It's the first question you ask yourself when you sit down to write a blog post: "What on earth should I write about?"
Inspiration is everywhere. Great topics can come directly from your audience. For example, look at what topics are trending on social media, understand how it relates to your business, and see if you can join the conversation in a unique way.
You can find more ideas by subscribing to blogs and signing up for Google Alerts related to your industry. When news breaks, review the comment section of articles to find out how people are reacting to the content. Then, think of an interesting angle to report on it.
You should also write posts on your business, products and current events. Be careful to avoid sounding too sales-driven in a blog as it can detract readers.
When you gather solid topic ideas, use the following tips to write, format and share your content.
1. Put words on... screen.
For some people the thought of writing on a blog is intimidating. You may fear your writing isn’t good enough, or your posts will be so full of errors that people will laugh at you. Writing is a learned skill that anyone can master with some dedication and patience.
But there is a trick you can use this second to write with more efficiency. Always type out the first draft of your posts without editing or proofreading. Just throw down all your ideas and links to sites you want to reference. Then take time away from the piece.
Reformat and read for flow and grammar when you return with fresh eyes. This method will help you write more quickly. If you struggle with self-editing, The Write Life put together a useful list of tips to reference before publishing.
2. Format posts for easy reading.
Have you ever been to a website with an odd font that hurt your eyes? Or skipped reading a post because it looked like too much to read?
These are web formatting problems you can avoid with the following techniques:
- Embrace white space and bullet points: On a blog, people prefer to see more white space and fewer words because it's easier to skim. Break up paragraphs and use subheadings or bullets to draw attention to your main points.
- Put one space in between sentences: When writing online you should space once after a sentence and not twice.
- Choose fonts and size with care: Stick to simple fonts. Also, use 14px or 18px font size for easy reading.
3. Grab attention with headlines.
You may wonder why tips on writing headlines didn't come first in this list. In the sequence of blogging tasks, perfecting and tweaking your headline falls here after doing the writing and formatting.
Why? The headline should be a detailed summary of what the reader should expect from your post. You have a better idea of what your post accomplishes after writing it.
What makes for a clickable headline?
It has power words. It targets a specific group of people and tells them what problem they can resolve after reading.
Writing great headlines takes practice. CoSchedule offers a free headline analyzer to help guide you through the thought process when determining your headline. Resources such as this one can be your guide to write effective headlines.
4. Get people to notice you.
You will have to beg people to read your blog posts until you grow a following. Don't worry, it happens to everyone.
Here are a few tried-and-true methods to get people to notice your blog:
- Guest blog: When people see your byline on sites like Lifehacker or Huffington Post, they find you credible and click through to your site.
- Comment on other blogs: Writing thoughtful comments can bring attention to your own blog. Just remember, what you say should be relevant and add a new perspective to be noticed.
- Post at the right time: If you have access to any metric tracking platform, monitor when your audience views your blogs the most, and post according to that schedule.
- Share on social media: Share your posts on your other social media accounts. This allows for greater reach.
5. Find out what works for you.
Making efforts and seeing what sticks is the name of the blogging game. Once you have a few posts under your belt, you will find your writing voice and learn what topics and headlines attract your audience’s interest. Plus, you'll discover the methods of sharing and promoting that will bring the most traffic to your blog.
Do you have any blog writing and promoting tips that work for your business? Share with us below.
Disclaimer: Please note that this is not all-inclusive. Our guidance is designed only to give general information on the issues covered. It is not intended to be a comprehensive summary of all laws which may apply to your situation, treat exhaustively the subjects covered, provide legal advice, or render a legal opinion. Consult your legal advisor regarding the specific application of the information to your plan.
Editors Note: This post was originally published in March 2015 and has been updated for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness.