How to write a blog post – getting the basics right
If you have seen my blog posts Choosing a blog platform and Setting up a free WordPress blog in five easy steps you will have discovered that setting up a blog using a blogging platform such as WordPress is quite easy even for the technologically challenged. So it is now time to move on to the really important bit – how to write a blog post.
If you are an inexperienced writer, writing a regular blog post is an excellent way of practising and improving your writing but it is worth taking the time to get the basics right before you publish your first post. There is a vast amount of blog content out there which is poorly written but with the right thought and preparation, your content does not have to fall into that category.
Who are you writing for?
Most blogging platforms allow you to control who can view your blog. So if, for example, you only want family and friends to have access, you can make your blog completely private. However, if you want to go pubic and reach a wider audience, it is important to think about who you see as your potential audience before you start writing. This may not only affect your writing style and tone but it may also determine your content.
Hook your readers in with a catchy or compelling title
The first thing your readers will see is the title of your post. If that doesn’t capture their interest then you will lose them straight away. Your title should give a clear idea of what your post is about and be catchy enough to make your readers want to read on.
Keep your readers hooked with a good opening paragraph
If you have grabbed the attention of your readers with a great title, don’t let them down with your opening paragraph. The first paragraph is your opportunity to tell your readers what your post is about and to give them a good reason to want to read on. However, don’t take too long summing up what is to follow – keep your opening paragraph short and simple or once again you may lose them.
Use simple words and keep your sentences and paragraphs short
John Ruskin said “Say all you have to say in the fewest possible words, or your reader will be sure to skip them; and in the plainest possible words or he will certainly misunderstand them”.
Avoid using a long or difficult words where short and simple ones will do. Aim for short sentences (they are easier to read, particularly online) and break up your text into short paragraphs. Each paragraph should have a single focus or point but try to make your point in just two or three sentences.
Make your text easy to scan
Visitors to websites and blogs don’t hang around for long if they are confronted by continuous dense text with no white space. They want to be able to scan your post to get an idea of what it is all about. Although I don’t necessarily subscribe to the idea that we live in a world where we all suffer from a short attention span, a page (or screen) of continuous text can be daunting.
Although you can use bulleted or numbered lists, another good way to break up your text is to use sub headings. Sub headings not only help to catch the attention of your readers, they also make your text/post easier to scan and read.
Check your post before you publish it
Great – you’re almost there but before you publish your blog post make sure you edit/proofread it at least once. If, like me, you have a problem spotting your own errors (we all read what we think we have written), ask someone else to check it for you. Grammatical and spelling errors can be a real turn off for some people so keep them on side by ensuring that your post is free from any irritating and unnecessary errors.
Read other peoples’ blogs for hints on how to write a blog post
If you are stuck for ideas or just don’t know how to begin, search for blogs in your genre to find out what other people are writing about and what style and tone they use to engage their readers. If you find a blog you particularly enjoy, subscribe to it so as you are notified every time a new blog is posted. Following other peoples’ blogs is a great way to learn how to write a blog post.