You sit down. You stare at your screen. The cursor blinks. So do you. Anxiety sets in. Where do you begin when you want to create an article that will earn you clicks, comments, and social shares? This simple formula will show you how to write a blog post by guiding you from blank page to finished work.
Please note that this post contains affiliate links and any purchase made through such links will award me a small commission (at absolutely no extra cost for you). These funds help me feed my dog and keep this blog up and running. Learn more about it here.
1. Choose your blog post topic
I know quite a few writers whose abandoned personal blogs are languishing in some dark corner of the Internet. These writers launched their blogs with joy and enthusiasm, but their momentum fizzled because they found it too hard to keep coming up with inspiring topics. Don’t let this happen to you. Here are some great ways to choose a topic that will resonate with your audience.
- Pick something you’re passionate about. When you care about your topic, you’ll write about it in a more powerful, emotionally expressive way.
- Pick something your readers are passionate about. What does your audience care about? It’s important to know so you can engage them. And don’t be afraid to go negative (e.g. Ten “Healthy” Foods You Should Always Avoid). The human negativity bias is legit.
- Get inspired by research. Some of the best articles I’ve written germinated when I grew curious about a subject and decided to explore it.
- Get inspired by other writers. No, I don’t mean you should plagiarize or blatantly copy ideas. But you can take a look at what your competition is writing about and put your own spin on these subjects. What new information or ideas can you bring to the table?
Keep a log of every topic idea that comes your way. You never know when you’re going to be stumped by the question “What should I write?”
Here’s a tip: Use a bookmarking tool like Pocket or EverNote to store clips and notes. Use your clip file for inspiration whenever your idea well runs dry.
2. Pick one clear angle.
You’ve got a topic. Awesome! Now, what’s your angle? Avoid a broad approach—get specific. You’ll get overwhelmed if you pick a huge subject like organic vegetable gardening and try to cover it all. Instead, go with “10 Budget-Friendly Ways to Start an Organic Vegetable Garden.”
Think about the best approach to your topic. If you want to explain how to do something, a step-by-step how-to article could work well. Want to write about your favorite autobiographies or offer your best tips for throwing a memorable dinner party? Consider a listicle. There’s nothing wrong with a straight-up essay, either, as long as it’s well-organized.
Speaking of which . . .
3. Get organized.
Whenever my dad had a disagreement with someone, he’d make his case and then storm off, but inevitably come back minutes later, one finger raised in proclamation, saying, “And another thing!” He did this so often that it became a running family joke.
Don’t write like my dad debated. Many bloggers make the mistake of not organizing their thoughts before they begin, which leads to “and another thing” writing. You’ll continue adding thoughts in a random, incoherent fashion. Articles like that don’t get read and shared, they get ignored.
If you’ve ever grown impatient while listening to someone tell a story, wanting them to just get to the point, then you know what it’s like to read an article that lacks organization. My dear content creators, no one wants to try to fish a few salient points out of your stream of consciousness.
Organize your thoughts with an outline. Here’s the outlining strategy I use. I promise it works like a charm. Not only will it make writing your blog post easier, it’ll help you make your message focused and clear for your readers.
4. Open strong
If you tied a worm to the end of a fishing line, how many bluegills do you think you’d catch?
Easy answer: none. Dangling a worm alone may get you a nibble or two, but if you actually want to reel ’em in, you need a hook. Think of your opening paragraph as an advertisement for the rest of your blog post, the thing that keeps your reader on the line. Consider these examples from 5 Things That Will Make You Better at Content Writing.
Weak Hook:Writing a great opening paragraph is very important. Here are a few tips to get you on the way to hooking your readers.
Yawn. Don’t tell your reader that something’s important, show her. Why should she want “a few tips” from you?
Strong Hook: I just stopped reading your article. You had about two seconds to hook me, but your yawn-inducing opener made me surf on to something else. Writers (not to mention their websites) thrive on being read, so why do we invest so little time in crafting strong opening hooks?
Consider using a little foreshadowing in your hook. Scroll back and take a look at the opening paragraph of this article. See how it hints at what’s to come? That’s foreshadowing. Suggest what you’re going to deliver within the article so we’ll be compelled to read on.
5. Write naturally
The one thing you have that other writers don’t is your voice. Cultivate it! If it works for your article, consider writing in the first person and including some relatable anecdotes. (Like my “And another thing!” tale.) Whenever you can, tell a story, whether it’s your own or someone else’s.
If you don’t have a story to relate to your readers, you can at least infuse your article with your personal style. Instead of writing like you’re churning out a dry research paper, write as though you’re telling a friend about some cool new stuff you’ve learned. Use your own natural, conversational tone. Keep your language simple and direct. In other words, just be you. No one else can.
6. Write emotionally
Remember what I briefly mentioned about the human negativity bias? Our brains are wired to look for danger, and so we’re naturally drawn to warnings and other information that’s skewed toward the negative. (In fact, the media uses the negativity bias to capture our attention because it works so well.) Using negativity is a kind of emotional writing.
But that doesn’t mean you have to be a constant downer in order to keep your readers hooked. You can create interest just by using emotional language to write on topics your readers care about. PRO TIP: How do you know people will care about your topic? Because you care about it!
You’ve come this far. Now, it’s time to write a killer close that will help cement your post in your reader’s mind, create engagement, and encourage social sharing. Let’s look at a few.
- Simply end at a natural stopping point. No wrap-ups, no frills—just end when you’re finished. Give it a try if it suits your post and writing style.
- Wrap it up with a summary paragraph. This is by far the most traditional approach. Summarize your conclusions and add some closing thoughts.
- Create a TL;DR. For better or worse, we skim when we read online. A TL;DR is usually a simple bulleted list that lets a reader see your conclusions at a glance. You never know—the TL;DR could inspire someone to go back and read the full article.
- Fish for comments. When you wrap up with a compelling question, you encourage your readers to have a say. This can help you build community around your blog.
- Ask for a social share. It never hurts to ask people to share your article if it resonated with them.
- Ask the reader to subscribe. The reader made it to the end of your article—they like you! Ask them to connect with you on social media or subscribe to your blog channel so they can see whenever you post new content.
- Promote a product. See below. *wink*
Now that you’ve drafted a memorable post, edit. Clean up the clutter and eliminate wordiness. And don’t forget to use Grammarly as your extra pair of eyes to help you catch typos and look for spelling, grammar, and punctuation errors.