CONTENTS, THE HEART OF BLOGS
Welcome to a guide on how to write blog posts, and just in case some of the new bloggers have not already figured this one out – contents are the heart of every blog. For a blog to thrive, there must be some disgustingly good blog posts to entice the readers.
But sadly, when it comes to writing, some people panic and foam at their mouth – How? What should I write? Don’t worry, you are in the right place, and this guide will walk you through 3 simple parts on how to write better blog posts.
One does not start writing blog posts without any plans and ideas. We need to have something interesting to talk about, and not make some random cat/dog pictures post. We need to formulate a good blog post that is of value to the readers – Something useful to them, something educational, and something that will solve their problems.
TIP 1) THE EVERGREEN TOPIC IDEAS
Don’t have any good ideas on a topic? Try one of these “usual suspects”:
- Reviews – Products, movies, books, albums, etc…
- Previews – If you can get your hands on pre-released stuff.
- Hacks – Makes life easy, people just love these.
- How to – Step by step instructions on doing something. Just like the one you are reading right now.
- Response – Respond to a statement that someone made, to an event that happened, or to a certain situation.
TIP 2) “BORROW” IDEAS
Really have no idea on what to write? Then it’s time to go “borrow” some ideas from the Internet. No shame in looking for inspirations, not all of us are geniuses in creating original content.
- I love to haunt BuzzSumo to find out the trending stuff.
- Reddit is also another pretty good place to find inspirations… If you ignore the trolls, haters, and keyboard warriors.
- See what questions people are asking on Quora, and write an article to answer it.
TIP 3) KEEP CONTENTS UP TO DATE
A very obvious thing. Write for stuff that is current – Don’t create posts like “World World 2 has ended!”… Yeah, we all know that ages ago. But maybe again, a satire “blast from the past” blog can be interesting.
TIP 4) WRITE FOR YOUR READERS
Whatever topic that you choose to write on, keep this one thing in mind – People search the Internet for information and/or entertainment. A good blog post should provide both to the readers; It should serve knowledge and not be bone dry boring at the same time.
I know it’s ironic that blog posts are supposed to be sort of a “dear online diary” stuff… But whatever is on the Internet, is public. If you write a blog post, then you are writing for your readers – The key to a successful blog is to provide a lot of value; Share your knowledge and experience to help your readers.
TIP 5) GIVE AMAZING VALUE
A good blog post should not be shallow, mindless and confusing. After people have finished reading a good blog post, they should go “now I know/understand”. It does not need to be a big deal such as world peace or saving humankind… It could be a very simple goal of letting people know a great dining place.
For example, a shallow blog post could be “Today, I ate at this restaurant”. Readers can absolutely live without this kind of posts, and it does not have any value. Consider adding the following information to that blog post –
- Describe the food – Take pictures, how it taste like.
- What is on their menu, what they serve, recommended dishes.
- The service and environment.
- How much a meal costs.
- Where this restaurant is, how to get there, and what are their opening hours.
Just by including those extra bits, the blog post transforms into a valuable experience sharing/review post.
TIP 6) DO YOUR HOMEWORK
Do your due diligence of research. Get the facts right, or specifications if you are reviewing a product. Don’t end up giving wrong information and incur the wrath of online keyboard banging haters.
TIP 7) WHAT ARE THE REST SAYING?
Research is thankfully easy these days with the Internet. You can simply do a search on your topic and see what others are saying about it. But don’t just limit your research to other blogs and websites – There are plenty of other sources such as videos, podcasts, and even good old books in the library.
TIP 8) COLLECT DATA POINTS
Note down all the facts, rumors, speculations, specifications, and points that people have made. Also note down the original source/author – This is extremely important. Just don’t get lazy with your research and stop at only one article/video/book – The more you read and collect data, the more resources you have to write a good compelling post.
TIP 9) CITE YOUR SOURCES – ALWAYS.
Copying is way too easy. So easy that if you just copy-and-paste entire sentences, you will probably get slapped with a penalty… A copyright issue and trouble with the law in the worst case. If you need to copy a paragraph directly, remember to quote the original source.
There is an old saying – The pen is mightier than the sword. These days, the keyboard might be mightier than the pen after all. But to a few beginners, starting to write a blog post with the keyboard seems like an impossible task. After all, where do we even get started with writing?
TIP 10) AN ATTENTION GRABBING TITLE
Every post starts with a title, and you need this to be as catchy as possible. There are some psychology and science behind this, in general, put these to good use –
- Include numbers in your title (5 ways, 3 steps, 10 hacks, etc…)
- The Internet is busy these days – Lists and step-by-step guides are the winners.
- Use power words – Mega, win, fast, effective, hacks, powerful, cheat, etc…
- Use brackets in your title, they attract even more attention.
A few of my usual formulas are:
- X Steps to Do Y
- How to Do X (Secret Formula Included)
- X Ways to Win Y
- Complete Guide to X (Step-by-Step)
- X Hacks to Make Your Life Easier
- X ABSOLUTELY FREE Something
If you are interested in more power words, check out this post on the most commonly used high ranking words on Siege Media.
TIP 11) STRUCTURE YOUR POST
Before you start with the actual writing, the best practice is to structure your post – Be it in point form or mind mapping your research data. For example –
- Main points
- Supporting points
Yep, it’s that simple, and this will help you in writing a well-organized blog post. If you need an example, just look at how this article is being structured – An introduction, table of contents, 3 main parts, several smaller supporting points, then the closing.
Treat each segment as a “mini-post”, and slowly work your way to a complete article. The whole idea here is not to get yourself too overwhelmed with “one big chunky post”, but to divide it into several smaller parts; This is an age-old strategy called “divide and conquer”.
TIP 12) MAKE YOUR POST “SCANNABLE”
If you have properly structured your post, then it should already be “scannable”. What do I mean by that? The Internet is busy these days, and most people will probably just scan through a long blog post. If you write in “one big chunk”, chances are, you will lose a lot of potential readers.
A post that is “scannable” has several sections, sub-sections, lists, tables, and graphics. So even if a person is just flying through the post, he/she will still catch on to the generic overview and certain parts… Maybe even pause to read a few sentences.
TIP 13) BE YOURSELF
There is just something very fake and insincere when you pretend to be someone you are not. Some people just love to pretend to be experts when they are writing (or scamming) – You really don’t have to.
A blog is something that is more on the personal side. You don’t have to be a professional photographer to share your hobby. You don’t have to be an expert copywriter to share years of your blogging experience – Just be who you are… I find it hard not to be myself when writing anyway.
TIP 14) ENGAGE WITH READERS
You are not writing a technical document… Take on a more personal and conversational tone. Good blog posts are engaging, and it is much easier to write if you treat it as sharing your experience with friends.
TIP 15) KEEP IT SIMPLE
Now to bust a common mental block – You need to have good English and vocabulary to write blog posts. No. In fact, keep things as simple as possible. How many arduously convoluted expletive English words can you spot in this post? Very little. Keep things simple, make it an easy read, make it understandable.
TIP 16) USE GRAPHICS
A picture speaks a thousand words. If you find it difficult to explain in words, then draw simple diagrams to explain… The stone age of Internet is already over.
TIP 17) YOU DON’T HAVE TO WRITE A LOT
No. There are no specifications on how much to write! But just give however much details you can to the readers – I usually end up with well over 1000 words. But at times, there really isn’t much to talk about… Like reviewing a battery power bank.
TIP 18) CALL TO ACTION
This may, or may not apply to all posts. If you are writing to promote something or want your readers to do certain things, make sure that there is a clear call to action. For example, if you want your readers to subscribe to your newsletter – There should be a clear big “subscribe” button. Just don’t spam too much.
TIP 19) WRITE FIRST, WORRY LATER
If you don’t get started, you will never finish. Just don’t think too much and slowly write a couple of paragraphs at a time. For the new bloggers who are thinking that writing is difficult – Even I began with writing crappy “hello world” blog posts… So yeah. Don’t overthink too much. Just write, and worry about editing it later.
After you are done with writing your blog post, don’t just throw it out on the Internet. Not yet. There is still work to be done… After you are done writing.
TIP 20) PROOFREAD
Spot the spelling and grammar mistakes. It is kind of hard to do it by yourself, since you wrote it and the mind is already wired to think that there are no mistakes. Get someone else to read your blog post if you can. If not, just stay away for a day, then come back to proofread it.
TIP 21) REDUCE AND SIMPLIFY
Don’t be afraid to cut away all the useless and reduce the difficult parts. The easier it is to understand, the better it is.
TIP 22) DON’T BE A PERFECTIONIST
Just release the blog post when you have finished writing and done all the necessary editing. Don’t be too caught up in writing a “perfect blog post”. It does not exist, and the more you hold onto it, the less likely you will publish it. Even if there are mistakes, you can always edit it later again.
TIP 23) ADD AN INFOGRAPHIC
Summarize your entire post and make it into an infographic if you can. This is the best and easiest way to bring your points across to your readers. Don’t have to be a professional graphic designer to do that – There are plenty of free online infographics makers that you can use.
TIP 24) MAKE A TEMPLATE
If this is the first time that you are writing a blog post, make it into a post template and speed up your future writing. If you poke around this blog, you will notice the structure of my posts are rather similar – Step-by-step guides and reviews.
So we have come to the end of this guide, and I hope it has been useful to you. Writing, as with any other skills, only becomes better if you practice more. So don’t be afraid to write, everyone has to start somewhere and become better over time. Good luck!
W.S. Toh is a senior web developer and SEO practitioner with over 10 years of experience in building websites. When he is not secretly being an evil tech ninja, he enjoys doing photography and explore ways to mess around with tech gadgets.