Content may be king, but beauty is the queen.
If your blog posts are poorly formatted (or just plain ugly) only your most stalwart fans will read them, and they may hesitate to share them. So what can you do to make your posts more reader-friendly?
Ever noticed, especially on group blogs, how posts can have many sizes and styles of fonts, with awkward highlights and clashing colors? This is distracting and makes a site look less professional. I’m not advising “sameness” so that everything is vanilla, but so that the eye isn’t distracted by ugly formatting but can focus on the content.
Whether you use WordPress or Blogger, you have the option of a visual or html editor when creating a new post from your dashboard. While it seems that visual should give you a better-looking blog post, the opposite tends to be true.
Copy/paste your post into the html pane instead, then use the built-in tools for creating headlines, bold, italics, links, etc. You don’t need to know HTML (though it doesn’t hurt). You can check how it looks using the preview option and do some tweaking if necessary. It takes no longer doing it this way and creates a more uniform image for the site.
This means finding suitable images for every blog post, because they tend to pull the eye in. Either take your own photos, ask friends/family for specific permission to use one of theirs, purchase images online, or choose a free and royalty-free service such as Free Digital Photos, where I get many images for this site. (Always read the Terms of Service).
Once you’ve found the perfect image and gained permission, learn to size/resize it to look its best on your blog post. You may have noticed today’s trend to use several full-width images in a post rather than smaller images left- or right-aligned, though you can do that, too, wrapping text around.
Understand the purposes of captions, descriptions, and alt tags and use these tools wisely. They help with your post’s SEO (search engine optimization) and take only a moment to create.
Our readers are busy. It’s a rare site that can attract and hold readers if the posts are consistently over 400-600 words each. Choose a single topic and be concise.
Lists like this one draw attention and make a post easy to read. Use a numbered list if the order is important, and a bulleted list if not.
Choose SEO-friendly titles that actually tell what it’s about rather than something cute that doesn’t.
Along with short posts, use short paragraphs. Set some sections aside in blockquotes. Leave a blank line between paragraphs. All of these add white space, making it easier to read.
Also, break up the text with key phrases bolded or turned into headlines.
Learn to code active links to outside sources, then have the anchored words actually describe the link’s target rather than “click here.” It’s also a great idea to include the words target=”_blank” in your code, telling the link to open in a new tab rather than over-riding the current page.
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Choose a consistent font and size for all the posts. 14-point Georgia and Arial are two used often by big sites. Don’t make people squint to read or decipher. If you’re using the html interface as recommended above, make sure your default is set appropriately and you won’t have to think about it again.
A readable and enjoyable post depends on your writing voice as well as your skills with spelling and grammar. No matter how well-formatted your post is, if the content isn’t clean and engaging, no one is likely to share it or return. Remember that content and beauty go hand-in-hand!
Do you have any tips you’d add to make blog posts prettier and more readable?
Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net