You’ve heard a lot about content and why it’s king of the web world.
But maybe you’re skeptical of the cost. Or distrustful of an outsider taking over your web presence. Maybe you just want to maintain control over your website.
Regardless of your reasons, you want your blog to be on par with the professional ones. (Lazy blog posts don’t do anything. Freeloaders.)
Well, we got your back. Here’s the down-low on how to write a blog post like a pro.
1. Create a Content Calendar
A content calendar is a plan for which blog posts you’re going to write and when.
It sounds like a small step, but honestly? Not having one leads to writer’s block or weak content.
Don’t roll your eyes, you wanted to know how to write a blog post like a professional, right?
What does a content calendar look like?
Your content calendar doesn’t have to start at January and go until December (although it totally can and many of ours do). Simply start in the current month and go till the end of the year. Or six months out. Do two years if you want, who’s gonna tell on you?
It’s easiest to take care of a huge chunk at once rather than revisiting your calendar every couple of months.
Having a blogging calendar:
- helps you identify opportunities for seasonally appropriate posts (Christmas posts in December, etc.);
- prevents “topic jams,” where you write about the same category multiple months in a row; and
- makes it easy to start writing right away, without wracking your brain for a topic every month.
How you set up your blogging calendar is up to you.
Pen and paper is easy, but it can get messy if you want to change things around later. My own personal system is both digital and analog. I have a dry erase board to keep track of upcoming posts and a Google spreadsheet (shared with The Guys) to track the entire year.
Right, okay, but what do I talk about?
Hopefully, you already have a business or a general category you want to write about. Otherwise, why would you want to blog, amirite?
Have a little brainstorming sesh to get all those mini, half-formed, Franken-ideas on paper. At this step, it’s easy to write down everything that comes to mind so you “at least have something.”
Don’t fall into that trap. It’s a lie straight from the devil.
Instead, decide on the scope of your blog first, then choose topics that fall under that umbrella.
If you sell insurance, answer the kind of questions your clients ask you. If you’re a wedding planner, talk about all those fun nuptial things brides and grooms get excited about (like cake and honeymoons). If you run a food blog, don’t start talking about your latest home renovation. Unless it was your kitchen, ’cause you can totally make that work.
2. Research Keywords
Topics are cool and all, but keywords make all the difference when it comes to your blog post’s SEO.
Picking the right keyword can help launch your blog onto the first page of the Google search results page (this is the equivalent of a gold medal in the digital marketing world).
Pick the wrong keyword? You might as well have never written a sentence.
But you can’t find a good keyword without doing plenty of research upfront.
Ugh, research? Like in school?
Hey, don’t get sassy with me. You’re the one who asked how to write a blog post.
I like to choose the first keyword that comes to mind as a jumping-off point. From there, I can refine my options based on the research.
For instance, if you’re a jewelry store owner and want to write a post on how to properly clean your wedding ring, you might start off with “how to clean a wedding ring.”
The next step is to check that keyword’s traffic and difficulty. I use a website called Ahrefs to do this. It’s a paid tool, but it’s worth every penny when it comes to keyword research.
After you enter a keyword or phrase, Ahrefs will tell you the average monthly search volume (how many people type those words into a search engine every month) as well as your Keyword Difficulty (how hard it will be for you to rank for that keyword).
Ideally, you want high search volume and low keyword difficulty, but the keyword still needs to be relevant. “How to clean a wedding ring” gets about 150 searches a month, with a Keyword Difficulty rating of 6. “How to clean a ring” on the other hand, gets 1,000 searches a month, with a Keyword Difficulty of 13.
If you keep getting things with low traffic / high difficulty ratings, switch up your keyword until you land on The One. Or check out some of Ahref’s suggestions (or Google’s related queries at the bottom of the search results page) for better keywords.
Google can be a great resource for many reasons. For a while, I was going to target “writing blogs” as the keyword for this post, until Google informed me that keyword is primarily used to find blogs about writing. Oops.
3. Outline It
Now that you’ve got your topic and your focus keyword, you’ll want to do…MORE RESEARCH! (See, and you thought you’d never use all that stuff they taught you in English class.)
If you already know your topic inside and out, your research might be minimal. If you have some gaps in your knowledge, you’ll want to hit Google (#2018encyclopedia) and get some trustworthy sources.
I feel like I’m back in Ms. Goldman’s English class.
Good, then you should already know how to write a blog post. It’s just like writing an essay.
No matter what topic you’re writing about, there are always subtopics that break it down even further.
Select the subtopics you want to cover and put these into your WordPress draft as subheads, also called H2s. When selecting your H2s, try to fit your focus keyword in at least one of them (this is a helpful thing to keep in mind while doing your keyword research!).
And if your H2s are getting too long? Break them down even further and add some H3s in there.
The drop-down menu looks like this. You’ll also want to settle on a headline (or title, for those not “in the know”). Headlines are often the first or only thing to attract visitors to your site, so you want to be really methodical about writing them.
Pick something that attracts readers while also including your focus keyword. Here’s a good article with some tips on effective headline writing.
All right…now we can start actually writing.
I find it easier to start with all the subtopics and save the intro and conclusion for last. Don’t forget to include your focus keyword throughout the post as well as any other relevant keywords you want to focus for.
Use good grammar, but making Ms. Goldman from English 101 happy isn’t the goal here. Above all, be thorough, informative, and entertaining.
The “writing” part of writing blog posts is where the real magic happens.
Writing blogs isn’t like writing an email or even a textbook chapter. You’re talking to people who likely have no experience in your topic but they’re interested in learning more.
A boring blog post isn’t going to keep them on your site.
A good blogger knows how to write a blog post in a way that informs their readers without going over their heads. (If you can’t tell how you’re coming across, have a friend or co-worker read it over first.) And don’t forget: analogies, clever wordplay, and humor can go a long way toward keeping people interested.
Next is (yup!) more keyword research.
Once you’re happy with what you’ve written, go back through and sprinkle some related keywords in there.
Yes, you’ll want to have your focus keyword in there several times (the one you settled on during the second step), but having some related keywords helps Google understand more about what you’re talking about so they can direct people to your site who may not have typed your exact keyword into the search bar.
I use the Moz keyword finder tool for this.
Pull up your blog post in preview mode and click the Page Optimization button. Enter your focus keyword and hit “Optimize.” You’ll see a section called “On-Page Content Suggestions,” which include other related keywords that you might want to use throughout your post. Pick which ones are the most relevant and add them into your post (if they’re not there already).
5. Add Images
Humans are visual creatures.
But guess what? Written text doesn’t exactly count as a “visual” feature.
Instead, you need images.
Stock images are fine for blog posts (to illustrate your point) but if you have a graphic designer (thanks, Christen!) or access to an editing software, even better.
There’s no real magic number here, but you don’t want to have too much text in between them. Think of an image like a desert oasis; there need to be just enough of them to keep your reader going.
You’ll also want to set a featured image to show up as a thumbnail on your blog’s main page. Oh, and don’t forget to update all of these images with alt tags.
Alt tags are helpful for giving the Google bots more information about your blog post. Your alt tag should either describe the image itself (“woven basket filled with fruit”) or act as a type of sales pitch for your business (“Numarket Fresh delivers all the highest quality produce right to your door!”).
6. Do All That Finicky WordPress Stuff
At Clarity, we love a good WordPress blog.
WordPress’s different features and plugins make it easy to get your post SEO-ready.
And while writing a great blog post is important, you also need to think about your digital readers: the Google bots.
Take a minute to go through this little WordPress blog checklist to make sure your post is search engine-ready.
- Update the blog domain – Make sure your URL contains your focus keyword.
- Select a category – Update the post’s category with the topics it covers.
- Write the meta description – Using the Yoast plugin, write a concise, yet informative, meta description that includes your focus keyword and update the headline for the search results page.
- Internal links – Comb through the article for opportunities to link to other posts you’ve written. This can increase traffic to those other posts and make them rank even higher.
This is also a good chance to read through the entire article (preferably in “Preview” mode so you can see how it’ll look to everyone else) to fix any typos or weird formatting issues.
7. Publish and Create Backlinks
If everything looks good, you’re ready to publish!
You can either schedule your post to go live later or publish it right away.
After you publish (leave yourself a calendar reminder for this if you’re scheduling it for a future date), search your other published posts for phrases about the keyword or topic you’ve just written about and link back to your new article.
This will give it the potential for more traffic, especially if the blogs linking to it are highly visited themselves.
8. Share On Social Media
Your social media followers already love you, so don’t forget to give your newly published post some attention!
A tool like Missinglettr will help you schedule posts across all of your social media platforms (in monthly increments) up to a year out. It’s a virtually mindless way to get some action on your blog and your social media accounts at the same time.
Does That Sound Like Too Much?
Knowing how to write a blog post is different from actually writing one. (Especially a good blog post.)
If this sounds like more than you can handle, don’t fret: you can always hire a pro.
Professional freelance bloggers specialize in all this stuff.
They dream about spreadsheets. They can do keyword research in their sleep. Outlines are easy, they love clever wordplay, and they know how to translate your “expert speak” for a layperson audience.
Plus, over time, they learn more about your business until they’re as much of an expert as you are.
But don’t take our word for it. If you’re skeptical about hiring a professional blogger, do it yourself for a few months and see how it goes. Track your efforts as well as your success and use those as benchmarks to see if the quotes from the digital marketing companies are worth it.
Blogging is tough work.
Clarity Creative Group is a digital marketing company located in beautiful Orlando, Florida. Call me a nerd, but I legit love making outlines. Ms. Goldman would have LOVED me.