Firstly I’d like to say I don’t consider myself an expert on blog writing; I will probably miss lots of points that you may know about so hopefully you will share them in the comments section. I can say I’ve been blogging for four years plus I read about 100 blogs a week through my various jobs. I also qualified as a Journalist 10 years ago. However, I am mainly writing this from the point of view of being the Managing Editor of Tweak Your Biz and I’m learning every day about the best way to write a blog.
These tips should help you to write copy that will look good. Plus if you write as a guest contributor these suggestions are handy to know to get on the right side of the person editing the blogs, therefore hopefully getting published more often. WordPress is my platform of choice and from what I’ve heard it does rate above all others.
1. Title time
First things first: think of a title for your blog post. You’ve probably got an idea what it’s going to be about and can derive the title from that. Use a keyword in the title that you then use in the first paragraph and a few times in the body of the post, eg. “write a blog.” Also a H3 title if possible (see below). Use a few relevant keywords throughout the post too – don’t just stick with one. The Google Keyword tool is really handy for choosing the best keywords.
2. Microsoft Word
I normally write a post out on Word then copy it over. From asking fellow writers, that seems to be the consensus. However when you copy and paste from Word make sure you use the Word button on the blog, copy as plain text or copy via notebook. That way you aren’t copying any formats over that can affect the layout. There is an eraser function on WordPress to cancel any formatting in case that does happen.
Be careful on your justification – online posts should be left justified. I often see posts left-right justified which present a clean look on the left and right of the page but it makes it hard to read because it creates extra spaces between words. Left-right justified is the norm for printed material like books and newspapers but it’s not great online.
Keep your paragraphs short so it’s easier to read – three or four sentences are ideal. Otherwise, it would look like a wall of words. Break it up with subheadings – H3’s and H2’s, bullet points, bold and numbering. Here is an excellent post explaining formatting and much more about writing blogs.
Another way to break up the words is to include at least one picture. If it is a long post – over 1,000 words – then a couple of pictures will help. Obviously, it does depend on your subject matter as some blogs will warrant more. Having a picture is also useful for when people pin your post on Pinterest, plus the featured image on Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn when you share your post.
“A picture paints a thousand words”……unfortunate for those of us who write and can’t draw. When adding the picture use the keyword as the alt title to help with SEO and always ensure you attribute where the picture comes from or you could get into trouble with copyright issues.
6. Call to action
Always try and end your post with a question to invite comments. Comments are also good for SEO – as per this excellent post on Problogger which shows how well they can work.
7. Check and check again
Once you have the post written and on WordPress, there are still a few more checks to do before publishing. Preview the post to confirm the picture fits and the links work. You cannot see how the post looks from the back admin end – previewing it shows the finished article. It is also easier to see the formatting and spell check it too.
Spelling and grammar are very important. I read a lot of blogs daily and those that I like I will comment on and share on social media. If the spelling is poor then I soon switch off and no shares – I’m sure other people would think similar. If you know spelling really isn’t your forte, get a friend or colleague to read over it before it’s published. Remember that your name is going against this writing so you don’t want it to be a poor example and reflect badly on you.
9. Guest author
If you are a guest author on a site, then stick with the formatting of the site you are writing for. If it is being edited by an editor before going live and changes are made, then check out those changes so you know what is expected next time. Don’t fill the post with promotional links for yourself or for a company you are writing for as it probably won’t get published. Always feel free to ask about layouts and links; the less work you cause for an editor the more likely you’ll get published quicker, and that’s a tip from an editor. :)
10. Social Media
Once your post is published then share it on social media; there is no point writing it if people don’t get to read it. I have previously written about how to create a bad blog so just do the opposite and that will help. Add it to sites like Bizsugar.com to get the most exposure you can. Ask your friends, colleagues and family to share your posts so you can extend the reach. If you don’t ask you don’t get. Ensure you have easy to use social media buttons on your site so people can simply click and share.
Make sure that you respond to comments. People have taken time to read what you have written and are good enough to comment too so it would be rude if you ignored them. As mentioned in the Problogger post above this is good for SEO but it’s also good for networking. I have met a range of people online through comments I make on posts.
12. Extra tips to write a blog
- Keep a notebook handy as you never know when you’ll have an idea
- Use your Smartphone to record ideas as you have them
- For curation posts collect them on Evernote or a Pinterest board etc
Layouts are different for every blog – I write for a few and have to remember to adapt differently for each one but that’s easy enough once you know. I’m sure I have only touched the surface of how to blog successfully so I’d love to hear any suggestions you have too below.