You will have heard that ‘blogging’, or writing a blog, is a key element of effective digital marketing. Blogging is crucial for a variety of reasons; it’s a great way to publish fresh content on your site, it helps your site to rank for relevant keywords and attract traffic, and it provides you with great content to promote on your social media accounts. All of these aspects create valuable opportunities to generate leads and sales for your business
In fact, research has shown that companies that blog have far better marketing results. The average company that blogs has:
- 55% more visitors
- 97% more inbound links
- 434% more indexed pages
Although it’s easy to maintain a blog and publish content regularly, it can be difficult to come up with ideas and to write the content sufficiently well so that it keeps your audience engaged. Often companies find it difficult to strike a balance between the two which puts people off maintaining a blog.
But the time has come for no more excuses. After you’ve read this post you’ll be equipped with the perfect formula for writing the perfect blog post. Here are our 8 steps:
Step 1: Structure
You might be keen to start writing your blog post straight away especially if you’ve got a great idea. But, before you start writing, you need to work out a plan and a structure of what it is you want to say. The structure of your blog post is the skeleton of your text, it helps the reader to grasp the main idea of your content. Having a well laid out blog post will be easy for your readers to understand and follow.
Setting up a coherent structure of your blog post will result in a better understanding of the message of your post and, if people understand your message, they are more likely to share your post and start to like and trust your brand which is important for engaging your audience.
Before you start writing, think about what you want the objectives of your post to be. Here are some suggestions:
- Who is this article for?
- What value will it give them?
- What do you want readers to do once they’ve finished reading?
Answering these questions before you start writing will not only save you time, but will make sure you have a clear focus of what you’re writing, and you’ll be less likely to talk about any irrelevant topics.
Next, before you start writing, maybe jot down the main points you want to cover. Here’s the approach that we find works the best:
- Write the sub-headings
- Write the opening paragraph
- Write each paragraph
- Write up the key points as a summary
- Write several versions of the headline and choose the best
There are many different methods structuring your blog post and you may find a different approach works best for you. Either way, by mapping out your structure you’ll save time once you start writing.
Step 2: Headlines
Too often the headline is the most neglected part of writing an article. It’s often skipped over without being given much thought, but really the headline is the most important part of your article. It’s not just the cherry on top, it’s the whole sundae.
Some of the best writers spend hours perfecting their headlines. The headline is not only the first sentence your audience will read, but also the most important element in determining if the rest of your article is read. Your headline can also carry enormous SEO benefit so it’s worth crafting a well-considered one!
At Receptional we run regular split tests on our article headlines. We’ll test two different versions to see which headline gets the best response. We won’t change anything else in the article, just the headline. Often one of the headlines generates twice as many readers as the other, showing the power of a well-written headline.
There are several tips for writing the perfect headline. Some of the best headlines:
- Don’t pretend to be too clever
- Use numbers
- Aren’t ironic
- Add interesting adjectives
- Promise benefits
- Mention a problem, but entice the reader with the solution.
There are loads of tips for what headlines should and shouldn’t include. Jeff Goins, a successful author and blogger, suggests that you use a headline writing formula to create catchy headlines.
You’ll also find plenty of examples of what sort of headlines can attract your readers’ attention, from warnings of dire results to the promise of revealed secrets. You can read more about winning headlines in one of our previously published blog posts here.
Step 3: Opening Paragraph
After the headline the opening paragraph is a key part of any article. You have just a few sentences to draw in your audience and convince them to read on. Your opening paragraph needs to provide the readers with an answer to what they should expect to find as well as including the most newsworthy information and important details. If you ensure that your opening paragraph is sufficiently compelling, you’ll get more readers to commit to reading the rest of the article. When it comes to your opening paragraph, make sure you make the point you want to make, without giving away too much information. Although you may have a lot of points to make, you want to ensure you’ve captured your readers’ attention and want them to continue to read on. At this stage, referring back to your blog structure you formulated in step one will help you to make the main point of your blog post in the opening paragraph – and to keep focus.
Step 4: Substance
All great blog posts are made up of valuable, useful content that keeps your reader engaged. We’ve already touched on structure, so what do we mean by ‘substance’?
Well it’s almost anything that involves your time and effort – primary research, interviews, unique analysis and your expertise. In other words, it’s content that makes your post into a resource that readers will want to share.
Your blog’s substance is what keeps your readers interested: whatever substance you decide to use for your blog posts make sure your content is interesting. Why not turn your substance into a story? Readers love stories. According to research by Bufferapp, articles that contain stories attract 300% more readers than those which don’t.
Not only should your blog posts tell a story, but you should link out to external sources and link to your own previously published content. This way you can add more context to your content and referencing other sources makes your blog post interesting, as well as backing up any claims or examples you’ve used in the post.
When quouting a third party it’s good practice to include a link to your source. Other sites will appreciate your links and any traffic you send which can also be a great way to build relationships with the other websites and earn a reciprocal share or link yourself!
Finally, when it comes to the length of a blog post, how long should they be? Data produced by Quick Sprout suggests that blog posts of 1,500 words or more tend to receive more shares. Sometimes though, quality is more important than length.
Step 5: Visuals
Adding related images to your blog posts will make your content look more visually appealing, as well as catching your audience’s attention. According to research by The Nielsen Norman Group, “people only read 28% of the words in a blog post” so you want to make your content easier to digest by breaking up chunks of text with imagery, formatting and appropriate sentence and paragraph structure.
To keep your blog posts visually appealing we’d recommend you:
- Keep sentences and paragraphs short, particularly at the start of a blog post
- Use bullet points to break up the text
- Use sub-headings throughout so that your readers can find the content they’re looking for
- Use images, particularly when they can replace words
A Blog Pros study suggests that popular blog posts average one visual image for every 350 words. However, finding related copy free images can be the tricky part. Problogger very recently published an in-depth article about where to find the best free imagery online all with creative comms licensing so you’ll never be stuck for finding great pictures ever again!
Of course you can always create your own images and edit them using free tools such as PicMonkey or more advances software like Photoshop.
Social media also plays a big role in why blog posts should contain imagery. Facebook shares make images the key focal point of any link and Twitter is starting to do the same. Images in blog posts are not only nicer to look at, but research has also shown they should be used as part of your marketing tactics:
- Articles with images get 94% more total views compared to those without
- Including a photo in a press release increases views by over 45%
- 60% of consumers are more likely to consider or contact a business when an image shows up in local search results
- In an ecommerce site, 67% of consumers say the quality of a product image is ‘very important’ in selecting and purchasing a product
- In an online store, customers think that the quality of a product’s image is more important than product-specific information (63%), a long description (54%) and ratings ad reviews (53%)
- Engagement rate on Facebook for photos averages 0.37% where text only is 0.27%
Step 6: Make Your Content Shareable
So now you’ve ticked off the structure, visuals, opening paragraph and the headline, you need to consider whether your audience will want to share your content.
Quality, usefulness and viral appeal often go hand in hand to make great, shareable content. But there are a few simple things that should be included every blog post to make it more shareable.
Here are a few tips:
Using pictures will make your post look attractive and easy to share on social media channels. For example, if your post is shared on Facebook or LinkedIn, the picture will show up in a link preview, making it look more appealing to readers on those channels.
For example, this article was shared on my Facebook timeline by Buzzfeed. The picture helps to emphasize the humour of the article, but more importantly, the image is larger than the actual link itself which goes to show the importance social networks are placing on imagery within their feeds. It makes the blog post look a lot more appealing and, as you can see, has got two well over 100 likes on the post, meaning the audience is engaged.
By using short headlines you won’t risk the complete headline being cut off in link previews or social media shares.
Social sharing buttons
If you want your readers to share your content, make it easy for them to do so! Adding social sharing buttons means that with a click of a button your readers can share your blog post on their social media channels.
Ending and a Call to Action
When you planned your blog post you decided on the objectives that you wanted to include. We have already determined that your blog post should be engineered towards getting your audience to do something once they’ve finished reading. A good way to encourage them to engage is to include a call to action at the end of your post. This helps to keep your readers on site and engaged with your content. This is a very important aspect of channelling visits through the sales funnel.
Some common calls to action include:
- Leave a comment
- Share this article
- Download a PDF
- Read a related article
- Sign up to the newsletter
- Contact you or get in touch
Without a call to action, you will be giving your audience no motivation to continue their engagement with your content, or strike up a relationship with your blog, so use your calls to action wisely!
For example, we added this call to action on one of our previous blog posts inviting readers to download an eBook.
Rather than just talking about the eBook we’ve added a clear call to action at the end of the post showing readers exactly how to download the eBook, motivating them to do so.
Edit, Edit and then edit some more
Hurrah! You’ve finished writing your blog post. However it is now only half way complete. Now it’s time to start editing your post.
To make sure your blog post is perfect, you want to spend just as long editing it as you did writing it. Good editors need to check for things like spelling mistakes, grammatical errors and sentence structure.
If you’re not sure about your editing skills, or you want a second opinion, check out the Hemingway app. It analyses your writing and highlights long sentences or common errors.
By following these simple rules you’ll be writing your own perfect blog posts in no time! However, if you feel that you need an extra helping hand with your content writing, get in touch with us today.