How to Write a Blog Post
When Your Muse Has Left You High and Dry
Business owners tend to view blogging as a kind of professionally prescribed Chinese water torture, a hugely uncomfortable ordeal that faceless internet gurus insist will turn each line of text into paying customers as you sleep. Content marketing has created a kind of cyber gold rush, resulting in an exponential increase in blogs per capita in the US and beyond.
Every businesswoman and her cousin has one and they’re all chasing after the same silver linings: brand survival in a vicious online jungle, increased visibility (SEO), proven credibility, inbound leads that fall from the clear blue sky, and probably earn you a few extra points in heaven while you’re at it. And their fervor isn’t entirely misplaced because, chances are, your business probably does need a blog to keep its online marketing machine afloat. Writing a business blog presents dozens of dilemmas: How can I write something that gets noticed? How can I create engaging content? What does it take to be interesting – and gain interest – on the internet?
But far too many entrepreneurs are losing sleep over one particularly prominent pothole on their road to success: how to write a blog post when your muse has left you high and dry.
Well, in the safety of this utterly public, regrettably permanent online space, I will humbly admit that I feel your pain. My heart skips a beat whenever I sit down to build my clients’ editorial calendars or execute their content marketing strategies. But ask me to start a blog for myself and that same writer’s heart is a beat away from flat-lining.
So what better way to begin than by tackling this topic that is both widely loved and deeply feared. You have a wisp of a creative topic, perhaps a fuzzy vision for a headline or two, but the moment you flip open a new Word document all your inspiration, willpower, and clarity is as good as gone with the wind. What do you do next? You follow these 6 helpful steps.
6 Steps to Crafting a Blog Post Worthy of the Web:
#1 Speak to one man, not to the masses
If by this point you don’t have a pixel-perfect understanding of your target audience & ideal clients, you’re going to need to pull back on the reigns and go finish your homework. Because in order to write a successful business blog you need to not only have a sense of who is in this group and what they most want to know, but you need to pull out ONE audience member and speak directly to him or her. Left to our own devices, we have a tendency to direct our writing towards a plural audience when in fact our customers and prospects are not all huddled around one PC, reading in unison the words that you write. Each prospect is sitting alone in front of a computer screen reading your words and hoping you can understand her struggles/ woes/ needs/ circumstances with laser precision so that you can speak directly to her. People read alone so write to that person alone.
#2 Don’t be too cool for an outline
What’s the worst wedding toast you’ve ever witnessed? I’m willing to bet it clocked in at well over 5 minutes and that you couldn’t summarize its main point even if I offered you $50 to do so. Why? Impromptu speeches, like impromptu articles, have a tendency to get lost in limbo unless you create a simple structure in advance of picking up the microphone. Write down your working title (a first draft of the headline you’ll use to capture clicks on your blog post) and beneath it type out the following outline:
- Call to Action (CTA)
The body copy of your article could contain half a dozen subsections, a bulleted list, or even a block quote. This is merely a jumping-off point to help you unfreeze your ideas and begin organizing them in a logical flow that a reader will effortlessly be able to follow through to the finish line.
#3 Search your heart THEN the web
Yes, there is some truth to your greatest blogging fear: everyone really is saying something similar. But similar is not the same. And the only way you have a fighting chance of earning engagement is to offer better content, cleaner organization, truer & newer wisdom, and the stories and insights that are unique to your life experience. It can be helpful to read other blogs in your industry, particularly if you’re just starting out, but be sure to cut yourself off the moment you feel that your copy is becoming a clone of someone else’s voice or vision.
#4 Don’t be an SEO schmuck
Anyone can write a blog post. Essentially all you have to do is hack out a few paragraphs, sprinkle in some punctuation, slap on a title, and publish that sucker. But your prospective clients are not suckers. They care about unique, quality content that offers them tastier bites of information than what they are being fed elsewhere on the web. They do not care if you hit your word count or if you filled your keyword quota so don’t sell your soul for a little boost in your SEO. At the end of the day, SEO gets you found, quality keeps you around.
#5 Perfect your call to action (CTA)
Before you publish, ask yourself: what do I want my reader to do after reading my blog post? Remember, copywriting is writing that compels action and a blog is only worth your while if it delivers a tangible result for your business. Do you want readers to subscribe to your newsletter? Leave their thoughts in the comments section below? Opt in to your freebie giveaway? Contact you? The more precise you can be with your CTA the more likely you are to get your way.
#6 Edit when it’s cold
Set aside enough time to edit your posts before publishing, preferably at least an hour after writing the first draft. If you have trouble editing your own work and don’t want to hire a freelance editor, try changing the zoom on your computer screen to see your text larger, or changing the font in your word document. These small adjustments will help prevent your eyes from glazing over by tricking your brain into reengaging with what it believes to be new content…sneaky, sneaky.
Finally, before hitting that “Publish” button, run your blog through a simple checklist to make sure that no pesky errors or embarrassing mistakes have gotten through the cracks. As a busy professional and entrepreneur, your focus is already fragmented so it’s incredibly easy to forget some of these most important blogging fundamentals, which is why I’ve put together a simple download to get you started.
Questions about how to write a blog post or tips that I haven’t covered in this article? Tell us in the comments section below!