Writing a blog post is similar to learning to drive; you may study the highway code (or read articles on how to write a blog post) for months. Still, nothing prepares you for the real thing like getting behind the wheel and hitting the open road. Or something like that.
Let’s get down to business now that I’ve properly twisted that hazy metaphor. You realize you need to start blogging to expand your business, but you’re not sure how. I’ll teach you how to create a terrific blog article in five easy stages that people will want to read in this piece. Are you prepared? Let’s get this party started.
How to Write a Blog Post in 5 Simple Steps [Executive Summary]:
Step 1: Create a plan for your blog post by selecting a topic, writing an outline, completing research, and double-checking facts.
Step 2: Create a title that is both informative and appealing to readers.
Step 3: Write your piece, either in a single session or progressively working on sections of it.
Step 4: Use visuals to improve the flow of your text, add comedy, and explain hard concepts.
Step 5: Go through your blog article and make any necessary changes. Avoid repetition, read your article aloud to evaluate its flow, have someone else read it and offer comments, keep sentences and paragraphs brief, don’t be a perfectionist, and don’t be afraid to eliminate text or change your writing at the last minute.
Let’s go through each stage in further detail now.
Step 1 of How to Write a Blog Post: Planning
First, a disclaimer: even if you can type eighty words per minute and have excellent writing abilities, the overall process of composing a blog post generally takes more than a couple of hours.
You may spend several days or even a week “writing” a blog post. Still, it’s critical to spend those crucial hours preparing your post and even thinking about your post (yes, thinking counts as working if you’re a blogger) before you really write it.
Long before you sit down to put digital pen to paper, you should double-check that you have everything you need. Many novice bloggers forget the preparation step. Although you may be able to get away with missing it, doing your homework can save you time in the long run and help you create excellent writing habits.
Select a Subject That Interests YOU
An old adage goes, “No fun for the writer, no fun for the reader.” As a blogger, you should live and die by this phrase no matter what business you operate in.
Before you begin any of the next procedures, choose a topic that piques your interest. Nothing – and I mean NOTHING – can kill a blog article more effectively than the writer’s lack of excitement. When a writer gets bored with their subject, it’s cringe-worthy and a touch shameful.
You must also be willing to accept that not every post will start your engine. Some postings will feel like a chore, but if you have editorial control over what you write about, select topics you want to read – even if they are in niche areas. The more enthusiastic you can be about your subject, the more enthusiastic your readers will be when they read it.
Make an Outline for Your Post.
Great blog entries aren’t created by accident. Even the most seasoned bloggers require a basic plan to keep them on track. Outlines come into play here.
An outline does not need to belong or even extensive – it is only a basic guide to ensure that you do not ramble on about something unrelated to your topic.
For example, here’s the plan for this piece that I submitted to my editor before I started writing:
- First and foremost,
- [Short overview of what the blog article will discuss]
- Section 1 – Blog Post Planning – Things bloggers should do before putting pen to paper — planning, research, and so on.
- Section 2 – Writing a Blog Post – How to Focus on Writing, Blogger Productivity Tips
- Section 3 – Rewriting/Editing a Blog Post — Self-editing strategies, items to avoid, and frequent blogging blunders
- Section 4 – Blog Article Optimization – How to optimize a blog post for on-page SEO, social shares/engagement, and so on.
- Section 5 – Wrap-up & Conclusion
This outline aims to ensure that I understand what I intend to cover, the sequence in which the various sections will appear, and some bare-bones specifics about what each part will feature.
Outlines hold you accountable. They keep you from indulging in ill-conceived driving metaphors and keep you focused on the general structure of your piece. Occasionally I’ll make a more detailed outline (and sometimes I won’t bother at all). Still, most of the time, something like the outline above is fine.
Whether you create your plan on a word processor, on paper, or even on a bar napkin, do whatever works best for you to stay focused.
Conduct your research
One of the biggest secrets that professional bloggers (including me) don’t want you to know is that we don’t know everything. To be honest, we don’t always know much about a topic when we sit down to write about it.
This is not to say that all bloggers are dishonest imposters. On the contrary, many bloggers’ innate curiosity is what drives them to excel at their craft. If you blog for a living, you must be comfortable going from one topic to the next, even if you are unfamiliar with the subject. Knowing how to properly research a blog post is what allows us to accomplish this and write authoritatively on subjects that are new to us.
It almost goes without saying, but using Wikipedia only as the main source is nearly always a terrible idea. Yes, Wikipedia has hundreds of highly researched articles. Still, it is not flawless, and inaccurate information does find their way into pages without the site editors realizing. Furthermore, every credible fact on the site is sourced from links elsewhere on the internet, so why reference the middleman?
Choose authoritative sources if you’re going to rely on third-party information to compose your blog article. Official associations, government websites, frequently referenced research publications, and industry leaders are all appropriate examples.
Nobody is always correct. Therefore approach every source with the trained skepticism of a journalist and question everything until you’re certain your information is reliable.
Verify Your Information
I edited a paper written by a colleague on the highlights of a large technology conference a few years ago. Under a very tight schedule, the writer did an excellent job of generating terrific material in almost no time. Still, he forgot to adequately check his facts. He highlighted a Forbes story in which the author claimed Steve Jobs used PowerPoint on stage – something that never happened.
It was sloppy journalism on the part of the Forbes writer and a simple oversight on the part of my colleague. Still, the end consequence was the same: one badly researched story directly influenced another since both authors failed to conduct their due diligence.
One blatant blunder is all it takes to destroy your reputation. Everyone makes errors, but avoiding gaffes like these is critical. If you’re just starting out, publishing false information will severely damage your reputation and authority. Even if you have a site with millions of faithful followers, your regulars will be all too quick to jump all over your error.
Step 2 of How to Write a Blog Post: Create a Catchy Headline
Everyone and their granny has an opinion on the news. Some argue that you should be as descriptive as possible (to avoid deceiving your readers and manage their expectations). In contrast, others argue that you should be more abstract. Vague headlines may work well if you’re Seth Godin, but for the rest of us, being explicit is preferable.
When it comes to crafting blog post headlines, there are two techniques you may follow. You can either choose your final headline before writing the remainder of your article (and use it to arrange your outline), or you may create your blog post with a working title and see what suits you after you’re through.
Personally, I don’t follow a strict approach in any case. Sometimes I’ll come up with a good title right away and stay with it, while other pieces will require a lot more effort. Although sites like Upworthy may have destroyed online writing with their clickbait titles, the method behind the site’s headlines has merit since it pushes you to think about your content and how to capture your audience’s attention.
Your approach to headlines should also change based on who you’re writing for. Consider the following hyper-specific headlines from around the web:
The specific data in the headlines are all offered in the context of delivering practical advice to other marketers and companies. Due to their transparency (drawing the curtain back from successful growing firms and the people who run them) and the “how-to” perspective, “case study” blog pieces like these generally do well (which attracts people who want to accomplish the same thing by following real-world examples).
That’s OK if that’s what you’re searching for – which, in my situation, is uncommon. I didn’t read any of these entries because it appears like at least half of the blog articles in my RSS feed are formatted this way (including this one). They’re wonderful as an example, but I skipped through them since they’re so identical to the thousands of other postings I see every day promising me three tricks to grow my business by X% in Y months.
Another typical strategy is to include a question in your title. When done correctly, this may be quite successful.
However, this tactic is becoming tedious. Few media are doing it these days (luckily with the ever-annoying “You won’t believe…” headline). If you want to include a question in your headline, make sure it is one that your readers will be truly interested in.
Writing headlines for blog articles is an art as much as a science, and it deserves its own piece. Still, for now, all I can recommend is experimenting with what works for your readers. If your readers want detailed case studies on how to accomplish things, by all means, give them what they want. However, don’t do something simply because someone else is doing it, especially if it’s not connecting with your target demographic.
Step 3 of How to Write a Blog Post: The Writing
So you’ve done your research, decided on a headline (or at the very least a working title), and are now ready to compose a blog post. So get to work.
There are two techniques to producing a blog post that is similar to headlines. You may either sit down and write a full draft in one sitting (my favorite method), or you may work on it progressively over time. There are no correct or incorrect answers here; only what works for you.
However, I would advocate doing as much as possible in a single session.
This makes it simpler to stay focused on the issue, reduces the likelihood of forgetting important points, and allows you to get the darned thing out of your hair faster.
Even if you work more efficiently in short bursts, aim to get as much writing done as possible in those sessions. The more you have to go back over a draft, the more tempting it is to add a little here and a little there until you’ve gone completely off-topic. Even if you like to develop a blog post across three or four writing sessions, try to get as much done in a single sitting as possible.
Writing, like most talents, becomes simpler and more natural the more you do it. When you first start, it may take you a week (or more) to create a piece, but with experience, you’ll be able to crank out amazing entries in hours. Unfortunately, when it comes to writing, there are no “hacks” or shortcuts — you must put in the time at the coalface.
Note: Many individuals struggle to write introductions. It’s a good idea to write the introduction last. Just get right to the point of the blog article and worry about the introduction afterward.
Step 4 of How to Write a Blog Post: Using Images Effectively
Writing on the internet is a whole different beast than writing for the paper. People don’t always have the time, will, or aptitude to focus on long blog entries without visual stimuli. Even a well-formatted blog article with only text is likely to send your reader running back to Reddit or Twitter within minutes, which is why included graphics in your articles is critical.
Images Improve the Flow of Your Blog Post
Breaking up the text is one of the most essential reasons to use photos in your blog articles.
Many visitors skim blog articles rather than reading them word for word. Including photos throughout the prose will make your piece appear less frightening and more aesthetically attractive.
Photographs Make Excellent Visual Punchlines
Everyone enjoys a good chuckle, and a well-chosen image may help lighten the tone of your postings while also injecting much-needed comedy into an article. This is especially useful if you’re writing about a dry (or downright dull) subject.
Images aid in the comprehension of complex topics.
Let’s face it: digital marketing (and hundreds of other specialty disciplines) isn’t always the most approachable subject for newbies. As a result, photographs are a crucial component of your blogging toolset if you want to grow your readership. Diagrams, charts, infographics, tables, and any other visual assets can assist your viewers in comprehending abstract or complicated issues and grasping the arguments you’re attempting to make.
Step 5 of How to Write a Blog Post: Editing
Writing a blog article is difficult. It is more difficult to edit a blog post. Many people mistake editing for just cutting through phrases that don’t work or correcting grammatical faults. Although sentence structure and grammar are crucial, editing is about seeing the full picture and being ready to sacrifice words (and the hours it took to create them) for the sake of cohesiveness.
I won’t tell you to check your spelling and punctuation — you should do it anyhow.
However, I will provide some self-editing advice and recommendations on how to tighten up your writing to pack a punch and keep your readers reading.
Repetition should be avoided.
Few things are more off-putting to read than repeated words or phrases. Once you’ve finished the initial draft of your blog article, go over it again and look for terms that may be substituted to prevent repeating yourself.
Bonus: Every writer has a “crutch” phrase or term. This is a term that, no matter how hard they try, the writer simply cannot avoid using in their writing. Determine your crutch word, be alert, and make sure it does not appear more frequently than necessary.
Check the Flow of Your Post by Reading It Aloud
Many authors learn this method in seminars. If a work reads uncomfortably out loud, it will most likely read uncomfortably in the mind of your reader. It may sound strange but read your piece aloud to check for wordy bottlenecks or manufactured phrases. Do you ever struggle with the flow of a sentence? Rework it till it’s easy to say.
Have Someone Else Look Over Your Work
This is especially important for unskilled or casual bloggers. Asking a friend or colleague to proofread your work is not an admission of weakness or failure; rather, it is a commitment to making your work as powerful as possible.
Ask someone with editing skills to proofread your work if possible. Also, make sure they realize you’re not asking for help finding typos or grammatical issues (though if they do, that’s fantastic), but rather to hear their comments on the flow of the article and if it makes structural sense. Do your arguments make sense? Is your stance on a disputed issue clear? Is the essay provoking the reader to ponder or question an established belief? Is the counsel you’re giving worth taking? These are all questions that can be answered by having another pair of eyes read your work.
Keep sentences and paragraphs brief.
Huge walls of text will frighten or downright irritate a reader faster than anything else. It’s a typical blunder made by rookie bloggers and one I see much too frequently in many internet pieces.
Sentences should be kept as brief as feasible. They are easy to read, making the task of your audience easier. Shorter sentences also lessen the risk of deviating from the main topic. For example, I recently came across a line in a Wired opinion post that had no less than seven subordinate clauses, an editorial blunder of almost inconceivable proportions.
Paragraphs should also be brief and to the point. The shorter the paragraph, the more probable it is that your readers will continue reading. Since web-based publication became the standard, the “rules” of paragraph form have been a little broken. Still, they strive to keep individual ideas isolated to their own nice, short, tiny paragraph.
Recognize that your blog post will never be flawless.
There is no such thing as a flawless blog article, and the sooner you accept this, the better.
I’m not pushing for shoddy work, nor am I suggesting you shouldn’t be obsessed with minutiae. But I’m arguing that even the finest blog entries could always be better, but time is always a factor. Again, unless you’re Seth Godin, you’ll definitely need to produce more than one article each month, so fretting over each piece will drain your drive to write and waste important time – not to mention risk enraging your editor or content manager.
Make each post the best it can be, learn from the experience, and then move on.
Don’t be afraid to make changes or make cuts on the fly.
You may have forgotten, but I initially included a section on optimizing blog articles for SEO in the sample outline for this piece. I had every intention of writing this part. Still, when I saw how my initial draft was shaping out, I thought it was too large a topic to cover in an already lengthy essay. As a consequence, I decided to remove this portion from the post entirely. I purposely kept the outline intact to show that you shouldn’t be scared to make editing choices like this.
Unless there is something you MUST include (for example, a portion that your sales or management team is anticipating in a post that you promised to provide), your outline is not set in stone. Remember, an outline is a guide, not an unchangeable set of rules. If anything doesn’t work, whether it’s a sentence, a paragraph, or a whole section, don’t be afraid to cut it. Take a rigorous approach to your work.