Last week, we talked about everything that goes into deciding to start a blog. (And yes, that link does take you to a blog post about blogging. #NextLevel!)
Now that you’ve decided to take on the challenge, let’s talk about what you’ll put in those posts. Use these tips to take yourself from tentative brainstorming to blogging badassery.
Before you start writing that first post, do you know where you’re going to post it? If your company or organization already has its own website, we highly recommend enabling its blog feature (here’s how on Squarespace and Wordpress) instead of starting another website for the blog. After all, you do want to drive traffic back to your website!
If you don’t have a website yet, check out Squarespace’s templates. We think Squarespace is one of the most intuitive platforms to use, even if you’re new to putting a site together. (Learn the basics here!)
Okay, so now the blank page of your blog is staring back at you waiting to be filled with your brilliance. Before you start typing, you need to know one thing: A blog post is not just any writing piece. In the world of The Internet, people are constantly skimming, maybe retaining just the facts and visuals that stand out to them instead of reading the whole piece. (In fact, people tend to read in a F-shaped pattern while scanning.)
Think about it.
If our beloved Weekly Slice was written like a long-form essay instead of broken up with headings, links, and a kickass gif, would you be as inclined to read it?
When it comes to your posts:
- Word it. Don’t worry, this isn’t your high school English class. But you do need to find a sweet spot in terms of your blog post length. At the minimum, your posts need to be above 200 words. While it is kinda impressive if you’re able to write everything you have to say in only those 200 words, Google might not be impressed. In fact, it labels those pages as thin and they will not do well in search results. On the other hand, don’t write a 2,500 word article just because you can. What matters the most in terms of length is that you’re saying everything you want to say in a clear and concise manner so it makes sense to your readers, and to Google’s search results.
- Picture it. Assume your reader has the attention span of a goldfish. No matter the amount of time you put into your words, they’re likely not all going to be read. How do you engage your readers? Instead of some fish flakes, try breaking up your text with visuals, sub-headings, bold text, or anything else that will keep your reader interested in what you have to say. Do a test by showing your draft to a friend or colleague and then asking them what you wrote. Did they get it? And throw in an image or two if you like -- just don’t steal an image from someone else.
- Link it. Hyperlinks are the bibliography of the blogging world. Just as we hyperlink our sources in the Weekly Slice, get into the habit of hyperlinking where your information is coming from. Not only is a good blogging best practice (yay for not plagiarizing!), it can be a great way to shout-out to some of your favorite sources and partners. And links to quality content help tell Google that you’re legit.
- Optimize it. For each post you write, think about the one or two keywords for the topic you’re writing about and use them in your title, as your tags, and ideally within the first paragraph (if it makes sense for your post!). They don’t have to be complicated. For example, a keyword for this Weekly Slice is “blogging.” We’ve included the keyword in not only the subject, but also the introduction. Follow these tips on where to include keywords in your blog post!
Don’t overcomplicate this. Sure, we could spend the day talking about blogset-up and sidebars and headers and branding and who you are and who you want to become and your dreams and ambitions and fears… But the point of starting a blog is to blog. All of that other stuff will come later.
So, let’s start by writing something and hitting publish, and then writing something else, and hitting publish, and again, and again. Make this a habit that you will stick to, and promise yourself that you’ll never start a blog post with the phrase, “Sorry I haven’t posted in a while!”