Writing a Blog Post – Getting off the Starting Blocks in 9 Easy Steps
Starting to write is difficult at the best of times, but blogs are a particularly tricky animal: readers online are easily distracted and because they are usually in a hurry, can be very choosy about what they read.
While you can live with the fact that people read about 28% of a web page, you really want them to read your blog right through to the end.
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If it sounds daunting, don’t worry. We have outlined some steps to follow each time that will go a long way to ensuing your blogs get read.
Follow these and writer’s block will be a thing of the past.
1. Remember who you are writing for
If you haven’t done a customer persona exercise to paint a picture of your ideal client or reader, it is well worth spending the time.
There are some great, free resources online, or you could hire a marketing consultant to help you define your audience. Here is an awesome post from singlegrain.com on buyer personas
As part of this exercise, you’ll find out what they want to read about and what resonates with them.
It basically allows you to put yourself in their shoes, which is possibly the most important thing when it comes to building loyalty.
2. What should I write about?
Ideally, you will be there too with your own presence on those platforms.
See what he or she is asking about, sharing and commenting on. read your followers’ comments, discussion threads, comments on competitors’ pages and identify issues that matter to them.
Then address these issues in your blog.
Have a content brainstorming session with people who fit your reader profile, or even just with colleagues, or if it’s just you, then don’t be afraid to stand in front of a flipchart!
Nobody will think you’re mad, honest.
Write down loads of ideas and don’t dismiss anything.
Go back over them and become more critical, evaluate the possibilities and make a short list.
Then prioritise which to write first.
3. Pick a juicy irresistible headline
The headline acts as a roadmap and shows the focus of your blog.
Make your headline fun, interesting or sexy but not too long (Google likes 65 characters or fewer).
I know some people who fuss over the title so much they never get to the blog – so don’t let it stop you.
It can be a working title to start off with, and that’s fine: you can polish it up and tweak it if you need to once you have finished writing.
And please don’t give away too much in the title! Ideally, there will be an element of suspense in your headline or introduction.
Hubspot have an awesome free online tool you can use to generate blog post titles. Check it out below.
Here are 2 great posts for further reading:
How to write great headline by Wordstream
How to write catchy titles that get clicked by Geoff Bullas
4. Lure them in with a captivating intro
Now your introduction needs to grab them and hold onto them.
There are distractions everywhere.
Keep them reading with a good dose of empathy, or open with a question, make a joke, share something personal if it’s relevant to the story, but most importantly explain how reading your blog will help them… without pushing your product or service!
5. Be organised
Are you going for a “How to” or a “Top 10 Tips” or something different?
Lists work well in blogs as they are easier to scan.
One of our recent blog posts was based on tips for Social Media by a group of experts and has driven a huge amount of traffic to the site.
We asked 9 experts for their top tips.
What we got back was huge value to our customers and delivers social media shares and targeted traffic on autopilot…
If your topic doesn’t work as a list, use sub-headings to divide up the blog. It’s more attractive than a big block of text for online readers.
Sub-heads also help your reader decide whether it’s worth their while reading that particular section.
Plan out your sub-headings (think of them as mini-headlines) carefully and ensure they flow into each other.
The more specific your outline, the easier it is to write the blog.
It’s just a matter of filling in the blanks.
Doesn’t it feel so much easier now that you have it planned out?
In your own individual style, simply flesh out your outline with your take on the topic.
Use research (statistics/data) that backs up your points if you think your audience persona needs proof or endorsement.
Familiarise yourself with blog writing conventions: keep sentences and paragraphs short, – It is advised to stick to one idea per sentence, and one topic per paragraph – and have lots of sub-headings.
Remember that you need to tell your reader something they didn’t know (or had at least forgotten) or give a different perspective on a topic they’re familiar with.
Ideally, when creating content for your website or blog you want the blog to help them solve a problem they have, even if it’s just a niggle.
But before you get disheartened, remember that while there may be other blogs written on that topic, you are offering them a unique perspective – YOURS!
7. Close on a high
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Don’t be tempted to introduce any new idea or concepts at this stage – this will only confuse and irritate your readers.
8. Make it beautiful
So do yourself a favour and:
- Do space things out and use sub-headers at regular intervals
- Don’t use mad fonts or crazy sizes (too big or too small)
- Do be discerning with your use of colour
- Do place a relevant image at the top: it enables you to make a connection with your readers (and, bonus, it puts you on the map with social networks – they show content with images more prominently)
- Don’t overload with visuals, however, as that will end up messy and distracting
9. Look it over again… and again!
So when you are happy with your first draft, step away from it.
Have a coffee, go for a walk or, if you can, sleep on it and come back with a fresh pair of eyes.
And be ready to be ruthless with yourself!
Read the blog out loud to check that it flows and that you have conveyed your message exactly how you want.
Cut out anything that doesn’t add value, simplify the language wherever possible.
If you’re using jargon, will your reader understand it?
Check for repetition, contradiction or inaccuracies, and of course spelling and grammatical errors.
And then, know when to stop. Accept that it can never be perfect, that you will always find something to tweak and that’s OK!
Building an audience can take a while but use the time to hone your voice and get to know your prospects and what they love about your offering or what you have to say.
Practice makes perfect!
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