Start by creating subheaders, which are the backbone of an organized outline. These small but mighty pieces of content help you break down your article into bite-sized sections – making it easier for you to write and more digestible for people to read.
How to Write an Awesome Blog Post in 5 Steps
Writing a blog post is a little like driving; you can study the highway code (or read articles telling you how to write a blog post) for months, but nothing can prepare you for the real thing like getting behind the wheel and hitting the open road. Or something.
Now that I’m done thoroughly mangling that vague metaphor, let’s get down to business. You know you need to start blogging to grow your business, but you don’t know how. In this post, I’ll show you how to write a great blog post in five simple steps that people will actually want to read. Ready? Let’s get started.
How to Write a Blog Post in Five Easy Steps [Summary]:
How to Write a Blog Post, Step 1: Planning
First, a disclaimer – the entire process of writing a blog post often takes more than a couple of hours, even if you can type eighty words per minute and your writing skills are sharp. From the seed of the idea to finally hitting “Publish,” you might spend several days or maybe even a week “writing” a blog post, but it’s important to spend those vital hours planning your post and even thinking about your post (yes, thinking counts as working if you’re a blogger) before you actually write it.
Long before you sit down to put digital pen to paper, you need to make sure you have everything you need to sit down and write. Many new bloggers overlook the planning process, and while you might be able to get away with skipping the planning stage, doing your homework will actually save you time further down the road and help you develop good blogging habits.
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Choose a Topic That Interests YOU
Before you do any of the following steps, be sure to pick a topic that actually interests you. Nothing – and I mean NOTHING – will kill a blog post more effectively than a lack of enthusiasm from the writer. You can tell when a writer is bored by their subject, and it’s so cringe-worthy it’s a little embarrassing.
I can hear your objections already. “But Dan, I have to blog for a cardboard box manufacturing company.” I feel your pain, I really do. During the course of my career, I’ve written content for dozens of clients in some less-than-thrilling industries (such as financial regulatory compliance and corporate housing), but the hallmark of a professional blogger is the ability to write well about any topic, no matter how dry it may be. Blogging is a lot easier, however, if you can muster at least a little enthusiasm for the topic at hand.
You also need to be able to accept that not every post is going to get your motor running. Some posts will feel like a chore, but if you have editorial control over what you write about, then choose topics you’d want to read – even if they relate to niche industries. The more excited you can be about your topic, the more excited your readers will be when they’re reading it.
Write an Outline For Your Post
Outlines keep you honest. They stop you from indulging in poorly thought-out metaphors about driving and keep you focused on the overall structure of your post. Sometimes I’ll write a more thorough outline (and sometimes I won’t bother with one at all), but most of the time, something like the outline above is perfectly acceptable.
Do Your Research
One of the biggest secrets professional bloggers (myself included) don’t want you to know is that we don’t actually know everything. Truth be told, sometimes we don’t know anything about a topic before we sit down to write about it.
This doesn’t mean that all bloggers are insincere fakers. On the contrary, many bloggers’ natural curiosity is what makes them great at what they do. If you blog for a living, you have to be comfortable jumping from one topic to the next, even if you don’t know anything about it. What allows us to do this, and to write authoritatively about subject areas that are new to us, is knowing how to properly research a blog post.
It almost goes without saying, but relying solely on Wikipedia as a primary source is almost always a bad idea. Yes, Wikipedia does have thousands of excellently researched articles, but it’s not infallible, and erroneous facts do make their way into articles without site editors noticing. Plus, every verifiable fact on the site is cited from links elsewhere on the web, so why cite the middleman?
If you’re relying on third-party information to write your blog post, choose authoritative sources. Official associations, government websites, heavily cited research papers, and preeminent industry experts are all good examples. Nobody is right all the time, though, so approach every source with a the practiced skepticism of a journalist and question everything until you’re positive your information is solid.
Check Your Facts
A few years ago, I edited a piece written by a colleague focusing on the highlights of a major technology conference. The writer, under a seriously tight deadline, had done a bang-up job of writing great copy in virtually no time, but he failed to properly check his facts. He cited an article from Forbes in which the writer claimed Steve Jobs was using PowerPoint on stage – something that never happened. It was lazy journalism on the part of the Forbes writer, and an easy mistake to make on my colleague’s part, but the result was the same; one poorly researched article directly impacted another because both writers failed to do their due diligence.
How to write a blog post
When writing a blog post, whether it’s you’re guest posting for someone else or writing for your own blog, you’ll want to cover topics that bring value to your readers and fall in line with their interests, as well as your own. Rather than trying to find the perfect topic right away, start by jotting down different ideas that come to mind.
Once you find some interesting ideas online, think about the unique ways you can approach those topics. Consider the various ways you can play around with topic ideas to come up with something that isn’t only trendy and relevant, but that’s also original and fresh.
Step #4: Flesh Out Your Outline In Record Time
I suggest putting on some concentration music and diving into the outline. I also use a digital timer to keep myself from getting pulled down rabbit holes. Sure, you could spend two hours researching — but you’ll create better content if you can stay focused.
Craft a Heavy-Hitting Hook (5 Minutes)
Rule #1: Be super-specific. Use numbers in your headline and avoid ambiguous words like amazing, awesome, and great. There are other lackluster words that put readers to sleep, but these are the likely culprits.
Rule #2: Flirt, don’t reveal your total solution. If you uncover your solution right away, there’s no incentive to keep reading. Be mindful that there is a fine line between a curiosity-infused headline and desperate clickbait.
Write A Magnetic Opening (5 minutes)
- The Quote Lead: Use a quote relevant to your blog post. Your readers should be able to recognize the author of your quote so it’s best to use an influencer in your niche.
- The Impending Danger Lead: This is where you introduce an evil villain and lean strongly on emotion.
- The Counterintuitive Lead: Open by presenting a solution which goes against the grain.
- The Empath Lead: Let readers know that you understand how they feel, you’ve walked in their shoes, and that they’re not alone.
- The Shock Value Lead: Open with an unexpected fact.
- The Storytelling Lead: An intriguing tale goes a long way to draw readers in. It could be true or metaphorical, as long as it’s within the context of your blog post.
- The “Get Right To It” Lead: The no fluff, “I won’t waste your time” lead. You have to establish the premise of your post right away.
- The “Call Out” Lead: Have the audacity to call your reader out. Do they have a bad habit that’s keeping them in the dark? What are they complacent about?
- Pop Quiz Lead: Open by providing a list of options and set it up where there can only be two or three outcomes.
Step #5: Pack Your Post With Value (30 minutes)
Tip #1: Strike the right balance between emotion and ration. Hitting the emotional hot buttons is critical but your readers have a need for logic, particularly if they’re being promised something sensational.
Tip #2: Readers should be able to easily implement your solutions themselves and see an immediate benefit or result. This is going to amplify your perceived value and keep people coming back, day after day.
Bonus Time Saving Tip: Use a voice typing tool so you don’t have to physically type. Simply dictate your points and most voice typing tools will spell out the words with remarkable accuracy.