Have you ever landed on a blog site that is text only? Not an image or a graphic in sight? How did you feel? Was it word overwhelm? Did you stop to read the words or move off of the page as quick as possible?
If you moved away from the site you need to send that blogger here. They need a quick lesson in blogging from via the newspaper.
Learning to blog from the newspapers will be the best 75 cents you ever spend
Let’s start at the point of purchase. What is it about your newspaper that stops to make you pick it up? The headline. At least 2 inches high and shouting at your READ ME NOW! A great headline stops you in your tracks and makes you pick up the paper. You can read more about viral headlines here and see what’s in my personal headline and blogging swipe file. I strong recommend having your own swipe file for headlines. A Google Plus Circle (with just you in it) is perfect for this.
What you, the reader, does next depends on the first 50 words.
The funnel effect
Have you ever read a newspaper article… thought it was a lot shorter and then found you have read far more than you wanted? Have you noticed how the top of the article is a narrow column with an image to the left or right of the text? This narrow funnel of text is easier to read. Instead of thinking of the article as a whole page full of words, we think it’s just a few paragraphs, and it’s not very wide or very much so we can read it quickly. And before we know it we have read the entire article which just happened to be spread over three pages… That also works for your blog posts, you can use the narrow funnel of text to make it easier for readers to become immersed in your post.
Making your images work for you
Adding images to your blog and your blog posts make it come alive. No one wants to land on a text only site – it’s boring! The newspapers know this and next to the headline is usually an emotive image. Adding images helps break up the text and it adds visual appeal to your site for visitors. With image sharing sites such as Pinterest rising to the top of social media, visuals in posts are incredibly important.
Making your images work for you
Whenever you add a new post, you can add an image. You can freshen up older posts by going back and adding images and adjusting the alignment of the image. Click on the place where you want the image in the blog post. So if you want it to the left of a paragraph, with the text wrapped around it, click to the left of the first letter in the first sentence of that paragraph. Then next to the Upload/Insert section, click the Add an Image icon.
A window will open up for you to select the file you wish to add. You can choose from your hard drive, from a URL, or from your blog’s media gallery (if you want to use an image you’ve already added to your blog).
After the image uploads, you’ll see a new window open up. Here, you can customise the image a bit. You can add a link to it. Hyper-linking the image to your blog post essential if you want traffic from various image sharing sites. The image to the left of this text isn’t hyper-linked just in case you wish to click it to see the full size version.
You can choose the alignment of the image – align it to the left or right of the text (or in the centre) so that the text wraps around. The text wrapping is important for the newspaper funnel effect.
You can also choose to resize the image to a thumbnail, medium, large or full size. When you add the image, you’ll be taken back to the blog post where you can see how it’s fitting into the text.
Sometimes, the image won’t have a border so it will be crammed up against the text. To change anything (including spacing), click on the image and again on the Edit image icon. If you click on Advanced Settings, you can add spacing.
Under the Image Properties section, you have the option to give it a border or add some vertical and horizontal space between the image and the text. You can play around with it, but usually a 5 or 10 in the vertical and horizontal spaces works just fine.
When you’ve finished, click Update and see how the image works within your blog post. You can delete the image by clicking on it and just hitting your delete button on your keyboard.
You can use images in different areas of your blog – in the posts, on the pages, in your header and footer, and also in your sidebar. Just make sure you check the final output to see if it’s aligned correctly and hyper-linked the way you want it to be before pressing publish. And even if it’s not perfect, it’s not the end of the world.
The advantage that a blog has over a newspaper is a huge one
We can go back and adapt and tweak our posts until they convert our socks off. We can add captions to our images to catch our readers eye, we can add cartoons and funny images to lighten up a heavy post and we can do this retrospectively if we want. We can even use a question in our headlines to stop people in their tracks.
Our final lesson we can take from the newspaper is the use of sub-headings, quotes and pull quotes.
Formatting our blog posts takes very little effort.
Just above the last but one sub-heading in this post is a quote box. Some bloggers like to change the background colour of the quote area so it stands out even more. Some themes add fancy quote marks to the area selected as a quote. Skim through your post’s text and see what you can use as a quote. I like pull quotes for long articles and blog posts.
The pull quote in the image is via a plugin and not CSS or html. If you use WordPress to blog search for Simple Pull Quote in the WordPress plugin directory. The plugin adds an extra button to your post dashboard and pulls your highlighted text to the right. The pull quotes on their own are not as powerful as the sub-headings when it comes to making your post easier to read, but combined… combining your sub heads with the pull quotes is very powerful. Personal experience suggests the post becomes easier to read and digest and if the newspapers use them, then we should too.
If you still insist on not using images for your blog posts (I am informed this is because the writer does not wish the reader to be distracted by the images…) then make it easier to read by adding sub headings and pull quotes.
Newspapers and bloggers can use creative formatting to make their content easier to read and easier to digest. Go and buy a newspaper and and study it relentlessly until you have extracted all of it’s secrets.