How to start a blog post
There's certainly an argument to outsourcing your blog content, but generally I prefer clients to have had a few shots at posts themselves before outsourcing them to me. Committing to a monthly blog strategy can get expensive and I've found that collaborating with clients to find a way to share the workload not only saves them budget, it also makes for much more meaningful and relevant content.
For those of you who've never written a post before, or who have but are convinced it was terrible, there are a few basic elements you can follow to get started. This is not about the high end mechanics of writing the perfect post though - this is for those of you who think you can't write; who think your writing is bad; who feel you never have good ideas, or who just plain old don't know where to start.
Making a start is always progress, and remember you can always get most of it down, as best you can, then bring me in to tweak, tidy the loose ends and bring it home for you.
How long should my blog post be?
There are a thousand articles about blog post length and SEO and image usage and optimising and blah blah. You're just getting started though, so block out the noise, focus on the fundamentals and allow yourself to relax into some structure. Historically, most blog posts can be divided into short, or long form posts. A short form post is generally around 400 to 600 words and contains 1 to 3 images (including the featured image). A long form post is around 800 to 1000 words and contains at least 3 and up to 6 images. There can be some variation on this of course - for example a travel or food piece might only have a few sentences as captions to images, to make sure the focus is on the visual elements of the post; where as a post offering specific expertise in the forms of strategic views or thought leadership will be longer and may include referencing and visuals such as graphs or charts.
Where do I start?
The very first step is to pick your topic. Do not stare at a blank screen thinking up things to write about. Asking yourself a few basic questions will get you to an idea surprisingly fast. Why do you want to write a post? What is the outcome you want to achieve? Is it to get new subscribers? To sell product or encourage bookings? Or is it to build your credibility amongst your audience? What is the story you can tell, that will attract readers and get you closer to that goal?
Once you're clear on what your topic is, make a note of at least 3 main points you want to make on that topic. (These points could then become sub headings as the post takes shape). Any length of blog post ideally starts with an introduction, followed by the bulk of your point in the middle and then a conclusion or a call to action to end it. This should connect back to your main point, and somehow lead to the action you want to achieve.
What does 'write in a clear voice' mean?
Always keep in mind who you're writing the post for. Ask yourself who your readers are and what it is you want them to learn or get from the article. The way you write will determine who accessible the content is and to which kind of readers. If you're writing a post about gardening, you don't want to use academic language. Similarly if you're writing about the latest research on a key medical condition, you don't want to seem too casual. Whenever possible, try to keep the language conversational and be aware of not using ‘industry jargon’ that might be too complex for your readers or terminologies they might be unfamiliar with.
How will I know if it's any good?
You won't necessarily know if it's good enough just by reading it yourself. The last person you should be getting feedback from is yourself. Ask someone you trust to read it and chat with you about it, or send it to a professional editor with specific instructions about whether you want feedback, edits or the job finished entirely. I have a number of clients who now write their own posts as drafts, then send them to me to proof read and tidy up for them before they publish. Getting a document back with a comment or two and a few commas adjusted can be enormously encouraging. As can a document full of edits that gives you useful, constructive advice or suggestions. Finding an editor who will nurture your skills rather than trample all over them is really really important if you want to build your own blog writing practice.
If you'd like to dig deeper and get some one on one advice about developing your own blog content, why not book a free session with me to explore the options?