10 Elements of an Awesome Blog Post
We’ve all read enough blog posts to be able to tell the good from the bad.
From a reader’s perspective, this is typically a subconscious, split-second decision.
Every day I see my friends open up a blog, quickly scroll through the post from top to bottom, and decide right then and there whether they’re going to scroll back to the beginning to read it, or hit the back button and keep searching.
From a writer’s perspective, this is a painstaking process that requires hours of research, writing, editing, rewriting, testing, more research, more rewriting, more editing...yeah, you get the point.
While everyone is able to tell the difference between an engaging post and a piece of crap, it takes a trained eye to spot all of the little components that draw us to certain types of content and repel us away from others. Over the years, I’ve read and written a lot of successful and unsuccessful posts, and to be honest, I’m tired of reading bad writing.
That’s why I compiled this list of 10 things that every top-notch blogger does for each post, so you can create engaging content that will communicate your message in a way that will make your audience (and me) keep reading.
1. Write what you know
This mantra was repeated to me throughout my entire education, and it still echoes in the back of my mind every time I sit down to write something or create a new content strategy. This should happen naturally, because you know your business or organisation and the services/products it offers intimately. When strategising, choose topics that excite you and your peers, and do some research in your industry. See what others are writing about, and most importantly, try to find the questions your audience and potential buyers are asking, and answer them.
2. Before you start, have a plan
It’s very apparent when someone doesn’t have a content strategy in place. If you don’t make a plan, you’re going to wind up with several blog posts about the same topic that could have been consolidated into one or two, or a lot of blog posts on different things that aren’t organised in a meaningful way.
A content strategy should be a part of your overall inbound marketing strategy. If you don’t have the time or know-how for that, you can start by planning out your next 10-20 blog post subjects. Take a look at them and organise them in a way that will make the most sense to your reader. If you’re going to reference content from one blog in another, be sure they are posted in the correct order. Even one hour of strategising will help give your blog substance and cohesion.
3. Research your subject
Once you have your blog subjects in place, it’s time to start creating your posts. But before you begin writing, I highly suggest doing some research. It’s so easy these days and it improves your own writing tenfold. All you have to do is google your blog subject keywords, or your keywords + “blog.” Then, look at the blogs people already created. Read a couple good ones and a couple bad ones. Note what made the good ones good and the bad ones bad. Simple as that.
You can also look for any facts, studies and figures that support your claims. People want their information from reliable sources, so It’s always great to have solid, citable cases that back up your claims.
4. Outline your post
Ok, now that you’ve strategised and researched, it’s time to open up the ol’ Google Doc (or Word Doc if you’re not living on the cloud yet). BUT there’s still one more thing you should do before you start typing your opening paragraph.
Outlining your post will help provide structure and keep you on task. It’s easy to get carried away talking about subjects that you care about, and hard to rack your mind when it comes to less exciting topics. If you take the time to come up with your title, intro, body and conclusion, along with the h3’s you’ll need along the way, you’ll be able to stay focused while in writing mode.
5. Hook your readers
Your title and intro hold the most power for convincing someone to read your post. They need to be engaging. Every audience, and each audience member, is going to have their own personal reaction to what you share, so there’s no magic formula. However there are some methods that prove more effective than others.
People want relatable content. Sharing a personal anecdote that puts you in the same position as your reader, or presenting a problem in a relatable way and offering your blog post as the solution to this problem, are ways to engage with the individual reader. People also love facts and statistics that answer the questions they were asking Google. Mixing and matching these tactics is one way to keep your audience entertained and informed (and keep them on your site).
6. Add some flair
Not every post needs 3-5 HQ images, an accompanying video and 4 CTAs. If there’s too much going on, your reader will get distracted or uncomfortable and bounce. But if a reader is looking for “how to spot a good photo” and they come to a page that’s 100% text, they’re not staying either.
All of the images, infographics, statistics, videos, links, CTAs and anything else you might use should enhance the reader’s experience, not detract from it. Relevancy and attractiveness are key when it comes to sprucing up your post.
7. Edit and format for readability
Remember, this isn’t a college essay. Nor is it a text message. It doesn’t need to be edited like a formal address, but you do need to make sure you’re writing in the right vernacular for your audience.
Visually, your blog needs to be easy to read, and appealing on both desktop and mobile devices. If you aren’t testing out every aspect of your site on desktop, tablet and mobile before publishing, start doing it now. Not only is this important to make sure all of your visitors have a pleasant experience, Google has made it clear that mobile optimisation is a big ranking factor when it comes to SEO.
8. Brand it
Think about any of the bloggers or influencers that you read or follow. You can describe them and their business in a few words or sentences. That’s because they’ve intentionally branded themselves or their companies in that way. Consistent branding helps people recognize and ultimately trust you. I mean, that’s exactly why I turn to Neil Patel for SEO advice and copyblogger for industry news. It’s why the majority of the world drinks Starbucks (and is actually convinced it’s “good” coffee). If you want to become a recognized leader in your industry, you need to have a recognizable brand. This is true no matter the scale of your business.
9. Have a meaningful call to action
Your CTA is the most valuable part of your blog, and I mean that literally. This is where you offer your readers some additional value, usually for something in return. Whether it’s a product offer, discount, further reading, a weekly email with relevant content, or a chance to engage with other like-minded people in the comment section, the offer should be relevant to the reader, and tie into the topics discussed in your post.
10. Optimise for SEO
Despite what SEO gurus might try to convince you, covering the SEO basics for your post is pretty simple. Most CRMs like WordPress, HubSpot and Squarespace have built in tools, or easily installable plugins that provide SEO checklists for you. Be sure to have a good title, organise your content in a meaningful way, employing h3’s for paragraph headings, write a corresponding meta description, add alt text to your images, tag your post, and you’re pretty much good to go. Of course there are other more technical aspects of a comprehensive SEO content marketing strategy, but these simple steps only take 5-10 minutes and will cover the basics.
This might seem like a lot to take in (I mean 1300 words is quite a bit these days…) but the more you practice your blog writing, the more natural this process will feel. Your first few blog posts might take a while to compose, but once you add these steps into your workflow, it’ll become second nature.
But, if that’s the case, you can always hire us to do your content strategy for you ;) We love it, and we’ve been doing it for years with a team of talented, creative professionals. So if you’re looking for content marketing services, get in touch with us. We’d be happy to answer any questions you might have.
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