It never occurred to me to write this post because the content is pretty much the soul of blogging and online marketing. The other day I was on Facebook and someone asked, “What is your step by step process for writing a great blog post?” But that question actually made me think for a minute and I realized that a lot of work goes into a blog post actually. Many people feel like running a blog is about writing whatever you feel like it and slapping it up on your blog and hoping someone will care. There is a bit of strategy, learning to use your intuition, and understanding what your target audience needs help with. The more you write, the easier it gets.
So I made it my next topic to tackle here on Talence.
Anyone can write a blog post, but not everyone’s article will get shared, be helpful, be actionable, or be valuable. Below I outline a step-by-step plan on how I write most of my blog articles for Talence. Depending on your niche, you might have to tweak a few things here and there, especially for photo-heavy niches.
If you prefer the audio recording version to the text version, click the orange arrow button below:
#1 Research the pain points of your tribe.
My motivation to write a post depends on a variety of factors, but the most pressing one is when I know someone out there needs it! Yes, you heard it. I like to write to solve a problem. It’s not a problem that you need help with, but a problem that your readers are struggling with. And if thinking about your audience intimidates you like it does me, then start thinking of your audience as a single person. Get on Facebook group, Reddit, or any active online community and start interacting with people. What questions are they asking, what advice do they need, and what kind of solution can you offer them?
For example, when I was browsing on a Facebook group last week, I answered countless questions on email service providers, content upgrades, and opt-in incentives. There are a lot of information online regarding those topics, but nothing comprehensive on how to hook everything together for free. I decided to film a walkthrough video tutorial on how to create an opt-in form on your blog post and have Mailchimp send it out once your reader subscribes. Many big influencers talk about having an email list and recommend more intermediate emailing software. Yet for people who don’t even know what content upgrades are, having a free solution might be a better bet for them.
My point here is, it’s best to research ideas before writing your blog posts. If you don’t already have an audience, begin by joining online communities where you can find ideas. You definitely don’t want to spend hours writing something that goes into a vacuum. Once you have built up an audience, you can get feedback and ideas from your comments section and bounce from there.
#2 Identify the purpose of your article.
Now that you have your idea researched and backed up by pain from real people, think about the purpose of your blog post. This is your “why?” Why are you writing this? If you don’t have a reason to write this, you don’t have a purpose. And if you don’t have a purpose, why would anyone care?
In my last example, the purpose of my video tutorial is to help new bloggers create their opt-in forms for free. What will they get out of it? They will be able to set up their own opt-in incentives and start collecting emails effectively for free.
Once you identified your purpose, make sure you articulate it 2-3x throughout your post, for SEO purposes. We will talk more about this in our last point.
#3 Outline your post with points or lists.
Once you have identified your purpose, it’s time to sketch out the outline of your posts. Most of my blog posts are written in listicles as I find it fitting for my readers to go back and reference.
It’s clean and organized and allows people to go back and skim whatever they want to re-read again.
Keep in mind that your points and lists should all be a subtopic of your overarching topic for that blog post. For example, this blog post is going to be a step-by-step plan on how to write a successful blog post. I would not go off topic and talk about email marketing or anything unrelated.
The best articles are intuitive and drives your readers down a clear and easy path so they can get the results you promised them from your blog post title.
#4 Start the body of your blog post.
One of the reasons I tell you to outline the blog posts is to help you stay focused. If you were to write a list title, 2-4 body paragraphs, list title, 2-4 body paragraphs, you’ll have to keep switching between two different mind frames. I believe in doing things in chunks. Therefore, for the first 10 minutes, I simply outline all my main points that hover under “A Step by Step Plan to Write a Shareable Blog Post” and then attack each listed title one by one. Don’t overwhelm your brain by multitasking.
The second reason I like this approach is that it lets you know if you really know enough about a topic before getting to the core of it. I usually add the blog post title to my Trello kanban board and outline my blog post using their “checklist” feature. If the list isn’t long enough, it means I don’t have enough points and I’d reconsider if this post is a good idea, to begin with.
#5 Write the conclusion and include a call-to-action.
After you write all your body paragraphs, while all that purpose and fire is inside you, quickly draft up the conclusion. My conclusions are usually shorter than my introductions. It’s usually between 2-3 sentences, but clarify what the takeaway is and what is the next step.
Then add a call-to-action, usually in the form of a question or an opt-in form to collect subscribers.
#6 Go back and write the introduction.
Some people can write the introduction after sketching out their post outline.
And just because your introduction appears before your body doesn’t mean you have to write your blog post in that order. Most of the time, I write it at the end.
Introductions have a more emotional element and should connect with your readers right away. It’s the first 1-2 paragraphs that set up the scene for you readers and it will determine if they’ll stay for the rest of the article or not. The lists and body are more factual though you can still share sub-stories for impact. Therefore, it’s a different mind frame for me. It’s something that you have to do right even though it’s shorter than the body.
I’d tell you though: your introduction should include the purpose of your blog post. Include the purpose in the final sentence of the first or second paragraph of your introduction so readers know right away what they’re getting from you. Here are a few things you can include in your intro:
- A story of your personal experience around the topic
- How you came about to writing this topic and what lead up to it
- A moment of epiphany or insight into why your topic is important
#7 Touch it up with branded photos.
Finally, we arrived at the fun part! Just kidding, if you genuinely love writing like me, you’ll enjoy the process. Most people are at least somewhat visual creatures so you can incorporate photos to balance out the heavy text. If you’re a lifestyle blogger, you probably take your own photos. If you’re not in a photo-heavy niche, you can always find stock photos online. I recommend checking sites that offer them for free and lately I’ve been liking picjumbo.com — very high resolution and free.
For me, the one mandatory photo I have is usually the header photo that appears as the first photo on my blog posts. It’s the same photo you see when you land on my home page and before you click on my blog post. If that’s not enough, I also use the same photo for my Pinterest pins. I love how I can repurpose these photos and it tells people exactly what my blog post is about. I do prefer my blog header photos to be horizontal rather than vertical though — but perhaps that might be a future project I’ll go back to.
#8 Include a helpful video!
I’ve spoken about how critical of a video element is to your blog posts. I’m not the one saying this so don’t even take my word for it. According to a Buffer post on “Where Social Media Is Headed in 2017: The Biggest Trends to Watch For”, the answer is video. Think about the last time you watched a Facebook Live or the last time you used Instagram Stories. It’s more interactive than simply a written article.
And the best posts to incorporate a video is:
- A tutorial where visualization is easier to show than words is to explain
- A Q&A that brings you closer to your readers
- If it’s a visual experience and words and photos don’t do the experience justice
Don’t get me wrong, this doesn’t mean blogs are leaving. Blogs have been around for almost as long as the Internet has been around. They will always be around, but platforms like YouTube, Facebook Live, and Snapchat has made video creation all the more popular. I’d admit I enjoyed the process of creating (but not editing — it’s a whole new language, help!) video content in all the times I’ve done it.
#9 Come up with a title for your blog post.
Just like coming up with the introduction, I like to finalize and pick the title at the end. I have a tentative title floating around, but the first title I have isn’t always the final one I settle on.
When coming up with a blog post title, think in terms of SEO. How do you want people to find your post? What will they be typing into Google’s search engine? Will they probably be looking for a solution right?
I have a free cheatsheet in my resources library that has a list the most Google-able titles for my subscribers.
#10 Make sure it’s SEO-optimized.
Finally, if you haven’t downloaded the SEO Yoast plugin on WordPress, do it now!
The Yoast SEO plugin will guide you towards how to craft an SEO-optimized blog post with searchable keywords and readability.
It ensures that you’re not writing in the passive voice and that your sentences are not over 20 words (and mine always are!). If you click on the “eye button” (it took me a long time before I knew those were even clickable ahh lol!), it will highlight your lengthy sentences.
You also want to make sure your keywords appear a few times throughout your blog post. This isn’t to sound repetitive, but it helps Google’s search engine figure out who you are, what you’re about, and rank you higher in the topics you write about.
And you know your blog post is optimized if the two traffic lights on your plugin turns green!
#11 Edit, edit, and edit!
Don’t worry about being perfect when you’re writing your blog post. I find it way easier to unload all my thoughts and knowledge before refining my sentences. For one, my sentences are always too long by Yoast SEO’s standards lol. My initial draft is written on Evernote. I then copy and paste it into WordPress blog post to SEO-optimize it. I make any necessary corrections as suggested by the plugin. Finally, I do a live preview of the post to see if the formatting and visuals are presentable.
This is my step-by-step plan to write most of my blog articles for Talence. Of course, if you’re in a photo-heavy niche like style blogging, this won’t be the approach you take for the majority of your posts. Still, regardless of whatever niche you’re in, you should always sprinkle in some evergreen and actionable content. Inspirational blogs are generally beautiful, but if it’s not attainable by other people, it alienates readers. Show people how to do something, teach people how to get a certain result.
Now blogging and writing seems like a lot of work. It is. But when you think about how most of your readers come from organic traffic like SEO and Google (like my previous blog’s did), you only need to write something once to reach an unlimited number of readers.
In other words, you only need to expend X amount of effort and time on a topic and the traffic continues to roll in as long as your blog post topic is relevant to people’s needs.
This is my first audio recording for Talence and if you find this type of audio learning helpful, let me know and I’d definitely do more in the future!
What is your step-by-step plan for writing your blog content? There are many ways to do it, of course, do share so people can learn from you! And if you found this helpful, I would love to hear your results!