Too many blogs end up meandering and lacking in focus. By sticking to some simple criteria, you can ensure your blog makes an impact.

I love playing pool. I’ve played it for years and I’ve played it all round the world. I’ve played pool in Tanzania, Saudi Arabia, Costa Rica, Australia, and throughout the UK.

I don’t think I’ve ever met two people who play pool to the same rules. There are occasions when that’s caused trouble.

Everyone has their own set of pool rules. Just as everyone has their own cold remedy, and their favourite James Bond. And everyone has their own idea of ‘what is a blog’.

Here’s mine. Or, firstly, here’s what I believe it’s not.

A blog is not an excuse to dump copy that couldn’t find a use elsewhere. It is not the leftovers from a case study, it is not the quotes cut from a video transcript.

Content must have a purpose. The purpose of a case study is clear, as is the purpose of a press release or white paper. A blog needs to serve a purpose.

I accept that a blog needn’t be as templated as a case study. It can be short or long. It can include pictures, graphics or embedded video. It can be presented in chapters. It can be updated. This format freedom is one of the great advantages of blogging. It is a chance to break from the norms.

But that doesn’t mean there shouldn’t be rules. I believe any blog should meet at least one of the following criteria:

  • It expresses an opinion or point of view. It is clearly personal. The author needs to explain who they are. The reader should understand where this opinion comes from. The opinion should be well argued and supported with evidence or anecdote

  • It invites a response. It needn’t depend on a response, but the best blogs invite the reader to engage with the writer. If you can’t manage to police a comments section, could the author sign off with an email address or Twitter handle?

  • It should surprise. Be bold, use the freedom of having an open format. Don’t think of a blog as the comfort of a warm bath, more the jolt of a cold shower. Try and give the reader something they didn’t know, or didn’t expect

If your copy can meet one of these criteria then it stands a good chance of becoming memorable. Meet all three and you’re gold.

And, since no one asked: two shots carry but only one shot on the black; wear socks to bed and sleep next to a bowl of steaming Olbas Oil; Roger Moore in The Spy Who Loved Me. I’ll happily hear yours.

Peter Barton is editor in chief at inEvidence,