How To Write An Effective Blog Post In 2021 – A Step-by-Step Guide For Beginners

LENGTH 19 min read
CONTENT TYPE Blog Post

How To Write An Effective Blog Post In 2021 – A Step-by-Step Guide For Beginners

TL;DR: Learn how to become an authority in your field and dominate your industry by teaching! 🚀👨‍🏫

Since you’re here, we assume you have been relentlessly browsing on ‘how to write a great blog post’ and maybe also mulling over blogging relevance and longevity in 2021. You probably doubt if — in this age of 15-second video postings — writing even still matters.

Well, doubt no more! The importance of blog posts cannot be overstated. Yes, still even in 2021!

Blogging is one of your company’s most valuable marketing tools. You can attract visitors, educate and/or entertain them, turn them into potential leads, and generate brand awareness. So if anyone says blogging isn’t valuable in this age of video-making, they don’t know what they’re talking about.

This blog post will explain why blogging is still in vogue, how to create an influential blog, and what tips and tricks to keep in mind for better results.

What is Blogging, and Why Does it Matter? 🤔💭

Blogging is the art and science of interacting with your audience, aiming to turn them into your future customers. While blogging used to be a medium for sharing personal stories a decade ago, that notion has completely changed.

Rather than posting personal updates, blogging has become an integral part of inbound marketing, in which companies cater to their prospects.

Great companies consistently develop blog content for a specific audience, delivering value and information that’s optimised for better Google ranking. Using catchy titles and a creative combination of text, images, and interactive infographics, they drive their readers to convert through particular call-to-actions (CTA).

Philosophy of Blogging

Marcus Sheridan’s 2016 book, They Ask, You Answer, lays the foundation for inbound and content marketing. Citing numerous real-life examples, he describes how several companies have incorporated the principles of inbound marketing, content strategy, and digital advertising to grow and generate more revenue.

As a content creator of your company, you should be able to produce quality content that answers your customers’ questions. People will take you as a “kind teacher” or “helpful guide” and give you their trust. Eventually, you will become the trusted premier voice of your company.

Sheridan believes that the success of a business depends on “how willing a company is to address a particular subject in their sales and marketing process — especially online.” Your company needs to address Big 5 Topics such as pricing and costs, problems, versus and comparisons, reviews, and best in class in blog posts.

The content you write will drive organic traffic, qualified leads, and quick sales. In addition, establishing yourself as a teacher and thought leader would help you gain customers’ trust and loyalty, thereby funnelling more revenue along the way.

How to Blog ❓✍️

Now that you know the undeniable importance of blogging, it’s time to understand the “how-to” part of the story. For starters, you need to learn how to write catchy headlines, grabbing introductions, smooth transitions, and inspirational endings.

But there’s more to blogging than just a string of nicely crafted sentences and cohesive paragraphs.

You should also have a working knowledge of SEO strategies, keyword research, buyer persona needs, basic designing skills, and a few dos and don’ts of digital marketing.

Yet, before that, let’s understand the writing process.

Types of Blogs

Normally, there are six types of blog posts.

  • “How-to” blog posts
  • List-based blog posts
  • “What is” blog posts
  • Ultimate guide
  • Newsjacking
  • Infographic reports

Whatever blog you’re attempting to write, all writing goes through the same three stages: pre-writing, writing, and post-writing.

Step #1 – Planning the Blog Post

As the age-old axiom goes, “Well planned is half done.” So by beginning the research process in the best manner possible, you will later take less effort to complete the writing.

If you want to write a successful blog that stands apart from the sea of sameness, you need to conduct thorough research. Understand the questions your buyer persona might ask, the advice your competitors are offering, and how you can fill in the gaps.

  1. Truly Understand Your Audience Beforehand

The word “audience” corresponds to “buyer persona” in content or inbound marketing. Consider who you’re writing to — your intended audience — and how you will address their needs.

Understand the audience’s demographics and psychographics. Question yourself: Who are they and what do they want? Conduct in-depth research and analysis of prospective customers and their buying trends. 

You’ll have to find an area that hasn’t been appropriately addressed. Then, you’ll write in a way that your audience will consider you an “expert figure” and take heed of your suggestions.

  1. Prioritise Keyword Research

No matter how aesthetically pleasing your blog is (or how poetically rich the sentences are), if it’s not optimised for search engines, chances are that your content will be lost in the labyrinthine cyber-maze of information.

Understand the language your target audience uses when searching for a specific product or service. After that, you’ll have to analyse, compare, and prioritise the best opportunity keywords. Try using some of the keyword research tools that are available online.

Your blog content should be able to drive traffic organically, increasing the number of potential customers and cash inflow.

  1. Formulate a Scratch Outline

Some people like to write on the fly, cranking sentences and shooting them off for publication with slight tinkering, while others need an outline to help them write properly and keep focused throughout the process.

Stephen King vs. JK Rowling, for the literary enthusiasts.

Whether you’re a plotter or pantser, it’s essential to have a basic outline that’ll stop you from derailing off from the key points. Unlike the other elaborate templates, a scratch outline is very brief and can be cast in any form you like. Of course, you can add multiple subheadings and bullet points too.

How long you want to stretch the outline depends on the time you spend on planning. The more planning you do, the easier it will be for you to write, ensuring a smooth flow of paragraphs and coherent sentences.

Step #2 – Writing the Blog Post

Now that you have covered the important planning part, it’s time to get the creative juices flowing. But before starting the run-of-the-mill blog posts that clog the internet these days, think about how you can add exceptional value to your content. For example, can you say something new or different about a product or service everyone else is also discussing?

Consider the unique viewpoint for a specific topic you’re writing about. For instance, if you run a retail mobile phone store, you may want to compose a blog on the latest releases, reviews of budget phones, or a slightly personal topic like your favourite mobile device for 2021.

  1. Create Content Around Things Your Customer Search For

The only way to figure out what people are typing in search engines is to do keyword research. After all, what’s the point in creating content that nobody is looking for?

Many beginning bloggers make the mistake of writing whatever comes into their heads, without bothering to do background study. This is the number one reason why many blogs and websites get little or no organic traffic.

Use SEO metrics to understand search volume, clicks, traffic potential, and keyword difficulty. Then, analyse the results and group the high-ranking keywords. The most important of all — consider if traffic from the keywords you’ve chosen will be valuable for your business.

  1. Carefully Choose Your Blog Post’s Headline

Coming up with a perfect title is the most challenging part of any writing.

To ease the process, you can keep a running list of titles handy, which you can later use to cull the best headline. The title will also act as a roadmap, setting expectations and giving your readers a direction to follow.

Also, try to make your headline as specific as possible. Rather than writing “chocolate cakes,” write something like “5 Amazing Chocolate Cakes: Recipes/Reviews” or “How To Bake a Delicious Chocolate Cake in Less Than 20 Minutes.” 

Yet, for better conversion optimisation, keep your titles to roughly 60 characters. Do you know that headlines ending with bracketed information work better on search engines?

  1. Curate Long-Form Content, Images, and Videos

While having long-form content for a visitor who’s landed on your website for the first time might be overwhelming, content that acts as a comprehensive or ultimate guide performs better for search engine optimisation.

Besides, qualified visitors are always looking for educational material to enrich their knowledge base, so having short blog posts, too many pop-ups, or FQAs might be counterintuitive.

Use images, infographics, and videos to keep your audience engaged and to make your website “sticky,” encouraging visitors to come back again and again. If your buyer persona is millennial, they’re likely to engage more with video content than text and images. Likewise, Generation Xers might need more analytical writing, with charts and graphs and statistics.

If you want to learn more about understanding buyer personas, you can check out the ultimate guide we wrote in 2020.

  1. Add Your Hook Right Away

After you’ve lured your visitors with a well-crafted headline, you must grab their attention with a captivating introduction. The attention span of a reader is short and fickle, thanks to the internet. So you need to give them a reason to care.

Step into their shoes and write from their perspective. Think like a customer: What do you want them to read once they click-open the link to your article?

As a practice, you can ask your website visitors an intriguing question, throw away an unusual fact, tell a personal anecdote to identify needs, or make a reasonable and deliverable claim.

Whatever you do, create empathy and transport your readers into the world of business storytelling that you’ve crafted.

  1. Get Organised and Write Naturally

A common mistake of amateur blogging is the entire piece looks like a garbage heap of unorganised information. To make things worse, the writer sounds too academic, almost pedantic.

The messy college essay-like approach bores the readers to death. No one will waste hours reading your high-flown and dense prose.

The solution?

You can bring life to your content by writing naturally, the way you speak. Break the topic into smaller sections and write succinct paragraphs. Use humour but sparingly — you don’t want to sound like a stand-up comedian all the time.

  1. Include a Strong Closing

Oftentimes, blog writers forget to include a closing, leaving their readers hanging in limbo. No matter how excellent your beginning is, your writing will not achieve its full potential if you fail to include a powerful closing.

Get your readers excited and involved by giving a little motivating pep talk and later asking a question, something as simple as: “What do you think about the new mobile device? Comment below.”

A call-to-action button is a great way to ensure that your audience sees some value in your content. Ask them to sign up for the email newsletter, share your write-up across social media, or download the entire article as a PDF.

The CTA surely helps in funnelling lead generation and building an effective conversion path.

Step #3 – Revising and Editing the Blog Post

Congratulations, you’ve finally written the first draft of your long-form blog post. Give yourself a pat on the back, drink a glass of sherry, or go out for a walk — and get back to work again.

Work? Yes, the first draft is only 40% of the job done. Besides, you know what Hemingway used to call his first draft, right?

It’s time to do some revising and editing. Both developmental and copy editing are crucial for the success of your content. No one gets away with lazy writing.

  1. Revise the Blog for Clarity, Coherence, and Consistency

Yep, the three Cs of writing — reminds you of your high school composition class, right?

Read your writing with fresh eyes and see if you can spot areas that lack clarity and consistency. For example, are you using passive voice too often? Or perhaps your writing is clogged with tentative language (rather, quite, often, very, somewhat, only, just, a little, you get the idea). Or do you have a tendency to use message-deflating crutches like “you may want to consider” or “one can clearly see the profit”?

Avoid them like the plague. [cliché alert!]

  1. Edit and Proofread for Errors / Sloppy Writing

Once you’ve done the developmental editing for the three Cs, you need to check the copy for silly grammatical errors. While your readers may forgive you for a typo or two, they’re more likely to take you as a “lazy writer” — besides, too many errors will jeopardise the content’s credibility as well.

If you (like many of us) doubt that you’ve got only a foggy knowledge of high school grammar, don’t fret overmuch. Instead, run your blog post quickly through grammar and spell checkers like Grammarly and ProWritingAid. You can then work on the content’s style — and make your writing errorless and seemingly effortless.

Step #4 – Uploading the Blog Post

Before uploading your blog post, take some time to learn a few things about blog hosting (aka web hosting) and blogging software (like WordPress). Things might get a little too technical at this point, but the time you spend will pay off greatly.

Check this blog post we wrote on what you must consider before starting any website build some months ago!

As the saying goes, you don’t need a degree in automobile engineering to drive a car but it’s good to know what’s under the hood. So invest some energy in learning the technical aspects of blogging.

  1. Give Time and Energy to Content Design

A blog post that looks like an overflowing heap of text will naturally repel its readers. They’ll pop out faster than they came in once they see paragraphs a mile long (with no breaks and no infographics).

Apart from creatively using the white spaces by keeping the paragraphs short and using bullet points and quotes, focus on finding the right and resonating images. While it’s easier to download stock photos from Pinterest or Unsplash, using your own graphic work will enhance the authenticity of your blog.

Here’s a quick read on what your photos are saying about your brand.

If you have only a limited idea about graphic design, find an expert. Pay him or her to create brand-new artwork — or take stock images and manipulate them to look fresher. Whatever you do, make your content design interactive and impressive.

  1. Earn / Give Backlinks for a Better SEO Practice

Earning backlinks to your blog post is great for enhancing your website’s search engine performance. Backlinks help search bots to crawl and index your site and rank it accordingly. So they’re often called “inbound or incoming links.”

If many websites provide links to your company’s blog post, search engines will deem your content worthy and rank it ahead on a SERP. For that, you’ll need to earn backlinks from trusted and high-authority sites, in order to give your brand a boost. Also, the links you’ll use in your post will impact the value you confer.

Since backlinks are hard and cumbersome to obtain, do comprehensive research on competitive backlinks. Use backlink checkers like Link Explorer and discover link-building opportunities.

  1. Upload the Blog to Your Website

When you’re finally ready to make the blog public, upload it to your website. 

Since 27% of the internet runs on WordPress, your company might as well give it a go. But WordPress comes with a learning curve, unlike other blogging platforms like Blogger, Medium, or Wix that are too easy to use. However, once you get the hang of it, WordPress becomes friendly, comfortable even.

So go ahead and upload your blog!

Step #5 – Sharing the Blog Post

You’ve created a well-designed blog, written well-crafted content, and uploaded it to your company’s website. But, to get more traffic, you still have one more thing to do — promote the blog post.

That’s where social media marketing comes into practice.

  1. Share the Blog Across Multiple Platforms

It’s time to share your creative content across different platforms. Email it to prospects who have signed up for your company’s newsletter or downloaded ebooks/white papers from the website. They surely would like to know about all the latest happenings.

Additionally, try social media marketing as an adjunct to augment other marketing efforts. It attracts not only potential buyers but also creates solid brand awareness. Sharing content across Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, among others, will help you and your business reach out to numerous prospects directly and drive traffic to your site. You don’t have to be active on all platforms; select two or three of them and post quality content consistently.

But, remember, the goal of any business is to increase the number of orders/sales per month rather than the number of website visitors. Traffic is a vanity metric, though blogging surely aids customer acquisition channels such as word of mouth, google search, and advertising.

  1. Update & Repurpose Your Content When Necessary

The blog content is always dynamic, so you must update from time to time. For example, the article you wrote on “Best Phones to Buy Under $300” in 2016 has become outdated and will only irk the website visitors. So instead, take time to remain abreast of the latest developments in your industry — and tinker with older write-ups and relaunch them if you like.

If that sounds too much work, use the older writing as internal links for your recent work. That way your visitors will have a chance to browse the content they like before making a buying decision.

Though blog posts need some tweaking every year for relevance and timeliness, the content on your website will keep attracting visitors and turning them into leads. Blogs can teach and engage and delight your readers — 24×7.

Some Useful Tips for Blogging 💡😊

Now that you know the A to Z of blogging and can successfully write a blog from scratch to end and upload it to your website, here are a few tips and tricks to keep in mind.

  • Write as you speak. One thing that bothers many readers is the dry and research paper-like voice. Add a bit of a personal touch and write as you speak. Imagine you’re telling a ‘cool’ story to your friend about something you’ve heard. How would you do that? With an uppity, heavy-handed voice or in a natural, conversational style?
  • Avoid literary pretensions. Let’s be honest: Writing a blog is not similar to writing the Best Australian Novel. In fact, in many ways, it’s the opposite. So throw away all your laborious metaphors and metonymy — the rich alliterative prose drenched in Anglo-Saxon poetry [meh!] — and write naturally. As simple as that.
  • Find one angle and stick to it. You have a topic, and now what’s your vantage point? Rather than presenting a broader picture to your readers, give them something specific to care about. Write about what you think is best for them — or offer your best tips when it comes to purchasing a product or service. That is, instead of having a topic like “ebook readers,” go with “Top 5 Ebook Readers to Buy This Summer.”
  • Respond to the comments you receive. End your blog with a compelling question and encourage your readers to comment. And be sure to respond to the comments you receive, because when you do, you interact with your prospects in a human and holistic way. There’s nothing more discouraging than a mechanical “Thank you for your response, site visitor. We’ll get back to you soon.” Be human; show that you care. Take time to appreciate their concern or feedback. It’ll help your business build a community around your blog.
  • Limit your word count. How long should your blog post be? That is one question everybody seems to be asking. Normally, a blog post ranges somewhere between 800 to 3,000 words. But these days “ultimate guides” are in trend with a word count of 7,000 and more. So before you begin the actual writing, take some time to estimate the tentative length of your blog depending on your content type. [Pro Tip: Instead of worrying about the word count too much, think this — Does my blog post answer the questions my potential customers are searching for?]
  • Avoid typos. Typos are the signs of a lazy and hasty writer. Run your writing through online spell checkers: Grammarly is a great free resource to have, so is ProWritingAid. You might want to run your content via Hemingway Editor to check your (over) use of adjectives, adverbs, and hard-to-read sentences. In the end, don’t rely too heavily on these writing apps. No apps can beat human creativity. Develop your craft and brush up your writing skills: That’ll pay off in the long run.
  • Above all, focus on clarity. The one thing that matters the most is clarity. If your writing isn’t clear and your thoughts aren’t organised, your blog won’t be read and shared. Follow an outline when working on a longer piece so you won’t get deflected off the topic. When rewriting and editing, focus on sentence-level craft: Are your sentences crisp and clear? Books like Elements of Style and On Writing Well should be your constant companions.
  • Create a TL;DR: For people who are in a hurry, TL;DR is just the information they need. Believe it or not, even the most patient people skim through articles online. So use headings, sub-headings, and bullet points to help them navigate through the focal points.

Conclusion

There you have it — a step-by-step guide to get your blog up and running in order to attract more site visitors and turn them into potential leads and future customers.

In the end, don’t forget to ask your readers for a social share. They’ll surely spread the word on their social media if your writing resonates with them. You can also ask them to subscribe to your company’s email newsletter.

Remember that you can promote your product or service at this point by adding a call-to-action button. This is the perfect opportunity to help them have a look at something that might catch their attention.

P.S. Writing blogs is a skill you can learn with practice and perseverance. With your powerful writing skills, you can educate, entertain, and inspire your prospects — and establish yourself as a thought leader of your industry, thereby generating more revenue as you funnel more leads into your company.

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