The first steps toward writing a great blog post

Here’s how to get started blogging — and how to make sure your efforts are focused on getting people to read what you’ve written.

A well-written blog post is an investment in your business. It has the power to bring people to your website, to showcase your products and establish trust between you and your prospective clients. There’s a vast amount of online advice about how to blog effectively: sometimes it’s hard to see the woods for the trees. To help you make a productive start, here are five important steps to get right if you’re thinking about blogging for the first time.

1. Establish exactly what you’re blogging about and craft the title to showcase it

Before choosing a topic to blog about, think very carefully about why someone’s going to want to read it. Prospective clients are problem-aware clients who need solutions and through internet search, they’re looking for answers. To encourage them to click on your blog post, start by crafting the title. Incorporating popular search terms tagged in html as h1 (the most important heading) can be useful but search algorithms are more sophisticated than they used to be. It pays dividends to learn a little more about how the best blog post titles work so people click on your post rather than someone else’s. Follow up your title with a strong standfirst — the the summary paragraph that sits between the title and the body text to bring the reader in a little closer.

2. Structure it so people keep reading all the way to the end

The structure of a great blog post keeps people reading and entices them to take action. But with so much content out there on the web, we make instant judgements about how useful the content’s going to be in a split second. We skim and scan and evaluate its usefulness. That’s why structure is key.

Use subheadings to break up the content of your writing. They’re visual and easily skimmable. They give the reader a sense of what the post is about at a glance. Format the subheadings as h2 tags, as Google recognises these when it crawls the web to index the content.

Numbered lists are still effective, despite their ubiquity, for ensuring readers stay with you till the end of the post. Frame these as ‘steps to success’ to encourage the reader to see them as actionable goals with strong outcomes.

3. Draft the content

As you draft your content, you’ll find that your writing voice will emerge. The writing voice should reflect your brand archetype, a persona with distinct values that represents your brand (this is worth learning more about if you haven’t already). As a general rule, keep sentences short and succinct. Use contractions (it’s rather than it is and doesn’t as opposed to does not) for readability and informality, but remember that conversational style has become ubiquitous in marketing content and copy and it can often come across as rather contrived, so until you’re confident about the impact of your writing, bear in mind that less is more.

4. Edit it and redraft it.

When you’re editing, cut down on unnecessary words and phrases. Look carefully at what is extraneous: clarity is everything. Avoid intensifiers such as ‘really’, ‘quite’, ‘fairly’ and ‘very’ and remember that the active voice is much more effective than the passive voice: ‘Take care when you remove the bread from the oven’ is much more effective than ‘Care should be taken when removing the bread from the oven’.

5. Proofread it.

Many prolific bloggers are great at writing content, but when it comes to proof-reading, they prefer to get someone to do it for them. That’s because it’s much easier to look critically at another person’s writing than it is to scrutinise your own. But if you’re just getting started or if your colleagues’ schedules are tight, then it makes sense to do your own proofing. Pay attention to apostrophes (use them for contraction and possession and never for plurals). Check homonyms such as their, there and they’re.

Featured image by Mel Poole on Unsplash. Other images by David Travis, Lance Grandahl, Green Chameleon, Lucas George Wendt and blocks on Unsplash.

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