When writing a blog post for the first time knowing what to write or even where to start can be like trying to find a needle in a haystack… by that I mean very difficult.
With that in mind I’m going to share some tips and proven techniques used by bloggers that have helped me when writing this very blog post!
1. Thoroughly research your chosen topic.
Now we both know that research is important when you want to write a blog. Whether due to time constraints, knowledge of a subject or laziness this process that can often be rushed over or neglected, which can result in information being misleading or outright wrong. Don’t do this!
One of the worst things you can do as a blogger is to misinform your readers as it reduces the trust between the writer and the reader, in turn harming the writers’ reputation and credibility. You only need to search in the news for “Donald Trump Disinfectant” to see the impact of such a debacle.
With this in mind, it is very easy to avoid this mistake altogether by using several different credible sources in order to ensure that you support your knowledge base. Needless to say, when I began writing this article, I used a multitude of different resources from around the web.
However, even if you have done your research it is still possible for a mistake to slip through. If this happens, by far, the best thing you can do is own up to it and correct the mistake it if you can.
2. Create a plan.
A plan is an excellent piece of framework when you come to write your first blog. A great plan can help with creating every aspect of the post from images to headings and even the content itself.
Using the notes from your research, you can build the framework of your piece which will really help when you begin writing. From this you can break down each point creating a heading, subheadings and bullet points.
Personally, I like to compile all of my thoughts, ideas and research notes into one mind map, expanding the branches and developing my points. I like this method as I’m a visual person and it allows me to have all my ideas in front of me on one page.
However, you may find different methods useful, so my advice would be to experiment with different types of plans until you can find something that works well for you.
3. Write for your audience.
If you’re not writing for your audience… then who are you writing for?
When coming up with a new blog post idea, you need to think what will attract your audience. You need to meet their needs, provide them with something of value!
If you know your audience, you should have an idea of their needs and wants. Using an audience persona can be great for this as you can write as if you are addressing that persona directly.
Additionally, when writing you should address your audience using “you, your or yours”. This creates a more personal feel to the blog, as you are directly addressing them, creating a more human experience.
If you’re struggling for ideas, the keyword research tool or trends as these show the popularity of your search terms. This lets you find the right keywords and phrases used by your audience and the demand for this type of content.
4. Finding the right headline.
You can only create a first impression once… No Pressure.
The headline is a key component of the blog and can be a deciding factor whether someone will read your piece, so finding the right headline can be difficult and overall stressful ordeal.
Creating the right headline is a combination of finding something that will immediately grip the reader, enticing them to continue reading, and using the correct keyword or phrase to ensure you are finding the right audience members.
The article should intrigue the reader enough to continue reading and the key to achieving this is to make it interesting for your target audience:
- It should clearly define the subject that the blog will cover
- Include an interesting and relatable fact or statistic
- Ask an interesting question
- Use parentheses or brackets to add in additional details and variety
Even with these in mind it can be difficult to know where to get started. Looking at what your competitors are doing, is a great way to inspire your own ideas. For example, when you search “how to write a blog” into google, you get these results.
This allows you to see who your top-ranking competitors are. This gives you many opportunities to see what they are doing so that you can do it better.
If you are still struggling for headlines you may find it useful to note down several headings rather than just one as it is a great way to brainstorm your ideas. I used this myself, for example my choices were: (provide Examples)
5. Have a strong introduction and conclusion.
An effective introduction and conclusion are essential for any blog post but knowing where to start can sometimes feel impossible…
That’s why you write it at the end. Writing the Introduction (and Conclusion) at the end makes the job of writing them much less difficult, as you already know what you have written, allowing you to better reinforce the ideas you have shared.
Similarly, to the headline, the purpose of the introduction is to entice the readers into reading the blog the whole way through. How good the hook is will affect how popular the blog is (and if you’re reading this far it shows that mine must have worked).
Alongside a hook the introduction should contain a summary of the blog to let the readers know what the piece is about. This way your audience will know if the article is something they would want to read, which hopefully it is.
On the other hand, the conclusion is a great way to leave a lasting impression on your readers once they have finished reading your piece, that makes them want to come back for more.
Personally, I find adding a short but sweet summary of the topic a great way for the piece to come to a close. Additionally, adding questions at the end can be a great way to include audience engagement (just remember if you include this you should be ready to engage with them too in the comments).
However, there is plenty more you can do by adding your own opinions on the subject, asking the reader to share your post or even allude to a future related post, all are great ways to end your piece.
6. Make it something you would want to read/ aesthetically pleasing / don’t make it boring.
If you don’t want to read something you have written, then why do you expect your readers to?
While the piece needs to provide a significant level of value to the audience it also needs to be interesting. There are plenty of competitors out there, so you need to make sure you stand out.
With this in mind its important to make your blog post appealing and there are several ways to achieve this:
- Make the topic an interesting, useful, or educational subject matter for your audience
- Don’t use the same phrases all the time, take some time to spruce it up, add variety to stop yourself sounding like a broken record.
- Break up your text, so you don’t hit your readers with a wall of text (like mine was in my first draft)
- Use colours appropriately
- Make the images match the subject and tone
- Make sure the font is nice and easy to read (avoid ugly fonts Comic Sans, nobody likes that)
- Use headings and subheadings appropriately
- Use grammar and punctuation correctly (a point to be mentioned later)
7. Be Yourself
Be human. If you are a human, you should be writing like one! (unless you’re a robot, in that case write like one I suppose)
Now this is obviously a very cliché piece of advice, but it works. Allowing your personality to shine through provides a much better experience for your readers, remember your aim is to attract an audience not push them away.
Now I’m not saying use slang, you just need to make your piece interesting and not like reading through your website’s terms and conditions (and we all know how few readers they get).
8. Use correct grammar and punctuation.
The use of the correct grammar and punctuation shouldn’t need to be stated. However, I feel that I need to emphasise the importance of this point. If incorrect it can make the piece significantly difficult to read and understand, this could cause the message to not be fully understood or cause someone to stop reading the piece entirely.
Other than being good practice, the use of correct punctuation and grammar makes the piece significantly easier to understand, allowing you to convey your message much more successfully. And really it helps show that you know what you’re talking about. This has been made even easier in recent years due to the creation of writing tools such as Grammarly.
9. Optimise for SEO (and readability)
When you come to write your blog, ensuring that your post is properly Search Engine Optimised is essential. You could have written the best blog post ever but if it is not properly optimised that reduces the chance that anyone will ever find it!
With this in mind, knowing how to properly optimise your blog post is essential. According to Yoast, for your page to be perfectly optimised it must:
- Have internal links (linking to a page within your domain)
- Have outbound links (linking to a page outside of your domain)
- The key phrase should be between 1 and 5 words long
- Have your keyword or key phrase in the introduction
- Have a key phrase density of 0.5% to 2.5% (however this varies depending on the contents word count)
- The text length must exceed 300 words
- Have a unique keyword or phrase (making sure you’ve not used this key phrase once before on your website)
- The keyword or key phrase should be in some subheadings
- Have images
- Any images should have appropriate alt attributes
- The keyword or key phrase should appear in the meta description
- The exact match of the keyword or key phrase should appear in the title
10. Correct your own work
Being critical of your own work is an essential part of the writing process. Not only does it allow you to improve your existing piece, but it also allows you to further develop your own skills allowing you to notice your mistakes and how to act on them, letting you pick out the missing comma here, the wrong word there.
Don’t just use this opportunity for correcting punctuation and grammar, use it to improve the overall quality of the piece. Look for places where you may have gone a bit off topic, or items that you now feel you can explain better. This way you can ensure that the piece stays on topic and informative regarding the subject at hand.
Though you may feel that you are picking out your own faults, being critical of your work is by no means a negative process. Treat it as a learning opportunity and a way to hone your writing skills and increase the overall quality of your writing. Just because you are critiquing your own work doesn’t mean you only look at the bad, look at what you are doing well. This is a great way to help you realise your own skills and capabilities.
Don’t forget about writing tools, these can be great for grammar and punctuation mistakes. However, ensure that you don’t depend completely on them. Personally, I use Grammarly and have found that it makes this step significantly easier for you.
11. Get feedback from others
Even if you’ve read through your post a hundred times you could still miss mistakes or areas for improvement, as it can be very difficult to spot your own errors. This doesn’t mean that all is lost however, you can ask for someone else to provide you with feedback.
Having someone read through your work can be a great way to get that critical piece of feedback on your work and allows mistakes or improvements that might once have gone unnoticed, to be picked up. Especially if you are like me and relatively new to blogs and writing. Like with the previous point remember to treat this as the learning experience it is and to not get disheartened by the feedback.
Bear in mind not just to choose anyone as the more applicable skills they have the better the feedback will be. For example, for this piece I asked my friend Rebecca (Thanks by the way Rebecca), who is studying English Literature at university, for feedback. The feedback she gave me was great and an essential part of developing this piece.
12. Understand that the blog post will very rarely be perfect.
There gets to a point when writing a blog post that you might be running out of time or have already spent too much time writing it and it needs to be published. Just because the piece you have written isn’t perfect, doesn’t mean that it isn’t a great piece of content that doesn’t provide value to your readers. This is something you need to keep in mind, especially as other deadlines come up.
At the end of the day you want to provide a valuable experience to your readers that they won’t forget. These are just some great tips that I have personally found useful in my blog writing experience, especially during the writing of this blog. This was such a difficult post to make as there is just so much more useful information out there, and if there is any additional advice you would like to share leave it in the comments and I might add it in later!