Let me guess, you’re planning your new website and want to include a blog. Maybe you’ve heard blogging is good for building credibility, getting found online (SEO) and having something to share on your social media channels.
All of that is true.
However, when I work with clients on web copy, one of the biggest questions they ask me is “what to blog about” quickly followed up with “how to write a blog?”
After all, if you’ve never written a blog post before, you may not know where to start. Especially if you’ve never harbored any burning writing desires, the thing could seem insurmountable.
Sure, you can schedule time to write your blog but when the time comes, you may find that you suddenly feel the urge to clean your desk.
Or, maybe you realize you haven’t eaten in at least 2 hours. Yes, you couldn’t possibly write until you have a snack…
Hey, I know the feeling, I’ve been there. I’m a professional blogger and the urge to “not-blog” happens to me too from time to time. But this isn’t a post about motivation and ways to trick your brain into getting it done – that’s for another day.
Instead, I’m going to give you a step-by-step method to writing your first blog post (or 10).
Step One: Choose a Topic – If you don’t know what to write it’s pretty hard to get started. My favorite way to do this is to answer popular questions. I gather questions my clients and prospects ask me and when I see the same question being asked over and over, I write a blog post on it. (This post is an example).
My other favorite way is to find out what people are searching for and answer their questions.
There are dozens of ways to handle keyword research but here’s a short video on how to use one of my favorites
Or, you can read up on it here – Why Keyword Research Matters.
Ok, now that you have the quick overview of keyword terms and a tool to find them, I hope your brain is percolating.
Use Google’s keyword tool to create a list of 3-5 terms you’ll write about initially.
Let’s say you’re pet sitter and “how to find a pet sitter” is a well-searched term.
Step Two: Craft a Snazzy (Yet Informative) Title
If in doubt, err on the side of informative rather than super creative. I mean, I titled this post, “How to Write a Blog Post” because it was a well-searched phrase and it’s pretty clear what it’s all about, right?
You’re not going to click on it expecting bread-baking instructions.
“How to find a pet sitter” is also a built in title but we can make it even more search engine friendly by adding a location to it.
How to Find a Pet Sitter in Philadelphia for example, or narrow it further to “How to Find a Pet Sitter in Rittehouse Square” (a neighborhood in Philadelphia).
There. That’s simple enough isn’t it?
What’s your title?
Step Three: Write the Content
Now that you have the title, you need to flesh it out.
Who is the blog post for? Your clients and prospective clients right? Think of the kinds of questions you’re asked by them which can you answer in this post?
Spend 5-10 minutes outlining. (I know, you’re having a flashback to high school English, just take a deep breath.)
It doesn’t need to be fancy. Just a way to get your ideas down.
Intro (one or two short sentences) with an interesting story or statistic
Body – share about top qualities in a pet sitter, what to expect, etc. Tell your prospects how they can find a pet sitter (and show them why you’re the obvious answer).
Wrap up – segue into how your business has all these qualities and is located in Philadelphia/Rittenhouse Square and you’ll be happy to help them with their pet sitting needs, just call xxx-xxx-xxxx.
Now, take a break. You can refresh your tea, take a walk, come back to it tomorrow. When you come back with fresh eyes, you’ll see what you’ve missed.
Now, it’s time to put the next “layer” on it. Pick a time when you know you won’t be interrupted for 15-20 minutes.
Pour yourself a refreshing beverage, put on your writing music (I like Art Blakey), turn off your notifications, and fill in the gaps for 20 minutes. That means, write straight for 20 minutes. Don’t edit yourself. You’ll do that tomorrow. Write down anything you think could be relevant.
Tomorrow you can refine it for another 15 minutes and then you’ll be ready to post.
You can do that, right?
Of course you can.
It doesn’t matter what business you’re in. The process works the same.
Find a need (the question) and fill it with your useful information.
That’s how you write a blog post.
If it helps, you can dictate the information to yourself. Use an app like Dragon Speaking Naturally talk into it. Then, play it back to yourself and write down the highlights.
How Long Should Your Blog Post Be?
Ok, everyone asks this question and there’s no right or wrong answer. At the risk of sounding like your high school English teacher, “as long as it needs to be.”
Yes, there are some parameters. It needs to have some meat, some content for it be most useful for your readers. That can mean 400-600 words or much more.
You do want to write more than a couple hundred words, you want it to be more than fluffy. But if you’ve never written a post before, aim for around 400 words.
Over time, you can build up to longer posts.
If you’re having trouble even getting to 400 words, share a relevant story. In fact, showing how you help through stories is the best way to keep your reader engaged and to understand.
Here’s an example, in my “How to blog” seminar, I walk participants through the steps. They actually write their first blog post. That way, they’re learning by doing.
Don’t be Afraid to Show Your Personality
Too many people write stiffly and don’t let their personality show. That’s boring. Think of your favorite writers. Heck, even your favorite Facebook connections. Chances are they show some personality, right?
So don’t be afraid to let your personality out. It shows you’re human. If slang works for your brand, then include it.
You want to write like you talk. That’s where recording yourself can help.
Leave Some White Space
One last word on how to write a blog, formatting. Take a look at this post, is it all crammed together in 3 or 4 chunky paragraphs or is it spread out in short sentences with plenty of white space?
There’s a reason for that.
Readers scan online. Giving white space gives the eye a rest. What looks easier to read? A short sentence or a big block of text?
Forget everything you learned in English class. You’re writing a blog post that helps your prospects make the decision to hire you to care for Fluffy, not an academic paper.
That means, keep your sentences short. Your paragraphs less than four sentences long. Use sub heads (the bolded headings you see throughout this post).
It’s all a way to make it easier to communicate your message to your prospects.
And you know what? When you communicate your message effectively, you make more sales.
“How to write a blog?” Follow these guidelines and get started.