10 Tips for Blog Writing
With so much written out there on how to blog well, I’m sharing how I make it easy, fast and enjoyable for myself.
A client recently mentioned that I was writing their blog posts faster than they could and they just loved what our team was coming out with. I found myself not sure what to say but thinking that it was something I just sat down to do. After the call I found myself pondering it for a while longer and realized that I did have a process.
1. Do your homework.
That seems to be a theme in my blogs lately (and here I was hoping to make that enormous pink prom dress the repeated feature). Sadly, homework never ends! Even the most renowned professionals draw on other sources: statistics, other fact-based information, or the opinions of other experts; there are so many resources out there for you to draw upon.
For example: Hubspot recommends that right after doing your homework, you give yourself a working title. I typically do not. It’s not for anything other than the fact that I am not typically 100% sure where I’m going to go until after I start to write. Do whatever works for you.
If you are extremely comfortable with the subject matter you may wish wait to do this homework until after step 3 (your brain dump) and find the information to support your view after. There’s no right or wrong answer here as long as you do that homework!
2. Get in the right frame of mind!
Seriously that makes ALL of the difference! Any creative professional will tell you that trying to churn out something new and engaging when your mind is really on how much you want that third cup of coffee is painful and produces far less impressive results. Do what you feel is going to put you in the right frame of mind. If you’re a ‘head to Starbucks’ or ‘to that unused conference room’ type of person, go for it. Personally I’m a huge fan of finding a sunny spot on the floor (where I am right now), next to a snoring dog with a cup of tea. I’ll often toss on some instrumental music to help create the mood: new age, classical, jazz, Native American flutes, whatever it is as long as it has good energy and a non-distracting flow.
3. Just Go
Yes, that sounds … less than descriptive or particularly helpful but I’m serious. Do a full brain-dump; get all your thoughts and facts and sources down in a document. Write in a stream-of-conscious tone, be silly, use shorthand, whatever it takes. Don’t over think any of it, just Get - It - Down.
Another of their suggestions, from that same Hubspot article, was to write a captivating intro first. My methodology, if it comes out with the brain dump, that’s great! Just don’t put the pressure on yourself to get anything captivating down yet. You need to allow yourself to grow the piece - grow it quickly but grow it nonetheless.
4. Now, go away
Unless you feel like you’re ‘in the zone,’ you need to switch gears to something else. Related, unrelated, whatever helps your workflow. The idea is to get some space from all of these thoughts.
5. List your Keywords
As a member of our Digital Strategy department I obviously need to mention the importance of optimizing your Blog. It’s a great way to raise awareness and overall drive relevant traffic to your site. Now that you have a general idea of what you’ll be writing about and have given yourself some space from it, take a moment to think about the keywords and phrases that someone may use when looking for your site and this information. Build a small list of them.
6. Now the real writing begins
Keeping that list of keywords near you, go into your brain dump document and read what you have written. Is that the story you wanted to tell - maybe rough but are you close? If not, take a moment and move paragraphs around until it’s in the general order you’d like the blog post to read. Then start going through and rewriting each paragraph in the voice you’d like, while using some of the keywords and phrases you’ve outlined (not too often!). Bit by bit your piece will start to take shape.
7. Editing / Formatting
Sometimes you can just go back and re-read yourself right away. I need at least 5 or 6 hours to have clean eyes on something. Finding a colleague to take a look at it helps immensely. However you do it, make sure it’s been gone through a time or two more. Don’t forget about online tools like Thesaurus.com and my recent find, ProWritingAid.
8. That compelling title
Coming up with a great title is an important but often overlooked ingredient to increase traffic to your blog.
- Think about the keywords your target reader might search for
- Differentiate your post title from competing titles on your topic
- Be creative! Use bold language, alliteration, or word play
- Be specific - what will readers learn from your post?
- Keep it short (aim for less than 70 characters, so your title isn’t cut off in search results)
Without great formatting your blog can look like a wall of text that the end user will glaze over and not ‘take in,’ or far worse, they may not be able to access your content at all. If that happens, none of your strategy, knowledge, creativity, and writing prowess will matter.
Get the most from your efforts! Keep best practices in mind when you’re formatting:
- only one H1 tag (preferably your title),
- proper use of H2 & H3 tags,
- proper use of bullets & block quotes.
Best practices ensure not only a clean marketing presence, but compliance with basic accessibility needs. Screen readers and other assistive technologies use these grammatical queues to communicate what is on the screen to the end user.
These simple formatting practices can make a very big difference to your reader!
You’re ready to go! Get it on your site, optimize your meta description and title, and link to this in your social media feeds.
These are in no way hard, cut and dry rules but they are guidelines that have helped me time after time. And remember, there are people out there who can write for you if you need the help, just be prepared to offer some of the information because no one knows your business like you do!
Good luck and happy blogging!
Accessibility Best Practices for Content Editors | eBook
Improving Lead Generation Using Your Company Blog | Blog
The Synergy of Search Engine Optimization and Web Accessibility | Blog