How to Write a Blog Post in 9 Steps (That People Actually Want to Read)

Want to write a great blog post that tons of people will read not just now, but for months and months to come? This is the guide for you.

Writing a blog post sounds easy enough, right? Open any text editor, start typing, and there you have it.

Except…as a writer myself, I know how that story can end.

Deciding on a topic, organizing your thoughts, facing that dreaded blank page for days and pouring your heart and soul into your work…only to get a total readership of 20 views a year later.

It’s not a good feeling.

So how do you write something amazing?

Something that people actually want to read, and that gets thousands of visits each month?

Stay with me—I’m about to cover everything you need to know in this post, from the technical bits to the more subtle nuances of writing and editing.

Here we go!https://www.youtube.com/embed/-kOT39l0omU?autohide=1&iv_load_policy=3&modestbranding=1&rel=0&wmode=transparent&autoplay=0

How to get consistent readership

Let’s start off by defining “consistent readership”.

Consistent readership means that your blog post generates both ongoing and stable—maybe even increasing—interest over time.

When a post doesn’t get consistent readership, traffic coming to it might look like this:

06 SME traffic

That surge in traffic is commonly known as a “spike of hope”—which then rapidly degenerates into a “flatline of nope.”

What’s happening here is that you see a nice boost in traffic when the post is first published and promoted to your network…but this referral traffic fades away soon after.

The big question is: how do you keep that traffic coming?

Here’s a hint: 51% of all website traffic comes from organic search (which refers to traffic coming from search engines.)

Which means that where most sites are concerned, organic traffic is going to account for more traffic than all other sources combined.

Here’s what organic traffic to a blog post looks like when it’s optimized for search traffic:

ahrefs seo growth

That’s all thanks to SEO!

At Ahrefs, we have about 170 posts on our blog and get around 240k monthly visits from search engines.

ahrefs site explorer organic traffic

On average, that’s 1.4k/month for every single one of our blog posts. And you can achieve similar results too—it’s honestly not rocket science.

Here’s a simple 9‑step process to writing blog posts with tons of traffic potential that’s based on the way we do things at Ahrefs.

Step 1: Decide what you want to write about

Have lots of topics in mind? Fantastic—note them all down.

If you don’t, or if you’re struggling to come up with more good ideas, don’t worry. Try this: look at what’s working for your favorite blogs (or even competitors.)

Pop any domain into Ahrefs’ Site Explorer and go to the Top Pages report. This shows you a list of the most popular content on that site when it comes to organic traffic.

top pages report

There’s your inspiration for topics—the keywords and phrases associated with these pages have already proven themselves to be popular, so they’re likely to be great topics to write about yourself.

Another shortcut to content ideas: enter your term into Keywords Explorer and use either the Phrase Match or Questions report (you can also use a free tool like Answer the Public.)

Both these reports will pull a big list of keyword ideas for you.

keywords explorer dungeons and dragons

Now, all you need to do is shop around a little and look for the topics that interest you. Make a list of topic ideas—5 to 10 should be enough to start with.

Ideally, these topics will fall in the middle of the Venn-diagram below:

what makes for a winning blog post topic

Step 2: Narrow down the topics with the most potential

Keep that list of ideas close, because we’re going to filter them so that only the contenders with the most potential remain.

Recap: you want to write about things that people are searching for month after month in order to drive long-term traffic to your website.

One way to do this is by using a combination of guesswork and free tools like Google Trends which shows you the relative popularity of any search queries you enter.

Let’s say you have three topics from the previous step: OvercookedOvercooked 2 and Mario Kart. Enter all three terms in Google Trends and it’ll show you which topic is the most popular.

googletrends

Mario Kart wins!

One drawback, though: while it’s great for tracking trends, what Google Trends doesn’t do is show the search volume of search queries.

So while “Mario Kart” is clearly the winner here, it could, in reality, get four searches a month while the other terms get one. In which case, none of them would be considered to be popular at all.

That’s where Ahrefs comes in.

Paste your topic or keyword into Ahrefs’ Keywords Explorer and scroll down to look at the SERP overview. From here, just check the column that tells you how much estimated monthly organic traffic the top-ranking pages have.

keywords explorer mario kart

This is important to do because some topics may not be worth your time and effort.

For reference’s sake, it can take us more than 20 hours to write a blog post at Ahrefs. If we’re only getting a handful of visits per month to that post, then it’s really not worth the effort involved.

So: weed out the topics with low traffic potential to save yourself the hassle and eventual disappointment. In this case, Mario Kart clearly has high traffic potential.PRO TIP

If you’re blogging for a brand or business, make sure to check for business potential.

This means only selecting ideas that are related to your niche and that might convert a reader into a customer somewhere down the line.

For example, if you’re selling graphic design software, a blog post about “how to make an infographic” makes perfect sense. Conversely, a post about “how to change a car tire”, no matter how much traffic potential it has, is unlikely to bring about results for your business.

Step 3: Check if you can rank

Now that we’re left with a handful of ideal topics, it’s time to check for two crucial things that can hold your blog post back from ranking: competition & intent.

The No.1 Product Mistake You’re Making (And 5 Ways To Fix It)

There’s a lot of confusion out there in the freelance-writing world today about blog posts and articles. Also, about what each of those types of writing should pay.

Recently, I got a lot of response to my call for freelance writers to stop writing blog posts. Many writers were confused about just what the difference is.

So let’s discuss. Because things are changing. And understanding the differences between these two writing forms will help you earn more.

For years, blog posts and nonfiction articles were distinctly different:

Blog PostArticle
Mostly your own opinionYour opinion not allowed
No interviews or researchHas interviews and research from credible experts and research firms
ShortLonger than 300 words
Built around SEO keywordsKeywords not important
Good spelling and grammar optionalSpelling and grammar are impeccable
Casual writing styleMore sophisticated writing style
No editor involved; self-publishedAn editor cleans it up for you; published by a print magazine
Freelance pay rates usually very low; much work in the $5-$20 per piece rangePay rates from $.10-$1 a word and up

Then something happened, and over the past couple of years, the lines started blurring.

Blog-article convergence

Blog posts started to get more and more like articles. As a bazillion blogs crowded the Internet, the bar began to raise.

Blog posts began to have more interviews. They presented interesting data. Posts got longer as bloggers sought to stand out and deliver more value, until 1,000 words has become fairly standard, and 2,000-word posts are not uncommon. SEO keywords’ value lessened as Google cracked down on keyword-stuffed content. Also, as blogs got more professional, many hired editors.

On the article-writing side, there was also movement. Many print magazines began posting copies of their articles online. Suddenly, magazine headlines needed to drive traffic, just like blog-post headlines, and headline styles evolved. They published more opinion-driven pieces from thought leaders. Some also put up blogs where they let writers hit the ‘publish’ button on their own.

Wordcounts shortened for print, as ad revenue migrated online. Some magazines went online-only. Their style got breezier and more casual.

To sum up, the two types of writing began to merge into one. Definitions got squishy, and now there’s a lot of confusion.

Except about one thing: Blog posts tend to pay crap, and articles tend to pay better.

Client confusion

Uneducated clients who don’t really know these two forms have been busy muddying up the conversation about them for years. That’s made it hard for writers to define writing projects and bid them appropriately.

There are plenty of clients out there who call the 300-word quickie posts they want ‘articles,’ but still want to pay $5 for them.

There are also many clients who’d like you to write 1,000-word blog posts with two interviews and a research stat, but they’d like to pay $20 because “it’s a blog post.”

Your job as a freelance writer is to cut through the bull and get to what the assignment really is — then, talk about what that gig should really pay.

How writers can earn more

The fact is, clients are always going to try to get things cheap. It’s up to writers to educate clients about what they’re asking for, and what’s fair pay for what they want you to write.

The good news is, the convergence of blog posts and articles should offer writers better pay opportunities. Blog posts are growing up — they’re increasingly not the ugly stepsister of articles. So they ought to pay more like the articles they often are.

But it’s up to the writer to take the steps to capitalize on this change in the marketplace.

Test article 1

Now that I’m done thoroughly mangling that vague metaphor, let’s get down to business. You know you need to start blogging to grow your business, but you don’t know how. In this post, I’ll show you how to write a great blog post in five simple steps that people will actually want to read. Ready? Let’s get started.

How to Write a Blog Post in Five Easy Steps [Summary]:

  1. Step 1: Plan your blog post by choosing a topic, creating an outline, conducting research, and checking facts.
  2. Step 2: Craft a headline that is both informative and will capture readers’ attentions.
  3. Step 3: Write your post, either writing a draft in a single session or gradually word on parts of it.
  4. Step 4: Use images to enhance your post, improve its flow, add humor, and explain complex topics.
  5. Step 5: Edit your blog post. Make sure to avoid repetition, read your post aloud to check its flow, have someone else read it and provide feedback, keep sentences and paragraphs short, don’t be a perfectionist, don’t be afraid to cut out text or adapt your writing last minute.

Now let's review each step in more detail.

How to Write a Blog Post, Step 1: Planning

First, a disclaimer – the entire process of writing a blog post often takes more than a couple of hours, even if you can type eighty words per minute and your writing skills are sharp. From the seed of the idea to finally hitting “Publish,” you might spend several days or maybe even a week “writing” a blog post, but it’s important to spend those vital hours planning your post and even thinking about your post (yes, thinking counts as working if you’re a blogger) before you actually write it.

How to write a blog post planning stage

Does your blog post have enough circles and crosses?

Long before you sit down to put digital pen to paper, you need to make sure you have everything you need to sit down and write. Many new bloggers overlook the planning process, and while you might be able to get away with skipping the planning stage, doing your homework will actually save you time further down the road and help you develop good blogging habits.

Learn how to write better ad copy with our free guide: 10 Tricks to Get the Click ]

Choose a Topic That Interests YOU

There’s an old maxim that states, “No fun for the writer, no fun for the reader.” No matter what industry you’re working in, as a blogger, you should live and die by this statement.

Before you do any of the following steps, be sure to pick a topic that actually interests you. Nothing – and I mean NOTHING – will kill a blog post more effectively than a lack of enthusiasm from the writer. You can tell when a writer is bored by their subject, and it’s so cringe-worthy it’s a little embarrassing.

how to write a great blog post

Don't go there.

I can hear your objections already. “But Dan, I have to blog for a cardboard box manufacturing company.” I feel your pain, I really do. During the course of my career, I’ve written content for dozens of clients in some less-than-thrilling industries (such as financial regulatory compliance and corporate housing), but the hallmark of a professional blogger is the ability to write well about any topic, no matter how dry it may be. Blogging is a lot easier, however, if you can muster at least a little enthusiasm for the topic at hand.

You also need to be able to accept that not every post is going to get your motor running. Some posts will feel like a chore, but if you have editorial control over what you write about, then choose topics you’d want to read – even if they relate to niche industries. The more excited you can be about your topic, the more excited your readers will be when they’re reading it.

If you're really desperate for inspiration, check out our list of eight blog topic generators to get you going.

Write an Outline For Your Post

Great blog posts don’t just happen. Even the best bloggers need a rough idea to keep them on-track. This is where outlines come in.

An outline doesn’t need to be lengthy, or even detailed – it’s just a rough guide to make sure you don’t ramble on and on about something tangential to your topic.

For example, this is the outline for this post that I sent to my editor before getting to work:

Introduction

[Quick summary explaining what the blog post will cover]

Section 1 – Planning a Blog Post

- Things bloggers should do before putting pen to paper – outlining, research etc.

Section 2 – Writing a Blog Post

- Tips on how to focus on writing, productivity tips for bloggers

Section 3 – Rewriting/Editing a Blog Post

- Self-editing techniques, things to watch out for, common blogging mistakes

Section 4 – Optimizing a Blog Post

- How to optimize a blog post for on-page SEO, social shares/engagement, etc.

Section 5 – Conclusion

- Wrap-up

The purpose of this outline is to make sure I know what I plan to cover, in what order the various sections will appear, and some bare-bones details of what each section will include.

Outlines keep you honest. They stop you from indulging in poorly thought-out metaphors about driving and keep you focused on the overall structure of your post. Sometimes I’ll write a more thorough outline (and sometimes I won’t bother with one at all), but most of the time, something like the outline above is perfectly acceptable.

Whether you write your outline in your word processor, on a piece of paper, or even scribbled on a bar napkin, do whatever works for you to keep you focused.

Do Your Research

One of the biggest secrets professional bloggers (myself included) don’t want you to know is that we don’t actually know everything. Truth be told, sometimes we don’t know anything about a topic before we sit down to write about it.

Hello world!

How to Create Amazing Articles Even If You Suck at Writing

Home » Blog » Content Marketing » How to Create Amazing Articles Even If You Suck at Writing

typewriter

If you read any of my blogs, you’ll know that I write a lot about writing

Why? What’s the big deal? Why am I obsessed with this topic?

On the personal side, I write about writing because, well, I really enjoy the topic.

There’s another reason. When it comes to sucking at writing, I’m right there with you!

I used to suck at writing, big time! So I understand the struggle. However, I had a lot of help to improve my writing and blogging skills and I want to pay it forward to help those who had the same struggles I did!

Writing isn’t easy. Producing long-form, research-intensive, meaty articles day in and day out can be really tough.

I write about this stuff, because I know where you’re coming from, and can lend some support.

Finally, I write about writing because writing is the focus of content marketing.

Content marketing is about written content — words, articles, blogs, etc.

Of course, there’s more to content marketing than just blogs, whitepapers, and ebooks. You can achieve content marketing success with social media, infographics, videos, and live video.

But the biggest impact of content marketing happens through this channel — long form blog content.

Take a look at this. The Content Marketing Institute conducts a survey every year to find out the state of the content marketing industry.

In their 2017 B2B survey, CMI asked respondents, “Which content marketing tactics that your organization uses will be most critical to its overall content marketing success in 2017?”

In other words, “what’s the most important content marketing tactic?”

The overwhelming response:  Blogs.

More than half of the respondents selected blogs as their top tactic for 2017.

image13

See why it’s important?

That’s why I spend a lot of time, effort, and resources telling people about writing — how to do it faster, better, and more successfully.

And that’s why I wrote this article — to help you improve your writing.

The article is focused on a method of writing long form blog articles. I show you the exact process that I used to improve my own writing, and the process that you can use to do the same.

Regardless of how awful you are at blogging, how horrible of a writer you are, or how limited your knowledge of blogging, I’m determined to help you improve.

Learn how I generated 195,013 visitors a month by writing amazing articles.

Do you suck at writing?

I’m not accusing anyone of being a terrible writer! But I hear a common complaint when it comes to writing.

It goes like this:

I know there are benefits to blogging, but I suck at writing!

I totally understand this.

When I first started my blog, Quick Sprout, my writing sucked. Take a glance at this screenshot of this ten-year-old post on my blog!

image23

Bloggers fall into three main categories

  1. Some people have an inferiority complex when it comes to writing. They think they’re awful, but actually, they’re not really that bad.
  2. Some people have the opposite problem. They think they’re writing is amazing, but there aren’t many people who would agree with them.
  3. Some people are in the middle. They know they’re not the world’s worst, but they sure aren’t the world’s best. They know they have room to improve.

Each group of writers can improve. But how?

The most common solution is to outsource the whole deal. One of CMI’s content marketing surveys found that 68% of B2Bs chose to outsource their content development!