Successful bloggers have to keep their heads on many different aspects of the medium – but at its core is being able to write compelling and engaging content on a consistent basis over time.
How you do this will vary from blogger to blogger to some extent as each blogger has their own style – however, there are some basic principles of writing great blog content that might be worth keeping in mind.
1. Understand Your Audience
Before you start to write, have a clear understanding of your target audience. What do they want to know about? What will resonate with them? This is where creating your buyer personas comes in handy. Consider what you know about your buyer and their interests while you’re coming up with a topic for your blog post.
For instance, if your readers are people looking to start their own business, you probably don’t need to provide them with information about getting started in social media — most of them have already done their research and know that. You might, however, want to give them information about how to adjust their approach to social media from a more casual, personal one to a more business-savvy, networking-focused approach. That kind of tweak is what separates you from blogging about generic stuff to the stuff your audience really wants to hear.
2. Start With a Topic and Working Title
Before you even write anything, you need to pick a topic for your blog post. The topic can be pretty general to start with. For example, if you’re a plumber, you might start out thinking you want to write about leaky faucets. Then you might come up with a few different working titles — in other words, iterations or different ways of approaching that topic to help you focus your writing. For example, you might decide to narrow your topic to “Tools for Fixing Leaky Faucets” or “Common Causes of Leaky Faucets.” A working title is specific and will guide your post so you can start writing.
Let’s take a real post as an example: “How to Choose a Solid Topic for Your Next Blog Post.” Appropriate, right? The topic, in this case, was probably simply “blogging.” Then the working title may have been something like, “The Process for Selecting a Blog Post Topic.” And the final title ended up being “How to Choose a Solid Topic for Your Next Blog Post.”
See that evolution from topic to working title, to the final title? Even though the working title may not end up being the final title (more on that in a moment), it still provides enough information so you can focus your blog post on something more specific than write down an overwhelming blog post.
3. Write an Intro (Make It Captivating)
We’ve written more specifically about writing captivating introductions in the post, “How to Write an Introduction [Quick Tip],” but let’s review, shall we?
First, grab the reader’s attention. If you lose the reader in the first few paragraphs – or even sentences – of the introduction, they will stop reading even before they’ve given your post a fair shake. You can do this in a number of ways: tell a story or a joke, be empathetic, or grip the reader with an interesting fact or statistic.
Then describe the purpose of the post and explain how it will address a problem the reader may be having. This will give the reader a reason to keep reading and give them a connection to how it will help them improve their life/work.
4. Organize Your Content
Sometimes, blog posts can have an overwhelming amount of information – for the reader and the writer. The trick is to organize the info so readers are not intimidated by the length or amount of content. The organization can take multiple forms – sections, lists, tips, whatever is most appropriate. But it must be organized!
The next step – but not the last – is actually writing the content. We couldn’t forget about that, of course.
Now that you have your outline/template, you’re ready to fill in the blanks. Use your outline as a guide and be sure to expand on all of your points as needed. Write about what you already know, and if necessary, do additional research to gather more information, examples, and data to back up your points, providing proper attribution when incorporating external sources.
Don’t worry about the length of your post. Like my high school teachers used to say, “just make it as long as it needs to be” to be high quality and helpful. Now that can be either 100 words or 1000 words!
6. Edit / Proofread Your Post and Fix Your Formatting
You’re not quite done yet, but you’re close! The editing process is an important part of blogging – don’t overlook it. Ask a grammar-conscious co-worker to copy-edit and proofread your post, and consider enlisting the help of “The Ultimate Editing Checklist”. Then check your formatting for the following:
Make sure you choose a visually appealing and relevant image for your post. As social networks treat content with images more prominently, visuals are now more responsible than ever for the success of your blog content in social media. And with data showing emails with images are preferred to those without, including images is also extremely important for the emails you send to your blog subscribers.
No one likes an ugly blog post and it’s not only pictures that make a blog post appealing, it’s the formatting and organization of the post, too.
In a properly formatted and visually appealing blog post, you’ll notice that headers and sub-headers are used to break up large blocks of text – and those headers are styled consistently. Screenshots always have a similar, defined border so they don’t appear as if they’re floating in space. The style stays consistent from post to post. Maintaining this consistency makes your content (and your brand) look more professional and makes it easier on the eyes.
Tags are specific, public-facing keywords that describe a post. They also allow readers to browse for more content in the same category on your blog. Refrain from adding a laundry list of tags to each post. Instead, put some thought into a tagging strategy. Think of tags as “topics” or “categories,” and choose 10-20 tags that represent all the main topics you want to cover on your blog. Then stick to those.