First, a word of warning: blogging is hard work. You won’t become the most successful blogger overnight, it takes time and commitment … and a pinch of trial and error.
I’ve written a bunch of blogs in my time, some more successful than others, and while I can’t promise that you’ll write that perfect blog every time (writers’ block is real, y’all), I can share 10 things I’ve learned over the years, to give you a head start.
- Plan your topic
Coming up with a broad topic is easy, what’s hard is honing it down to something specific. Consider the difference between “The most amazing interior design ever” and “The top 5 most beautiful cafes in London”. Fine tuning your topic will help you focus your thoughts, which will in turn focus your writing.
- Do your research
There is more than one type of research to do though. Partly, the content – especially if you’re writing about something particularly theoretical. But also: looking into what’s been done before. Unless you’re onto some sort of goldmine, chances are, your topic has been covered before. Think about what you bring to the table. What will make your blog different?
- Consider your audience
It’s all well and good writing about something you’re interested in, but will your readers care? Once you’ve got your topic, think about who you’re speaking to – CEOs of construction companies? Recruitment consultants? Graduates? Parents? Each of these groups will care about different topics, and they’re want a specific tone of voice too. There’s nothing worse than putting the work into a blog, only to miss the mark by being too corporate or too friendly.
- Plan your content
I can’t stress this enough. Whether it’s on the back of a napkin, on a whiteboard, directly in your Word document, jot down the main points. It’s easy to forget to mention something once you start writing. Your outline will make sure you’ll always come back to it.
- Just start writing
This works for me once I’ve covered the what and for who. You’re ready, that blog is in there somewhere. Jump in between sections if you need to, go back, go forward, get it all down. Cut and paste is your friend. The time to edit will come later.
- End with a bang
Don’t just stop writing. In fact, don’t tie your topic into a neat little bow. Give the reader something to think about, ask a question, end on a teaser, provide related reading. As part of your planning, stop to consider this key question: what’s next? What is it that you want the reader to do, once they’re finished reading? That, ladies and gents, is your call to action.
- Edit: Is less more?
Not always. Some topics (and their audiences) warrant a blog post of 300 words, some of 2,500. If the point is just a quick update on something I’m working on, I won’t need to fill up 2,500 words. Indeed, I probably can’t (and so shouldn’t). Conversely, if I’m writing about how best to prepare for a grad fair, I’ll probably need to cover more ground. Hence, more words.
Regardless of the length, please go back and edit. While writing, every idea will seem like the MOST important. It rarely is.
- Don’t forget your title
I too start my writing with a working title but that isn’t necessarily what the blog should be sent into the world with. A blog’s title will be the first thing a potential reader sees (in fact 60% won’t read past it). The title will need to give a good idea of the topic, but also grab the readers’ attention (research says you’ve got 8 seconds) and convince them to click through to what you’ve just spent a few days (or weeks) writing.
I often jot down several ideas before I settle on the final one, don’t be afraid of options or trying things out.
- Visualise your points, where possible
We all take information in differently and we retain it differently too. Using relevant images, infographics, graphs, and videos will break up your text into manageable chunks and provide something to remember.
Plus, the right image will make your article stand out on social media, hopefully making its potential reader stop that mindless scrolling just long enough to read the title … and you’ve got them.
- Set it free
This will take testing.
You’ll know (generally) when your audience is likely to be in the right frame of mind to read what you’ve written. Your most successful day of the week and time of day will also depend on how you are attempting to reach your audience. Each social media platform has a life of its own and should be treated as such. No need to share the blog across all platforms at the same time (or at all, depending on the topic) nor to share it just once (#throwbackthursday am I right?).
And so, I know I haven’t quite answered all your questions. I’ve focused on the actual writing part, but I’ve just skimmed the surface of how the blog could (and should) look, getting it out to its potential readers and I haven’t even touched on things like keyword research or meta descriptions. That, my friends, will have to wait till next time.
Maggie Majstrova has over 10 years’ experience in general marketing, having originally started in a full-service marketing agency. For the last few years, Maggie has been working as a freelance copywriter with several clients on web, social media and general marketing content. Clients include companies in construction, interior design, recruitment and jewelry design