Swimming through the blog flooded Internet to search for good content can be difficult. If you’re having trouble finding blog posts full of sunken treasure, your audience might have the same challenge when exploring your blog, too.
But writing a good blog post doesn’t happen instantly. A little time, effort, and structure will help you. So if you already know who your target audience is and what topics are popular and time-sensitive, dive right into the following eight steps to help you write a compelling blog post.
Step 1: Dig for data
Once you decided on a topic or received a topic to write, the first step to composing a blog post is gathering your data. But before you research, think about the things that you already know about the topic. Write those phrases and keywords down in a document, and use them to help you during your exploration of the Internet.
Grab your gear and start searching the web for reputable sources of information, and look to see what points are in the articles that you did not know previously. Some facts may be surprising, so dive deeper into unfamiliar territory.
As you are exploring, remember that curiosity is key. So when researching, make sure you put your journalist cap on. If you have questions about a topic, look it up.
Don’t skim the surface of any detail you want to include in your post or your readers could fall into the potential trap of confusion. Who wants to read information that isn’t presented clearly? No one. Take the time to find more sources about a particular topic so that you and your readers can fully understand it.
And if you come across a site that has questionable data, see if you can find a reliable source that writes the same conclusion. Finding resources with correct information is key to anything you write. And if you find data that has a bias toward one side, you will want to find out what the other side is saying, too. Finding data for both sides of the story is pertinent for informational-based posts.
While you will pick a side for persuasive or commentary pieces, it is still important to describe valid points from the other side, as well. You just have to word your sentences appropriately to convince the reader that your side is better even if the other side does provide valid points.
Even for feature pieces, you need to gather additional information besides what you learned through an interview with a person. Finding information from websites and from people who know them well (Think family, friends, co-workers, etc.) will create a well-rounded piece.
So now that you have completed your research expedition, hide all of your findings.
Step 2: Bury your treasure to get organized
Closing your notebooks and powering down your computer are the next steps before writing your story. You should put all of your research away so that you can describe what you just learned to a friend, a family member, or someone else.
Typically, when you verbally describe an interview you recently conducted or the research you just found, you start out with the most important information first. What follows is what is next in line in importance.
Don’t worry about the details you can’t remember because that will come later. Right now, you just need the skeleton of the story.
Once you have created the story in verbal form, you can retrieve your concealed findings to fill in the gaps and form a written blog post.
Step 3: Navigate through your journey with strategy
Before you retrieve your research, write down the story you recently said out loud. Once the simplified version is written out, go back through your notes and add any details or statistics that you may have forgotten in the previous step. Add supporting statements from your sources and double check to ensure that you wrote what they said exactly. You do not want a potential law suit waiting for you if you include incorrect information.
After all the meat has been added to the bones of your story, follow the next course of points and check off each that are applicable to your blog post.
Hook your readers with the first words
So you have written out all the important information, especially the most important at the beginning of the article. Now what? Refine your beginning. The beginning is what draws readers in, so create a sentence that will leave your readers wanting to learn more.
Capture a novelist’s talent
If you have a feature piece, start your article like a novel or a movie. Some immediately start with a conflict and intensify it. Others will paint the background that leads up to the big change in a person’s life. No matter which way you choose, be sure that it keeps readers wanting to read your story.
Be notorious for writing like you talk
One of the easiest ways to write is to write the same way you talk. The story will be more authentic, and you will not struggle coming up with sentences.
Of course, you will probably have to refine the piece so that it matches the voice of the company, but write like you talk in your first draft.
But don’t abandon the style you’re supposed to use
So you wrote a great piece. But did you check to make sure it followed the style you were supposed to write in? Was it an informational piece? Persuasive? What point of view are you supposed to write it in? Double-check how you are supposed to write the article or you might have to rewrite the entire piece.
Write sentences that are worth reading
Write sentences that people want to read. Sentences that add meaning and purpose to the story are what to include. Avoid adding fluff to make the story a certain length. Readers don’t care if you didn’t meet a certain word count in a story. They only care about what the content is. So add valuable information that you would want to know if you were part of the target audience. All the rest is unnecessary.
While writing these interesting sentences, weave cliffhangers into your lines to make the readers ask, “What’s going to happen next?” Fascinating pieces make the reader want to continue with the article no matter what the subject is.
Step 4: Break down your information
How discouraging is it to see a blog post without any subheads or breaks? Blogs that have information thrown onto the page without any thought as to how it would be perceived by readers are not going to be read. Break up your data, or your readers might want to break up with you.
Create catchy subheads
One way to keep readers wanting to read more is through subheads. Subheads not only break up information into digestible pieces but also add personality and flair to the article.
Boldly shoot bullets next to important information
Using bulleted points and numbered items break up information and highlight key points. The visual distinction between listed items and regular text draws the eye toward the listed pieces. Make sure to include the most important data points at the beginning and at the end because according to the Content Marketing Institute, those will be the parts that are remembered most.
Another eye-catcher to keep in mind is bold text. Highlight key words and phrases by bolding them to create a visual flag for readers.
Slice up your paragraphs
The shorter the information, the less daunting it is to the reader. But that does not mean to cut out important details. It just means to break up your paragraphs so that information is easier to read and find.
Step 5: Anchor your data
While you’re writing your blog post, don’t forget about one of the most important items to include—links and citations. Be sure to link to articles within your site as well as to outside sources. It helps with SEO, credibility, and navigation.
Don’t trade your in-text citations for fool’s gold
For any information that is not readily available and widely known, in-text citations should be used. Whether it is a statistic or information from another website, citations are needed. They are especially needed if it involves a person who is quoted. Readers may question who said a particular quote if there is no attribution. And even if you did not interview that person, you must cite accordingly.
Flag your links
When linking internally (to another page within the same site) or externally (outside the company’s website), use focus on putting the link within the context of the sentence. Refrain from using links that are so direct that they seem like an advertisement. Subtly use links so that they flow within the article.
Step 6: Don’t be infamous for errors
Errors in grammar and punctuation can break your story and your credibility. Put some time and effort into one of the most important steps before submitting your story.
Don’t escape just yet. Read your story!
After you have written your story, read through your piece. But keep in mind that you need to read through it as if you did not know all of the information you just researched. What do you think? Are there sections that are missing information? Are you left thinking that you could have explained certain points more? Are you confused about anything you just read? If you answered yes to any of these questions, go back and fix the problems.
Don’t sabotage a great story
Editing for content is over, but editing for grammar and punctuation is not. Keep in mind that editing your story for grammar and punctuation is one of the most vital steps. If someone reads your article and notices any grammatical mistake, that person could disregard your information because you did not have the time to fix your errors. In addition, they might think that since your grammar and punctuation is incorrect, your resources might not be correct either.
Find resources that will help you find highly misspelled or misused words, and find guides that will help you brush up on your knowledge of grammar and punctuation. Once you have a certain set of points that you know you need to double check, you can successfully find them when you read through your piece one more time.
And when searching for resources to use, pick a stylebook or create a stylebook for your editing process.
Swab the deck once again
Once you have read your content once and fixed any problems, you need to reread your work. Sometimes when you fix a sentence, a paragraph, or a whole page, you might have missed something. Go back and read your story again and fix any changes. If you alter anything, you need to reread at least the section you just fixed.
Step 7: Reel in readers with a catchy headline
A headline is one of the first things that a reader will see when looking at your company’s blog page or at a search results page. Create a headline that is catchy. Informational pieces will have to use wit and puns while entertainment pieces could use sensationalism to grab readers’ attention. No matter what method you choose, come up with at least 10 different headlines that could be used. Play with the different headlines, and ask others to see what appeals to them best.
Step 8: Embark on your journey
Okay so this isn’t really a step about writing the post but more so a reminder that you are about to get started on the content marketing journey. By following steps one through seven, you will have created awesome content. Now you need to market this content! That topic is for another post and for another day.
Hope you enjoyed reading!