No doubt you have read both good and less-than-good blog posts. You might now be working on your own, in fact. You might have aspirations that you want your content to turn viral, to help people, to boost your business, or any other objective.
Regardless of the topic, you can’t settle for anything short of “just right.” It has to be as polished as it can be. Before you get ready to publish your masterpiece, though, what does make a good blog post? It actually starts way before you even start writing.
A good blog post is…
No matter why you want to write and publish a blog post, it should have a purpose. Maybe you want to tell your story, or someone else’s. If you’re a business, perhaps you want to promote your newest products, or show off features that a product description can’t do justice to. Regardless of your reason, however, it needs to have one.
If your writing doesn’t have a purpose, it will show. Without purpose, you’ll either be grasping at straws mid-way through the piece, or the flow will meander, making it difficult to read. No one wants to read a thousand words of fluff that leaves them wondering what the point of the article was when they reach the end.
Much like purpose, your blog post should also be interesting. First and foremost, it needs to be interesting to you, as a writer! If it’s a topic that you’re not interested in, it will also show.
The other half to the interest level of the post has to do with the reader. Will the reader find it interesting? Much like being purposeful, a post that at the very least piques their interest will be much better received. Here are a few ways on how to make it interesting:
- Write in first person.
By writing in first person, it makes it seem that you are recounting an experience, which is much more interesting than listing off the benefits of a certain product. For example, if you were writing a post about a new photography product, you might want to frame the benefits as if you used it on a vacation.
- Stay current.
If you’re able to keep your writing up to date with what’s going on elsewhere, you’ll likely find some more interest in what you have to say. By tying in other happenings, you’ll resonate with different groups of people, some of whom you may not have known were in your audience in the first place!When you do so though, take care to toe the line, especially if you’re posting for business. Businesses aligning themselves with seemingly unrelated holidays, national [insert random topic or interest] days, or any other pseudo-celebrations can damage your brand and credibility.
- Find the appropriate length.
If your posts are too long, you may lose the reader partway through. Too short, and you’ll leave them wondering if your post was incomplete. It’s a delicate balancing act, and one that is found through experience, but if you are able to address the purpose of your post and avoid tangents, you’ll be able to find the sweet spot.
- Add visual interest.
Appropriate paragraph breaks, lists and media can help break up long chunks of text. This prevents the post from becoming overwhelming, and helps keep the reader moving along. They act as subtle cues, while making sure that no one gets fatigued by the amount of text alone.
As a way to keep you on track as you write, make a plan. It doesn’t have to be overly detailed, nor long, but it will help organize your thoughts and ensure your post is structured and coherent.
For example, when making an outline for this post, I made the below list:
- 6 factors (purpose, interest, planning, research, editing, optimize)
- Add examples where applicable
- Add sub-topics / basic checklists where applicable.
- Conclusion (mention other writing forms with own practices, note limitations, etc.
It wasn’t fancy, but it did the job! Of course, plans can change as content starts being filled in, but this gives you a great starting place to return to as well if you feel you’re deviating too far from the original purpose.
Even if you’re interested in the topic, there’s a chance you may not know much about it. This is your opportunity to learn more while you write! Research is essential to any good post. Check your facts, find authoritative sources, and be as accurate as you can.
If, in the unlikely case you do get tripped up and use incomplete information, be honest in your edits to avoid any damage to your reputation. Not owning up to mistakes can make you seem lazy and unwilling to accept responsibility.
Edit, edit, edit. Get someone else to read it. Watch for flow, for phrases you repeat too often… the list goes on and on. It’s extensive, though, for a reason. Solid editing can turn a good blog post to a great one. Whether it’s inconsistency in your use of the Oxford comma or you sound a little too much like a robot instead of a person, it’s important to find your errors as your piece will look more polished, and you’ll be a better writer because of it.
If you can, edit it as a draft in your content management system, if you’re using one. Make sure your images are loading, your code renders properly, and that your links are in place.
There are many facets to optimization — attractiveness and search engine optimization (SEO) are two main areas to consider:
Does your headline catch the eye? It should be at most 69 characters long so that it will appear properly in search engine results pages. Does it make someone want to click? Is the description meaningful enough to explain the post?
Have you utilized your keyword properly, like using them as a header tag and in the description? Does it appear in the body of your post as well? How about your link usage or alt tags on images?
For both of the above optimization categories, the questions there have only scratched the surface. Research has been done by groups like HubSpot on how to write a good title, and includes many search and social optimization considerations.
In terms of SEO, other considerations include backlinks, internal links, synonym usage and more. Your emphasis on certain areas will vary, but above all, the first impression of your post — the headline — should be attractive, and your content needs to back up that first impression.
If you’re writing for another purpose (sponsored content, for instance) there is a whole host of best practices that should also be followed, including disclosures, usage of affiliate links, and no follow links. Posts intended to drive action should have a deliberate, clear call to action so that your readers can understand your post and action it appropriately.
Have you checked off everything on the list? You might be ready to hit publish, if you have!