We’ve all heard that blog readers have exceptional cases of A.D.D. They land on your post, and within seconds, if you haven’t grabbed their attention, they’re on to the next social or search result. At that point you’ve lost them, and likely for good.

Long form blog posts require an investment from your reader, but done right they can also pay big dividends for businesses. I recently wrote about why you need long form blog content. This is a post on how to do it without making your readers want to claw their eyeballs out (or close the tab).

Two of the better long form marketing bloggers that I’ve found are Neil Patel from Quicksprout and Demian Farnworth of Copyblogger. Their posts are long and detailed. If readers are so afflicted with A.D.D, why are they commenting and sharing these posts in droves?

Because they’re also valuable and engaging.

How To Write A Successful Long Form Blog Post

Idea Generation

Like any other form of successful content, it starts with the idea. You’ll need one that people will want to invest their time in. That means doing your research and coming up with something of note.

Your idea needs “legs.” That just means that there needs to be some depth to it. Are there several sub-sections that you can invest time into? Are you writing about an involved process that has several parts?

You don’t want something as broad as how to establish world peace, but you will want something that gives you room to maneuver.

You’ll want to pick something sure to interest your readers. Are you continuously asked the same questions regarding your field of expertise? Maybe you can write a post that would give you something to point at.

You can also do some research with the Google keyword tool to find some popular searches within your industry. There may be a blog post there that you weren’t even considering. If a light bulb turns on in your head, run with it. But don’t pick an idea that won’t go anywhere simply for search volume. You won’t keep readers engaged that way.

Writing The Post

My wife and I live a few miles from a small town airport. As I walked my son around the neighborhood the other day, several planes approached for landings.

It started me thinking about being a pilot. You couldn’t be pilot who specializes in just taking off. If you want to pursue your passion (or continue your life for that matter) you better quickly learn how to fly at altitude and land.

The same is true in long form blog writing. You’ll need to grab your readers’ attention, and not let go until the last word. A blogger who’s exceptionally talented at writing the beginnings, but loses steam before the end won’t see a lot of conversions. Comments and shares would likely drop off as well. Like the pilot with weak landing skills, you’d be stranded in the air.

It’s also best to be brief. Short sentences and paragraphs energize and move readers through whatever it is you have to say. Bullet and numbered lists, as well as frequent subheads give the reader the feeling of making progress.

This is especially true as you consider your mobile readers. There’s nothing worse than clicking on what seems like a fairly beneficial post online, and then finding a large mass of text that simply doesn’t end.

The fact is, even if you don’t think you’re in a mobile-intensive industry, you probably are. To use my freelance writing website as an example, 13 percent of my visitors last month came via their mobile devices. That’s a segment large enough that I don’t want to ignore. You’d think freelance writers would be hunted for mostly by the proverbial “man behind the desk.” There are other audiences you’ll need to pay attention to, though.

So break things into manageable chunks. You won’t be sorry.

Explain Away

Don’t shy away from the deeper details. Make them part of the overall narrative. A lot of time writers feel rushed, and topics that could have had more depth to them end up falling flat.

So before you hit publish, ask yourself if there is a direction that you could still take the post, or if there are details that you’re leaving out.

Your readers came for information. If you’re giving them tips on buying in your industry, or telling them how to fix something, a strong explanation in a language that they can understand is imperative.

Make sure that you’re not using your technical jargon as you sell to customers. Stress the benefits of the product or service over the technical features.

Get To The Point

A few anecdotes here and there are acceptable, but try and stick with your larger point. You may have a piece of beautiful writing, but if it doesn’t fit with the purpose of the post, it needs to be cut. Don’t shed too many tears. If the deleted portion is strong enough, it can be the start to a different post.

Nothing is more frustrating as a reader than when you read a post you thought would be about something else. When a writer strays away from the main idea, readers are left in limbo wondering when and if they’ll be coming back.

In For The Landing

Don’t be shy about trying long form content. There are plenty of subjects for you to be writing about, where a little bit of detail can tremendously help your audience.

Remember, readers want a nice, clean package. Your post can’t end with the pilot in midair. It just can’t. Readers need more resolution than that. So practice those landings as well, and make sure that the wheels go down without crashing the plane. 

Matt Brennan is a Chicago-based marketing writer and copy editor

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