After all, that’s the initial goal, right? Write a blog post. Fans will come in. And then, serve their needs.
It seems to be a no-brainer.
After you have started a blog and gather popular post ideas, you feel a burning excitement to write your first blog post.
Of course, a blog post has a title and a body so you need to write down your thoughts on a popular topic. Sounds simple enough.
But when you are about to start typing, you paused. Minutes have passed so you forced your brain to type the first thing that comes to your mind. You read it. Then you pressed backspace several times until every letter is gone. You paused again and think. Then type again. You think it sucks so you pressed backspace again.
As if that’s not enough so you went back to square 1.
It happened several times until you realized you don’t know where to start to write a blog post.
So, you wonder:
- How do I write a blog post for beginners like me?
- Is there a structure or format to follow?
- What do I do before I write a blog post?
You Are Not Alone
Before we begin, I have a confession.
I felt the same way when I started. And it caused me to procrastinate for months. I have searched for the “secret recipe” but only made me overwhelmed with the vast amount of bland ideas. Some are even conflicting.
This doesn’t have to happen to you. Be assured that this is not happening because you’re stupid or because it’s something written in your genes. A few steps supported by examples will enlighten you. We will use tools along the way when appropriate.
And the “secret recipe”? Read on to find out because it’s not just a recipe to write a blog post. It’s a recipe to write popular blog post.
And soon, you’ll be on your way to writing your first blog post (and the next).
Let’s dive in.
STEP 1: Choose Your Ideal Reader Before You Write a Blog Post
First off, writing a blog post doesn’t start with writing a headline.
But Why Choosing Your Ideal Reader be Done First Before Writing the Headline?
In her free Snackable Writing Course, Henneke Duistermaat pointed out that picturing your ideal reader is the first thing to do before writing your headline and structuring your copy, which includes blog posts. And in this step, you don’t imagine a crowd but an individual.
The point? Your writing is more conversational, more likable, with an individual. Imagine a crowd and you will start lecturing. And lecturing is a turnoff in blogging. Also, writing a blog post is not like writing an essay or an academic paper. You can check the definition here.
Another point is about how you write each sentence in your blog post. Have you read a blog post that promises ideas for beginners but it’s dizzying to read if it’s for you as a beginner or for someone who has advanced a little? And talking about jargon?
Get the point?
Picturing an ideal reader first ensures your sentences is absolutely for them.
But How Do You Do This When You Don’t Have an Audience Yet?
I’m with you. You only reached the beginning of the journey – starting a blog. But relax, here are 3 steps to nail it.
- Imagine a person you want to talk to. If you’re going to have a conversation with someone, you have to put a face, age, gender, or profession. Is he or she married? Does he or she have kids? The more detailed the better. The individual can be your close friend, your younger self, your favorite customer, or an imaginary friend.
- Imagine the questions she had in mind. Your blog post serves a need. And that’s the driver for changing your reader. Without the feeling of change that a need has been served, you won’t convince your new reader to become a fan that acts on your ideas. So what are the questions in your ideal reader’s mind that you want to answer in your blog post?
- Treat your blog post as a conversation with that person. This is the turning point in understanding this first step for me. No matter how correct your grammar is or no matter how golden your curated tips are if it’s confusing to see if it’s for levels 0, 1, or 5, your blog post is dead on arrival.
How Do You Get the Questions of Your Ideal Reader?
If you only imagine a reader do you also imagine the questions?
That is a big NO. Because it won’t serve a REAL need or address a REAL problem.
Now the real question is how do you get real questions from real readers similar to your ideal reader?
We can get the answers from Quora, Google, and Bing
Let’s have an example.
If your post is about Vegan Diet and your reader is a beginner, go to Quora and search for beginner questions about vegan diet. In the Search box type vegan diet. See a sample below:
In the above illustration, the question Will a vegan diet make you sick? is a good one for beginners. Now record the questions in your research.
Next, we use Google. Type the same search term in the search bar.
Did you see the 3 questions? Quite different from Bing but it’s good to note these also because these are from real people. Note the content of the video too.
Next, scroll down the page and look for Searches related to.
Let’s try the same topic on Bing and look for related questions.
The 4 questions above are golden for beginners. Record these too.
Now scroll the results page and look for Related Searches.
Now, these related search terms will give you an idea on what real people are searching for in relation to your main topic. Note the foods list, menu plan, and recipe.
Did you finally get the hang of it?
We’re done with step 1. Six more to go.
STEP 2: Match the Ideal Reader to the Right Blog Post “Recipe”
Step 2 is matchmaking.
Let’s begin why this should be done before even writing a headline.
Pay attention to 6 blog post types to increase your chances of crafting a popular post. Each of the six is a result of years analyzing wildly popular posts. Applying one for your next blog post is a “recipe” that will change your reader’s knowledge, feelings, or beliefs toward a certain topic in a meaningful way. Meaningful because the reader is persuaded to take action.
If you heard of list posts, how-to posts, or question posts, this is not it.
You can get the details from SmartBlogger here.
Each of the post type have specific ways to
- write an opening line
- transition to the body
- write the post body
- close the post
In this post, I chose the Hand-holder. Why?
- My ideal reader is a total beginner, and I love to help them.
- For this post, writing baby steps is easier to write.
Here are some other Hand-holder posts examples:
- CopyBlogger: How To Write with Power and Authority, Even if You Feel Like a Nobody
- SmartBlogger: How To Become A Confident Expert (And Stop Feeling Like A Fraud)
- SmartBlogger: How To Write A Paragraph In 2020 (Yes, The Rules Have Changed)
As a beginner, choose the “recipe” that is easy for you to deliver and master it.
Now that 2 steps are done, it’s time to write your headline. You got this!
STEP 3: Write a Compelling Headline Your Readers Can’t Resist But Click
“If the headline doesn’t stop people, the copy might as well be written in Greek.”John Caples
But know this first: The headline is the first and the only door for your visitors to read your post. That is why it should stop them. Or your entire blog post, no matter how well-written it is, should not have been written at all.
Here are some numbers to prove the point. According to CopyBlogger, on average 8 out of 10 people will read your headline but only 2 out of 10 will read the rest. This makes the headline so important in your blog post.
How to Write Headlines That Work Like Crazy
Now that it’s clear how critical headlines are in a blog post, here are some tips:
1. Know the Purpose of the Headline – to Make Your Reader Read the Opening Line
“The purpose of the first sentence is to get you to read the second sentence.”Joseph Sugarman in his book Advertising Secrets of the Written Word
Obviously, your headline is the first sentence your reader will see. And it has to compel them to read the opening line. Here’s one of the best examples from Problogger that pulled millions of readers and shares:
Don’t you want to click that headline and read the rest?
2. Avoid the Fake Benefits
Here’s a fact: Your reader will always get what they want, not what you want for them. And your headline should nail it. Let’s examine an example:
How to Treat Acne Naturally
The headline seems beneficial to teenagers, don’t you think? But it’s a fake. There’s no real benefit from it. To prove the point, Clayton Makepeace recommends the Forehead Slap Test. Using it in our example, teenagers don’t wake up and slap their heads and say “I really need to treat this acne naturally”. They don’t. Here’s a much better example:
13 Powerful Home Remedies for Acne to Evade Embarrassment
If you’re a teenager, which will you click? True, natural treatment to acne is nice but what they hate is the embarrassment acne brings. Now, avoiding embarrassment is the real benefit!
3. Use Power Words to Amplify Your Headline
Next is to use power words. These are words that move and trigger strong emotions. It makes us feel encouraged, aroused, curious, safe, enlightened, terrified, or angry. And it makes your new reader take action. Opposite of power words are weak words. So, instead of writing a bland headline like this:
How to Write Headlines
Include power words to make it compelling:
How to Write Headlines That Work Like Crazy
The power words used here is crazy. Some other examples of power words are mind-blowing, colossal, terrified, win, obscene, and brutal. More examples here.
4. Tease and Hide the Details for Later
This can be better explained with an example.
How to Manage All Your List Problems with a Spreadsheet
As you can see, the headline revealed the solution in managing lists – the spreadsheet. And the reader will no longer read the post.
Here’s a much better headline:
How to Conquer All Your List Problems Like a Superhero
The headline is a teaser with power words conquer and superhero.
5. Use Headline Formats That Work
Do you want to make sure you use the most effective headlines?
It’s simple. Follow what works.
Here are the 2 types of popular headline formats:
LIST POST HEADLINE
List post headlines are the most popular type of headline format. And what made them so popular?
The numbers made it more specific and clear. In fact, 36% of people prefer list-based headlines.
Another compelling headline format is the How-to headline.
When people see posts that start with “How to…”, it persuades them to click.
For beginners, it is best to follow a template in headlines to make it easier and faster.
So, here are sample templates:
How to [End Result] That Will [Benefit] How to [End Result] + [Time Period] + [Answer the Objection] Top 10 Tips for Hassle Free ___________ 5 Ways to _________ Then Profit! The 20 Most Important Steps You Can Take to ___________
The point? Stick to what works and never go wrong.
But there’s something else to make sure your headlines work.
Is There a Tool for Creating Hot Headlines That Sell?
Even if you’re a beginner, you want to nail it from the start and there’s a headline tool just for that.
Meet the Headline Analyzer. It checks your headline length that humans and search engines will love. It also analyzes your headline for your use of power and emotional words. Finally, it checks if your headline has a strong positive, strong negative, or just neutral sentiment to your reader.
A word of caution, though: This tool serves as a guide for beginners to help them with crafting headlines. This is not the rule.
To start off, let’s analyze this post’s headline.
As you can see, beginners have an edge in writing headlines like a pro.
All you need is to make sure it has the real benefits, use the proven headline format, use power and emotional words, and don’t reveal your point.
And one more thing: Avoid clickbait headlines.
Lastly, write 10 candidate headlines for each post and let the Headline Analyzer give them a score. Then, pick the best of 10.
After making sure the reader will click the headline, it’s time to format the rest of your post. You can do this!
STEP 4: Write a Blog Post Faster by Using a Post Outline and Get Organized
Let me now tell you the secret to writing blog posts faster by describing a slow writer.
Here it is: Slow writers tend to think then type. See if it sucks and if it is, press backspace until all the words or sentences that suck are obliterated.
And the worst, the resulting post is dizzying to the reader. The promise in the headline is not met. And the reader forgets the blog and never come back.
I’m not saying that I’m not like that. I was until I learned this little secret:
Aside from letting you write faster, it also organizes your post to align with the headline.
How Do You Structure or Format Your Blog Post With a Post Outline?
Headline: <headline goes here> I. Opening line A. Intriguing question or short sentence B. Words that emphatize with your ideal reader. What's on your reader's mind? C. Words of reassurance II. Body A. Point/Tip/Step 1 a. Description/Reason 1 1. Reference/link to a study or statistics or article that prove your point. 2. Example b. Description/Reason 2 1. Reference/link to a study or statistics or article that prove your point. 2. Example B. Point/Tip/Step 2 a. Description/Reason 1 1. Reference/link to a study or statistics or article that prove your point. 2. Example b. Description/Reason X 1. Reference/link to a study or statistics or article that prove your point. 2. Example C. Point/Tip/Step 3 a. Description/Reason 1 1. Reference/link to a study or statistics or article that prove your point. 2. Example b. Description/Reason X 1. Reference/link to a study or statistics or article that prove your point. 2. Example D. Point/Tip/Step X a. Description/Reason 1 1. Reference/link to a study or statistics or article that prove your point. 2. Example b. Description/Reason X 1. Reference/link to a study or statistics or article that prove your point. 2. Example III. Closing line A. Inspiring words for your ideal reader B. Call to Action (Recommended: Give a freebie to get their email address)
Now, how does this make you faster?
- The points you want to deliver in your post are summarized.
- You have thought of what you want to say, what links you will include, and the examples you will present.
- The thinking is separated from the writing so you don’t think then type then erase and do it all over again.
- When you finally write, what you want to say has been set. Writing will now be a breeze.
The point? Separate the thinking from the writing.
With this technique mixed with a lot of practice, you can write up to 8,000 words per day or more.
Note the practice. Because this technique won’t make you write a blog post with 1000 words/day when you try it today.
Now that your post is organized with an outline, it’s time to tease your reader some more with the opening line.
STEP 5: Write a Blog Post With a Scrumptious Opening Line
Now that you have lured your reader inside your post with the headline, it’s time to tease some more with the opening line.
For what purpose?
To lure the reader to the body of your post.
You see, the process of writing from the headline to the closing is like a slippery slope. Once the reader is in, the gravity of your writing will pull her down to the last word.
How do you do this?
- Start with a short question or sentence.
- Follow-up with words that empathize with your reader. What’s on her mind?
- Transition to the body with words of reassurance.
Here’s an opening that I really like. I’m sure you will too.
Here’s another good sample from SmartBlogger:
Have you seen how these writer’s nailed it? It’s a blogging masterpiece.
After teasing the reader in the headline and the opening line, it’s time to deliver your promise.
STEP 6: Deliver your Promise in the Post Body Packed with Value
There’s no single way to explain tips, ways or steps. But there are certain rules to make sure readers won’t be distracted and turned-off.
Beat the Scanners with Consistent Subheads and Bullet Points
Here’s a fact we can never change as bloggers: Readers will scan your posts first. If they don’t find the subheads and bullet points compelling and worth their time, they won’t continue reading and click away.
To beat them, treat your subheads like headlines. And bullet points consistent.
Here’s why: It is revealed in Trade Secrets: How to Craft Bullet Points Like a Superstar Copywriter that inconsistent formatting of bullet lists and subheads can distract readers. The opposite will make it easier for your readers to scan the points you’re trying to make.
Let’s have an example.
Why this is so? All subheads
- start with an action word
- answer the how-to headline
- follow the same type of grammatical construction
My second example is the bullet list I created above. The list started with a few words called platform statement which is All subheads. It doesn’t make sense on its own. But followed by the list, it completes a sentence and makes sense.
If you will deconstruct the list above into 3 sentences, it will be like these:
Did you see how clear the bullet list is if it’s done properly?
Follow Subheading Distribution
Are there more than 300 words under your subheading? Then Yoast’s Subheading Distribution Check will make sure you know.
Quick note: Yoast Plugin is the leading Search Engine Optimization (SEO) plugin for WordPress. SEO is a term for ranking higher on Google or Bing results. The higher your ranking is, the better for users to find your blog. Meanwhile, a subheading distribution check is a readability check done by Yoast to ensure your post is easy to read. Take caution: the limit is set to 300 words.
You see, a long-winded explanation of your points will turn-off the scanners too. And winning your reader’s heart requires that you make your blog post more readable. Plus you will win Google and Bing’s hearts too.
Here’s a screenshot when something is wrong:
To fix this, divide the section with subheadings or trim the content, if possible.
Use a Consistent Content Format in Each Section
How do you format each section of the body of your blog post?
To start with this, consider two or more of the items that will go to each of your sections. As you pick any one or more combinations, make it consistent with all sections of your body.
- Explain your point in a paragraph or 2.
- Add authority with outbound links or external links as reference sources to prove your point like statistics, articles of well-known authors, scientific studies, and the like. (source).
- Include 1 or more images. Images in posts supercharge traffic and social media shares. And readers can also process visual information 60,000x faster than plain text. Note to beginners: you can look for free images for your posts in Unsplash.com or Pexels.com.
- Include 1 or more videos. Blog posts with videos get up to 3x more monthly visitors.
- Include a quote, example, takeaway, or summary.
Here’s an example from SmartBlogger: The Only 6 Posts Worth Writing (And How To Totally Nail Each One) by Glen Long, If you check out his post, he formatted each section of the body with the one below. He included examples at the end of each.
In the end, the body of your post should prove the promise of the headline and the opening line.
But when everything has been said and done, you need a freaking closing line.
STEP 7: Write a Blog Post With an Inspiring Closing and Call to Action
Finally, your closing your post.
Now, don’t make it bland like ending it with
“Thank you for reading my post”
Here’s what to do instead: Inspire your reader. And include words of empathy. In the end, encourage them to take action.
Here’s a good example of a closing of a post about vegetarian diet for absolute beginners. The post is The Most Laid-Back Guide to Going Vegetarian You’ll Ever Read by Matt Frazier. Here’s the closing:
Note the points taken in this inspiring closing:
- Empathized on how hard it is in the beginning.
- Encouraged the reader that success is possible.
- Provided tips on what to do when setbacks happen.
- Point the reader to more fantastic posts for more information.
Does Writing a Blog Post Sounds Hard?
It’s perfectly fine.
All A-list bloggers started as newbies like you. You can take your own pace at the start. You can’t write as fast as more advanced bloggers but you can get there. Forget at the moment that blogging every day will get you more blog traffic and leads. Improve your writing first.
Now, you have a strong 7-step process that reduces failure in writing a blog post. So, practice, practice, practice. If you encounter a roadblock, reach out.
Momentum? You can build this.
Raving fans? You can win this.
Avalanche of traffic? You will have this if you persist.
And in time, you can make money from your blog.