How can I write better blog posts?

Writing awesome blog posts is something great bloggers are always working towards, and something bad bloggers have mastered. If you’re reading this, you’re a great blogger.

What defines a good blog post?

What makes a good blog post obviously depends upon what your goals are, but most bloggers generally agree that a good blog post is defined by the following characteristics:

1. It’s useful and interesting to the reader – You’ll get nowhere fast if no one likes your junk. No links, no subscribers, no likes or retweets.
2. It supports your SEO strategy – One of the biggest benefits of blogging is how it can help you get on page one of Google. But that won’t happen unless you know how people are looking for you.
3. It’s done – Unless it’s published it’s rubbish.

Now that you know what makes a good blog post, how do you go about making yours better?

How to write better blog posts

Writing better blog posts is a process of improving your ability in several key areas:

Writing Great Titles: The title of a blog post determines whether the post gets read or not. A good title should also include relevant keywords that you want to get indexed for on Google.

Put the keywords towards the beginning of the title, and try to keep the title shorter than 50 characters. In addition to being optimized for search, a good title should be so compelling that people almost can’t help clicking on it. Three ways to do this are to write your title in the form of a question, begin your title with a number (7 ways to skin a cat) or begin your title with “How to” (How to skin a cat).

Understanding Your Audience: Getting to know your readers is an ongoing process that will never end. You can get insights into what’s important to them by researching your top viewed posts (Google Analytics will show you this) and the posts people comment on and share the most.

If you’re just starting out with a blog, go through your emails and make a list of the most common questions people have asked you (your replies can be edited slightly and turned into blog posts). If you have a Facebook Page take a look at your best content for blog post ideas.

Finally, take advantage of opportunities when you meet people in person to understand what they want from your blog.

Creating Scannable Copy: You should know by now that people don’t read content on the Internet. They scan it, and when they find something useful, they read it. And even then, they’ll read only the paragraphs they can use.

Breaking up copy with pictures and subheadings makes it easier for readers to find exactly what they want. Short sentences and paragraphs is another way to help readers scan your content (try cutting your word count in half). Numbered lists and bullet points also increase scannability. Finally, make sure you use an easy to read font type (Verdana or Georgia) and font size (15 or 16 pt).

Creating Copy People Can Understand: Once people scan your blog post and decide its worth reading, you want to make sure they can actually understand it (duh). Egos need not apply here.

Research shows that writing at a 3rd grade reading level is best so that it meets the needs of all your readers. And get rid of the jargon.

Using Mixed Media Types: Don’t forget about videos, infographics, slides and other types of content. Some people prefer videos, while others prefer reading. One thing I’ve found with this blog is that people tend to like it when I include screen captures.

Keeping It Short: Make every effort to keep most of your blog posts less than three to five hundred words. This makes it easier to create content that is highly specific (specificity also helps your SEO). If you can’t seem to write less than 1,000 words on a topic, chop it up into three separate articles that link to each other in a series.

Posts over 1,000 words are ok occasionally, but just make sure the writing isn’t sloppy.

Getting People To Comment This is a tough one for me since most of my articles are howto (thanks for showing me how, bye!) . That said, people tend to comment on unfinished or controversial ideas. Don’t be afraid to play extremes. Also, don’t be afraid to ask people to comment. How can I write better blog posts?

Kill your need to be perfect

In the end, the only way you’ll write better blog posts is if you simply write a lot of them. Quantity will eventually lead you to quality. So accept where you are at right now and love yourself for being so beautifully imperfect. You’ll not only be able to get posts out the door, you’ll be happier each time you press “publish”.

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Comments

  1. I liked this post john, some great tips there. Do you really have two separate in-boxes for ‘nice/positive’ and ‘hate’ mail!? This is definitely the former, cheers – David.

  2. Great article. Thanks!  My best tips would be to think first about who your audience is.  Who is this blog for?  Then, create a content strategy that assures you’ll be providing content that’s relevant to your audience.  Otherwise, no one is going to read it.  Or the folks you’re trying to reach won’t read it.

  3. This was a really great post and I will tell you why I thought so. It all had to do with Kill Your Need to Be Perfect.  Thank you for saying that outloud!

  4. So what if you write a blog that goes through an editor?  I find myself always trying to figure out what they want from my posts.  It seems that I can never get it right.  Sometimes they edit it so much the meaning and points I am trying to express make no sense.  My first editor was great!  He loved what I wrote and I could show my personality.  The posts were entertaining and informational. The second editor would take a hatched to the posts.  I got to the point where I stopped worrying about the changes and just excepted the fact I was still getting paid.  Any tips?

    1.  Accept the fact that the current editor “has” to rewrite to his/her satisfaction. If it’s not about you, it’s not about your personality either so go with the flow is my humble opinion. Getting paid means giving up a portions or selling out your creativity and personality in some cases. Don’t worry about it – just do the work. Don’t take it personally.