The perfect blog post in 7 remarkably easy steps
Back Posted on 02 Jan 2017
Does your small business have a blog?
It seems everyone is convinced your business won't survive without one.
Your web designer, business advisor, hell even your bank's business newsletter probably has something to say about your blog.
But generating a return for your business from your blog is hard:
- Nobody tells you how - every other part of your business is measured and structured so your blog follow a plan too
- Nobody tells you why a blog might benefit your business - everybody else is doing it is not a reason.
This post is the first in a series designed to help you decide if a blog will truly benefit your small business and how to give yourself the best chance of success.
Below I'll share the the blueprint professional bloggers use to create awesome posts - 7 steps that will take you from capturing ideas to promoting your posts.
To demonstrate that this works let's look at the most popular page on my website, a blog post I wrote 18 months ago.
The post is consistently read by around 1000 people each month and has earned a top 2 position in Google for related search terms.
Screenshot shows search results position for a range of queries relating to a specific blog post.
Screenshot shows page views for a specific blog post over a 30 day period.
Achieving a high ranking position with an article that took an hour to produce demonstrates that achieving such a position is definitely possible when you know how.
By following the blueprint you can attract targeted traffic to your website
Let's get started.
1 Idea capture
You never know when an idea for a great blog post will hit you so you have to be ready to capture it immediately.
There are loads of ways to do this from the latest mobile app to good old pen and paper.
The tool you choose does not matter. What's important is that you can capture ideas wherever you are and store them in a central location so you always know where to find them.
- Asana - free for individuals and small teams
- Evernote - paid
- Dropbox - free and paid
- Google Drive or Keep free
- Draft/unpublished resource on your website - free
- Notepad / Text editor - free
- Pen and paper - free
My preference is Asana because it's accessible from any device, can be searched electronically, has a distraction free interface and I already use it for tasks and project management/collaboration. Plus there's no cost for teams of up to 15 people.
The idea here is to minimise distraction so you can focus on writing. Forget about formatting and spelling at this stage, your priority is to sketch out a loose draft.
I like to start with a bulleted list of points the post needs to cover. Then I go back and expand each item until a loose draft is complete.
Your draft should be written before any research is carried out. This ensures it is focused on the points you want to make and doesn't go off on tangents based on anything interesting uncovered by your research.
To draft your blog posts all you need is a text editor.
- Sublime Text free to try, $70 USD for license
- Desk $20 USD from Mac App Store
- The default text editor that comes with your computer - TextEdit if you use a Mac, Notepad if you're on PC
My preference is Sublime Text because I already have a copy to write code, there are no distracting buttons or alerts and it doesn't require an internet connection.
There is no right way to create your drafts, a text editor is just how I like to work. You can use any tool you are comfortable with - Google Docs, a draft post in your Blogging software, Evernote etc.
Once your draft is complete it's time to see what others have to say on the subject.
Have you missed any important points? Can you find research with statistics to support the argument you wish to make?
Any relevant information that strengthens your arguments can be added to your draft at this point.
If you find additional information that is beyond the scope of your post but would be useful to your audience provide links.
With your draft complete it's time to shape your post:
- Headline - grab attention to draw your audience in
- Tagline or Sub Heading - short sentence or 1 or 2 sentences to set the scene for you audience
- Introduction - a paragraph giving an overview of the problem your article will solve
- Body - this is where you build the case for the point you want to make
- Conclusion - bring the discussion together with a final point and main call to action
- Question - if your Blog allows comments or you're active on social media ask your audience a question to encourage engagement
5 Build the post
Now you're ready to load your new content into your blog and begin polishing it ready for publication.
- Apply formatting to a consistent house style - bold, italic, bullets, h1, h2 etc
- Add placeholders to indicate where you need to add images
- Add links to related works of your own or external sources and resources
- Check spelling and grammar
- Check spelling and grammar (yes, twice)
- Analyze and Refine your Headline
- Power words trigger an emotional connection, they indicate action and achievement, or they make people feel they’re right there with you
One of the most important things you can do to put a finishing touch on any piece of content is to add an image.
Many studies show strong visual elements increase reach and engagement with your audience.
At a minimum you will need a Hero image (large image at the top of your post spanning the full width of the page).
A lead image (first image in the main content of your post) can help set the scene faster than words which leads to more people reading the full post.
You should use images to illustrate specific points or support the theme of your article. The results from the Blog Pros study of what makes a perfect blog post support emphasis on visual content.
In the study of 100 popular blog posts it was shown that one visual image for every 350 words. (analysis of 100 high ranking blog posts showed average length 1149 words with 3.2 images).
If you can, create your own images. This adds authenticity as stock images are often clearly staged or depict countries or cultures in which you don't operate.
Do not copy images from the Internet, not even Google Image Search, if the copyright holder finds out it can cost you dear.
- Where to find images
7 Publish and promote
When your post is complete it's time to publish and create promotional material to drive traffic to your blog and encourage sharing.
On Site actions
Start by creating internal links on your own website from related blog posts and product/service pages.
For example if you sell smoke detectors and your latest blog post shows how to change the battery on a specific model, update that product page to link to your new blog post and encourage sharing.
Anything you publish on your blog should be promoted on your social media accounts.
I do this manually but as your blog grows there will be a point where workload dictates it is more efficient to use tools to automate the process such as:
To maximise the return on your effort remember to include reposts over the 4 weeks or so following publication.
Bringing it all together
Going back to the example at the start of this post, I made a few critical errors:
- I failed to anticipate that making my personal notes public would drive traffic to my website.
- At no point did I promote the content on social or any other channels
- Nor did I include a call to action
So while the post attracts a lot of traffic, that in itself is not a business benefit. Without calls to action or the subject of the post being targeted (few of my clients use Exchange, even less use Android) traffic generated is pointless.
- Well written blog posts attract search traffic
- You don't have to hit every point in the blueprint, just more than other posts
- Your blog will only benefit business if it is structured and targeted
- Ask Yourself These 3 Simple Questions to Craft Better Headlines by Copyblogger
- Analyze and Refine your Headline - Want to write better headlines? Check out this tool from CoSchedule
- 11 Essential Ingredients Every Blog Post Needs (Infographic) by Copyblogger
- Use Images (Not Just Words) to Turn Your Distracted Visitors into Engaged Readers by Copyblogger
- The Anatomy of a Perfect Blog Post: The Data on Headlines, Length, Images and More by Buffer
- 50 Trigger Words and Phrases for Powerful Multimedia Content by Copyblogger