Your first blog doesn’t have to be a masterpiece. In fact, your fiftieth blog doesn’t have to be one either. You just need to have something to say that will resonate with your target audience.
You’ll see from the following, that the first step in the journey of a successful blog is having a purpose. Here’s mine – I want to steer you through the rapids of writing your first blog post and deliver you safely to shore. Bon voyage – I’ll see you on the other side.
To say that knowing your purpose is vital to your writing is like saying that breathing is vital to life.
And anyway, if you don’t have a purpose, you have a fluff piece. And that is against the bloggers’ code!
The key to having a powerful purpose is to make sure your blog solves a problem for your reader. So, if you can answer the following questions, you can be confident you have a purpose for your blog:-
- What do you want to communicate?
- Who is the blog aimed at?
- What problem does it solve? or
- What transformation do you want your audience to have as a result of your blog?
Top Tip: Make sure every blog post fits with your content strategy and progresses your business goals.
This is the stage where you gather together all the resources you are planning to use. Copy website links onto your writing page – for easy access. Gather together any other reference materials you think you’ll need. Then, make a list of topics or subheadings so you can group your ideas in a logical order.
This part of the process is not about critiquing your ideas. You are simply laying out a plan, chunking data into categories, and deciding how best to explain the points.
Remember to include your own stories in your resource dump. The best way to connect with your reader is to share yourself with them.
Top Tip: If you don’t have much time, make sure you have picked a topic you are already familiar with.
Having gathered together all your data and resources, now it is time to start writing. I tend to write the main body of the blog first, completing the introduction and conclusions only when I’ve covered all the points from my outline. On a long-form post of over 3,000 words, I work on each point almost like a separate blog post.
It doesn’t matter how bad your first draft is. Write without holding back. Focus on getting everything down on paper, without viewing it through a critical lens. Your creative writing brain is a very different animal to your critical editing brain. We all have both of those aspects, but it isn’t easy to flip back and forth between them. So, always treat writing and editing as separate things.
Do writing on writing day and editing on editing day.
And remember, it helps your readers connect with you if you put your personal experiences into the post.
As you write, use your own natural style and language – don’t try to be someone else.
You can work on polishing your voice during the editing process. It is through editing you are transformed into the best possible you.
Top Tip: If you’re writing a long-form blog, set a timer and write say, 1500 words in the morning. Then set another timer and write another 1500 words in the afternoon. Ta-da! You have a 3,000-word post.
Title & Introduction
You must have an engaging headline. Let me say that again – You MUST have an engaging headline.
But, don’t be one of those bloggers who use click-bait to get views. If you don’t know what click-bait is (and bless your unblemished heart if you don’t), it is where a dishonest title convinces a reader to click on a fluff article. Disappointment will lead many to click away quickly, which is murder on your SEO.
And speaking of SEO, what you want, “what you really, really want,” is an intriguing title which is relevant to your potential readers. Ask yourself, “What is going to make people click?”
When it comes to an introduction to your blog, you have something like 2-3 seconds to capture a reader’s attention. So make that time count!
There are many ways to write an introduction. For your first blog, choose one of the following ideas:-
- Explain the purpose of your article;
- Write a summary of your article’s main points;
- Start with a story;
- Quote an expert;
- Pose a question; or
- State a little-known fact.
Top Tip: Google keyword planner can help you create an SEO optimised title.
Editing & Proofreading
I’d recommend leaving a day or two between writing and editing, particularly if you are drafting a long-form post. And when you do begin editing, be ruthless. Try to release the well-known attachment writers have to their beloved words. Always:-
- Check the quality of your word choice, to improve clarity
- Make the work more direct, by removing or transforming passive sentences.
- Check the tone is appropriate for the audience.
- Remove unnecessary words or sentences.
Remove the padding, refine the sentences, improve the structure and fix the flow. Add personality and refine your voice.
Paragraphs should be no more than three to four short sentences. It makes your piece easier and faster to read.
Undertake a thorough proofreading exercise, focusing on:-
- Spelling errors;
- Typing errors;
- Correct usage of full stops, commas, colons, semicolons, etc.
- Correct word usage, e.g. their, they’re and there.
- Correct usage of quotation marks, apostrophes, etc.
- General formatting conventions.
If proofreading isn’t something you have time for, or it isn’t something you enjoy, outsource that part of the process to a professional.
Having put in all that effort, and proofread and edited the text, now all you have to do is accept what you have done as ‘good enough’. Practice hardly ever makes perfect but you will improve as you go along.
Once you have finished your edit and proofread the blog thoroughly, you should always read it aloud one last time before publication. You will find more mistakes this way.
Headings, Images & Other Media
The use of headings, images, and other media gives your blog visual appeal.
Use section headings, numbered lists, and bullet points to make your blog more appealing. It also gives the post a professional look and allows people to scan through your text easily.
Use stunning photographs throughout your blog but particularly for your featured image. You can find copyright-free images from sites such as Unsplash.
Insert relevant images, graphs, charts, and videos to add interest to your piece. We’re told the current President of the United States will only read short documents which include many images and mentions of his name. Extreme? Maybe, but visuals do make a piece easier to read, they give people some breathing space before they continue reading, and help your work stand out.
Top Tip: Use pinnable social media friendly graphics.
Your closing brings focus to your purpose. Without a strong closing, your reader will be fuzzy on your intent.
There are various devices to end the piece, but for your first blog, I suggest one of the following:-
- Write a brief summary of your key points but not if you started with this.
- End with a discussion question to encourage comments and interaction from your readers.
- Use a call to action, e.g. ask your reader to contact you, or offer something for free if they join your mailing list.
Top Tip: Give a subscriber incentive. If you have a specific niche this will be easier, as you can offer the same incentive on multiple posts.
Improve Your SEO
Get yourself more readers through search engine optimisation. Here are a few suggestions:-
- Use google keyword planner for keywords and for your blog title.
- Mix up long-form and shorter posts. But remember you need at least 300-500 words to maximise SEO.
- Add internal AND external links to your posts to help keep the reader engaged and on your site. Links also reduce post length, if you are covering a longer topic. And they help with SEO!
I hope this blog has been useful. I am a professional beta reader, editor, and proofreader. For bloggers who don’t have the time or experience to undertake this part of the blogging process, I’d be happy to help.
To contact me, call 07376 365244 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Subscriber offer – the first 10 people to follow my blog and email me will receive a free edit of their first blog!