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A pro writer’s guide to crafting the ultimate blog post

I’ve spent 4 years writing blog posts for money, and have a whole bunch of writing experience on top of that. In that time I’ve learned a thing or two about how to write a blog post, which I want to share with you.

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How to write a blog post

If you’re reading this it’s probably because you want to get into blogging but you don’t know where to start, or you find the whole process a bit daunting.

I’ve been writing blog posts professionally for over 4 years now, and have a background in writing and journalism, but this isn’t a skill that just came to me naturally, I’ve spent a long time honing my craft. So I thought I’d share with you what I’ve learned as a professional blogger over the years. I will try and demystify the blog writing process as much as possible.

Please note that there is no single way to write a blog post, most writers develop their own style and approach as they go along; the way you write reflects your personality, your interests, and your preferred work style.

With all that said this guide should help you get a solid understanding of the art of writing blog posts. But first, let’s start at the beginning… 

What’s the point of a blog?

This is a good point to talk about what your blog is for.

  • It’s an archive of helpful content that you can share with your audience, your customers, or your clients.
  • It’s a demonstration of your expertise in your niche.
  • It shows that you work hard at what you do and regularly produce content.
  • It represents the “thought leadership” that you bring to your work.
  • It can bring “organic traffic” to your site by leveraging SEO.
  • It’s a mini media empire that you personally own and control.

A blog serves many purposes. Because of this there’s no single reason why you should write a blog post. You might write a post because you think it will bring in lots of search traffic, or because it responds to a question you get asked all the time. Or you might write an article simply because you feel inspired to write it.

Whatever reason you write a blog post for the most important thing is that…

You take the time to pick a topic, do your background research, structure it in a readable way, and bring something of value to the table.

Blogging is a long term strategy

Writing a blog is a long term project. You can’t expect to see results overnight. Even if you are trying to get more search traffic through search engine optimisation (SEO) it takes a long time for search engines like Google to start ranking your content.

Less than 6% of web pages make it to the Top10 search results within a year, according to a study by Ahrefs, and the majority of those pages take 2 – 6 months to rank.

No time like the present

They say the best time to plant an oak tree is 20 years ago, and the second best time is now. This is just as true for SEO blogging. Start blogging regularly now and you will start to see results in the next year or so. But that doesn’t mean that the blogs/ articles you write now are pointless.

Non-SEO related things you can do with your blog posts:

  • Share them on social media.
  • Email them to your existing customers or email list.
  • Share them with your colleagues, and past, present, or prospective clients.
  • Use them to document your business and develop your ideas

Beyond SEO

SEO is great, but it’s not the be-all and end-all of writing a blog. You should take the time to learn about SEO and keep that learning in the back of your mind as you write. 

BUT…

Google doesn’t rank your content because you got your SEO 100% right… it ranks content because it is very good at working out what its users want and delivering it to them.

Great SEO can get search engine users to click on your page, but if they don’t get what they want from it they will click away early, sending your page tumbling back down the search rankings. But, more importantly, you will have blown your chance at making a great first impression on your audience. 

So don’t get too obsessed with SEO. Here’s what you should focus on instead:

Making your blog content deliver the best “user experience” possible. 

This means that your blog post should be:

  • Engaging and informative
  • Use clear, concise language that is easy to understand
  • Structured in a way that flows nicely and is easy on the eye. 
  • Have plenty of white space to ease readability
  • Broken up with images and videos where appropriate.
  • Easy to read and easy to skim read (most people don’t read blog posts in full)

A note on “originality”

When writing a blog post it’s tempting to try and come up with a topic that no one has written about before. Whilst it’s great to come up with a truly original idea, this is not actually necessary. 

Just because another blog post with the same, or similar, topic to yours exists, it doesn’t mean everyone has read it, and even if they had it’s unlikely that it is the perfect article that can’t be improved upon in some way.

For example, there are loads of blog posts about how to write a blog post. It’s not an original idea. But I know that I will be able to bring my own personal experience of blog writing to the topic, and may be able to improve upon existing content. 

It’s very unlikely that any of the other posts with the same topic are 100% the same as this one. We all have our own angles to bring to the topics we write about it, and we all have our own way of articulating information to others. 

Some of the articles I read whilst researching this post didn’t particularly resonate with me. Some were fairly generic, some were too specific, some had too much filler, and with some I found the style they were written in didn’t simply appeal to me. And that’s fine. We all have different tastes, and gravitate to different types of writing style.

How to come up with ideas for blog posts

In many ways picking the topic you are going to write about is the hardest part of writing a blog post. The best way to overcome this is to immerse yourself in the blog content that is relevant to your niche. Here’s how to do that…

Read lots of blogs

This may sound obvious, but you’d be amazed how many wannabe bloggers don’t actually read many blogs at all. If you want to be serious about producing regular posts for your blog you need to read in a strategic way. This means searching for blogs in your industry and following them. Many blogs have newsletters you can sign up to get the latest blog posts. Sign up to lots of these. 

Follow your favourite bloggers on social media… however you do it, make sure you read as widely as possible.

Analyse what other bloggers write about

Pay attention to the kind of topics that others in your niche write about. This is about getting an idea of the kind of conversations that are happening in your industry. The point isn’t to copy the ideas of others, but it is ok to produce content that is “similar, but different” to the stuff that’s already out there.

Keep a list of blog post ideas

Every time you have an idea for a blog post, make a note of it. Try and keep this list in one place so you can continue to build on it. Don’t worry if the ideas are good or not at this point, just start listing. Later you can go through the list and pick the ideas that stand out to you. The more ideas you come up with, the easier it will be to come up with even more ideas. By keeping a list of ideas you’re essentially training your brain to be an idea scout.

Do keyword research

There are lots of tools out there that can help you come up with ideas for topics to write about. Most of them require you to enter keywords that relate to your business and then they will produce related topics. Some of these tools you have to pay for, but many of them have simplified versions you can use for free.

Keyword research tools with free features:

Hubspot blog topic generator

All you need to do is enter up to 5 nouns and their generator will produce up to a year’s worth of ideas for you.

Ubersuggest

With marketer Neil Patel’s Ubersuggest content idea tool you type in a word or phrase and it will come up with a list of blog posts that rank highly for that topic, and will show you the estimated number of visits, social media shares, and backlinks each post gets.

Portent

This one’s quite fun. You enter your keywords and it will spin out new topic ideas each time you hit refresh. It also explains how different elements of the topic work using lighthearted annotations. Some of the ideas are quite silly (which CAN work if that’s your style) but it does come up with more serious ideas too!

Ok so by now we’ve got no excuse not to come up with blog ideas. Don’t worry if they don’t blow your mind right now, picking blog topics is a skill that you’ll get better at the more you do it.

Now that we have our idea, it’s time for the real fun to begin… research!

Do your research

The single best way to make your blog post as effective as possible is to do lots of research. Even if it’s a topic you know lots about make sure you google the topic you are writing about before you start writing. I’ve written countless blog posts, but I still research every post before I start writing.

Research helps you refresh your understanding of a topic, and it helps you see what content is already out there. By reading other blogs on your topic you can see the common ground that nearly everyone covers. It’s a good bet that you should also cover this ground in your blog post as it will help orient your reader in the essential need-to-know information.

When I sit down to write a blog post I enter the topic I’m writing about into Google and take a look at what comes up. Here are some of the results that came up when I searched for “how to write a blog post”:

The first thing to notice is that I’ve skipped past all the paid-for content that says “Ad” next to the URL. This is because I’m only interested in organic results; these are the results that Google has decided are the best pages based on user behaviour (rather than someone paying for the privilege).

When doing research you should study the best-in-class content out there, because you want a little bit of that magic to rub off on you too.

You’ll also notice that some of these results are new, and some are quite old.

The article on 12 do’s and don’ts of blog writing is from 2012. This is a great example of “evergreen” content that continues to get traffic long after it was first published (in this example, 8 years later). So it’s worth reading that post and looking at how it’s structured. Something about its title and meta description (the short snippet of text under the url) makes people want to check it out. For example, most of the other articles are variations of “X steps to writing a blog” or “X blog writing tips” (which are clearly also popular). 

This article takes a different approach, showing readers what NOT to do as well as what TO do when writing a blog post. It’s a tanalising twist on a conventional topic… and people just love to click on it. If the article itself didn’t deliver on the promise of its title and meta description it wouldn’t still be ranking on Google, which takes into account factors like page dwell time and bounce rate to assess the value of blog posts.

As you read the articles that your post will be competing with, take mental notes of what works, and what you could improve on in your post. This will help prepare you for the writing of your own blog post.

How will your blog post provide extra value?

What’s the point of writing a blog post if there are already lots of similar posts that cover the same ground and are ranking well on search engines?

Having a strong reason to write your post will help keep you motivated during the writing process. If your article is completely original then you are on to a winner, but there is also value in covering the same topic as other people..

Here’s the way I think about it. When I write a blog post on a topic that others have written on before I see my role as synthesising the best knowledge out there and bringing it all together in one reader friendly blog post that is filtered through my own unique experience.

It’s hard for any one article to be definitive, so I look out for the best nuggets of advice or info, filter out the less important stuff, and put it all together in a new post.  I think of it as a bit like panning for gold. You have to sift through lots of rocks and pebbles, but at the end of it you have enough sprinkles of gold to melt together into something of value. It’s the same with the blog research and writing process. 

Pick your subtopics

Once you have your title topic, and you’ve done your research, it’s time to break down the sub-topics that you will cover in your post.

Start by listing the essential sub-topics you need to cover. 

For example, if the topic is how to write a blog post you’re probably going to need to talk about picking a topic, doing background research, and how to structure the post. There will be other things to talk about, but those would seem to be foundational. Once you have the essential points listed it’s time to think about what other subtopics you can cover to bring extra value to your post.

In the case of this blog post I have the section on “how to provide extra value” which you just read above.

Once you have your topic and subtopics listed, it’s time to start putting words down on the page.

One of the hardest things about writing is getting started. Staring at a blank page can be quite daunting. At this stage I’m not particularly worried about the quality of the content I put down, no one is going to read this initial draft and I can always change it later. The most important thing is to get your brain used to the writing process and to get into a state of “flow”.

When writing a blog post you don’t actually need to start at the beginning. Just pick a subtopic where you have the most to say and start writing. Think about each section of your post as a mini article in itself, with a beginning, middle, and end.

Beginning: introduce the reader to the topic

Middle: develop your point with examples

End: draw a conclusion, or “takeaways” of value to the reader

Research your subtopics

When I write a blog post I don’t just research the main topic, I also do research on the subtopics too. As I said before, each section of your post is like a mini article. I’ll enter the subtopic into Google and see what comes up. This is a good way to bring extra value to the blog post, and it’s also good from an SEO point of view. Google has robots that “crawl” through the pages on your site to get an idea of what your post is about.

It looks at subheadings which are marked with “H-tags”, or header tags, a little piece of HTML code that tells a web page how to format headings.

This is another reason why I also research headings too; I get an idea of what people are clicking on based on the fact that the articles with similar titles are ranking on Google.The hope is that my subheadings will improve the ranking of my overall post.

Now take a break

Once you have finished writing all your sections it’s a good idea to take a break from the post. Whether that’s 30 minutes, or 24 hours, it will help you get a bit of distance from your article. I find that my mind is better at spotting any issues that might crop up.

The first time you read through your post, pay attention to anything you might have left out. Have you covered all the essentials? I often find that I have missed out something important on re-reading my article. During the first readthrough I will add in anything I’ve missed.

Writing your introduction and conclusion

It might seem logical to write your introduction first and your conclusion last, but I always leave them to the end. Once you are happy that you have covered all bases, write an intro that sets the scene for the challenges people face regarding your chosen topic, and give the reader a clear idea of what the article will cover. I include a table of contents for my blog posts. It tells the reader at a glance what is coming next, and they can always skip to the sections that interest them most if they don’t have time to read the whole article.

Including a call to action

The conclusion to your blog post is an opportunity to summarise what you have covered in the blog post and highlight any essential insights. You can also use this section to point the reader to further resources that can help them. This is a good point to link to other content that you’ve written. It’s also a great place to include a call to action. This is the next step you’d like the reader to take. Often this will be encouraging them to contact you to discuss how you can help them further, but it could be getting them to sign up an email newsletter, browse your online store, or download additional content (often in exchange for their email address).

Editing your blog post

You may think we’ve now finished our blog post, but we’re not quite there yet. It’s now time for the edit/proofreading phase. Now that you have absolutely everything down that you need to cover and you’ve written your introduction and conclusion, it’s time to read the whole post through from top to bottom to make sure it all flows together nicely.

A checklist of questions to help you polish your final draft…

✅ Are the sentences easy to read? Is there any clunky grammar? Consider re-writing to create an improved reading experience.

✅ Have you broken up your text into short paragraphs that each represent a coherent idea?

✅ Are your subheadings descriptive and formatted properly? Do they improve the reading experience?

✅ Have you done a spell check? Make sure you review each change properly as you can’t always rely on machines to check your spelling for you.

Conclusion

By now you have a final draft of your blog post. You’ve taken the time to pick a topic that adds value to your niche. You’ve done your research to understand the context in which you’re writing. Your content is structured for readability, you’ve broken up your post into subheadings, and everything flows together nicely. You’ve edited your post for spelling and grammar. You’re happy you’ve covered everything you wanted to talk about.

The next step is to publish your blog post and start sharing it with your network. But that’s another story.

If you want help writing blog posts please get in touch through the form below.

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