Write about Something You Care About
Possibly the best thing you can do for your discussion post is being passionate about it. Write about something that really interests you, and ask your readers questions you truly want to know the answers to. If you’re not interested in your own writing, it will be a hard sell to get others interested in it. So write about what matters to you, whatever that is, and be wary of drafting what might ultimately be a “filler” discussion post.
Add Something New to the Conversation
You don’t have to brainstorm a topic that literally no one else has ever spoken about. You don’t even have to write about something that “only a few” bloggers have written about. A topic that seems overdone to a blogger who has been around for six years will still seem new and interesting to someone who just started blogging six months ago.
So what you really want to do is add to the conversation. Maybe 100 bloggers have written discussion posts about commenting back. That’s fine. But is there something they haven’t said about commenting back? What’s your unique perspective on the topic?
This is also where considering your audience comes into play. What do they already know? What don’t they know? Based on that, what do you need to tell them? Is your post introducing people to the topic or are they already knowledgeable about it? It might be silly to write a blog advice discussion post that says “you need content” because bloggers already know this. However, if you’re directing the post to very new bloggers or prospective bloggers, then explaining what various types of content they can post could be quite helpful.
Make The Post Long
You’ve probably seen some headlines and research suggesting that people don’t do “long” reading on the Internet, that they’re more in the market for bite-sized posts when they get online. While this is true to some extent, it’s also possible to make your posts too short to really be of interest or help.
I’m always disappointed when I see the title of what sounds like a fascinating blog post, only to find that the blogger wrote two short paragraphs or just three bullet points, then ended with “What do you think?” to start a discussion in the comments. Comments are great, and I love when I find something valuable in them. However, I don’t want the comments to be far more interesting than the post itself. That might lead me to follow the blogs of the commenters rather than the original blog.
You should also be aware of post “competition.” This is not to say that you are literally competing against bloggers and they’re the enemy. However, realistically, if you list three reasons someone should read fantasy novels and another blogger has a list of 15, it’s reasonable to assume readers will be more interested in the longer post because it has more information. It’s likely that list includes the three things you talked about, PLUS 12 more. So consider making your post long enough to be seen as equally valuable.
Consider Subheadings and Bullet Points
If you have a particularly long post, you might consider breaking it up with subheadings and bullet points. I don’t always do this myself, and it’s not a “rule.” However, it can be helpful. Think about your own reading habits and how you digest information. Is the topic one that would lend itself well to subheadings? Are there natural breaks or changes in topic that it would be helpful to signal to your readers?
End with a Question
Discussion posts often lend themselves easily to, well, discussion, so concluding the post by asking your followers a question may seem unnecessary. Theoretically, readers will have a response in mind simply because your post was thought-provoking. However, posing a concrete question is never a bad idea when you want to start a discussion with others. Think about being in a classroom setting. Are/were you more likely to participate if the instructor just said something really interesting and waited for responses, or was it easier to engage if they posed a focused question? Asking your readers something specific will give them a solid place to start if they want to leave a comment.
What do you think makes a great discussion post? Have you ever encountered a discussion you thought could have been better?