How To Write A Blog
It’s 2018 and the whole world is online. Say hello, everyone! You have the ability to talk to over 7 billion people – but how are you going to get your voice heard? 7 billion other voices are pretty damn loud, and as of 2017 there were 440 million blogs on Tumblr, Squarespace and WordPress.
On top of this 76.3 million posts are made on WordPress each month. And this figure has likely increased astronomically since the stats were recorded.
Whether it’s just to get your opinion out there, to sell your products or to boost your business, you’ve likely heard that writing a blog is the route to go down.
With so many other people thinking the same thing, the more savvy amongst you will not be asking yourselves ‘how to write a blog’, but ‘how do I write a successful blog?’
Thankfully you’re in the right place. We’ve been writing blogs for businesses and brands for years now and have all the inside knowledge you could need to get yourself out there. It’s not easy, it’s not quick, and this post is long. So if you’re already tired by the thought of it, take a look at our blog writing services instead.
Ready? Let’s begin.
How To Start A Blog
So you’ve decided you want to start a blog. Great news. Here are the steps you’re going to have to take to get yourself up and running. (Of course, some of you will already have a website and a niche, in which case jump to the ‘How to Write a Blog‘ section.)
Find A Niche
If you’re a business then it should be pretty obvious what your blog should be about. We’re a writing business, for example, so we write blogs about writing. Makes sense, doesn’t it?
If you’re going to start a blog as an individual then things become a little more exciting. And perhaps a little more daunting.
Where do you even begin?
Again, it’s fairly self-explanatory when you start to pare it back.
Write a blog on something you’re passionate about. If you have no interest in your topic it will shine through in your words and people won’t bother reading it. Do you really like cars? Write about them! Do you really like languages? Why not create a blog on the things you find fascinating about linguistics?
Find a blogging topic that is broad enough to write about. One of the keys to a successful blog is consistent content production. So if all the information in your chosen topic can be contained in just 5 blogs, it’s not going to get you very far.
At the same time, you don’t want to go too broad and be washed out by more specialised publications.
As we already outlined above, there are lots of blogs out there. Lots! LOTS AND LOTS! But that shouldn’t hold you back. If you want to be successful in anything you do, you need to take on competition and out-rank them.
So if your topic has already been covered, don’t let that deter you.
Look at it like this: there are people interested in it! Just find the unique angle you can approach the topic from. Or find a way that you can improve upon the content that’s already out there.
Learn To Steal
Well, not steal. Of course, we don’t encourage theft or plagiarism, but find blogs that you will be in competition with and start to dissect what makes them successful. Look at:
- What topics they cover
- How they write
- How do they construct posts
- Where they publish
It’s more learning than stealing, and we should really change that heading, but a touch of sensationalism doesn’t hurt sometimes…
There are plenty of tools out there that can help you start writing a blog. One that you’ll find many blog writers espousing is Buzzsumo.
This is a great tool to analyse what content performs best for any topic or competitor, and find key influencers to promote your content in your niche.
As you can see from the shot above, it will tell you the topics that have been shared the most so you can understand what sort of content goes most viral in your niche.
Pick A Domain Name For Your Blog
A domain is the ‘address’ of your site. It’s the bit that comes after the www.. Regardless of whether you’re hosting on WordPress, Wix or wherever else, you will have to come up with a unique name for your site. This shouldn’t be too much of a problem, but as you can’t change it (without buying another domain), there are a few things you need to know.
What To Call Your Blog
1. Do your homework and find out where’s best to buy a domain from. A lot of registrars will use incredible deals to get you in on a contract, set you up on an auto-renew and hike the prices in year 2. Be careful!
2. Make sure your address is easy to remember and type. People on the internet don’t want to spend time sitting around thinking.
3. If you can, get a ‘.com’. There are hundreds of domain extensions to choose from nowadays, with industry specific terms such as ‘.design’, ‘.actor’ and ‘.horse’ to name but a few. The catch? most people will still assume you’re on a .com, so it’s best to just grab one of them. You can always point your .com domain to another.
4. Avoid trademarked domains. Seriously. It might seem like a smart idea, and we’ve all heard that story about the one guy who bought 21st Century Fox, but it’s just not worth the hassle.
5. Make sure your blog’s URL is as unique as possible. You don’t want people going to your competitors by mistake!
6. If you’re very serious, buy up other domain extensions. This stops others copying you and trying to steal your traffic.
Now you’re set.
Hosting Your Blog
Once you’ve secured a name, you need to actually host your blog. Once again… If this is way behind you, just skip ahead.
You basically have two options: free or self hosted. As you imagine, one you don’t pay for, the other you do. But what you choose should depend upon what you’re using the blog for.
So let’s take a look at the pros and cons of free vs. self hosted blogs.
The Pros of Free Blog Hosting
1. Perhaps the most obvious thing in the history of things ever, free blog hosting is free.
2. With the free blog hosting platforms it’s pretty easy to get started without any knowledge of HTML or CSS.
The Cons of Free Blog Hosting
1. Free blogs aren’t the most professional. You’ll have the hosting domain’s address tacked on to yours which lets everyone know that you’re not paying for it. And whilst free stuff is good, appearing cheap isn’t.
2. Your design and functionality options are pretty limited. You won’t be able to add plugins or customise your code quite as extensively as a self hosted blog will allow you to.
3. The amount of server space and bandwidth given to your blog will be pretty limited – you’re not paying for it after all.
4. If you’re starting a blog with a view to make advertising money, you might not be in luck. Most free hosting packages will limit your advertising options.
In many cases you will be able to pay a small fee to remove the host’s address from your URL. And many services like WordPress will offer a more robust paid-for version, giving you limited options, but professional security.
Pros of Self Hosting your Blog
1. Perhaps most importantly with self hosting, you have complete control over your site. You can completely customise its layout, add plugins, put whatever you want on the site, display as many adverts as you want.
2. If you need to make any changes to your code, you have complete access to go in and change your PHP files, your .htaccess files, your server…
3. Whilst it’s not free, you can generally get a hosting package for just a few pounds a month.
Cons of Self Hosting your Blog
1. You will have to pay. Obviously.
2. If you don’t know anything about servers, or coding you’re going to find it tricky. That said, it’s pretty easy to learn these things, and there are plenty of hungry developers out there who would love to help you out for a bit of cash.
Let’s just boil that down…
If you are looking to just get your toes wet, don’t have much experience with website and a small budget, free hosting is fine.
If, however, you’re serious about learning how to write a blog, want to turn it into a business and know just a little about websites, host yourself.
The Top Blog Writing Sites
There are lots of blogging websites out there to choose from, so before we look at how to write a blog, let’s have a look at where you will be writing it.
Let’s start with the biggest boy of them all. 29.2% of all websites on the Internet are powered by WordPress. Which is a lot when you consider there are 1.3 BILLION websites live on the internet. I’ll leave you to do the maths there.
The fact is that WordPress has become the absolute go-to for bloggers and website owners worldwide. In their own words:
“Beautiful designs, powerful features, and the freedom to build anything you want. WordPress is both free and priceless at the same time.”
An open source platform, WordPress is so successful because:
1. It works out of the box. There’s very little configuration and setup, and most installs will take no longer than 5 minutes. That’s quick.
2. It’s designed to be used by everyone. You don’t need to know what AJAX and PHP are, you can even get away with not knowing what HTML and CSS are. However, if you do, WordPress presents a perfect platform for you to play with.
3. It’s updated all the time. The developers behind the scenes are constantly tinkering away to provide bug fixes and improve usability.
4. It’s lean and fast. WordPress’s core is predicated on an agile system which delivers incredible functionality for users. And if the functionality isn’t there in stock, there’s a plugin that will be able to do what you want.
5. It’s simple, simple, lemon, simple. The aim of the program is to make writing a blog as simple as humanly possible – and it’s working. Take a look at some of the older versions of WordPress if you want to see how far it’s come.
So should you use WordPress for your blog?
Yes. WordPress is great for:
- Personal blogs
- Company websites
- eCommerce websites
There really is no end to that list. And with 11,310 themes to choose from on ThemeForest alone, the design options are huge.
Yoast is an SEO plugin for WordPress that will save your life as a blogger. Simply install it on the backend of your website and it will check all of your writing to make sure it’s optimised for the web.
It will check if you’ve used the keyword the right amount of times, whether you’ve used headings appropriately, have enough links in the text…
Furthermore, it will review your writing and check whether it’s easy to read and appropriately written. This won’t always be applicable to your blog – if you’re writing about fluid dynamics for instance, your Flesch Reading Ease test will score poorly.
That’s not necessarily because it’s written badly, but because you will be using more complicated language. So read these indicators within reason.
The emphasis on Squarespace websites is aesthetics. Just take a look at their own website to see what I mean.
They want to deliver a website that’s responsive, refined and pretty to look at. As such, for blogs or businesses for which aesthetics are important, Squarespace is definitely a solid shout.
Squarespace’s Key Features
1. They will make you look like you know what you’re doing. Squarespace blogs are pro and they will make your users pay attention. Remember… “become an authority”
2. They have a powerful eCommerce option. In this department they massively out-beat WordPress, making it incredibly simple to make an online store that really sells. Importantly, it’s extremely easy to customise your Squarespace shop.
3. Squarespace has its own proprietary marketing and optimisation tools to get your website noticed.
4. They provide free*, unlimited hosting with a whole host of perks, including:
- free 2048-bit SSL certificates
- a content delivery network to deliver your website fast
- advanced security from DDOS attacks
- 24/7 customer support
- guaranteed up-time for your site
*Whilst they say hosting is free, what they mean is that hosting is included in the monthly payment that you have to make to the platform. This is just £10 a month for personal sites, and £15 a month for business sites. Not bad.
Finding Topics To Write About
Right. So you have a purpose for your blog, you’ve got a domain and hosting and you’ve chosen the best platform to write your blog on. Nice. Now let’s get down to the actual hard task of how to write a blog.
Open the page, add new post and…
WAIT! First you need a topic. But where do you go about getting one those? Well, hopefully you have some of your own ideas, but is it worth writing about?
Thankfully you don’t just have to guess, there are host of tools out there which will help you understand what topics to write a blog about. Let’s get into them…
Our new favourite tool. Partially because of the David Foster Wallace pun, and partially because it’s really bloody good.
A free, easy to use and fast tool, Infinite Suggest gives you never ending google keyword suggestions. Just plug in your main keyword and then crawl through the list for more suggestions, longer tail keywords and related topics. You can even add more keywords ad infinity to dig deep for topics.
Google Keyword Planner
Keyword planner is a tool created by Google to help advertisers find the best terms for search engine advertising. However! You don’t need to be running a campaign in order to use it, making it a perfect tool to discover new blog topics.
It shows you invaluable insights into the sorts of searches people are making and you can get keywords for different locations and languages.
Just enter the keywords that you’re looking for, and check the amount of searches per month. These will either be between 10-100, 100-1000, 1000-10,000… You don’t get an exact figure, but this will give you an indication of the topic’s popularity.
There’s also the option to download the keyword report to a .csv file so you can play with the data.
Ahrefs will help you with:
- competitive analysis
- keyword research
- backlink research
- content research
- rank tracking
- web monitoring
The keyword ideas section will take your base keyword and give you the data on similar searches that users are performing, as well as showing you how your competitors are ranking for those search terms.
How To Write A Blog Post
Ok, we’re finally here. Let’s look at how to write a blog post.
If you’ve done everything above, you’ll be eager to get started now. So let’s begin, as with all things, at the beginning.
Write A Captivating Intro
You’ve managed to get someone on your blog. Well done! But now you need to make sure they stick around. This is particularly important in 2018 when ‘dwell time‘ has become a considerable ranking factor for SEO.
This means writing a headline that will grab the reader from the very first second! You don’t want them jumping ship before they’ve got to the meat of your blog post.
There are four main way that you can achieve this:
- Make a joke – but make it a good one. No one likes a groaner.
- Grab them with an interesting fact or stat.
- SMASH them with something shocking that ensure’s they want to know more.
- Be empathetic and direct. People want to know you’re talking to them.
Once you’ve caught the reader in your web, explain to them neatly and succinctly what your blog is about. Give them a reason as to why reading your content will enrich their lives.
Plan Out The Post
Now, of course you’re eager to get started now. But hold your horses! Just diving straight in with your content without an understanding of how you are going to structure the post can lead to an incoherent mess.
Using separate sections, lists, infographics and images will make break up what might otherwise be a huge wall of text. No one wants to read a huge wall of text, no matter how good the content is.
So how do you do it? Well, it’s simple. Just write out a list of headings that you want to include and arrange them in the order that makes sense. Then…
Write The Post!
Ok. Website sorted. Topic sorted. Blog template sorted. Now let’s get into it…
Of course we can’t tell you what sort of style to write in. That’s your business. Just make sure that you’re talking to your readers using words that they understand and try to make it captivating.
Yoast’s tool (outlined above), will help you understand whether you’re producing copy that will work on search engines, but remember this – there’s a lot more to blog writing than simply writing for Google. Write for people first, and search engines second!
When writing your post be sure to credit sources properly when necessary. And whilst it might seem like a bad idea to link to other people’s blogs, it actually shows that your information is well sourced and researched.
For more information on correct credit attribution visit the creative commons website here.
Suffering from writer’s block? Don’t worry, it happens to everyone. Thankfully there are a few things that you can do to help get your flow back:
- Use a thesaurus to find that word that’s on the tip of your tongue.
- Eliminate all your distractions. Ommwriter is a perfect place to think and write.
- Stuck on a particular part of your blog? Just skip it and move on to another piece. You can always come back later.
- Going out for a walk is incredible to get your mind working again.
- And if you fancy, take your computer with you and write somewhere else. A new environment can trigger new thoughts and ideas.
- Call someone up to talk about your ideas. Or anything else.
- Read! It’s insane how many writers you talk to who don’t actually read other writing. This will breeze through your brain and bring with it a whole new perspective on things.
Don’t go and watch television. That’s really not going to help.
Proofread & Edit
Oh, we’re close! But don’t go posting that blog just yet! No. We need to proofread and edit!
This can be hard for you to do yourself, because if you’re like most writers you’ve spent hours pouring over your content already and you won’t pick up mistakes. What I suggest is that you either:
1. Get a professional copy editor to proofread your work for you. Or you could ask a friend very nicely…
2. Give yourself a break! Take some time off, do something else and come back to edit with fresh eyes. I can’t tell you quite how valuable this is!
Done? Amazing! Let’s post your blog! But, wait, have you looked at your blog post’s format? Perhaps it’s worth going over that too…