Lost on how you should be writing your blog posts? Maintaining a consistent blog should be central to your digital marketing strategy, but simply recognizing the importance of blogging is a far cry from being able to craft a regular stream of worthwhile and informative posts.
Maybe you’re the type who loathes writing? Or perhaps you’re motivated, but just can’t seem to find the time? Regardless of your specific excuse, today is the day you stop procrastinating. I’m going to guide you through everything you need to get started on crafting perfect blogs that will captivate your audience and leave them in awe.
Step One: Finding Motivation
Before you even put “pen to page” and start outlining your blog post, you’ll need to get over the first hurdle of writing — finding the desire to do so. There are about as many approaches to this as there are writers on planet Earth, and your specific strategy for “getting in the mood” will likely be unique to you. That doesn’t mean there aren’t a few tips I can impart upon you, though, and one of the most important, in my view, is reminding yourself of the value that comes with writing.
Once you answer the question of “why” you’re writing, it’s easier to see why you shouldn’t just “write it off” as a terrible annoyance. If you’re blogging for your brand or business, your impetus should be readily apparent. Staying up to date with a blog is a great way to keep your SEO from flagging, and gives you a little something extra to share with your audience via your social media platforms. Beyond that, though, blog posts will provide ample opportunities to drop those ever-important calls-to-action — generating more leads in the process.
Step Two: Planning Your Post
Found the desire to write? Good, because you’ll need it to plot your future blog posts. Sure, you could jump straight into writing at this point, but your efforts will be far more effective if you formulate a plan beforehand. Here are a few things to keep in mind prior to writing.
Identifying Your Audience and Their Needs
First and foremost, you need to understand your target audience and what kind approach will most resonate with them. In part, the type of person your brand attracts will play a factor. As an example, let’s say you sell music supplies. You’re naturally going to get a fair number of musicians and music instructors interested in your brand, so the type of content that sparks their interest will revolve around musical topics.
Gear reviews, tips on improving lessons, technique tutorials, etc. will be your bread and butter, and expert posts on these topics will position you as an authority in the field. You don’t have to limit your posts to a strictly utilitarian nature, though. Interviews with artists, current music news, and recaps of awesome performances could also be points of focus, not to mention a good way to hook a potential audience that enjoys a bit more variation in their content.
This is but one example, though, and you’ll need to tailor your specific approach to your own industry and target audience. Crafting buyer personas — general, fictionalized profiles of your “perfect” clientele — comes in handy in this regard, as they allow you to better grasp the characteristics inherent to your customers while developing a thorough understanding of their desires. I’ll be offering up some tips on crafting your buyer personas in the future, but for now, just keep in mind that your audience should always inform your blog content.
Picking a Topic and Researching
Once you know who you’re writing for, you’ll need to settle on what you’re writing about. Continuing with our earlier example of the music supply retailer, let’s say you decided to do a post about “the best electric guitars for beginners” — it’s a topic that will likely appeal to music teachers and novice guitarists alike. Knowing that’s your audience, you’ll have a leg up on what specifics to touch upon and should be ready to gather the info you’ll need to craft a worthwhile post.
While you’re researching, you’ll want to zero in on information that will be most relevant to your target audience. In the case of our example, you’d probably want to target details like pricing, availability, and other reasons why the guitars in question are ideal for newbies. For other industries, you’ll want to take that topic and focus your research on answering questions and addressing concerns your target audience will likely have.
And what if you’re having difficulties thinking of a topic? You’ll need to turn to some trusty sources for inspiration. If you’ve got some old topics you’ve already covered, for instance, you can “remix” them to come up with something new, changing the target audience, approach, or format in the process. “The Best Electric Guitars for Beginners,” then, might become “The Best Acoustic Guitars for Beginners,” “Guitars Beginners Should Avoid,” or “Intro Guitar Recommendations From the Experts.”
If you don’t have a past well of content to draw from (or that well has run dry), you can still turn to other outlets for generating topics. Stay current on the news within your industry, talk to clients about what interests them, and keep an eye open for what your competitors are up to, and you should have no shortage of subjects to cover in your blog.
Selecting a Post Format
Deciding how to present your topic is your next step. You’ve got your how-to posts, reviews, listicles, straight-ahead news posts, and a plethora of other formats to choose from. Once again, your approach will depend on your audience and the points you’re trying to convey.
Allow me to refer to our musical example for a third time. While opining about which guitars are most appropriate for new learners might not present well as a news item, it’ll work wonders as a list, and the concise nature of the listicle format will make it easy for your audience to find the information they want quickly. Meanwhile, if you were writing about a new guitar that was just released, going long-form and including lots of details would make more sense.
Keep particulars like this in mind, and you’ll be able to present your topics in a style that connects best with your audience. We’ll delve into the many types of posts you can try in a future blog (and the situations each is best suited for), but for now, let your topic and audience be your guide, and strive to convey whatever knowledge you’ve gathered as clearly as possible.
Step Three: Writing Your Post
Now it’s time to get to writing your post. Are you feeling comfortable? You should, if you want to work effectively. Your environment can make or break your will to write, so be sure you’ve eliminated distractions, dressed for the occasion, and set the mood so you can write with ease. Throw on some relaxing music, shut the door (if possible), and go for it!
Create Your Outline
For longer posts, it might be helpful to work from an outline. Breaking what you have to say into smaller sections serves the dual purpose of helping you organize your thoughts and keeping your audience from becoming intimidated by the magnitude of your post. List what you want to cover, item by item, and use this opportunity to order the details of your post so they can flow from one to the next.
Craft Your Introduction
Once you’re done outlining, creating a strong introduction is the next item on your list. The goal here is to grab your reader’s attention. Just like you needed motivation to write, your audience needs motivation to read, and the introduction is your best chance to provide it.
Lead with a hook: an interesting fact, a poignant joke, or an engaging story, then follow up by explaining what your post is about and how it will address your readers’ concerns. This way, your audience will know exactly why they should forge ahead, and have a reason to dive right into your post.
At last, you can get to the meat of your post. Don’t sweat if first draft isn’t perfect. Right now, it’s important for you to fill in the blanks. Let go of your doubts and let the words flow, using the research you’ve done thus far to guide you. If you find you’ve hit a stumbling block that will require further investigation, make a note of it, then gather what you need and use that to shore up your post on a second pass. It might be difficult to find a groove to your writing at first, but if you stay focused, the words will come sooner or later.
Revisit Your Words
After you’ve finished writing, take a break and recharge. You’ll need your resolve to edit and proofread your post before you publish it. Give your words the once over, correcting grammar and spelling mistakes, then reorganize information where you deem it necessary. If you want to be extra thorough, try running your post through an online grammar checker, or getting a friend or co-worker to read through what you’ve written and make some notes. Incorporate (or ignore, it’s your choice) their suggestions, and you’ll be ready to move ahead.
Step Four: Putting It Online
You’re nearly ready to post your blog, but there are just a few more details you’ll want to address beforehand. These will help ensure that your post provides the most value possible to your reader.
Include a Call-To-Action
Did you insert a call-to-action (CTA) at the end of your post? If not, you’ll want to add one so you can inform your readers of the steps you’d like them to take after reading. Maybe you want them to subscribe to your blog or check out some of your products and services? Whatever the case may be, this gentle nudge will increase the likelihood they’ll take further action (hence the name).
Remember that your CTA doesn’t just have to benefit you. There’s ample opportunity to include useful resources for your audience. Leading them to similar content on the same subject or suggesting additional reading material on related topics will provide them with the opportunity to further educate themselves, and you with a chance to start nurturing a new lead for future business.
Make It Look Pretty
When publishing your post, you’ll want to make sure that it’s visually appealing in addition to informative, as few people are going to read through a horrendous-looking post (regardless of how informative it might be). Your first task here is to ensure that your formatting is on point. Break up those text walls with smaller paragraphs, and use headers to separate information into manageable chunks.
You’ll also want to include some imagery along with your post, as pictures can increase the chances of getting eyeballs on what you’ve written. At minimum, you’ll want a featured photo that’s relevant to your content. If there are opportunities to supply more graphics that are germane to your topic within the post, take them — just be sure to keep copyright law in mind and only use images you have the rights to (resources like Pexels and Pixabay are great for finding free imagery).
Don’t Overlook SEO
We can’t forget about on-page SEO. Yes, keywords are important, but they aren’t the end-all, be-all, and you shouldn’t sacrifice the reader experience just to stuff a few keywords into your post. If there are opportunities to do so naturally, go for it, but don’t stress about keywords when there are plenty of other areas to focus on.
Your page title and headers, for instance, are important for ensuring your work gets discovered by the audience you’re trying to capture. Take the time to fine-tune your titles so that they can naturally include the keywords and phrases you want to use, and keep them as short and sweet as you can. Generally speaking, 65 characters or fewer is what you want to shoot for, so that title doesn’t get cut off in search results.
Meta descriptions are also a helpful thing to include. They might not factor into the keyword ranking algorithm on search engines like Google, but they do help provide your audience with a glimpse of what they’ll be reading before they click that link. A well-written description will increase the chances of potential readers checking you out, so be sure to put some thought into your summary.
Then there’s your anchor text to think about — the words within your post that link to other pages. You’ll want to pay attention to which words you’re using to link to other pages, as well as those other pages you’re linking to. Search engines use this as a factor when ranking your page, so watch for those keywords and consider your links carefully.
We could go on and on about SEO concerns (and we will, in future posts) but the heart of the matter is that you should give SEO its proper due if you want your blog post to perform. What’s the point in spending all that time writing, after all, if you’re not able to reach your target audience? Stay savvy, and you’ll be able to score those vaunted SEO-points (along with more readers for your posts).
You got all that? There’s a lot you’ll need to keep in mind when crafting your blog posts, but attention to detail goes a long way in making sure you produce the best content possible and get plenty of eyes on your page. Once you’re ready, take a swing at writing that perfect blog post, and feel free to drop me a line if you need a hand with any of your future blogging projects.