A How-To Guide For Writing a Successful Blog Post

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WRITING A SUCCESSFUL BLOG POST

If you’re new to the content marketing game, writing your very own blog posts probably seems a bit intimidating.

While folks who have never tried might think that it’s simple — just sit down and start writing, right? — anyone who’s tried it knows that it’s much more complicated than that. Plus, even if you’re a gifted writer, tailoring your content specifically to a blog audience is a whole other can of worms.

Thus, we’re thrilled to provide you with a how-to guide to writing your very own blog post. From brainstorming to crafting content, from drafting to reviewing, we know how to get you from point A to point D.

Also Read: How to Start A Blog

So stay with us — we can’t wait to have you writing your very own blog content by the end of this post!

  1. Brainstorming

Brainstorm

1.1. Know Who You’re Writing For

 

Know Who You're Writing For

 

Before you even pick a topic, a key element to crafting your perfect blog is identifying your target audience. To discover your target audience, you need to define two things regarding your ideal customer: their core and secondary markers.

Generally speaking, core markers are gleaned from basic demographic information. The age, gender, location, etc. of your ideal customer. You can see a full list of core markers in the graphic above (made in Coggle). To ensure that your customer base isn’t too broadly defined, you should limit yourself to two major core markers and one minor core marker.

For example, if your product is geared primarily to folks of a particular gender and occupation, it may also appeal to those specific people within a certain income bracket. Once these core markers have been identified, you’re ready for the next step – secondary markers. Secondary markers can be determined via psychographics.

Never heard of them? Where demographics refer to the structure of a population, psychographics refer to its interests, attitudes, and opinions (hence why you may have heard them referred to as IAO variables). These determinants detail a population’s core interests, values, and behaviors.

As you can imagine, utilizing these secondary markers in conjunction with the aforementioned core markers guarantee that you can flawlessly define your target audience.  Once you’ve identified your target audience, you’re ready to move on to the next step of the drafting process: defining key goals.

 

1.2 Define Your Goals

 

Make SMART Goals

 

When picking a blog topic, you should be able to pinpoint exactly what your post should accomplish. New readers should be called to action by your post – and by your blog at large – in a particular capacity.  What ever you want your readers to do, the goal needs to be well defined, and your readers should be guided clearly through  your key points. When crafting your goals, the best way to ensure they meet the ‘well-defined’ criteria is to make sure that they’re SMART. What does that mean? SMART goals are defined as follows:

1. Specific

If you want your readers to purchase, you probably don’t want them buying just any old thing. Your post, if it’s selling something, should be selling a particular product and that product only. Don’t cast out too wide a net: specificity is key.

 

2. Measurable

How many more units do you want to sell? Do you want to attract 500 new readers by Christmas? Maybe you want to receive 20 comments on your blog in the next month. Whatever your goal, make sure that you can quantify it.

3. Attainable

If your business currently has five customers, one of whom is your mother, don’t define your goal as 10,000 purchases for the next quarter. Business growth takes time, and setting your sights to high too fast only sets you up for failure. Make your goals ambitious but doable.

4. Relevant

If you’re already doing well with in person sales but have miserable eCommerce numbers, don’t set your the goal of improving your in store profit. Your goals should be relevant to your greatest concerns.

5. Timebound

Your goals should have a time limit. Don’t just say you want 20 blog comments. Give yourself a timeline ; timelines encourage you tocheck in and step up your game when required.

1.3 Draft Title Possibilities

 

Titles

 

Once you’ve identified your target audience and defined your goals, you’re ready to create a title that will grab your audience’s attention. It’s important to come up with multiple title possibilities during the brainstorming process, since you may find your post deviating slightly from your original concept during the writing process.

Focusing on important keywords will help you try out multiple title combinations without getting off track or discouraged.  While coming up with one specific title that focuses on your key points is imperative, leaving room for deviation is equally important. Lists, charts, mind maps, and keyword pages (like the one above) are all great tools for crafting a great title.

A good rule of thumb is to come up with at least three title options per post. That way you can account for a couple of different deviations without having to retool your post when you’re ready to publish.

2. Creating Content

Creating Content

 

2.1 Starting Out – The Introduction

 

Introduction Diagram

 

Equally as important as a good title is a good introduction. Introductions hook your audience and engage them in your content. Don’t be afraid to make bold statements or use fun language in your introductory paragraphs. Introductions best appeal to readers when they follow a specific structure, which can be seen above, and is as follows:

1. Write a Hook

Readers should be instantly engaged by your writing. Thus, every introductory paragraph should start with a lead — or hook – that reels your readers in. This is where fun statements and bold language best come into play. There’s no need to veer into cliche territory, but make sure that you start off with a bang.

2. State Your Topic

Your readers shouldn’t have to wade through a sea of words to figure out what you’re really writing about. Get straight to the point and give your viewers your general concept early on.

3. Clarify Your Position

Once you’ve stated what you’re talking about, explain your point of view. If your product is part of a competitive market, this is where you explain that you’re about to show readers how your product smokes the competition.

4. Write a Thesis Statement

Your thesis statement is a sentence, generally split into three salient points, that clarifies exactly how you are going to prove your argument throughout the course of your post. Your thesis statement should be thorough, straightforward, and easy to refer back to throughout the reading of your content.

2.2 The Heart of the Matter – The Body

 

longer blog posts

 

Once you’ve provided your readers with a map through your post, the body portion is where you provide the bulk of your information. The body of your post should be compelling, informative, and accessible without being condescending.

This is the place where you can reveal all of your brainstorming and hard work, so don’t be afraid to be creative and fully express your thoughts. Make sure that your body is properly structured, and make sure to utilize headings and subheadings whenever logical. While your body section should be information dense, it shouldn’t be verbose or difficult to parse through.

You want this section to tell your readers what they want to know, but also (perhaps most importantly) what you want them to know. Make sure that you check back to your thesis statement throughout the writing process. Your body paragraphs should match up to the points you reference there.

 

make long blog posts

 

Don’t skimp on your body section! Good, long content really speaks for itself According to a number of sources, including a recent post by Neil Patel on Quicksprout, the ideal length for a post is about 1500 words.

As you can see above, posts that meet the 1500 word threshold are exponentially more shareable than shorter posts. In addition, posts around 1600 words lasts about 7 minutes when read out loud, which is the ideal reading length according to a study by Medium. Thus, your body paragraphs should be substantial and chock full of content.

By having body paragraphs that expand upon and clarify each of your key points in an organic, interesting way, you guarantee that your content is primed to be fully read and subsequently shared.

2.3 Putting it All Together – The Conclusion

 

Conclusion Diagram

Once you’ve provided all of the necessary information in your body paragraphs, you need to tie up any loose ends for your readers. The conclusion is where you can truly hammer home your key points. Make sure that your readers takeaway exactly what you want them to. Just like with introductions, successful conclusions follow a particular format, which is as follows:

1. Restate Your Thesis

After writing a sentence that transitions you out of your body paragraph, you should immediately restate your thesis. That being said, it is vital that you restate your thesis statement in different words. Readers won’t respond well to redundant information, but you do want to remind them of the exact details of your argument.

2. Reiterate Your Themes

After reminding readers of your thesis statement, you should take the opportunity to reiterate your themes in broad scope. Unlike where you delved deeply into your information in your body paragraphs, this reiteration should be concise but clear. Ensure that your readers leave with a lingering impression of your thoughts and goals.

3. Provide a Larger Context

Readers want to know why what you’re writing about is not only important to you, but important to the world at large, too. Use the conclusion as a place to show your place in the bigger picture.

4. Present a Call to Action

The last sentence of your conclusion is where you should present a verbal call to action that juxtaposes your physical one. You know exactly what action you want your readers to take. After cementing your argument and showing how it fits in the great industry fabric, you’re ready to persuade them to take the plunge with a well-crafted verbal call to action.

 2.4 Crafting a Physical Call to Action

 

newsletter

 

After you’ve written your blog post, you need to optimize it. What does that mean? Well, first things first, you need to ensure that your post inspires your readers to do something. Whether that’s subscribing to your email newsletter or purchasing your product, you need to guarantee that the process of taking action is practically effortless.

This is where a physical Call to Action (CTA) — separate from the verbal one that concludes your post — can be a vital tool. Calls to Action can exist in the form of a button or subscription box at the bottom of your post, or a fly-in CTA when your reader clicks the exit button. Fly-ins are a bit riskier, as some readers can find them aggressive, but they’re a great tool for retaining users (check out ours above).

Buttons or subscription fields that provide promotions or perks contain less risk, though they aren’t as flashy. Depending on the structure of your post, the type of product, and your overall reader retention, you can chose to use one or the other, or even both! The most important thing is that a CTA exists on your page, and that it eases the ‘doing’ process for your reader in a substantial way.

2.5 Make the blog post visually attractive

Canva Demonstration GIF

While it may be tempting to maintain the purity of your prose, images provide a much needed visual break for your readers. Additionally, images can help readers digest information more efficiently.

Thus, ensuring that your posts have great images in addition to great written content is hugely important. Search engines know this, too. Seriously – blog posts with images included have higher search engine rankings than those without. Worried about where you’re going to find those pictures?

Don’t be! Check out our previous post – we’ve provided a number of sites with great free stock photos ready for the taking. Besides the stock photo angle, you can also make your own images on sites like Canva.

As you can see above, making images on Canva is practically effortless, and a wildly intuitive experience. So make sure your post is visually striking, informative, and search engine optimized: don’t skimp on the photos!

3.  Reviewing

Review

 

3.1 Fine Tune Your Title

 

Hubspot Screenshot

 

The title of your post should not only be catchy and memorable, but also fine tuned for ideal search engine optimization (SEO). But how do you find the correct SEO keywords for peak optimization?

Well, first of all, let’s learn the lingo. The title of your page as it shows up in browsers and search engines is known as the title tag. Your title tag should be at least 70 characters long (that’s including spaces). Additionally, the words should be ordered so that those with the greatest importance come first.

Thus, if your article is about helping customers purchase more quickly, ‘customer’ or ‘purchase’ should come before ‘quickly’, since the first two words are the true subjects of your post. Your title tag should be a phrase, not necessarily a sentence. Thus, don’t be afraid to forgot perfect grammar in favor of an SEO friendly phrase.

That means ‘if’, ‘and’, and ‘but’ should be taken out of your title wherever possible. Lastly, search engines are smart. You don’t need to repeat your keyword six times for Google to pick up on it. Google reads just like people do. Thus, if your article is about customers, using the word once in your title will suffice.

Still not sure you know exactly what you’re doing? No sweat – we have tools for that! The HubSpot SEO tool, as seen above, gives you real time SEO recommendations and performs quick, no-nonsense analysis.

Take it from us – fine tuning on your own titles is imperative, but using the tools at your disposal is too. Take advantage of Hubspot and sites like it!

the title

 

3.2 Think About Search Engines

 

Search Engines

Your title isn’t the only thing that needs to optimized for search engines. Your entire post should ideally be crafted with SEO in mind. How do you do that? There’s a couple of foolproof ways. First things first, all of your most important keywords should be present in the first 100 words of your article, if possible.

These are the words search engines focus on the most, and thus if your keywords are present there, it can increase your search engine ranking. Next, don’t be afraid to include outbound links! The presence of outbound links helps search engines relate your posts to similar sites, and proving relatability will also improve your ranking.

Additionally, a fast loading time will provide a boost, as will posts full of long-form, interesting content. Search engines don’t just want a list of keywords – they want engaging, compelling, detailed writing just like people do! Keep these tips in mind, and your post is sure to be perfectly optimized.

3.3 Be Social Media Savvy

 

Social Shares Data

 

As you know, ensuring that your content is optimized for search engines isn’t the only important thing. You also need to focus on social media! When it comes to social media platforms, the most important thing about your blog posts is that they’re sharable! How do you ensure that? Number one, you need to have an awesome blurb!

WordPress gives you the option of providing a small snippet about your post. This not only shows up in searches, but on social media as well. This small bit of information about your post can spell the difference between a new viewer clicking and scrolling by. Secondly, you need to use awesome, eye-catching images, both within your post and as your post’s featured image.

Since the featured image is the first thing a viewer sees when your post has been shared on their social media channels, it needs to be something that will draw them in. Don’t have a designer in-house?

No sweat! Use free design services like Canva to create awesome images that will draw your readers in and have them clicking and sharing your posts.

More than anything, though, you need to provide a social shares bar at the top of your page? What’s that you ask – well, look at the top of our blog! See the buttons that allow you share on a number of popular social media platforms? This social shares optionencourages our readers to spread our content around.

Think it’s just a gimmick? You’d be wrong. According to a recent study by Webaholic, social share buttons are widely utilized to share content on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+, among others (you can see a graph of their results above).

Since social shares bars not only allow readers to share, but provide social proof – i.e. the count of shares next to each platform icon – these buttons corroborate readers feelings that they’re making a good decision when they spend time with your company. They’re easy to put into your post too! Just paste the following on wordpress editor:

[ social_share ]

without spaces, and you’re good to go.

So don’t let those good feelings pass you by – take advantage of social shares!

3.4 Make it Readable

 

Minimalist design

 

Once you’ve ensured that readers can find and share your post, you need to make sure that they’ll enjoy reading it. Sure, your content is undoubtedly stellar, but the layout of your post is equally important. Thus, you need to review your post with aesthetics in mind. Look at your post with fresh eyes.

Is the reading experience clear and effortless? If not, you need to change your formatting. Good rules of thumb include 16-point font, ample space between paragraphs, and the inclusion of images throughout your post. Give these tricks a try and see how it reads. If it’s an effortless read for you as the author, it should be equally easy for your readers.

Optimizing isn’t just about the algorithms – it’s about the human element as well. Make sure that, above all else, you’re keeping your readers in mind.

 

16-point font

 

3.5 Proofreading

 

Proofreading

 

Before you hit ‘publish’, you need to do one last thing: proofread! Ensuring that your page is free of typos, grammatical errors, and spelling mistakes is hugely important. Yes, Spell Check is good, but a thorough readthrough with fresh eyes is better. You may think you need an editor to proofread your posts, but we guarantee that you start out on your own.

To do a proper job, make sure you give yourself enough time between the writing and proofreading processes. If you try and edit directly after writing, it is unlikely you’ll catch all of your mistakes.

By giving yourself an hour or two between writing and proofreading, you’ll encounter your post like a new reader, which means you’ll have a keen eye for any errors.

That being said, the best way to determine if your post is clear for readers is to give it to one. Recruit a friend, stranger, or acquaintance — heck, take advantage of your next Tinder match! — and have them read your post. Was the information clear? Was it easy to read? Were they compelled to take action at the end?

If the answer to all of these questions was yes, then you’re good to go! If not, it’s time to head back and fine tune your content once more.

4. Spreading It Around

 

Sharing

 

4.1 Sponsor Posts on Social Media

 

Trello Example

 

By now, you’ve probably written a great blog post that’s ready to be published – great! However, if no one is going to see your post, there’s really no point in writing it, is there? Once your post is written, you need to sponsor your post across a variety of social media channels for it to really help your business.

There’s a variety of social media platforms to choose from (see just some examples above). Try and focus on platforms you know your target audience is widely using. Once you know where you should be sharing, get to it! You should sponsor posts on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn at the very least.

If you have a dab hand with photos, Instagram is another great choice, and Vine is awesome for video snippets. No matter which platforms you use, make sure you follow up! Tweet about new posts at least three times; whichever platforms you choose, make sure you keep track of your shares and sponsorships with an organizational program.

We love Trello, but your options are practically endless.

4.2 Write a Guest Post

 

Write a Guest Post

 

Want to increase your web following but aren’t sure how to go about it? Ensure that your content is respected and shared by others by putting your name out there via guest posts.

Many respected websites and blogs accept guest post submissions. Before you submit, do your research. Different sites have different fields of interest, length guidelines and writing styles.

Once you know the perfect tone for your post, give it whirl! Having a guest post published under your company’s name allows for greater brand recognition and will undoubtedly increase the number of readers your accrue per post.

4.3 Make Infographics

Infographics

When it comes to shareability, there isn’t much better than the infographic. Concise, engaging, compelling, and easy-to-follow, infographics are the perfect fodder for social media shares.

Thus, if you’re looking to share information in a simple, potentially viral capacity, an infographic is the way to go. Don’t be afraid to stretch your creativity and draft infographics to include with your posts.

Even if it’s just the graphic that is shared, not your entire post, the enthusiasm caused by an interesting infographic will lure readers back to your site.

In addition to being shareable, infographics also add to the overall aesthetics of your post. It’s a two-for-one deal that you should be taking advantage of.

4.4 Write a Newsletter

Want to ensure that readers keep coming back to your site? Create a newsletter that they can subscribe to. By receiving info about your latest posts without having to lift a finger, readers are more likely to return to your site. Newsletters keep readers informed while encouraging continued engagement.

Additionally, they can extrapolate upon points in previous posts, promote deals and discounts, and generally provide outreach with very little effort on your end. If you’re looking to increase the scope of your site in the long-term, a newsletter is a nonnegotiable.

Ensure that — just as with your blog posts — the content of your newsletters is informative, compelling and well-crafted. If readers see that you can continuously turn out great content, they’ll be more likely to follow your blog for the long haul.

4.5 Use Your Employees

Employees

Oftentimes businesses forget that they have the best tools for social sharing right in their own office – their employees! Make it a weekly task for each of your employees to share your newest posts and graphics to social media. From tweets to Facebook posts and Instagram pics, you’ll be able to exponentially increase your readership if each of your colleagues takes a few minutes to share your content.

5: Conclusion

 

Conclusion

So there you have it: a how-to guide to writing your very own blog post. From brainstorming to content creation to looking it all over, we’ve provided you with the nitty-gritty details when it comes to blog post creation. Don’t be afraid to try out our tips and tricks when writing your own posts.

If you  keep your key goals, write compelling content, and optimize your posts for readers, social media platforms, and search engines alike, you are assured a successful, engaging post.

Feel free to link to the posts you create in the comments– we can’t wait to see you put our how-to guide into action!

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