If you want to write better blog posts—as a hobby, for your own business, as an author, or as a freelance writer—you know keeping up with the ever-changing rules, apps, expectations, and algorithms in the blogosphere can feel almost impossible.
But becoming the best blog post writer you can be is entirely within your control.
Check out these step-by-step tips for better blog posts and make some changes in your blog post writing routine. You might not write faster, but you’ll have satisfaction in knowing every blog post you write is chock-full of valuable information and written well.
1. Start with a planned word count
Deciding your blog post’s length before you start writing tells you how much time and information you’ll need. It also sets limits and creates a goal. But how long—or how short—should a blog post be?
Successful blog posts feature word counts from 300–3,000 words and up.
What? No magic number? Sorry, no. No magic number.
Sure, experts recommend 600–700 words, 1,000 words, 1,600 words, or long-form blog posts with 3,000 words and up.
The truth is, the best length for blog posts is whatever it takes to deliver the message. It depends on the subject, too, and your audience: Are your readers looking for entertainment, quick how-tos, or in-depth information?
The bare minimum is 300 words if you want any search engine attention. Around 1,200-1,500 words is great since studies show lengthier articles get more shares, and a few super-long blog posts can pump up your search engine optimization (SEO) dramatically.
But who has time to write 1,500-word or longer blog posts?
Here’s the key: quality. A high-quality blog post of almost any length is good for both readers and SEO.
So, mix it up. Try a few 600-800 word articles, then 1600 words, a few more shorties, 1000 words, more shorties, then a long-form post, and so on. Look over your previous posts if you have some. What length is most popular?
2. Choose a topic and a working headline
What are your readers dying to know? What’s bugging them? What problem do they want to solve or what do they need to succeed in their business?
Let’s say you manage a site about food and nutrition. And you want to reach out to new readers with general advice for healthy living.
You start with “How to Improve Your Health.” But that’s a huge topic. Where would you even begin? Besides, readers won’t have a clue what it’s about, so why would they bother taking a look?
“Why You Should Eat an Apple a Day” is too narrow unless you’re talking about fiber and other fruits and veggies. In that case, mention it in the headline.
In comparison, “5 Easy Steps on the Road to Better Health” is manageable for both you and your readers. Five easy steps—instead of a vague claim about health improvement or equally ambiguous advice about apples—won’t overwhelm readers or offer a teensy bite of information about how good apples are for you.
3. Choose your main points
“Points” are the main ideas in your blog post, the reasons for your opinion or advice, the support for your argument.
How many points and which ones you choose depend on the topic, your purpose, and the planned length of your post. The more main points, the less space you have for details.
Do some brainstorming and research, and take notes. Do you have enough facts to write a meaningful post and satisfy the anticipated word count? Are they balanced or equally weighted?
If your topic is “10 Low-budget Getaway Trips Abroad” your main points should be global destinations. You can mention the fabulous food in Morocco, of course, but it’s not a main point; it’s a subpoint.
4. Create subpoints
For each main point, include the most essential facts or concepts that support it. List them beforehand to make writing and reading easier. This list also helps avoid repetition and mistakes.
For a long list—say, 25 top tips for finding a job—you’ll probably need only one or two subpoints for each. With fewer main points, however, you can increase the number of subpoints and supporting details.
If you don’t have enough subpoints, or you’re not 100% sure of the information, look it up. Do some research. Learn all you can—at least enough to offer value to readers. Review at least three-four reputable sources, and if you find similar information in each, you won’t be guilty of plagiarism if you write the ideas in your own words (paraphrase).
5. Decide on a format
Blog posts with numbered lists are the easiest posts to write and read. But if you’re offering advice, arguing a point, or reviewing a book or product, an essay-style post is usually the best bet.
What’s an essay-style post? It can take many forms but, generally speaking, it starts with an introduction, expands on three-five main points, and usually includes a summary or closing remarks. Plus, in many blog posts, a call-to-action (CTA) is the finale. More on CTAs below.
The topic can determine the format. “Why Summertime Soups are Good for You” could work well as an essay-style post and cover basics like nutrition, seasonal ingredients, and serving ideas.
On the other hand, “5 Summertime Soups Your Kids Will Love” narrows the topic to specific recipes and requires a list.
Here’s a super-short post (257 words) that’s perfect for the site’s purpose: starting a conversation. What Makes You Consider Eating Soup When It’s Hot
6. Write an introduction
You can write or revise your introduction—called a lede in journalism—at any point. But sketching out a snappy introduction first, one that hooks your readers and grabs their attention, can warm you up. It also gets you focused on the anticipated benefits or results it promises.
Remember high school or college writing classes? Remember the good old “thesis statement?” It’s the one- or two-sentence announcement of your essay’s intent and purpose. Who said you never use what you learn in school? Now’s the time to put a thesis statement to work.
What does your blog post promise and how will the reader benefit? What problem does it solve? Include a clear “thesis statement” in your introduction.
7. Start writing, forget perfection, and watch your word count
At this point, don’t worry about grammar and spelling. Instead, focus on the quality of the content. Are you providing valuable information readers can use? Is the material balanced throughout? Are you explaining clearly?
Keep an eye on your word count, too. In Word 2016, it’s in the lower left corner. In some other versions of Word, click Tools in the menu bar and select Word Count.
If you’re coming up short, don’t “pad” your blog post with repeated ideas or opinions. Instead, go back to researching, reading, and learning more. And don’t just reword information you find; make sure it’s valid by checking multiple sources. Or add examples to clarify complex ideas.
If you hit half your word count at point 3 out of 10, it might just be wordiness you can cut during editing. Or you might have too many examples, too much detail, or too much repetition. Take care of that later, and tighten things up as you continue.
8. Better blog posts have short paragraphs
Two-four sentences per paragraph is a good length for blog posts—and throw in a few one-liners—but be sure to vary those sentences. Four simple sentences might be shorter than two longer sentences, but you risk choppiness—jumping from one idea to the next without a smooth transition.
Here’s an example:
Try a short sentence. Then, craft another one that’s slightly longer. For more detail, you just might want to add a sentence that includes examples, like this one, that one, and maybe even another one. Now let’s move on.
See the pattern? Short, medium, long, short. That pattern isn’t set in stone, but it’s one way to spice things up.
And no matter what you do, please. Please don’t write blog posts composed of a series of single sentences separated as if they’re paragraphs. Because they’re not. So just don’t.
Learn why one-sentence paragraphs don’t work and why transitions are important right here.
9. Compose a closing and a call to action (CTA)
Some blog posts end suddenly after the last point. It’s jarring. Unsettling. It’s like, Whoa. The movie’s over? Or like being on a ship that’s suddenly unanchored and drifting.
A closing or summary, however, acts as a send-off. It reviews what you just read and bids you adieu, bye-bye, ciao, and warm wishes. On top of that, a CTA gives the reader an option to do something like register for updates, download a free tutorial or template, or buy a course that expands on the information.
Readers don’t have to do or buy anything, but when they step off your ship, knowing where the coffee shops, restaurants, and bars are located makes the experience feel complete.
10. Add subheadings and finalize your headline
At this point, your main topics should be well organized whether they’re in an essay-style post or a list post. Those main points might not be obvious to the reader, but they should be there, and you can use them as your subheadings.
Why use subheadings? Countless studies like this one show that a lot of readers scan blog posts looking for information that applies to them or seems particularly interesting. Help them find that info with subheadings.
If you’re writing your own blog posts, they’re easy to create. (In self-hosted WordPress, headings are in the Paragraphs dropdown.) Just remember that your headline (or title) is your main heading. It’s big and bold and called Heading 1 or H1.
A subheading is a little smaller and called Heading 2 or H2. Don’t just use a bold font. Make sure you’re using a correctly coded heading; it’s important for SEO.
In a lengthy article, you might feature a short list under your H2 subheadings. Help readers find the information they need and score SEO points by using H3 subheadings.
11. Revise, edit, proofread, repeat
But first, take a break! That’s right. Time away from your writing means you can review it with fresh eyes. Take at least a few hours. Better yet, a day or two.
When you come back to it, read it slowly and highlight or underline sections that seem awkward. If you notice grammar, spelling, or word choice errors, make notes at each. Now go back and revise, smooth it out, and fix the grammar, spelling, or word choice issues.
Now do it again. I’m serious. Check everything all over again.
Read for meaning, organization, and rhythm. Read the whole thing out loud. Where do you stumble? When does your tongue get twisted? It’s usually a “preposition salad”—a long string of small words and phrases that add little meaning to the sentence.
And your final step is proofreading!
Remember, you can’t proofread if you’re still writing or editing. Proofread when you’re 100% sure you won’t find any mistakes. Take it slow and examine your writing sentence by sentence. I guarantee you’ll find something to fix!
You still have a few things to do like choose a great photo and check SEO and your meta data. But I’ve hit my word count, so that’s it for now!
Practice these tips to help you write better blog posts whether it’s a hobby or a business. Ask questions or share your thoughts in the comments below!