“Ugh, I don’t know what to write about.”
“Am I even doing this right?”
“What the heck is SEO?”
Writing blog posts can feel intimidating and overwhelming. Maybe you don’t know where to start, or you’re not sure how you should structure your content.
But, being able to write great blog posts is such a valuable skill for online business owners! A blog drives traffic to your website and offers your visitors a taste of what you have to offer.
Blogging doesn’t have to be stressful. To help you out, I’ve created a complete 9-step blog writing formula that will walk you from beginning to end.
Simply follow the process and by the time you reach the last step, you’ll have a brand new blog post published on your website and posted to your social media!
a 9-step formula to write great blog posts every time
Pssst! Some of the links below are affiliate links, meaning I may earn a small referral commission if you make a purchase or subscribe to a service, at no extra cost to you. I only recommend products I use, love and trust. For more details, read my full disclaimer here.
1. decide on a topic
Before you start writing anything, you need to decide on a topic for your blog post.
What do you want your post to do?
Blogging is part of a strategy known as “content marketing”, which means you’re using free content to create interest in your paid products or offers. Keep this in mind as you decide on a topic to write about.
Your blog post should be related in some way to what you offer. If you’re a food blogger, it wouldn’t make sense to write a blog post about pet insurance plans.
However, this is where you can get creative and put a unique spin on some topics to tie them to your niche. For example, it wouldn’t really make sense for a travel blogger to write about shoes. Instead, if she were to write about the best shoes for wilderness hiking, or the best shoes for air travel, it could be very valuable to her audience.
So, what if you don’t know what to write about?
Don’t worry my friend. I’ve got you covered with an entire post on creative ways to come up with blog content ideas!
2. determine the goal of the post
I’m going to let you in on a little secret:
Many bloggers don’t really have a “goal” for their posts. Sure, the post will probably still boost SEO and attract traffic, but your blog content should aim to go beyond that.
How do I know this? I was one of these bloggers. Maybe you are too! If so, keep reading for the good stuff.
If you do this one thing, you’ll be miles ahead of many others.
So, what exactly is this mysterious “one thing”?
It’s writing with a purpose in mind.
Every piece of content you publish should have a purpose. Whether it’s an email or a blog post, ALWAYS (yes, in caps) include a “next step” or “call to action” to guide your reader towards the next logical step.
If you write a blog post with no specific purpose in mind, your visitors will simply read it then leave. There’s nothing else for them to do!
Instead, determine the goal of your post before you start writing. Do you want your readers to sign up for your email list? Do you want them to visit your Facebook page and engage?
Here are a few goal ideas to get you started:
- Signing up for your email list
- Downloading a freebie
- Visiting a sales page
- Purchasing one of your products
- Signing up for a free mini-course
- Clicking on an affiliate link
- Commenting on your post
- Liking your Facebook page
- Joining your Facebook group
- Pinning your post to Pinterest
- Sharing your post on social media
As you can see, there are tons of options to make the best of your blog posts. If you don’t have a freebie, product or affiliate link to promote in a certain blog post, make it really interesting and engaging, then ask your readers to share it on social media to boost your visibility.
The goal of your blog post will determine how you’ll structure it and what kind of content you’ll include.
For example, if you’re promoting an affiliate link, you may want to do a review post, an “intro to” post or a demo post showing how the product works.
If you post recipes, you’ll likely include lots of visual content and encourage your readers to share them on social media and Pinterest to get exposure. People love recipes!
If you’re promoting your own product, let’s say a goal planner, you can write a post on goal planning, then recommend your goal planner as a tool to implement the strategies you’ve just discussed. This is exactly what I’ve done with this blog post on business goal setting.
You can also create a freebie related to your post (known as a content upgrade) and add an opt-in box at the bottom to get visitors on your email list. To see this in action, check out my post on defining your target audience.
TIP: Make the goal of your blog post a single focus, and state it clearly. If you start asking your visitors to sign up for a freebie, join your Facebook group and read a sales page, they’ll get overwhelmed and might instead end up doing nothing!
So, what’s the purpose of this post on writing blog posts? Keep reading and see if you spot it 😉
Once you’re done with this often overlooked but important step, you can start outlining the content of your post.
3. write an outline
Creating an outline can really cut down on your writing time! As you outline and organize your ideas, your subconscious will start thinking about the content you want to write about and it’ll spark some ideas as you go along.
An outline also provides you with a quick visual representation of your blog post. It can be very motivating to see each section get filled in as you go, like a checklist!
Don’t be afraid to use “working titles” as I call them, basically temporary titles you go with for now until you come back for edits.
Every blogger has their own way of creating their outline. Some write on Notepad or Word, (or even paper!) while others write directly in WordPress.
how i write my outlines
My personal blogging style involves creating my outline directly in WordPress and formatting headers according to what I’m planning on writing.
As you can see below, I started outlining the 9 steps in this article and formatted each step as a subtitle. I also like to add a paragraph block with any ideas I have for that section so I don’t forget when I start writing.
If I don’t have anything specific to jot down in a certain section, I add some placeholder gibberish in the paragraph block. This way, if any ideas come to me later while I’m researching or writing another section, I already have a paragraph block ready for my notes.
By the time you’re done writing out your outline, you’ll have your section headers, subheaders and some content ideas in place.
4. research the topic
Not everybody will have to research their topic every time. For example, this blog post didn’t require any research because it’s my personal 9-step process and my way of explaining it.
Sometimes, research will be pretty minimal, like some quotes or statistics. On other occasions, you may have to spend more time researching your topic.
When you write reviews for example, you can research other customers’ reviews to find out what problems people are having with the product and use this information in the “cons” section of your review.
If you’re writing about the “Top 5 Matte Lipsticks that Never Quit”, you’d probably take some time to research several lipsticks, narrow down your list to the 5 you think are best and then fill out your outline.
Last but not least, researching your topic can spark some ideas you hadn’t previously thought of. If you have 5 good “time management hacks” to share in a blog post, a bit of quick research could help you find one more that would complement the other 5 really well!
5. flesh out the content
Now that you’ve created your outline and researched your topic, it’s time to add meat to the bones.
This step is all about filling in each section of your outline.
While I suggest saving the intro and conclusion for last, you don’t need to write any of the content in order. I started with step 3 on this post! Feel free to jump around and write about what inspires you at the moment, then come back to the rest later.
how long does a blog post have to be?
This is the #1 question that comes up in this step, and the answer is a little complicated.
There’s no right or wrong length, but in terms of ranking on search engines, keep in mind that your priority is quality content.
Here are my tips about the ideal blog post length:
- Aim for a minimum of 500 words
- Length depends on topic complexity; there’s no need to add fluff for the sake of word count
- Most people prefer to read posts in the 1000-1500 word range
- Search engines love long-form content, which means content with 2000+ words
- Longer posts tend to get more shares on social media
- You should have a good mix of content lengths; mix shorter posts with longer posts
formatting tips for your blog posts
This is a whole other topic in itself, but here are a few guidelines to keep in mind when writing your content:
- Use short paragraphs
- Use bullet points
- Use headers and subtitles to break up your content
- Add images to break up your content
- White space is your friend; add space around images and in between sections
- Use a font that’s easy to read in a large enough size
- Use bolding and italics to emphasize important concepts
- Make sure your content is mobile-friendly
tips to help you write faster
Writing fast is an acquired skill. The more you write, the faster you’ll become. However, with a few simple tips, you can learn to write quality blog posts faster even if you’ve just started blogging.
When doing something such as writing content, our brains are exceptionally bad at switching tasks. Have you ever noticed how you get in a “flow state” once you start writing, and things just magically come out of you? Then you switch tabs to answer your Facebook Messenger and your ideas go “poof”.
To avoid breaking your focus, target one section at a time and don’t stop until you’re done. Along the way, you may get ideas for other sections of your post. If this happens, simply jot them down to get them off your mind and keep going.
Don’t worry about perfection. Later, you’re going to fix your sentence structure, grammar, punctuation, typos and other mistakes. For now, your main goal is to get it out in writing.
6. proofread and edit
After you’ve written your main draft, it’s time to fine tune it.
I recommend doing at least 4 passes over your content, with each one getting increasingly specific.
The goal here is to fix all the obvious mistakes.
Did you double capitalize at the start of a sentence? Did you forget a space after a punctuation mark? Did you make any obvious typos? Did you forget to capitalize proper nouns?
Take a look at your overall content. Read it several times.
Are there any paragraphs you can break up? Are there any sentence structures that seem off? Can you remove any unnecessary words?
I call this one the “structure fix”.
Would moving some content around make it flow better or make more sense? Is your content laid out in a logical way? Do you have too many or not enough transition words?
The third pass is where I typically delete unnecessary sections of content and add any examples or clarifications that make the article easier to understand.
Read your article out loud! You’ll be surprised at how many awkward sentences you can find by doing this. You’ll also be able to tweak your content to sound more relaxed, casual and friendly.
Optionally, have someone else (your husband, friend, mom, dog…) read your content and give you their feedback. More than once, my boyfriend read one of my articles and told me something didn’t make sense and needed clarification.
Of course, you want your content to be well-written and informative, but don’t overthink it. It’s completely fine to start a sentence with “and” or “but”, and it’s okay to be missing a comma here and there.
I used to worry a lot about perfect grammar until I realized my writing sounded like a research paper. Leave the perfect writing to the scientists. Be friendly and have fun!
7. optimize for seo
Basic SEO is essential for people to find your content online.
SEO stands for “search engine optimization”, and refers to the process of optimizing your published content for search engine visibility.
When someone types a query in a search engine such as Google, how does the search engine determine what content to show as a priority when there are millions of possible results?
That’s where SEO comes in. Good SEO means your content has a higher chance to show up in the top results of a user’s particular search.
Perfect SEO is a complex and ever-changing topic, with experts such as Neil Patel building multimillion-dollar empires teaching SEO secrets and advanced techniques.
The truth is, you don’t need super-advanced SEO techniques to have a relevant blog. Here is a quick breakdown of the generally accepted basic SEO strategies you should implement for each blog post.
use an seo plugin
You should absolutely use an SEO plugin to optimize your blog. While it may not be quite as effective as fully manual SEO, it will save you a lot of time and headaches.
optimize your post for a single keyword
Think of keywords as the words or phrases that people type into a search engine. They can be very general (dog training) or more specific (dog training tips for beginners).
As an example, the keyword for this post is “write great blog posts”. Your keyword should appear in 4 main places:
- Your blog post title
- Your meta description
- Somewhere in the first few sentences of your post
- Your URL via the slug (the part that comes after the .com in your post’s URL)
Then, try to sprinkle your keyword throughout your content wherever it can be inserted naturally.
use header tags
There are H1, H2, H3 tags that you use to organize your text. The H1 tag should be reserved for your title, and you should only have a single H1 tag per post.
H2, H3 tags and other tags can be used in descending order to organize your content. Search engines use these tags to determine the structure of your article, which means you should use tags in order. H2 tags are good for large sections, H3 tags for sub-sections and so on.
add images and use alt text
Your blog posts should have at least one featured image. That’s the large image at the top of your post. If possible, try to insert a few more relevant images throughout your content.
Each image should have an optimized title and alt text. These can be inserted directly in the WordPress media library tool. The alt text should describe exactly what the image is about. For example, “dog playing in puddle of mud” or “woman working on laptop”.
use meta descriptions
A meta description is the blurb that shows under the titles on a search result page.
It’s meant to be a summary of what the content is about, which helps users find relevant content faster. Take the time to write a short meta description for each blog post, and make sure to include your keyword.
categories and tags
Make sure each of your blog posts is categorized properly. Also, add any relevant tags to your posts. This helps search engines understand what your content is about.
link to your other blog posts
Known as internal linking, this helps search engines map out the content of your website.
When writing your blog posts, link to any other relevant articles on your blog. To see an example of this, look at section 2 above where I link to several of my other blog posts.
The text containing the link should be descriptive. Don’t just use “click here for an example”. Links containing keywords are powerful for SEO!
8. preview and publish your post
After you’ve made your edits, added images and optimized your post for SEO, it’s time to preview.
In WordPress, there should be a button at the top to preview your post.
When previewing, make sure that the layout is correct, that it looks good on all devices (desktop, tablet and smartphone) and that all links work correctly.
Once you’re satisfied with your post, you can hit “Publish”!
Alternatively, you can schedule it for a later time. This is especially useful if you write several blog posts in a day and want to publish one every week.
9. promote and share
Don’t forget to promote your new post! Sharing and promoting your post increases your credibility and visibility.
Share it with your audience by:
- Posting it on your social media accounts
- Emailing a teaser and a link to your subscribers
- Adding one or more Pinterest images that link back to your post
- Encouraging your followers to share your content
need help remembering the 9 steps?
Whew, that was a lot of information!
To help you remember everything we just discussed, I created a simple cheat sheet that walks you through every step of the formula and highlights important points.
When you sit down to write your blog posts, grab the cheat sheet and you’ll have a complete visual roadmap to follow along as you go!