This is the third post in a four post series to help you get started blogging. No matter whether you are an individual looking to write more and earn a little money on the side, or a business seeking to expand a content marketing strategy, you’ll benefit from our series. We’ll take you from stage zero to blog hero, and make sure that you understand the importance of having a niche, choosing the right blogging platform, crafting the perfect post, and getting found online. If you missed post one in the series on Starting a Blog, or post two on Choosing the Best Blog Platform, check them out now before reading on!
If you are following our posts then you should have identified a niche and determined which blog platform is the best for your new blog. Both of these steps are important, but they aren’t really what comes to mind when people talk about blogging. Blogging, after all, is about getting your content out there, publishing posts, and sharing your knowledge, expertise, and interests with the world.
So if posting is ‘real’ blogging, then today we move from the theoretical to the practical as we explain how to craft the perfect blog post. Here’s how to write a blog post and, what’s more, how to make that blog post perfect.
What is a Perfect Blog Post?
It’s probably worth starting by describing just what we mean by ‘the perfect blog post’.
Or maybe better, what we don’t mean.
We don’t mean that we’ll explain how to make your post interesting, on topic, or crafted for a certain niche reader. That part is really up to you – the blogger – and it’s not really something that can be taught in a single blog post.
What we mean by ‘the perfect blog post’ is a post that is easy to find, easy to read, easy to share, and optimized for search and for reuse.
The perfect blog post might be short or long, it might be heavy with images or heavy with text, it might be sarcastic, argumentative, or explanative – but if you follow the advice below it will be more likely to rank highly on search engines, be shared by your readers, and help you establish the sort of authority you are seeking as a blogger.
How to Write a Blog Post that’s Perfect
Below we’ve developed a ten step process to move through every time before publishing a post to make sure it is as good as it can be.
The first time you work through these steps it is going to take some time. You’ll feel like you’re adding additional, not useful work to your blogging and, anyway, didn’t you start blogging so that you could press publish and get your ideas out there? Why should you be adding additional steps, especially ten of them, to every single blog post you publish?
In response there are two things to keep in mind.
First, without a deliberate strategy to be read, found, and shared, you won’t be read, found, or shared. Unless you are blogging entirely for yourself alone, then you need to think about how people will encounter your blog, how you’ll bring them back for the next time, and how they’ll do part of the work in promoting your content by sharing it. Our ten steps help you do exactly this.
Second, with time you’ll find that the ten steps become second nature and a part of your post writing and publishing process. The more you blog, the more posts you push out, and the more comfortable you become with your blogging platform, the easier the ten steps will be. Habits are easy to form when it comes to blogging so developing good habits early is a long term benefit to your blogging.
With that in mind, here are the ten steps you should move through to craft your perfect blog post every time – and the first kicks in even before you’re done drafting!
Let’s assume you’ve written the perfect post. It’s interesting, engaging, and challenges the reader to think and react. It’s perfectly timed to enter the zeitgeist and perhaps rocket to virility. The tone is perfectly pitched, the word choice is inspired, and you’re all ready to publish when…something happens. Your internet cuts out, your browser freezes, you lose electrical power, and in an instant your post is toast. Want to avoid the hassles that come from losing your work in the browser? Two tips. First, draft outside of the browser window (use Evernote, Scrivener, or even a simple text editor) and, second, press save often. While most blogging platforms include an auto-save feature, drafting outside of the browser means you won’t have to worry about a crash that’s outside of your control. What’s more, get into the habit of saving every time you take your fingers from the keyboard, every time you stand up from your desk, and you’ll be sure never to lose your work.
Want more? Here’s how to use Evernote to blog better (and not lose a single word to the ether if everything goes pear shaped!)
With your work safe for editing it’s time to turn some attention to one of the most important parts of your post: the headline. In a world of short attention spans the headline can be the key to attracting readers and giving them a reason to click on your blog in the first place. Make it snappy, make it inviting, and make it interesting enough that someone who doesn’t know you and your blog is willing to spend a few seconds or more finding out what you have to say. There are various headline formats that have been repeatedly proven to attract readers including lists (7 Reasons Why X), how-to’s (How To Do X in Y), and headlines with questions (Did you know X?). You want to ensure that your headline matches the content of the post – don’t over-promise or mislead with ‘click bait’ – as well as make sure that it doesn’t give the entire post away in a half-dozen words. Getting the reader interested and getting them on-site is your goal.
Want more? Here’s how to make sure that your headline is hitting all the right buttons every time.
Along with your headline it is the image or images that you use to illustrate your posts that will bring people to your site. With social sharing networks like Facebook and Twitter reporting that shares with images do far better than text based shares, having the right image on your blog post could be the reason it reaches the readers you are targeting – or it could be the reason that it falls short of expectations. To hit the former and evade the latter, make sure your image is bright, clear, related to the post, has the correct alt-tags, and can be loaded fast. Ensure your image is optimized for smaller screens, too, as more and more readers are browsing blogs on mobile devices, tablets, and smartphones. Finally, make sure that you have the right to use the image that you include with your post. The worst thing is the perfect image that is lifted directly from a Google Image Search and immediately found by the copyright owner. Avoid the legal headaches and choose the right, legal image every time.
Want more? DOZ’s eBook on choosing the right image every time will give you the skinny on how to keep your blog post images picture perfect.
Spelling and Grammar
Consider where your blog post is at this point in the reading process. The reader has been intrigued by your headline and has clicked through to your blog. They’ve seen the feature image topping your words and it matches what the headline promised and – so far – all is good. Now they start to read your text and – a spelling error? A missing apostrophe? A stray capital letter? And…they’ve left. You’ll see that reader in your bounce rate and that’s about the only place you’ll see them: your spelling and grammatical errors chased them away. Whether you are blogging for your company or for yourself, the only real tool you have to communicate your professionalism are the words you put on the screen, and this means that each and every word needs to be perfect. Read and re-read each post, have a friend or colleague read them, too, if you have trouble with particular elements consistently, and make sure that before you publish that post everything is in order. When it comes to how to write a blog post, don’t forget what your high school English professor taught you: spelling counts.
Want more? Check out why having great looking (and great reading) copy is so important for your blog.
So your first post went well and kept the reader interested all the way to the end. Their next step is hopefully to click through to one of the other posts or pages on your blog – but will they know their way around once they get there? If you keep your formatting consistent across the blog and across your site, it will make it far easier for your new reader to find their way around. Among other things consider keeping your menus in the same place on the page, using the same fonts throughout, keeping your titles and images formatted in the same way, having contact information in the header, footer, or sidebar on each page, and having a clear distinction between text that is hyperlinked and text that is not. Most blogging platforms will help you to do this automatically, but you do need to come up with a ‘blog style’ of your own. Don’t be afraid to write it down, keep it close to where you do your writing, and use it as a checklist guide for every post.
Want more? Get an idea of the perfect structure for your blog post – and stick to it – by checking our guide to structure and formatting.
Tagged and Categorized
Your blog post is attracting some traffic – now you need to focus on getting people interested in your other blog posts. One of the ways that you can do this simply and without much effort is to take advantage of your blogging platforms tag and category features. Both are ways of organizing the content on your blog in a way that keeps a reader interested in a theme or topic reading your work. Categories are the large ‘baskets’ into which your work falls. You shouldn’t have more than a handful of major categories in your niche, and they should be deliberately broad. Tags, on the other hand, are more specific and there might be dozens, even scores of different tags on your blog. Any individual post should be added to one category (perhaps two, but no more) and have a number of tags attached; where these categories and tags are clicked, all the other posts in this category or with this tag appear and – fingers crossed – your reader can click through. Easy to do, but so useful.
Want more? Check out the DOZ blog to see how we use just half a dozen categories to cover all of our content – and more than a hundred tags to keep it in order.
Everything to this point has been about getting the reader to come to your site by clicking on a headline or being attracted by an image, and then keeping them on the blog to read more. But what about having your posts ranked in a search engine? Well there are a couple of little things you can do with every post that will help you rank higher and bring in the organic search traffic. One of those is h-tags, the heading and subheading tags that structure your work. Generally your title or headline will be a H1 tag and this is important, and if you use sub-headings (H2 or H3 tags, for example) these also are ranking signals for search engines. Using keywords in your headings will help you rank higher, and structuring your longer posts with subheadings make the reading experience for your reader all the better. Make sure every post includes a H1 tag, and use subheadings with keywords to divide up your text into manageable chunks and you’ll be on the right track.
Want more? See our guide to using H-tags effectively to get a step-by-step walkthrough of how, and why, to use these elements in your posts.
The second small optimization tactic you should employ for every blog post is getting your meta-description right. The meta-description is the short description of your blog post that appears on a search engine results page just under the link to the post. Every post and every page on your blog should have a meta-description that explains what that post or page is all about. This meta-description should use the same keyword as is found in your post, in your headline, and in your h-tags to send stronger signals to the search engines on the topic of your post. It should also give potential readers a good reason to click on the post: if there’s any hesitation because of the headline, it is up to the meta-description to get the potential reader off the search engine results page and onto your blog! Keep them short, keep them sharp, and never miss one when you craft your posts.
Want more? Meta-descriptions are one of the 5 quick SEO checks in our five-minute guide to ranking higher.
Let’s imagine that everything has gone perfectly with your blog post. What’s more, you have convinced your reader that your blog is worth visiting, and that the information that you have shared with them is valuable and useful. Congratulations: you’ve converted one reader. But why stop there? If you make it easy for the person reading your post to share it with others, then they will be promoting your blog instead of you – and if enough people do this, then your workload is cut down significantly. Every post should include social sharing options (Facebook, Twitter, images to Pinterest or Instagram, entire posts to LinkedIn, and so on) and you should encourage your readers to share. Ask them directly, or included ‘Click to Tweet’ extracts where sharing is made even easier. No post or page on your blog should be beyond sharing; after all, one of the best ways to gain new readers is on the recommendation of your current readers.
Want more? We explained how to use sharing to go viral in our series on growth hacking – check it out and get shared today!
The last step to crafting your perfect blog post is to make sure you have something more than a blog post. By this we mean you should have a plan for how the content can be reused. Perhaps your blog post will become part of a series. Or maybe it will be the basis for a podcast or a vodcast episode you’ll produce later. Perhaps you’ll be able to pull it apart and build a SlideShare presentation, or you’ll repurpose the post, using the data to build an infographic or a chapter of an eBook. What you should avoid is posting and forgetting your content; after all of the work you’ve put into crafting this post, why use it just one sole time? Note that while there are penalties applied by search engines for posting exactly the same material multiple times on your blog, there is no problem repurposing the material in a different format and for a different audience. Take advantage of your heard work and use the content you have in a new way to attract new visitors to your blog – you’ll be glad you did.
Want more? Reusing content is one of the strategies we identify as a means to drive nonstop organic traffic – check out the others on the list, too!
Over time you’ll find that these ten steps on how to write a blog post will become a part of your blog post creation process. You’ll be drafting offline, thinking about h-tags as you draft, and you’ll likely be imagining repurposing options before you’ve even finished getting that post spelling and grammar checked. Though they won’t add much time to your creation process, they are all important steps and will help you deliver the best post possible every single time.
PS — Our eBook, The Beginner’s Guide to Blogging, is available for free. To get your copy simply enter your email in the box below and proceed to the download page.
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