Steps to Writing an Epic Blog Post
Note: The blog post below is something that we use for internal training at Content Pros. We have published it here so our readers can get some use out of it as well!
Writing a great blog post that hits the mark and meets – or better yet, exceeds – the client’s expectations takes time, hard work, and dedication. It also requires a considerable amount of planning and strategizing. We’ve outlined this process step by step to make it easier for you to succeed at producing epic content that is well-researched, highly detailed, visually appealing, and both informed and informative.
1. Research the Customer
Before you start working on the blog post, it’s critical that you take the time to research the customer you’re writing it for. Look at their company’s website, read through their blog. Find out what their marketing strategy is; the services or products they provide and their approach to promoting them. This will help you gain an understanding of what the customer expects from their blog content – what they want to write about and why. That way, any content you produce for them will be highly personalized and tailored to their company’s individual needs and strategies – after all, nothing fits better than a custom-made suit.
Here at Content Pros, we ask our customers to fill out an on-boarding questionnaire to help our writers get to know the clients’ content goals and expectations. You can review a customer’s information and general preferences by clicking on their name in an order on SPP.
2. Review the Idea Briefing
Once you’ve collected enough information on the customer, it’s time to review the idea briefing they submitted to find out what they expect this particular blog post to talk about and how they’d like it to be written.
The idea briefing will include the topic of the blog and any details the customer may have provided as to its direction to help you understand their vision for the blog post. There will also be other, additional information that you’ll need to take into consideration.
In the “target audience” field of the idea briefing, the customer will specify the intended audience of the article, utilizing a buyer persona. This will help guide the language, tone, and style you will use to attract the right readers.
The ideal buying stage will let you know where in the marketing funnel the customer’s target audience falls: top of the funnel (“awareness” stage), middle of the funnel (“evaluation” stage), or bottom of the funnel (“purchase” stage).
As we mentioned in one of our blog posts, a reader who is at the top of the funnel is looking for answers, resources, and insights on a specific subject. As the writer, you will adjust the article to attract the attention of the desired reader, engage them in the content, answer their questions, and inform them of the products or services that can solve their problems. On the other hand, a reader who is at the bottom of the funnel needs to hear less about how to solve their problem and more about why they should use the customer’s company over other options available on the market.
Once you’re done reviewing the idea briefing, it’s crucial that you sit and consider whether the information provided by the customer is clear and detailed enough to set you up for success. If you decide that there is some information missing or something needs clarifying, don’t hesitate to reach out to the client and express your concerns. If you don’t have a clear picture as well as all the tools you need to bring it to life, how will you craft the article the customer envisions?
Communication is key at every stage of the writing process. Stay in touch with your team and keep them updated on your progress. Don’t be afraid to ask additional questions at any point – it’s far better to ask for clarification than go with something you’re not sure about.
3. Research the Topic
This next step is absolutely crucial. Writing a great article without first doing extensive research on the topic is a mission bound to fail.
Start by going over any links or resources the customers may have provided – clients often want the writer to base a blog post on specific sources. Next, look for some general information on the topic to help you get started before narrowing your search down to the specific information you’re looking for. Collect relevant statistics, examples, and quotes.
If you’re struggling to get started and need a little push in the right direction, a good way to get ideas on things to write about is to Google the title of the blog post and read the top three or four articles on the same topic. Of course, you should never copy and paste anything unless you’re going to credit the author, but you can use other blogs to get inspired or find more sources by looking at their references.
To find studies that will support the information you give and make the blog post credible, give Google Scholar a try. Try different keyword combinations until you find what you’re looking for. Make sure everything is relevant and up-to-date.
You may want to develop a system for collecting useful research as you read. This involves taking notes that you can refer back to when writing the blog post and bookmarking the resources you find. We recommend saving any good sources you come across using tools such as Diigo, Saved.io, or Pinboard. This will help you stay organized and allow you to easily access those materials in the future when writing other articles for the same customer.
4. Write a Catchy Title
The title will be the first thing the reader will see, and based on it, they will decide whether or not they’re interested in reading your article. A great headline needs to be catchy and grab the reader’s attention, enticing them to read on. Here are some tips that will take your headlines to the next level:
- Include numbers – Research shows that titles that include numbers are read and shared more often. For example, “5 Easy Ways to Boost Your Productivity.”
- Go for a “How-To” title – Instead of using a headline that starts with a number, you can go with one that begin with phrases like “How to (do something)” or “A Guide to (doing something)”.
- Use attention-grabbing adjectives – Adjectives serve the purpose of embellishing your headline to attract more readers. Examples include: Essential, Effortless, Clever, Insane, Powerful.
- Make a promise – Your title should inform the reader about the purpose of the article and promise them a valuable takeaway.
- Keep it short – You’ll want to keep your title on the shorter side; a title that’s too long might put readers off.
After writing the title, add a subtitle. This is a sentence (or two) that serves the purpose of providing a little more information on the contents of the article. This can include a question.
Content Pros Title Writing Guidelines
Here at Content Pros, we ask our writers to provide three combinations of titles and subtitles. This allows the customer to pick their favorite version. Here are some examples:
Title A: 5 Easy Ways to Boost Your Productivity
Subtitle: Are you looking for ways to improve your productivity? Read on for five easy-to-implement tips.
Title B: A Definitive Guide to Boosting Your Productivity
Subtitle: Are you struggling to stay productive? Read on to find out how to minimize distractions and maximize efficiency.
Title C: How to Effortlessly Boost Your Productivity
Subtitle: Read on for tips on staying motivated to bring your productivity to an all-time high.
We have specific formatting guidelines we like our writers to follow when crafting a blog post. All titles should be written using title case and bolded, while subtitles are in sentence case and italicized.
5. Write an Outline
Diving into a blog post without outlining what you’re going to write about first is not the best way to get started. Planning the article beforehand will allow you to write it in an organized manner and even help avoid the infamous writer’s block. There is no magical formula for writing a good outline; every writer has their own way of doing it. You might want to try different approaches until you find one that works for you. This stage doesn’t need to take up a lot of your time. Strategize the blog post by listing the key points, putting them in the order in which they will appear, and deciding which research, statistics, and quotes will go into each section. You can also come up with the headings and subheadings you’re going to give to each section to help guide your flow once you start writing.
6. Write the Introduction
It’s finally time to dive in and start writing the blog post. Now, some writers prefer to leave the introduction for last and write it after the rest of the article to solve the issue of not knowing where or how to start. This is entirely up to you and how you’re used to doing things; you can write it first, or you can write it last – just as long as you write it well!
“If your introduction is weak, it’ll discourage the reader from reading further – even if the title was captivating. You could have a great blog post, but if the intro doesn’t cut it – the rest of the content won’t,” says Neil Patel.
A great introduction is indispensable when it comes to crafting epic blog posts. Readers tend to abandon texts that don’t capture their interest in the first lines – and you can’t blame them! It’s like a first impression, and everyone knows you only get one chance at making a good one.
But what makes a great introduction?
It comes down to one key thing – you need to hook the reader into reading on. An introduction doesn’t have to – and shouldn’t – be long. Introduce the topic and what you’re going to write about, but avoid sounding dry – this is your chance to connect with the reader. There are several ways you can start off an article to grab the reader’s attention right off the bat. This can include an intriguing quote, a shocking statistic, a relevant anecdote, etc. You can also pose a thought-provoking question or state an interesting fact.
7. Write the Body
The body is where all the information goes. Split it up into sections, each one dedicated to a specific point reflected in a heading. Headings make blog posts easy to read.
Be as informative as possible, and link back to relevant research. Whenever you make a claim that isn’t common knowledge or an opinion – such as a statistic or any other data – always include a link that will take the reader to the source of that information. This will ensure your post is credible.
The body of an article needs to be easy to read – you can make sure of this by using a tool like Readable to measure the readability of your blog post. The text also needs to be engaging, relevant, and helpful.
Here are a few tips to keep in mind when writing the body of a blog post:
- Keep sentences short – Wordiness makes a text confusing and hard to digest. Be succinct – and make sure you cut out the fluff. Anything that doesn’t add value to your post is useless.
- Avoid long paragraphs – Break up any overly long paragraphs into a few shorter ones. Visually, it makes all the difference. It also improves the readability of your content.
Use bullet points – Bulleted lists are easy to read and make the text scannable. But don’t overdo it – one or two bullet lists per post will be enough.
8. Write the Conclusion
No piece of writing is complete without a conclusion, and blog posts are no exception. Conclusions should be kept short – a few sentences will suffice.
Here are some ways you can conclude your blog post:
- Reiterate the article’s main point – but make sure you word it differently.
- Summarize things concisely.
- Ask a question that inspires reflection.
- Answer a question you posed in the introduction.
- End with a quote
- Wrap up with a call to action
9. Add Relevant Images
Images make a post visually appealing and easier to read. However, you can’t just add random, unrelated images and hope they’ll do the trick. Search for royalty-free images that are relevant to what you’re talking about. Here is a list of 21 websites with gorgeous (and free) stock photos that you can use in your blog posts.
It’s also a good idea to include graphs, statistical charts, and screenshots. Always make sure you credit the owner.
A good rule of thumb to follow is to include 1 image per 500 words.
Here is an example of a properly implemented image:
10. Cite Your Sources
Always remember to cite your sources at the end of a blog post. List and link to all the resources you used throughout the entire process.
When it comes to images, all you have to do is write the word “source” under the picture and hyperlink it to wherever you found the image.
The final step is to proofread everything you’ve written. Use a tool such as Grammarly, but don’t reply on it to do all the work for you. You should re-read the blog post a few times to make sure there are no grammatical, punctuation, or stylistic errors. Also, confirm that you’ve included everything the client asked for.
Bonus Tip: SEO Best Practices
Epic blog content ranks high in Google searches. This is what’s known as SEO – Search Engine Optimization. Without SEO, people won’t be able to find the content online.
Before starting a blog post, always check the briefing to see what keywords a customer is looking to target, both in the individual blog post and generally as a brand.
Here are some SEO best practices you should follow while writing content for Content Pros customers:
- Aim for each keyword to be used around 3 times per 1,000 words.
- Make sure to include the most important keyword(s) in the first paragraph of the blog post.
- Use keywords evenly throughout the content.
- Avoid what is referred to as “keyword stuffing” – including too many keywords to the point where the text sounds unnatural and does not flow. Only use keywords in ways that sound natural and don’t compromise the quality of the content.
- Remember to include the main keyword in each of the three title options.
- In titles, use the keyword once and place it as close to the beginning as possible.
Some customers have individual SEO preferences, such as a lower or higher keyword density. When in doubt, always remember to communicate.