11 simple steps to write a blog post that attracts readers
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Feeling confused by all the advice out there? Writing a blog post can seem like an overwhelming task and you may not know where to start. I’ve been there. Writing a blog post doesn’t have to be difficult if you follow the right process and focus on each step. This article will guide you through each step to help you make writing a blog post a simple process:
1 – Think of your customers and find a problem you can solve.
The number one priority you need to focus on writing a blog is to serve your readers. This is the only way to build an audience that will trust you and will buy from you. Concentrate on finding the key problems your readers are facing and find good ways to solve them. So your first step is to identify your ideal reader. If you don‘t have a clear idea of who is your ideal reader, this post will help you define your ideal customer avatar.
Once you have identified your ideal reader, how do you find the right problems to focus on? You need to find out where your ideal customers hang out. Facebook groups can be a good place to start. Find a few Facebook groups where your ideal customer hangs out, or search for online forums or for related threads on Quora and Reddit. Look at a few of those forums or Facebook groups and keep track of the questions that are being asked. This will give you quite a few ideas for content. Now, you want to focus on writing a single blog post (for now) so choose one topic. How to choose the right one? Choose one that interests you, something you already know quite a lot about or one topic you have seen repeated in different forums and seems to raise a lot of interest. And remember, you don‘t need to be an expert to write about a topic.
2 – Research the topic.
Once you have identified the topic you are writing about, you need to do some research. Your research should focus on learning and gathering enough information to write your blog post. You should also research what your readers are interested in and what is available from the competition.
Focus on these three research areas:
– Learn about the topic.
Many bloggers write articles about themes where they are not experts. If that is what you are doing, it means that you need to do a lot of research before you write. There is a lot of information just about anything online, just remember that not everything on the internet is true, so make sure you use reliable sources and be careful about plagiarism. Search online for content about the topic you want to write about. You can also use other sources like books, courses, etc.
– Perform keyword analysis.
Keyword analysis will give you a detailed idea of what exact phrases readers are searching for and can help you focus your initial topic and better understand your readers.
If you are not familiar with keyword analysis, check out my blog post “Keyword research to improve your website’s ranking.”
For example, if you are writing an article with a recipe for chocolate cookies, you can research the keyword “chocolate cookies recipe”. You can use a tool like KWFinder or search for the keyword in Google. This will bring back related topics like “triple chocolate cookies recipe” or “chocolate chip cookies recipe”. In Google, you can see related searches in bright blue at the bottom of the page. This related terms will help you understand the information that is most sought after about the topic and can help you focus your article or add more value. Using a tool like KWFinder will also help you identify if it’s worth writing the article at all, as the tool will give you an idea of the number of people per month that search about a specific keyword. If only 70 people search for this information a month it may not be worth the effort? Then again, if it’s important information for your customers, you can decide to write it, anyway. Your priority is to serve your readers.
Once you get here you should have refined your initial topic into a more detailed idea for your blog post and have one or several focus keywords for your post.
– Read the top ranking results on Google.
Enter the keyword/s for your article on Google and read the top-ranking posts to understand what topics they are covering. For example, enter “Sourdough bread recipe” on Google and look at the first few results that are not adverts. Write ideas you want to include on your post and think of points you could improve or an alternative way to approach the topic that could give you an edge with your readers. This will help you provide better content for your readers and also help you improve your SEO.
While you go through the different articles, analyse their headlines and the blog posts they are using. This will help you think about the type of blog post that you want to write. If you are writing a blog post that is providing the reader with several steps to solve a problem, “How to” and list blog posts work really well. For example, “How to Write Catchy Headlines and Blog Titles Your Readers Can’t Resist” or “74 attention-grabbing blog titles that actually work”.
Copyblogger provides a free guide on how to write a title that can also help you understand some of the different blog posts that work well; “How to write Magnetic Headlines”.
3 – Write an outline.
After doing your research, you should have plenty of ideas to write on your article.
Write an outline with the key points you want to cover on your blog post. Creating a mind map helps me come up with ideas and put them into paper, but you can just write a list of topics you want to cover in your article.
The initial outline for this article was:
Once you have the initial list of ideas, revise it considering your research, removing and adding points, and organise it to make sense to the reader.
Remember that the outline is just an initial guide to help you write your article, you can change it later as you write or review your article (I do).
Structuring your blog post is essential to make sure that your article is easy to read and that readers can scan it and get the key points of the article. If you have not yet decided the type of blog post that you want to write, think about it now and decide on a structure for your blog post. Having a clear idea of the blog post that you want to write will make your writing and editing easier. Don‘t let this stop you though; if you don’t have a clear idea of how to structure your writing, move to the next step and write. You can re-order and re-organise your post later.
4 – Write a title that will attract readers.
A good title that interests or intrigues the reader is essential to attract readers. Your title is the first thing a reader will see when your post appears in search results or on social media and will be one of the key elements to convince the reader to click on your link, so it can make a big difference on how many visits you get on your site. There are several tips you can follow that will help you write better titles:
– Make sure that your headline describes your blog post and that you deliver on what you promise.
You are trying to build an audience. Credibility is essential to build an audience, so avoid making promises you can‘t meet.
– Focus on the benefits of your article.
Highlight the benefits that your article will bring for the reader. For example, you could have a title “How to start your own online business” or “How to start your own online business and spend more time with your kids” or “How to start your own online business and travel the world”. The second and third titles highlight a clear benefit from the article that would appeal to different niches. Think about a benefit of your article that will appeal to your readers.
– “How to” and list blog posts work really well.
– Use emotion.
– Length matters.
SEO advice tends is to keep your titles under 60chars to make sure that the title is not cut off in Google results. However, studies looking at reader engagement suggest that longer titles (15-18 words) perform better with readers (data from Buzzsumo).
– Practice and experiment.
Try several titles and analyse your results to understand what works best with your readers. You can try different titles when you share your post on social media and see which one of them generates more clicks and more shares. This will help you identify the titles (and content) that work well with your readers so you can create more of it.
There is a lot of advice on how to write good headlines online. I love this guide from Copyblogger. If you are struggling to come up with a headline, you can use an existing headline as a template; “74 attention-grabbing blog titles that actually work”.
Some of my favorite articles on how to write a good headline:
– 5 Easy Tricks to Help You Write Catchy Headlines by Jeff Goins.
– The Step-by-Step Guide to Writing Powerful Headlines by Neil Patel.
– Copyblogger’s “How to write Magnetic Headlines”.
5 – Write the full post.
Once you have a clear view of your outline, start writing your article. Many authors suggest splitting the writing and editing tasks and concentrating on writing at this stage, leaving any editing until later. This will help you write quicker.
Focus on writing the main part of the post first; you should write the introduction and conclusion later when you have finished the body of the article. I will cover the introduction and conclusion in point 6.
You can use any writing tool to write your blog posts: Word, GoogleDocs or any other writing software. I use Scrivener. With Scrivener, you can create a project for your blog and then structure your writing into different directories to match the categories on your blog post. You can then move content using drag and drop and you can also keep any research material in the same project, making it easy to keep track of all the information. Scrivener also integrates with ProWritingAid which the tool I use to edit my posts (I will cover editing later).
Use any tool you find easy to use for your writing and then copy/paste your final article into WordPress. Finding the right workflow it’s important, as it will help you be a more efficient writer, so experiment with different tools and find what works for you.
6 – Create a clear structure and use header tags.
It’s important to remember that your article needs to have a clear structure that makes it easy for the reader to understand the content. Structuring your article into clear sections and using headings to highlight key points will make your article more readable and will also make it easy to scan. According to HubSpot, 43% of readers skim through articles, so it’s important to highlight the key points so that readers can go through them when they scan it.
Using header tags will also help search engines understand what your article is about and will improve your SEO.
Header tags in HTML (<h1> to <h6>) are used to highlight text on a page. They are hierarchical elements, being h1 at the top of the hierarchy. Header tags help you improve the structure of your content and make it more readable.
You can set and see the header tags in WordPress in the toolbar when you are writing a post (in the WP dashboard, click on posts and select the one you want to see):
For example, if you are writing a recipe, you can use “Heading 2” for elements like “Ingredients” and “How to make it” and then in the “How to make it” section you could have sub-headings using “Heading 3” for “How to make the sponge”, “How to make the filling” and “How to make the frosting”.
7 – Focus on your introduction and conclusion.
Every article should also have an introduction and a conclusion. The introduction is essential to capture the readers’ attention and keep them reading. The conclusion is normally the most memorable part of the blog post and it’s your opportunity to start a discussion with the reader or ask the reader to take action.
According to Time magazine, 55% of readers spend fewer than 15s on a page. This means you have less than 15s to capture a reader’s attention and convince the reader that your content is valuable enough to continue reading. So a good title, picture and introduction are essential.
The introduction is the first paragraph of your article after the title. It should outline the problem you will tackle during the article and make the reader want to read more. Try to write something that the reader can relate to, add a personal story or a question to make it interesting. Writing an introduction is an art I can’t say I’ve mastered yet and I think the best way to learn is to read great examples; look at this blog post from Copyblogger with some great examples.
The conclusion is what your readers are more likely to remember of your article as it’s the last part. Start summarising the article and any main conclusions. Think about what you would like the reader to do next; do you want the reader to sign-up to your e-mail list, buy a product, read another article? Suggest a next step for the reader. Writing a good conclusion can make a big difference to your conversions, increase shares and followers and make a big difference in reader engagement. If you want to read further about how to write a good conclusion, I love this article from Copyblogger on how to write a good conclusion.
The best way or writing both the introduction and the conclusion is to write the main text first and then write the introduction and conclusion paragraphs at the end when you have a clear idea of what the whole article covers.
8 – Review and edit.
By now you have a completed draft with an introduction, conclusion and title. Read the whole draft again from start to finish. Make sure that the article is easy to read and try to eliminate anything you don’t need. Try to keep it simple.
There are several tools that can help you during the editing process. If you use a tool that has its own spell and grammar checker, you can use that, but I recommend that you use a good writing aid like ProWritingAid or Grammarly. They will provide you with more detailed suggestions to improve your writing and this will help you improve your writing. I use the desktop version of ProWritingAid and the free version of Grammarly on my browser to check all my blog posts before publishing them. Both tools will check your spelling and grammar, show you where you could improve your writing and provide suggestions on how to improve it.
9- Work on your SEO.
If you want to learn more about SEO, take a look at some of my related blog posts:
1 – “Introduction to SEO“.
Once you have followed the suggestions from Yoast to improve SEO, make sure you set up categories and tags for your post.
10 – Find high quality images.
Images are an essential tool to attract readers, get you noticed on social media and even improve your SEO. Find a great featured image for your blog post and any additional images you want to include. Make sure you use high quality images that follow your brand’s image. I use several stock photo sites for my images. If you have great photography skills, you can also create your own.
Make sure that you re-size and optimise your images before uploading them.
11 – Don’t forget to preview!
Always preview your article before clicking “Publish”. Make sure you check:
– That everything displays properly on screen. If you can, try it on a mobile too.
– That pictures are the right size and display with good quality.
– Make sure that all your links work.
– Re-read the article one last time.
You are now ready to start your first blog post! Follow the process and focus on each step. Start by focusing on writing content that provides the best value for your readers, but don’t forget that there is a lot of competition out there, so you also need to focus on grabbing the reader’s attention with your title and introduction. And ultimately, you are writing a blog for a reason; whether it is to gain followers or promote and sell a product, make sure that your conclusion outlines the reader’s next action.
Writing is a blog post is an art, but you can learn to follow the right process, learning from others and as with most things, practicing. Start now writing your first blog post.