Dozens of experts are telling us that we need to write at least 1,000 words in a blog post if we want Google to notice us. While a whole lot of us don't like to read them, let alone write them, there's that little nagging thought: "But I should."
That's why an agent asked me how to write a 1,000 word blog post and not be boring.
Here's my take as a real estate copywriter...
First, obviously, you need something interesting to discuss and there needs to be enough to say about it to write 1,000 words without using fluff and filler.Anyone can write 1,000 words - or 3,000 - if they ramble, repeat, and wander off on side trails.
If you need 2 or 3 topics to get to that word count, make sure they fit under the same general topic, as in “3 ways to…”
Some topics have been “done to death,” so avoid them unless you have something new and fresh to say. (How many people have written that you must de-clutter your house before offering it for sale?)
And whatever you do, don’t copy from anyone. You can copy ideas, but put them in your own words. When I do research for community pages, I often come across the exact words from Wikipedia on several agent websites. Not good.
Assuming that you do have a topic worth 1,000 words, the first step is to organize your thoughts so you don’t ramble or get off-topic.
For many, the easiest way is to create an outline of what you want to convey. Start with your primary topic, then break it down into sub-topics. Below that, list the points you want to make about each. Then begin writing to fill out the outline.
Or – if you’re best at free-thought writing, just go ahead and get started. Write everything you want to say. Then begin sorting. This is the method I use, because I’ve never been worth a darn at outlining. When outlines and essays were required in high school, I always wrote the essay first and then the outline.
Write the introduction: Tell them what you’re going to tell them.
Next, if you’ve written free-thought, begin your organization with the primary idea. Write a header and pull over everything that fits that header. Do the same with the next idea and the next. (Oh how I love cut and paste.)
This will give you a few “chunks” of copy to sort again. Read each chunk and sort it into short paragraphs. (Short is the operative word here.) Re-arrange the sentences in those paragraphs so the ideas flow naturally.
If you’ve followed an outline, you still might want to re-arrange your paragraphs to make the copy flow smoothly.
Use transition words and phrases to help the reader progress smoothly from one sentence or paragraph to the next. Transition words can reinforce agreement with the previous statement, or can present a different view, but they should lead your reader onward.
Here are a few examples: in the first place, as a matter of fact, in addition, to say nothing of, equally important, by the same token, and, also, then, of course, furthermore, on the other hand, at the same time, in spite of, even so / though, then again, above all, after all, but, unlike, even though, although, instead, despite, conversely, however.
Don’t be afraid to begin a sentence or a paragraph with a preposition or a connecting word. You aren’t going after a grade in English – you’re going after communication. That means its fine to write the way people talk.
Tell a story if you have one.
We all love stories, so if you can illustrate your point by telling one, do it! Be sure to keep it clear and concise, so readers don’t get lost figuring out what you mean.
Remember that visual appeal is part of what attracts readers, so pay attention to your font size – not tiny and not huge. Choose a font that’s easy to read. Some of the scripts are pretty, but best used sparingly. They’re too hard on the eyes.
Font color counts too. I have no idea why some developers are using gray on white, but they don’t do our eyes any favors. Gray on black is even worse. Ouch! I leave quickly. Remember that pastels are also difficult to read. If you want to be safe, stick with black and use other colors to emphasize a point.
You can also use italics, bold, and underlining within a paragraph to add visual interest and make sure your reader understands that those words are important. (I know – the whole piece is important, but…)
Add photos or graphics if you can. These create more visual interest and can reinforce your points. When you're writing about homes, let people see them!
If they fit, use bullet points.
You can use these alone, or as a way to introduce points in your presentation.
You can introduce the topic with an introductory sentence or paragraph followed by the bullet points, then use each of the points as the headers for your next paragraphs.
For instance: if you’re writing about a community, use them to highlight some of the amenities, such as:
- · Community pool
- · Tennis courts
- · Golf course
- · Club house
- · Walking trails
You can then write a brief paragraph (or more) about each of those amenities.
Be sure to use headers and short paragraphs.
Why? Because people like to skim. They’ll let their eyes travel down your copy to see if they’re going to be interested in all you have to say. They might even read paragraph six before coming back to begin at the beginning.
As for short paragraphs – the maximum should be 7 lines, and that’s even too long for some readers. Remember that it’s fine to throw in a one sentence paragraph now and then, especially if it makes an important point. Insert a spacer line between paragraphs, so they’re clearly defined. Do NOT write a wall of words.
Remember to include your call to action.
Since you’re probably writing to generate business, remember to include a call to action. Ask your readers to visit your website, sign up to get your newsletter, or call, write, or text you. Make it easy for them by including appropriate links and contact information.
This can be in your last paragraph or in a P.S. – but make sure it’s somewhere!
Last but not least …
If you write a paragraph or two and re-reading tells you that copy doesn’t quite fit your topic, cut it out, paste it on a new page, and use it in a different post later on.
Oh – and one more thing. Proofread your post at least three times. This is especially important when you’ve been moving sentences around. It’s far too easy to leave a stray word where it doesn’t belong, or to omit a connecting word when you join sentences.
By now you’ll be tired of reading your own words, but do it anyway.
Signpost Images courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Cartoon girl reading Image courtesy of taesmileland at FreeDigitalPhotos.net