You’ve done it. You’ve opened the “new post” page and you’re sitting down at your laptop. Now what? We have broken down the writing of a good blog post into 3 parts–Planning, Writing and Editing. The most important thing to remember is that you don’t have to be an expert writer to publish a great post; you just have to be an expert about what you do–or at least good at pretending you’re an expert!
Some people can sit down and write without coming up with a plan, but chances are, if you’re like me, you’ll need to think ahead. Here are a couple of steps to take before you even start writing:
One of the biggest favors you can do for yourself is to keep in mind keywords that will drive traffic to your blog post, and therefore your website. Please don’t get me wrong–your post should not be some robotic page with hundreds of places where your keywords come up. Your writing still needs to be of good quality, and your keywords should come naturally to you as a writer. If you do not know what keywords you’re shooting for, how can you shoot for them? Check out our post How To: Use Keywords to Optimize Your Blog Posts for more information on choosing a good keyword. Choose a keyword that your audience will search for when seeking a service or product like the one your provide. Once you have that in mind for your plan, you can be thinking of that as you write!
Having your audience in mind is essential to writing a good blog post. It’s important to think about how informed your audience is or if they need to be educated on the topic you’re writing about along the way. Is it wise to use jargon from the industry, or do you need to be careful with how technical your language is?
Now it’s time to get started! Here are some things to keep in mind while in the composition process:
Blog posts need to be readable. You are not writing an academic research paper, nor are you writing an essay. Blogs are their own genre of writing, and they should be treated as such. Some important tips for good flow in your blog post are to keep your sentences fairly short and your language accessible. You may also benefit from shorter paragraphs and dividing your post a little bit with headers and subheaders, as I’ve done in this post. Try to shoot for at least 300 words.
For purposes of SEO (Search Engine Optimization), external links are not necessary to publish a blog post, but they are helpful. An external link is a hyperlink to another webpage outside of your own site. If I link to another blog post on my own site, that’s called an internal link. Internal links are good for increasing traffic on your website once visitors have already arrived. If the site you’re linking to is paying attention to who is talking about them, they may see you’ve linked to their site and they may return the favor or otherwise engage with you and your brand. It’s worth it. Just be sure to not link to your competition! Thinking of these links as you write will benefit you in the long run. You don’t need a ton of them–just one or a few will still work.
Some writers choose a title first and write the post after, and some don’t name their post until the end. Either way, a good headline is essential to the success of your blog post. If you like infographics, we have one here with tips on what makes for a successful title for your post. Otherwise, a headline’s job is to compel a reader to read the post. It can be informative, it can be manipulative or it can be funny. Your approach is up to you, but keep in mind that your readers will trust you more if you don’t lead them astray or say one thing and mean another. Going for a headline with personality and enthusiasm may be your plan, or you may opt to go for humor or puns/wit. No matter what you choose, make sure it aligns with your branding and messaging.
Your blog post should have an image. As you’re writing, think of what kind of image would go well with your content. If you don’t have a photo you’ve taken yourself, look up images within the creative commons license online. Be sure to always give credit to the artist or photographer, as I’ve done at the bottom of this post. Your words may be beautiful and may speak for themselves, but the internet is a visual place. Pairing your content with an image can really add to what you’re saying, drive more traffic to your website and make your article more aesthetically pleasing. The image does not have to be literal–if you’re writing about ice cream, your image does not necessarily have to be of ice cream–but it’s good to have a related image or an image that complements the written content.
That’s right–it’s time to take a look at what you’ve written and polish it up. Some people will need to spend more time editing than others, but absolutely everyone should read through their blog post at least once before publishing. This is bare minimum!
Read it aloud
One of my best tricks is to read the blog post out loud. You may feel silly sitting in your cubicle or office reading aloud your writing, but it is one of the secret tips to successful writing. When you read silently, your eyes can easily pass over typos or missing words. When you read out loud, you’re forced to read more slowly, which will help you catch mistakes as well. If you’ve read your entire post and not made a single change, I would strongly recommend reading it again. Even the best writers go through several drafts before publishing.
If you read through your blog post and cannot tell me what it’s about, you may need to do some reworking. Blog posts have a lot of variability in their purpose and style, but almost all of them have some kind of narrative structure or thesis. Summarize your work to yourself and see if you can say what you’re talking about concisely. — Best of luck to you in the writing of your blog post! If you have any questions, reach out! — Photo Credit