The step-by-step guide to writing great blog posts in 2022

Blogging doesn't have to feel like pulling teeth. Follow these steps (sourced from Draft's professional writers) to create blog posts that delight customers and search engines alike.

excited blogger

As one of the oldest and most popular forms of online content marketing, blogging has come a long way since its humble beginnings. Today, businesses of all sizes use blogs to connect with their customers and promote their products or services.

Blogging is also great for SEO, helping you attract more visitors and improve your search engine ranking.

But what makes a great blog post? Sure, you can assemble a few sentences and call it a day, but if you really want to drive results with your blog, you need to put in the effort to make it extraordinary. Here are a few tips on how to write great blog posts that will engage your readers and drive traffic to your website.

Table of Contents

  1. Set a blog goal
  2. Gather your blogging tools
  3. Brainstorm unique blog topics
  4. Do content and keyword research
  5. Choose a blog format
  6. Create a blog brief or outline
  7. Write the first draft
  8. Create a blog headline
  9. Create powerful calls to action (CTAs)
  10. Optimize your blog for SEO
  11. Edit, preview, and publish your blog
  12. Distribute and promote your blog post
  13. Track your performance
  14. Rinse and repeat

 

1. Set a goal for your blog

Before you even write the title of your blog post, you need to have a clear idea of what it is you’re trying to achieve. Blog goals might include improving SEO, generating leads, or even building brand awareness It helps to ask yourself:

  • Who is your target audience?
  • What do you want them to do after reading your blog post (e.g., subscribe to your newsletter, buy a product)?
  • What problem(s) are you solving for them?

Note that you can have primary and secondary objectives for each blog post. For example, your primary purpose might be to educate your readers on a particular topic while a secondary goal might be to rank on search engines.

Once you’ve determined your objective(s), writing a blog post that resonates with your target audience and meets your business goals will be much easier.

2. Gather your blogging tools

Blogging is more than just sitting down at your computer and typing. In order to be effective, you need to have the right tools at your disposal. While none of these are mandatory, they can certainly make your life easier:

  • Content calendar: This tool will help you keep track of your blog ideas, publish dates, and target keywords. You can use a Google Calendar or a collaborative project management tool like Trello or Asana to stay organized.
  • Grammar and spelling checker: No one’s perfect. Ensure your posts are free of typos and grammatical errors. Grammarly is the most popular tool out there, but the Hemingway Editor is an excellent alternative, as it also checks for plagiarism.
  • Images: You’ll need images to break up your text and make your posts more visually appealing. Unsplash and Pexels are great sources for high-quality, royalty-free images.
  • Keyword research tool: A keyword research tool will help you find the right keywords to target in your blog posts. Google AdWords Keyword Planner is a good option, or you can try a paid tool like Moz Keyword Explorer. Simply enter a seed keyword related to your topic, and the tool will generate a list of related keywords you might want to include in your post.
  • AI content Idea generator: Leverage the power of artificial intelligence to help you develop ideas for your blog posts. Some content creation agencies like Draft have free topic generation tools.
  • Word processor: Even if you’re the fastest typist in the world, it’s always helpful to have a word processor so you can easily make changes to your drafts. We recommend using Google Docs for its powerful editing and collaboration features.

Blogging is more than just sitting down at your computer and typing.

3. Brainstorm unique blog topics

Once you know your objectives, it’s time to start brainstorming ideas for your blog post topic. After all, you can’t write a great blog post without a great topic to focus on. 

There are many ways to come up with ideas for your blog, including our content idea generator. This intuitive tool allows you to input keywords related to your business and generates blog topic ideas based on those keywords. 

Another popular brainstorming technique is to use Google Trends. This tool lets you see how popular specific keywords are and can help you develop timely and relevant blog topics.

You can also look to your competitors’ blogs for inspiration. See what topics they’re writing about and consider how you can put your own spin on it. And don’t forget to check social media, web forums, and other online platforms to see what people in your industry or niche are talking about.

4. Do some content and keyword research

Next, it’s time to do a little content research. This involves understanding what type of content is already out there on your chosen topic and how you can make your own article more unique.

This step is also where you do your keyword research. Keyword research is the process of finding and using relevant keywords in your content so that search engine users can find your blog post.

There are several keyword research tools out there, including Google AdWords Keyword Planner, a free tool that provides keyword options based on monthly search volume, difficulty level, and more.

Once you have a list of potential keywords, you’ve essentially created a list of potential blog topics. All you need to do now is choose the ones that are most relevant to your business and the target audience’s intent. The intent is what the searcher wants to do when they type in that keyword. We can separate intent into four broad categories:

  • Navigational: The user is looking for a specific website or brand (e.g., “Draft.co Login”).
  • Informational: The user is looking for information on a topic (e.g., “What is SEO?”).
  • Transactional: The user is looking to make a purchase (e.g., “Best content creation agencies”).
  • Commercial: The user is looking for a product or service to buy (e.g., “Freelance copywriting rates”).

Ideally, you’ll choose keywords with high search volume but low difficulty to rank. This way, you’re more likely to rank in search engines for these keywords and drive traffic to your website. However, sometimes it can be more beneficial to focus on long-tail keywords, which are longer, more specific phrases that people are searching for.

5. Choose a blog post format

When doing your content research, it’s also important to consider the structure of your blog post. How do you organize and present the content you’re writing?

Here are the most common types of blog post formats:

  • How-tos: These blog posts teach readers how to do something, such as “How to Write a Great Blog Post.”
  • Listicles: These are blog posts organized in the form of a list, such as “7 Ways to Optimize Your Facebook Ads” or “10 Must-Read Books for Marketers.”
  • Product reviews: In these blog posts, you review a product and discuss its pros and cons. You might also compare it to similar products on the market.
  • Interviews: In an interview blog post, you feature someone else as the expert and include their insights on a particular topic through Q&A.
  • Case Studies: A case study is a blog post that tells the story of how you or your company helped solve a problem for a real client.
  • Industry News: These blog posts discuss the latest trends and news in your industry.
  • Opinion Pieces: In an opinion piece, you share your thoughts and feelings on a particular issue.

Regardless of the format you choose, you will need to follow similar guidelines like sourcing stats and expert quotes, finding or creating images and videos, and staying up-to-date on the latest industry news.

6. Create a blog brief or outline

You’re finally ready to start writing your blog post! But before diving in, creating a blog brief or outline is essential. It will help keep you focused as you write and ensure that your blog post is appropriately structured. We’ve already talked about ways to build a brief that saves time and money, so we’ll focus on outlines now. 

Draft’s Outline Assistant can help you create a great blog outline quickly and easily. If you choose to outsource your blog writing, this outline can also be sent to your Draft writer to produce your content. 

If you choose to build your own outline, the basic template you can use to structure your blog post outline will vary depending on the type of post you’re writing. But in general, every blog post outline should have the following sections:

Introduction

Perhaps the most important part of your blog post, the introduction is what will hook your reader in and make them want to keep reading. A good introduction will grab the reader’s attention, provide some context for the rest of the post, and set up the main point or argument you’ll be making.

Try to keep your introduction short and sweet—you can always provide more context later in the post. Between 75 and 150 words is a good target to aim for. You can also try using a “hook” at the beginning of your introduction to grab the reader’s attention. This could be a surprising statistic, an interesting story, or a thought-provoking question.

Main body

Here is where you’ll flesh out your argument or main point. The main body of your blog post should be the longest section, and it’s where you’ll provide evidence, examples, and supporting information for your claims. It’s also where you’ll address any counter arguments or objections.

Make sure to keep things organized by using subheadings. Each subheading can represent a different point you’re making. Subheadings will also help break up your post so it’s not one huge wall of text.

When outlining your main body, take some time to brainstorm any examples or supporting information you’ll need to include. This could be data from research, your own personal experiences, or even something as simple as a strong quote from another source.

Conclusion

Finally, every blog post needs a conclusion. A good conclusion will summarize the main points of your post, emphasize the takeaways, and maybe even provide some food for thought or additional resources for further reading. The conclusion is where you’ll tie everything together and leave your reader with a strong final impression.

Call to action (CTA)

A call to action, or CTA, is also a great way to end your blog post. This is your opportunity to guide readers who’ve made it to the end of your post to take the action you identified earlier on.

7. Write the first draft of your blog

Now, onto the fun part: writing your blog post! When writing your first draft, there are a few things to keep in mind to increase your chances of success.

Language

Write in a way that is easy to understand and avoid using jargon (unless your audience is made up of experts in your field). 

Hemingway Editor is a great tool that can help you simplify your writing and make it more readable. It tells you what grade level your writing is at and suggests how to make it simpler. Generally speaking, you want to aim for a grade level of 9 or below unless you are writing for a particularly knowledgabe audience.

Sensory descriptions

The best blogs use sensory descriptions to describe how something looks, smells, tastes, feels, or sounds. They are often used in fiction writing to create a more immersive experience for the reader, but you can also use them in non-fiction content writing to help readers visualize what you’re talking about.

For example, rather than saying, “The steak was overcooked,” you could say, “The steak was dry and tough.”

Sensory descriptions can also evoke an emotional response in your reader. Ideally, your content brief establishes the tone you want to set for your blog post. Keep this tone in mind as you write and use sensory descriptions accordingly.

Paragraphs and sentences

Most blog posts are divided into paragraphs, with each paragraph focusing on a different point. Keep your paragraphs short – no more than 3-4 sentences each. This will make your blog post easier to read and digest.

As for sentences, shorter is almost always better. Aim for sentences that are 15 words or less. If you find yourself with a much longer sentence, try to break it up into two sentences.

Proofreading and editing

Proofreading is an essential step when writing for blogs – don’t skip it! Read through your blog post slowly and make any necessary changes. Once you’ve finished writing your first draft, put it away for a few hours (or over night) and then come back to it with fresh eyes.

Software like Grammarly can help identify grammatical errors and improve readability.

Writing better blog posts

8. Craft a headline and hook

An integral part of writing a great blog post is coming up with effective headlines and a captivating hook. Your headline is what appears in search results and on social media, so it needs to be attention-grabbing and accurate. In other words, it should accurately reflect your blog post’s content while piquing the reader’s curiosity.

You might have created ‘placeholder’ headlines while drafting your blog post – now is the time to refine them. To write headlines that are both effective and interesting, try these tips:

  • Use active voice: Headlines in the active voice are more likely to earn clicks. For example, “Make a cake in 5 minutes” is more active than “How cake can be made in 5 minutes.”
  • Keep it concise: Keep your headlines under 12 words to avoid it getting cut off on search engine result pages (SERPs). Long headlines can also be overwhelming for readers.
  • Include keywords: Keywords help your blog post appear in search results, so be sure to include them in your headline. However, don’t stuff your headline with keywords – this may actually make it less effective. Instead, use 1-2 relevant keywords that flow naturally with the rest of your headline.

When it comes to CTAs, less is almost always more.

9. Create powerful calls to action (CTAs)

CTAs are statements that tell your readers what you want them to do next. For example, a CTA might be “read more blog posts on our website,” “subscribe to our newsletter,” or “sign up for a trial.”

If you’re in the e-commerce space, you might also include product links in your CTAs. For example, if you’re writing a blog post about the best skincare products for dry skin, you could link to some of the products you sell. By including a product link, you’re giving your readers the opportunity to purchase the items you’re writing about immediately.

When it comes to CTAs, less is almost always more. In general, you should only include 1-2 CTAs in each blog post. Any more than that, and you risk overwhelming your readers. These commonly appear at the end of a blog post but can also be sprinkled within the blog post body if it flows well with the content.

10. Optimize your blog post for SEO

After you’ve written your blog post, it’s time to optimize it for search engine optimization (SEO). SEO is the process of making your blog post more visible in search results. As mentioned above, keywords are the basis of SEO. Other than that, you can:

Use subheadings

Breaking up your content into smaller sections makes it more digestible for readers – and it also helps with SEO. By including subheadings (H2s, H3s), you’re making it easier for search engines to understand the structure of your blog post.

Include internal links

Internal links are links from one of your blog posts to another page on your website. Internal linking is important for SEO because it helps search engine crawlers index your website more easily. It also helps improve the flow of traffic on your website by directing readers to other relevant content.

Optimize your images

When you upload an image to your blog post, be sure to include keywords in the file name and fill out the alt text field. This helps improve your image’s SEO and makes it more likely to appear in search results.

There’s a ton more you can do to improve your chances of ranking on search engines. Check out our in-depth SEO playbook to learn how. 

11. Edit, preview, and publish the blog post

Editing is important because it helps you catch issues you might not have seen in the heat of writing. Previewing the blog post in the context of your website can help you identify glaring issues before going live. Look out for:

  • Inconsistencies
  • Repetitiveness
  • Keyword stuffing (overuse of keywords)
  • Visual breaks (paragraph length)
  • And any other mistakes

Once you’re happy with your blog post, it’s time to hit publish! Depending on your CMS, you might have the option to schedule your blog post to go live at a later date.

12. Distribute and promote your blog post

Finally, it’s time to share your blog post with the world. There are several ways you can do this: 

  • Promote it on social media
  • Email your list
  • Submit to relevant forums, groups, and directories
  • Reach out to influencers in your industry
  • Paid promotion

The sky’s the limit when it comes to promoting your blog post. The important thing is to be strategic about promoting your blog post where you know your target audience will see it.

13. Track performance

Like anything else, you should track the performance of your blog post. This will help you determine what’s working and what’s not so that you can make necessary changes going forward. Google Analytics is a great tool for tracking blog post performance. You can track metrics like:

  • Number of page views
  • Bounce rate
  • Average time on page
  • Referral traffic
  • Social media traffic
  • Conversions
  • Shares
  • Likes/Comments

Related content: The SEO and content marketing glossary

14. Rinse and repeat

The cycle doesn’t end after you hit publish. If you want your blog to be successful, you need to keep writing quality content on a regular basis. The more you publish, the easier it will be to drive traffic to your site and convert leads into customers. 

Some sources suggest publishing as many as 10 blog posts each month. As you can imagine, it can be hard for a single person to sustain a regular blog writing schedule. That’s where a content service comes in. A good copywriting service will help you develop a content strategy, identify topics to write about, and consistently deliver quality blog posts.

Draft does that and more, offering unlimited revisions and a 4,000-word, money-back guarantee. 

The bottom line

Writing a great blog post takes time and effort, but it’s well worth it. The more blog posts you publish, the quicker your SEO results will improve. Before long, you’ll be among Google’s top search results.

Of course, if you already have a full-time job, Draft’s writer marketplace of expert writers can help you produce quality blog posts on a regular basis.

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