How to Write a Blog Post: A Step-by-Step Guide

How to Write a Blog Post: A Step-by-Step Guide

Now that you are on this page, you may already know how indispensable the blogging process is to the success of your marketing efforts. This is why it goes without saying that learning how to effectively start and manage a blog to support your business is very important.

 

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Without a blog, you’ll find yourself experiencing a number of problems such as poor search engine optimization (SEO), lack of promotional content for social, little clout with your leads and customers, and fewer pages that you can use to share lead-generating calls-to-action (CTAs).

So why, oh why, do so many marketers still have a laundry list of excuses for why they can’t maintain a blog?

Maybe because, unless you enjoy writing, business blogging might seem uninteresting, time consuming, and difficult.

Well, the time for excuses is over and this guide is here to help you understand why. We’ll cover how to write and manage your business’s blog as well as provide helpful templates to simplify your blogging efforts.

Let’s get started with an important question.

 

Blog posts allow you and your business to publish insights, thoughts, and stories on your website about any topic. They can help you boost brand awareness, credibility, conversions, and revenue. Most importantly, they can help you drive traffic to your website.

Today, people and organizations of all walks of life manage blogs to share analyses, instruction, criticisms, product information, industry findings, and more. There are many popular blog formats, but here are six of the most common:

  • The “How-To” Post
  • The List-Based Post
  • The “What Is” Post
  • The Pillar Page Post (“Ultimate Guide”)
  • The Newsjacking Post
  • The Infographic Post

So, how do you ensure your blog post catches the eyes of your target audience, buyer personas, and customers?

What makes a good blog post?

Before you write a blog, make sure you know the answers to questions like, “Why would someone keep reading this entire blog post?” and “What makes our audience come back for more?”

To start, a good blog post is interesting and educational. Blogs should answer questions and help readers resolve a challenge they’re experiencing — and you have to do so in an interesting way.

It’s not enough just to answer someone’s questions — you also have to provide actionable steps while being engaging. For instance, your introduction should hook the reader and make them want to continue reading your post. Then, use examples to keep your readers interested in what you have to say.

Remember, a good blog post is interesting to read and provides educational content to audience members.

(Want to learn how to apply blogging and other forms of content marketing to your business? Check out HubSpot Academy’s free content marketing course.)

So, how do you actually go about writing one of these engaging and informational pieces?

 

How to Write a Blog Post

Here are the steps you’ll want to follow while writing a blog post.

1. Understand your audience.

Before you start writing your blog post, make sure you have a clear understanding of your target audience.

Ask questions like: What do they want to know about? What will resonate with them?

This is where the process of creating buyer personas comes in handy. Consider what you know about your buyer personas and their interests while you’re coming up with a topic for your blog post.

For instance, if your readers are millennials looking to start a business, you probably don’t need to provide them with information about getting started in social media — most of them already have that down.

You might, however, want to give them information about how to adjust their social media approach (for example — from what may be a casual, personal approach to a more business-savvy, networking-focused approach). That kind of tweak is what helps you publish content about the topics your audience really wants and needs.

2. Create your blog domain.

Next, you’ll need a place to host this post and every other blog post you write. This requires choosing a content management system (CMS) and a website domain hosting service.

Choose a CMS.

A CMS helps you create a website domain where you’ll actually publish your blog. CMS platforms can manage domains (where you create your website) and subdomains (where you create a webpage that connects to an existing website).

HubSpot customers host web content via CMS Hub. Another popular option is a self-hosted WordPress website on a hosting site such as WP Engine. Whether you create a domain or a subdomain to start your blog, you’ll need to choose a web hosting service after you pick a CMS.

Register a domain or subdomain with a website host.

Your blog’s domain will look like this: www.yourblog.com. The name between the two periods is up to you, as long as this domain name doesn’t yet exist on the internet.

Want to create a subdomain for your blog? If you already own a cooking business at www.yourcompany.com, you might create a blog that looks like this: blog.yourcompany.com. In other words, your blog’s subdomain will live in its own section of yourcompany.com.

Some CMS platforms offer subdomains as a free service, where your blog lives on the CMS, rather than your business’s website. For example, it might look like this: yourblog.contentmanagementsystem.com. However, to create a subdomain that belongs to your company website, register the subdomain with a website host.

Most website hosting services charge very little to host an original domain — in fact, website costs can be as inexpensive as $3 per month when you commit to a 36-month term.

Here are five popular web hosting services to choose from:

  • GoDaddy
  • HostGator
  • DreamHost
  • Bluehost
  • iPage

3. Customize your blog’s theme.

Once you have your domain name set up, customize the appearance of your blog to reflect the theme of the content you plan on creating and your brand.

For example, if you’re writing about sustainability and the environment, green might be a color to keep in mind while designing your blog.

If you already manage a website and are writing the first post for that existing website, ensure the article is consistent with the website in appearance and subject matter. Two ways to do this are including your:

  • Logo: This can be your business’s name and logo — it will remind blog readers of who’s publishing the content. (How heavily you want to brand your blog, however, is up to you.)
  • “About” Page: You might already have an “About” blurb describing yourself or your business. Your blog’s “About” section is an extension of this higher-level statement. Think of it as your blog’s mission statement, which serves to support your company’s goals.

4. Identify your first blog post’s topic.

Before you write anything, pick a topic for your blog post. The topic can be pretty general to start. For example, if you’re a company that sells a CRM for small-to-enterprise businesses, your post might be about the importance of using a single software to keep your marketing, sales, and service teams aligned.

Pro tip: You may not want to jump into a “how-to” article for your first blog post.

Why?

Your credibility hasn’t been established yet. Before teaching others how to do something, you’ll first want to show that you’re a leader in your field and an authoritative source.

For instance, if you’re a plumber writing your first post, you won’t yet write a post titled “How to Replace the Piping System in your Bathroom.” First, you’d write about modern faucet setups, or tell a particular success story you had rescuing a faucet before it flooded a customer’s house. Here are four other types of blog posts you could start with:

  • List (“Listicle”): 5 ways to fix a leaky faucet
  • Curated Collection: 10 faucet and sink brands to consider today
  • SlideShare Presentation: 5 types of faucets to replace your old one (with pictures)
  • News Piece: New study shows X% of people don’t replace their faucet frequently enough

If you’re having trouble coming up with topic ideas, a good topic brainstorming session should help. In the post I’ve linked, my colleague walks you through a helpful process for turning one idea into many. Similar to the “leaky faucet” examples above, you would “iterate off old topics to come up with unique and compelling new topics.”

This can be done by:

  • Changing the topic scope
  • Adjusting your time frame
  • Choosing a new audience
  • Taking a positive/negative approach
  • Introducing a new format

5. Come up with a working title.

You might come up with a few different working titles — in other words, iterations of approaching that topic to help you focus your writing.

For example, you may decide to narrow your topic to “Tools for Fixing Leaky Faucets” or “Common Causes of Leaky Faucets.” A working title is specific and will guide your post so you can start writing.

Appropriate, right? The topic, in this case, was probably “blogging.” Then the working title may have been something like, “The Process for Selecting a Blog Post Topic.” And the final title ended up being “How to Choose a Solid Topic for Your Next Blog Post.”

See that evolution from topic, to working title, to final title? Even though the working title may not end up being the final title (more on that in a moment), it still provides enough information so you can focus your blog post on something more specific than a generic, overwhelming topic.

6. Write an intro (and make it captivating).

We’ve written more specifically about writing captivating introductions in the post “How to Write an Introduction,” but let’s review, shall we?

First, grab the reader’s attention. If you lose the reader in the first few paragraphs — or even sentences — of the introduction, they’ll stop reading (even before they’ve given your post a fair shake). You can do this in a number of ways: tell a story or a joke, be empathetic, or grip the reader with an interesting fact or statistic.

Then, describe the purpose of your post and explain how it will address a problem the reader may be experiencing. This will give the reader a reason to continue reading and show them how the post will help them improve their work or lives.

Here’s an example of an intro we think does a good job of attracting a reader’s attention right away:

“Blink. Blink. Blink. It’s the dreaded cursor-on-a-blank-screen experience that all writers — amateur or professional, aspiring or experienced — know and dread. And of all times for it to occur, it seems to plague us the most when trying to write an introduction.”

7. Organize your content in an outline.

Sometimes, blog posts can have an overwhelming amount of information — for the reader and the writer. The trick is to organize the info in a way so readers aren’t intimidated by length or amount of content. This organization can take multiple forms — sections, lists, tips — whatever’s most appropriate. But it must be organized!

8. Write your blog post!

The next step — but not the last — is actually writing the content. We can’t forget about that, of course.

Now that you have your outline or template, you’re ready to fill in the blanks. Use your outline as a guide and expand on all points as needed. Write about what you already know, and if necessary, conduct additional research to gather more information, examples, and data to back up your points, while providing proper attribution when incorporating external sources. When you do, always try to find accurate and compelling data to use in your post.

9. Proofread and edit your post.

You’re not quite done yet, but you’re close! The editing process is an important part of blogging — don’t overlook it.

Ask a grammar-conscious co-worker to copyedit and proofread your post. You may also consider enlisting the help of The Ultimate Editing Checklist or using a free grammar checker like Grammarly.

When you’re ready to check your formatting, keep the blog elements in mind:

Featured Image

Choose a visually appealing and relevant image for your post. As social networks treat content with images more prominently, visuals are more responsible than ever for the success of your blog content.

Visual Appearance

No one likes an unattractive blog post. And it’s not just pictures that make a post visually appealing — it’s the formatting and organization of the post, too.

In a well-formatted and visually-appealing blog post, you’ll notice that header and sub-headers are used to break up large blocks of text — and those headers are styled consistently.

Here’s an example of what that looks like:

Screenshots should always have a similar, defined border so they don’t appear as if they’re floating in space — that style should stay consistent from post to post.

Maintaining this consistency makes your content look more professional and easier on the eyes.

Topics and Tags

Tags are specific, public-facing keywords that describe a post. They also allow readers to browse for more content in the same category on your blog. Refrain from adding a laundry list of tags to each post. Instead, put some thought into a blog tagging strategy.

Think of tags as “topics” or “categories,” and choose 10-20 tags that represent all the main topics you want to cover on your blog. Then stick to those.

10. Insert a CTA.

At the end of every blog post, insert a CTA that indicates what you want the reader to do next — subscribe to your blog, download an ebook, register for a webinar or event, read a related article, etc.

After your visitors read your blog post, they click on the CTA, and eventually you generate a lead. But the CTA is also a valuable resource for the person reading your content — use your CTAs to offer more content similar to the subject of the post they just finished reading. If you’re not sure how to get started, take a look at some CTA examples.

See how that’s a win-win for everyone? Readers who want to learn more have the opportunity to do so, and the business receives a lead they can nurture … who may even become a customer!

11. Optimize for on-page SEO.

After you finish writing, go back and optimize the on-page elements of your post.

Don’t obsess over how many keywords to include. If there are opportunities to incorporate keywords you’re targeting, and it won’t impact reader experience, do it. If you can make your URL shorter and more keyword-friendly, go for it. But don’t cram keywords or shoot for some arbitrary keyword density — Google’s smarter than that!

Here’s a little blog SEO reminder about what you should review and optimize:

Meta Description

Meta descriptions are the descriptions below the post’s page title on Google’s search results pages. They provide searchers with a short summary of the post before clicking into it. They are ideally between 150-160 characters and start with a verb, such as “Learn,” “Read,” or “Discover.”

While meta descriptions no longer factor into Google’s keyword ranking algorithm, they give searchers a snapshot of what they’ll get from reading the post and help improve your clickthrough rate from search.

Page Title and Headers

Most blogging software uses your post title as your page title, which is the most important on-page SEO element at your disposal. But if you’ve followed our formula so far, you should already have a working title that will naturally include keywords or phrases your target audience is interested in.

Don’t over-complicate your title by trying to fit in keywords where they don’t naturally belong. With that said, if there are clear opportunities to add keywords you’re targeting to your post title and headers, feel free to take them. Also, try to keep your headlines short — ideally, under 65 characters — so they don’t get truncated in the search engine results.

Anchor Text

Anchor text is the word or words that link to another page — either on your website or on another website. Carefully select which keywords you want to link to other pages on your site because search engines take that into consideration when ranking your page for certain keywords.

It’s also important to consider which pages you link to. Consider linking pages that you want to rank for a specific keyword. You could end up getting it to rank on Google’s first page of results instead of its second page — and that isn’t small potatoes!

Mobile Optimization

More than 60% of organic visits are carried out on a mobile device. As such, having a website with a responsive design is critical. In addition to making sure your website’s visitors (including your blog’s visitors) have the best experience possible, optimizing for mobile will score your website some SEO points.

12. Pick a catchy title.

Last but not least, it’s time to spruce up that working title of yours. Luckily, we have a simple formula for writing catchy titles that will grab the attention of your reader. Here’s what to consider:

  1. Start with your working title.
  2. As you start to edit your title, keep in mind that it’s important to keep the title accurate and clear.
  3. Then, work on making your title sexy — whether it’s through strong language, alliteration, or another literary tactic.
  4. If you can, optimize for SEO by sneaking some keywords in there (only if it’s natural, though!).
  5. Finally, see if you can shorten it at all. No one likes a long, overwhelming title — remember, Google prefers 65 characters or fewer before it truncates it on its search engine results pages.

By now, you should know who you’re writing for, have a blog all set up, and understand the basics of writing a blog post. While it’s easy to understand the practicalities of writing a post, it’s difficult to get started on your very first article.