Have you ever wondered what makes a blog post great? There are several elements that go into writing a great blog post. Sometimes you read a post and learn a lot, and other times, you read one and wish you had the time back because you got nothing new. Right?
Let’s get right to the point, what makes some blog posts great? It starts with an idea, followed by research, solid writing, good information, and images that help tell the story.
A good blog post needs to have a good foundational idea. If you don't have a strong topic, you're going to struggle to write a great post. Strong topics may vary by field, but the general concept is that they are topics that your audience wants. You want to focus on an idea that matters to your audience. If you're not sure where great ideas come from, check out this post for insights on content ideation.
Once you have your topic determined, then it’s important to do some research. See what’s been shared before; a great blog post doesn’t just reiterate what someone else has said, it brings new information to the consumer. The research phase should include keyword research because if you’re not doing a bit of SEO on your blog post, you’re missing a critical element.
Finally, if you want to partner with an influencer, this would be a good time to identify them and build the relationship. Are you wondering why you'd want to partner with an influencer? We'll talk about that in-depth in the future, but the bottom line is, if you include them in your blog post, they'll help share your information with their audience, growing your overall reach.
Great writing takes time and effort. If you sit down at your laptop and develop your blog post in 15 minutes, it's probably going to show. Once you've done your homework and you have a solid idea, targeted keywords, and influencers identified, it's time to get to work. Think of your blog post as a story; you need to include a beginning, middle, and end. There should be a hook to get the reader interested and engaged. You need to make sure the blog post provides useful information, and it's easy to read and understand.
If you're not sure if your post is reader-friendly, you can use a Wordpress plugin called Yoast SEO, which includes readability information in addition to the SEO elements. Yoast will provide a Fleisch Kincaid readability score, along with other tips and provides an easy red, yellow, green rating system, so you know how you're doing.
The #1 question I get about blog writing is, "How long should my blog post be" and while you'll hear different answers, the bottom line is it needs to tell a great story. I've always told my writers to focus on telling the story, not the word count. A simple, one subject, straightforward blog post normally runs around 500 words. An in-depth piece will run 1,000-1,500 words, and we're starting to see some 1,500 word and up pieces too. When you start writing, you may not know how many words you'll end up with, and that's OK. Outline your story and tell it completely – beginning, middle, and end and it will come together.
Don't use filler words because you want to have more words on the page. Don't be like my little brother circa 1987 who used the word very 27 times to fill the page in elementary school English – true story! It was very, very, very, very, very…. You get the point. Don't do it.
Be sure your blog post provides helpful information, don’t just scratch the surface, dig deep. If there are tools or resources you use when working on X subject, share them. Link to the websites that might be useful to your readers, tell them why it might help. By providing actionable information, you’ll help cement yourself as a resource in the field and hopefully, the next time they have a question, they’ll go directly to your blog or website. Even better, they might tell a friend about your site or share your blog post because it’s got such great information.
Pictures tell stories better than words in many cases. And in content, the photo is what your audience will see first on social media. It may even be what grabs their attention on your blog. The pictures you choose need to help tell the story. A good rule of thumb is one image for every 500 words of copy. If you are explaining something and screenshots would help tell the story, absolutely include them where applicable. You’ll also want to use images when you distribute your blog post on social media. Make sure you note the correct sizes and have images that won’t lose their impact because they’ve been cropped.
• Include one image for every 500 words.
• Preview how your images will show up in Social Media. A handy guide to all Social Media channel image guidelines is available here.
• If you’re posting your image and content to Pinterest, use a vertical image and include text overlay
If you follow the guidelines above and write blog posts that are well thought out, researched, written, and have images that align and help tell the story, you will be writing great blog posts. And great blog posts are what your readers want and will respond to. Provide helpful information, dig deep, and become a resource. That’s how content marketing is supposed to work.