How to Write the Best Blog Posts That Will Grow Your Influence

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How to Write the Best Blog Posts That Will Grow Your Influence in 15 Steps 76

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How to Write the Best Blog Posts That Will Grow Your Influence in 15 Steps

Writing the perfect blog post sounds like a tall order, and maybe laying claim to it sounds a bit pretentious.

Is there even such a thing as a ‚Äúperfect‚ÄĚ 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 effective content that apply to every marketer and blogger, no matter what the final outcome looks like.

Wouldn‚Äôt it be nice to have a thorough ‚Äúhow to write a blog post‚ÄĚ process to follow?

Yes, it would.

In this post, you’ll learn how to write¬†comprehensive blog posts.

That means well-researched and in-depth posts that thoroughly cover your given topic. The kind of stuff that establishes you as a topical authority and brings in non-stop traffic.

Everyone wants to create awesome evergreen content that keeps visitors coming back. The problem is that it isn’t easy to write¬†content that gets those kinds of results. It’s even less easy when your time is limited.

However, the extra effort required is often rewarded.

If you’re ready to take your blogging and content writing skills to the next level, this post is for you. You’ll walk through the entire process from end to end, from generating an idea to editing the final piece.¬†By the time you’re done, you’ll be prepared to write highly authoritative posts that leave no stone unturned and no detail unaccounted for.

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How to Write a Comprehensive Blog Post in 15 Steps - Infographic

How To Get Organized To Write A Blog Post

Getting organized isn't necessarily the fun part of writing.

However, getting organized now will help you get more done later. Here are a handful of tips and ideas to help you make the most of your limited working time.

Choose An Optimal Workspace

Different writers work differently.

If you're working in an office environment, you may or may not have flexibility on where you get your writing done.

However, if you have the option, it's worth working in different types of spaces to find what suits you.

Whether you prefer busy coffee shops or a quiet corner space in your office, being in the right environment can make a positive impact on your productivity.

Use the Right Tools for the Job

You probably use a wide variety of tools in your blog writing workflow.

Here are a few ways to make sure you always have quick access to what you need.

  1. Add web tools and services to your browser bookmarks bar. This might include WordPress, Evernote, Google Analytics, Google Docs, and others.
  2. Carry a notepad and paper wherever you go. Or, use a note-taking app like Simplenote or Google Keep to jot down ideas on the fly.
  3. Keep your blog calendar organized. Spreadsheets are free. Apps like CoSchedule are better.

Word Processor Options For The Easily Distracted

If you need help avoiding digital distractions, consider using a minimalist word processor. They block out everything on your screen except your words. Here are some popular options:

  1. FocusWriter (Mac, Windows, Linux - free or optional donation)
  2. Write! (Windows - free)
  3. Writer (Chrome - paid)
  4. WriteBox (Chrome, iOS - free or paid)
  5. Calmly Writer (Chrome - free)
  6. Ulysses (Mac, iOS - paid)

Here is a screenshot of Focus Writer in action. It features several different selectable background themes.

Write For Your Audience (Not For Everybody)

Surly Brewing, an excellent craft brewery in Minneapolis, follows the philosophy that "beer for everyone is beer for no one." They know who their customers are, and they don't try to make anyone else happy. As a result, they're one of the most well-respected breweries in the Twin Cities.

Marketers and bloggers can follow a similar approach to become a real topical authority.

Keep your audience in mind when you're writing. Think about what they'd want to read and understand why they'd want to read it. This is where audience surveys and paying attention to your social media followers comes in handy.

Consider Developing Simple Reader Personas

A persona is a simple description of your target audience.

They can be documented using a Word doc or PowerPoint deck.

Here is what a completed persona might include:

What Data Should a Persona Include?

Pro Tip: Know who you're writing for. Also, know who you're not writing for. Never confuse one for the other

How To Generate Blog Post Ideas

It isn't easy to consistently come up with content ideas your readers will love. However, here are some guidelines to follow to help you come up with more ideas, more quickly.

Determine Which Types of Blog Posts You Might Write

Here are some common types of blog posts to consider:

  • How-To: Educational posts that help readers complete a task or solve a problem.
  • Comparison: Contrast two different products with one another.
  • News: Share your latest updates and current events.
  • Product: Directly sell the benefits of your product.
  • Recap: Share a video recording from a webinar, or summarize a recent event.

How To Do A 30-Minute Blog Post Brainstorm

Brainstorming with a team is one of the most efficient ways to generate blog post ideas. Plus, it doesn't have to take too long, either. Follow this process to generate tons of ideas quick:

  1. Spend five minutes having each team member write down as many ideas as they can think of on Post-It notes. Don't worry about quality at this point. Just focus on getting ideas down on paper.
  2. Once your five minutes is up, put all your ideas up on a wall.
  3. As a team, say each idea out loud, and quickly rate each one a 1 (poor), 2 (average), or 3 (awesome). Don't think too much about each one. Just go with your gut and quickly score each idea.
  4. Take all your 3's and add those ideas to your content calendar. Throw away all your 1's, and consider setting aside your 2's for a later date.

30 Minute Blog Brainstorming Process

By the time you're done, you'll have a mountain of ideas to work with. Plus, by getting multiple team members involved, you'll likely come up with more diverse and innovative ideas.

Pro Tip: If you're working alone, you can still use this process to generate ideas. Just make sure you're honest with yourself and don't score everything a 3. Separate wheat from chaff and only work on your best concepts.

Run A Survey To Learn More About Your Audience

Running an online survey or poll is an excellent way to do audience research and gather original data. Survey Monkey and Polldaddy are both easy to use tools just for this purpose (we use Polldaddy here at CoSchedule).

Follow these steps to run a survey:

  1. Create a free account with Polldaddy or Survey Monkey.
  2. Write your questions. Think about what you want to know specifically. Avoid open-ended questions.
  3. Promote your survey. Include a link in social media posts, email newsletters, and anywhere else you can get the word out.

Follow these steps to make use of your data:

  1. Take some time to sort through your results and analyze your findings.
  2. Identify common themes and patterns in your responses.
  3. Create a list of recurring problems your audience has or questions they want to be answered.

By the time you're done, you'll have a solid understanding of what your readers want. You'll also have a good idea of who your real audience is (and we'll touch on that more later).

Note: For more in-depth tips on how to set up and run effective surveys, follow these helpful guides and resources from Survey Monkey.

Ask Your Social Media Audience

This is probably the simplest and most direct way to get feedback for your idea. If you get a strong level of engagement, you'll know your audience is interested in your topic. You can also incorporate their questions and comments into your post.

Pro Tip: Even if your audience isn't talking about something right now, that doesn't mean they wouldn't be interested in reading about it. Sometimes, we don't know what information we really need, because we don't know which questions we should be asking. If you can find something that answers a question readers didn't know they had, your content is in a good position to shine.

Validate Your Ideas With Keyword Research

There are many quality keyword research tools on the market. Ahrefs is a favorite here at CoSchedule. Moz and Keyword Studio also offer quality options.

But, what if you're working on a budget? Don't overlook the Google Keyword Research Tool. Even if you use other tools, it can still be useful for generating ideas.

1.) Create an account. Even if you're not paying to run any ads, you do have an Adwords account, right?

2.) Select the first option pictured below:

3.) Enter a keyword or topic:

 

4.) You'll now have a complete list of ideas and monthly search volumes.

 

5.) You've now taken one broad topic and spun off over 760 possible keywords.

Check Google Trends

Google Trends is a handy tool for seeing how often a topic is getting written about. Here's how it works:

1.) Enter a topic you might want to write about:

Explore What the World is Searching

2.) The graph will show how much interested there is around your topic:

How To Narrow Your Focus & Get Specific On A Topic

To create a post that's both comprehensive and useful, you need to go in-depth on a narrowly defined subject. This means pinpointing one specific idea with laser-like focus.

For example, let's say you manage a blog about car maintenance. This could be a personal blog, or you might manage this blog for a company in the automotive industry. In this instance, something like "How To Take Care Of Your Car" would be an extremely broad topic you could cover.

However, a better question to ask might be, "What specifically could I write about when it comes to car maintenance?" A hypothetical short list might look like this:

  • How To Choose The Right Snow Tires For Winter Driving
  • How¬†To Stop Pets From Destroying Your Seat Cushions
  • 20 Maintenance Tips For Classic Car Engines

Follow these steps to refine your idea into something super-specific people want to read:

  1. Start with a broad topic. For example, winter driving.
  2. Determine a specific point or aspect of that topic you'll cover. That might be something like road safety during bad weather.
  3. Refine that idea down into a very specific angle. Ex: How to Choose the Best Snow Tires to Stay Safe in Winter.

Make Sure Your Idea or Angle is Unique

Are you simply rehashing other people's content? If so, step back and think what you can do differently than your competition.

Take a look at some other posts on your topic and ask yourself these questions:

  • Is there any information missing from these posts?
  • Could there be another angle or perspective I can bring to this topic that no one else can?
  • Are there specific types of content, like videos or infographics, I could add to make my post more compelling?

Once you've answered these questions, you'll have a clear picture of how to make your blog post unique.

Pro Tip: Sometimes making your post better just means making your post different. If there are nine posts on the first page of Google that all say about the same things, consider what you can add. There's a glut of content out there, and repeating what has already been said just adds to the noise. Cut through that noise with a fresh perspective and original insight to provide unique value.

Basic Blog Post Ideation Tips

  • Think about what kind of content you'd want to read yourself. This is the simplest place to start.
  • Scan other blogs and news sources in your niche to see what they're covering. Then, add a unique spin or your own perspective.
  • Visit forums or Reddit to see which questions folks in your niche or industry are asking. Then, think of posts you could write to answer those questions.
  • Listen to your audience. Pay attention to what readers say in blog comments, and what they tell your customer service team (if your company or organization has one). That will give you a good idea of what they want to read.
  • Check your social media feeds and see what relevant discussions are currently trending. This is as simple as paying attention to what you're being told and engaging in conversation with readers. Common questions and themes will emerge. It's your job to create content that provides answers.
  • Jog your creativity with these 189+ post ideas.

How To Do Research For Your Post

Once you have your idea solidified, it's time to go deep on your research.

In most cases, you can find what you need with nothing more than a search engine (most likely Google or Bing). However, if you really want to take your research to the next level, it might be worth going beyond the Google search box.

Remember, the Internet is a big place. You've got a lot of resources at your fingertips, and depending on what your blog is about, there may be other useful research tools out there for you.

Get Started With Some General Research Tips

Here are some basic things to remember when doing any kind of serious online research:

3 Blogging Research Tips

  • Avoid referencing Wikipedia unless you have no other options. Wikipedia is awesome, and we all use it for personal purposes.¬†However, it isn't a reliable source for anything professional.
  • Cross-reference sources to verify any¬†information you're unsure about.
  • Support your blog post with facts and not assumptions. Opinions are harder to refute when they're backed up by verified information.
  • Know the difference between soft research and hard research. According to About.com, soft research relates to topics that are "subjective, cultural, and opinion-based." Hard research, however, refers to "scientific and objective research, where proven facts, figures, statistics,¬†and measurable evidence are absolutely critical."

Use Advanced Google Search Operators

If you're familiar with advanced Google search operators, then you know how helpful they can be.

They're best understood as the punctuation you include in a search term to help the search engine understand exactly what you're looking for. For example, they can be used to search for results only within a single site, or for sites that only contain certain terms.

Here's a short list of useful search operators to help you do detailed searches on Google:

Search Specific Site: site:[URL] [Search Term]

Or, Look For Related Sites: related:[URL] [Search Term]

Comparing Multiple Terms: [Search Term 1] OR [Search Term 2]

Get Info About A Website: info:[URL]

Pro Tip: If you're looking for more advanced search operators, this search operator guide should be all you need.

Consider Using Wolfram Alpha

Wolfram Alpha is an extremely powerful research tool. It's like an encyclopedia, calculator, and search engine all rolled into one. To use their own words, it works "by doing dynamic computations based on a vast collection of built-in data, algorithms, and methods." In plain English, it's useful for calculating and comparing differences between different topics and pieces of data.

Here are some things Wolfram Alpha can do:

  • Compare statistics between two websites
  • Find exact nutritional information for any food item¬†(this is particularly useful for food bloggers)
  • Chart all your friends' connections on Facebook
  • Compare complex financial data
  • Calculate probabilities

This is just a short list of possibilities. If you really want to leverage what Wolfram Alpha can do, start with their tour of the basics. This video from founder Stephen Wolfram himself offers a good introduction:

Don't Forget About Online Archives, Libraries, & Research Tools

There are tons of useful archives and databases out there, especially if your blog has an academic focus. Consider the following:

Think beyond obvious sources to find information that hasn't already been repeated a million times elsewhere on the web.

How To Write Your Post Outline

Outlines help you cover every detail to make sure you publish comprehensive content that solves all of your readers' challenges with the topic. They make sure you don't miss anything while also keeping you from going too detailed.

Writing without an outline is like driving without a map (or to use a more modern metaphor, your smartphone). You'll be fine if you're going a short distance. If you're going to be covering a lot of ground, however, you need to know where you're going. Otherwise, you're likely to get lost, waste time, and probably yell.

Establish Your Post Sections

In most cases, this simply entails listing your introduction, and then your subsequent section headings. Each heading should represent a main point you want to elaborate on. Here's what a simple outline structure could look like:

It doesn't need to complicated. It just needs to be quick to put together and effective in guiding your writing flow.

Tip: Let's say you did some awesome keyword research to find your main focus keyword for your post. If you have some other related keywords, however, consider including them in your subheadings, as appropriate. This can help you capture additional search engine traffic. Also, since those keywords are getting search volume too, it lets you know they're also words your audience is using when looking up your topic.

Add Bullets & Sub-Points

Once you've established each section of your post, it's time to drill down even deeper into your sub-points. Identify which points you'll cover, underneath each section heading.

Now, your outline might look something like this (this is an actual outline I wrote for this post):

Tip: If possible, get a team member to brainstorm additional ideas for your outline. They might be able to help identify gaps and contribute valuable insights that will make your blog post better.

Write (At Least) 20 - 30 Headlines

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.

Some catchy blog title formulas include:

  1. List: 21+ Ways To {Do Something} That Will {Produce Desirable Effect}
  2. How to: How To Make A {Thing} To {Produce Desirable Effect}
  3. Question: What Can {Thing} Teach You About {Unrelated Thing}?
  4. Controversy: Would You Do {Unimaginable Thing}? I Just Did.
  5. Numbers: 105 Easy Ways To {Do Something} That Will Skyrocket By 206% In 1 Year

Your headline should capture the subject and the value proposition. That means you'll include your keyword and the benefit your readers will get when they read your blog post

Write at least 20 to 30 different headline options. Some of them will be junk. Try to narrow it down to just one you'll use. You might also choose a few alternate headlines to test in social media posts.

Here are some more quick tips for writing headlines:

4 Headline Writing Tips for Bloggers

  • Use adjectives to illustrate action.
  • Incorporate emotional language to hook reader interest.
  • Remember the most important words in your headline are the first three and the last three. That's why the best headlines are often just six or seven words long.
  • Use our Headline Analyzer to write and refine your headline options:

Screen capture of the Headline Analyzer

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How To Write 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.

Here are some tips to build your introduction:

  1. Value: Think of your unique angle for the blog post. Like your headline, share the value your readers will get if they continue to read your blog post. One way to think about this is with the classic marketing technique, WIIFM, otherwise known as what's in it for me?
  2. Fact: Start with an interesting fact or stat about the content within your blog post. Alternatively, you could start with a fact or story that may seem unrelated, but tie it in through the introduction.
  3. Anecdote: What is a personal opinion you hold as true that could catch your readers' attention?
  4. Question: Ask a question to help your readers understand the answer is covered throughout your blog post. What if kinds of questions work well for this: What if you never had to worry about {something} ever again?

How To Write The Body Of Your Blog Post

Ideally, your introduction should have set the stage for your body content to shine.

Follow Your Outline

Follow your outline to ensure your posts follows a logical flow from start to finish.

Feel free to make changes, but if you frequently find yourself deviating from your outline, it could be your idea needs a little more polish before it's ready.

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Keep Paragraphs Relatively Short

Paragraphs in a blog post should be brief and to the point.

Where appropriate, use single sentences to add punch behind statements (see above). Keep paragraphs down to two or three sentences for crispness and clarity (and avoid more than five at the most).

This will keep your writing easy to read and skim through.

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Add Descriptive Headings To Each Section

Give each section a descriptive heading.

This is a good time to take the headings from your outline and turn them into something more attention-grabbing.

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Here are some tips for writing sub-headings:

  • Make sure the reader knows what to expect in each section. Creativity is great. Clarity is better.
  • Consider adding unique value propositions throughout your headings. For example, instead of saying¬†"How To Change Your Own Motor Oil", you could write something like, "How To¬†Change Your Own Oil & Save $30"

Add Relevant Points To Support Each Heading

Beneath each heading, you should have several sub-points that support the section's theme or idea.

Take each bullet point you put beneath each heading in your outline. Then, add a few paragraphs on each one in the appropriate section. If you get on a roll and uncover more relevant information, add it into your post.

Summary: Let's pull this all together to ensure you're equipped to write awesome body content for your blog post.

  1. Each main point in your outline is a sub-heading.
  2. Each sub-heading should be supported by facts and relevant information. Consider adding at least two or three paragraphs for each bullet point, beneath each sub-heading, from your outline.
  3. Where appropriate, use links to other posts and research materials to support your post.

This simple yet effective process will ensure your post follows a logical structure.

Wrap It All Up With A Strong Conclusion

A good conclusion should tie your blog post together.

At the most basic level, your conclusion should do the following:

  • Summarize the main point of your post.
  • Recap what your reader should have learned.

That's it. However, if you want to make your conclusion more helpful, consider taking these steps:

  • Add links to additional resources for further reading.
  • End with an action your reader should take.
  • Leave your reader with an interesting quote or one last point to think about.

Recommended Reading: How To Write A Blog Post: Your 5-Point Checklist To Rock A Perfect Post

Go The Extra Mile With These Additional Writing Tips

Here are some tips to add value to your blog writing process.

Don't Worry (Too Much) About Length

If your goal is to write a comprehensive blog post, then the best length is however long it takes to say everything you need to about your topic. While studies show posts around 1,500 words rank best in search engines, your post might be dramatically longer than that if you're really going all-in on going in-depth. On the flip side, it could be shorter too, depending on how long it takes to exhaust your topic.

Forget words counts. Focus on being thorough instead.

Pro Tip: The more narrowly defined your topic, the easier it'll be to complete your post within a reasonable length. If your post is running longer than what you think people will actually read, it could be that your topic is too broad. If that's the case, however, you might be able to turn your blog post into an eBook or white paper.

Make Sure Your Content Is Actionable (If You're Writing A How-To Post)

If you tell readers to do something, but don't follow through on instructing them how to do it, they might leave your blog feeling frustrated. This a common and self-defeating trap for how-to blogs.

That's why it's important to give your reader all the information they need to perform a given task, or develop a complete understanding of your topic.

Here are a few tips to keep in mind if you write how-to content:

  • If you can't assume your reader knows something, then spell it out. Walk them through what you expect them to do.
  • Link to additional resources that might help the reader complete each step. For example, if you're writing about how to use a product or service, you could link to their official support documentation. Just make sure you at least cover the "what" and the "why" in your own copy before linking to the "how" elsewhere.
  • Sometimes, a picture really is worth a thousand words. If something is difficult to explain using words alone, consider including screenshots. Skitch and iAtHome are both useful screenshot tools for Mac users, while PicPick is a good option for Windows.
  • If you have time to shoot a simple video, consider putting one together so you can show readers how to do something. Alternately, you might be able to find a good related video on YouTube that you can embed in your post. Here's a good example:

Pro Tip:  When writing how-to content, don't underestimate the power of bulleted or numbered lists. If you think readers might need step-by-step guidance to complete a task, then walk them through everything (within reason). Your posts will be stronger and your audience will be happier.

Be Authentic With Everything You Write

Write what you really believe. Don't put anything out there you don't think you or your company can stand behind. You'll be more confident about what you write.

Authenticity isn't something you can fake and it's not something you can leverage for status. All it takes is writing what you believe to be true, and being willing to defend it in the court of public opinion.

How To Create Visual Content To Keep Readers Interested

It's hard to read long blog posts with nothing but walls of text. They also look ... well, pretty boring.

While this is a post about the writing process for blog posts, let's touch on a few points about graphics and images.

Working With A Designer

If you work with a designer, this is the point in the process where they'll work their magic. Here are some tips to make this process easier:

3 Design Collaboration Tips for Bloggers

  • While you're writing, think about what kinds of graphics your post will need.
  • Add notes in your draft indicating where your designer should add graphics.
  • Be realistic about what a designer can and cannot do within the time and budget you have available.

Adding Graphics & Photos

However, if you're working alone and don't have design skills, you're not out of luck. Try some of these ideas:

  • We talk a lot about Canva, Piktochart, and Infogr.am on the CoSchedule blog. That's because they work well, and the majority of our readers work without a graphic designer. If you're unfamiliar, each of these are online tools that help non-designers create quality graphics. Each one uses a web-based interface, and offers a combination of free and premium plans.
  • If you have a smartphone, you can probably take good enough photos for your blog. Alternately, consider investing in a decent digital SLR.
  • Consider shooting simple video on your smartphone, or embed relevant videos from YouTube.
  • For free-to-use photography that won't get you sued, check out Wikimedia Commons.

You now have no excuses for not including some visual content in your posts.

Optimize Your Post for Search Engines

Once your post is written, follow these steps to increase your odds of ranking well in organic search.

Write A Strong Title Tag & Meta Description

Your title tag and meta description are what appear in search engine results. They're the first thing people will see before visiting your post through a search.

Here's how to write strong title tags and meta descriptions:

  • Include your primary keyword in your title tag (this is important for SEO).
  • Keep your title tag around 70 characters (so it won't get cut off in Google search results).
  • Make sure your meta description is under 150 characters (again, so it won't get truncated in search results).
  • Use Portent's SERP Preview Tool to test how your proposed title tag and meta description will appear in actual search results:

Link To Other Relevant Posts

It's important links to other posts related to your topic.

Links help readers find more information about your topic, help show where you're finding your information, and increase the odds other sites will link back to you (and send traffic your way). They also help search engines determine what your post is about by drawing associations between linked content.

Here are a few additional points to remember about links:

  • Search engines use anchor text to determine what the article you're linking to might be about. Make sure the anchor text you select is relevant to the post you're linking to. This also helps readers know what to expect before they click a link.
  • Try to avoid over-optimized anchor text (the words highlighted in a link). Make sure your anchor text is not an exact-match of the keyword you're trying to rank for on the post you're linking to. If you're confused by what this means, Neil Patel has a great explanation on the QuickSprout blog¬†(scroll down to technique 2).
  • Remember to link back to your own posts in addition to other blogs.

Include Keywords Throughout Your Post

Remember the keyword research we did earlier? Make sure you're including your primary keyword (along with other variations of that keyword phrase) throughout your blog post.

Where to Place Keywords

Don't go overboard and stick keywords wherever possible. Instead, just make sure they're present. This will help send a stronger signal to search engines to help your post rank in organic search.

Use Appropriate Heading Tags

Make sure your section headings follow a logical hierarchy by using proper heading tags. Use only one H1 tag per page (WordPress generally makes post headlines and H1, or "Heading 1").

Then, make each sub-heading an H2, and subsequent sub-headings beneath those with H3, H4, H5, and H6 tags.

Edit Your Blog Post Like A Pro

Good writing is often the product of good editing. It's an essential element of any blog writing process.

Your first (or even second or third drafts) aren't always going to be golden right away. That's assuming you even have time to write multiple drafts.

It's important, however, to ensure that everything you write is looked over before it's published. While it's always possible to edit mistakes or patch up omissions later (thanks to the Internet), it's better to get things right the first time. If you want to be seen as an authority, then your work needs to be polished and presentable.

Notice we said "polished" and "presentable." We didn't say "perfect."

That's because chasing perfection is an unattainable goal. There are always going to be things you want to change or things you think you could have done better. Use those moments of reflection as learning opportunities. Then, improve the next post you work on. That's how you get better while still getting things done.

Pro Tip: Follow the steps in your self-editing checklist to ensure your published posts are as polished as possible.

How To Work With An Editor

If you have the benefit of working with an editor, consider yourself fortunate. Having someone on your team who can help elevate your standards for quality is extremely valuable for creating top-notch content.

If you're writing your post for another blog as a freelancer or guest blogger, then knowing how to work with an editor will be extra crucial to your success.

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Here are some tips to get the most from your writer-editor relationship:

  • Know what your editor will be looking for. If there are certain style standards or pieces of information you know they'll be looking for, include them before you send off your copy. This will save you both time.
  • If you're not sure what your editor wants, then ask.
  • Leave your ego at the door and take criticism with an open mind. Your editor's feedback is meant to make your piece better. It's not an attack on you.
  • However, know when to push back. If your editor suggests something you disagree with, state your case.¬†Your editor may be making decisions based on limited information. Providing them with¬†additional background¬†may help clear confusion.
Pro Tip: It's hard to learn how to take criticism. However, it's also one of the most valuable traits a writer can develop. When your work is critiqued, listen to what you can improve. Then, apply that knowledge. Repeat as necessary.

How To Self-Edit Your Blog Post

If you don't have an editor, don't worry. There are plenty of ways to edit your own work. Even if you do have an editor on your team, you should still know how to self-edit too.

Follow these tips:

  1. Step away from your work for a little bit. Give yourself enough time to come back with a refreshed outlook. That could be as simple as taking five minutes to get a glass of water. Or, you might want to spend an hour working on something else.
  2. Read it out loud. This will often reveal awkward sentence structures and misspellings.
  3. Cut down or remove run-on sentences, but don't obsess too much over grammatical nuances. Just make sure your copy is clear and concise enough to be easily understood.
  4. Eliminate unnecessary information that isn't useful or doesn't fit the scope of your topic.
  5. If you want to sound authoritative, then get rid of passive voice.
  6. Group similar information together.
  7. If your flow is broken, consider moving sections around in a way that makes more sense. Try moving things around in different order and see if it sounds better. You might decide different paragraphs or sections should be moved or reordered.

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Check Visual Appearance

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. And according to Derek 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.

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‚ÄĒparticularly if there are going to be several¬†calls to action¬†in the copy‚ÄĒcan 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's 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'll 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 few things:

  1. Resolve the problem.
  2. Summarize what you said.
  3. 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.

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.

Some things to double check may include:

  1. Sentence case or title case subheadlines?
  2. Use of bold, italic, and underline
  3. Ampersands or the word and?
  4. Oxford comma or AP style?

Even a simple, one-page style guide will help you maintain consistency across a variety of blog posts.

Proofread And Edit

Some Other Editing Tips To Remember

  • Don't force-fit verbiage that doesn't fit just because you like the way it sounds. If it's not adding value, it's a distraction. Take it out and move on.
  • It's almost always worth getting a second opinion if you can find one. Even if you don't have an editor you can still find someone who will read your work and give you an opinion. The more brutally honest, the better.
  • Your work should be as polished as you can make it within a reasonable amount of time. However, it's important to know when to let go and just publish.

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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 blog post stand out. 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's finished.

Here's how to create bonus content your readers will love:

  1. Brainstorm supplementary content types like checklists, templates, worksheets, guides, and infographics. What will work best for complementing your blog post?
  2. Create the asset as an editable document (like Word, Excel, PowerPoint, or Google Docs) or a PDF. Editable documents are nice because they can help your readers put your advice into practice immediately.
  3. Gate your bonus content using a tool like LeadBoxes available from LeadPages.
  4. Embed the LeadBox code into your blog post.

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're more likely to actually share your blog 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 doesn't matter, but you should consider it as important as the social media messages you schedule.

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:

  1. Take part in conversations on social media and in the post's comment section.
  2. Share it to your regular email list.
  3. Begin integrating it back into your editorial calendar as you decide how you will repurpose your blog post's content.

Now, Apply Your Complete Blog Post Writing Process

Congratulations on making it to the end of this post!

We've covered a lot of ground. Here's a brief recap:

  • Some simple tips for getting organized in order to stay focused and save time.
  • How to generate strong post ideas and back them up with in-depth research.
  • The best way to connect your introduction, body, and conclusion to a thoughtfully-written outline.
  • Several writing tips to ensure your posts are clear, complete, and actionable.
  • Tips for¬†working with an editor. We also provided tips on self-editing your own writing.

Here's one last takeaway we'll leave you with: writing processes and routines are as diverse as writers themselves.

Haruki Murakami gets up at 4 am every day to write. Kurt Vonnegut swam to build the mental and physical endurance to write daily. Khaled Hosseini never writes an outline. You can bet that every writer, blogger, and content marketing thought leader you admire has some similar creative quirks.

The point is that everyone has their own approach to their work. That includes you.

This post is a framework for creating above-average blog posts; the kinds of posts that will establish you as an authority with the most comprehensive content anywhere in your niche. Ultimately though, you'll have to determine what works best for yourself. Feel free to change up the order of the steps in this post and create your own blog writing process. You can omit the parts that don't fit your needs, and tweak the parts that do.

Now go out there and share your expertise with the world!

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This post was originally published on March 28, 2016. It was republished with new information on Sept. 17, 2018. Nathan Ellering contributed content to this post.

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