How to write a blog post

How to write a blog post

A blog post is a great way to connect with your target audience, helping with engagement and it also helps to set you up as an expert in your field.

Your blog post is basically an article, or piece of news, maybe a guide or ‘how to…do something’. It covers a specific topic or can address a particular problem that your audience is encountering, that you solve. Generally, blog posts range from 600 – 2000 words and contain images, videos, or infographics.

Importantly, blog posts are great for driving traffic to your website. There are millions of blogs out there on every subject you can think of, so it’s important to make yours as engaging as possible.

Where do I start?

The first task is to have a brainstorming session to generate ideas for your posts. Coming up with ideas can be a daunting task, and it’s often the most difficult part of blog writing, but once you get your ideas, you’ll be away!

I use my blog to start a theme, which I then run through all my social media posts, repurposing part of my blogs to make other content. So, how do I find things to write about?

I know my target audience and my ideal client, so I look at the problems they might be facing with their small businesses. I belong to several groups on Facebook and follow lots of small businesses on my Instagram account, so I can see if there are questions being asked about my specific niche. Then I try to address those issues in a blog post.

I also use Pinterest to look for ideas; Quora is a Q&A platform, where you can search for questions being asked in your niche and Reddit is a good source of content ideas – you just put your subject in the search bar and ideas for content will come up. There are loads of tools out there to help you…and don’t forget to ask your customers or audience what they’d be interested in seeing.

Once you have your topic, the next decision to make is what kind of post are you going to do? You could do:

  • A ‘how to’ post
  • A ‘what is…’ post
  • An ultimate guide
  • Tips and hints
  • A list-based post
  • Informational
  • Educational
  • A post about something personal that’s happened in your life

It really depends on your niche. If you’re a travel blogger, for example, you’ll be writing about places you’ve been, how you get there, what your experiences were like and giving lots of advice about travelling in general.

This would be a different kind of blog than someone like me, who writes about marketing and helping small businesses. My posts tend to be educational, ‘how to’ (like this one!) or addressing things I know that my audience struggle with.

Create an outline of your post.

Now you have your idea and you have decided on what kind of post you’re going to do, create an outline. Do plenty of research on your subject and make notes, then you can put everything into some sort of order. A quite simple order for a post would be:

  • Your introduction – include the title of your post here and a few keywords.
  • The main point of your post, what you are hoping to achieve, or what you are hoping your audience will achieve and what they’re going to get out of your post.
  • Additional information – this can be bullet points, infographics, graphs, or videos/images to illustrate your points. This is where you get down to the nitty gritty.
  • Conclusion – reiterate the point of the blog post, and include a call to action, so your audience know what to do next. This could be ‘Follow my blog for more tips’; you could include a link to another page on your website; you could point your audience to your social media pages, so they can check them out. Or you can ask a question to encourage commenting on your blog post.    

Now, onto the writing

Make sure you understand your audience – what do they want to know about? What will resonate with them? Creating a buyer persona can help with this, so you know your audience’s likes and dislikes.  

Then, just start writing. It doesn’t have to be perfect, just get all your ideas down – write freely. Use your own voice and don’t try to be clever or write like a car manual! Just be yourself and your personality will come over to your audience.

Try and set aside 30 minutes a day to get yourself into the habit of writing and it will soon become second nature.   

Once you’ve finished your blog:

  • go back over it and tweak it, so that it reads in order. Don’t forget to edit the grammar and spelling and check for typos. Sometimes the spelling of a word is right, but predictive text has changed it to something completely different to the word you wanted, so it doesn’t make sense.  
  • Read it aloud, as sometimes what you read and what you hear when you read it are completely different!
  • If you’ve mentioned stats, ensure you include a link to the source of your information.
  • If you mention another business, include a link to their website
  • If the topic you’re writing about links to a previous blog article you’ve written, put a link to the previous article – this keeps your audience looking on your website
  • Then step away from your article – leave it for a day, or at least a couple of hours, then go back and re-read it with fresh eyes. This will help you pick up any errors and gives your brain time to process what you’ve written about, which might result in you wanting to add something.

Write your headline

I always write my headline last – I know the subject of the blog post and use that as a headline to start with. Then, once I’ve read the post through, I think of a catchy headline. For this post, I’ve literally used ‘How to write a blog post’, because I want you to know immediately what the post is about – it’s educational and informational, so I feel it just needs to say what it does on the tin!

Don’t be too clever or obscure with your headline writing, as you have very little time to capture your audience’s attention, so make it short and snappy and understandable.

I’ve written a previous blog about writing emotional headlines, which might help.    

Add images

Images help to break up the text, so incorporate a few images into your blog post.

SEO

Writing a blog post and publishing it on your website is great, but without SEO (search engine optimization), it won’t be found…unless you have a big following on your blog…and even then, you want to be finding new people to read it too.

Quite simply, SEO is about a strategic use of keywords, headline, sub headlines, URL and ensuring that your post is readable and easy to understand. You can use plugins, such as Yoast, which help enormously with your SEO, giving suggestions and correcting what you’ve done. SEO is a whole other subject, but it’s worth googling it to find out more.

Neil Patel is an absolute SEO guru – he has a great website, with easy-to-understand videos and blog content. He writes about all things marketing, so check out his website. I’ve learned so much from him!

Hit the publish button

Finally, once you’re happy with everything, hit that publish button and your blog post is ready to share with the world. Don’t just hit publish and run – you need to now do some work to get your blog in front of your target audience.

  • Share your post on all your social media sites, making sure you change the wording slightly for each platform.
  • Share in business groups when they have a ‘share your business’ day. There are several blogging groups too, which you can join and share your posts.
  • Tag influencers and use hashtags to get your content in front of your audience.
  • If you send out regular emails to subscribers, or send out a newsletter, include a link to your blog, with a sentence or two about it.
  • Look on one of the Q&A sites and if your blog answers someone’s question, answer their question and link them to your blog for further information
  • Use analytics to track the performance of your blog   

 After that, it’s just a case of creating consistent content – be that once a month or once a week – whatever you choose, try and be consistent with that timing. Your blog will start to attract an audience and will start to establish you as an expert in your field.

So, set aside time each week or month to brainstorm ideas and work on your blog. I always carry a notebook with me, (but I am a stationery geek!). I often think of ideas when I’m out, so I can make notes about ideas, no matter where I am.

If you have any questions, please feel free to put them in the comments. If you want to have a blog, but simply don’t have time to do it yourself, please drop me an email cindymobey@outlook.com

Happy writing and blogging!        

Turn your blog readers into customers

Blogging is a huge commitment for most of us…it takes up valuable time and energy to produce your once a month, or once a week blog. And whilst you may write your blog for fun or to purely engage with your audience, there will come a time when you want to try and make money from it. So, what can you do to help make that happen?

Absolutely know your audience  

I find myself writing this all the time when talking about marketing, but it is really so important that you know your audience, especially when you’re writing content for them. Your audience will dictate how you write and what you write…and the language that you use. For example, if you write for a young, gaming audience, you will write for them – you wouldn’t write a blog the same way if it was aimed at a business audience or an older audience.

I’m a marketing consultant so I sometimes have to reign myself in when I’m writing. I love writing about marketing, but when I read my blog back, I have realised in the past that I’m writing for my own peer group of marketers…and that’s not who my audience is! My audience are owners of small businesses who want to increase their own profile online, engage their audiences and of course, sell their products or services. My aim is to teach my readers about marketing, so they have the choice to have a go at it for themselves, and of course, I want to help them with their choice, but ultimately I want my audience to come to me to help them with their marketing and content creation. It’s a fine line!

Just knowing who your audience is isn’t enough – you need to find out a bit more…ask these questions…

  • What age are they?
  • What gender, if appropriate?
  • What is their marital status?
  • What do they do for a living?
  • What are their interests outside of work?

And the biggie…What are the problems and challenges they face?

Once you have this information, you can pull together a profile of your ideal customer and use this to direct your blog content at.

Choose the right subject to write about

You’ve sorted out your ideal customer and you know what problems and challenges they face. Write them all down and work out how you can solve those problems.

Once you have a list of solutions, there’s your content. If you’re helping your ideal customers solve their problems, they’ll know that they can turn to you. The right way of course, is not to provide all the answers, which is something I’m guilty of! But this doesn’t mean you don’t provide a detailed article about how they can solve their problem – you can give information that is useful and actionable, but leave something that they can come to you for.

Call to action

It’s important to leave room for a CTA (call to action) that will draw your audience in, make them want to know more, or ask you for more help. I don’t mean asking directly if they want to employ you. It might be you encourage them to sign up for your newsletter, join your mailing list, download a freebie, listen to your podcast or watch a webinar you’ve set up. This won’t immediately make them a customer, but you’re leading them down the right path, and can help them see how you can add value to their business, or to their life.

For example, say you’re a life coach. You write a great blog post, and your CTA could be you point your readers to your website. You might talk about a particular subject and point them to a free webinar where you talk in more detail about that subject. You might have a free social media group they can join to talk to other like-minded people. Ultimately, this could lead to them booking a coaching session with you.  

Content and the buying cycle 

Think for a minute about your own buying cycle. Let’s take a recent example at my home. I was out on our sit-on lawn mower and it stopped working and made a strange whirring noise. I told my partner about it when he got home. I know nothing about lawn mowers and certainly wouldn’t have a clue how to fix it.

  • So, our first problem was THE NEED to get it fixed, but we’re not sure how.
  • The next obvious step is to find out what could be wrong. My partner goes onto YouTube and investigates the problem. He tries to work out whether it’s worth trying to fix it himself or whether it just needs a new part. This is the INITIAL RESEARCH stage. His research tells him that he needs a new drive belt.
  • My partner now has a solution to the problem. Now we have to find out who sells drive belts and where we can buy it. This is the FINAL RESEARCH.
  • Finally, the PURCHASE stage and we order the drive belt and pay for it.

If you are writing a blog with the idea of getting customers from it, you need to be targeting those that are at the INITIAL RESEARCH stage. Then you can give them the answers they’re looking for. But, it doesn’t stop there – you also want to make your content give total confidence in your product or service, so the blog takes them from that initial stage right through to the purchase…and show that your business is the right place to do just that!

The content needs to be in long-form, so that you have time to engage your readers, gain their trust and ultimately help them to see that you have that perfect product or service that solves their problem or meets their needs.

Content needs more than that…

OK, so you’ve let them see that you’re the perfect fit for what they’re looking for, but not all our readers look at an article in detail, so it’s really important to think about the format of your blog.

If you just write plain text, they might miss the point, so you need to make your content visually appealing.

  • Use bullet points to draw their attention to the important bits
  • Use short paragraphs
  • Use subheadings
  • Make sure that the font you use is easy to read and a decent size
  • And of course, use images to break up the text
  • If you want to draw attention to a particular part, use CAPITAL LETTERS or BOLD text…or both!

Include testimonials

How many times do you buy something without looking at the reviews of a product? I know I always do, as it gives me an idea of the product I’m going to order. For example, with shoes, some reviews will say ‘buy one size bigger, as these shoes are on the small side’. This helps me to make my decision to buy or not. So, include a testimonial in your blog if you can to sway your audience that your product is the best. Find a testimonial that says why your product is the best.  

Don’t digress

Don’t go off on a tangent and start talking about something else, make sure that you focus on the one product or service that you’re trying to sell or engage your audience with.

By all means, lead up to your point slowly and build a picture, but try not to get too distracted and don’t use too many links, as this will distract your reader.

Buy now!

Try and create some urgency around buying your product or service. I’m sure you will have heard of FOMO – personally I hate this expression, but in marketing it’s an effective tool. The ‘fear of missing out’ on something makes us want to buy it now.

Using language that suggests an urgency to buy can persuade your audience that it’s now or never. Things like:

  • For a limited time only
  • Only three spaces left on my course
  • At this price for a limited time only

You get the idea!

And if you’re building up to a sales pitch, using one of those FOMO phrases…

Start using shorter sentences.

It makes you sound breathless.

It’s urgent.

You need to do this now.

This makes your readers read faster and they’ll feel the urgency.

Don’t be too salesy

Finally, don’t be too salesy. Your audience will know you, they’ll follow your blog because they like to see what you have to say. They don’t want the hard sell all the time.

You need to be giving advice and showing a solution to a problem and that should take up most of your post, but you can weave a subtle sales pitch into the content. Selling your product or service is only a small part of it.

Your readers trust you and trust your content. As my readers, you’ll know that I rarely use my posts to sell my business. Rightly or wrongly, I enjoy writing as it’s my happy place and I’m passionate about helping small businesses to grow. If I suddenly came over all salesy, I’d lose that trust and I’m sure, a lot of my followers.

It’s about getting the balance right. You don’t want to sell so hard that you destroy your reputation and your credibility. Writing a blog lets people know that you are an expert in your field and your followers will be confident that you know what you’re talking about. They may take a while to get to know you, but if they can see that you are knowledgeable and helpful, they will come back, and that will increase the chance that they will buy from you, or work with you in the future.    

The pros and cons of blogging

There are several pros and cons to having a blog and blogging. I’ve had a blog for about seven years and have been writing pretty consistently now for about three years – it was a bit hit and miss at first.

Why do I blog?

I’m a small business marketing consultant and also a freelance writer, creating content for businesses. So, it makes sense to have a blog to give articles that will help educate my audience on how to market their businesses. The information I give is free and I know it has helped lots of people to get on track with their marketing.

I also enjoy writing, so it’s a challenge to find a new subject to write about every week, but I never seem to run out of ideas as my subject matter is vast. My blog also gives potential clients the chance to see that I can write, so they are seeing regular examples of what I can do.

These are my reasons, but what are the more official pros and cons?

The pros of blogging

Blogs are a great source of information and in this digital age, if anyone wants to find out something, they search online first. Blogs can help give the information they need. But let’s get down to the nitty gritty:

  • First of all, starting a blog is easy. I use WordPress and they have several templates to help you when you start. Adding posts is simple and straight-forward and you don’t need to know any HTML or other code to do this.
  • Blogging is a great creative outlet. If you love writing, you can get started immediately and write about any subject you want to. If you love travel, for example, then you could write about all the places you’ve visited, with advice for people who are thinking of going there. If you love food or love cooking, you could start a food blog, giving recipes and adding video to show people how to make something. The possibilities are endless.
  • You don’t have to be an expert – if you’re interested in a certain topic, that’s enough. You can write about what you do know and research the rest. You’ll learn as you go and your writing will improve with every post. The trick is the same as everything else – just get started. Your first blog post won’t necessarily be fabulous, but you’ll grow as you write more and more.
  • A blog is the perfect reason for people to visit your website. Mostly, websites are pretty static and you don’t constantly add or change content. Adding a blog means that your site is constantly being updated, which ensures people come back for more. You can also link to other blog posts that you’ve written in the past from the one you’re doing now – backlinks.
  • Blogging can be good for your business as it can be a way you’re your business to be found on Google. Generally, people will connect more with other people than with a brand, so your blog helps potential clients out there relate to you. It helps them get to know you.
  • Writing a blog will also set you up as an expert in your field. If you consistently publish blogs that are useful or that people want more of, every time you publish a new blog, you’ll get more followers. People will share the blogs they like and then that opens you up to a whole new audience. The key here is to provide valuable and useful content that people need and want.
  • Blogging is really good for those of you who are more introvert. You can write in private and have your content reach thousands of people. If you don’t have the confidence to speak publicly or do presentations, blogging is the next best thing. And the good thing about a blog is that it is there permanently, so if people want to come back to it to refer to the information you give, they can…any time of the day or night.
  • Once you’ve been blogging for a while, you’ll realise that you are constantly picking up new skills. Blogging is a lot more than just writing. You learn how to use WordPress, for example, and how to build a website; you learn about Search Engine Optimization (SEO); Social Media marketing, as you have to promote your blog; Email marketing; improve your written skills and learn about images and graphics.    
  • You can also use blogging to get into freelance writing. Your blog is your portfolio, which demonstrates you know how to write, source images, do extensive research on a subject etc.
  • Finally you can make money with your blog. If you write about certain products, you can sell them through your blog posts. You can also do affiliate marketing, get an income from Ad revenue or sponsored posts. To make money on your blog, you will need to constantly put in the time and effort to keep it going, but it can be very lucrative.    

Of course, as well as a host of reasons why you should be blogging, there are some cons. It’s always good to know, so you can make up your mind as to whether it’s right for you.

The cons of blogging

  • You need to be very disciplined to stay on top of your blog, especially if you are going to be doing it for a living. I blog once a week as it suits me and is an aid to my business. I don’t use it as an income, but if you intend to, you will need to write much more frequently and consistently. It takes a lot of time, effort and perseverance to be noticed and is a very steep learning curve. If it was easy to do, everyone would be doing it. It does take months, years even, to really get noticed and to have enough content to prove your expertise.
  • Because of the reasons above, time etc., you’re not going to make money overnight. And if you do make money from your blog, it isn’t going to be a regular income – it will fluctuate month on month.
  • Blogging is also a lonely life – you spend hours at your computer and it can be quite and isolating existence. You won’t have the interaction with colleagues face to face like you do in an office, but it does also give you freedom to pop out if you have to. It’s swings and roundabouts!
  • You need to be good with change and be prepared for technical issues. Sometimes servers crash, there are glitches in your website, which you need to sort out. You could have internet problems, so can’t get online. And of course, the algorithms for the various social media channels that you’ll link to, plus algorithm changes on google can impact who sees your blog and who it is shown to. The General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) that changed back in 2018 had an impact on being able to just send your blog out on email – your audience had to sign up and give their permission to receive it by email. These things can change at any time.
  • You need to be organised and have a plan, so you know what you’ll be writing about and how for at least a few months in advance. And you need to invest money into your blog, so you have the right apps to promote it, use paid ads etc. Your website will also incur hosting costs, keeping up with the latest training costs money too. If it’s really successful, you might even want to employ a VA to help you getting your blog onto all the various social media sites.

So, now you have all the pros and cons, you can make an informed decision – to do or not to do a blog!

If you do, please share the link with me and if you have any further questions or need help, feel free to drop me a mail.