I’ve written over 500 blog posts during the last 7 years (not including all the posts I’ve deleted!). And if there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that crafting great posts requires a totally different set of writing skills than any other type of writing.
Not only do you have to define your writing style and topic, but you also have to worry about things like SEO, graphics and formatting, the ever-shortening attention span of Internet users, and other factors unique to the online landscape.
All of this can seem overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be. So I'm gonna break down the process of writing a great blog post to make it easier for you.
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. When you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, I receive a small commission (at no additional cost to you). Affiliate links are marked with an asterisk (*).
1. Choose your topic.
The hardest part of writing a good blog post is figuring out what the heck to write about!
Brainstorming takes a lot of creative energy, which is why I don’t recommend saving it for the day you write your post. I did that for a long time and lived with a constant sense of panic that I wouldn’t be able to come up with a solid idea in time for my self-imposed deadline. It wasn’t that I didn’t have ideas, it’s that I could never remember them and I didn’t have a place to record them where they wouldn’t get lost.
All of that changed when I started using Evernote. Evernote is a free app that you can download on your desktop and mobile device. It automatically syncs, so you can record your ideas on the go and access them on your desktop when you’re ready to write your blog post.
Every once in awhile, when I’m running low on ideas, I set aside a whole afternoon to brainstorm. If you need help getting the creative juices flowing, try some of these tactics:
Enter some keywords describing the general theme of your blog into Ubersuggest. The keywords suggestions it generates might spark an idea.
Visit other blogs in your niche and scroll through the archives. Is there an opinion piece you disagree with or a topic you could offer a different perspective on?
Send an email to your subscribers or ask your followers on social media for help. Do they have a question you can answer or a problem you could solve?
Brainstorming can be tough when you first start blogging in a new niche, but it gets easier with time. Pretty soon, you’ll have more ideas than you’ll know what to do with.
2. Do some research.
I am a firm believer in the power of research. Even if I consider myself an expert on the topic I’m writing about, I always do a Google search to find out if there are any new studies, statistics, or articles that can bolster or challenge my viewpoint. Jot down any relevant statistics you find to reference when you write your blog post.
3. Identify keywords.
If you want your post to rank well in search engines, it’s important to identify one or two relevant keywords and include them in your post. See my post on how to optimize your blog post SEO for more info.
Remember that the priority is to write copy that flows. Don’t use your keyword in a way that negatively impacts the readability of your post.
4. Outline your post.
It’s helpful to have a solid outline before you write your post. To create that outline, you need to figure out what type of post you plan to write. Will it be a list? A step-by-step tutorial? A traditional article, like what you might find in a magazine or newspaper?
Remember that people have short attention spans, especially on the Internet where a million things are vying for their attention, so it’s important to break up the text with sub-headlines to make it scannable. Sub-headlines are the bones of the post–your outline and the main points you want to hit on.
5. Write your post.
You may be thinking, “Step 5 and we’re only now getting to the actual writing part?!” Yes! Because all that prep work you did in steps 1-4 will make the writing part so much easier! You already have all the data and statistics you want to include in your post at your fingertips, you have an outline to follow, and you know which keywords you need to keep in mind as you flesh it out.
You may also be wondering, “How long does my blog post need to be?” Well, from an SEO perspective, longer posts perform better in search results. From a user experience perspective, Medium analyzed the data and found that most readers prefer blog posts that take them about 7 minutes to read. Factoring in average reading speed, that works out to about 1,400 to 1,750 words.
6. Craft your headline.
Crafting a click-worthy headline is super important if you want people to read your blog content. Luckily, CoSchedule has done a ton of research on what words, phrases, and sentence structures drive the most clicks. Based on that research, they created the Headline Analyzer, a free tool that scores headlines on a scale of 1-100. Ideally, you want your headline to score above 70.
Here’s an example of how the Headline Analyzer helped me craft better titles for my blog posts. When I was a book blogger, I used to write seasonal book previews highlighting all the great books coming soon. I named my first seasonal preview “50 New Books Hitting Bookstores This Winter.” Fortunately, I ran this title through the Headline Analyzer and saw that it only scored 60. Not great. So I made some changes and here’s what I ended up with: “50 Amazing New Books to Get Excited About This Winter.” 75! The revised headline packs more of an emotional punch. These aren’t just new books, these are books you should be excited about! See what a difference such a simple change can make?
7. Edit your post.
Nothing ruins a good blog post like bad grammar and spelling. Before you hit publish, read your blog post all the way through to check for errors.
I strongly recommend using Grammarly*, an app that identifies and corrects spelling and grammatical errors. Grammarly is free, but there’s a premium version which I think is worth the investment. It corrects twice as many mistakes.
8. Create graphics.
If you want readers to share your content on social media, it’s super important to create graphics for each platform. At a minimum, you need at least one vertical Pinterest graphic and a horizontal graphic for Twitter and Facebook. You may also want to create a square graphic to share on Instagram.
As a general rule, Pinterest graphics should be 564x846px or taller, Twitter and Facebook graphics should be about 1200x630px. (Ideal Twitter and Facebook image sizes are not exactly the same, but they’re so close there’s no need to go to all the trouble of creating different images for each platform.) Instagram images should be square and at least 1080x1080px. Instagram stories should be 1080x1920px.
I love Adobe Illustrator* (Photoshop works great too) and use it to design all my social media graphics, but if Illustrator is too complicated or expensive for you, Canva is a great free alternative that offers a wide range of social media image templates.
9. Format your post.
Now that you’ve done the hard work, it’s time to get your blog post all ready to publish. Use the headline tags and make sure you set your links to open in a new window. (You don’t want visitors clicking away from your site!)
10. Publish your post.
At last! The fun part! Don’t forget to share your post on social media. Content is queen, but it won’t do you much good if you don’t promote it.
Have any questions, comments, or feedback? Drop me a note in the comments below!