against all the other content that's out there screaming for attention.
With that in mind, a strong headline and intro are essential.
Both should either: shock, intrigue, surprise, create a sense of urgency, or, in this post's case, offer a solution.
Get to the point
Don't spend five to seven paragraphs slowly building up your article. It's not a crescendo. You'll lose readers after the first two paragraphs.
Use a maximum of three or four paragraphs setting the scene before getting to the meat of the article.
Sub-headings are great for breaking up your article and give your readers resting points.
Just as importantly, they allow you to break your ideas down into bite-sized chunks, which makes the writing process easier. They don't have to be as frequent as this article, but try to include them nonetheless.
Keep it simple, stupid
Blog posts aren't the place to show off your extended vocabulary as you'll only alienate your readers.
Write conversationally, avoid jargon and simplify all industry terminology.
Avoid slabs of text
Consider anything more than three lines of text a “slab”. It's tiresome to read and in most cases your reader will skip the paragraph or stop reading altogether.
Stick to one idea per paragraph, then double tap the ‘Enter’ key. Easy.
Make it punchy
Long sentences are just as tiresome to read as long paragraphs, so vary your sentence length.
It doesn’t have to go ‘long sentence’, ‘short sentence’, ‘long sentence’, ‘short sentence’. Just throw the odd punchy one in.
Keep it under 600 words
No one wants to read the financial services version of War and Peace.
Keep it tight. Most people won’t read more than 400-500 words these days so be ruthless in your approach. If it doesn't meet your key objectives, cut it.
Spare some sentences to let your personality shine through. Make your blog unique by injecting some humour, candour or a brief, but relevant, anecdote.
Don't get bogged
It can take hours to craft a blog post that meets the objectives you set out to achieve.
Whatever you do, don't get bogged down in one spot.
If you're struggling with a section (especially the introduction), move onto the next part and tackle it later with a fresh perspective.
Get it proofread
After you've written a draft there's a good chance your eyes will skim over areas whilst proofreading it later.
Limit the number of typos that sneak through by having at least one other set of eyes read over it.
Add value, but don't over-deliver
Strike the right balance between generating value for your reader and generating value for your business.
There should be enough information to satisfy your readers' curiosity, but don’t give away all your secrets in a blog post. Because, as the next section explains...
Finish with a strong call to action (CTA)
Ideally you want your client to book another appointment – so include a strong CTA that clearly identifies how you can help them further.
David is the founder of subscription service 99content. The agency produces weekly white label articles and e-newsletter templates for financial advisers, accountants and mortgage brokers to educate and engage their clients.
He's also the co-founder of In Brief Writers, which produces print and online articles for some of Australia's largest financial companies.
Previously he worked as a journalist for nine years, including three years in the federal press gallery with Australian Associated Press (AAP).