When it comes to blog writing, following a step-by-step process can save you heaps of time and stress. So, if the thought of sitting in front of a blank computer screen is putting you off, this post is for you!
Read on as I reveal my simple guide to blog writing success.
Before you put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard), you need to spend some time researching the topic you’ll be tackling. Starting from scratch? Then I recommend googling your topic and reading through any useful content you find.
While you’re reading, note down any interesting points, facts, figures and quotations, keeping a record of the sources, so that you can find them later. I’m not encouraging you to copy other people’s work, but it’s fine to use it as inspiration.
Of course, you’ll also need to jot down your own thoughts and ideas about the topic, especially if it’s one you’re familiar with. Once you’ve done this, keep all of your research and ideas in an easy-to-locate blog writing folder.
At this point, you could also save any eye-catching and relevant images, graphics or GIFS that you come across. If you’re not sure where to look for copyright-free images, I recommend exploring Pixabay, Pexels, Unsplash, or Canva.
Step 2-Structure your blog post
Even experienced writers can struggle when they’re presented with a blank screen, which is why I recommend creating an outline before you start writing. To do this, simply grab a sheet of A4 paper or open up a fresh Word document, then break the page up into the following sections, leaving plenty of space between each subheading.
Call to action
I’ve included subheadings in the outline because readers find it much easier to consume content if it’s broken up into short, easily digestible chunks. Subheadings can also help with SEO, as they enable search engines to understand what your content is about.
Generally, I recommend including one subheading per 200 words, so this outline would be suitable for an 800-word blog post. If your post is longer than this, simply add the extra subheadings you need.
Step 3-Add your key points
It’s now time to choose the key points you want to make, based on the research and brainstorming you’ve already done. Once you’ve chosen your points, decide on a subheading for each one (these can be tweaked later) and note down all of the information you want to include below each heading.
Don’t worry about crafting perfectly formed sentences or writing an introduction, that will come later. For now, you’re just structuring the blog post and gathering together all the facts and figures you need to start writing.
Step 4-Create your headline
Your headline needs to stand out from the crowd, which means that it has to be enticing enough to convince browsers to click on it. Because headlines play such a key role, I recommend coming up with at least ten ideas, so that you’ve got plenty to choose from once you’ve written your post.
Try to include your primary keyword phrase in every headline you write and don’t be afraid of experimenting. Here are a few tried and tested headline formulas to get you started:
- The listicle (for example, 5 copywriting tips that will save you time and money)
- The guide (for example, the ultimate guide to saving for a wedding)
- The how-to headline (for example, how to create a dog firiendly garden)
- The what not to do headline (for example, 14 things you shouldn’t post on Linkedin)
- The best ways to headline (for example, the best way to structure a blog post)
- The why you should headline (for example, why you should start a business blog)
- The 6 secrets to headline (for example, the 6 secrets to start up success)
If you’re not sure whether the headlines you’re creating are effective, I recommend testing out CoSchedule’s free Headline Analyzer. This handy tool scores your headline based on its quality and its ability to boost your social shares and website traffic.
Step 5-Write your first draft
Now that you’ve done your research and prepared your notes, you’re ready to write up your post (apart from the introduction, which comes later). This first draft is all about letting those words flow onto the screen, so don’t try to edit your work yet.
When it comes to concluding your post, you should aim to reinforce the key message you want people to take away once they’ve read it. You’ll also need to add a call to action, which guides your reader towards the next step you want them to take. This could involve signing up to receive your newsletter, reading more blog posts, or booking a call.
Once you’ve completed this draft, I recommend doing something else for at least a few hours, so that you come back to it feeling refreshed.
Step 6-Write your second draft
The second draft involves rewording and refining the content you’ve written. You need to make your post as clear and readable as you can, so aim to keep your words simple and your sentences short. I often use a free app called Hemingway to improve the readability of my posts, as it highlights any complex sentences and warns me when I’m using the passive voice. Why not give it a try?
Blog posts are generally written in an informal tone, so it’s best to avoid using complicated corporate terminology and jargon. You can give your posts a conversational feel by varying the length of your sentences, asking your reader a few questions and including contractions (for example, the cat isn’t friendly, rather than the cat is not friendly). Addressing your reader directly will also help.
Step 7-Write your introduction
As well as introducing the topic, your introduction should tell your reader what’s coming up and emphasise the value of reading the entire post. That’s why it’s a good idea to write it after you’ve completed the second draft.
You’ll need to grab your reader’s attention quickly, so try to incorporate a surprising statistic, an engaging question, or a statement that piques their curiosity.
Here’s an example of an introduction I wrote for a popular blog post about dog-friendly gardens:
British dogs are under threat! Broken fences, poisonous plants and pest control chemicals are just some of the dangers dogs face and you can find many of them in a garden near you!
Dogs love to spend time in the fresh air. But have you ever looked at your garden from a pooch’s point of view? Read on to discover how to create a safe garden space that your canine companion will love.
Step 8-Polish and proofread
Now that you’ve finished writing your post, it’s time to perfect it. Firstly, you need to make sure that the post looks attractive and eye-catching, so upload those images or GIFS you sourced earlier on, giving each one a descriptive alt tag (the text you see if you hover over a particular image).
Next, add any internal and external links, make sure that you’re using fonts consistently and check the spacing between paragraphs. There should be plenty of white space on each page, as this will make the post much easier on the eye.
The final step involves ensuring that your text doesn’t contain any typos, grammatical errors or awkward repetitions. There are various ways to do this, including printing the document out, reading it from bottom to top and reading it aloud. If you’re feeling a little lazy, you can even ask Word to read the text out for you!
However, if you want to speed up the proofreading process, I highly recommend installing a free chrome extension called Grammarly. Simply copy and paste your text into Grammarly and it will spot any punctuation and grammatical errors, as well as assessing your copy for clarity, readability and tone.
Step 9-Promote your post
If you just upload your blog post onto your website and wait for people to find it, you’ll probably be disappointed. The best way to get eyes on your latest post is to share the link and the content wherever your target audience hangs out. And don’t be afraid to share it multiple times, as social media feeds are busy places!
When you’re preparing to promote your blog post on social media, it’s important to consider the kind of content that works well on each particular platform. For example, if your audience is on Twitter, you could extract some enticing snippets from your post and share them with a colourful image or GIF. Or if your audience is on Instagram, why not transform your favourite tips into a carousel post or a guide?
Follow the 9 steps I’ve shared today and you’ll find that the blog writing process becomes smoother, simpler and faster, freeing you up to run your business and do the things that bring you joy.
Got any blog writing questions? I’d love to help, so leave me a comment or send me a message and I’ll be in touch.