If I had a dollar for every bad blog I’ve read, I wouldn’t have to work as a writer, myself! I’m not the best writer in the world by any means, but I know a bad blog when I see one, and I’ve wasted a lot of time reading blogs that had a compelling title, but failed to deliver anything of value. If you’re disappointed with existing blogs and want to know how to write a blog post that people will actually enjoy, then keep reading!
Writing a blog post is relatively easy, but making it good and effective is a whole other challenge. Many companies churn out blog content to buff up their SEO, or just because they feel like they have to, but it is exceedingly rare to find a blog that actually says something valuable. In this (hopefully valuable) blog, we’ll cover some of the things that can turn an average blog into something that drives conversions, helps people, and can become a cornerstone of your content strategy. Cover photo by Kristin Hardwick.
Pick a Great Keyword
Blogs have several purposes – to entertain or inform, to drive conversions, and to get more traffic to your website. Picking a keyword is crucial to getting more traffic. A keyword is a word or phrase that people are searching for online, and the goal of your content is to show up in search results. You can do this by making excellent content built around that keyword. There’s no way we could cover a full SEO strategy in this blog post, but we can cover the basics of picking a good keyword.
These days, a good keyword is a more specific phrase. You’ll never have a chance to show up for “dishwashers” but you might be able to show up for “how to clean my dishwasher”. Think of what the people who might buy your products or services will be looking for, and then do some research on search volumes to see if anyone is seeking out that term.
Research the Competition
When I sit down to write a blog, but I know there is some stiff competition, I do some research to see what other bloggers have written. And then, I strive to write a blog post that is either written better or provides new information that the other blog post did not. No matter how good your blog is, it probably won’t do what you need it to do unless it has something that makes it better than everything else out there.
Reading other blogs will also give you additional ideas for your own content. Perhaps your competitors made a great point that you did not think of, or linked to an external resource that has some information you can parse through.
Write a Killer Intro
Introductions can hook your reader, so writing a good one could determine whether they continue reading or not. One thing to consider is that since introductions don’t actually provide any information, many readers will skip the intro and just skim the headlines to look for what they need. But if you do decide to write a strong intro, there are a few mays to make it really count.
Here are some ways you can immediately hook a reader and convince them to stay around:
- Use empathy to instantly relate to your reader and appeal to them emotionally
- Show your personality and tell a personal story
- Make a bold (but true) statement but withhold the details
- Tease how you will answer the question posed in the title
- Prove that you are an expert on the subject matter
In addition to those tips, there are a few other ways to make a killer intro. You need to make sure you keep sentences short and snappy. Treat your intro like a movie trailer, because it has the exact same purpose as one. It’s also important to remember that an intro is an intro, and not a place to start making detailed points. Try to keep it simple, stick to the topic. After all, you wouldn’t want to confuse your readers into thinking the blog is about something that it’s not.
Cut the Fluff
Almost every blog I read was obviously trying to reach a certain word count, but there just wasn’t enough to say. This meant I had to slog through essentially worthless text just to get to the meat of the content. But this isn’t to say that you should just synthesize your point down into one paragraph. It just means that you shouldn’t unnecessarily repeat yourself, go off on a tangent, or spend way too long setting up the problem.
Here are some ways you can cut the fluff while still making an excellent blog with a high word count:
- Tell a story that is relevant to the audience and to the problem at hand
- Don’t confuse the reader with irrelevant facts, and instead make sure everything supports your main point
- Skip obvious points (if you’re writing a guide on how to create a good Twitter strategy, is it really necessary to have a section about how to sign up for Twitter??) and instead write content that is appropriate for the skill and experience level of your intended readers
- See if there are any points that can be explained in fewer words or simpler language
Arrange Your Supporting Points
Believe it or not, there is an optimal way to present information in a blog post, which will leave readers feeling like you gave them what they wanted. If you have a list of supporting points, arrange them in a certain order. It’s important to start strong and end strong. Your first point should be your strongest so that readers get a good first impression. You don’t want to start off lukewarm and cause readers to abandon your blog before you’ve had a chance to prove yourself. Likewise, you should make your last point your second-strongest. If you end on a mediocre point, then you’ll leave readers feeling disappointed, even if the earlier points were good. First impressions and last impressions are critical to writing a good blog, and it’s the kind of writing strategy that can get your blog bookmarked by readers.
Write Readable Content
Everyone has a different writing style, and a preferred reading style. But there are some general writing tips that will make a blog more readable to any reader.
- Use transition words such as “because” or “therefore” to smoothly tie together ideas
- Don’t write consecutive sentences with the same first word, unless there is a good reason
- Keep your paragraphs between around 3-6 sentences
- Keep each paragraph to one core idea
- Use headings and subheadings to organize ideas and make the blog easy to skim through
- Write shorter sentences – if a sentence can be split in two, it should be
- Speak in active voice rather than passive
- Avoid using too many buzzwords, slang, and figures of speech that may be regional or won’t make sense to non-native English speakers
Edit, Edit, Edit
Before posting your blog, make sure there are no mistakes. Even a simple typo could cause some readers to roll their eyes and leave the page. It’s important to not write and edit in the same sitting. You should come back with a fresh mind so that you don’t gloss over any errors. If possible, have someone else read the blog so they can catch mistakes that you might not see. You can also read your blog out loud, and it will be painfully obvious when you catch a mistake or come across an awkward sentence.
While you’re editing, keep an eye out for typos, missing words, and incomplete thoughts. But also edit for things like tone of voice and consistency. If anything feels weird, try to cut it or re-write it. Remove unsure words such as “maybe” or “perhaps” to instill confidence in your readers.
Now you should know what to look for in a good or bad blog! Blogs are an interesting piece of media, that is not quite a research paper, news article, textbook, or journal entry, but a combination of all of those and more. Have you ever read a blog that disappointed you, and you knew you could do it better? Let us know in the comments below if you’ve experienced this blog fatigue, and which tip for how to write a blog post that you’re going to practice first.