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HOW TO WRITE A DAMN GOOD BLOG POST
You are a writer or at least you are on your way of becoming one. You are pumped with excitement about your new project and that’s awesome! A blog is a cool way to update people with the news about your life, share your thoughts on world events and specific topics of your expertise or simply express yourself through writing. Yet you still know you need to make an effort in order to keep readers coming back and build a community surrounding your content.
Does it sound a bit intimidating? Don’t worry. I built this guide to teach you how to overcome that feeling and knock it out of the park with outstanding blog posts that will captivate readers and make you and people you care proud.
Know Your Reasons to Have a Blog
Why do you write? What makes your fingers type and do you feel anything while you do it? This are a couple of questions you should ask yourself when starting a blog. The other one is “Did I leave the stove on?”. I know from personal experience.
Just as me, a lot of people have the motivation to share their expertise, yet there are other reasons that could boost your creative urge. Communicating your story could be one of them.
You can also start a blog in search for recognition as a personal brand or as an extension of your business. There are actual bloggers out there who become famous and that’s incredible! Now you won’t have a bunch of people following you around unless you are Chiara Ferragni (and if you are, thanks for reading as usual Ms. Ferragni), though you could definitely make a name out of yourself and perhaps even monetize your content.
Finding a community is another nice motive to write. Interactivity stands right in the heart of blogging, since you write awesome content which people share and comment. This way, you have the chance to connect with people all over the globe who you might have never known otherwise. You could teach people from your experience and learn from theirs as your content gradually becomes a channel for empathy... and inside jokes!
After you figure out your motivation for the blog, there is still a couple things you should know before publishing content.
What You Should Do Before Writing Your First Article
There’s a question that haunts every blogger’s mind when they are starting out: “What should I blog about?” Like my doctor told me in my last visit: “The possibilities are endless”.
Nothing kills a blog post faster than a lack of energy and emotion in a writer’s voice. A bored writer equals a bored reader. Therefore, my strongest suggestion is you to pick a topic that sparks real interest in you.
1. Write about Your Hobbies and Passions
Fashion, business, travel, sports, cars, movies, books and video games are all classic examples. But don’t be afraid to express yourself about weirder topics like pimple popping or... crossfit.
2. Share Your Life Experiences
Stories have value and everyday lessons are important. I’m sure you have valuable life lessons and unique experiences that can serve as common ground with other people.
3. Personalize It
A personal blog builds up your personality as a brand . Though you may write about different topics, in the end it is all about you and your opinions. People might find them deep or amusing and it is all great. Just be yourself! Authentic and cool.
Above all, you want your topics to be relevant and you need to understand your audience in order to understand this. Think how your post could solve a problem, answer a key question for the readers or offer a different angle.
4. Use Evergreen Content
Longevity is another aspect to keep an eye on. It works better if most (or all) your posts are evergreen content. This means, the content can remain relevant and useful for readers many years from now.
5. Choose Actual Subject
Pick a subject you enjoy researching to provide fresh content that is meaningful and updated, so your blog always feels interesting and relevant. Regardless of which you choose, I suggest you go with one you wouldn’t mind debating with others. You are going to find all types of readers: from people who agree with you, to those who respectfully disagree and those... those... those insufferable trolls.
Your blog topics should enable you to speak freely. Successful content creators enjoy (or at least accept) discussing their posts from all angles and it works better if you appreciate a bit of healthy debate and feedback. That way, you’ll grow along with your community... and if a troll gets to obnoxious, send me an email and I’ll give you Liam Neeson’s phone number. Just don’t tell him I gave it to you.
“So far so good. Is there any other big decision I should make or can i start writing now?” I’m glad you ask... but yes there is definitely another big decision you should make! And that is…
6. Pick the Right Name
Naming a blog is like naming a dog. A good name seems friendly and most people will like to come by and pet your animal for a while, perhaps even scratch its belly. A bad name could lead people to think your blog is about to bark at them.
The proper blog name should be descriptive. That way, potential readers can tell upfront what it is all about. So if you already have a topic, then you could proceed with a few related words or a phrase.
In case you are planning to publish a personal blog, then your name is the best possible title for the site 99% of the time. The remaining 1% happens when your name is already taken by a character or celebrity. I’m sorry, Mr. Peter Parker from Chennai, India.
The Actual Writing Process
Writing a blog post is an art that requires practice and patience to truly master. So it’s okay if you feel a bit stuck in the beginning. The entire process of writing a blog post takes more than a couple of hours, no matter your typing speed. You could spend several days or maybe even a week writing, since the act of thinking and conceiving your content counts as actual work too.
It might seem overwhelming. Here are a few tips to make the writing process easier for you.
Plan Your Blog Post with an Outline and Prior Research
Great content does not appear out of nothingness. I mean, even Gangnam Style had planning, we just never saw it coming. This advice will remain handy even when you become an expert blogger.
Whether you write your outline in a separate doc, a piece of paper or even a smoke signal (one never knows), it’s the best way to keep you focused on structure. Outlines provide honest limits since they stop you from deviating too much from the central topic with completely off-topic opinions.
On the other hand, remember that research is the big secret behind professional bloggers. Sometimes we don’t have much of a clue before we engage in the process, yet it is that fiery curiosity the one to take us to new heights. Research adds layers of depth to your content and it provides the security that you have enough to say about the subject.
The trick is to have fun researching and writing with authority about the subject, so readers think: “Hey, this person really know what he/she is talking about. I’ll stop watching Friends to make some time and read the blog.”
Craft Awesome and Honest Headlines
“Case study” type headlines which start with “This is how Company X made Z…” often grab people’s attention. The same goes for “how-to” and lists angles that attract those looking to accomplish a similar objective. If you are going for a question, be sure to write one that truly captivates and generates interest.
The Internet is already filled with click-bait headlines, readers are realizing it and sites are losing traffic everyday. It’s important to remain honest at all times.
Write the Post
Just do it. It will become easier with practice. Perhaps it takes you a week per post at first, but after a few months it could only take you six days... or just a few hours.
Either write an entire first draft in one sitting or write gradually over a couple of days. Don’t take too long though. And if you do decide to divide your workflow, try to get as much as possible on each writing session so you stay focus and write it the fastest you can. Revising your text many times increases the temptation to add more and more and more and more and more and more and more text.
Sorry, I wrote the prior line in four sessions.
“Keep your friends close and your enemies closer, sentences short and paragraphs shorter”, The Godfather 2 .
Writing for the Internet is different than other forms of writings. Here, huge walls of text keep the casual reader away. If you want to keep your audience engaged, try to be concise and break the text in shorter paragraphs.
Write in assertive prose and avoid using a passive language. You can support your angle with anecdotes, research and witty insights. If the theme really moves you, write with passion. Share details and be honest. Readers can feel that and they love it as much as kids love cake.
“Good writing is cake for the mind and heart”... you’ll see that one someday in inspirational quotes lists.
Try writing the same way you speak as you would in a conversation with a close friend. You want to make the posts feel natural to the readers and blogging is the writing form that resembles most to actual talking. This is why sometimes readers feel like they “know the person” behind the blog. Other times they are just stalkers...
Be aware of those.
By now you’ve probably heard of search engine optimization (SEO) and how implementing it boosts your traffic that comes through search engines such as Google.
Let’s be honest, mostly Google.
You can start with a quick keyword research to find which ones related to your topic drive the most traffic. Then focus on incorporating those keywords into your blog posts, title, links and images Alt-tags.
The beauty of online content writing comes from the chance readers have to participate in conversation and feel like they are creators too. Promoting comments make users feel welcome to your blog’s community, so they come back and tell their friends and family about your site. They feel the love and you’ll feel it too.
I would recommend WordPress as the best website builder in sense of blogging and related commenting.
“Awesome! But are blog posts all about written text?”
Most certainly not, my dear Watson.
Add Images to Make Your Articles Funner
Images make long pieces easier to digest and understand with diagrams, infographics, tables and so on. Also, pictures can provide a funny punch line for a joke written right before.
Edit Your Blog Post
Last but no least, you should edit your blog posts before going public. Make sure you avoid repetition, read it out loud even if it feels a bit off and ask a friend to provide some feedback. You don’t need to be a perfectionist, though you should remember to correct grammar and spelling mistakes because I’m sure there will be some Grammar Nazis out there waiting to catch something and comment about it.
After you make the corrections, give your post a final proofread. All good? Great! Now you can publish and become famous!
BONUS: A Few Tips if You Need Some Help with Writer’s Block
We all suffer from writer’s block and that’s ok. I get that. I myself took 3 years to write this post... Well, maybe not 3 years but it sure took quite a while. Here are a few tips to overcome it:
- Eliminate distractions.
- Walk it out.
- Run. Forrest. Run... it will get your blood flowing.
- Play. Sports, video games, LEGO. Anything works really.
- Change your environment.
- Listen to music. Try classical music or jazz to enhance focus or Lorde to cry while you are writing.
- Make some coffee (this is a must).
- Read some inspiring quotes to get you started. I’ll give you one to get you start: “Good writing is cake for the mind and heart”.
I sincerely hope you find this guide useful and I wish you the best of luck on your post!