Technically, anyone can write a blog post — but that doesn't mean it's any good. As I'm sure you've noticed, there's a lot of crap out there.
There was a time when you could get away with publishing junk. There wasn't a lot of competition and the standards just weren't that high. But that's not the case anymore.
If you want to write a blog post that drives traffic the best thing you can do is know what your article is actually about and what you want your reader to get out of it. Then edit mercilessly.
It takes longer to write well, but creating high-quality articles is the best thing you can do to grow your site.
Decide What the Article is About
Maybe this sounds crazy but figuring out what your blog post is actually about can be really hard. A lot of bloggers get an idea for an article and immediately start writing — but that leads to confusing articles.
How can the reader know what your article is about if you don't?
You need to take your idea and refine it down to ONE thing. If you can't tell me what your article is about in one sentence then your idea is still fuzzy. Pin point your topic.
For example; a personal finance blogger might be thinking about how Amazon Prime saves them money. So they sit down to write an article about Amazon Prime, but because they don't actually know what their article is about… they flounder.
They talk about how their family uses Amazon Prime. The article beings with a personal story about how why they signed up and how they use it. Since they don't want to give too many personal details the article is vague and uninspiring.
The post kind of wanders around not really ever reaching the point because there is no point. The blogger hopes that the reader will see the success they've had with Prime and decide to try it out for themselves.
It would be more effective if the writer decided what their article was actually about. Is it about the free shipping you get with Prime? Is it about the extras — free streaming, free digital books, discounts at Whole Foods? What?
An article titled “10 Amazon Prime Benefits You Didn't Know About” would be much more effective than one titled “Why We Love Amazon Prime”.
One of those articles has a focus — the other doesn't.
Identify the Reader Takeaway
After you decide what your article is about you'll want to think about your reader. The reader takeaway is whatever you want the reader to think or do after they have read the article.
Taking our Amazon article from above; a reader takeaway might be to sign up for Amazon Prime. Or it could be for the reader to start taking full advantage of everything Prime has to offer.
Each of those takeaways would produce different articles. For one, the reader would be different (someone who doesn't have Amazon Prime vs someone who does). The tone would also be different — getting someone to sign up for new service needs a different approach than showing someone some bells and whistles on a service they already have.
The call to actions are also going to be very different– “Sign up now” vs “Check out the free e-books here”.
But if you don't know what you want the reader to do, you can't guide them towards doing it. And if you don't know, the reader certainly won't know. You're the expert here.
The result is a big waste of time for everyone. You spent time writing an article that creates no change and the reader is unchanged by reading it.
Find Your Keyword
If you want to traffic from Google you need to spend some time on SEO — and that starts with knowing your keyword.
The keyword is what people will type into Google to get your article to come up in search results. So to find this you'll want to start Googling things until the search results are similar to the article you want to write.
Once you have your keyword you can use it to make sure your article is the best on the internet for your keyword by looking at the ranking articles. Here's my article that goes deeper on how to do this.
You'll also use the keyword in some strategic places in your article so Google knows what keyword you are going for. Here's my article that goes deeper on what to do here.
You can also grab my SEO checklist by filling out the form below.
Outline Your Post
Outlining an article doesn't have to be anything time consuming or detailed. That said, I think the more detailed you are the easier it will be to write.
I typically lay out all my H2 headings and some quick thoughts about what I want in each section. If I know of a resource, example, or link I want to include I'll add that to my notes.
Sometimes this takes me two minutes — sometimes it takes 20. But I never regret going in with some idea of what I want to say.
Note that you don't have to “ride or die” by the outline. If you get into the post and want to go a different direction that's fine. For example, in this article, I changed the order of a few of these steps and I wasn't' sure if the “reader takeaway” section would be it's own H2 or an H3 under the first section.
However, if you make major changes to your outline as you write I would suggest double-checking the structure after you are done to make sure things didn't go off track.
If you are writing in WordPress and have the Gutenberg editor you can click the lower case “i” in the circle up in the top left of your screen. This will give you the all the headings and it's an easy way to see the overall structure of the article.
If you are using something else, I suggest taking out a Google Doc or even pen and paper and writing down only your headings. Just make sure the article flows well and makes sense.
Related: 13 Free and Fast Ways to Drive More Blog Traffic
It's finally time to put fingers on keys.
The best writing tip is to “write to a friend”. Imagine your ideal reader — even better if you know this person in real life. Imagine they are sitting at your kitchen table and asked you for advice. The article you are writing is the advice you would give them.
When you write from that place in your heart you stop writing “for the internet” and start writing for a real person. Which that's what your readers are — real people.
If you are struggling to find the right tone, go read someone whose work you love. It doesn't have to be on the same topic of what you are writing about. It could be anything… but go read something that gets you in a good headspace for writing.
While you're writing, follow your outline as best you can. Feel free to skip around, if you want. If one section isn't flowing perhaps another one will.
Another great tip is to write the intro last. Don't even try to write it until the article is finished. Here are more tips on writing intros and conclusions.
Having the article written isn't the end. You still need to edit it. This is where you polish your article until it shines.
Editing consists of two main parts — content edits and line edits.
Content edits come first. Start with the structure of the article. Does everything flow well and make sense? Does it walk your reader from A to B? Is your reader takeaway super clear?
I ask myself, does this information just download into the brain, or does the reader have to work for it? Hint: they will not work for it. So work on the flow and formatting until it downloads. It should be so smooth that the reader forgets they are reading.
Think about adding images or videos to help explain more difficult concepts. Use bullet points to break up big chunks of text. Turn long sentences and paragraphs into short ones.
Once you are happy with the overall article flow it's time to do your line edits.
Read each line. Is it succinct? Does it need to be there at all? Cut anything that doesn't add to the article – every word, every phrase, every sentence. If it doesn't facilitate the reader takeaway, it doesn't belong.
Add the Razzle Dazzle
This is where you turn your article into a professional blog post. Once you have the words of your article situated you'll need to make sure all the little pieces are in place. You'll want to:
- Double-check your headings – can you add the keyword to any of them?
- Add in internal and external links
- Make sure your affiliate links pop
- Review any other formatting specifics, such as double spaces in between periods
- Preview the article and make sure everything looks good
- Double-check your links and make sure they work
The list of “Razzle Dazzle” things to add or check will depend on your specific site and style. You are attempting to do two things here. One, make sure your formatting is consistent across the site. And two, make sure you are taking full advantage of any opportunities the article has.
You wouldn't want to miss an opportunity to mention and affiliate or get a newsletter sign-up because you didn't take two seconds to stop and think about it.
The “Editing Checklist” you get from the form below has a list of 20 things to get you started. It also has an editable version so you can make changes specific to your site. I highly suggest you use it.
Writing blog posts isn't necessarily hard, but it does take some planning before you start. Spending time thinking about what your article is actually about and what you want the reader to get out of it will take you a long way.
Then once you've written the article you'll need to review it and make sure it's doing the job you gave it. Will it help the reader?
Want more help? I created a course that can teach you exactly how to do all the things I mentioned here, and more. You can check it out here.