Are you a new blogger?
Or are you thinking of starting a blog?
Or do you want a quick refresh on how to write your first blog post or your 200th?
Great! Because I will cover it all:
[toc] Let’s get started.
1) What’s The Goal Of Your Blog Post?
Before you sit down and write the first word of your first (or next) blog post, stop and think about what you want to accomplish with your post.
What’s your goal? How is this blog post going to help you accomplish something to help you move forward with your business?
Here are some questions you may want to ask yourself:
- Are you writing a post that you hope will get shared across social media and grow your reach?
- Are you writing a post that also invites readers to join your email list so you can get back in touch later?
- Are you writing a post to get the attention of a big brand you’d like to work with?
- Are you writing a blog post to start a conversation with your existing readership?
- Are you writing a blog post with the end goal of selling your readers a product?
- Are you writing a blog post to start a conversation with a fellow blogger in hopes of growing a mutually profitable relationship?
All the above are valid goals for your blog posts and I’m sure you can add a few more to that list. The important thing is that you are aware of what you’re trying to accomplish with your post.
Blog Post Ideas
Then start with the end in mind. If your goal is to get the attention of a big brand you’d like to work with, for example, think about a post you can write about your experience with one of their products.
If your goal is to grow your list, think of a topic that’s complementary to your opt-in offer freebie. Write the content and then transition into an invitation to join your list and download the free report.
Do you see how much easier it is to craft goal driven blog posts when you know what your goal is before you sit down to write? You can reverse engineer the entire process and make sure everything flows well and leads your reader to whatever action you want them to take at the end. [It’s also easier if you first know how to write a blog post outline].
Being able to do that is powerful stuff. It allows you to craft different posts strategically.
Write a post that helps you grow your reach. Then work on one that starts the conversation with our new readers. Next work on getting them on your list and finally make them an offer. Intersperse this with posts that help you get the attention of potential JV partners and brands and you’re all set to not only grow your blog and your audience but make money blogging as well.
Here’s a great post by my friends at OptinMonster on 103 blog post ideas.
2) How Long Should A Blog Post Be?
Every few months we get some new advice from a blogging guru saying that our blog posts need to be longer, or shorter, or that we should break them up into 10 pages of bite-sized chunks… it can make you crazy.
Let’s talk about this.
How long should your blog posts really be?
It would be great if there was a magic number that guaranteed best results, wouldn’t it? But that’s like asking someone to tell you how long your conversations with other people should be. Sometimes it’s nothing more than a few words or sentences; sometimes you have a nice long talk. It all depends on how much you have to say to each other, doesn’t it?
The same approach works well with your blog posts. Sometimes you’re sharing just a quick tip or a recipe for example. In that case, something around 300 – 500 words will do just fine. Add a pretty picture and call it good.
Other times you want to go into a little more depth. You want to cover different aspects of a topic, share some examples and give your readers as much information as you can. In those cases make it as long as you need to make it.
Long posts are great. They help establish your authority and if the content is great; we often share them on social media. Plus long posts give the search engines a lot of text to sift through and give you more chances to rank for long tail keywords.
My best advice? It’s to mix longer and shorter blog posts.
It will make your blog seem more natural and organic. Don’t force yourself to reach a certain magic word count if you don’t have that much to say on a topic. You can keep it short and to the point sometimes. Your readers will thank you.
However, you have a lot to share in a different post, go for it. Break the longer content up into small paragraphs and help your readers stay on track with subheadings and bullet points.
Make it easy to scan longer posts so your readers can get an idea of what the content is about before they commit to reading it all.
And if you’re finding yourself writing a few thousand words, consider breaking it up into a series of blog posts instead. It will help both you and your readers from getting overwhelmed with one long post.
Link from one part of the series to the next to make it easy for your blog readers to follow along.
[socialpug_tweet tweet=”Above all, enjoy the process of writing and pay attention to what your readers prefer.” display_tweet=”Above all, enjoy the process of writing and pay attention to what your readers prefer.”]
If your short posts tend to do better, consider keeping your posts short and to the point.
If you’re getting a lot more engagement and social media shares on longer posts, combine a few of the shorter blog post ideas into a longer one.
And whatever you do, don’t get hung up on a number of words.
3) How To Write Attention-Grabbing Blog Titles
The most important part of your blog post is your title.
If you don’t grab your reader’s’ attention with the title and get them to actually read the post, nothing you put inside the post matters. It doesn’t matter how great and helpful your content is.
IT doesn’t matter what offers or affiliate links you have in your post and it doesn’t matter who sponsored you to write it.
If you can’t get them to read it, the blog post doesn’t do you much good.
And when it comes to getting free search engine traffic, your title is important as well. It is the most important factor when it comes to getting your content to rank.
Yes, there are plenty of other factors, but a good title with the right keywords in it will do more good than anything else you do.
How do you write a great blog post? First, ask yourself how do I go about writing a good attention-grabbing blog post title?
I suggest you start with a working title for your post and craft your content. Then come back and work on the finalized headline, implementing as many of the tips below as you can.
Make it Interesting and Tell The Truth
You want to write an attention-grabbing headline. And with that comes the temptation to hype it up and stretch the truth just a bit.
While that may get you some extra clicks, there’s a trade-off. You’ll lose credibility if you’re exaggerating or telling little white lies. You see a lot of those headlines on social media. You click-through and end up disappointed because the post doesn’t fulfill what the title promised.
Instead, make it interesting without all the hype and stick to the truth. A great way to do that is to think about what’s in it for your readers.
For an expert on blog writing, check out my colleague and mentor, Jon Morrow of Smart Blogger.
Keep It Short and Engaging
Shorter titles tend to do better both with click-throughs on your blog and social media. Keep it short and to the point. And think about engagement straight from the title of your post.
- Ask your readers a question.
- Make a statement that makes them think.
- Put numbers in your titles to get them thinking about what’s in the content (i.e. My 5 Best Tips To …)
Keep an eye out for titles that catch your attention. Copy and paste them into a swipe file and see how you can tweak them for your own needs and market.
Work In Your Keywords
Last but not least, don’t forget to work your keywords into the title. I tend to do this last. Always write for your readers first and then work in what you need to do to make sure the search engines recognize what your content is about.
Ranking well for something your readers don’t want to read or don’t want to click on doesn’t do you much good. Focus on your audience and then optimize for search as an afterthought and you’ll do well.
To get more ideas on SEO and keywords, you can’t go wrong with my colleague, Brian Dean, at Backlinko.
Implement these tips and get a few blog posts out there. Pay attention to what’s working and what isn’t. Each market, each blog, and each readership is different.
Use these tips as guidelines to help you find your own style that resonates well with your audience and gets you the results you want.
4) Why Breaking Up Your Content And Making It Easy to Scan Is So Important
Let me ask you something.
They throw how much content at you on any given day?
It’s a lot, isn’t it? We’re bombarded by articles, social media posts, emails, podcasts, videos, etc. We come across a lot more content than we could consume any given day. And chances are that a lot of it is good stuff.
As a result, we’ve all gotten pretty good at scanning and then picking what we want to read, watch, or listen to. And that’s why it is important to break up your content and make it easy for your readers to scan through it.
If you can’t show them at a glance what the post is about, chances are pretty good that they’ll move on to something else. Here are a couple of different things you can do to break up your post and make sure it’s easy to scan.
And check out my most-read post of all time, The 16 Rules of Blog Writing and Layout: Which Ones Are You Breaking?
Use Headlines and Sub-Heads
Look at this post. Do you see how I’m breaking the different elements of making a post easy to scan down into subheadings? You can do the same with your blog post.
Think of the outline of your post. Each point in your outline could be a subheading. Start with those and then fill in the content.
Or if you prefer, start with the content and then go back and add the subheadings. Create the content and work in the subheadings in whichever way works best for you. The only important thing is that they are in there before you hit publish.
Keep Your Paragraphs Short
Reading online is a lot different from reading something on paper. Books, newspapers, and magazines can get away with long paragraphs.
Online it’s a different story. The text is harder to read on digital devices and our attention span keeps shrinking.
One of the most effective things you can do to keep your readers reading is to keep your paragraphs and sentences short. Don’t make it longer than three or four lines.
Use Lists And Bold Important Key Terms
Next, you want to go through your content and see if there’s anything you can present in the form of a list.
- Use a list instead of several related sentences.
- Use a list to share examples.
- A list is a great way to break things up and grab your reader’s attention.
- Lists can be as long or short as you need them to be.
And let’s not forget about other formatting options. Bold important key terms, italicize them or underline them for emphasis.
These formatting options make it much quicker and easier to scan a piece of text and figure out what it’s about without having to read every single word.
5) A Picture May Not Be Worth A 1,000 Words, but You Need Them In Your Post
Now, let’s talk about graphics.
A picture is one of the best ways to convey within seconds what your blog post is about and generate interest.
Just scroll through your Facebook feed and look at what’s getting your attention. Or how about browsing through Pinterest?
Images hook you and grab you in. They are also a great way to break up long sections of text. Make sure you use them to their fullest advantage.
A Picture Can Draw Readers In
A picture will draw readers in and make them read your blog posts. Don’t believe me? Have a look at some of the major news sites, big blogs or even your Facebook feed. It’s the pictures that grab your attention in combination with the post title.
Try to find an image that tells the story of your post. The image should tell at a glance (with the help of the post title) what the blog post is all about. Of course, you’re not limited to just one image. If it fits the topic, grab a few to illustrate what you’re talking about or show step-by-step progress.
Check out my friend, website design consultant, and colleague. Andrea “Dre” Beltrami, for both the great visuals on her blog and her wonderful design services for solopreneurs.
You Need Pictures For Social Media Shares
We talked about Facebook already and how important images are there to grab your reader’s attention. But it doesn’t stop there.
Think about other social sites your audience takes part in. It doesn’t matter if it’s Pinterest, Instagram or even Twitter. A good image will stand out and draw people in.
Without it, your chances to get the click and the read and interaction on your blog are slim.
But it doesn’t stop there. As you get traffic to your post, those readers will be more likely to share your post on social media if it has a good image or two. Making it easy to share with social media buttons doesn’t hurt either.
But Where Do You Get Those Images?
Now that I have you convinced that you need good images, the next question is where do you find them?
You have three different options for getting pictures.
1) You Can Take Them Yourself – If you’re a decent photographer and can find the subject matters you need, by all means, go ahead and take your own images. Photography equipment aside, this is the cheapest and most authentic option. The downside is that it takes time to set up, take the picture, process it after and get it in a format you can use you on your blog.
2) You Can Hire Someone Else To Take Them For You – This is where things can get pricey. But you might get lucky and find a couple of college kids with decent cell phone cameras that can get you the shots you need for a little beer money (hey, I went to college – I know the drill!).
3) Get Some Stock Photos – The most time and cost-effective method for most of us is to buy stock photography.
Sites like IstockPhoto and Depositphotos will sell you the right to use an image in your blog post for around $2. And since they are huge sites that connect you to thousands of photographers, you can find images on just about any subject with just a few keystrokes.
I prefer the free sites like Pexels and UnSplash. Here’s an entire post I did on free image sites and other freebies for bloggers.
Check out my colleague, Elna Cain, at TwinsMommy, and her post on free feminine stock photos.
6) How To Encourage Social Sharing Of Your Blog Posts
We live in a social world where much of our news comes from sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.
To grow your readership and make sure your blog posts get the attention they deserve, you need to encourage your current readers to share what you’ve written on their favorite social media sites.
What those sites are will largely depend on the niche you’re in. Find out where your audience likes to hang out and then focus on getting them to share on those social media outlets to attract more like-minded readers.
Start With Quality Content
It all starts with quality content that your readers want to read and share. No one will spread a crummy post on social media. Start by writing the best blog posts you can and do some research into what your audience wants and needs.
Serve your market well and they will share what you’re writing with their friends and acquaintances.
Make It Pretty
Next, it’s time to pretty up your post.
- Break up your content into small bite-sized chunks so it’s easy to read.
- Add some subheadings and formatting to make it easy to scan through the content.
- And don’t forget to add a pretty image that captures the essence of your post.
Step away from your desk and then come back and look at it with fresh eyes.
- Is the blog post visually appealing?
- Does it grab your attention?
If not, go back to the drawing board and see what you can do to improve it.
Make It Easy To Share
When your goal is to get people to share your blog post on social media, you want to make it as easy as possible to share. We talked about what social media sites your audience favors earlier.
Make sure you have one-click buttons to share the blog post available for all those sites. If you are running your blog using WordPress, you should be able to find a free plugin to help you do this.
But I believe in investing just $29 in Social Warfare, for a variety of reasons. It’s the plugin I have here on Successful Blogging. Try sharing my horizontal image below on Pinterest and see what happens!
Ask For The Social Media Share
Buttons are great, but sometimes it takes a little extra push to get your readers to take action. Don’t be afraid to ask for the social media share.
Close your posts with a little sentence or two that asks them to share on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest etc. if they enjoyed the post. And don’t forget to let them know how much you appreciate it when they share the love!
7) How To Craft A Good Call To Action At The End Of Your Post
If there’s one thing I see a lot of bloggers do incorrectly, it’s not giving their readers anything to do at the end of the blog post.
Put yourself in the shoes of your readers. You read a great article, get to the end and there’s no call to action.
What do you do? You go back to Facebook or go watch some cat videos on YouTube.
Why not give your readers something more?
What if they wouldn’t mind learning more from you or connecting with you via email or social media or even take you up on a product recommendation?
That’s what a call to action at the end of your blog posts is all about.
Encourage Them To Comment And Interact With You
One of the easiest ways to craft a call to action is to ask your readers to leave you a comment. Invite them to share their own experiences on the topic, a tip, a recipe, etc. Ask them to comment on the post.
Blogging can feel like a very one-sided conversation sometimes. You’re sitting there, typing away, and sharing content with your readers.
But you hear nothing back. They read and respond with silence. The good news is that it doesn’t have to be that way.
Blogs were designed to help engagement and communications.
There’s a reason you can leave comments, and all it takes is a little encouragement to get your own readers to do that on your blog.
Combine that with a little social media interaction and there’s no reason you can’t turn this into a fully engaged conversation that will help you grow a loyal base of fans.
Because while it’s nice for our ego to get lots of comments and interactions, when you’re blogging for a living what really counts is making enough money to pay your bills at the end of the month.
And for that to happen you need a loyal audience that not only knows, likes, and trusts you but is also comfortable spending money with you so you can make money online. And for that to happen you need an engaged audience.
Interaction helps too because with each email your readers send you, with each comment they post, and each social media post they write you learn a little more about your target audience and how you can best serve them.
And that right there is the key to becoming a profitable blogger. Know your market, serve your market, and present them with offers to help them reach their goals or fill their need.
So, we know it’s important, but how do we get the ball rolling and encourage our audience, our readers to interact with us?
We do it by asking them questions, by asking them for feedback and by encouraging them to share their options – right from our blog posts.
Let me give you an example. Let’s say you’re writing a post about getting your baby to sleep through the night. Within the post, ask your readers how old their kids are, or what their own experiences are with their infants. Ask them to share if they are struggling with getting enough sleep right now because baby wakes them up every few hours.
Encourage them to share their stories and tell them exactly where and how to do it – by leaving a comment below.
Now the next step is crucial.
As soon as you see that first comment or two pop up, reply to them and keep the conversation going. This will do two things for you.
- Not only will you have a great conversation with the reader that commented (and a chance to form a deeper relationship), seeing your reply also shows other readers that you care and really want to hear from them. And that’s what will encourage more and more of your loyal readers to comment.
- The same goes for social media engagement. When you post a link to your latest blog post, ask your friends and followers to like, share, and comment. Then let them know how much you appreciate it when they do. You can get the conversation going there too by asking a question related to your blog post on Facebook, for example. It’s a great way to share another link to your blog post and get the conversation going at the same time.
Invite Them To Connect Further Via Social Media
If growing your social media reach is a goal, consider adding some calls to action on to “like” the blog post on Facebook, share it on Twitter, pin it on Pinterest, etc. Or share one of your social media profiles in the call to action and invite them to join you there.
Example: Got questions about crafting calls to action? Let’s talk about it on our Facebook page. (Link to your Facebook page).
Make A Recommendation
Sometimes it makes sense to make a sale and monetize your blog post in your call to action. I also call this pre-selling. You talk about a topic and then at the end, make a recommendation for a product that helps your readers learn more or take the next step.
Example: There’s a lot more to be said about crafting a strong call to action. Look at this guide to learn more.
Invite Them To Join Your List
Often the best thing you can do at the end of your blog posts is to invite readers to join your list.
Once you have them on your email list, you can invite them to come back and read other posts, comment on them, join you on your favorite social media platforms and make offers to your readers.
Getting them on your list should always be your first priority, so use that call to action often.
Give these tips a try to see if you can’t get your readers to engage and interact with you. It’s worthwhile.
8) Get Your Blog Readers On Your List So You Can Get Them Back To Your Blog
How many times do you browse the web, hopping from one site to the next and finding some cool blogs?
It happens to me all the time and I have every intention of going back to some of those blogs to read more. Sometimes I even remember to bookmark them.
But the chances of me ever finding my way back there or digging through my list of hundreds of browser bookmarks are slim to none.
And most people that stumble across your blog are the same way. That’s not a very effective way to grow a loyal readership.
That’s why it is crucial to get those readers on your email list.
Once you do that, you can bring them back over and over. You can send out a quick little email inviting them to read your latest blog post. But it doesn’t stop there.
You can also share your social media posts and profiles with your list and grow your reach with nothing more than an email that invites them to interact with you on your Facebook Page for examples.
And with each email you sent, your readers get to know you a little better. Ideally, that means they’ll also like and most importantly trust you more.
Once your readers know, like, and trust you, they’ll gladly take you up on product recommendations you make to them.
A lot of my readers and clients ask me about monetizing their posts.
Frankly, the best answer is to get your readers on your list, build that relationship and then make offers via email.
You don’t have to be spammy about it or sound like a used car salesman. Instead, share some helpful information, give them some tips and then invite them to learn more or implement it with the product you’re recommending.
Let’s recap why it’s so crucial to your blogging success that you should focus on building an email list first.
- It allows you to bring readers back to your blog whenever you’re publishing a new post.
- Having a list also allows you to grow your social media reach by inviting readers to connect with you on said social media properties.
- Last but not least, staying in touch regularly via email gives you a chance to build a relationship with your audience. It’s at that point that it makes sense to make offers for products and services and make some money from your blog posts and emails.
I hope this inspires you to give building a list for your blog a try.
I have a lot more to share on the topic of blogging and how to write blog posts and would love to email you with more tips and strategies on a regular basis. Just enter your name and email below and we’ll get started right away. As a thank you, I’ll even send you my guide to attracting your first 1000 subscribers in just 30 days.