How to Write a Blog – Step by Step Guide
There is no doubt you have heard the term blog being thrown around as a key marketing tool but what is it? why are blogs such an important pillar of the Internet — and what differentiates a great blog from a failing one? We’ll comb through the process of how to write a blog in our in-depth guide right here.
Being a “blogger” has become a catch-all term for all kinds of content creators on the Internet. By now, even people not particularly well-versed in the ways of the Internet are aware of the cultural omnipresence of blogs. They’ve gone from a niche digital subculture to a medium used by everyone from huge corporations and pop stars to small business owners and anonymous individuals.
Many people who use “blogging” as an expression don’t really understand the essence of a “blog” — or why it’s such a great medium. And while it’s not mandatory to know the definition and history of blogging before you start writing — learning about this stuff will go a long way to you becoming more comfortable with the format.
So, what is a blog? Essentially, it’s an online journal or a diary, published on a website. The content you’d find on the average blog includes everything from text to animated GIFs, videos, and pictures.
You can use a blog as a literal private diary, without sharing it with the public. However, logically, all popular blogs are public ones — shared with the general public or an exclusive member group.
If you’re going to use your blog as a marketing platform, it’s going to be public — and widely accessible to your target audience through search engine results, e-newsletters, email campaigns, social media links, etc.
We’ll get into the details of blog publishing below — but for now, suffice it to say that you can publish your blog on a website specifically devoted to it, or you can use content management platforms (CMS) like WordPress, Blogger, Tumblr, LiveJournal, etc.
There are many ways you can structure your blog. However, the most common formats are either a single continuous page, or posts found on individual pages. Typically, all posts are displayed in reverse chronological order — the most recent ones appear to the reader first.
In the past two decades, blogging has become an incredibly lucrative marketing channel for businesses. And with the stunning rise of e-commerce we’ve recently experienced, blogging has become an even more important avenue for commercial promotion.
Today, blogging has become so ubiquitous for online marketing that it’s the third most-often used type of content marketing in the world. And it can do wonders for your business as well!
First of all, blogging is a great way to increase your visibility online by driving traffic to your company’s or brand’s website. Search engine algorithms love meaty, expansive blogs with huge amounts of original content published on a regular basis.
The more high-quality content you produce, the more search engines will index and crawl your website — increasing the chances of it being recognized as a source of information for your target audience.
Blogs are an effective medium when it comes to social marketing as well. If you create content that’s genuinely useful to your target audience, they will organically share it with the people they’re connected to. In fact, Hubspot claims that companies with blogs get a stunning 97% more links leading to their website compared to blog-less online sources!
And it’s not all about the amount of digital traffic you gain either. A blog that contains valuable content will position you as an industry authority among your customers and the rest of the target audience. Once you write about topics that interest them and even solve some of their problems, they’ll look at your company as more than a business that’s trying to sell them a product or service.
Plus, your audience engagement will skyrocket after you start a blog containing relevant content. According to some reports, almost half of all online buyers go through 3 to 5 posts or pieces of content before they decide to interact with a sales rep. If you have the right content in place, you’ll increase your chances of making a sale and raise your credibility even before the sales rep does anything.
The value of blogs for audience engagement really can’t be overstated. In this day and age, connecting with your audience directly is incredibly important. And the comment section on your blog is a great way to do that, while also gauging the general opinion of your target audience.
You can use the blog to encourage people to give you their thoughts and feedback. Also, answering their questions will paint a more human picture of your company — showing people that you truly care about them and their opinions.
Additional Reading : Why your business needs a blog
As you can see, there’s a variety of ways in which you can use blogs to promote your company and products. And it’s a format that’s easily integrated with your other digital marketing channels, like social media and email.
For one, blog content is easily shortened and adaptable to smaller social media formats. A single blog post can mean having ideas for half a dozen social media posts. Plus, not only do you get excellent content for your social media — but you can also use those social media posts to link back to the related posts on your blog.
You can bring people back to your website and increase traffic even more. And social media is a great way to promote your blog to members of the target audience who weren’t necessarily following it before.
The same is true for email marketing — blogging increases the value and effectiveness of that channel as well. If you constantly create email promotions and publish a company newsletter, your blog posts can be a great incentive for people to interact with your emails.
Use the newsletter to highlight particularly relevant blog posts to an engaged audience — you’ll build trust in the company and start positioning it as an industry leader. Also, your blog can increase the success of cold email campaigns by giving interested readers a reason to subscribe to your newsletter.
If you’ve realized the all-around value of starting a business or private blog, you’re probably eager to get started with your own. To do that, however, you need to make extensive preparations — which we’ll tell you all about!
As you might have gathered already, blogging is one of the most effective ways to interact with your audience — as long as you’re sure who that audience is. Many prospective bloggers make the initial mistake of designing and planning their content around the topics that they’d like to read.
While that’s great for a personal diary, writing a successful commercial blog to promote a company or a brand is an entirely different beast. You need to have your finger on the pulse of your target audience, and consistently create content that’s specifically relevant and engaging to them.
Considering that — how do you determine what your online target audience is? In this day and age, it’s easiest to start your search for the perfect persona on social media. The average internet user spends about 140 minutes on social media each day.
And these people unconsciously produce a lot of content themselves — sharing the things that they’re interested in, their opinions, political stances, hobbies, etc. That makes social media the most useful tool for pinpointing the target audience for your new blog.
If your brand already has an established presence on social media, you can start by analyzing the personas of the people that follow your company profiles — and then the people they’re connected to.
However, it’s important to note that social media isn’t the only place where you can find valuable information on your target audience. In the era of social media’s utter predominance, it’s easy to forget that online forums still thrive within niche communities.
And depending on what your company produces or the kind of services it offers, these niche forums can potentially be more useful for your blog than social media. These are perfect cross-sections of like-minded individuals who might enjoy your brand — where they discuss very specific topics that interest them.
For instance, a company selling woodworking tools could find a wealth of information on their target audience by just googling “woodworking forums”. There are tens of millions of results, with plenty of active, community-driven forums where hundreds of thousands woodworking enthusiasts chat about their hobby, share content, and talk about relevant niche topics.
Among all of the search results, make sure to find the discussion sites that are still actively used and regularly updated with new posts. You won’t have much use from an outdated, dead forum. On the other hand, an active one will show you the kinds of stuff your target audience is currently interested in.
If we return to the woodworking example, you’ll find that the target audience is interested in things like:
- Project showcases
- Project plans and designs
Once you’ve got the broad topics which your niche audience likes discussing, you’ve also got an overview of what your posts should cover in the future to spark interest in the right people. Plus, you can use forums and social media to promote your blog once you’ve set everything up and got a few posts under your belt.
Finally, there’s another way to learn what your target audience is interested in — just Google competing blogs. Even if you don’t follow any of them yourself, you probably know a couple of obvious niche keywords which should bring you to the right places.
You’ll probably find at least a few already successful blogs that can steer you in the right direction towards engaging with the same audience. If you’re starting a food blog to promote a specific brand, take a look at what other food blogs with similar focuses are writing about — and just as importantly, how they look.
Picking the best domain and hosting site for your blog is more critical for its success than you may think. In fact, picking the wrong domain name means a huge hassle to change it later on — and you’re almost guaranteed to experience a hit to your search rankings and brand value.
That’s why you should choose the best possible domain right from the beginning. And we’ll give you some useful advice on that — for example, you definitely want to stick with a .com domain.
These days, there are plenty of domain name extensions to choose from — from .net and .org to niche options like .blog or even .pizza. However, .com is still the best option for most companies.
Sure, you may be tempted to try something clever with a domain name and extension — but at the end of the day, .com is the most credible and established domain name extension. And even if it seems like a minor detail, it will bring another level of credibility and value to your blog website.
Not only is the .com extension the most reputable, but it’s also great for reaching members of your target audience that aren’t particularly tech savvy. If some of them are typing out your blog’s Internet address, they’re more likely than not to add a “.com” as a reflex.
Plus, the number of mobile Internet users exceeds desktop users these days. And most keyboards on smartphones have a handy “.com” button for typing out addresses.
There are other things to consider when choosing your domain name — like the use of proper niche keywords. If you include crucial keywords that point towards your brand, you’ll make it easier for search engines to properly categorize your website. Along with great UX design and quality content, keywords are one of the biggest ranking factors for search engines like Google.
If you’re working in a competitive niche, it may be difficult to find great domains with keywords that aren’t already taken — but you should manage to do it with some creativity. Though, while keywords are definitely important, you don’t want to go overboard with domain length.
Just like most things in advertising — it’s best to be succinct and memorable. In other words: short. As a general rule of thumb, great domain names have fewer than 15 characters. Anything longer than that will be more difficult for your target audience to remember.
Also, longer names increase the chances of people making typos while entering the address — you’d be surprised how much this can reduce traffic. That’s why your domain name should be easy to spell, and easy to pronounce.
You want to make it as easy as possible for people to share and spread around your domain name — both in writing and verbally. And if you’re planning to use a professional email address hosted on the same domain, it’s even more important to make it easy to share.
However, don’t let all of these technicalities detract from the main goal; the domain name should be brandable and unique. If you’ve already got a brand name and you’re just creating a related blog, that should be easy enough. Still, it needs to be unique enough to stand out and cement itself in the minds of your target audience. After all, there’s a reason why “Amazon.com” wasn’t named “buystuffonline.com”
There are a couple of things that you need to avoid while choosing your domain name. For example, don’t include any hyphens — these are frequently used by spam domains that you don’t want to be connected to.
Also, hyphenated domains increase the chance of typos as well. Many website owners make the mistake of choosing a hyphenated name because their original one was already taken. In that case, think of something else you’re happy with instead of just going with the hyphenated version of the same thing. Your users may forget the hyphens and end up going to your niche competitor.
Speaking of losing traffic due to typos — we don’t recommend double letters either, for the same reason.
Once you’ve pinpointed your target audience and decided on the name of the blog, there’s one more important thing to do before you can start creating content: the visual design.
And creating an eye-catching look for your blog is essential. When it comes to the Internet, the old “don’t judge a book by its cover” adage doesn’t have much merit. People have lightning-fast Internet and a range of websites to choose from even in the most obscure niche.
With that in mind, don’t expect people to hang around if they’re not immediately drawn in by the look of your website. Sure, you might have great written content on your blog — but no one will even get to it if they just bounce off immediately due to lacklustre design.
Luckily, coming up with a great visual style for your website is easier than ever — especially for blogs. Remember the CMS platforms we’ve mentioned before? One of their great advantages is that you can use them to create beautiful blogs without having any previous coding or web design experience.
This is especially important for non-tech-savvy small business owners; people who have neither the funds to hire expensive designers, nor the coding skills to create a website from scratch. Instead, you just rely on the theme system supported by WordPress and other popular CMS platforms.
Themes represent a collection of visual elements that you can deploy on your blog with just a couple of clicks — immediately giving it the desired overall style. And in 2021, there are countless themes to choose from. In fact, the only problem is that the abundance of choice can be overwhelming.
You can find both free and premium themes — though we definitely recommend the latter. They’re far from prohibitively expensive, and they offer much more functionality and customization options than free ones.
Plus, the majority of paid themes are designed by more professional designers, who make a living off their sales. Of course, not every premium theme out there is worth buying — but on average, they’re the most cost-effective option.
If you’re not sure what you want as the visual identity of your blog, it’s always a great idea to take a peek at what the competition is doing. Of course, you don’t want to use an identical theme and copy other websites completely — but you can use their examples to go in the right visual direction.
And remember — you’re not making this for yourself, you’re doing it for your target audience. So, put yourself in the shoes of your readers. What information are they looking for? There are certain niches that lend themselves to an abundance of images rather than walls of text, for example — like fashion blogs.
Also, one of the most important factors while choosing a blog theme is whether it has a responsive design. This is a term for designs that work equally well across all devices — both mobile and desktop. Nowadays, a website that doesn’t function on mobile devices practically doesn’t exist.
Just think of how often you read articles, blogs, and other text during your morning commute, downtime at home, or even on the toilet — all via your mobile phones and tablets. A non-responsive theme just isn’t worth it.
Of course, choosing a theme is rarely the end of your blog’s visual journey. One of your blog’s most important goals is to stand out — which can’t happen if you apply a stock theme without absolutely any alterations. You’ll look too much like the hundreds of other websites that are also using the theme — so you need to put some of your brand’s own personality into the mix. Beyond uploading your logo, a great theme should allow you to change the fonts, color schemes, and all of the other small details that can make your website unique.
This uniqueness doesn’t just come from the visual design either — it also stems from the functionalities and features your blog offers. Look for appropriate plugins that add these if you’re using WordPress.
STEP BY STEP GUIDE
Creating your content
As we’ve already mentioned, content is king. Both your website visitors and search engine algorithms appreciate original, niche-related, and useful content. Now that we’ve explored the technical, practical aspects of setting up a blog — we can delve into the process of creating the best possible content!
Even if you have a great idea for a specific blog post when you start working on your blog — don’t immediately jump on it. Write it down, and then work on your overall content strategy. If the topic fits, you can devote your time and resources to it.
However, creating an overarching strategy is crucial for the sustainability of your blog. And that strategy will depend on what your goals are in the first place. Ask yourself — why do you want to create a blog in the first place? More specifically — if you’re running a business, what aspect of it should your blog improve? And what do you want your target audience to do once they’ve read your blog?
There are plenty of different purposes your blog may serve, such as:
- Educating visitors on your services and products
- Driving conversions
- Generating leads
- Attracting traffic
When you decide on the specific goals of your blog, you’ll be able to create high-performing content with the best possible topics. And when you decide on a set of goals, make sure they’re quantifiable — that’s the only way to know if a blog is performing well or not. For instance, you may want to get a specific number of leads throughout this year — or increase traffic on your website by X%.
Once you’ve done this, you’ll be able to start identifying the “core topics” of your blog. These are essentially the bird’s eye view of your niche, a set of up to 10 core topics that you can expand on with all of your content in the future.
This approach is also known as the “topic clustering” — an SEO-friendly content strategy that promotes niche-relevant and evergreen content. It’s great because it raises your visibility on search engines by making your blog structure easy for Google’s crawl bots to discover.
If you want to implement this model on your blog, you’ll need a “pillar” blog post for each of the core topics first. This page will target the most high-volume and generic keyword for the topic, like “SEO content writing,” and it will cover the topic in general.
Then, you expand upon this topic with a series of more specific blogs, all linked to the pillar page. Naturally, these posts will also target long-tail and more niche keywords.
Structuring your blog post
Just like your blog topics, the structure of individual topics needs to be meticulously planned out as well. And while all of this may seem like too much planning, it’s what all the most successful bloggers do — it just seems organic once it’s done.
With this in mind, start thinking about how you want your individual posts to look. We’ll talk about the individual elements of your posts below, but for now, you need to remember one thing: keep things simple.
Regardless of your KPIs or niche, you still want the blog to be simple, skimmable, and easy to digest. And that doesn’t mean your posts need to be short — they can be as long as you need to effectively cover the topic, but don’t make them difficult to read in an attempt to seem more professional.
Write like you’d speak — in plain English and as simply as possible. Imagine the blog as a conversation with your target audience or a speech you’re giving.
Make the introduction catchy, but without desperately selling your point right away — and keep your paragraphs as short as you can without separating all individual sentences. Also, use headings to separate your content and make it more skimmable.
So, why are headers so important?
They bring a higher level of both visual and technical value to your content. At its core, they’re small sentences or words that tell the reader what the next couple of paragraphs will be about. These titles make your blog more compact and visually appealing.
In a longer post (especially with pillar pages), your reader may not be interested in the entirety of the post — no matter how engaging it seems to you. But instead of bouncing away to another website in search of specific information, you want them to at least skim your blog and find the relevant paragraph.
Headers make this far easier than a huge wall of uninterrupted text would. With headers, your content is better arranged, easier to read, and more engaging. Plus, search engines love headers as well. Google (and its smaller competitors) all have ranking algorithms that appreciate content broken up with subheadings — and conversely, punish unstructured content.
Writing a great introduction
The introduction to each blog post is the most critical junction your readers will face. If they’re not captivated and motivated to scroll down in the beginning — you’ll almost certainly lose them, and all the work that went into creating your content goes down the drain.
If you’ve properly defined the goals and topics for your blog, crafting an effective introduction shouldn’t be difficult. The introduction will largely depend on why your readers came to the blog in the first place.
For instance — if you’re running a business blog, your services and products usually solve a specific problem, common for all of the members of your target audience. So, you can start your blog by outlining this problem, and hint towards the rest of the blog providing a solution.
Coming up with the first draft
Once you’ve decided on a topic have a great introduction, you can start working on your draft of the main text. And while getting feedback about your stuff is difficult, writing that first draft is even harder. First, make sure that your introduction corresponds to your “big idea,” and then start to develop it according to your planned outline and subheadings.
When the first draft is done, review it yourself. No matter how good your English is, use a tool like Grammarly or Hemingway to check your post for grammar errors, readability, and flow. Also, find someone to give it a second opinion before you post — depending on how hard you’ve worked on a topic, you may be experiencing tunnel vision by the end of the first draft. And you don’t want to miss anything important.
Back when blog posts first began, they were just walls of text — but that age of the Internet has come and gone. With the advent of high-speed Internet and social media, sharing visually rich content is easier than ever — and that’s what people expect out of blogs as well.
Even if you use headers appropriately, people will view your text as dull and unattractive without some images that add visual flair. And the imagery is an essential part of any blog from an SEO perspective as well.
Search engines love blog posts containing images that fit into the keywords that the page is optimized for. This means including the keyword in the image captions and alt-tags.
Also, you need to consider what kind of images you’ll be using. Ideally, all of your infographics and similar visual elements will be original, produced for your website — and a part of a single visual style that identifies your brand.
On the other hand, many blog posts contain photos as well. And unfortunately, you can’t just download any kind of image or photo from the Internet and reupload it as part of your blog post. From a legal standpoint, even freely downloadable images are someone’s property — and need to be treated as such.
If you see an image you’d like to use, check to see if that’s legally permissible first. Many artists and photographers allow their images to be freely distributed, as long as they receive credit. And that makes perfect sense — you wouldn’t like someone copying and pasting your blog without giving you credit, after all.
With royalty-free images, you can use them for free — but you can’t resell them as your own, and you can’t edit them and post the edited versions. There are also “rights-managed” images. With these, you buy a single-user license that’s valid for the specific image.
You need to decide how you’ll be using the image beforehand — for instance, if you want to post the image on your blog, you can’t just buy the license for that and then also include the image in a video; for that, you would need another license.
Luckily, there are also public domain images — there are no restrictions on how you can use these. You don’t even have to ask the owner for permission. And while it’s good manners to still give credit where it’s due — in this case, it’s not mandatory.
Finally, there’s also Creative Commons — cases where the creator has given access to everyone, but potentially with a credit caveat.
In any case, if you want to buy a licensed image, there are websites like Shutterstock that host images depicting any kind of topic you can think of. And if you’re looking for high-quality photos for free, there are also websites like Pixabay and Unsplash, though more niche topics usually require licensed images.
Posting your blog
When you finish all of the work on planning, creating, and structuring your blog posts — you may think that you’re done once you hit the “publish” button on WordPress or a similar CRM. However, if you want to get the most traffic on your newly released blog post — you need to do some work to promote it through other channels as well.
Ideally, you want to cover the topic of your blog post on social media as well. And while the whole point of writing a blog is covering a topic that’s too long for a Facebook post — you can use Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn to attract members of your target audience.
Break up the blog post into smaller chunks — your headers will be of great help here. Then, summarize all of them into one or two sentences each. After that, you can try to develop a question these sections of the blog would answer to entice readers further — and post them on social media with a link to the blog.
Soon enough, you’ll have plenty of new traffic on your website and a lot more conversions in due time as well!