Congratulations! You’ve decided to write a blog post. Now what? What in the world should you write about? How long should it be? Do you have writer’s block already?! Here are six tips to release the blog author in you.
1. Pick a interesting topic to you and your readers.
You’ve got a blank page… How about writing about something that:
- Answers a question
- You’ve recently researched or figured out best practices for
- You have a strong opinion about
- Your readers can act on or connect with
- Matters to you
- Is topical
Jot down ideas while you’re working or are inspired by something in daily life. Evernote is a great online and mobile app for this.
Most importantly, your blog post should meet one of three criteria as put together by Orbit Media:
2. Give yourself a deadline and get rid of distractions.
If you say you’re going to write your blog post by Friday afternoon, block a couple hours in your calendar and stick to it. When there’s no deadline, it’s so easy to procrastinate or make excuses!
Have you found these distractions to get in the way?
- Email or social media
- Online purchases
- Too much noise
- Too much quiet (for fun, check out Coffitivity!)
- Incoming IMs, texts or calls
- Online games
- Breaking news
Turn it all off! You’ll live without some of those things for a short spell. Just have your one blank page open and focus!
3. Keep your language casual yet professional.
I don’t think anyone likes to read corporate speak, fluffy words, copy that is too salesy or overly product-centric. Write as you would speak to someone in person — use everyday, natural language by:
- Adding a personal anecdote
- Using punctuation in a balanced way — be careful of too many periods or commas which can impact online reading
- Considering using simpler transitions (e.g., but, yet, and, so)
- Asking questions to break up your thoughts
- Reading it out loud — you’ll hear what sounds unnatural
4. Make the blog post scannable.
How do people read online? They don’t! Summarized in this Nielsen blog, research shows online users go to websites for information and typically scan content.
Similar to how users behave when viewing a search engine results page, they pay more attention to the top of the page. The way your blog post is laid out is important — if it initially appears hard to read, they likely won’t read it.
So what does this mean when you write?
- Be concise.
- Frontload your post with keywords for search engine optimization.
- Keep your main points in the first few paragraphs.
- Include actionable items such as relevant links.
Then there’s the age-old question of how long the blog post should be! In all honesty, it really depends on the subject, how long it takes to get your main idea across and your readers’ interest. As a blog editor, I’ve given the guideline to use 300-700 words in one post but there’s no real standard. Read here for more pointers.
5. Polish your post with formatting, relevant images or video, charts or even white space.
You’ll need to grab the attention of those fickle online users! The way you format your blog post is essential.
A great image, short video, illustrative table, chart or infographic that supports your message can keep readers engaged.
Large blocks of text won’t do. Break it up into short paragraphs and use bullet points and other formatting techniques such as subheadings, white space, bold, italics, font size, color or block quotes to draw attention to your main points.
6. Let your post breathe, then have someone else look at it.
Once you finish your first draft, let the post breathe for a bit. Come back to it the next day and read it over again. I guarantee you’ll see some changes you’d like to make.
All writers should have an editor. An editor can see typos and errors you may not have seen. They may not be as close to the subject matter, so can objectively suggest improvements that can help reader engagement.
Do you think I followed my own tips to write this article? Post a comment if you have any other suggestions for writing a great blog post!