AskPat 310 Episode Transcript
Pat Flynn: What's up, everybody? Pat Flynn here, and welcome to Episode 310 of AskPat. Thank you so much for joining me today.
All right. Now let's get to today's question from Tracy.
Tracy: Hey Pat, my name is Tracy, and I want to start this recording off by saying thank you so much for SPI and for AskPat. They are invaluable. I wouldn't be even making a website if it wasn't for your work. So I really, really want to thank you for that. My question today, it has to do with blogging. Following the steps that you suggested, I've got my website up, it's TracerAmmo.com, and I want to sell information products like direct download video, that kind of thing. I'm just building it up, trying to work on my SEO, and create content, and I'm working on creating blog posts right now.
The thing is the blogs that I've been posting, they look like just essays. There's no real formatting, I don't have words in bold or italics or multiple titles or anything like that, and I was wondering if I should look into learning copywriting, because I know sales copy has a lot of that kind of formatting stuff going. I was just curious, really, what your opinion of. . . are they related, or is there something I should look into directly that'll help me kind of spice up my blog's appearance, instead of just looking like a high school essay. Thanks again, man. I really appreciate everything. You are awesome, and I listen to the podcasts and the shows that don't even relate to me, just because you have a great personality and it's just that you're entertaining. Thank you so much, man, and have a great day.
Pat Flynn: Hey, Tracy, what's up? Thank you so much for the question today. I think it's a fantastic question because a lot of blogs that I do read, especially beginners, and I'll often go to the blogs of my readers, and I'll check out sites that people suggest that I look at to see if I can offer any help, and I do that every once in a while. I can't do that as much as I'd like to, just because it takes a lot of time, but one of the biggest things I find when I go to those sites, Tracy, is that the formatting of the posts aren't reader friendly. You had mentioned that your posts are perhaps like that, because they look like essays. Essays, for those of you who don't know, are sort of longer posts with no subtitles in between, no bolding, no italics, and just simply one large chunk of text. Yeah, it's probably broken up into different paragraphs, but as far as separating things out, that's about it. For those of you who are listening, you probably know that you better enjoy, and you may not even know this, but subconsciously it's just easier on your eye, and you better enjoy posts that are scannable. Meaning they are separated by different subcategories and things like that. There's of course a title to your blog post, but within your blog post itself, there might be several subtitles for different sections.
The reason those are very important is because it allows the reader to easily scan, to easily come back to where they were if they lose their place, and if it's just large chunks of text, it could be really difficult on the eye. Breaking up a post into different sections like that can really make it easier to read, easier to flow, and just less overwhelming actually. I think that's one of the big things with essays. I remember having to write an essay back in high school. That was a daunting task. But if I had thought about it like I think about blog posts now, it would just be cut up into different sections. There's the intro, there's the thesis statement, and then there's the supporting points, and then there's the conclusion. So that's your basic premise for your blog posts, and you can break them up into that specific format as well.
However, there are some resources and tools online that can help you with how to best structure your posts. I want you guys to check out Copyblogger.com. I think if I were you I would subscribe to that any way. Brian Clark over there and his team does an amazing job with helping us with our copywriting. Copywriting is similar to sales copy. Copywriting, I feel, is writing online with a purpose. It's not just online, there's copywriting in newspaper ads, and in television commercials, I mean that's all copywriting stuff that you see. But I feel that it's something with a purpose. Now it's not necessarily to sell something all the time, but copywriting to get people to take action, to get people to pay attention, to get people to respond for example. But also sales as well. Copywriting, it's a skill that can be learned, and it's learned over time, and it's learned from experience, so the best thing to do is just be conscious about these things I'm about to share with you, to make sure you format your blog posts and pages in a way that's easily readable and scannable.
So Copyblogger.com is a good resource. Go to Google and type in “Copyblogger format.” The first post that'll come up is a post that is called “A Comprehensive Guide to Formatting your WordPress Posts.” I've used this before, which is why I came back to it today. I'm going to go over this quickly with you, but again look up Copyblogger and then formatting, and that will bring you to this post on Google. Here we go, he breaks it down into. . . actually who's the author here? The author is Pamela Wilson, who is Vice President of Educational Content at Copyblogger Media. This is a great post.
How can you use your WordPress formatting bar to really spice up the look of your posts and make it more easily readable? Also, when you do this, you'll find that it's easier to write as well. It gives you breathing space in between the different sections. It gives your audience breathing space in between reading sections as well. The first chunk here says, number one, be bold and be subtle. So bold and italic formatting options, that will give you some great, great formatting options in terms of really helping important parts of your posts stand out. Just making sure people pay attention to those things. Of course, you don't want to go overboard, or you'll just be annoying.
The next thing you want to do is what they call signposts. Creating signposts with subheads. Like I said before, visitors often skim your subheads before they read on to dig into your text, so it's important that you do this. This post that I'm talking about, again look up formatting and Copyblogger on Google, and you see exactly this is what they do, and this is why it's so easy.
Number three, help your reader measure progress with numbers. Instead of just different sections, different numbers can help. Like I mentioned, number one, be bold and subtle. Number two, create signposts with subheads. Number three, help your reader measure progress with numbers. It helps them understand where they are, but also where they're going.
Number four, break up those concepts with snappy bullets. So this is another great tip. If you have points that you need to make, instead of writing them out in full paragraphs, you're going to make it easier on yourself for writing them out, and your reader, they're going to get through them much quickly if you put them in bullet points. Maybe there is a numbered list, or just bullet points, so concept one, concept two, concept three. That's super easy to skim and much easier on the eye, and it just makes the formatting of your blog post much better.
Number five, shrink your paragraphs to web-sized chunks. This was something that I actually learned from Derek Halpern over at SocialTriggers.com, because if you actually go to SocialTriggers.com, you'll see he uses a lot of these things too. I was really interested, because I got really into Derek's website back in the day and reading his posts, and I recognized that his paragraphs are maybe one, if not two, sentences per paragraph, and that's it. If it's about three sentences in a paragraph, you want to look to try and restructure it. Again, it just breaks it up, makes it super easy for you to write, but also your audience to read. So shrinking your paragraphs to web-sized chunks. Just one or two sentences per paragraph, which I know doesn't sound like very much, because in an essay you perhaps write five to ten sentences per paragraph, but no, just a couple.
Number six, highlight, emphasize, and inspire it with block quotes. Block quotes are, in your WordPress formatting bar, the little quotations. If you highlight a piece of text and then click that, it sets it aside in a little block, and it's styled differently depending on the theme. It really draws the user's attention to that. If you have a very important point, or perhaps a quote that you want to share, it's a great way to set it apart from all the other bits and pieces of text that are there with you. Now, you can also push that button and then type, and then push that button again to release, and then have your further text be normal.
Number seven, start strong, finish strong. I love this because it's not really a formatting tip, but it's just an idea that you want to make sure you start your posts with some compelling sentences about why people should continue to read, and what they're going to learn from it. At the end, sum up everything that was learned, but then tell the reader exactly what to do next. Ask a question to encourage comments. Compose a new way of thinking about a topic. Invite people to make a purchase, for example, if this is sales copy that you're doing. And so that's what you want to do.
Those are the seven tips. Again, look up Copyblogger and formatting on Google. You'll come to this post. I've sort of summarized it for you, but I recommend you check this out, they have a lot of other things that are very helpful on this website as well. So, Tracy, I hope this helps answer your question in terms of how to format your posts much better. This is something that we can all do a much better job at, and I know I can as well. Make sure you head over to Copyblogger.com. That was the resource we mentioned. Thank you, Tracy, for your question today. An AskPat t-shirt will be headed your way for having your question featured here on the show. For those of you who have a question, make sure you head over to AskPat.com, and you can ask a question on that page, and perhaps get featured here like Tracy and get an AskPat t-shirt sent out to you. We've sent out over 300 t-shirts now, and I can't wait to see them sort of on the streets, if you will. If you see one on the street, and you're listening to this, be like, “Hey, I probably heard your episode,” and then start a conversation. That's kind of my dream with these t-shirts, for people to connect. That'd be pretty cool.
Thank you so much again, and I want to quote my good buddy Greg Hickman from Mobile Marketing Engine today. He says, “We were all raised to make a good first impression, and no more than ever has that first impression been as important as it is on a mobile device. Make sure you're mobile friendly.” That is fantastic advice, because I've noticed the trend and the increase of readers and listeners and viewers coming from a mobile platform. So you better make sure you're mobile friendly, or else that first time somebody visits your site, it might not be a good experience, and that's not what you want. Check out Greg Hickman at Mobile Marketing Engine, and thank you all so much for listening to today's episode of AskPat. I look forward to serving you again tomorrow. Cheers.