Seven Ways to Write Better Blog Posts (Plus Seven Bonus Links)
Are your blog posts as well-written and effective as you want them to be?
I’ve been blogging for nearly twelve years now, and I’m sure my posts still have room for improvement!
These seven techniques, though, have helped me write better content – posts that command a good rate from my freelancing clients, and posts that get lovely comments and shares on social media.
#1: Batch-Produce Ideas
When you’ve set aside a couple of hours to write, you don’t want to spend half that time trying to come up with a good idea.
Think of your ideas as cookies. It would be daft to make one cookie at a time (think of all the measuring, mixing and baking time) – instead, you’d produce a whole batch at once.
It takes time to get into the idea-generating zone: once you’re there, don’t stop with one idea. The more ideas you write down, the more likely you are to hit on something really good. Once you’ve got a list of ideas, you can simply turn to it and pick one out at the start of each writing session.
52 Headline Hacks: A “Cheat Sheet” for Writing Blog Posts That Go Viral, Jon Morrow, Smart Blogger (you need to join Jon’s mailing list to get it)
This is a free .pdf with 52 different headline templates that you can use to come up with titles for your blog posts. (There were some I don’t like, particularly in the first section – but this is sure to throw up at least a few solid ideas for you.)
#2: Plan and Structure Your Post
I have to confess that, occasionally, I don’t plan and structure my content before writing – and I always regret it. I end up wasting time rearranging sections and cutting out stuff that doesn’t fit.
Your plan will save you time. It lets you map out your post and see what you need to cover. If something doesn’t fit, you’ll be able to spot that right away (instead of after an hour of writing).
Structure is part of planning. For instance, I knew when I began writing this post that I wanted seven numbered sections, each with a “further reading” subsection. The list is a very popular blog post structure, but it’s far from the only one that works well: I’m also fond of the “how and why” structure, as in The How and Why of Working With Your Inner Critic.
How to Plan and Structure Great Blog Posts, Every Time, Ali Luke, Tribe SEO
I aimed this post at new bloggers, so you may find it a little basic if you’ve been blogging for a while – though you might like to check it out anyway so you can reassure yourself that you’re doing everything right!
#3: Write About a Reader’s Problem or Question
Some of my best posts have come from readers’ suggestions or questions, or occasionally from writer friends’ struggles. One of my favourites is my post 7 Habits of Serious Writers over on my other blog, Aliventures – the post idea was given to me by a reader and it was a title that, quite honestly, I didn’t think sounded very inspiring.
But of course I was wrong – and that post proved to be one of the most popular ones on Aliventures.
The great thing about addressing a problem or question from a reader is that you usually have a specific person who you’re trying to help (even if you don’t name them). This often helps you figure out what needs to go in your post – and you’ll find yourself writing in a more natural, conversational tone.
How to Create a Survey Your Blog’s Readers Will Love, Ramsay Taplin, Blog Tyrant
This comprehensive post explains how to survey your readers, with lots of tips on figuring out your goals, creating the survey itself, and deciding what types of questions to ask.
#4: Read Critically
If you write a blog, there’s a very good chance you read blogs too. These can be a brilliant way to learn how to write more effective posts.
Don’t slavishly copy what someone else is doing, though. Instead, read critically. Ask yourself questions like:
- Does this introduction grab me? Why? (Or why not?)
- Could this post be improved? How?
- How did I feel after reading this post? How did the author want me to feel?
A great way to go further with this is to find a post that you really liked – the sort which you wish you’d written yourself – and then write a post inspired by it. I did this in my Copyblogger post How to Write a High-Quality eBook in 30 Days, which was structured along similar lines to a “30 days to freelancing” post I’d come across.
How to Improve Your Writing Skills by Analysing Structure, Ali Luke, Men with Pens
In this post, I take you through a couple of examples of structure (in a blog post and in an ebook) and explain how you could take that structure and use it for yourself – or how you could learn from what you might not have liked in the structure.
#5: Stick to Related Topics
Whatever type of blogging you do, the topics you cover (in the normal run of things) need to be firmly related to one another.
Now, if you’re a journal-style blogger, it’s enough that your topics all relate to you. But if you’re blogging to build a platform or a business, you really need a bit more focus.
If your blog covers real estate investment, novel-writing, and social media tips (as one blog I once came across did!) then it’s going to be really hard for you to build a readership.
Now, most people do have a range of not-very-related interests: I enjoy cross-stitching and I love heavy metal; I’ve also got two young children, so I’m interested in parenting tips. But if I wanted to write about these topics, I’d find a blog to guest post on, because they wouldn’t be relevant here.
Sometimes, there’s a grey area of topics that are related and that could belong on the same blog. For a long time, I wrote about blogging over on Aliventures: it wasn’t until a couple of months ago that I finally started Brighter Blogging, so that Aliventures could focus on fiction-writing and freelancing.
(A different tack here is to briefly incorporate one of your other interests with a comparison post – “The Heavy Metal Guide to Blogging” for instance or “Seven Blogging Lessons from My Nowhere-Near-Complete Cross Stitch Project” or “Eight Ways Writing a Novel is Like Becoming a Parent”.)
Weekend Project 1: Fix a Mess of a Multi-topic Blog, Natalie Webb, ProBlogger
If you really don’t want to give up your topics, this post gives practical advice on tidying up your blog, with five clear steps and plenty of extra links. Her advice on figuring out your ideal reader and finding your thread is great.
#6: Mix it Up
It’s easy to get into a bit of a rut with blogging: you find a post formula that works, and you stick with it. Maybe all your posts are “how to” ones, or they’re all 700 words long, or they all seem to cover the same few points.
While you want to be consistent with your core topics, it’s a good idea to shake things up a little bit from time to time. You might want to approach your topic from a different angle, or do something innovative with your posting style.
You could try:
- Addressing an area you’ve not covered recently
- Writing a long, in-depth post … or a short and snappy one
- Choosing a different post structure from usual (e.g. a list … or not a list!)
- Collating lots of useful resources or quotes, rather than writing new content
- Creating a video instead of a written post
8 Under-Used Blog Post Structures to Try Today – And 24 Inspiring Examples, Ali Luke, Tribe SEO
If you’re struggling to come up with fresh ideas, take a look at this post – and pick one of these great structures to follow.
#7: Push Yourself as a Writer
The very best way to grow as a blogger is to push yourself. You could spend forever reading posts, articles or books about writing – but you’ll only truly improve when you write.
For me, pushing myself means writing guest posts for blogs much bigger than mine. Sites like Copyblogger and ProBlogger have high standards and a huge audience – and I’m really proud of some of the posts I’ve written for them. (Of course, I try to write great posts for Brighter Blogging and Aliventures too!)
You might decide to experiment with new types of writing, perhaps even something that’s not blogging-related — like writing fiction or poetry. The challenge may well help you approach blogging in a fresh way.
Guest Blogging: The Definitive Guide (2019), Brian Dean, Backlinko
This comprehensive guide takes you through everything you need to know about guest posting, from finding blogs to target to following up after you’ve had a guest post published. There are also a bunch of good “pro” tips at the end, so even if you’ve already done some guest posting, you can pick up some great advice here.
If you write a post inspired by one (or more!) of these tips, I’d love to hear about it. Share it with us in the comments below.