Blogging whimsically feels natural. It feels genuine. It feels easy, creative, and fun.
But after you’ve spent a few days, weeks, or months churning out amazing, whimsical blog posts that don’t get any traffic, you might start to feel a little (a lot) discouraged.
Here’s the thing – you need your unique insights and creative spirit to come up with solid blog post ideas; that’s what will set your blog apart from the rest of the noise out there. But there’s no reason you can’t also learn from successful bloggers to ensure you are making the most of all the content you work so hard to create.
The next time you sit down to write a blog post, plan to take a little more time and follow these steps to make it a truly great one. For example, if you usually spend a few hours on a single blog post, this time plan to spend a few hours every day for a week on a single post and complete every one of these steps. You are very likely to see a difference when you follow these techniques – I know I have!
Blogging Infographic – Steps To A Great Blog Post
Follow These 11 Steps To A Great Blog Post
Tired of creating amazing blog posts that don’t seem to go anywhere after you hit “Publish”? Follow these 11 steps that the pros use to create great blog posts that get real engagement and build your brand. Read on for more detail into each step.
I’ve also added some really great resources for each of these crucial steps. You don’t have to read all of the links – there’s plenty of overlap – but if there is a step where your knowledge is a little shaky or it’s outside your comfort zone, definitely take a look at some of the links I’ve added. I’m a researcher (is that a personality type? It should be!) and these are the resources that have taught me a lot about blogging and I wanted to share them with anyone else who wants to learn.
1 – Find Great Topic Ideas
Search for your target keywords, see what posts are out there already and identify what they’re missing. Or, think of a strong stance that you need to take about what’s happening in your field. This is where you need to apply your own unique crazy creative insights and combine them with a realistic look at the content that is already available.
Think about it not as mimicking other content or restricting your creativity to the mainstream, but more as leveraging your creativity by focusing on sharing insights that will have the greatest possible impact. The important thing is to remember that a great blog post is usually not created in a vacuum – it’s aware of its larger context, but brings something new and better to the table. Do your research, see what kind of content already ranks well for your keywords or is being shared by influencers, and build on that.
More tips on doing keyword research:
- Keyword Research: The Definitive Guide (Backlinko)
- How to Do Keyword Research for SEO: A Beginner’s Guide (Hubspot)
- How to do Keyword Research the Smart Way: Targeting Interest and Intent (Kissmetrics)
- How to do Keyword Research in 90 Minutes (Moz)
Help for coming up with blog post topics:
- How to Turn Trending Topics Into Incredible Blog Posts (Successful Blogging)
- 50 Can’t-Fail Techniques for Finding Great Blog Topics (Coppyblogger)
- Where to Steal Ideas for Your Next Blog Post (Neil Patel)
- How to brainstorm a year’s worth of blog topics in less than an hour (Daniela Uslan)
- 50 No-Fluff, Content-Rich Blog Post Ideas (Elle & Co.)
- How To Create 45 Post Ideas For Your Blog (Daily Femme)
- 70+ Ideas For Any Blog’s Editorial Calendar (Bre Pea) – broken down by month
- 101+ Popular Blog Title Templates That Work (Olyvia)
2 – Define Your Ideal Target Audience
Before you even start writing, it’s a good idea to have a single reader in mind – that way your tone will be more natural and your content more useful than if you wrote for the thousands of people you’d love to attract to your blog. So get in detail if you can.
I sometimes like to fill out a profile for my target as though I were creating a fictional character, imagining things like their personality type, hobbies, etc. But not everyone loves getting into all the imaginary details like I do. 🙂 The important thing is to just be as specific as you can. For example, instead of targeting “anyone who needs help with office organization”, you could target “working moms in their 30s who need help getting organized”, or even better – “bloggers who write about home organization for working moms in their 30s”. With the last group, you would be targeting influencers looking for content to share with their followers, rather than a general audience (who may not share your blog post no matter how good it is).
Also, try to be very clear from the get-go on what value your target reader will get from your post. What are you going to offer in this post that they can’t find elsewhere? How will you improve their lives with this post or make things easier for them?
Here are some of my favorite guides on creating a target audience profile for your blog:
- How To Find Your Target Audience In Content Marketing (CoSchedule)
- How to Define The Right Target Audience For Your Blog (Raelyn Tan)
- How to Define Your Target Audience and Why You Need To (White Corner Creative)
- How to Create an Ideal Reader Profile For Your Blog (By Regina)
3 – Write A Solid Outline
Posts that are more emotionally meaningful tend to get more engagement on social media, while posts that go deep into a single subject tend to rank better in search engines. Either way, your post should be well-organized and broken into clear, logical sections, with several practical examples.
The best way to make sure this happens is to start with a logical outline and then fill it in later. Check out these resources for outlining a great blog post:
- Blog Post Templates Bundle – 5 Blog Post Outlines With Writing Prompts (yours truly)
- How to write blog posts faster with an outline (Simple Writing)
- How to Write an Outline to Get Exactly the Blog Post You Need (Blog Mutt)
- The Perfect Blog Post (Social Triggers)
4 – Write + Rewrite Your Post
Flesh out your outline, then edit, rewrite, and edit some more. It’s better to take more time and write an excellent post than to churn out a substandard post every day or week. You’re not looking for perfection by any means, but there’s really no way to fake or substitute the kind of polish and quality that shows in a post that has received a ton of TLC. The Elements of Style is the classic handbook on good writing, but my favorite resource right now is this amazing compilation of writing tips from famous writers: Tips From The Masters (Gotham Writers).
5 – Add Relevant Links
Now go through your post and add in relevant links, being sure to make the anchor text (the underlined text for the link) long and descriptive. Your post should include some of the following types of links: outbound links to quality, authoritative sites for reference and examples; internal links to related content on your own site; and links to other relevant blogs/sites that might be good promotional partners for you. (You can contact these sites later to let them know they were featured in your post.)
More info on how a good relevant link strategy can improve your post:
- How Outbound Link Improves Your Blog Authority & Ranking (Shout Me Loud)
- The Seven Commandments of Internal Linking that Will Improve Content Marketing SEO (Kissmetrics)
6 – Create Accompanying Media & Call to Action (CTA)
Create a Pinterest-friendly featured image (longer than it is wide), plus any other images you’ll want for social media like quotes or images for Facebook etc. It’s also a really good idea to take a little extra time (okay, a LOT of extra time) and create a content upgrade like a downloadable worksheet, checklist, or ebook to go with your post. You can offer this in exchange for subscribing to your email list and allow readers to go deeper with your subject. Click here to get my tips on creating a good content upgrade without any special design software. Drawing a blank when it comes to making up a content upgrade and how to offer it? Here are some really good ideas for content upgrades plus tips on how to implement them:
- How to Add Content Upgrades in WordPress and Grow Your Email List (WPbeginner)
- 20 Content Upgrades That Will Skyrocket Your Email List (Twelveskip)
- How to Add Content Upgrades To Your Blogging Strategy (Free Borboleta)
- How To Dramatically Increase Email Subscribers by Using Content Upgrades (Ciera Design Studio)
- How To Grow Your Newsletter List (Spruce Rd.)
- Zero to 600 in 30 days: How to grow your email list quickly with Content Upgrades (Femtrepreneur)
- 18 Types of Content Upgrades To Help Grow Your Email List Fast
7 – Run Through A Quick SEO Checklist
Here’s a quick SEO checklist I try to use before each post I publish:
- Length – Your post length should be at least 1800 words. I know, that’s a lot. It’s okay if it’s not that long when you initially publish it, but take time to come back later on when you have time and add more content. And not just content for the sake of content – add better examples, more explanation, anecdotes, more helpful tips or links, etc.
- Organization – Organization is crucial because if someone is in a hurry, they may only glance at your post for a few seconds to decide whether or not to read it. So to make it easier for a reader to know what your post contains in a single glance, be sure to include subheadings and lists to break up the content and organize it well; make the subheadings logical and descriptive; and make the paragraphs short and easy to skim.
- Keywords – It’s also important that you incorporate your target keywords and variations on those keywords early in your post, in some of your link anchor text, in your post title and URL, in your meta description, and in the featured image title & alt tag.
Here are some other blog post SEO checklists that will take a little longer, but really help your post:
- The Ultimate 22-Point Blog Post Checklist (Writtent)
- WordPress Blog Post SEO Checklist (Road to Blogging)
- How to Make Your Blog Posts SEO-Friendly [Checklist] (Hubspot)
- The Ultimate SEO Checklist: 25 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Your Next Post (Quick Sprout)
8 – Publish + Share
Publish! Nice job! Now share your new post on social media and/or with your email list. If applicable, include a special download to go with your post that is only available to your email list. In case you don’t normally send things to an email list, here are two good articles to check out:
- Why You Should Start Building An Email List (The Nectar Collective)
- What to Send to Your Email List (The Haute Notes)
9 – Find Promotional Opportunities (aka Link Building)
Find influencers who might share your post on their blog: people who have linked to similar posts, written about something tangentially related to yours, or whose readers might be very interested in your post. Backlinko has the most helpful post I’ve read on promotion (for steps 9 and 10) so be sure to read it here: Link Building Case Study: How I Increased My Search Traffic by 110% in 14 Days. If you have more time/interest, I also recommend his post on link building: Link Building: The Definitive Guide, which has a bunch of additional resources to check out.
10 – Promote Your Post
Send outreach emails to influencers and share the link to your post; explain why you thought they’d be interested and ask what they think of your post. Offer to write a guest post on the same topic for their blog. Again, check out the Backlinko post for more tips on this: Link Building Case Study: How I Increased My Search Traffic by 110% in 14 Days.
11 – Continually Improve
A truly great blog post is never complete, because the more feedback you get from readers & analytics, the better you can make it. One strategy I often use is to see what kinds of keywords are generating the most traffic for one of my existing pages, and then add more content around those keywords when I have time. I have seen this strategy significantly improve my search engine traffic for specific pages. And as you think more about your topic or learn from other sources, you can go back to add better examples, new stats & reference links, relevant new internal links, new content upgrades, and more. You can also submit your post to Google to be indexed again if you’ve changed it significantly, rather than waiting for Google to get around to crawling your site again.