Social media is pretty simple: if you share great stuff, then people are likely to engage with it, and you’ll get more interaction, more followers and more leverage.
But if you’ve got nothing to talk about and put out there, how do you expect people to visit your site or find out more about you and your business?
Marketing is about content and conversation these days. Which is why blogs are so incredibly important and why you should be actively creating regular articles that your target audience will appreciate, find valuable and therefore want to interact with.
So how do you create great content? To craft the perfect blog post – one that both humans and search engines will love – you need several of the right key ingredients. A pinch of a catchy title. A delicious dose of an intro that emotionally connects with the audience. A sprinkling of imagery and bullet points to break up the text. All of these things add up to an excellent recipe for the perfect article for your website.
We’ll attempt to take you through the process of drafting your beautiful posts. But first, a quote from George Orwell:
“A scrupulous writer, in every sentence that he writes, will ask himself at least four questions, thus:
1. What am I trying to say?
2. What words will express it?
3. What image or idiom will make it clearer?
4. Is this image fresh enough?”
Thank you, George. Now here are Creative Boom’s top tips on how to write the perfect blog post.
Understand your audience
First of all, consider your audience. Who are you writing for? Put them in your mind and imagine you’re sat with them down the local pub. What language would you adopt to get on their level? Would you be formal? Informal? Friendly or strictly professional? What about a combination of all of the above? Before you start typing, consider the audience and craft a specific writing style to suit who you’re targeting.
Don’t overthink it
Often the thing that paralyses people from blogging is the fear that it won’t be good enough. That people will be ready to judge them, and not enjoy what they’ve got to say.
The beauty of blogging is that it should be as easy as a conversation. It should be light and flow smoothly from your brain onto your screen. It doesn’t have to be a masterpiece that competes with the likes of Orwell or Hemingway. Just stop overthinking it and start typing. You’ll be surprised how easily the words flow when you stop worrying about what you write.
Pick a theme and an exciting topic
Great content, the kind that gets shared, again and again, comes in either one of the following key themes:
- information (what’s happened?)
- analysis (what does that mean to me?)
- advice (how do I do that?)
- entertainment (what on earth is that?)
Pick one of the above to get started. Are you going to inform your audience, or entertain them? Are you going to offer advice or offer an opinion? Choose a theme and then choose a topic to write about; one that will be valuable to your audience.
When it comes to topics, don’t make the mistake of narrowly defining what’s interesting or relevant to your audience. For instance, should cycling brand Rapha only talk about its bicycles? Of course not. It would be boring, and that won’t work on social media. Instead, Rapha understands that its audience is crazy, make that obsessed, about cycling and the whole lifestyle surrounding it. So they’ll blog about travel destinations, fitness tips and even design.
Remember, your audience isn’t so one-dimensional. They’re human, and they’re interested in a whole load of interesting topics. Keep that in mind when you pick your own to write about. If you're stuck, then read our tips on things to blog about when you run out of ideas.
Always keep your audience, theme and topic in mind
Now that you know who you’re writing for and what you’re writing about, stick a Post-it note to the top of your computer screen and write:
- Your audience
- Your theme
- Your topic and post headline
You’d be surprised how easy it is to go off-topic and lose sight of what you’re trying to write.
So, for example, if you’re writing an ‘advice’ piece for freelance photographers on how to protect their images online, write the following on a note:
- Freelance photographers
- How to protect your images online.
This simple technique will ensure you keep on track and write a successful blog post that speaks to your audience and satisfies their needs.
Pick your headline wisely
Once you’ve picked a theme and topic for your blog post, draft a headline. Headlines were always meant to be attention-grabbing, even before we had 140 character tweets to contend with. A headline has one goal, and one goal only - and that’s to encourage people to click and read.
In which case, draft a headline that you think will capture people’s attention. If you need inspiration for your ‘advice’ topic, consider picking and choosing from the following winning formulas:
- Ideas to…
- Smart strategies to…
- Questions you should ask before…
- [#] signs you might be…
- A complete guide to…
- [#] essential steps to…
- What no one tells you about…
- Where to find…
- How to beat…
- [#] rules for…
Don’t worry if you can’t craft the perfect headline before you’ve even started to draft the body of your blog post. You can always come back to it later, once you’ve finished your piece.
Write a strong intro
Your intro is your next chance to keep your audience engaged. If you lose them in the first few paragraphs, then you’re screwed. You can keep their attention in several ways: share an interesting quote or fact, tell a joke or give them something that immediately speaks to their needs. You could even try to emotionally connect with them by writing an opening paragraph that triggers an emotion. That way, they’re more likely to stick around and read more.
You should also write some copy that promises people precisely what they’ll learn from your blog post. Talk through some of the things you intend to cover. Define what value your audience will gain from reading your post.
Mostly, you want to immediately get on their level by speaking to their needs and remembering why they might have clicked on your headline in the first place.
Get writing and organise your content
Once you’ve got your headline and intro sorted, you’ll need to start writing the main body of the post. It can sometimes seem overwhelming, so break the task down into manageable chunks by creating ‘sections’ and drafting sub-titles for each one. It will not only help you to focus on completing your blog post, one step at a time; it will make it simpler for your audience to read.
These sections should cover everything you want to say. Even better, when they’re all set out on your computer screen, you’ll be able to quickly and easily see the skeleton of your blog post coming together and understand whether anything needs to be changed or added. Spend this time getting each section right, and putting things in the right order.
Now that you have your template, you can fill in the blanks. So get writing. Write about what you already know and, if necessary, do some additional research to gather the information you need to complete your post. Don’t forget to provide proper attribution when mentioning external sources. It’s common courtesy to offer gratitude in this way, and your sources will be thankful for it.
Get the length right
In today’s digital world, people don’t have time to read through loads of copy. Keep things short and sweet by sticking to a total word count of between 500-1,000. It’ll keep humans happy, while still adhering to some old SEO rules of writing enough content for the hungry search engine bots to crawl through and gobble up.
Add some appealing imagery or break things up
The eye doesn’t like blocks of text. It can seem overwhelming and put the reader off. In which case, break up the text by adding in imagery, embedded videos or quotes to keep the blog post appealing and readable.
If you’re unable to break up the text with images, consider adding sections with sub-titles, more paragraphs or bullets where possible.
Wrap things up nicely
A conclusion isn’t just for those essays we used to write for our homework. It’s a a great way to repeat some of your key points and leave the reader with a great overall impression of your blog post. It’s also an excellent opportunity to insert a call-to-action, indicating what the reader should do next. Should they stay on your blog and read another article? Point them to it! Should they download a free e-book and subscribe to your newsletter? Whatever you choose, make sure you include something that adds further value.
If you want to encourage further engagement, why not ask people to leave a comment and share their thoughts on your article? It’s a great way to get your audience talking, and feeling as though they’re part of the conversation. Even better, it’s all part of your relationship building and might mean they come back for more.
Proofread your post and fix any issues
You’re so close to finishing, but you’re not quite there yet! The proofreading part is a crucial part of blogging and one that is often overlooked. Go through your entire post and check for spelling and grammatical errors, and ensure that everything makes sense. Print it out if necessary and run through it, highlighting any areas that need to change.
Hit publish and go
Once you’re happy with the final draft, hit ‘publish’, sit back and enjoy the traffic coming through to your blog. Congratulations, you’ve just followed the ideal recipe to create a perfect blog post.
Of course, that’s only one aspect of successful content marketing. If you’d like tips on how to activate that content and get it in front of your audience, watch this space! Another tips article will be coming your way soon.