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No more. Today we're going to cover how to write for a blog in a way that makes sense. From generating topics to proofreading your finished product, let's get into the nitty-gritty of blog writing and tackle your burning questions.
How To Choose Topics
The foundation of any great post is an excellent topic. The topic should be interesting to the target audience. It is should also approach things from a unique angle. How to generate topics that will have the most appeal? Just do what the experts do.
We'll start with the baron of blogging himself, Neil Patel. He proposes four easy steps for coming up with great topics, starting with knowing your audience.
Once you know who you are writing for and how to connect with them, you can craft posts that appeal to their sensibilities. Think about the target age range, sex, income, etc. when you're thinking of things topics.
Patel offers a great resource for narrowing down who your people are: the buyer persona template. You can use it to research your audience and learn more about who they are and how you can target them.
The second tip is to “make relevance your guiding light.” In Patel's terms, this means you have to gear your topics to fit several criteria. We already covered the audience. He also lists your blog niche, your goals/objectives, the present times, and providing solutions to problems.
If you think of each blog topic as a way to address these concerns, the possibilities should start revealing themselves to you. Relate to your audience. Define what it is that you want to do with a post. Keep the content fresh. Then find a way to solve a problem. These factors will help you craft post topics that stand out from the rest.
Next, you should find a blog from which to appropriate ideas. This is perhaps one of the most universal rules of blogging. Patel even includes a handy quote to back the claim, “Good artists copy. Great artists steal.”
It might seem hilarious, but it's absolutely true. You have to see what else is out there so you can stay on the cutting edge. You don't necessarily have to hit what another blog is doing note for note. What you can do is draw inspiration from them and tweak it to match your voice.
Remember, you're not taking the content (that's plagiarism). You're using what others have done to fuel your own creativity. Done correctly, you should be able to generate ideas in no time flat.
Patel's last tip involves making use of content tools. He references two favorites that he uses frequently. The first is BuzzSumo. It allows for you to zero in on trending topics.
This, as you can imagine, is an immensely powerful ability. Instead of guessing at what might be hot, you can actually see what is hot. BuzzSumo shows you how an article is performing, and you can style your topics based on what is making the biggest waves.
The second tool Patel endorses is Alltop. It aggregates the hottest content in one place so that you don't have to go digging around for it all across the net.
Again, this ability is vital for doing your research and planning what it is that you should write.
Entrepreneur has similar advice. In their post, How To Choose A Profitable Topic For Your Blog, they state that:
“You must consider public interest, your knowledge of the topic, its longevity, and the audience's interest in it. It's also important to look at your competition and develop a way to deliver content that's different, better, and more engaging.”
They go on to offer some broad suggestions on where to turn your focus. Industry-oriented topics, personal stories, politics, and hobbies all serve as great jumping off points in their opinion. They just recommend that you inject your own personality to make sure the topics stay interesting.
Of course, some may find this method to be a bit sterile for their tastes. Following trends and numbers isn't the approach for everyone. ProBlogger presents us with a slightly different topic generation strategy.
When you find a few that do, the process of making connections and fleshing out the post can begin. They suggest a mind-mapping technique to speed brainstorming. They also provide some general topic creation advice:
Identify a need. This is similar to Patel's suggestion of providing solutions to problems. You find out what your readers may need to be answered, then provide.
Picture the reader. This piece of advice mimics tailoring posts to the audience. You have to think of what they want to read to plan posts that will engage them.
Break out the echo chamber. Instead of just rehashing what everyone else has written, take the time to bring something new to the table. Think about new perspectives and experience you can provide to a topic.
Write something that matters (to you). This will allow you to add more to the topic. If you choose something you aren't interested in, it will reflect in the post and the quality will suffer.
Write something topical. This means it should be relevant to current trends. It doesn't necessarily have to be a piece of breaking news, but it should reflect the current climate.
One topic per post. Choose a focus, then stay on target. If you are trying to use a blog to make a point, make that point. There are exceptions to the rule, but by-and-large, try to concentrate on one thing at a time.
Plan ahead. If you take some time to map things out, you won't find yourself scrambling for ideas last minute! An excellent strategy for getting on a blog schedule with regular posts.
How To Write A Blog Post
Now we address the writing phase. This doesn't always begin with you jumping in and writing, mind you. First, you have to take some time to perfect your writing mindset.
Blog Post Mindset
When you think of a good post, what comes to mind? It's important that you can define and visualize what good content is. It will go a long way in helping craft your posts in a way that makes sense. Let's explores some of the attributes of quality content.
- It should be unique
- It should be entertaining
- It should be educational
- It should provide accurate information
- It should encourage a debate
- It should be up to date
- It should connect your readers
Part of this will be you staying well informed. You should constantly read, stay abreast of trends, etc. You'll also need to have a finger on the pulse of your readers (sensing a theme yet). Bring this all together to visualize how the perfect post should appear.
Before we get to laying out your post, make these general rules (courtesy of ProBlogger) part of your Blog Post Mindset:
Make what you do differently. It will give the readers a reason to keep coming back.
The title will hook the reader. There's a lot of content out there, so it has to be catchy.
The opening paragraph must convince them to read further. Otherwise, they'll opt not to pay attention.
Say yes to photos and videos. It makes your posts dynamic and interesting.
Add personal stories. It helps you connect with the audience.
Promote yourself and your posts. It's the only way you're going to get noticed.
Structure and word count matter. More on that next.
Crafting Your Opening & Structuring Your Post
You've got to plan your post out to get it right. Remember that, in general, your post will have the following segments:
The title, as we discussed, has to get readers to click on the article. The Opening has to get them to keep reading. What's the best way to go about that? Let's look at some of the strategies offered up by ProBlogger. Some of these should be familiar already:
- Identify a need
- Ask a question
- Make a thought-provoking statement
- Share a story
- Say something inflammatory
- Use a quote or analogy
- Make a bold promise
- Throw in some statistics
Once you have their attention, use the rest of the first paragraph to explain why they should keep reading the post.
What happens next? You've got to decide how long to make your post. Again, ProBlogger gives us important points to consider:
You have to consider your audience's attention span. Are they capable of reading a very long post? Most aren't. This is the reason many blog posts tend to the shorter side.
SEO is important. You want to get ranked on those search results. The consensus is that above 1500 words for a post is the sweet spot for that.
Think about the quantity. Short posts mean you can bang out a large number at a high frequency. This constant content generation strategy is good for creating readership.
Topics will sometimes dictate post length. Some subjects, like reviews, demand lengthy posts. Other stuff, a quick news blurb, for instance, can be much shorter.
Writing The Body
Investigate what others have said about a topic. Dive deep into forum discussions for new perspectives. When you see something new, make sure to verify it with authority sites or official sources of information.
Research, scientific literature, non-commercial websites, respected periodicals, etc. should be your go-to sources. The better the information you use, the better your arguments. Better arguments equal better blog posts.
Good info alone won't write a post, though. Once you've laid out your main points, you can start adding some depth to the body. These take the information you've gathered and will help you to present it in a way that is interesting. What do we mean?
Use examples that pertain to the topic at hand. If you're talking about how helmets can save a life in a motorcycle accident, show some cases where that happened.
You can pepper in some quotes from experts that illustrate the point you're trying to make or enhance the info you've presented. If you have the opportunity to interview an expert and use quotes from that interview, even better. It adds an investigative layer to a post that readers love to follow.
Where suitable, you can insert your own opinion on the matter. This is a large part of what blogging is, so you'll have to develop your voice and keep in mind how it connects with your readers. Personal stories are related to this. You should add them when you can.
You can direct your audience towards additional sources of information they should check out if they want to learn more about a story. This could be a book, a video, another post, etc.
If a post is a how-to style post, make sure you add some tasks for the reader to complete to make sure they understand how to do what you are instructing them to do.
Don't forget that high-quality images and video can further illustrate whatever it is that you are discussing. We'll touch more on image rules in a bit.
You also have to remember some writing tips to help you craft your post body in a way that makes sense. You should try to keep your paragraphs short. Big, blocky paragraphs intimidate most readers and cause them to click away. The same thing applies to sentences. Keep them short and easy to read. Eliminate fluff.
You should also add analogies and pop culture references to connect with the reader. Throw in some stats where they are relevant, and you should be looking at a halfway decent post so far. Now it's time to end it.
Bring It To A Close
The conclusion of a post has to be strong as well. If you just fizzle out, your reader is going to look at the post as a big old waste of their time.
You could go with the tried-and-true method of just summarizing everything that you talked about in the intro and body. This is actually preferred by some, so you should consider the audience.
Sometimes, though, it's better to spruce things up. How would you go about doing that? Say something pithy to punctuate the crux of your post. Ask your readers a thought-provoking question. You could even try to include a call-to-action.
The CTA is where you motivate your readers to do something. It increases in engagement, helps you build your audience, and gets them motivated to read more of your work. How is it done?
Plan one action that you want your audience to perform per post. You should know this action in advance (obviously) and make sure it is simple enough for them to carry out easily.
Give them something with an upside. Whatever you ask them to do should have value for you and them. It should be clear, concise, and eye-catching.
Instead of ending your posts on a low note that puts your readers to sleep, you'll pump them up to do more and hopefully share your content across the web.
Proofreading Your Post
Once you've finished writing your post, your work isn't done. You've got to go back over it and catch your mistakes. Proofreading/editing programs like Grammarly can help. You should, however, use them in conjunction with the basics.
This means you have to know your grammar and how to catch mistakes. You can brush up with some proofreading courses:
Keep these tips in mind for now:
- Go slow
- Read out loud
- Give yourself breaks
- Proofread the printed version
- Follow a checklist
Spruce It Up
Once you have the post written and edited, you have to take the time to make it look nice. This means adding images, among other things. Images should be eye-catching and relevant. They should enhance the story or point you're relating, not take away from it.
They should always be of high quality, and you should always cite your sources. If you need some repositories from which to find good free images, check out this handy list of free images for websites.
Images aren't the only thing you can add to make a post look right. You should take the time to format it correctly too. Add your headings and subheadings. Bold the correct words. Bullet and number your lists. The visual appeal of a blog post is almost as important as the content itself.
Publish & Promote Your Post
Now you have to get that post on the web and in front of your audience. Did you know there are actually guidelines on when you should post to maximize your engagement?
CoSchedule has some valuable advice on the best times to post, complete with an infographic and the obligatory additional reading from Neil Patel.
Once your post is up, you can't just leave it to its own devices. You have to promote it on your social accounts and engage with your followers. If you get comments and questions, respond. If readers want to know more, give them what they want.
You should concentrate on starting and participating in a conversation with your readers. This makes them feel like part of a community and will keep them coming back to read more.
How To Perfect Your Craft
Now you know how to write a blog. What can you do to keep getting better? Keep writing, of course. When you're doing your writing for a blog, though, keep a few things in mind:
You should find your own voice. We touched on this already. Knowing your audience, making it personal, etc. and the like.
You should create scannable content. This way readers can pick up the gist of your posts without having to read them word for word. Few people on the internet will read a post in its entirety. That's why you have to tailor the posts to accommodate the style of the reader.
You should develop a formatting style. Something that makes sense to look at, but is visually unique enough that readers can tell which content is yours with just a glance.
Running parallel to this is finding a consistent voice, working in your niche, and continuing to develop that audience. Continuing to add to your knowledge of how to write blogs will give you a significant advantage on the road ahead.
Instead of struggling to find and create content, you'll be putting it out consistently and growing your blog into something worthwhile.
Never forget the power of content for your blog. You need to identify topics that work, develop a structure and tone for your works, and follow the fundamentals to make sure your writing is clear and concise.
Always remember to proofread what you write. Use legit sources to back up your main points, and enhance your writings with images and videos.
When the post is up, remember to promote, promote, promote. Engage in conversations with your audience, and make them all part of the community.
Next time someone asks you, “how can I write a blog,” remember the lessons you picked up here and tell them to check out this post for more details.