This isn’t about how to put together the parts of a formatted blog post. Rather, I’m addressing a more basic part of blogging: the blog writing process of how to write a great blog post.
Before I started my first blog (about cosplay 😂), I couldn’t find any information on the blogger’s writing process. I had to learn basic blogging 101 topics the hard way. Now I want to share them with you to shorten your learning curve to write great blog posts too.
Blog Post Format Styles
Popular blog post styles are popular for a reason. They work. Readers enjoy the formula and writers can quickly produce content in their favorite formats.
This blog post answers how-to questions. The title usually will start or include the phrase, “how to…”
Similarly, this blog post answers what-is questions. The title also starts or includes the phrase, “what is…”
Finally, this blog post answers why questions. The title, you guessed it, starts or includes the “why” question.
This blog post is typically a top 10, best 20, or even a 100 reasons to X. Each item is listed in numerical order or randomly organized but given a number to keep track of progress through a list.
A curated blog post is a collection of like items pulled together each from different sources, usually other blog posts.
A blog post that presents an opinion that is different than the status quo is a thought leadership post. The opinion isn’t always a controversial one but it does stake a claim on a particular stance.
A purely entertaining blog post can be a cartoon, drawing, story, or other pieces of content made to please readers.
An interview is a series of questions answered by another person(s) that then are quoted in the blog post.
Frequently Asked Questions post answers many questions in one location. This helps limit the questions you repeatedly answer.
A featured blog post is a front-page worthy blog post to highlight for new and returning readers to be sure to read. This may be a starting point, a focal point, or a deciding point for readers to use.
A slideshow presentation combines visual and textual elements together to share content over several pages. Some strategies use this to build up a website’s page traffic. This format is most common on LinkedIn in recent years.
An informational image with words or images to present large amounts of information in a quick and easy to digest format. Infographics are commonly seen within other blog post styles but not always.
Some breaking news headlines fitting into niches can be used to share a personal perspective on the issue.
Batch Blog Post Creation Tasks
The most successful bloggers will break down each of the following tasks to work on multiple posts at a time. I personally work on 2-4 blog posts at a time.
I’ll research the blog posts on the first day. Then I’ll write the next day. Then on the final day(s), I’ll spend time editing until ready for publishing.
Did you know research and editing use similar areas of the brain, while writing uses other areas? That’s why it’s hard to go through the entire writing process in 1 sitting for a blog post.
Make it easier on yourself and separate those tasks. Work on more than 1 blog post at a time and you’ll find yourself creating more blog posts in less time.
Keyword Research Checklist
On the first day of creating great blog posts, you’ll want to make sure you write about something your ideal clients want and could actually be found on Google. Follow these steps to find the keyword phrase that will help you do just that.
Check the keyword topic fits into a blog category.
For one, why write about something that doesn’t even fit into your business? Stick with topics that fall into subjects you want to be known for.
I won’t be writing about how to bake chocolate chip cookies on this blog because it isn’t relevant to you here. As interested as you may be in my awesome cookies, my website isn’t where you want to find “how to bake chocolate chip cookies.”
It’s the same with your website. What do you want to be known for? Write about that.
Check keyword search data.
The 3 most important data to look at are 1) search volume, 2) ranking difficulty, and 3) paid competition. The search volume you want when you start out is anywhere above 0 and below 5,000 searches a month. This range provides the most opportunity for ranking high on Google.
As you build up your volume of blog posts, higher search volumes, and more difficult keywords should be included in your targeted keywords.
Check similar keywords.
Similar keywords include phrases that are a word or 2 different and with synonyms. Select the keywords that fit best into your keyword strategy.
Select a primary keyword.
Out of all the similar keywords, select the specific, relevant, and uncommon keyword using the search volume, ranking difficulty, and paid competition data.
Basically, specific enough to get 10-5,000 monthly searches, relevant to what you want to be known for, and low enough ranking difficulty to be an uncommon topic.
Research your competitor’s similar blog posts.
What makes their blog posts good? How can you improve it to make yours great?
Write more details. Add more images. Answer the question differently. Get to the point quicker. Expand on an idea. Do something to make your blog post better than what is already available.
Check your own related blog posts.
If you’ve already written on the topic, edit to fit the keyword. If it’s only a similar topic, note it so you can link to that blog post when editing this blog post.
Research the topic.
This step isn’t always necessary but, if needed, research the topic to find more information to write your blog post. Note any external links that will support your content.
Brainstorm a strong title.
The title is the lure that pulls in readers. It needs to clearly explain what the reader will get from reading your blog post. What’s in it for them? It’s the most important part of the entire blog post.
Write your introduction.
Your introduction should invoke emotion. Tell a story to draw the reader in. Then relate that story to the point of the blog post.
Choose the subheadings.
In other words, write the outline of what you’ll talk about in your blog post. Use the subheadings like a table of contents to guide your thought process through the topic until you reached the conclusion.
Write the text.
This is the bulk of the content in your blog post. Write all those thoughts down and don’t worry about editing at this stage. If necessary, use a speech-to-text tool to get the thoughts flowing on the screen.
Close with a conclusion.
Summarize the blog post’s points and end on a strong note. Make sure the story at the beginning had closure and the most important point of the blog post is re-iterated.
Choose a featured image.
The featured image is the 1 minimum image used on the website and social media to visually capture attention to what the blog post is about. It should be branded and related to the blog post’s topic.
Increase the blog post’s value.
Ensure each subheading contains enough substance to increase the value over the competition’s blog post. The emotion in the blog post is like the fat on a cut of meat. Strike the delicious balance of full flavor without getting too heavy or too distracted from the core subject matter.
Add a call-to-action.
What is your goal for the blog post? Give something for your readers to do once they finish reading. Many blog posts tell readers to subscribe to their newsletter, to read more blog posts, or to schedule a consultation call. Pick 1 goal and tell the reader what to do next.
Wait at least 1 hour.
Giving your brain a minimum of 1 hour between writing and editing allows for the switch in mental gears. Also, this will help you see what is actually written instead of your brain using mental tricks to have you see what you expect to see.
Check the article reads like a human wrote it.
There are article generators that spit out nonsensical blog posts for you. Sure, you could use those things to create blog posts faster, but they read like robots wrote them. They’re bad. Like, really bad.
Check the article flows logically from beginning to end.
Just like a story has a beginning, middle, and end, your blog post will have a clear beginning, middle and end too. I find the most common issues lie in the introduction and the conclusion. Make sure the flow feels good and the content is logically sound.
Check for language inconsistencies.
Word choices, synonyms, and jargon words can throw the entire blog post off-kilter when used inappropriately. You lose your reader if you make them think about what you wrote. Keep it simple and make it easy.
A universally accepted fact may not always be true. Yes, marketing is a requirement of running a business. No, a blog (Gasp!) is not required to run a business.
Remove adverbs and filler words.
Adverbs are sometimes necessary. Oftentimes they are fluffy space takers you use when you need to make a certain word count, like your high school English paper. Make your writing strong and eliminate adverbs and filler words wherever possible.
Convert passive voice to active voice.
Stop to smell the roses before the other shoe drops on your head like a ton of bricks and knocks you flat on your back. How many cliches did you see there? Not very interesting to read.
Feel the warm sunny breeze bring the smell of fresh-cut grass before you step indoors where your boss starts yelling at you for being late again, and for the last time, because you’re fired.
Replace weak verbs and adjectives.
Another way to strengthen your writing is by removing weak verbs and adjectives. Make bold statements.
Include images, videos, infographics and/or embeds.
Visual elements keep writing interesting. There’s a reason children love picture books. Give your readers something interesting to look at to break up a wall of text.
Replace stock images with branded graphics.
Your first blog post will likely have stock images. The best of us use stock images instead of buying a photography session. However, 6 months after you’ve published the blog post and update old blog posts, this will build brand awareness.
Make sure the media is full-width.
Full-width media demands attention. The media will break up the wall of text. Finally, it’ll be large enough to see on mobile devices.
Optimize the Pinterest pin description.
If Pinterest is where your clients are, which is very likely given the broad range of users on Pinterest, don’t forget to include a pin description.
Keep graphics consistent with branding.
We want everyone to recognize your business brand when someone sees even 1 of your branded graphics. This builds brand awareness, authority, and trust with readers.
Keywords added to blog post text where it reads naturally.
Keyword stuffing is easy to spot and highly frowned upon. Don’t do it. If it works, make sure to say the exact AND similar keywords in the blog posts as naturally as possible.
Keyword in the title.
The title must include the keyword. The closer to the beginning of the title the better.
Keyword in a subheading.
At least 1 subheading needs the keyword included. It can be in multiple subheadings but if the keyword is in EVERY subheading, it looks like keyword stuffing and will hurt more than help.
Keyword in the first paragraph.
The keyword is what your blog post is about. Google uses the introduction to identify what a blog post is about. With the keyword in the first paragraph, or as close to the first as possible, Google learns your blog post is about that keyword.
Keyword included every 200-300 words.
This is the recommended amount of keywords desired but should read naturally. If the keywords sound forced, they’ll come across as stuffed. Don’t do it.
URL matches the keyword.
Your URL slug should be the keywords exactly. For example: “What is proofreading?” is a question I answer using the keywords “what is proofreading.” The slug for that post is what-is-proofreading.
The final URL comes out to be https://www.stefaniegary.com/what-is-proofreading.
Keyword in the meta description.
Google long stopped using the meta description for SEO functions but it is still recommended for reader’s use. The meta description should answer what the blog post is about and why the reader should choose to read your blog post over everyone else.
Image name matches the keyword.
Image file names should match the keyword being used with hyphens (-) to separate the words. Many robots can read the space, underscore, or other characters as separators between words without the hyphen. Basically, it should look just like your URL slug does.
Keyword in the image alt tag.
Image alt tags are used by the visually impaired population. If you ever have trouble loading an image, you may have seen the text inside a broken image box. That text is the description of the image.
In the event that the pin description isn’t set, Pinterest pulls the description from the image alt tag field. Don’t get fancy. Just describe the image and what it’s for.
External links included.
Every blog post needs at least 1 external link to an authority website to build SEO rank and domain authority. Find an external link for every 500 words.
Internal links included.
Every blog post needs to link to any relevant blog post within your own website. There’s no limit but keep in mind, the reader doesn’t want a blog post completely filled with links to other content.
Check for double, missing, or incorrect punctuation.
The search and replace feature in Google Doc and Microsoft Word are helpful in a few of these steps. If writing directly into your website publisher, take time to manually go through the text.
Check for missing or extra spaces.
Extra spaces are easier to search for than missing spaces. This is a little step to making great blog posts. Grammarly has done well with finding some of these errors.
Check the capitalization.
People, places, and some things need capitalizations. Learning some rules will help determine if a word needs capitalizations in various contexts.
Check the word choices spelled and used correctly.
I know I’m not the only one who is annoyed with the to/too/two and the there/their/they’re mix-ups. We’re all human and I do it too.
Check for inconsistencies.
Style choices, such as the oxford comma, needs to remain consistent throughout the blog post and the rest of the brand’s written materials.
Check the numbers.
Numbers spelled out or in digit form should be correct and consistent in style.
Check for factual errors.
This is a higher-level review than fact-checking from the editing checklist. Here you’ll check for logical issues in the facts used or the sources cited.
Check the trademarks.
Plenty of companies want their trademarks identified and properly named whenever and wherever referenced. Err on the side of caution and use the legally correct name and format.
Check for unintended sentence fragments or run-on sentences.
The beauty of blogging is that we write like we talk. We talk in fragments AND in run-on sentences. It’s awful for the editors of the world but it’s great for those of us who still enjoy having friends without being accused of being a Grammar Nazi. Just correct any unintended fragments and run-on sentences.
Check the subject/verb tenses are consistent.
Generally, this error can be caught by reading your blog post out loud. Inconsistencies don’t sound right.
Preview the blog post.
Obvious issues are easier to correct when you take a quick scan of the starting point.
Introduction includes a minimum of 3 paragraphs.
The introduction is telling a story to hook the reader with emotions. 3 paragraphs ought to feel easy to identify what the blog post is about AND tell a short story.
All sentences are 25 words or less.
The internet is not the place for long sentences. Keep it short and simple.
All paragraphs are 3-5 lines or less.
Paragraphs are measured in lines of text instead of sentences when reading from a smaller screen, such as your phone. Break it up.
Title is less than 67 characters.
Honestly, search engines and other platforms cut off titles that are longer than 67 characters. There’s no other reason that this is particularly special to note.
Meta description is less than 155 characters.
The search engine results display up to 155 characters. Get the point across.
Image alt tag is less than 125 characters.
Likewise, get the point across. Visually impaired readers don’t need a novel on what the picture looks like. Pinterest doesn’t care what colors the tabby cat is in the corner.
Subheadings use H2 or H3 heading tags.
The H1 heading tag is reserved for the blog post title. The H2 heading tag is used on the next most important headings. Finally, the H3 heading tags are the next in priority for SEO. Any other heading tags lower than H3 aren’t worth much in SEO weight.
All images are sized appropriately, full-width.
This is kind of important. Break up the wall of text. Grab readers’ attention. Make your blog post visually interesting.
Lead magnet and opt-in forms are correctly placed.
This is a great call-to-action but may not be the call-to-action for the end of the blog post. When relevant, invite readers with lead magnets and opt-in forms throughout your blog post content.
Images and other visual elements are placed every 200-300 words.
Reading from a screen can be difficult on the eyes. I’m serious. Break up the wall of text with visually interesting elements.
Publish the blog post.
Don’t stall. Progress over perfection. Worst case scenario is that you find a mistake and update the blog post after it was published.
Let subscribers know their favorite blog has new content to read.
Shared and scheduled multiple times.
Use Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and any other platform to share your blog post.
Reuse the content by sharing with other businesses, such as guest blogging or uploading to Medium.
Email any other businesses mentioned.
Email the other business about the blog post with a link. Invite them to share it if they feel so inclined. They might share. They might not. Either way, your email opens up the possibility of new friendships.
Shared to a relevant content network site.
Sites like fresh content. Share your blog posts and let new readers find you in more than 1 way.
Easy for readers to share.
Add share buttons to your blog posts. Let readers share it for you.
Use paid ads and remarketing.
If your blog post is killer and central to your work, consider running ads to build your business.
There is a boatload of ways to repurpose content. Take that one blog post and make so many more pieces of content with it.
How to write blog posts: the blogger’s writing process is laid out in the keyword research, writing, editing, SEO, proofreading, formatting, and promotion checklists here.
Get the checklists for yourself.