Alright, I’m letting you in on one of my best kept secrets. OK, it’s not a secret, but it’s insight into my blogging process. If one of your 2019 goals is to start a blog or re-vamp your blogging strategy, keep on reading. I’m sharing my process on how to write blog posts people actually want to read. Ready?
First – let people know what to expect when they visit your blog – what content can they expect from you? To answer this question, I’d suggest you pick pick 3-4 topics to blog about. Your categories should be general enough so you’re not limited to blog post ideas, but it’s okay to pick niche topics too.
20 bonus points for you if your topics are related to your personal brand (content marketing is king!) Ideally, your categories are subjects you’re passionate or knowledgeable about. It’ll be easier to generate ideas on what to write, and your passion and knowledge will come through in your writing.
CASE IN POINT: When I started this blog, I knew I wanted to write about leadership, communications, introverts and the occasional post on life as a millennial. These are all topics that I’m passionate and *trying* to be knowledgeable about (I’m always reading about books and online articles about these subjects. #onbrand).
Second – I’m going to tell your right now, your blog is not about you. I know, I know – I just told you to pick topics YOU are passionate about. But there’s a difference between a blog and a diary. You want people to read your blog. So there’s already a part of you that knows this isn’t really about you.
In fact, you should use “you” in your blog posts more than “I” or “me.” I’m not saying you shouldn’t share your personal experiences, stories or anecdotes. Just make sure you’re clear on who your audience is. While your family and friends are your #1 fans, and will read most of your blog posts, they’re not your primary audience.
Who is your primary audience? It could be:
- Prospective employers so you can show off your industry expertise and top-notch writing skills.
- Your current customers or prospective clients – you address their challenges, questions, needs or interests in your posts.
- A fan-base or niche community you’re a member of because you want you to contribute your unique take.
- Your peers and colleagues so you can network with them and share best practices or trends.
Now that you have your blog topics and your target audience, you can brainstorm blog posts. If you take ANYTHING from this entire guide – make VALUE your focus word for your blog. Every blog post your write should provide value to your audience.
How do you know what’s valuable? Evaluate each potential blog post by asking yourself this question: “How does this provide VALUE to my reader?” Does your post answer questions, address concerns, or solve problems your audience has? Does it address topics your audience cares or wants to learn more about?
CASE IN POINT. I want to write a post on communications, one of my blog topics. I could write about why Twitter is my favourite social network. But that doesn’t provide any value to my reader. Instead, I write about why Twitter is the perfect social network for fellow introverts. It explains some of Twitter’s great features and highlights how it can be beneficial for introverts – clear value for my reader.
You might even be halfway done a blog post draft and find yourself asking “So what? What’s my reader walking away with? What did they learn that they didn’t know before?” When you realize you can’t answer those questions, you might scrap the half-finished post altogether. And that’s totally okay.
If what you’re writing doesn’t spark conversation, challenge the status quo, or provoke your reader to take a specific action – don’t waste your time writing it, because your audience won’t waste their time reading it. Ideally your blog posts should educate, entertain, inspire or inform.
Now that you have some blog post ideas, start writing. Figure out how often you can write (be realistic) and the best time for you to write. Use the Notes app on your phone, Evernote or the Google Docs app so you can write blog posts on-the-go. Prehistoric pencil and paper also works for me.
If you’re just starting out with blogging, you may want to complete a couple of posts before your blog goes live. And there’s nothing wrong with working on multiple posts at a time. Write where you can, when you can, and read twice as much to become a better writer.
While it’s nice to give your readers a regular schedule to expect new content, don’t worry too much about consistently posting new blog posts every Monday or bi-weekly. We’d all like to churn out a blog post on a regular basis but unless your a full-time blogger, it’s not happening. Life will happen and you’ll get busy – or suffer from writer’s block. Stay focused on providing VALUE for your readers. When you’re not stressed about publishing content frequently, you can focus on publishing quality content consistently.
So you’ve written a 🔥 blog post that people actually want to read – it’s a topic you’re passionate about, and it provides value to your reader. Awesome! There’s only 2 things left to do.
First, kill your darlings – edit, edit, edit. If you’ve ever searched for a recipe and ended up visiting a food blog, you’re used to scrolling past a blogger’s life story before you get to the actual recipe. Don’t let your blog posts be like that.
Keep your introduction short and get to the sweet content your readers want to read. Delete anything that isn’t necessary – and this means you have to be really honest with yourself. That one sentence you thought was clever or witty might be a reference only 2 people understand (including you). Kill your darlings.
Here’s a mini editing checklist:
- Eliminate redundancy.
- Break up long sentences and paragraphs (your paragraphs should have various sentence lengths).
- Use subheadings, lists, and bold/italics for emphasis.
- Triple-check your spelling and grammar.
- Use contractions and a conversational tone.
- Try running your writing through the Hemingway Editor.
- Use Grammarly, and Yoast SEO (sorry Squarespacers).
- Include external links, and embed multimedia like tweets, GIFS and videos.
- Read it through the eyes of your target audience: is there any information missing? Is there anything that’s confusing or based in assumption?
I’ll often do several edits using the list above – and here’s a confession – sometimes I’m still editing even after I’ve published the post!
Finally, give your post a title that will entice people to read. Look no further than BuzzFeed articles or your favorite YouTube vlogger for inspiration – 3 Things You Didn’t Know About X, Here’s Why You Shouldn’t Do Y, or A Must-Read Guide to Z. Remember, your focus word – VALUE. Your title should communicate what they can expect to gain from reading your blog post.
And there you have it – you can now write blog posts people actually want to read!
Found this post helpful? Leave a comment below or share it to your networks!
Of course, there are technical things you can do to ensure your blog posts are seen and read by more people (e.g. SEO, alt image tags, re-purposing content, sharing on social media). If you need some tips on that – send me an email or leave a comment below!