A blank Google doc is the worst.
Especially when you’re a blogger.
But what’s even worse is not knowing the components of writing a great blog post at all. So what if you have the most beautiful, flawless writing ever? If it’s not formatted, optimized, shared and researched, nobody knows about it.
Trust me, I’ve had a blog that nobody reads. Not a great feeling.
I’ve been blogging since 2019 and have created content for many brands since 2017 and it all forced me to understand the critical components of how to write a great blog post.
Here are the secrets!
Goals for a Rockstar Blog Post
Believe it or not, great blog posts all have the same goals.
Goal 1: They give your readers a quick win or answer to one problem.
In just about every blog post you write, you should be able to give your readers an answer to a problem. Do you have to solve gigantic world problems?
Of course not. Maybe your readers have a really small (but annoying) problem and you have the solution. For example, maybe you always spot a common grammatical error in your students’ essay drafts. Write an article addressing this very specific error.
Again, don’t try to solve all of your client’s problems. You need to break your post into more than one post if you can see that it’s getting overly complicated.
Goal 2: They answer your readers’ biggest pain point — always! (And WIIFM!)
Nobody really cares about your journey or how hard you’ve worked to get where you are today. They want to know what’s in it for them: “what’s in it for me,” or WIIFM.
They don’t want to know about your personal life. They don’t want to read headlines that offer an iffy solution to a problem. They also don’t want to read it if it’s too niched. In other words, if you’re writing about teaching your pet ferret tae kwon do, two people in the world will probably care.
So — to sum up:
- Understand human nature and WIIFM. Nobody cares about you.
- Publish content with killer headlines.
- Avoid overly niched subjects.
Goal 3: Avoid bad writing! (Duh.)
Oh, man, finessing bad writing is my full-time job. (I’m an editor.) I really recommend looking up the definition of passive voice and cliches. And avoid both like the plague.
See? We wouldn’t use that. We’d say “avoiding both like a waiting room full of COVID-19 positive patients.” Too raw? Mmmkay, you might not want to say that, either.
My point is, make your writing so engaging that people want to read your posts, emails and devour everything you send.
Be the Michael Bublé of your blog topic! Do it well.
How to Write a Great Blog Post in 6 Easy Steps
There really are only six easy steps you need to take to hit the nail on the head every time. Here’s how to do it.
Step 1: Give yourself plenty of time to work.
Blogging takes tons of time. Make sure you have at least an hour to work on your blog post. It may take you more time (most likely, it will!) to carefully research and put together a blog post.
Step 2: Do keyword research.
You must do keyword research before you even get started. I like to use ahrefs.com to do keyword research. You can compare competitor sites’ keywords, see how the blog posts using those keywords rank and then figure out which keywords actually get searched.
You also want to sniff out the competition for that keyword. For example, the word “college search” is going to be super competitive. You want to target longtail keywords when you’re a beginning blogger. For example, you might want to search “college search for high school juniors” instead. Are lower domain rating websites ranking for that keyword?
If you’re not into paying the subscription fee to Ahrefs, you can go to the Google search bar and type in “college search” and see what pops up. It could be your very next (wonderful!) keyword!
Don’t skip keyword research. You want to make sure you’re choosing the right keywords that actually get searched. If nobody’s searching that keyword, your blog posts might never get any attention at all.
Step 3: Outline your post.
Next, knowing what you plan to write about, outline your article using headers and subheaders. You want to use one H1 (your headline), then a combination of H2s and H3s. Write your headers before you even get started. Make sure they’re based on your topic. Remember, pick one topic. Address one pain point.
Keep your headings on task or you’ll lose your audience.
Step 4: Just write.
Free write in chunks or just write like crazy till you feel like you’ve covered your blog topic well. Don’t worry about full sentences, perfect punctuation, spelling or anything else.
Again, just write.
The magic is in the editing.
Step 5: Shoot for 1,500 words or more.
Your post will be all for nothing if you don’t write and write and write! The longer the post, the more Google will like it.
Google likes pages that are:
- Informative and completely comprehensive.
- Broken up well, with lots of headers (H2s, H3s and H4s).
Google’s pretty demanding, but if you want to gain a presence online, you need to make sure you offer the internet world a long post. If you can shoot for 2,000 words, even better. I even got a personalized message from Michelle Schroeder-Gardner, who runs the website Making Sense of Cents. She personally told me she highly recommends longer posts and when I guest posted for her, she required me to submit 2,000 words. Am I going to take the advice of a millionaire blogger?
Step 6: Ask yourself, “Is my writing excellent?”
Okay, we already talked about this. But I want to bring it up again after you’ve had a chance to write your 1,500-plus words.
REALLY ask yourself: Do you write like a college professor? Is your writing a grammatical nightmare? Does it contain no active voice whatsoever — and therefore, you must change that?
Nobody wants to read a snoozer. (Sorry if this article is a snoozer so far.)
Always, always aim for sixth-grade language. Never, ever, ever say stuff like, “The chalk was used by the teacher.”
Gah. Like nails on a chalkboard.
Bonus Steps: After You Write it, Then What?
Now what? Check out my bonus steps.
Bonus Step 1: Plop your rockstar post into WordPress.
I always use Google Docs to write my blog post, then copy and paste the words into WordPress. WordPress does a seamless job of implementing my copy into the content management system. Yoast on WordPress also gives you some great guidance so you remember to add the following to the blog:
- Alt tags
- Outbound links
- Meta description
- Text length
- Outbound links
- Internal links
Pay attention to those things! They’re important!
Bonus Step 2: Check yer headline.
I love CoSchedule’s Headline Analyzer tool. It’ll tell you exactly how people will react to your headline. Emotion, call to action, juiciness and short and sweet: You need to wrap it all up in a sweet little package. I know, I know — it’s tough!
Bonus Step 3: Jazz up your post with graphics.
Nobody wants to read a full wall of text, amiright? Just like you should break your text up with headings and subheadings, you want to pretty it up with attention-getting graphics throughout.
Pro tip: I use Canva’s awesome graphics to create images for my featured image. What I need to get better at: Adding graphics throughout the text. (See, we can all improve.)
Bonus Step 4: Now, social media.
I’ll admit, this is probably my least favorite part of blogging. But you can’t exist in a vacuum (something I was guilty of when I first started blogging — I was afraid my stuff wasn’t good enough to share with the world). I quickly realized I had to get over that.
You can use something called the Social Warfare plugin for social media sharing. Fill out your promotional copy for each platform, stick a photo in there and schedule it to go out once you hit the “publish” button!
A few pro tips:
- Even if you’re not using them right now, set up all social media platforms in your name as soon as you start blogging. For example, even if you’re not using Twitter or Instagram, you might use them later. Grab those handles early!
- Pinterest. Learn how to make pins that inspire and use Pinterest to your advantage, as another search engine.
- Include a call to action — also called a CTA in the blogosphere. For example, write “If you loved it, share this post” so people do.
- Share your post like crazy. Everywhere.
Write the Best Blog Post Ever
One more thing. Make sure that your blog post has everything to do with your website name. If you write a blog post about Christmas tree decorating and you have a website about independent college consulting, it’s never going to rank.
Are you botching your blog posts? Why not create a rockstar post every time?
Melissa Brock is a 12-year veteran of college admission, founder of College Money Tips and Money editor at Benzinga. She loves helping families navigate their finances and the college search process. Check out her essential timeline and checklist for the college search!
Want Melissa to write blog posts for you? She’d be happy to! Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.