Content marketing should be a crucial part of your marketing strategy. You can advertise your heart out and get people to come to your blog, but they won’t stay if you don’t have quality content to back up your message.
Nothing compares to stellar content.
So, how can you create successful blog posts that people will actually want to read all the way through?
In this blog post, we will look at the exact ingredients you need to have to have a winning blog post.
Specifically, we’ll look at how to build content through the use of brainstorming, researching, and outlining, how to write enticing content, and how to include all the finishing touches that make all the difference, such as adding high-quality media and eye-catching bulleted lists.
1. Brainstorm your topic.
Every great blog post starts with a dynamite idea. You may want to keep a running list of blog post ideas.
It’s not enough to just have good topic ideas, though, because the Internet has covered just about everything under the sun. What you need to have is a unique angle or new take on an existing idea.
Hopefully, you are passionate about what you’re writing about. If you aren’t, find a way to appreciate it in an interesting way.
If you have to, fake it; pretend to be in love with what you’re talking about when you sit down to write. Passion is one of those things you can feel when you read something.
So, what if you couldn’t care less about the topic? How do you fake interest?
Ask yourself the following questions:
- Who would want to read this?
- Why would someone be reading what I have to say?
- How can I turn this topic into something relatable to my audience?
Now, why would anyone want to listen to what you have to say? How can you cover all your bases?
As you ponder these questions, ask yourself these classic questions about your topic:
By answering these questions, you will learn more about your subject matter. They will help you cover your topic thoroughly and guide you as you do your research.
Don’t know how to brainstorm?
Try setting a timer for a good 30 minutes. Like a painter with a blank canvas, a blank document can seem a little daunting at first. However, if you involve the activity of freewriting, it won’t stay blank for long. Just start writing.
Take this time to write about anything that relates to your topic. Ask yourself the questions above to get the juices flowing.
Here are a few more questions you can ask yourself if you are struggling during a brainstorm:
- Why am I writing about this subject?
- What information is my reader hoping to find in my blog post?
- How can I talk about this topic in a new and interesting way?
- How do I feel about this subject?
Don’t worry about spelling, grammar, or even the order of your thoughts when you brainstorm. Your goal is just to write whatever comes to mind without stopping for 30 minutes. You can go back later to organize your ideas.
Just use this time to write – anything and everything about your subject; purge your thoughts! If you know nothing about your subject and can’t write about it, the next step, research, will help you learn about the subject.
2. Do your research.
If you are a virgin to your topic or even if you know a little bit about it, it’s a good idea to back up your information with facts from credible sources.
Where can you find credible sources? Here are a few ideas:
- Expert opinions
- Case studies
- Industry blogs
- Current news
- Research studies
- Credible articles
- Online forums
Usually, the most credible online sources end with .gov, .edu, or .org. This is not always the case.
If you are required to use credible sources in your writing, you may want to ask for further clarification for your assignment.
If you don’t know anything about search engine optimization (SEO) and how it affects your blogging, you should learn. Understanding how to do proper keyword research and placement is a critical ingredient for a successful blog post.
Once you have your keywords, be sure to place them naturally in your text. You don’t want to keyword stuff your content. Instead, keep a small list of keywords you hope to rank for and use it as you write. As you become a more experienced writer, you may find that you don’t need to refer to a list anymore.
In your outline, you can spread out your keywords properly. Consider making each main point about one keyword if relevant for your topic.
3. Outline your blog post.
Now is the time to place all your main points into an outline. An effective outline helps you place your ideas in a logical order. You can use your outline to place your headers and subheaders.
Since you have done your research already, you can use your facts to support your main ideas.
A typical outline looks like this:
Main Point 1:
Main Point 2:
Main Point 3:
After each main point, you may want to write in sub-points if you have any. A good outline will be like a map you can follow as you write your blog content. It will guide you from start to finish.
4. Create an attention-grabbing title.
A title should accurately describe your blog post; it’s what drives people to your blog. If you have a poorly written title, no one will read what you have to say.
Instead, take the time to craft a straightforward title that tells readers exactly what content you will be supplying them with.
Use a tool like CoSchedule’s Headline Analyzer to come up with the right type of title.
Your title should be between 6 and 13 words (approximately 60 characters) with emotional and powerful language and keywords. Keep it concise and relevant to the topic you are covering.
Ask yourself what someone might search for when looking for the content in your blog post and use those keywords in your title. You want to capture the attention of your audience so they will click on your blog post.
Poor Title: Why Visit New York?
Better Title: Top 10 Sites You Can See When Visiting New York
5. Include clear, descriptive subtitles and headers.
Your outline should help with this step. Since most people just scan articles, they want to see subtitles and headers, which easily guide them through your content.
Help navigate your reader with accurate headers that describe the meaning of each section they are about to read. Let them know what to expect below each header.
Include relevant keywords in your subtitles and headers, so readers can easily skim your blog post to find the information they need. If you create misleading subtitles, readers will not only stop reading, but they will also not trust your content because you misinformed them.
Clear headings will serve as a map for your content; they also help break up large sections of text, making your content easy to digest.
6. Write high-quality, useful content.
When you write, have something interesting to say. Tell a story – from beginning to end, if relevant to your topic. However, I caution you with this! Don’t go off on a rant or just complain for an hour. That’s probably not what your reader had in mind when they searched for your blog post.
Instead, with a story, include a clear goal, obstacle, and moral; there should be a straightforward, relevant point to your story.
Keep readers’ attention as they read by invoking curiosity, humor, amazement, and/or doubt. How? Include cliffhangers. Make them want to keep reading to find out what else is going on in your crazy little head!
Remember to keep your reader’s time in mind. Be concise with your writing. Avoid fluff language (saying the same thing in different words).
Combine different concepts with short, simple examples, and easy-to-read text. Include step-by-step instructions, if applicable, or a collection of top tips. You want to provide unique, valuable content, so the reader will bookmark your blog post after reading to come back for more.
Make sure your content is logical, too. Use topical sentences in long paragraphs to guide the reader through the text.
Have you ever read a paragraph twenty times over because it didn’t make sense? Yeah, you don’t want that. Be clear in your writing.
7. Engage the reader.
Break up large chunks of text or dry facts with interactive elements. How can you interact with the reader when you have already written the content?
Use polls, quizzes, questions, and answers to comments. These are great ways to show your reader that you care about their thoughts and opinions.
This is important as it keeps the audience on your blog post longer and encourages them to read to the end of your blog post.
8. Create an enticing introduction.
You might be thinking, “This should be at the top of the list.” Understandable, yes, but this isn’t how I usually write content. Instead, I write the body of the blog post and get the meat done. Then, I go back and fill in the introduction.
What should your introduction say?
Open with a bang! Grab the attention of the audience right away. You want to captivate them, so they will want to keep reading to see what else you have to say.
How can you best capture the reader’s attention?
Consider using one of these:
- Famous quote
- Short story
- Analogy or Metaphor
- Interesting statistic
Why did someone choose to read your blog post? There’s some question they needed the answer to. Explain in the opening how you will be meeting their needs with your content. In other words, detail exactly why you are writing the blog post and what you have to offer.
You don’t have to give away the ending of your fairy tale, but at least explain what it’s about. Many readers don’t move past an introduction; it’s like the sales pitch that you need to market to your audience.
Consider the question, “How are you going to help me with this blog post?” Then, answer the question in full detail in the body of your content.
9. Think about your audience.
This is something you should be doing from the beginning, but it’s also important to note the details as to how to do this correctly.
Who is your audience? What questions might they have on this topic?
Be straightforward and answer the questions that your reader may have in your content. Remember that people are busy. They don’t have time to read fluff. Make your content concise and easy to read.
If your audience is a novice to the subject matter, provide definitions to key terms. Don’t forget to answer the questions you promised your reader you would in your introduction.
You want your reader to trust your position, so you need to keep your promises. What did you promise in your title? Now is the time to deliver.
10. Make your content visually appealing.
No one wants to read big chunks of text. If they did, they’d be reading a book instead of a blog post. Instead, include plenty of white space and break up your text by using one of the following:
- Bullet Points
These are great ways to summarize information into digestible chunks of text. Keep paragraphs short, too. You want your text to be easy to scan.
The average reader only spends 37 seconds reading a blog post. That means you’ve got to impress their socks off in a short period of time!
Of course, don’t forget about including beautiful images and short, interesting videos. Your media should be relevant to your content and useful to your audience.
Try to only add imagery that will help the reader understand your content better. Some images are cute, and videos are fun to watch, but what you add to your blog post needs to be helpful.
There are many free or inexpensive places where you can find rich media online. Better yet, supply your own original images and/or videos.
Try one of these resources for high-quality pictures and videos:
- Morgue File
- Flickr Creative Commons
Be sure to credit the owner of the image or video and follow all copyrighting laws.
Another way you can make your text easier to read is by adding bolding and italics. Use bold text to emphasize key points or definitions. Use italics for proper nouns like books or movies.
For example, in the book, Harry Potter, muggles are non-magic folk.
11. Back up your information with facts.
Now is the time to put all that research to good use. When you make claims, you need to back it up with the facts you found in your research.
One way to give credit to sources of information is through the use of links. Adding hyperlinks in your text allows readers to continue reading without interruption but still give them an opportunity to click on the facts for more detailed information.
Only use links if the information you are providing helps the reader better understand your blog content. Provide links to credible sources with useful content for your reader.
A link is a way of saying, “Here’s some more information on this topic if you choose to read on.”
Provide interesting statistics if they help get your point across to the reader.
Once you have several blog posts published on your blog, you can add hyperlinks in your text to your own content so that your audience can read more of your juicy writing if they want to. Remember to only do this if the linking adds value to your content.
12. Include a well-written conclusion.
Your goal as a writer should be to provide a complete picture of the story you are trying to tell, and every story needs a good ending. Take the time to summarize your main points in your conclusion. Your conclusion should wrap up your entire blog post nicely.
You can’t just write the middle of a blog post and expect people to understand your point. Instead, your writing needs to be like a smooth operator, from beginning to end.
Your entire blog post will provide your audience with information about your topic, but the ending will determine how your reader feels after reading the whole thing. You want that feeling to be a complete understanding of the topic you have gone over.
End your post with something inspirational. Give your reader a feeling of complete satisfaction when they walk away from your writing.
Don’t forget to include a call to action! Your goal as a writer is to give readers the best information you can to help them take appropriate action.
So, what do you want your reader to do after reading your blog post?
Ask them to do one of the following actions (if relevant):
- Share your post
- Purchase your product
- Comment below
- Contact you
- Bookmark your post for the future
Did you know that 60% of consumers buy a product after reading a blog post about it? You see? Content matters, so write well!
13. Proofread your blog post.
No article about writing a good blog post would be complete without a friendly reminder to proofread your work. Stay away from sloppy writing. A typo can easily make your reader not trust what you have to say.
Use the document’s spell checker and/or sign up for Grammarly. (I use both when I write).
If you are concerned about plagiarism, use Copyscape to check your work against the Internet’s content, or subscribe to Grammarly Premium, which has a built-in plagiarism checker. Be original with your writing; don’t steal from others.
Before hitting publish, check for broken links, too. Again, readers won’t trust you if they find that you are presenting broken links.
As a good final check, I always print out my work and read it aloud to make sure it makes sense and sounds right. Spell check alone won’t catch every mistake. You need some human analysis before you are done with your writing.
14. Market your content on social media.
An awesome blog post may eventually be found by the right audience, but you have a greater chance of reaching your target reader if you let the world know you have written something they should read!
You can effectively get the word out that you have written a great blog post by just updating your Facebook status (if you have a solid following) with an announcement and link to your recently published blog post. Don’t forget to include a brief summary of what it’s about, so the right people will want to read it!
15. Don’t forget to keep your content current.
Review your blog post periodically to provide more up-to-date content. If you aren’t seeing the right kind of traffic, you may want to tweak your post title.
It may later make sense to move your main points around, too.
Remember, Google loves fresh content, so if you can provide updates or more information on your topic, content that complements your current text well, be sure to add it to your text.
You should now have a solid blueprint for writing a winning blog post that people will actually want to read from the very beginning to the end. Plus, if you play your cards right, the reader will want to follow your call to action at the end of the blog post.
What are your best tips for writing great blog posts? What kind of formula do you follow when creating content? Where do you market your blog content?
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