Before I start, I guess I should warn you: I am not a very practical person. I blog because I love blogging. I blog about TEFL because teaching English is another thing I love. It is as simple as that.
So, this is what I have to say about how to write an effective blog post:
1. Choose a topic you are passionate about. You don't have to have all the answers. I would say that blogging works even better if you don't have all the answers when you start. A lot of bloggers will say that blogging helps them think and it is true. And you can always rely on your readers to provide some of the answers for you.
Don't think about what "your readers" might want to read. You are not running a restaurant, you are writing a blog. Besides, you don't know who "your readers" are. Sure, there are a couple of regulars, people who love all your dishes, sweet or savoury, hot or cold. But most people will land on your page either by accident (by clicking on somebody's blogroll or simply the Next Blog button) or because they Googled the topic.
Don't worry about whether someone else has already written about it, because each blogger looks at the topic through their own lense. And each blogger has their own unique style. For example, right now a lot of us are writing about Five Steps to an Effective Blog Post because we are all taking part in the Teacher Challenge. But I bet that each post is going to be different.
2. Choose an effective title. A lot of bloggers will tell you that a title should be informative. A good example of an informative title is the one you have at the top of this post. And it is great because everyone immediately knows what this post is about. But I am impractical, remember. If I had to choose between an informative title and an effective one, I would go for the effective one.
Still, it is not all impractical. Remember those people who landed on your page because they clicked the Next Blog button? They are only going to stay on your page for a couple of seconds... unless something stops them. An effective title could do the job.
However, don't mislead your readers. Don't promise the answers if all you have got are just a couple of questions. Me, I usually come up with the title before I start writing. I have an idea about what I am going to put into a blog and immediately after that I have an idea for the title. Sometimes I change it after I have written the post, but not often.
3. Use interesting images. No, I am not joking. Images are important in the digital world. They are easy to obtain (just make sure they have a Creative Commons licence and that you credit the original author) and they add so much to your blog. They make the blog look more beautiful, but it is not just that. Images are very powerful in their own right, they speak to our subconscious. Not only will they keep your new readers in your blog longer, but they might actually help you write.
4. Be who you are. Your readers (your regular readers as well as new ones) will relate better to your writing if they get to know the real you. I use humour a lot here (I usually laugh at myself), but my readers claim that there is a certain melancholy in my blog. Never mind, that's me. You might create a lot of things on the internet, but nothing you create can represent the real you the way your blog will. Your blog is you.
5. Don't give all the answers. Leave something for your readers. You want comments, right? I have tried different things, from asking questions to giving my readers assignments, but nothing has worked quite so well as leaving the post slightly unfinished. Remember what I said at the beginning, about how it was OK not to have all the answers when you started a post? Well, it is quite OK not to have the answers by the time you have finished the post. Sometimes the real art is to ask the right questions.