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If you are serious about your blogging business, knowing how to write an effective and exciting blog post takes practice, patience, and planning. If you don’t know how to do any of these things, you are going to write a ton of sucky content.
Today’s post is all about not being a sucky blogger. There are several easy steps you can follow right now to make your blog posts shine. Are you following any or all of these?
Step 1: Plan, Plan, Plan
Planning is the most important step in writing a great blog post, but it’s one that most of us bloggers probably admit to skip many times. We are so ready to write our masterpiece and share it with the world that we forget to put actual through into the structure, audience, and tone of what we write.
Want to know what I do to plan? Once I’ve found my topic, I create an outline. Outlines help me organize all the many thoughts entering my head when I’m trying to draft my blog post. Once I have my outline, I’m practically ready to start writing, but there’s more that I put into it than just planning.
Step 2: Write a Persuasive Headline
No matter what you write about, make the headline irresistible for your readers. You may be thinking that you are writing about the most boring product on the market (why?), but it really doesn’t matter. Get creative with your headline and let it do most of the work drawing in your readers’ attention.
Many bloggers resort to using automatic headline generators. This is okay, I guess, but if you want to be a successful blogger, shouldn’t you have the creative knowhow to come up with these headlines on your own? I’m all for making it unique, making it genuine, and making it original. If I use a headline generator, it makes me feel like it’s not my own work.
Step 3: Write the way you talk
You don’t have to change who you are or how you talk just to get readers. Write the way you actually talk. If you don’t use big, scientific words in your every day life, why the hell would you use them in a blog post? If you think those fancy words will get you more readers, think again.
Always write in the first person. I’m not scoring any points by writing in the 3rd person. Writing in the 3rd person distances you from the subject you’re writing about. I want you to feel like you are actually there at the tropical island I’m writing about. Writing in the first person is, of course, the most personal way of writing. Do it every time. Trust me, your blog will be more like an informal conversation versus an informal lecture.
Step 4: Don’t fake anything
Ok it goes without saying, but don’t ever fake anything you’re writing about just to get affiliate link clicks or more traffic. While you might come across as a subject matter expert to some, others who are more experienced in your field can spot a fake a mile away.
Most of the time, I’m writing about my own experiences using a product, or as a blogger, but there are times when I have to do some research and quote my sources. Make sure you aren’t plagiarizing. Not only is that pathetic, but it’s a good way to get sued!
Step 5: Know what you are talking about
The best way to gain followers’ trust is to provide content that you know backwards and forwards. If you don’t know anything about a topic, do your research first to make sure you are giving out accurate information. If I’m taking to you about how super cool Tailwind is, but I had never used it, chances are I’m not providing you with valuable information. The good news is that I know a ton about the great features Tailwind has to offer and how much time it has saved me, so you can read off of my experiences and excitement to know that I’m giving you good information.
Step 6: Give something to your readers
I know it feels like you are providing a gimmick when you give something away just to get readers, and well, you are, sort of. Freebies are kind of like free cookies at the car dealership. You want to warm over your readers and grab their attention.
So what kind of freebies can you give out? Here are some ideas:
- Free checklist
- Free e-course
- Free samples
- Giveaways / contests
Step 7: Never publish your first draft
I stopped becoming satisfied with hitting publish after the first draft because I quickly realized my content was suffering. What did I do instead? I implemented a “sit on it” process. Now, I write my content, let it sink in for 24 hours or so, and then come back for revisions. 9 times of out ten, I change some, most, or even all of what I originally wrote.
The good thing about doing it this way is that I’m not rushing to publish partially valuable information to my readers. By waiting an extra day, doing an extra look-over of my work, and creating a final draft, I’ve shown my readers that quality and accuracy are both important to me.
Trust me, this effort WILL translate to your blog’s success and traffic volume.
Step 8: Limit affiliate links and banner ads
Ok folks, I know most of you love putting up affiliate links and banner ads. They are a great way to earn a little extra money. I get it. I do it too. But, one thing I have quickly learned in blogging is that too many ads on the page makes a reader run away fast.
It’s so easy to tell when a blogger is trying to get clicks versus actually provide you with valuable content. Once the pop up ads fill up my screen, I’m beyond frustrated and close out of my browser.
I’m not saying that affiliate links or banner ads are a bad thing. Use them sparingly. My rule of thumb for affiliate links is one link per 1,000 words. I’m at word 1,048 right now, so by that rule I should have one affiliate link, right? Look up in step 5 and you’ll see my one and only affiliate link for Tailwind.
Of course, a few more affiliate links occasionally throughout the post won’t completely kill your SEO, but filling up the page with banners and links definitely hurts you in search rankings.
Step 9: Make paragraphs short and sentences simple
Blog paragraphs and sentences are very different than almost any other type of writing. Normally, you want at least 5 good sentences per paragraph, but blogging, stick to 2-3. Use simple sentences and get to the point quickly. The more words on the page the more distracted your readers will become.
I will be honest in saying it takes practice at doing this, especially if you are used to writing papers in college. All of my wonderful essays and assignments in college wouldn’t fly as blog posts! Practice, practice, practice and soon you will be in a good rhythm of writing at just the right length.
Step 10: Let someone else read your work first
Don’t be afraid to let a friend or family member read your draft before you publish it. A second set of eyes is never a bad idea, and it’s a good indicator of how your readers may react to what you’ve written. Family members may hold back if they are afraid to offend you, but a friend will tell you straight up what they think.
Keep in mind that it’s still your content. Despite all the feedback and suggestions you get, you are still in control of what goes and what stays. Don’t ever feel pressured to change something to make someone else happy. It’s your work in the end.
Step 11: Fine tune and perfect!
Just like with anything we do, we have to work hard to get to a place where we can be happy. The same is true with blogging. Good bloggers are always fine-tuning their content – even months after writing it. Don’t be afraid to scrap a 5,000 word post if it means the new post is going to be 10 times better!
While you are in the fine-tuning process, please please please do a spelling and grammar check. It doesn’t get more embarrassing than hitting publish and then finding out it’s full of grammatical errors.
I love copying and pasting my post into Microsoft Word to use its spell checker. While I think the WordPress one is sufficient, I don’t use it. Word has a pretty good reputation, and has rarely failed me before.
Step 12: Find the right images
There are lots of free stock image sites available that I use for blog images. The few that come to mind are: Pixabay, Unsplash and Pexels. Selecting just the right kind and amount of images is important. One the one hand, you don’t want to miss an opportunity to include a relevant image, but on the other, adding too many images makes your post distracting.
My personal rule of thumb for my blog posts is no more than 4 images per post. If I need to use more, I’d better have a darn good reason for doing so.
Images help improve your SEO if you are completing the alt tags and description. Did you know when someone does a search for your topic, they can pull up your post based on the above information? So, images matter!
Step 13: Incorporate lists
Hey, I don’t care what you write about, but there’s always a way to incorporate some kind of list into the post. Lists are very good attention-grabbers. Did you notice the list of steps at the top of this post?
Lists are great because your readers can easily see what kind of information they can expect to find in your post. If you are including a list of products or tips, it’s a great time to include your affiliate links.
Not only do lists look good on your post, they also help drive your SEO. Search engines like Google love lists because readers can’t resist them!
Step 14: Ask for specific feedback
How do I know that a post of mine does well? I ask my readers for specific feedback. I don’t think it’s enough just to ask, “how did you like my post?” I like to ask specific questions about specific parts of the post.
You should be asking for feedback in every post, down in your call-to-action section. Encouraging reader feedback is a great indicator that you care about their opinions and are not just out to make a quick buck.
If you do get feedback, RESPOND! And, respond timely. I LOVE getting comments on my blog posts! I’ve received some negative feedback, which has helped me improve, but the majority of the feedback has been positive. I’d never know how my readers feel about my content if I didn’t ask. So, ask away!
Step 15: Get creative!
I know you have a blog to maintain, but don’t limit yourself to just writing blog posts. Did you know that you can take the posts you’ve written and put them into other forms of communication?
Take a post you’ve written and make a video tutorial, like I did for my Tailwind post. Videos are a fantastic way for your readers to connect with you visually and get to know the person behind the words.
Convert posts to infographics, PowerPoint presentations, polls, surveys, etc. You’d be surprised as to how many different ways you can get creative to get your content out there. The sky is the limit!
Blogging always seems to be something everyone says they could do full-time, but it always appears easier until you actually do it. I’m happy to say I’ve got a great blogging process down, and it has gotten easier for me over time. I feel like a true blogging pro!
Did I miss something? Do you have more questions about an aspect of blogging that I didn’t cover? Let me know in the wonderful comments section below and I’ll answer them for you.