Ah, blogging. It’s the key to creating a successful online empire that earns you a living and a hoard of accolades. Anyone can start a blog. Anyone can earn money from a blog. Anyone can market their business using a blog. And, of course, anyone can turn a blog into a business.
But how the hell do you write a blog?
I’m not talking about setting up a website, or hosting a blog, or monetising that blog to actually make money. All that’s important to understand, but a more fundamental question that, in many ways, is far more important is how to write a blog post.
In a literal sense.
How do you take words and turn them into a blog? And do it in such a way that people will:
- Want to read it, and
- Find it.
There’s good news and bad news. The good news is that literally anyone can learn how to write blogs, and do so in a way that’s engaging, entertaining, and profitable. Anyone can learn to optimise their blogs for search so they’re found, and share them across social media to build a pack of loyal fans.
The bad news is that when you first learn how to do it, it may feel like there are a lot of things to remember.
The good news is, once you start doing all the things regularly, they become a habit, second nature, and effectively blogging becomes super easy. So, without further ado let’s jump in. Here’s how to write blog posts…
What’s The Difference Between A Blog And A Blog Post
Before we dig in, let’s just clarify this. When we say ‘a blog’ or ‘the blog’ we’re generally referring to a blog as a whole; every post and all associated media uploaded with them. If you head to a website’s blog feed and click on any one of those titles, you’ll be taken to a separate page with text that discusses the topic of the title, plus any images, videos, etc that go with it. That’s a blog post.
There’s a lot that goes into creating a successful blog – strategy, visibility, branding – but it all starts with figuring out how to write the individual blog posts.
From there, you build an empire, one blog post at a time.
How To Write A Blog Post
The fact you’ve thought to ask this question actually puts you fairly far ahead of a lot of bloggers. Many bloggers adopt a freeflow approach to blogging, they write whatever they want and feel like, whack it up, and hope for the best. In the early days of blogging when the internet was in its infancy, this was enough.
In the modern age of technological advancement as we stand on the cusp of web3, there is such a huge quantity of content online about every conceivable subject writing what you want no longer cuts the proverbial mustard. Not if you expect to build an online following and organically attract and retain an audience.
Don’t get me wrong, you can still blog about whatever you want, in whatever tone or style suits you. There are just certain elements that, once incorporated, give you the best possible chance of those blog posts becoming successful.
If you’re completely unarsed about ranking on SERPs, and crafting your posts to ensure people actually read them, by all means write whatever you want however you like. If this is essentially your online diary and you’re not bothered how much traffic you get, who sees it, or if they bother reading to the end, you really don’t need to care about the ins and outs of writing a well optimised blog post.
But, if you’re planning on building a following, turning your blog into a source of income or a business, or using your blog to market an existing business, read on…
Why Are You Writing It?
This may seem like an odd question; what does it matter? Surely the way you write it is exactly the same? Well, not really. For starters, if you’re writing purely for pleasure and don’t give a damn about growing a following, or whether anyone ever actually reads it, you don’t need to worry about SEO. You can just write whatever you want.
Even if you are concerned about visibility and SEO your objective affects a few key factors like the length of the blog. If you’re looking to keep your website regularly updated and little more, a c.600 word blog post is all you need. If you’re looking to use content marketing as a strategy to market your business, longform content that’s c.2500 words long is going to be more effective. If the goal is to sell products or services, your topics are going to need to appeal to people who need them and are at the point of buying them. If your goal is to grow your email list you’re going to need a solid lead magnet to offer in your post, and tie the topic into that.
Figuring out your objective for a post before you write it allows you to craft it in a way that’s most likely to achieve your goal.
What’s Your Topic?
So, what are we writing about? Do you already know? Have a vague idea but no solid thought to follow? Or maybe it’s all mapped out in your head already and you just need to get it down.
You don’t need to know the ins and outs of every point you’re going to make at this stage. You do, however, need a clear idea of what your topic is, and how it can achieve your objective.
For example, my objective with this blog post is to attract people who want to learn how to blog. I’m about to release a book, Divine Blogging, that is a step-by-step guide to running a successful content marketing campaign using a blog. The book teaches you how to blog strategically, something most bloggers seek to learn at some point. But initially the first hurdle is figuring out how to actually write a damn blog post. Make myself known to people at that stage, and I have a wide audience of people likely to want my book (either now, or later when they’re ready).
So, my topic for this post is how to write a blog, because I want to attract people interested in learning how to blog.
You may not have a specific product or service you want to tie into your blog. But what action are you hoping people will take once they’ve read your blog post? What are they likely to be looking for information on immediately before making the decision to take that action?
Research Your Keywords And LSI Terms
If you don’t know what to write about, but know you need to blog, keyword research is your new best friend. It’s a little confusing to do at first, but once you get the hang of it it’s actually pretty easy. There are two ways of doing keyword research:
Use an SEO tool or Google Ads Keyword Finder (always my go-to start) to find keywords relevant to your products and services. You’ll be able to see which have a high volume of traffic (a lot of people searching for them), and which are going to be really tough to compete on. You’re looking for a nice balance between traffic and competition – high traffic keywords are very appealing so are often highly competitive. Look for ones with low or medium levels of competition so you have a better chance of ranking for them. Sometimes the reason competition is high on a keyword is because it best describes what you’re offering, so all your competitors are already trying to rank for it. When you have no choice but aim for keywords with very high competition, look for ones with relatively low traffic. Your competition is likely to be focusing on the really high-traffic terms.
Find a keyword that meets your objective and has a decent amount of traffic on it, but not too much competition (or vice versa) and create a topic around that keyword.
Once you have your core keyword – the one you want the blog to rank for – you’ll also want to make a list of LSI terms. Very simply put Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI) is Google’s way of cleverly understanding what content is about. It means you can use your keywords in the grammatically correct way, rather than trying to awkwardly stuff a specific format into every content. It also means that if you’re writing a great post about a topic and using a bunch of words and phrases relating to that topic, Google can pick up on these relevant terms and determine you’re writing with authority on the subject.
For example, in the course of writing this post about how to write a blog post, I’ve also talked about content marketing, SEO, keywords, LSI terms, metadata (getting to that) and various other things. Google’s algorithms are clever enough to understand that all these key terms and phrases are interrelated. So, if you’re writing a blog about blogging, and only use keywords relating to blogging, Google will understand this post is about blogging. BUT if you include LSI terms – that is, a collection of related keywords and phrases that are relevant to the broader topic – Google will understand that, not only is this post about blogging, but you’re also very knowledgeable about the topic as a whole.
This is super important for ensuring your blog gains authority and trust. The more search engines trust your authority, the more they will prioritise your content over other sites.
The good news is this part is super easy. Your keyword research will kick out a bunch of related terms that are around the same topic as your core keyword. All you need to do is make a list of these keywords and phrases and include them where possible as you write your blog post.
Come Up With A Catchy (Optimised!) Title
Never underestimate the power of your title. There are obvious titles, and then there are engaging titles. They are boring titles, and titles that evoke strong emotional responses. There are titles we skim straight over and titles that we have to click.
Spend some time brainstorming the best title for your blog post. Be sure to include your core keyword in the title (remember, you can grammatically alter it so it makes sense! Gone are the days of forcing a specific format into your title!).
If you’re able to naturally include an LSI term in your title, do, but don’t force it.
You (currently) want to keep your title to 50-60 characters in length. That can change on a whim of the Google gods (one great reason to follow me on Instagram, as I’ll tell you if it changes).
Research Top Competitors For Your Core Keyword
This step is optional, but highly recommended. If you already know your topic backwards and don’t need to research it, and you’re certain of exactly what you need to include in order to rank highly, you don’t need to bother.
If, however, there are aspects of the topic you’re not fully versed in, research is needed. And if you’re prioritising SEO and getting this blog to rank, you want to know which elements of the topic are being covered by your competitors.
Why? So you can ensure you cover those same elements and more in your own post. This will effectively position it to compete.
If you don’t want to do this, and choose to skip, just be aware that you might fail to compete simply because your competitors have included a section that you haven’t. So it’s good practice to at least skim the competition before you decide on your structure. All that being said, I often skip this step when writing my own blog posts because I know the topics so intricately, and I’m planning on this being 2500 word+ post, there’s no need. Maybe there’s the odd point I don’t hit on that competitors do, but from experience there’s also a fair bit I cover that they don’t.
When you’re really good at what you do, and put the time in to discuss your topic in detail, you will naturally compete. If you’re not 100% confident on your topic, or you’re writing a short post, it’s worth doing the research.
This step takes a bit of time but it’s super easy. You literally just Google your main keyword and read through the top 3-5 entries on the SERPs. It’s a good idea to do this in Incognito mode so your own browsing history doesn’t impact the results shown. A lot of SEO tools and software come with a built-in feature that shows you the top ranking posts for a keyword, so you don’t have to look them up manually. Other tools will also tell you which keywords and LSI terms are included in competitor posts, allowing you to incorporate them in your blog post.
Create Your Structure
By now you know your topic and have your title. You also have plenty of LSI terms and a list of points or areas to cover from your competitor research. You can now plan out the structure of your post. This is super simple. Just make a list of every point or section you want to include. Then order them in the most logical way you can. Add an introduction section at the start and a conclusion section at the end. Now, bunch together points that naturally fit and create a section for each. Every section will have its own sub heading.
Write Your Metadata
Blog posts have some extra information included on them that readers don’t usually see. This sits in the background and tells search engines what your blog post is about. Some of it also appears on search engine results pages (SERPs) and anywhere a link to your post is shared. This is called Metadata and it’s seriously easy to forget to do, but also super important!
Your metadata includes:
- SEO Title
- Meta description
- Alt text
I find it easiest to write these at the start before you write your blog post. It decreases the likelihood you’ll skip doing it because you’re tired having just finished the whole post.
Your SEO title is essentially the same as your blog title, though it can be different to the Title tag on your blog post if you need or want it to be. For example, if your title is longer than 60 characters a shortened version for your SEO title will ensure it’s not cut off on SERPs, while letting people on your website read the full version.
Your URL is usually best made your core keyword. You shouldn’t be optimising more than one post/page/anything on your website for the same keyword, so the best URL convention to adopt (from an SEO perspective) is to always use the core keyword and nothing else.
Your meta description is a brief description that teases the contents of your blog (while also including your core keyword). This is what people see on SERPs so it needs to convince them to click!
Your alt text will be added to any images or other multimedia content. Google can’t read images, the bots don’t have eyes that can see the image and understand what it’s about, so you need to describe it for them! Again, popping in your keyword or an LSI term on your alt text is a great idea. If you have a lot of images, make sure you vary the keywords you use rather than just using the same core keyword for every image.
Strategically Place Your Keywords
Go back to your keyword and LSI research and see where your words and phrases will naturally fit into the sections you’ve created and the points in each. As a general rule of thumb, you will want to ensure your core keyword is included in the following:
- First paragraph
- At least one subheading (do NOT stuff it into every heading!)
- Concluding paragraph
- Meda description
- Image file names
- Image alt text
Once you’ve placed your core term throughout your plan, go back to your LSI list and add any terms from there that seem relevant to each section.
Write The Draft
Often the hardest part of the entire blog writing process: just write it.
It doesn’t have to be perfect and polished, it doesn’t have to be pretty. Just get it drafted.
Work through your plan and write each section, using the keywords you’ve noted if they fit in naturally. The Google gods prioritise quality and user experience over pretty much anything else these days. Which means your best bet is to write the highest quality post you can. Focus on good writing, and delivering something your readers will find valuable.
If you can naturally fit keywords in at the same time, great, but if you can’t, don’t force it.
In the early years of the internet when there wasn’t a huge amount of content out there, ranking #1 for anything was pretty easy. You just took your keyword and stuffed it into your blog post as many times as humanly possible, This led to a lot of dodgy tactics, from tagging the keyword on every single header, to ‘hiding’ words in the background of a page, repeating over the whole background hundreds of times but unseen as they’re the same colour as the background.
Doing this, or anything like it today, will get you penalised by the Google gods pretty damn fast. It’s called keyword stuffing. Do not do it. Ever.
Write your post naturally, and use your keyword when it’s naturally required, but no more than that. In fact, if you find it’s naturally used too much, switch some of those instances for alternate versions of it (synonyms or other terms from your LSI list).
Refine The Story
Once you’ve drafted your blog post, have a think about your narrative. You ideally want the blog to tell a story, or at least follow a clear path. For example, this blog post is a ‘how to’ style post so it has a very clear step-by-step path to follow. Other posts I’ve written, like Raised By Wolves, are more like a story.
Yes, you get actionable information and advise, but it’s conveyed in story form rather than a more formal instructional format.
Any blog post (no matter how formal) can benefit from a strong narrative. The easiest way to achieve this is to think of a relevant anecdote, tease it in your introduction, explain it in the main body of your blog post, and round it up in the conclusion.
(Re) Write Your Introduction
You probably started by writing your introduction, before you did anything else. This is the linear way of doing it, and so the way most brains prefer to process writing. You start at the beginning. The problem with this is that, whatever you had in mind for your blog when you started writing, the process of actually writing it will have refined that. You’ll have developed your message, perhaps taken an unexpected direction.
When you get to the end and you’re happy with the narrative, you need to go back to the start so you properly introduce it. You might have nailed it in the first draft and not need to, but it’s always worth checking if your intro is as effective as possible. A few key tips:
- Open with a story or something that paints a picture of a relatable situation.
- Tease the main takeaway of your blog post.
- Create an effective hook – something that gets people interested and focuses them to read on.
The brain is a really peculiar thing in that it sees what it expects rather than what is actually there. If you’ve just written something and read it back, you’ll often as not miss spelling mistakes and errors, because your brain knows what it MEANT to write, and that’s what it sees.
Because of this, in an ideal world you’ll have someone else proofread our blog posts for you. If that’s not an option or impractical, try to leave a good chunk of time after you finish writing before you proofread.
Give your brain a break. Shelve it overnight or for a day or two before you proofread.
Again, this isn’t always possible. But if it is, do it!
You can also take advantage of software that can check for errors for you. Microsoft Word and Drive have pretty decent basic spelling and grammar checks, as do most work processing programmes, and even the WordPress dashboard.
If you want something a little more sophisticated, Grammarly is actually very good when you have the pro version. It picks up on a lot more than the average spellcheck, which you might miss in your own writing due to that whole brain blindness thing.
Just remember, you can’t rely 100% on technology, it’s not perfect. It will miss things – like words that are correctly spelt but not the right form of the word (e.g. stationary or stationery). It will also often make suggestions that are incorrect. Sometimes the grammar goes wonky and it tells you to ‘correct’ something that’s already right. You also have your own writing style, and that might not fit in with what the software views as correct. My comma usage is frequently flagged as incorrect, for example, even though it’s not, it’s just a little different to the average writer.
Make use of the tech, just don’t blindly trust it.
Create Your Extra Media
Once you’re done with the writing, think about what other elements you want to include in your blog. There are a few reasons to add extras. Images break up your text which is super important for reader engagement. This isn’t too much of an issue if you’re writing short posts (under 1K words) but if you’re writing anything longer it’s a good idea to break up your text with images, videos, gifs, or offer banners.
There’s also a huge SEO benefit to adding multimedia content to your blogs. The Google gods are constantly searching for search results that present answers to their users in multiple formats. Video marketing has been the darling of the content world for years now, while images and audio are also popular.
In short, if Google has a choice between two blog posts on the same topic, and one of them includes a video, the gods will almost certainly show the one with the video. The same is true (to a lesser extent) with visuals and audios.
Here are a few ways you can include multimedia in your blog posts:
- Feature Image – depending on the design of your website this may or may not be visible on the actual post. Even if you don’t see it on the post it’s important to add one, as it will (usually) be shown on your blog feed and will (definitely) appear on any links to the blog shared across the internet.
- In-Text Images – break up longer sections with an image that illustrates or represents what you’re talking about. Add extra information in image form, for example charts or diagrams. Give your readers’ eyes a break by adding an image between sections.
- Infographics – create a visual representation of what your blog post explains, or a specific aspect of your blog topic.
- Cover Images – cover images are a great way of sharing your blogs on social media. They can simply be your feature image resized, or you can add the title to the image.
- Vlog – record a video version of you reading the written content of your blog post. These are best uploaded to a YouTube channel and embedded in your post. Great for accessibility as it allows those with hearing issues an alternative if you include subtitles.
- Audio – record an audio version of your written blog. These can be used to create podcasts or simply be included as an audio option. Great for accessibility as it gives those with sight issues a way to access your content.
Pro Tip: Add a table of contents plugin to your website to automatically generate for each of your blog posts. This helps with user navigation and improves your ranking.
Get It All Uploaded
Finally, get it all uploaded! Double check you’ve uploaded all your copy correctly, added in any multimedia assets (images, videos, etc.), added in your metadata, and then hit publish. If you’re batching content ahead of time (always a great time-saving tip!), schedule your post for the best time to go out.
As a general rule of thumb I recommend you blog weekly, and post on the same day each week to create consistency people can follow.
And that’s it. I know, it’s a LOT. But honestly once you’re in the habit of doing it, everything becomes second nature and you don’t even need to think about it any more. You just do it!