You can be a Pulitzer-winning writer and still produce an awful blog post. One of the biggest misconceptions about blogging is that anyone with a decent writing skill can do it. That’s why so many people try to hop on the trend and publish articles online.
About 70 million posts are published each month by WordPress users.
Not all of them succeed, but all of them definitely saturate the market, increasing the competition. Every day, it becomes more and more difficult to stand out from the crowd, and only the best blog authors stay afloat and winning.
If you want to be one of them and take advantage of your blog posts, you need to up your skill! Here’s how you can do that.
What Is a Blog Post?
A blog post is an entry (any sort of article) that you can publish in your blog. It can comprise different types of content - text, images, graphs, videos, etc. - and combinations thereof.
Depending on the content in it, the source of it, form and author, it’s possible to differentiate between the following types of blog posts (with an example of each in the NetHunt blog):
- Lists. A great way to streamline information, easy to share, extremely digestible.
- How-To Guides. Helpful, allow to establish expertise, attract lots of organic traffic.
- Checklists & Cheatsheets. Time-efficient, straight to the point, ready to use, get shared a lot.
- Infographics. Raise brand awareness, easy to repurpose, visual, easy to make.
- Interviews. Great for influence marketing, generate lots of traffic, easy to write, require outreach skills to create.
- Guest Posts. Collaborative, don’t require active writing on your side (if someone submitting posts for your blog).
- News Articles. Short, informative, need to be written promptly while the news in question is hot.
- Personal Stories. Very opinionated, reflect on a process from a personal perspective.
- Case Studies. Include lots of insights, statistical information, take a long time to write.
It’s absolutely okay for you to prefer some types of blog posts over the others. It’s also okay for you to act on your preferences and publish more of the posts you like. Perhaps, you find them easier to write, they bring you more traffic or you just think they fit the style of your platform best. You can use it to your advantage and build your brand around it. In fact, it’s a fairly common practice for bloggers to focus on creating just one format of posts to get known for them. For example, there are portals that publish just interviews or just news articles.
At the same time, this approach to blogging is only effective if you’re interested in establishing yourself in a very specific niche. Only ever publishing one type of blog posts limits the traffic you can potentially garner as you narrow down the audience you target. If you’re looking to appeal to a broader audience, I recommend to mix it up every now and again and introduce different formats into your blog.
🔥 NetHunt Pro Tip: Use a strategic approach to deciding on the type of blog post you want to publish next.
The secret knowledge is that different blog post formats serve a different purpose. Therefore, instead of taking a shot in the dark with your next publication, you need to align it with your business intention:
- If you’re looking to increase your brand awareness, you should go for case studies, checklists and infographics. These posts generate the most shares on social media and are frequently referenced in other articles.
The use of the word ‘How’ instead of ‘Why’ in the headline of a blog post increases the CTR by 37%.
- If you’re interested in boosting traffic, opt for how-to guides. A weird thing about modern society is that we believe we already know all the why’s. There’s a noticeable disparity between the ‘how’ searches and ‘why’ searches - the former ones are almost twice as popular! You should use this knowledge to your advantage and provide your readers with a step-by-step guide every time you want to see an increase in organic traffic.
- If you want to increase conversions and promote products, write a list post. There’s a reason why lists are the favourite type of blog posts in affiliate marketing - you can easily put a nifty little CTA and encourage people to click the link to the product after reading your entry.
Regardless of the type of blog post that you’re seeking to create, it’s essential for your entry to be of high quality. Here are some of the key attributes of great blog posts that draw a line between your regular entry and a star post that converts like crazy:
- Relevant. No matter how well-written your text is if it doesn’t appeal to your audience’s needs, it’s not going to receive the recognition it deserves.
- Useful. A great blog post always has a lot of value for its readers. In order to ensure that, you need to add actionable tips, insights and other information that can be helpful for your readers.
- Engaging. No matter how valuable the information you share is, it also needs to be presented well. Make sure your blog posts are easy to read and don’t bore your audience.
- Readable. It’s essential to ensure your posts are legible and fit in well with the style of your blog.
- Well-optimised. If you’re blogging for the mere purpose of sharing your thoughts and use your blog as a personal diary, you don’t have to worry about optimising your posts for search engines. Everyone else, on the other hand, should have SEO as their top priority. You need to keep your posts in check with the guidelines for the highest-ranked pages to ensure you get enough visibility in the SERPs.
It might seem like a lot of work, but it’s definitely worth it. Ensuring that your blog entries have all the aforementioned characteristics will make them good. Besides, once you master the process, it’ll become automatic.
NetHunt decided to help you with your blogging efforts and lift the curtains to our blog post writing process. Here’s how it goes at NetHunt!
What separates an average corporate blog post from a great corporate blog post is the amount of preparation included in the process of creating one. If you want your post to be successful, the process of crafting one should start way before you actually sit down and open your text editor to type it up.
Know Your Audience
Finding out who you’re writing for is step zero on your path to creating great blog posts. It’s likely that you don’t write for just one audience but rather direct different blog posts at different people. Keep it that way! But approach such all-inclusivity with caution.
🔥 NetHunt Pro Tip: 1 blog post = 1 audience segment.
In order to keep your writing consistent, you must settle down who your audience is and focus on satisfying their needs. You can’t target both newbie and experts - half of them will be confused, and the other half will be bored.
Besides, by finding out who your readers are and what they want to read about, you’ll be able to come up with the blog post topics that will be relevant to your target audience and, therefore, convert.
A famous saying goes, ‘Write What You Know’. That’s absolutely correct - the best performing blog posts are often the ones that provide lots of first-hand knowledge, give a valuable professional insight or just share a strong personal opinion on the subject. It’s easy to draw a line between a blog post written by a person with expertise in the area and the one who isn’t that experienced. The biggest clues to tell the difference are the way the information is presented: authors who know what they’re talking about will play with words, spark discussions and bring up daring ideas. On the other hand, those who aren’t that familiar with the topic will approach it with caution, only brushing on the surface.
Nonetheless, it’s impossible to know everything. Even as an industry expert, you still need to check for the new information and see what your competitors are doing (remember, you compete against them for the spot under the sun). Besides, researching the topic you want to cover will help you with an optimal headline and the keywords to include for search engine optimisation.
Some of the best tools for finding the keywords to target:
- KeywordTool.io. A free tool that lets you see the most popular searches by industry.
- Twitter Advanced Search. This feature allows you to see which questions people are asking in your industry.
- Quora. You can learn more about what questions are trending in your industry by browsing the relevant communities.
- SEMRush. A paid tool that analyses your competitors’ blog posts, their performance and helps you to create a word cloud of the keywords that drive the most traffic.
Map It Out
Writer’s block is real. No matter whether you’re a newbie in the world of blogging or are a recognised veteran blogger, there will be moments when you stare at a blank page not knowing where to start. There are billions of different reasons why your brain decided to go ‘brrr’ and wouldn’t let you meet the deadline. Regardless of what is the case with you, it’s important to overcome it promptly.
What you need to remember that there’s a difference between creative writing and blog post writing. While you still have to be original when jotting down your next blog entry, you don’t have to reinvent the wheel. When writing a blog post, you can follow a basic structure!
This is why you need an outline for your article. What I personally do is come up with the headers for each chunk of information I want to include in my article before I start writing. Then, I break it up into smaller chunks, subheaders, until I’m satisfied with the level of detail. Eventually, I end up with a detailed structure of my future article, which I can convert into an actual piece of writing by simply elaborating on each point.
Compose an Attention-Grabbing Headline
Now that you have your topic and a working title for your post, it’s time to start putting your blog together. A good name is better than a girdle of gold. In the case of blog posts, this proverb can be interpreted literally.
The headline allows your readers to form the first impression of the post to come, and make an executive decision of whether or not to read it. That’s why you need to really put your mind to it and craft a title that will encourage people to choose your particular post over thousands of alternatives.
To catch the reader’s attention, a blog post headline has to be interesting, descriptive and engaging. If you’re writing specifically a corporate blog post, it’s also important to make sure that your creative headline is also well-optimised for search engines.
Hence, click-worthy titles should:
- include the primary keyword;
- demonstrate a benefit to the reader.
You can either demonstrate a benefit explicitly (‘How to Write Great Blog Posts’) or implicitly (‘Rookie Mistakes That Stop You from Writing Great Blog Posts’).
Some of the best practices for creating attention-grabbing headlines are:
1. Include numbers.
A couple of digits can instantly boost your post’s performance and create lots of additional meaning. For instance, small numbers can suggest relative simplicity or insignificance, while large numbers can suggest complexity or substantiality.
2. Accentuate the relevance of your post by adding a mention of the current year. Using the current year helps to reinforce the timeliness of your content.
3. Use power words.
Words with strong emotional implications and connotations are more conspicuous than neutral ones. Example. Awesome, Phenomenal, Breathtaking, Toxic, Shocking.
4. Engage your senses. You can attract your audience’s attention by using sensory words to attend to their feelings on a subconscious level.
5. Less is more. You don’t need a lot of words to engage your audience. Sometimes, it’s better to trim the fat.
🔥 NetHunt Pro Tip: Finalise your headline before you dive into writing the main body of your blog post.
There’s a rather heated debate surrounding the topic of when is the appropriate time to get your headline in check. Some bloggers believe that you should write the article first, and then summarise it in the headline. However, I think that it’s better to do the other way round. Finalising your title first will give you a sense of direction and help you structure your ideas better. If you go into writing the post without actually knowing what you’re writing about, you risk losing your trail of thought quickly.
🔥 NetHunt Pro Tip: Try to incorporate a pun into your headline.
This one is majorly a personal preference, but I’m pretty sure this is something a lot of people would agree with. Blog posts with exciting, witty titles immediately sand out from the rest and immediately heat up readers’ interest.
The headline of the blog post sets out the voice of the article and creates certain expectations. When readers see a clever headline, they immediately think that the contents of the post will match and click on it in anticipation of a good read.
Just remember to not prioritise rhymes and alliteration over making sense. If your headline sounds cool but doesn’t actually deliver any message, dump it and go for a slightly duller yet more informative option.
Hook Your Readers With a Captivating Opening Paragraph
One of the world’s most famous copywriting virtuosos Eugene Schwartz would often spend an entire week writing the first 50 words of a sales piece — the headline and the opening paragraph. Does it sound a little extreme to you?
You might not be the next Eugene Schwartz yet, but this is exactly the scenario where you should fake it till you make it. Your intro is the next most important part after the headline. You only have a couple of paragraphs to hook your reader and make them want to read on.
Considering that the attention span of modern readers is not that large, it’s best if you go straight into it.
Some of the best ideas for opening paragraphs are:
- Use a compelling stat. Incorporating a shocking statistic from a trustworthy source can make your readers interested in what you are going to talk about in the article and encourage them to keep reading.
- Tell an anecdote. Sharing personal experiences is one of the best ways to engage the reader. Make it truly unique by telling something no other blogger has ever told their readers before. Spilling the tea is your one-way ticket to hooking the reader.
- Ask a rhetorical question. Ome questions don’t need answers yet still should be asked. Ask your readers something unconventional. This will entice them to read on - they’ll be intrigued by whether you give the answer in the body of your article, and if so, is it similar to their opinion.
- Use a literary trope such as a simile, a metaphor or an analogy. Explain one thing through another thing to add some spice to your intro.
- Invoke the mind’s eye. Turn to the reader directly through using the words like ‘imagine’, ‘remember’ and ‘picture this’.
Think About Your Supporting Points
There isn’t much to say about the actual ‘meaty part’ of your blog post apart from the fact that it should be juicy, so to say if we’re keeping up with the food simile.
The general trend is: go big or go home!
1,500+ word posts receive 68% more tweets and 22% more Facebook likes than the blog posts with fewer than 1,500 words.
Lengthier copies are known to generate more traffic and generally attract more attention from the readers. The only way to write a longer article is to incorporate more information into it.
While it doesn’t mean that you have to compress every little bit of information there is on the subject and cramp it into your blog post, you definitely should look at the question from different perspectives. Providing several points of view and adding supporting evidence to back them up will go a long way.
Just remember that your points don’t have to be overly complicated. The beauty of blogging is that it explains difficult concepts in simple terms.
🔥 NetHunt Pro Tip: Include real-life examples and reference case studies to illustrate your points.
If you want your writing to be more convincing, try to find a real-life example that would fit in with what you’re talking about. People tend to believe what they see.
Include a Compelling Call-to-Action
Once you’re done writing your story, you have to think about the way to wrap it up. What you need is a neat call to action that will tie your introduction, body and conclusion in nicely.
The only requirement when it comes to CTA is to not be vague. You’ve spent so much time writing this blog post - what for? Direct your readers and tell them what you want them to do next. Either that would be asking for a response, an action such as sharing or commenting on the post, or just to reflect on what they’ve just read… Go for it!
Give your audience something to take away.
Go Back to Your Article
Finally! The last of your writing is done and you’re no longer staring at a blank Docs page. Congrats! You’re halfway through it.
Yes, that wasn’t a typo. Even after doing all the necessary research, coming up with a title, drafting the outline for the post, and writing up the actual article you’re still only halfway there. What you’ve just produced is just the first draft of the article to get published.
Look at the following post:
By the looks of the guy in red, you can already tell I’m about to slaughter this particular copy (no shade to whoever created it).
If your article looks anything like this, I have bad news for you. Since readability is one of the key attributes of a great blog post, it’s essential for you to avoid bland text-walls at all cost! This is exactly what the author of the article in question has missed: while the information provided might be top-notch, the presentation of it leaves much to be desired.
Ask yourself the following questions:
- How easy is it to read?
- How visually engaging is the post?
- How well does it answer your readers’ questions?
- How will it keep attracting more traffic?
If you can’t give a satisfactory answer to one or more questions above, you need to review your article and fix it up.
Some of the best tips and tricks to help you keep your blog posts visually appealing and your writing concise are:
- Make your writing more conversational to increase its readability.
There’s a huge difference between academic writing and writing blog posts. The former ones are talking at the reader, while the latter talk with the reader, You want to establish a conversation between you and your audience, which means you need to make your posts sound the way they would if you were talking. You can start by using contractions, using shorter sentences and smaller words. You can also incorporate slang.
43% of people admit to skimming blog posts.
- Structure your posts using headers and subheaders.
Not everyone reads the article from beginning to end, some people prefer to jump straight to the part they’re most interested in. If it’s difficult to find, you’re risking losing those readers as they will just look for the answer elsewhere.
- Use bullet-points.
Bullet-points and lists are great for streamlining and ordering large chunks of text.
- Break up your text with relevant images, graphs and quotes.
Now that your initial reflection is complete, you can go further with brushing up your article. You can either do it yourself or delegate the task to a professional proofreader who’ll make your blog post look exceptionally pretty.
Some of the things to consider at the final stage of writing great blog posts include:
- Check how the article flows. Read it out loud and see if everything reads well.
- Fix any grammar mistakes. Your article must be squeaky clean when it comes to grammatical error. Just a couple of misused ‘your’ and ‘you’re’ can ruin your image and take away from your authority.
- Remove excess words. Not going to lie, this is something I’m guilty of, but you need to remember the fewer words it takes to deliver an idea, the more powerful it is.
- Fact check. You don’t want any embarrassing mishaps to happen - double-check all the info you use.
Creating great blog posts isn’t hard if you approach the process wisely. Success can be contained within a simple formula and a set of rules. All you have to do is follow them (and occasionally break them, of course, because who doesn’t like a rebel)!