How To Write A Blog Post: Your 5-Point Checklist To Rock A Perfect Post
Creating the perfect blog post sounds like a tall order, and maybe laying claim to it sounds a bit pretentious.
Is there even such a think as a “perfect” blog post?
Perfection looks a bit different for each person. What is perfect for your blog post isn’t for mine.
But there are qualities to that perfect post that apply to every blogger, no matter what the final outcome looks like.
Derek Halpern takes the approach that there is a template for assembling your blog post that will make it perfect. He breaks a blog post down in a way that reveals where to ping your reader with emotion, where to prompt them to act, and how to make good use of promises.
We’ve even taken a swing at the perfect blog post ourselves, here on this blog, adding in suggestions on the visual appeal, too.
Both of these approaches could work. There are plenty of methods you might use to write a perfect blog post.
Wouldn’t it be nice to have a final universal “how to write a blog post” checklist, no matter which method you were going to use?
Yes, it would. So here you go.
1. Build Your Launch Pad First
You need to have a good launching pad for your blog post.
You can build a great rocket, but you’d better build it on a launching pad or it goes nowhere. That launching pad is made up of two key structures:
Hook them with an awesome headline.
Your headline is what makes anyone click, share, and read in the first place. This, more than anything, launches your post in front of your audience.
Also, consider your subtitles if you are using a WordPress plugin like Subtitles or its equivalent.
While subtitles won’t show up in other places off of your blog, depending upon your template design, the subtitles can be a powerful way to sneak in an extra reader hook.
Write The Best Headlines With A Free Headline Analyzer
The headline analyzer will help you:
- Use headline types that get the most traction for social shares, traffic, and search engine ranking.
- Make sure you have the right word balance to write readable headlines that command attention.
- See the best word and character length for search engines like Google and email subject lines, while also seeing how your readers will scan your headlines.
Keep their attention with your introduction.
I think of these things as the launching pad because the headline and then the introduction are what gets a reader to actually read your blog post.
The introduction will be something you’ll revisit when you are all through with your draft. But writing it first helps you put into words what you’re going to say in your post.
It might be clunky, but it’ll launch you into the writing of the actual copy. You can go back and make it amazing and full of hooks later, once your full draft post is done.
2. Write The Draft Post
I’m running on the assumption that you’re working in a draft—and leaving enough time to do so—rather than writing and publishing in one fell swoop.
If you are doing this (please tell me you are!), then there are a few things to remember before you send your blog post draft to the next step.
Write all of your blog post content.
This, most likely, is the most onerous and time-consuming step in the checklist: You have to write the darn thing.
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Check the visual appearance of your copy.
According to Kevan Lee, from Buffer, you should be aware of the amount of characters at the start of your blog post and not overpower readers. According to Halpern, fewer characters make copy easier for readers to comprehend.
To address this concept, start out by having fewer characters per line. You can build up as you go into the post, but for the initial immersion into your content, the reader shouldn’t feel as if they are drowning in copy.
One trick that the Buffer blog uses to achieve this, according to Lee, is to use an inline featured image to the right to force shorter character line lengths at the start. This keeps you from choppy sentences but still provides that visually inviting sense that the words won’t overwhelm you.
Also be sure that you have enough white space.
My personal preference is for some larger paragraphs and a few shorter ones, with a few one-liners (see the previous sentence) sprinkled around.
My thinking is that it’s a bit like a dinner plate. You have the meat (big paragraphs), you have the sides (short one- or two-sentence paragraphs), and you have the sips of water to wash it down (brief one-liners).
Too much white space—particularly if there are going to be several calls to action (CTAs) in the copy—can leave the reading experience choppy, like a TV show with too many commercial breaks. The final published edits don’t always preserve that in my copy, so it is something you’ll have to work out with your team based on what your audience prefers.
Check your logic and conclusion.
If you have an editor or someone on your team who gives your blog post a second set of eyes, they will help make sure your blog post flows smoothly (and logically) from the introduction through the problem all the way to the solution and call to action.
If you don’t have anyone to help you, give your blog post at least a day’s rest and read it with fresh eyes. You’ll pick out the logic and flow problems much better than if you’ve just written it.
A word about conclusions: We don’t spend a lot of time talking about them.
Conclusions aren’t as important or sexy as headlines and introductions, and most conclusions are…foregone. We sort of rush them to get to the call to action. A conclusion should do a couple of things:
- Resolve the problem.
- Summarize what you said.
- Suggest action that the reader can take.
Take some time on your conclusion. It doesn’t have to be the amount of time you spend on your introduction, but do make an effort to tie things up and prompt a response or resolution.
3. Get The Draft Whipped Into Shape
Now that you have the draft of a blog post, the serious preparation begins. This is where you take the raw post and turn it into a thing of beauty (and it’s also why you get in the habit of working draft-refine-publish instead of write-publish).
Make sure your post fits your style guide.
Not every blog has or needs a style guide.
If you’re blogging solo, this may be the case. But, even if your blogging team is just one or two, a style guide is a good way to make sure you do things the same on your blog from one post to the next.
If you don’t have a style guide, take some time to determine if you should create one. It makes the final steps before publishing a blog post a lot easier in the long run.
Proofread and edit.
Once your draft post hits the proofing and editing team, things ease up a bit for the writer unless there are changes to be made. If you are the proofing and editing team, and don’t have a proofreader, then it’s up to you.
With a blog post, there are the usual things to consider—spelling, grammar, sentence structure—but there are a few things unique to a blog post not found in other traditional writing settings.
For example, the editor may be in charge of making sure the page slug is shortened to an ideal keyword phrase, and may also create the SEO metadata for the post. They may be running SEO checks on the content, the headline, and optimal keyword selection.
In other words, it’s more than just crossing T’s and dotting I’s. After writing the actual content, this might be the most important step.
4. Create Associated Content
There are peripheral bits of content that go along with your blog posts, and these should be prepared once you have the post finalized. They serve as messengers to let the world know you’ve published something, and come in several forms.
Create giveaway content.
As you’ve noticed on the CoSchedule blog, we like to give things away to our readers. It isn’t a question of if we’ll provide something extra, but what.
That’s why I’m phrasing this fourth step in a way that assumes you are preparing to give your readers something extra.
This is where your graphic designer creates the images and infographics that are going to help your post stand out online. I like to see this step after the draft, at least, so that creating worksheets, graphics, and downloads is a bit easier since there is actual copy to work with.
Whether you prefer to do this before the editor/proofreader step or not (to give your designer more time to work) is up to you, but I would recommend waiting for the writer to finish the draft at least. Ideas and approaches can change from the initial take, and if the graphics and peripheral content are created too early, a blog post might not fit the images or content created by the time it is finished.
Create social media posts.
Once your blog post is ready to publish, you’ll have plenty of pull-quotes, summaries, and graphics that you can use from it in your social messages.
Using CoSchedule, or a similar tool, create unique messages for your blog post that publish immediately when the blog post publishes, and then drip out according to your social publishing schedule.
While some bloggers worry about any form of automation when it comes to social media messages, there’s no reason to avoid scheduling messages ahead of time.
The fact is, most “auto-publishing” isn’t automatic if you’re creating the content alongside the blog post. You, not a robot, are the one generating the content. Simply setting a time and date in the future for it to publish doesn’t mean you’re turning lazy. It means you are more likely to actually share your post more than once (which you should be doing).
Another aspect to creating social media is using a plugin like Click To Tweet, creating easily shared quotes within your post. Whether you do it in this step or in the editing step does not matter, but it should be considered as important as the social media you schedule.
5. Publish and promote.
Now that everything is in order, publish your blog post.
Yes, just take a deep breath and click that button.
And then, promote.
Promoting your content involves those social media posts you created and scheduled in step four, but there’s more to it than just that. Promoting your blog post means:
- Take part in conversations on social media and in the post’s comment section.
- Share it to your regular email list.
- Begin integrating it back into your editorial calendar as you decide how you will repurpose your blog post’s content.
Now You Know How To Write A Blog Post
Every blog post is different, and the end result will reflect that. The approach, however, is generally the same. You can easily spot a blog post that did not methodically work its way down this checklist. It is riddled with errors, clunky page slugs, bad spacing, last-minute graphics — you know you’ve done it.
Follow the checklist. Take a look at the recommended reading for greater detail if you are a new blogger. By the time you are at the end, your post is ready to go.