As a writer, you’re probably familiar with the curse of the blinking cursor. It doesn’t matter how much you love writing or how good at it you are, getting started can still be a real challenge some days. The same is true whether you’re writing a novel, an essay, a blog post, or sometimes even a tweet.
So while guest blogging may seem like a good idea, and you have even come up with a great guest post idea and a captivating headline, getting the post written can be more difficult than originally anticipated.
It doesn’t have to be this way, however, if you have a solid structure to use as a starting point.
Why Structure Matters
Outlining your blog post and keeping to a structure will make writing a great post much easier. It will also benefit your readers as they will find it easier to follow.
Writing a great article is crucial for two reasons:
—You want the blog host to be pleased with your content so they invite you back or recommend you to other bloggers.
—You want the audience to love your content so they feel compelled to check out your website, books and/or reader magnet. You also want them to share your post so that it reaches more of your target readers.
10 Steps to a Great Blog Post
There are many different types of blog post you can write, heck, OptinMonster has a list of 73 of them, so I can’t give you a structure for every single one. The point here is that lots of different structures work, so you can experiment until you find the one that works for you.
That said, here are 10 steps to help you put your best foot forward when writing your post.
Step 1 - Start with an Outline
I know authors can fall into one of two camps—pantsers and plotters—so I guess you may approach blog writing in the same way.
But I don’t recommend sitting down and just writing a post from start to finish.
At the very least, list out the main points you want to make and the order in which you want to make them before fleshing them out.
If you want more of a clear structure, you can download my favorite one here.
Step 2 - Hook Your Readers
A compelling intro to your post is essential if you want to get readers to commit to your post. While you want to make it clear what the post is about and who it’s for, you’re not writing a school essay.
Empathy is one of the best ways to hook your readers.
Make it clear you can relate to the problem your post aims to solve and hint that you have a solution. Want an example? Scroll back up to the start of this post 😉
Step 3 - Write Long-form Content
Long-form content gets more social shares than short-form content and it ranks higher in search results, meaning more people will find it.
If you’re writing a guest post, you’ll most probably be given a suggested word count to work to, so of course, stick to that. But it’s worth knowing that longer posts are generally best.
Aim for a minimum of 800 words for every post.
Step 4 - Quality Matters Too
While long-form posts are great, no one wants to read 2,000 words of fluff. As a writer, I don’t need to tell you not to use five words when one will do, yada yada, but we all have bad habits and it’s important to edit your work.
If you’re writing an instructional post, be specific and get to the point. Trim all the fat from your prose. Reading your post aloud is a great way to check its flow.
Step 5 - Keep Sentences & Paragraphs Short
In my last post, I explained that the goal of the headline is to get the reader to read the first line of your blog post, and from there every sentence and paragraph should encourage the reader to keep going to the next one.
This is because attention spans are short and there are so many distractions when writing for the web—it’s too easy for readers to click away.
So it’s important to keep them reading.
Draw them down the page by setting a fast pace. Short sentences and paragraphs will help set a rhythm that encourages readers to stick with you.
Step 6 - Use Sub-headings
Sub-heads are important for a few reasons. Firstly, they break up your post, making it easier for a reader to follow.
Secondly, it’s another way to keep readers reading. If someone is faced with a wall of text, they are less likely to read it—it feels like it will take too much time and effort. Sub-heads and images can draw a reader in and keep their attention.
Thirdly, sub-heads are great for skimmers. Many of the people visiting your post won’t start at the first sentence and read to the end. They’ll scan the sub-heads to get a sense of what the post is about and if it’s of value to them.
Just like headlines, you don’t want your sub-heads to be boring labels, and you don’t want them to be cryptic or too clever either. Think of the scanners—if they only read your headline and sub-heads, will they get the gist of your post?
Step 7 - Keep Your Reader in Mind
When writing your blog post, you want to make sure you focus on value and quality content. That means your post should do one of three things:
Your post should have a purpose, but that purpose shouldn’t be to sell your book. That may be your end goal, of course, but the post itself should serve your readers.
What are you trying to teach or explain—will your readers have learned something by the end of your post? If you’re writing a book review, why should someone choose your review over anyone else’s?
Step 8 - Fulfill Your Promises
Taking the previous point a step further, it’s important you do what you promise to do in your headline and intro.
First and foremost, you should deliver what you say you will to your readers. But also keep in mind that Google takes note of how long someone spends on your post and will adjust your search engine ranking position accordingly.
That means, if someone lands on your blog post but immediately decides it’s not what they were looking for and hit the back button, Google will assume your post is not offering value and will rank it lower.
Step 9 - Wrap Up with a Conclusion
Too many blog posts leave readers hanging or simply peter out when the writer runs out of things to say. Given that so few readers will make it all the way to the end of any blog post, you should reward those that do with a decent finish.
Recap your main points and consider giving the reader a few ‘next steps’ if it’s appropriate.
Step 10 - Include a Call to Action
Finally, every blog post should include a call to action or CTA. This can be a simple request for comments or shares, a suggestion of what to read next or occasionally you may direct people to a sales page.
For a guest post, it’s usually best to stick with a question to encourage engagement, either in the blog comments or on social media.
So there you have it. Blog writing is as simple as outlining your key points, fleshing them out to give value to your readers and making sure your post is easy to consume with short sentences and paragraphs, as well as a sprinkling of sub-heads.
But there is one more key way to improve your blog writing.
Read more blogs.
Just as you should, as an author, read books to improve your writing, you should read blogs to improve your blog writing. Take note of what works, what you like and what you don’t. What makes you read a post through to the end, and what makes you click back?
Study the form of brilliant blog writing and keep practicing with your guest posts and you’ll find yourself landing more and more guest post opportunities and growing your own mailing list.
Found this post useful? I’d love for you to share it with your networks. And if you want to grab a free blog post template, you can do that here.
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