There are over 600 million blogs in the world today.
Let me say that again for the people in the back. There are over 600 millions blogs on the Internet. The U. S. alone has over 31 million blogs.
Whew! That’s a lot, right?
Is it possible that all those blogs are well written? I wouldn’t think so. There is a method and madness to writing an ideal blog. Yes, I said madness. Writing a well thought out, interesting, and informative blog is like herding toddlers through a toy store and expecting them not to touch anything. Both are madness.
However, writing a great post is actually possible. I wouldn’t say the same for the toddlers.
In my quest to make money writing, I have learned of 9 steps that every blog post must go through if it wants to be read and even shared by other people. If anyone tells you that you can write an ideal blog post in 3 easy steps, they are lying. There is nothing easy about any of the steps and it takes more than 3, but all are necessary.
STEP 1. PICK A TOPIC
Whether you are writing for your own blog or someone else you need to know what you are writing about. I am not talking about niche here. Niche is a whole other animal and it requires far more than a step in article. Depending on who you are writing for you will have to come up with topics on your own or be given a topic.
Gone are the days that a blog was a digital diary. Honestly, no one cares about your problems. They care about theirs.
Your topic should be something that helps the person reading it to take care of their problem. It could be a how to something, like this post that is answering the question of how to write a great blog post. Maybe you answer a question for them about a product or service. Make it about them.
That is assuming you want someone else to read it. If not, ramble away about how you lost your job, your husband left you, your kids don’t talk to you, and your dog hates you.
STEP 2. KNOW THE READER
Know your audience, know your person, know who you hope is reading it.
This step seems to get skipped a lot. People write a post and than wonder why no one read it. Happens to me all the time. When it happens I know it is because either I wrote the piece for myself or I had no clue who I wanted to read it. For some reason we think if we write something that is interesting to us it will be interesting to others. Maybe, but not always. Again, this goes back to writing to someone.
For me, I am writing this to a 35-45 year old, that wants to make money writing from anywhere. They want to travel and do it in luxury. They want their spouse to finally pursue their dream since they have supported them through theirs. They have no idea where to start but know in their hearts that writing to earn money is what they want to do with their life.
If this is a struggle for you, I have created a guide to help you figure out who your person is. Trust me, it makes the writing much easier.
STEP 3. FIND YOUR KEYWORDS
Ok, so you have your topic and you know who you are writing to. Great! Now find your keywords.
What? Keywords? No, no, no. I just want to write. I don’t care about that.
Cool. So, you still don’t want anyone to read or find your post?
Keywords are what people are searching for on the Internet. It might be one word or what they call longtail keywords, which is 2 or more. There is a good chance you typed in Ideal blog post on Google and came across this article. I hope you did because that was my goal.
Now, I’m about to get a little “techy” here but bare with me. There are a lot of sites out there to help you figure this out. Most of them cost money. Since I am still just starting out, I am trying to keep my cost to a minimum until I get things going. Unfortunately, my favorite way to search keywords went to a pay option, but I found a new one called Wordstream. You can pay for advanced searches, if you want. For free, I am able to find what I need based on what I know.
To find my keywords for this post I typed in Ideal Blog Post. Free of charge, I was able to download 323 keyword phrases. Not all applied to what I wanted but that’s ok. I like to use keywords that have low searches in the hopes it gives me a better chance of people seeing it.
That is a whole different topic to cover on another day.
For now, I picked the keyword phrase, ideal blog that had a search volume of 30. That means about 30 people, on average, search for this phrase on Google. (Heck, if 30 people read this article and maybe 5 share it that will be amazing).
So, once you have your topic you will want to get your keyword or words that you will be using in your post. Notice my keywords are in my title, the beginning of my article, and scattered through out. This also falls under the SEO part of the blog, which we get to in step 9.
STEP 4. CREATE THE HEADLINE
Only 2 out of 10 people will read past the headline.
The goal of writing anything is to have someone read it. If that is not your goal, I encourage you to stop reading now and get the key out for the lock on your diary.
The sad part is that most of time, what you have written will not get read and a lot has to do with the title or headline.
When I first starting writing online, I thought my headlines needed to be quick, clever, and a little sassy. I thought if they didn’t quite understand what is was saying, it would force them to read the article. Wrong. People want to know what is in the piece and if it is what they want.
When I came up with this headline I did not want to trick you or gimmick you. I wanted to say what the post was about in a clear, quick way. This is not easy which is why I use the headline-analyzer tool on the coschedule.com website. It is super easy to use but it usually takes me a while to get a good headline. Take the time though, because it is important.
STEP 5. TYPE OF POST AND LENGTH
There are so many different types of post you can write and determining that will help with every part of getting it together. When I started this I knew I wanted to write a how to post because I wanted to show how to do something. You could also write:
· List post (write about a topic that highlights the items in list form. PS – people love this kind of thing)– ex. 10 things you didn’t know about blog posts
· “What is” post (write about a topic that answers a question) – ex. What is the best blog post every written?
· Review post (write about a product and give an opinion about it) – ex. The Writing Technology that Changed My Life
· Controversial post (take an opposite stance on something and see what happens) – ex. Why Not Having Kids Should Be the New Normal
· Pillar or Evergreen post (write on a topic that will stand the test of time. Not trendy) – ex. Why Water Is So Good For Your Body.
Like I said, there are many, many more but these are some of my favorites.
Knowing what type of post you are writing will help with headline and also with the length of the post. Length is one of the most common question that gets asked by beginners. Frustration about getting vague answers, such as, “what ever feels right for you; there is no perfect length; and each one is different”, I did some research. I could not accept that there was not some sort of pattern to the length. What I discovered is that everyone who gave me the vague answers were correct. And there is somewhat of a standard to length.
These are the guidelines I follow:
· 300 words minimum – no blog post should be less than 300 words; at least 1 subheading; at least 1 image.
· 500 words – at least 3 subheadings; 2-3 images.
· 800-1000 words – ideal length for a post; 3-4 subheadings; 3-4 images
· 1000-1500 words – great length for How To and What Is posts; 3-4 subheadings; 3-4 images
· 1500-2000 words – great for long lists and reviews; 4 or more subheadings; 4 or more images
· 2000+ words – for pillar and evergreen posts; 4 or more subheadings; 4 or more images
STEP 6. WRITE YOUR OUTLINE
I know, I can hear the groans already. No one wants to write an outline. It is very high-school, essay paper but I promise you it will keep you on track and focused.
Now, I’m not necessarily talking about a roman numeral type outline (which you can do, of course), but more of a write down each subheading and a couple bullet points for what you are going to talk about in that section.
I used to never do this. I thought I was very cool and would just sit down and write. You know what happens when I do that? Blank. I stare at a blank screen. Or, I get so off topic during my writing that even I don’t know what I was writing about. I included my “outline” for this post here.
It’s nothing special and only took a few minutes but it has kept me on task. (Sorry for the terrible handwriting – my mind moves faster than my hand).
STEP 7. FACTS AND SOURCES
Not every single thing you write will include an outside source. But, if you are sharing information that needs some back up you will want to include the link. Also, no one likes a plagiarizer so if you are spinning off of someone’s fact or idea it is best to include where you got it.
On top of that, getting facts gives credibility to you and lets people know you are not just making stuff up. Notice at the beginning of this post I mentioned the 600 million blogs. I didn’t know that. I researched it and added the link so you can go to the site yourself and read about it.
With the Internet, you can find out anything about anything. If you are able to get a quote or information from an actual person that you spoke with, that is even better. People like facts.
STEP 8. WRITE AND EDIT
You are ready to write. Get your outline, whatever you are drinking, shut off your phone and get to work. As famed author Jodi Picoult says,
If you have done all the other previous steps, this one should be one of the easier ones. You already have a plan, now you have to get it on the paper.
Once your draft is done, it is time to edit. Every writer has their own method of editing. Some write the first draft and don’t pay attention to spelling, punctuation, etc. Some, like me, try to edit along the way. It doesn’t matter how you do it, just make sure that you do. Spelling a word wrong is pretty embarrassing and can turn people off.
When I get to the point that I am feeling good about the piece I have written I copy it into Hemingway Editor. I know there are other sites you can use to edit but I like this one because it is easy and free. The editor tells you what grade your piece is at, how much passive voice you are using, if you used to many adverbs (I’m guilty of this a lot), how many sentences are difficult to read, if another word could be used instead. As of this moment, this post looks like this:
· Grade: 3
· 17 Adverbs used – should be 21 or less
· 3 uses of passive voice – want under 34
· 6 phrases could be simpler
· 4 sentences are hard to read
· 4 sentences are very hard to read
Not bad and I will be going back to edit it before my final publish.
How ever you choose to edit your work please be sure to do it. You and your readers will thank you for it.
STEP 9. DON’T FORGET ABOUT SEO
Ugh, SEO or search engine optimization. I find this to be one of the more frustrating and confusing parts of writing online. I am not an SEO expert, by any means, but I know enough to know that it matters.
In a nutshell, SEO is about how people will find you based on how well you communicate what your site and posts are about. Hubspot.com wrote a great article about this and you can find it here.
The things I focus on when it comes to my SEO and again I do not have this mastered but I am working on it.
SEO that I follow:
· Is my post readable?
· Did I use my keyword or words thoughtfully without cramming them just to have more?
· Does the topic I am writing on make sense for the site? (My own site is about making money writing. How to write an ideal blog post is important to know if you want to make money writing. But, having a post about the newest lipstick trend would not make sense for my site).
· Am I posting on a regular basis? This keeps your site fresh. There is no right amount but I strive for once a week, on Fridays.
That is all I focus on for now. If you have a wordpress website, it guides you about SEO in your posts. As I learn more about SEO and how it works, I will continue to improve and add to my posts and site.
If you know more about SEO, then be sure you are using what you know and don’t skip this step. Even if your site or post is about knitting or pictures of your dog, if you want people to see it you will have to use SEO.
There is it. 9 honest steps to creating the ideal blog post. Writing a great post takes time. But in the end, if someone reads it and shares it, it will all be worth it.
Good luck and comment if you have any other steps you would recommend. I would love to hear about them.