A winning recipe for blog casserole

I received an email the other day that really got me thinking. Spencer X. Smith — you may know him as THE go-to guy for social media strategy — asked me about writing really engaging blog posts.

To be honest, I had never really thought about such things before. I just wrote them. But the question kept nagging at me. How do I actually do what I do?

No good writing follows a formula (possible exceptions: haiku and limericks). But blog posts? Hmmmm.

Here’s what I sent back to Spencer:

“What you don’t want to do is change your style or voice too much. The power of a great blogger is that what they write looks and sounds exactly like what you get when you meet them in person. Said succinctly: What you read is what you get.

“What might be a useful writing tool for you is to create a personal style guide for blog posts. Not a ‘fill in the blank template,’ but more of a recipe to direct your thinking, and provide your random thoughts a place to live. Something like this:

Grabber headline

(e.g., Are you really ‘anti-social,’ or just not sure where and when to start?)

Provocative opening

(One ~25–75-word paragraph re: blog post subject)

Subhead: Sums up blog topic in a tight phrase

(e.g., There are 57 top social media channels. Which three are right for you?)


(One 25–75-word paragraph, ideally with an accompanying photo or graphic. Describes the situation you are addressing)

Subhead: Interesting ‘real world, personally experienced’ anecdote

(One 25–75-word paragraph, e.g., How one company’s very first Tweet landed them their biggest account. Tells an interesting, real story re: the blog post subject)

Subhead: What you can do

(e.g., The one thing you can do today to get started.)


(One 25–75-word paragraph, ideally with an accompanying example photo or graphic. What the reader can DO to deal with the above.)

Affirmative closing

Your positive ‘you can do this’ coaching outro.

“I think you’ll find this basic structure to be a great guide for taking your random thoughts and turning them into a really relevant story (blog post). — dp”



Bloated copy breeds bye-bye

Looking back, the only thing I’d add to the above is to inoculate every post against TL;DR syndrome (too long, didn’t read). A blog is not a magazine. In general, people engage with blog posts for seconds, not minutes. For blogs, relevant brevity is EVERYTHING.

When in doubt, air it out by breaking up long paragraphs.

Use images to illustrate instead of writing 1,000 words.

And for QWERTY’s sake, stop typing when you don’t have anything else to say.

D.P. Knudten is chief collaborator for COLLABORATOR creative.

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