Blogging has become an essential marketing tool for small and large businesses alike, and even if you want to pursue it simply as a hobby, there still might be a little side income in it for you.
But while lots of things factor into the success of a blog—from its domain name to its email list—the most important element is the actual content.
Even if you consider yourself a pretty good writer, blogging has its own rules. Learning how to write a blog post that your readers care about is the first thing you should do once you’ve decided to start a blog.
How to Write a Blog Post in 12 Steps
Follow these 10 steps to get started on a quality blog post that will attract more readers to your site. Once you’ve mastered blog writing, you can also study up with paid or free blogging courses to learn more advanced skills.
1. Understand your goals.
The first thing you should do before writing your first blog post is understand your goals. Why are you writing? Do you want to entertain readers? Inform them? Persuade them? Teach them a new skill?
Do you plan on blogging just as a fun hobby, or are you hoping to monetize your blog and turn it into a business?
Getting these goals clear in your mind will help direct you as you create content and make other important decisions related to your blog.
2. Understand your audience.
Then, what you should always do when starting a new blog post—whether it’s your first or 1,000th—is take some time to understand your audience.
What do your readers want to know? What do they need to know? What questions do they have? What are they typing into Google to find those answers? How can your own knowledge or expertise help them?
Remember that your ultimate goal should be helping your audience solve a problem. Keep this in mind as you plan the structure and outline of your content—you’ll want the answers to be accessible, easy to find, and as clear and straightforward as possible.
Give your readers the answers they need without wasting their time or making them guess what you mean.
3. Brainstorm a list of ideas.
Next, brainstorm a list of ideas that you might like to write about and research further.
Create a list of potential topics that are more or less consistent with your blog’s theme, and that you think would be interesting or of value to your target audience.
You can keep this list in an Excel spreadsheet and use it to conduct your keyword research in the next step.
4. Do keyword research.
Once you’ve thought of a few ideas that will definitely be of interest to your readers, it’s time to do keyword research.
Every day, billions of searches are conducted on Google. Each phrase or word someone types in to Google is called a keyword or keyword phrase.
Sites and browser extensions like Ubersuggest, Google Keyword Planner, or Keyword Surfer can help you determine the popularity of any keyword (by giving you the monthly search volume for that term) and also show you the top sites ranking for that keyword.
While many so-called SEO gurus recommend targeting low competition search phrases, we say shoot for the stars.
Write content that has the potential to reach a huge audience because even if only 1% of your articles rank on page 1 in Google using that strategy, you’ll get way more traffic than you would if you played it safe and only aimed at writing articles about keywords with low search volume.
Once you find an ideal main keyword, that will become the central idea of your post. It will also determine how you optimize your post (see step #9).
When it comes to deciding what kind of post you will write around your main keyword, there are several common formats, but the one that’s best for you will depend on your goal and your audience’s needs.
You might write a:
- List-based Post (“100 Best Books of 2019: What to Read Right Now“)
- Curated Collection Post (“15 Best Brand Name Generators for Your Business“)
- SlideShare Presentation (“5 key steps to find the best SEO keywords”)
- News post (“Amazon Underreported Thousands of CreateSpace Book Sales“)
5. Organize your content into an outline.
As with any king of writing, it’s always good to start with a good outline. Whether a loose outline or a very detailed, structured one is more your style is up to you, but you’ll definitely want an idea of where you’re going with this post before you get started.
Using your main keyword and related keywords, map out the most logical, intuitive flow for your post’s content.
You’ll thank yourself for doing this later, as it’s pretty effective at combatting writer’s block and will help you save quite a bit of time.
Check Google for Frequently Asked Questions
When you enter a search term into Google, you’ll notice that almost always, a section called “People also ask” comes up, usually toward the top of the results.
This is a great opportunity for you to get inside your readers’ minds, and these are definitely questions you’ll want to list (and answer) within your post, at least for the ones that are truly relevant.
Below is a screenshot of the suggested questions that pop up when I search “how to write a blog post”:
These questions are also great indicators of how you should outline your content and where you should focus most of your attention within that particular topic. You can include relevant ones as headers in your outline.
6. Read the top 10 posts for that keyword.
Before you start writing the body of your blog post, take a peek at what’s actually working and in demand.
Search your keyword and skim through the first 10 results. These are the top ranking posts for that keyword, and they reflect what your audience is looking for.
Take note of how these posts are organized, and think about how you could add to them or make them better. Perhaps you could make the content clearer, better organized, or more comprehensive.
Make sure that you’re only paying attention to your relevant competitors. If you’re writing a how-to post, for example, you probably don’t need to study a news article (unless it’s relevant and you want to mention that information in your post).
7. Write the body of your blog post.
Now that you’ve done your research and prepared a solid outline, it’s time to actually write the body of your post.
Unless you have a great hook already in mind, feel free to skip that for now and jump into the first body paragraph (see #7 below).
Use your outline as a guide and expand on all of your points until you feel you’ve explained the topic as best you can for your readers and answered any questions they might have.
Aim to write the very best piece of content ever written in your market. You should thoroughly and completely solve the problems your audience is having based on the keywords you’re targeting with each blog post.
The more value you add in your blog posts and the more thoroughly you help your audience solve their problems, the more people will naturally share your articles with other people, leading to more links to your website, more traffic, and better search engine rankings.
Provide free downloads, checklists, and templates to make it easier for your readers to get results. Add helpful images and graphics to help them better understand the information they need to know.
Do additional research as necessary, and be sure to properly cite any sources that you use to write the post. Don’t try to edit while you’re writing; wait until you’ve completed your first draft.
8. Write a killer intro.
You may have learned this little trick back when you started writing essays in grade school, but even if you didn’t like it back then, it can definitely help save you time when it comes to writing blog posts.
That’s because the introduction should be interesting enough to immediately hook your reader (without being too lengthy).
Because a great intro is so important, it will probably require a bit more thought and time, unless you already have something brilliant in mind (in which case, write it down, ASAP!).
So to avoid losing 45 minutes typing, deleting, and retyping again, just start by cutting straight to your main content, using the outline you made in Step 4.
As you write, some ideas will likely come to you for a solid intro, and when you’re done, you’ll know exactly what your post is about and how best to introduce it.
9. Write an excellent headline.
When brainstorming a working title for your article, start with the topic. For example, the topic of this post might simply be “blogging.” The working title could be “How to Write a Blog Post.”
Think about your target keywords when writing a headline. What problem are you solving for the reader? How would they search for an answer to that problem online?
Then, you can get more specific or creative in the subhead. For example, one of our posts is titled, “Where to Donate Books: 11 Places to Give Away Your Old Reads.” The main keyword for that post was “where to donate books,” while the subhead provides more specific information about what will be included in the post.
You can also try using a blog post title generator. Some will generate hundreds of title options to choose from, while others provide insight into the quality of your title and offer suggestions on how to improve it.
10. Proofread and format your post.
Once everything is written, do a thorough proofread of your post. Check for any typos and misspellings, and ensure that there are no ambiguities that might confuse or mislead your readers. All of your points should be clear—don’t make readers guess what you’re trying to say.
Then, it’s time to format your post in a way that’s neat, visually appealing, and optimized for SEO. Ideally, your post will contain subheads that organize the post, much like the flow of an outline. (If you’re using WordPress, you can use H2 and H3 headings and subheadings).
Scroll through your post and make sure the layout and formatting is intuitive and easy to follow. Also make sure that anything you want to link to has a link (and that it works!).
Add images where you think it makes sense to do so. Use free stock photo sites to find free images without copyrights, or do a Google Images search, click on “Tools,” then “Usage Rights,” and select “Labeled for Reuse.”
Also make sure that all links are functioning and lead to the right site, that you’ve checked your facts, and that you’ve chosen a category and tags (if applicable) in WordPress for your post.
11. Optimize your post.
Optimizing a blog post is such a large topic that it warrants an entire post (or more) of its own, but we’ll start by covering some basic on-page SEO bases that you should cover.
- Create Your Page Title and Headers: Always try to include your exact target keyword in the post’s main title, then in one of your headers (H2).
- Write a Meta Description: Ideally, your meta description (the description below the post’s page title on Google’s search results page) will start with a verb and also contain your exact keyword once, as well as related keywords, when it makes sense to include them.
- Include Image Alt Text: “Alt text” is used within an HTML code to describe the appearance and function of an image on a page. It also provides better image descriptions to search engine crawlers, helping them to properly index an image. Include at least one image in every blog post. Add a unique keyword that’s relevant to your blog post in the alt text.
- Edit Your URL: Your URL (or “slug”) should include your target keyword, and in most cases, should not simply be the full title of your post—that’s probably way too long. Aim for 5 words max. It should be easy enough for people to remember or type in manually if they need to, so take out any unnecessary words. You don’t need a proper sentence here.
Another tip: Don’t try to cram in keywords in every crevice you find. Their inclusion should feel natural and flow with the rest of your content. If it feels like to much of a stretch to make a keyword work, it probably is, and your readers will pick up on that awkwardness (and maybe even assume you don’t know how to write).
You can also use tools like Page Optimizer Pro, which helps identify opportunities for improvement in your post’s on-page SEO. Check out this interview with Kyle Roof, the software’s creator, who explains how it works.
12. Publish your post.
Congratulations! You’ve brainstormed, researched, written, edited, and optimized—now it’s time to publish your post so you can share it with the world!
When it comes to scheduling, it’s important to be consistent. Think about how often you’d like to post—every day, or only on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays?
Try to vary the content you post each day or week (i.e., don’t post 3 list posts in a row). You may also find it very helpful to create an editorial calendar so you know exactly what you need to write when you sit down to create a post.
How Do You Structure a Blog Post?
Your blog post should begin with a clear introduction, then follow a structure like that of an outline.
Put the most important information toward the top of your post, and include headers or other elements (like bullets) that will help readers to easily find the information they are looking for.
Download our blog post structure template to see an example of how you should build your blog post.
Tip: Keep paragraphs short!
The average paragraph length in a blog post is usually much shorter than what you’d find in a novel or other types of publications. (No 5-sentence rule here!)
In general, 1-2 sentences per paragraph will suffice. You’ll want your post to be easy to read, and you also don’t want to overwhelm or discourage your readers with too many words crammed together. So yes, size matters!
How Many Words Is a Blog Post?
In order to rank well in search engines, a blog post should be at least 300 words in length.
Longer posts tend to rank more easily than shorter ones, mainly because in longer posts, there are more opportunities to mention keywords (without awkwardly stuffing them in), as well as images that are tagged with that word.
However, longer posts also require strong writing skills. Many amateur writers might struggle to write a 1,000-word post (or more) that’s still readable and flows easily.
That’s why it’s important to format your blog post in a way that’s easy for readers to follow, breaking the text up when you can with images, graphics, bullets, headers, and other features.
How Much Does It Cost to Start a Blog?
However, if you use a free platform, you won’t technically own your site. Instead, you can create a self-hosted WordPress blog.
In this case, your essential costs will include:
- A domain name (which you can get for around $10/year)
- Hosting (costs can vary greatly, but a basic web host can set you back about $50-$70/year.
Total Cost: $60-80/year
Then, of course, there are dozens of optional expenses that you may or may not be interested in, from premium WordPress themes, to email list providers and more.
If you haven’t started one yet, be sure to check out our guide on how to start a website, which includes the most important things you should consider before going live.
Why Blogs Matter in Business
Having hundreds or thousands of popular blog posts on your website will help you build your brand, generate a river of steady and consistent traffic, and help you become a thought leader in your field.
Having a successful blog also allows you to diversify your income streams through building a bigger email list, affiliate marketing, hosting ads on your website, and much more.
You might also attract more joint venture and affiliate partners to promote your products and services, bring you interview, media, and PR opportunities, and maybe even a lucrative book deal from a major publisher.
Your blog can be a powerful tool for connecting with an audience and making your voice heard. It also gives you the power to help others by providing information, entertainment, or inspiration.
Whether blogging is a hobby or a valuable marketing strategy for you, always strive to produce the best content possible for your readers using tips like the ones above.
Did you find this post helpful? Let us know in the comments below!
If you enjoyed this post, then you might also like:
- How to Start a Blog: 8 Things to Consider Before Going Live
- Why You Should Start Writing a Blog before Writing a Novel
- Author Blog Tours: What Are They and How Can You Plan Your Own?
- 10 Free Online Blogging Courses
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