Whether you’re a seasoned veteran or a newbie just tiptoeing into the world of inbound marketing, mastering the delicate art—and technique—required to write an engaging, high-quality blog post is perhaps one of the most vital skills you’ll need to learn.
People & Purpose
A critical component is targeting the audience you wish to reach with your content, assessing their particular interests and goals, pain points and potential queries. This part of the process begins long before fingers are put to keyboard, and should not be overlooked in choosing relevant topics to research.
This is where carefully evaluating the personas you’ve established for a particular industry and conducting in-depth keyword analysis comes into play. By pinpointing specific search terms to hone in on, your blog structure can begin to take shape, pointing you in the direction of sources that focus on the topic you wish to cover.
No Substitute for Sources
Research can be conducted in a number of ways, from simple online searches to personal interviews with relevant experts in the field. Depending upon the depth of the topic being written about—and the information readily available—a solid blog can contain references to anywhere from a handful to upwards of a dozen sources.
Toss your keyword or key phrase into Google, for starters. Read, and really absorb those top 10 posts. What are they saying? What's at their heart? How do they answer consumer questions, provide intrinsic value, and reveal intent? If you’re following the pillar structure, chances are your blogs will also be framed by at least a few of your own previously-published pieces, yet another reason to be thorough when crafting content.
Always properly cite your sources. Repeat: Always properly cite your sources.
Oftentimes, you’ll find that the research compiled will begin to fall into categories, and can subsequently be sorted based upon a working outline of the piece you intend to put together. Of course, the exact format can—and should—evolve as the process progresses, framed by the information you gather, the way in which you choose to organize it, and the natural flow from one subtopic to the next.
Build Around the Body
Once you have enough research to frame an initial draft, it’s best to begin working on the body of the blog, as this will ultimately make up the most substantial portion of the copy. By using the outline and corresponding research, the elements of the piece will start to fall into place. Be sure to frame each paragraph with adequate sources, and try to break up large blocks of text into shorter, more digestible pieces.
Though the tendency may be to compose the introduction at the start of the writing process, the more strategic school of thought points to saving this, and the closing paragraphs, for the end. The rationale behind this slightly backward approach? By waiting until the majority of the blog is fully fleshed out, you will be better equipped to encapsulate how the content answers a particular query.
Titles, typically framed around the specific keywords you wish to rank for, are often the last piece of the puzzle to come together. Though you may begin with a working term, it’s best to finalize once the supporting content has been completed. Keep them brief, and make sure they accurately reflect what you’ve written about in an engaging manner.
At this point, it’s important to thoroughly read and re-read the blog, checking for spelling and grammar mistakes, poor transitions, missing punctuation and unattributed quotes. Editing your own work is just as important as the research and writing, and should go through preliminary stages before passing along for final approval to a higher tier. Make sure to cite where appropriate, inserting links back to the sources you’ve used to frame the piece.
Assuming you’re using a standard blog template, there should be a field to add a meta description—a brief explanation of the answer your blog presents—as well as a byline, relevant topic tags, and a featured image, once design has been completed. If there is a particular call-to-action you’d like to feature at the close of the piece, include any relevant copy and be sure links point to the desired page.
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