Anatomy of an Effective Blog Post

Recently, my friend Philip Rothschild asked if I would write a blog post on “the anatomy of a 500-word blog post.” He said that he sensed I used some kind of template. He thought it might be something that would be valuable to others, as well as something he could use with his students.

Someone Drawing Lightbulbs on a Chalkboard Photo courtesy of ©, Image #14314309

Photo courtesy of ©

I do, in fact, use a blog post template. I don’t follow it slavishly, but I always start with it. It includes all the elements that I have learned make for an effective post. It also helps me write faster, because it provides me with a track to run on.

My blog post template consists of six components:

  1. Compelling Title. Advertising legend David Ogilvy once said, “On the average, five times as many people read the headline as read the body copy. When you have written your headline, you have spent eighty cents out of your dollar.” This is also true with blogging. If your title doesn’t lure them, they will never get to the rest of what you say.
  2. Lead Paragraph. This is key. If you take too long on the wind-up, you will lose readers. You have to get into the premise of the post and make it relevant to your readers. After the title, this is the second most important component of your post.
  3. Relevant Image. I use images for the same reasons magazines do: I want to pull my readers into the post itself. Pictures do that. I get 90 percent of mine from iStockPhoto. (Click here for a 20% discount.) Occasionally, I use a screenshot or an embedded video or slideshow.
  4. Personal Experience. I always try to share my personal experience. Why? Because readers connect with stories. The more honest and transparent I can be, the better. In fact, my most popular posts generally come out of some failure on my part.
  5. Main Body. Everything to this point has been an introduction. I always try to make my main content scannable. I use bullets, numbered lists—and often both. This makes the content more accessible to readers and more sharable via Twitter and Facebook.
  6. Discussion Question. For the past few years, I have ended every post with a question. I don’t intend my posts to be a monologue. Instead, I want to start a conversation. As a result, I measure my effectiveness at this by how many comments I get.

I also follow a few overall rules when writing my posts:

  • Make the posts short. This is my biggest personal challenge. I have a tendency to be too thorough. Consequently, I aim for 500 words. This usually means I have to write the post and then go back and tighten it up.
  • Use short paragraphs. I try to stick to 3–4 sentences. If it’s more than this, the content looks too dense. Readers will give up and move on. (Notice how newspapers usually follow this rule.)
  • Keep short sentences. As a general rule, I try avoid compound sentences. A period gives the reader a natural stop—and a sense of progress as they pass one milestone after another. To quote a common copywriting axion, short sentences make the copy read fast.
  • Use simple words. I love language, so I am often tempted to use big words. However, I have learned to avoid this. My goal is to communicate, not to impress my readers with my vocabulary.
  • Provide internal links. I can’t say everything in one post, so I link to other posts where I have developed a thought in more detail. This has the added vantage of increasing my pageviews and session times. I think it is also genuinely helpful to my readers.

While your template might be different, it is worth outlining and tweaking as you hone your writing skills. This will allow you to write faster and more effectively.

Question: What does your blog post template look like? You can leave a comment by clicking here.
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  • Doug Hibbard

    My blog post template looks like this: mumble, mumble, ramble, chatter, question that’s not that good but I put it on there because really smart bloggers do.

    As I am working on focusing my blogging efforts, the general flow is: Opening quote, which is sometimes a Bible verse, sometimes famous person, sometimes historical. 2 Paragraphs of establishing what the quote refers to. 2 more of how that impacts me and why it might impact the reader. I usually try to conclude with a question, but I’m finding some of the questions are either too forced or too rhetorical, so they don’t draw out responses as well as I’d like.

    The major exception is Mondays, when I post sermon material from the prior Sunday. Then it is whatever format the sermon notes were, which is often an outline, but sometimes a strange mix of full-text and outline.


    • Michael Hyatt

      I find that I get the most comments when I intentionally leave stuff out. This gives room for readers to comment and ask questions.

      • sharon Vornholt

        Great idea.

    • John Quilter

      Hi Doug !!! I am hoping to reach that stage when I can write a blog. The thought was quite terrifing. Then I realise something. We all express ourselves differently. Even Einstein had trouble expressing himself until he decided that his thoughts would be of value to the rest of the world. In fact his release of thoughts to the great unwashed exposed a compassionate person who was articulate enought to express his views & fears for the development of mankind. I decided Three years ago to try to build a website…which is still in process. It has been the most challenging experience of my life. It was frustrating not knowing how things would fall into place. Now!! I have to tackle SEO, Blogs Adwords, Keywords & so forth. I sought council with IT experts who sadly could not article my questions in simple terms. This Hybrid Language which has been created should be expressed in digestable English*. If they took that approach then technology would move faster because we would all be in accord. The wonderful moments is when you discovered you could do it.

      John Quilter-Clarke

  • Brandon Sneed

    Thanks for this, Mr. Hyatt. I’ve been blogging on and off for about three years. Until recently, it was just a random, too-long, too-wordy stream-of-consciousness thing. This January, I decided to stop trying to do it however I felt like was best, and to start following the model of other, more successful bloggers. I’m not bringing in 200K uniques a month, but it’s definitely gone up. Your various “rules” have been among the most helpful resources. So, well, thanks!

    • Michael Hyatt

      You are welcome. I’m glad my posts are helpful.

      • Robert Ewoldt

        Michael, your posts are VERY helpful. I’ve found that your site, and Copyblogger, are the most helpful resources to make my blog posts better.

        • Michael Hyatt

          Great. That is so affirming to hear!

  • Uma Maheswaran S

    As I photo blog, normally I do not do much homework on template design for the same. Alternatively, I put my effort in selecting the best photo shoots for my post. When I do a book review, I try to convey the message to my readers straight and flat. I am still learning to fine tune and hone my writing skills to suit the taste of the readers. And, thanks for your advice on ideal blog posting.

  • John Richardson

    I’m printing this post out and keeping it by my computer, Michael. Great content. While I follow a similar outline, It’s great to have it listed all in one place. For my writing and speaking, I usually use the 4 H’s as a guide. They are
    1. Head: Make them think.
    2. Heart: Help them feel emotion
    3. Hands: Ask them to take action
    4. Humor: Make them laugh

    If I have these four in a blog post or a speech, I usually have a winner. I agree with you that a lead paragraph is key. The more good content I have in the first few sentences, the better the page follow through. One thing you didn’t have on your list but already covered is a great title. They won’t get to your lead paragraph without one!

    Here is a question for you… How long do you spend on average writing your posts?

    • Geoff Webb

      I like your Head-Heart-Hands-Humor approach, John—and I can definitely see it in your posts!

    • Michael Hyatt

      I like your template, John.

      I budget an hour per post. Sometimes it takes less, sometimes more.

      • Ben

        An hour seems fast to me, but I agonize over my thoughts and words too much.

        • Michael Hyatt

          Keep in mind, I have written four books and a thousand blog posts (literally). I have gotten faster over time.

          • Bret Mavrich

            …and the template just must be a huge part of that. Do you find that you are adept at thinking of topics that make good blog posts, or that you have grown more skilled at fitting any topic into a blog format?

          • Michael Hyatt

            Probably a little of both. However, I do think I am adept of thinking of good blog posts. When you are committed to blogging daily, it makes you notice the world in a different way.

          • Kathleen Langridge

            I have nothing like your portfolio but I KNOW the reality of your comment.

          • Robert Ewoldt

            It’s encouraging to know that you get faster at blogging. I probably spend a good 3-4 hours per post right now, in research and writing.

          • Michael Hyatt

            That should definitely improve.

      • John Richardson

        For your expansive content an hour sounds great. I try to get my standard posts done in 48 minutes. I put up a short video about the process at

    • Henrik Wist

      John, that Head-Heart-Hands-Humor guide is a good one, I’ll remember that for sure!

      • John Richardson

        It’s an easy acrostic to remember and you can easily act it out by touching your head, your heart, hold out your hands, and then smile. I use it a lot when sharing with other speakers.

        • Robert Ewoldt

          I like your template, John. I think I’ll try it out.

    • Ben

      That sounds like a good Sunday School teacher template.

    • Benjamin Lichtenwalner

      John, I printed out your template (in addition to Michael’s). Excellent summary – thank you for sharing.

      It’s a bit tactical, but the only additional item I do that is not listed here is tie back to my primary focus. In other words, like many bloggers, I write on many themes. However, my primary is Servant Leadership. Therefore, if I am writing about another theme (“Technology”, “Resources” or “Other”), I still try to connect it back to servant leadership principles. This way, all posts align with one primary theme, while covering a breadth of topics.

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  • Sjohnston

    I don’t blog at the present, but I do agree that the internal links you provide are very helpful and accomplish the goal you noted in today’s post.

    One question I had is: does your template have a word counter or have you learned to estimate the 500 words per post?

    • Michael Hyatt

      Yes, my blogging software has a built-in word counter.

  • Geoff Webb

    My format is quite similar, though I’ve never formally laid it out. My posts usually end up in this format, but I sometimes take a very circuitous route to get there. I think laying out a loose frame like this before I start will save me time writing—which I’m always thankful for!

  • Henrik Wist

    Wow, seems January is a Blogging-1-0-1 for us here :) I like it a lot! I don’t have a blog template yet. I usually have a few topics saved as drafts (rough sketches) and then try to improve on them whenever I feel like writing. For the future, I might stick to a template like yours, thanks for posting it!

  • Chris Jeub

    Fantastic post, Michael! I’m a fan who loves to follow your lead. I’ve learned a lot of these tricks from you, as well as plain-old hard knocks.

    Here’s another trick, adopted from Mark Twain, that runs along your point abouts about simple writing: “If you see an adverb, kill it.”

    It helps tighten up your writing immensely.
    It tightens your writing.

    • Michael Hyatt

      I agree. The corollary to this is use strong verbs. If you do that, you won’t need many adverbs. Thanks.

    • Bret Mavrich



    • Cyberquill

      Here’s what Stephen King had to say about adverbs in his book On Writing:

      Adverbs, you will remember from your own version of Business English, are words that modify verbs, adjectives, or other adverbs. They’re the ones that usually end in -ly. Adverbs, like the passive voice, seem to have been created with the timid writer in mind. With the passive voice, the writer usually expresses fear of not being taken seriously; it is a the voice of little boys wearing shoepolish moustaches and little girls clumping around in Mommy’s high heels. With adverbs, the writer usually tells us he or she is afraid he/she isn’t expressing herself clearly, that he or she is not getting the point or the picture across.

      Notice that this 80-word paragraph contains five adverbs, including three instances of the word “usually.”


    You have a fine template, Michael. I have tried to emulate some of these pointers just by reading your blog. I’m glad you are not slavish to this template. Two of the tips have worked too well for me: ending with a question has given me exactly the opposite effect – fewer comments. Also, I find I leave posts that end in questions – especially those with the generic “how about you?” or “tell your story here”.

    I am very mindful of ‘simple words’ but press-in a good complex word if nothing fits better.

    The ‘personal part’ of my posts gets as many comments as any other content. That seems to be a critical component for my readers. Barbara

    • Michael Hyatt

      That is interesting that ending with a question gives you the opposite effect. Perhaps it feels contrived or rhetorical. The main thing, I think, is to use what works. If that doesn’t work, then by all means don’t use it. Thanks.

  • Kevin

    I’ve always enjoyed your posts, Michael. This post helps me understand why. They are always easy to read, yet full of good material.

    The only template I consider when writing is, SHORT. Keep sentences, paragraphs and posts short. Blogs aren’t books, so they should be written with the quick readers in mind.

    • Michael Hyatt

      SHORT is a great overall rubric. I should build an acronym around that. I wish I had though of that!

    • Michael Hyatt

      SHORT is a great overall rubric. I should build an acronym around that. I wish I had though of that!

  • Chris MacKinnon

    I’ve caught on to a lot of these and started using them (e.g. adding an image, asking a discussion question, keeping them shorter). I’m starting to focus more and ramble less. I’ve also noticed that those of you using the Standard Theme focus one of 5 or 6 main topics that are included as navigation on the page. That has me thinking now, too.
    My template includes a lead line or two so I can break my posts. I find that I prefer to scan a home page for titles and content, and not have to scroll through unlimited lines to find 3 or 4 posts. Because I want to positively impact my readers, I try to close with a challenge or call to action in my conclusions.

    • Michael Hyatt

      I agree. I do the same thing on my home page.

    • Jeff Randleman

      I use Standard Theme, but I haven’t included a category nav menu yet. I haven’t found a way to implement it like I like it to look yet. Once I get that figured out, I’ll include it on my site, but I want it to be a seperate nav area, and not included in my page nav.

  • Anonymous

    I’ve been blogging seven years now. It’s heartening to know I’ve subconsciously developed a format like this. What I need to work on is taking more time to add bold text and numbers. (I don’t naturally think in lists.)

    • Bret Mavrich

      I wish that weren’t the case. The item I hate most on Mike’s list is the “scannable” principle. What writer out there wants to admit that they’re writing to be half-mindedly glanced at? But, alas, that’s the medium.

      • Anonymous

        My underlying hope is that I’ll create such compelling, valuable content that folks won’t scan, but read my posts.

  • David Santistevan

    I have picked up on these things just by reading your blog daily. It has really helped increase the effectiveness of my blog for worship leaders. I really think that if you are too thorough, less people will comment. Many times I’ll learn new things through my reader’s comments. And I find myself posting more frequently when I don’t pressure myself to edit for 14 hours :) As Seth Godin would say, ship it out. I think about that every time I hit “publish”.

    • Michael Hyatt

      I agree with Seth. For example, I proof every post, but I know that I will inevitably have typos in it. (It’s challenging for most writers to catch their own mistakes.) I could hire a proof-reader, but even then, some typos will slip through. I prefer to just “ship it”—publish the post—and crowd-source my proof-reading. It works very well for me.

      • David Santistevan

        Agreed. I believe it actually can empower readers when they catch your typos and you thank them for it.

      • Henrik Wist

        I’d second that “shipping” is an important feature (usually for software, but holds true for blog posts as well). After all, this is not a book where people expect perfectly proof-read content, maybe because they paid for it. It’s a blog, and having typos in it (and correcting them along the way) makes it more human and therefore more accessible.

      • ReflectionsByPj

        “… some typos will slip through…”

        perhaps the last line in this blog is case and point :)

        sadly, it happens to me all the time.

  • Julie

    Keep short sentences….
    Use simple words….

    While I COMPLETELY agree with your five elements to a readable *blog* post, my concern with social media/blog writing and the American intellect *in general* is that it seems the result is a watering down of everything to meet the demands of our overly-busy, jam-packed lives.

    As a society, it seems we are now receiving a HUGE proportion of our reading/information from the blogosphere and Internet news where the writing meets these two criteria you mention above and we are, therefore, lacking depth – not only in our writing, but in our thought processes. How many times have you had a thought you wanted to share and the very next one was … how I can shorten that to 140 characters or less? (Or, as you’ve mentioned before 122 so that it can be Re-tweeted!) …

    Just a few “quick thoughts” there in response …


    • Michael Hyatt

      That is definitely an issue. Thanks.

    • H. Jude Boudreaux, CFP®

      Julie, while that can be limiting, I also can think of a number of writers that I started following on twitter, subscribed to their blog, then read a long form article, then bought their book. I think it’s often just a natural progression to go from high-level to in-depth.

  • Amy

    I am not a big deal blog so my template is write what I want, add a photo, usually add a question. I do try to not write eveything and keep it short.

    Thanks again for a good post.

    • Bret Mavrich

      Your short comment made me realize that the same rules apply to blog comments as blog posts. I read every word.

  • Daniel Decker

    I saw in a comment that you budget an hour per blog post (for length of time writing). I recently began doing the same and am finding that very helpful. Helps to push the flow by having a deadline on yourself. Gives me a framework to know that if I can’t nail it in an hour then I’m forcing it and it’s not worth it or I need to shelf it and come back to it later.

    I’ve also started trying to store up posts (drafts) that I can use for future times when I’m either busy or perhaps struggling with a post concept. Many of these are quick RESOURCE posts such as the “Want to Know the Best Time to Tweet / Update on Twitter? Here’s How…” post I published this past Saturday. Ironically, that post in particular is already bringing in a lot of traffic (search traffic too). : )

    • Michael Hyatt

      It’s funny. I can never predict which post will catch fire. Often, it is one that I think is a throw-away. Just part of the mystery of writing, I guess.

  • Philip Rothschild

    Thanks for giving your blog post a “physical” Michael. We now understand it’s anatomy, and see why your blog is so healthy…and helpful.

    • Michael Hyatt

      Thanks for the inspiration, Philip.

  • iGranny


    I had a blog post scheduled to go out for this morning- and after reading your tips I went in and edited it w/ bullet points and wanted to thank you. I think it’s much easier to read and will prove more effective. Than you for always being so willing to share and help even non professionals like myself improve. GBY brother!
    BTW here is a link to my blogpost:

  • Mary Parker Bernard

    Enjoyed reading your about your template.

    My question is regarding the discussion question. I have routinely placed discussion questions at the end of my posts for months now. I still receive few comments that answer the questions–and most of the time, just no comments at all.

    Am I asking the “wrong” questions? Any thoughts on encouraging interaction around that discussion question?

    • Michael Hyatt

      The question has to be open-ended. In the early days, I used to also “stack the deck” by asking my family and close responds to comment. Comments breed comments.

    • Jeff Randleman

      I’m running into the same problem, but I assume it’s because I’m only a 3-month old blogger. I have a couple of people who comment occasionally, but have decided to try to get my name out there a bit more to aloow people to be aware of me and my site. I’m sure it’ll happen in time…

  • Josh Hood

    Pictures are powerful. I’ve found they make posts much more readable & sharable. And they’re easy to add.

  • Marshamelk

    I love another blog as well – she uses a photo format –

  • DrDavidFrisbie

    Hook, story, take-away. That template is 80 percent of our posting; 20 percent is random.

    • Michael Hyatt

      That’s a good template. I like the simplicity.

  • David Nash

    Great question. My blogs generally revolve around faith and how it fits into a family (guideline #1). Because of this, I work to draw simple truths from scripture or situations (guide #2). I like to weave life into them, and since I live in Alaska, I especially enjoy a touch of “the wild,” (#3). I also do my best to keep paragraphs and sentences concise (#4). And finally, because of my background in pubic speaking, I’ve learned there has to be a “take-away.” What can we do with this (#5)? As a final thought, I do my best to keep my posts “us” oriented: what is God trying to share with Us?

  • Reflectionsbypj

    I really appreciate this post. I use images as I find it heightens peoples curiosity though my word count varies. I’m not a well established blogger and find it discouraging when I leave a question at the end of blog in efforts for dialogue to occur and receive no feed back, thus have stopped doing so. I will put this back into my template and am positive feedback will come, one day. You’ve given me, along with your readers that have commented, a lot to think about with my own blog – items I’ll be adding and others I’ll be deleting. Thank you for sharing, giving insight and instruction, and being a great read!

    • Michael Hyatt

      In the early days, I used to talk my friend and family into commenting. It was a great way to prime the pump.

  • idelette mcvicker

    Thank you for sharing so much of your Wisdom & experience. // I am filtering this for communicating with a predominantly female readership on We are on a BIG learning curve, but we definitely see how our posts are just the start of a conversation. //I really like the head-heart-hands-humor approach too.

  • JD Eddins

    Thanks for sharing. I know I need to work on my first paragraph of my writing. Do you spend most of your time working on that section?

    • Michael Hyatt

      No, but I spend as much time on that paragraph as the rest of the post.

  • Ashley Musick

    Great Tips! Seems like writing good blogs is a lot like writing a good feature piece in journalism. It’s personal, informative, and concise. I find that formulas like this are great for writing. I can just add this to the list of formulas I already have for essays, sermons, and news articles!

  • Patrick Grady

    I too have been an on-and-off blogger. I find it hard to do because it is not part of my workday routine.

    But I’m always open to tips, and Michael, I’m very gald I found your site. I think my most recent post is 1 step in the right direction.

    In retrospect, I should have left the lyrics out. The woeful tone of the singer in the video is much more powerful.

    It brings a question to mind – how often to you edit posts after you publish them, other than for GUMS (Grammar, Usage, Mechanics, Spelling), as my daughter says?

    • Michael Hyatt

      Honestly, never, other than to update links.

      • Bret Mavrich

        follow up: I’ve noticed that you seem to always have the ability to reference one of your former posts as an answer to a question. How do you do that? Do you remember most of your thousand posts? Or do you just work off of the most popular over time?

        • Michael Hyatt

          Usually, I remember them. Often, I just use the search function on my blog. Thanks.

  • Sean Fishstix3214

    Great post, Mr. Hyatt!

    If you end every post with a question, intending to start a conversation, how much time are you willing to commit to the conversation(s) thoughout the day? It seems like an easy way to get behind on other priorities.

    • Michael Hyatt

      You definitely have to manage that.

  • Laurie Baedke

    Your consistency and discipline in approach are just one of the reasons I find your blog so engaging. As a new blogger, your recent tips and posts on the infrastructure of effective blogging are immensely helpful.

    • Michael Hyatt

      Good, Laurie. I’m glad it’s been helpful.

  • Jeremy Statton

    I really like the short paragraph, short sentences advice. Its kind of like prayer. Keep it short and simple.

    • Michael Hyatt

      Like speaking, it takes more work to keep it short.

  • Marni Arnold

    I am going to study this deeply a bit more, Michael. This is great stuff – as usual! :)

    I incorporated a few of these into this mornings post on my blog…but upon deeper study, I am going to work on all of these points.

    Thank you! :)

  • Brad Harmon

    I love it when a post serves as its own example.

    As I was reading through it, my mind was making mental check marks automatically for all the elements you suggested in your blog template.

    Thanks for sharing your template with us.

    I have not mastered getting to the 500 word sweet spot, but I have been getting closer by paying more attention to make my wind-up shorter.

  • Suetornai

    Thank you for this template information. I follow a similar template by trying to make my posts 300-500 words with simple language. Sometimes it doesn’t work. Too often I forget to include the photo image. Like you said, this is so important. When I read, I often look at the pictures to see what I want to read. Maybe that’s the kid in all of us. :)

    • Michael Hyatt

      Also, you should keep in mind that Google (supposedly) penalizes you for posts that are less than 300 words. So, while short is generally better, it is possible to be too short.

  • Stephanie

    Your blog is one of the few that I follow daily and it’s due to the approach you’ve outlined here! I take away practical wisdom and insight from most everything you write. Thank you!

    I’ve decided to increase my posts/week and your last few posts about blogging have given me some great ideas about how to do that more effectively. In fact, I had already noticed some of the things that you do in your blog, and started doing them in mine (including a photo, asking a question at the end, etc).

    I especially appreciated knowing that you budget an hour/post. It gives me something to shoot for…I know that I take too long to write mine!

    I’d be interested to know how you determine what you’ll write about–especially since you’re now blogging daily. Do you keep a list of things as they pop in your mind? Developing ideas of relevant blogging material is one of my biggest challenges.

    Thanks again, Michael, for sharing your wisdom and insight with us!

    • Michael Hyatt

      I do keep a list, but oddly, I almost never go back to it. I usually write about whatever sparks my interest at the moment. Thanks.

  • Katie Ganshert

    Love this, especially since I’m trying to spruce up my blog these days.

  • Deiric


    At the risk of suggestiiong Giod has nothing to dio but deal with small matters like my blog I am inclined to think that you began this recent series of blog posts as a result of God given inspiration – which (s)he sent specifically to help me get my blog up and going successfully.

    This is absolute gold to a newbie like me.

    Thanks a million.

    In your debt,

  • Jeff Randleman

    Wow, the last few posts are starred in my Google Reader, so I can keep cming back to them. This one, and the rest of this “series” on effective bloging. Thanks for the input. It’s really helping me out.

    As of now, I don’t really have a blog post template, although that will be changing very soon. I have managed to resrict my categories down to 3-4 topics. I did this by taking my family updates and starting a seperate blog/site for them, as well as my hobby of landscape photography… that site isn’t running yet, but soon.

    This has allowed me to be more content specific. Next step? Blog post template and work on my titles, SEO and analytics.

    Thanks for helping me become a better writer!

    • Michael Hyatt

      Good for you! And thanks for your kind words.

  • Jaclyn M. Hawkes

    My point is: There has to be a point. A positive point. Something uplifting. Society today almost seems to take pride in inane randomness, and frankly, who has that kind of time? And why? The whole idea… The whole lack of an idea is brain dead.
    I also like to give those who visit my blog something to smile about. Humor is highly underrated in life’s everyday tedium. Sometimes, you have to either laugh at yourself or you’ll bawl. Laughing is much more therapeutic. At least I think so.

    • Michael Hyatt

      I agree. People need encouragement, today more than ever.

  • Kenny Silva

    My “template” is very similar. I focus on all of the same principles you outlined with an added emphasis on scan-ability. In much the same way as writing short sentences provides a sense of forward motion, using sub-headlines and lists makes my writing flow more easily. It helps readers make it through to the end instead of jumping ship.

    • Michael Hyatt

      I totally agree.

  • Cyberquill

    I get 100 percent of my pictures from Google Images for a 100% discount. (I duplicated your way of writing out the word “percent” when referring to the percentage of pictures and using the percent sign before the word “discount.” Curious if this was a mere typographical inconsistency on your part of if this may actually be the correct way of doing it. Must check with my Chicago Manual of Style.)

    I suppose there’s a copyright issue with “stealing” pictures right off the web, but for some reason I don’t feel bad about it. On the other hand, I strenuously oppose the illegal downloading of movies and music. Not sure whence this apparent discrepancy in my conscience and whether said discrepancy is one in kind or merely in degree.

    I do wonder about the practical value of the obligatory comment question at the end of all your and some other bloggers’ posts. First, I’m thinking that by now most folks who use the Internet know that an open comment section appended to a blog “monologue” constitutes an implicit invitation to comment.

    Second, and more importantly, very often the comment that forms in my mind when reading a blog post does not directly relate to the question displayed at the bottom, so then I feel that perhaps the blogger wants keep the comments in the comment section narrowly focused (“Expressio unius est exclusio alterius”) and hence my comment, since it would stray from the question, may not be welcome.

    So I’m wondering if providing a specific question at the bottom of a post, while inducing some to comment, may actually deter others.

    • Michael Hyatt

      With regard to picture, I think this is no different than movies, music, books, or any other form of intellectual property. Although it sounds harsh, using it without permission from—or compensation to—the photographer is theft.

      With regard to questions at the bottom of your post, I just think you have to test this to discover what is right for your audience. Thanks.

  • Mark Harai

    These are all great tips Michael – they actually simplify the post writing process.

    Tip #3 stands out in my mind. Personal experience is powerful, especially if you want to connect with and build an audience – something I am paying much more attention to these days as I learn about effective writing and blogging.

    Appreciate that tip!

    • Michael Hyatt

      I agree. It is difficult to be personal and vulnerable, but powerful when we do so.

  • Georgiana

    Embrace Postive Passion speaks in poetic verse rather than sentences of prose. Inspirational quotes are weaved into each post’s theme to incorporate the main meaning of it’s message. Attention-grabbing titles also help illustrate what each post is communicating on ~ I hope to bring a touch of positivity to uplift and encourage everyone’s life.

  • Christopher Scott

    I don’t have much of a template, but try to make the first paragraph set up the rest of the book.

    I aim for 200 – 800 words. However, I have a tendency to write too short. This doesn’t hammer home my point. I often find myself having to add a personal example or story to explain the point I am making.

  • Derwin L. Gray


    thank you very much! This was very helpful for me. Keep up the great work.


  • Deborah

    My current blog is all over the place and drives me crazy.
    I haven’t posted in quite a while for that very reason.
    Thinking of beginning a new one.
    These tips will be very helpful.

    • Bret Mavrich

      Your comment looks like a poem.

  • Nicole

    My blog is photography-based, so I start the post with a photo. I follow that with camera specs for those who are interested, then get to the body of the post. This can be anything from a story about how I got the photo to commentary on the culture of the country it’s from. Don’t forget the humor! :) Finally, I will end with a question.

    Most of my posts are around 200-250 words, mainly paragraph style. I did use a bulleted list this week, though.

  • Connie McKnight

    I love your template. I’m going to call it Blogging 101 and put it in my binder to help other new bloggers. Thank you.

  • Bret Mavrich

    I always start with a lead paragraph and a catchy title, but that’s all I’ve got. Mostly I feel like I’m still learning the blogging medium—not every topic is fit for blogging, and at the end of the day, you are catering to readers and their needs. But what I see in your template are clear indicators of how you approach blogging-as-genre.

  • Darrell

    My blog template looks exactly like yours…cause you are teaching me how to do it. What better way to succeed. Thank you

  • mcnair wilson

    Very helpful post, Michael.

    My blogs need more structure, but I do have a couple of key goals: to INFORM (tell ‘em something of VALUE they may not know or direct readers to another site to expand their knowledge on a subject) and to INSPIRE. Creativity / inspiration are the over arching goals of my blog: TEA WITH McNAIR. The title pushes me to remember I want to be conversational. If we were having a cup of of our favorite beverage together, what’s on my mind and heart to day? And what are you up to…creatively?

    If there is a structure it is the one I use for speaking and teaching: have a clear OBJECTIVE. In other words, answer the question “WHY” this post. What do I want the reader to consider, change, try, or learn. I do not want to merely be a conduit for information however fascinating it may be. IF I am just giving stats I am merely making an announcement (in blogs and speaking). And, honestly. some times I get lazy and become an announcement conduit. I try not to “DUIT” too frequently. So, I am not just passing on the latest great narrative joke, or YouTube hit. That’s too easy , I have done that too much, and there are a “Brazilian” other blogs that do just that.

  • Mark McDonald

    Great posting. There are a few tips that I have learnt from being a loyal reader:
    1. Internal Links – this helps follow other thoughts without loosing my place in the blog
    2. Narrow blog topic – you cover one thought each time, for example there are many posts on twitter yet each post tells a different but valuable story.
    3. Obvious heading – many of your heading say what the post is about which lets me skim read or take a more detailed look, very helpful

    These have helped me with my blog and writing articles for work.

    • Michael Hyatt

      These are excellent, Mark. Thanks.

  • Matt Beard

    I don’t have a template, but I will be creating one now. You’re in good company when it comes to being too thorough. When you mentioned having to go back through and tighten up your post I was reminded of something Thomas Jefferson wrote to John Adams in an especially lengthy letter. I don’t recall the exact quote but it was something like, “Forgive me for this lengthy letter but I did not have time to write you a short one.” I always thought that was interesting.

    • Michael Hyatt

      Yes, that is a great quote. I have also found in true in public speaking. It takes diligent preparation to make a shorter speech. Any fool can ramble on for an hour.

  • Monica

    I found this really useful. As a journalism student I’m really having to learn the power of blogging and how to effectively blog myself. Many of your points also fit with how journalists are supposed to write. Technology certainly is changing everything.

  • Katie Simmons

    I think people tend to skim posts anyway. If you keep your post short you will have a better chance of getting your whole post read. Plus with short posts, it makes you condense what you have to say without going on and on about it.

  • Jeff Goins

    I use a similar template, but not with as much discipline as you do, probably. I pick a term or topic I want to focus on, feature it in the title, then reword it in the opening sentence or two, and then I jump into the content. I often recap the blog post with a summary statement or question to start a conversation. I’m moving more towards a simpler format, though – lists of ideas and bullet points for those who are busy and may not have time to read a lengthy post. Great tips, Michael!

  • lance cashion


    Thanks for the information. I appreciate folks who share strategies that work. I use a template, but I think I’ve managed to complicate my process through endless tweaking.

    In any event, I have one question for you and anyone else who would like to provide advice/insight.

    Q. Do you recommend going back to old posts and making edits to the structure of a post to make them more ‘reader friendly’? I have a few old posts that are relevant, but could use some polishing.


    • Michael Hyatt

      It depends. I don’t do it if I have a lot of back-links from other blogs, because it might screw up or make irrelevant their comments. What I prefer to do is write a completely new, updated post. Thanks.

  • benjaminkerns

    as a new blogger, this was such a gift. thank you for your clear and engaging writing.

  • Dylan Dodson

    You are completely changing how I have approached blogging, thanks for all your insights!

    • Michael Hyatt

      Great! I am so glad.

  • Joey O’Connor

    All great points Mike. I’ve just developed a new blog last month and I am learning so much from your posts. Thanks for your leadership and willingness to share great ideas!

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  • K.C. Pro

    This is great! I’ve noticed you use a general template before (and have tried to incorporate some of it in my own blogging), but thank you for spelling it out. Already posted to facebook and forwarded to a few blogging friends.

  • Matt Lents

    This is really helpful! One of the best on this topic.

  • Matt Lents

    This is really helpful! One of the best on this topic.

  • Anonymous

    My general outline is very similar to yours. I have a real problem with getting the word count down to 500 though and I need to get better at setting up the discussion question. I’m doing a new webinar on blogging this month – hope you don’t mind if I use this, properly referenced and credited to you of course!

  • Brandon W. Jones

    This is a great post! It is very important to set up a template so that you can make the most effective use of your time. Thanks, Brandon

  • Jonathan Whitman

    You’re absolutely right. Your blog gravitates me helplessly to respond!! I can’t help it, no matter hos in a hurry I am!!

  • Erica McNeal

    Anyone know if the 500 words guideline is a good tool for professional blogs or is it best to use for personal blogs as well? Just trying to be most effective with what I’m writing about, but give enough detail! Thanks! =)

    • Michael Hyatt

      There is no science behind this number. It is just my personal observation of the response of my audience. I would test varying lengths with your own audience.

  • Georgiana

    Thanks for all the great blogging tips ~ I hope to bring a touch of positivity to uplift and encourage everyone’s life as I write Embrace Postive Passion. Communicating in poetic verse rather than sentences of prose, brings tranquility and rhythm to my words. I also try to illustrate each post with attention-grabbing titles. Inspirational quotes are weaved into each post’s theme to incorporate the main meaning of it’s message. Hopefully my readers glean a bit of positivity and embrace it with others. :-)

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  • Rejoice Beloved

    I appreciate your template schema here. I use one myself. I like sub-headlines, for sections of my post, to use as guideposts for what topic is next. I do a reflective piece in the post too, much like the personal experience piece you mentioned. I also make it a point to use photography. I love photography and it really adds freshness to the post. It brings it to life. I make every attempt to use short paragraphs, as I don’t want to write too much. Or else, I’ll spread too much into a series piece. I also add internal links sparingly into my posts, although I leverage the tags as a cues for readers to continue reading about similar topics.

    Anyway, I want to begin adding the question at the end feature. I think this will encourage readers to have their say. I really want to start a discussion, especially about something as wonderful as our walk with Christ.

    BTW, I am also using your method for re-posting on Twitter. I see how you structure the tweet like this: Repost “Title of post” Teaser/hookline. Link. I am starting to re-post as I don’t want some topics that I’ve blogged prior to my debut on Twitter to get lost.


    • Michael Hyatt

      This is a good re-post template for Twitter. Thanks for sharing.

  • Marcy Alves

    I am new to blogging. Thanks for this helpful “template” blog.

  • Robert Ewoldt

    I use a general template of introduction, exposition, conclusion, question. I try to use at least one picture in each post (because that can be used in a Facebook post), and sometimes a relevant video that people can watch that’s embedded at the end of the post.

    • Robert Ewoldt

      Oh, and I also try to use bullet points and headings as much as I can, to make the posts scannable.

  • Amy Sanderlin

    This is very helpful and makes good blogging seem much more accessible for someone starting out. Thank you!

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  • David Grissen

    I’m just getting started with my blog, which is targeting international workers out there with stuff hopefully helpful to them.  I’ve had 30 years in international work.  So your guidelines for a good blog are helpful.  I’ll implement them and see how it goes.

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  • Jobet dela Cruz

    Hey mike!

    Your blog is referred to me by a friend because she found your writings very helpful in many ways. This is the first one I’ve read from your entries, and I couldn’t agree more!

    I am a new blogger. I didn’t like the idea of  blogging before, because it takes a lot of time and GREAAAAT discipline (HAHA)!!! But after realizing that blogging is also a means for influence, I then decided to start one.

    I don’t know anything yet about this new journey I’m taking. And sometimes it becomes a burden instead of joy and privilege. Your site will be of great help to me!

    I’d love to have interactions with you (yea! I really hope so!!!)! Thank you so much for using your skills in writing to influence people! 

    Expect more comments from me! haha! :)


    • Michael Hyatt

      Great! Welcome to the blogosphere. The main thing is write and keep writing!

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  • Michele Perry

    I tend to use story and analogy to share parables with simple lessons already woven within their context.  Real life metaphor, at time raw transparency and a bit of humor turn a blog post into an invitation to the reader to respond and embrace their own story on similar topic matter.  I also find it very helpful to create a “scan-able” post-within-a-post by strategically bolding key phrases I want to highlight to the reader.   I write to serve the readership that comes to eat at my table.  Personally, blogging is both an altar upon which to offer lay bare the stories of my journey deeper into God’s heart ( and a bridge to connect in dialogue with others as they embrace their own journeys each day (

  • Rebecca Koo

    Finally, something from your blog I actually have something relevant to contribute! My sister turned me on to your blog because I just started my own a few months ago. 

    My writing is the soulful kind, much different than yours. And much of what I have to offer as a writer I have learned by hearing feedback from my readers. You say not to talk about yourself and I break that rule. However, what I find is that my writing is very relatable, so it’s more about the reader seeing themselves than me. 

    I always have a picture. I also try to keep my posts short. For a while I was feeling like I would be a “better” writer if I had a longer attention span but am encouraged to go even shorter when I read your recommendations. 

    I start of in the same place I end up and I introduce both of those things in the first paragraph or two. Often there is something in my concrete world that is relating to some internal stirring. Again, that all comes in the beginning. Kind of like the outline of a picture.

    The rest of the post is sharing with the reader how what I introduced to them weaves together as I have been making my way through life, and I give them a piece of my soul in the process. I wrap with both the beginning and the end again, only now the picture has been filled in a bit. 

    I try to end with a question, but I think it often sounds contrived or forced. 

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  • Meg Davis

    There’s a word in your first point that confuses me: “If you take too long on the wide-up, you will lose readers.” Do you mean “wind-up?”

    • Michael Hyatt

      Yes, that was a typo. I have just corrected it. Thanks for pointing that out.

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  • Dan Baker

    A good guide, thanks! There’s a group of us learning how do to this together on our site, but we’re making progress. 

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  • Jeremy Stephens

    This is such a great post…and super timely for me. I have a book coming out in a couple of weeks and the platform part of my journey has been the most challenging by far. I love any opportunity to strengthen my skill at writing blog posts because I sincerely feel that writing them not only offers new and fresh content but makes me a better writer. Thanks for the advice!

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  • Nolan

    Hi Michael,

    I noticed your images usually has a tagline “courtesy of…”. Do they allow you to use their images for free? If so I would love to know how you do that. Also noticed you have your own page on istockphoto for the referrals. Again I would love to know how you did that.Thanks,

    • Michael Hyatt

      Yes, they do. They give me the images in exchange for the mention, because of the traffic I send them. Honestly, I don’t know how you would initiate this kind of relationship. They came to me. Sorry.

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  • Mlovette

    Can you clarify this point for a new blogger?  The “internal links” are links to posts you have written in the past?  Do you ever link to somewhere else?

    • Michael Hyatt

      Yes, internal links are links to other posts on your own site. I do link externally—probably more than I should. But, at the end of the day, I want to be helpful to the reader.

  • Mlovette

    Question:  Do you feel the need to blog when you don’t think you really have anything to say?  Or do you wait to have something you are passionate about?

    • Michael Hyatt

      I am committed to a schedule. But I am also committed to having something worth saying. I don’t think they are mutually exclusive.

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  • Robinson Mertilus

    Very useful. I plan to share this with my wife. 

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  • Michael Ford II

    This is great, Mr. Hyatt. I have been blogging for several years, and I have done research, trying to find out how to broaden my reach. The “template” approach is something I’ve never considered. Very interesting. Thanks!

  • iancleary

    A very timely and interesting post. One area I struggle with is word count. If you do a long and detailed well written post visitors will think you’ve put a lot of effort into it but most people won’t read it all and will only skim it.  So if they are mostly skimming it then are you better off reducing it so it’s a quicker read!!!  I guess there is no harm in having a bit of variety with long and short posts as long as the quality is good for either.
    Thanks for your post.

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  • Catherine Fogle

    I’m working on it. I tend to write blog posts that are really short but I do include a photo and, in my church blog, a song.  This post gives me something to think about and I will certainly follow you.  Thanks.

  • CliffTheChangeAgent

    This taught me a lot. My future posts will be more like this. My earlier posts were the first sharing of ideas in my books – and WAY too long. For example, the book I am working on now started as 4-part blog post series. The ideas were ok but it should have been at least 10 blog posts. More linking in the future, too.

    Cliff Collard

  • Chad Gramling

    never much thought about it, but I find that I follow a lot of this as a natural rhythm. a must read for any beginning blogger.

  • Chiyevo

    Hi Doug

    I like you love language so I tend to use big words as well!!  I am finding it difficult to simplify or change my writing style. It is really true that old habits die hard.  In junior school, I was encouraged to use big words. so I developed my writing style using those guidelines.  Now how does one unlearn that?

  • Omemee Pigeon eFlyer – Editor

    Great post! Definitely copying to my Windows Live Writer!

    Something I didn’t see mentioned, is the importance of relevant Key loading in the first paragraph and title., especially when sending your feed through an agregator to Twitter.

    Posting the news is one thing – delivering the news is also important. SEO for Twitter has extended our reach.

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  • Tracey L. Moore

    I realy don’t have a blog template. I am still working on my website. But this will be so helpful when I do start to really blog on a regular basis. Thanks so much.

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  • TheRickCarr

    I’m currently reading, almost finished, Platform. Thank you. I’ve been making notes of action steps as I read it and am now starting to implement those. I’m creating a new WordPress blog and will take down my old blogspot site. May I provide a link to this article on my blog as part of my guest post guidelines?

    • Michael Hyatt


      • TheRickCarr


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  • McNair Wilson

    Good tutorial and as always excellent advice, Michael. Now if I can just figure out the “Make it short” bit …

    • Michael Hyatt

      Ha! I struggle with that, too.

  • joeakalis

    This is a great guide! Thank you for sharing, I definitely work better within established frameworks and this is a good example.

  • RonCook

    Hello Mr. Hyatt –

    Thank you for such a fascinating blog. Each post contributes nicely to the overall education of a blogger. This post was particularly helpful … especially for someone like me who has failed to get started because he wants everything perfect first.

    As a blogging apprentice I almost hate to suggest a revision to a master. But I think your template is missing a critical element that every post you create includes … that is, “A Compelling Title”. Your titles draw people into your posts compelling them to read. I think that’s an important element that seems to be missing from the template you present in this post.

    Thanks again for this blog (and your podcast),


    • Michael Hyatt

      Thanks, Ron. This is an excellent point. I think I was considering the post itself rather than the title when I originally wrote this. Nevertheless, I have added this as the first point. It makes this post much more complete. Thanks again.

  • Henry Bourne

    Good advice. You may also want to check out articles written by the Nielson Norman Group. They analyze how people use the web. Read up on the concept of using an inverted pyramid.

  • Nasri N. Stoner

    Thanks MH, i’m in a search of finding a blog template that helps me with creating better posts, because sometimes i find myself not too sure how to write them as.

    I’ll try this out.

  • Darren Dake

    I follow about the same approach but never really thought about it like this. A system kind of helps I think. Great article…

  • LaurenCK

    Super, super, super helpful. THANKS!

  • Rebecca

    Cool. Exactly what I needed. I love your blog. So much value!!!

  • Cassie

    My blog template looks like this now! Posts that are going up next week will follow this! A mentor of mine recommended Platform to me. It has been the best to do, step by step book I have read yet!

  • brandonstarnes

    Wow ! Thank you for sharing this is brilliant.

  • englishlife

    my blog is it looks like a timeline :))

  • Robb Gorringe

    Great template, Michael! Short, sweet, and powerful.

  • Anthony Moore

    Hey Mike. I really enjoyed the post – I believe Jeff Goins advises blogger similarly (just read your book Platform, by the way!).

    I keep posts on my blog short, but I feel like I can’t really get into the “meat.” Like, point.point.point.conclusion. That’s it. Each point can’t be more than about 100 words. How can I say what I want to say in 500 words?

    • Michael Hyatt

      I would try breaking ”the rules” and make them longer. See what happens and ow your audience responds.

  • sharon Vornholt

    Excellent article. I have been blogging for a few years now and I am always trying to do a better job.

  • Natalia

    This post is exactly what I needed as I am new to blogging. Thank you!!

  • Steve Pate

    bare bones at this moment.

  • Amy Hollingsworth

    As someone who has written a dissertation, I think I’m too thorough also. I love your blog post template – it will help me cut my wordy, 1500-word count posts to 500 easier-to-digest posts.

    I also love @johnrichardson:disqus John Richardson’s four guidelines.

    1. Head: Make them think.
    2. Heart: Help them feel emotion
    3. Hands: Ask them to take action
    4. Humor: Make them laugh

    If I can do this in my posts, that’s great. If I can do them in my Biology Lectures, I think this would make me an even better professor!

  • Nadia McDonald

    I have not officially started my wordpress blog yet. However, as a newbie I have been doing my home-work studying, researching, and learning all I can with freelance writers and copy bloggers.
    As a teacher by profession, I have been away from the internet in recent weeks. Thus I am a bit rusty. Can someone please polish me up and tell me what a template is?

  • Joe

    I am a blogger wanna-be. Thanks for sharing your template. I came to this page from your article about how to blog if you don’t have time. These are very helpful tips for getting started.

  • The Military Leader

    Does anyone know of a way to set a template in WordPress that will populate automatic HTML items like shortcode and text? I’m finding it inefficient to repaste HTML items text for every post. Thanks!

    • Michael Hyatt

      I would use a macro program like Typinator or Keyboard Maestro. You can then type a short code and it will expand to the text you want. I do this all the time.

      • The Military Leader

        Thanks! I’ll check it out! Will certainly save time. Have a great weekend!

  • John Ramstead

    Michael, I am new to blogging and your just bought Platform. Great read!! Question: I have been writing posts in word. When I paste into my wordpress site the formatting disappears. Any suggestions on a good tool to author posts with?

    • Michael Hyatt

      No formatting from any word processor will transfer to WordPress. I would just write in whatever processor you choose, then format it in WordPress. You could also write it directly in WordPress. Thanks.

  • John Ramstead

    Michael, thank you for sharing the template. I am now using this through evernote! One of your steps in your template is to ‘Insert relevant HTML code’. I just downloaded MarsEdit (Great suggestion) but am wondering what you use to insert the HTML code. Thank you Michael.

    • Michael Hyatt

      Actually, since writing that post, I now use Multimarkdown, which translates to the appropriate HTML code. Thanks.

    • John Ramstead

      Michael, thank you pointing me to MultiMarkdown to create the HTML codes for a quality blog post. I read their tutorial, it’s like learning a new language. I’ll keep at it. Thank you for your blog post on this! Thank you Michael!! Much appreciated.

  • Ken Vaughan

    This is a great tip and will definitely save time as I have just launched a new blog. I tend to have trouble wandering and this should help to keep me on task. The tip from John on the 4 H’s was great as well. I have both saved for quick reference now.

  • Willo Conner

    These are really great tips. I have been following few of them in my writing but, from now onward I’ll try to include my personal experiences as well in the post!
    Thanks for sharing these wonderful piece of ideas!

  • Cheryl McDonald

    I have been blogging for years and never quite sure what I was writing about except it was related to my art as a watercolorist or landscape photographer. I have never had many followers. Recently I was given an opportunity to write a local travel column for the paper and it has helped me to discover my voice as a writer. Writing about day trips that include personal experience, history, and a reason to try something new, plus lot’s of my wonderful photography. It seems to be working for the paper audience so I am gearing up to start using this format for my blog. I am stalking your site for ideas and am really glad I found you! This is all very helpful. Thanks Michael! I am sure I will be using this template idea as I discover my own.

  • Kiana Porter-Isom

    Thanks for sharing this on your Facebook page today. I found it very helpful.

  • Eric Stermer

    Even though you have the blog format all perfect, I feel that it doesn’t always get the discussion in the comments until you get sufficient traffic and a decent following.

    I have been blogging for a little less than a year and my traffic is just slowly growing, and I don’t really get much discussion even though I ask a question at the end of my posts.

    So some people are reading it but they don’t feel the need to comment because they have either discussed it before or they don’t see me as an authority yet… I don’t know.

    I even have a quick win free ebook on my site that in 7 month I have 4 subscribers… I dont know I think I just need small tweaking here and there.

  • Craig Desmarais

    Excellent outline. Thanks for pointing me in the direction of this post. Queued up my own Check-list/template in Evernote and will keep evolving it to meet my needs. Thanks!

    P.S. Checking out the E-Myth too!