Learning to write a blog post is relatively simple but can take practice. However, over time, it becomes second nature.
The first thing to keep in mind is, when you that you are for two people: you and you’re reader.
The second, is being true to yourself and your voice.
Many people today write for ads, and as a professional blogger myself I get that, but even the CEO of Mediavine said to write for your reader not your ads.
Many bloggers write long useless content with a dozen nearly identical pictures to allow for more ad space.
Food bloggers are probably the type of bloggers most known for doing this. However, I’m sure there are other types of bloggers who do it too.
What you should be doing is creating useful content. This isn’t always easy but it is pretty much always possible.
At the same time, there will probably always be some reader at some point that complains about the length of your content no matter how good it is, that is not who you are writing for either.
What you need to remember is, a person who leaves a comment on your blog may be a reader but they aren’t your reader. They are just someone who came to your blog one day and left.
Here are some really useful things to keep in mind and apply when writing a blog post if you want to be a professional blogger.
How to write for yourself
If you have a story you want to share about a recipe, ignore the voices you’ve heard telling you that they don’t care. They are not your reader.
Tell that story because there will be people who connect with it. The ones that don’t can take the few seconds to scroll past it.
I add stores with cultural relevance, family stories, or a personal story to my posts.
I’ve gotten a lot more comments and emails appertaining that then the ones complaining, despite being well past the days where blog posts were written almost as a diary.
However, when you write for your ads then you’re not writing for yourself or your reader and that is a problem. How are you ever going to develop loyal fans when they can’t connect with you?
While it is you’re site, and you can and should write on it whatever you want, and no one should feel entitled to place demands on free content let alone leave a nasty comment, please write for your readers.
Readers can see through useless information. When I was just a reader, I felt annoyed by dozens of photos that were all very much the same and content that didn’t add to the recipe for me.
How to write for your reader
As I said above, this doesn’t mean leaving out family stories.
I’ve heard too many times people giving the example of being told that no one cares about the fact that you used to make this recipe with your grandmother.
The fact is, many people do actually care.
It reminds them of cooking with their own grandmother, or mother, or aunt, or whoever. Or it may even remind them something else they did with their grandmother like knitting.
What I never appreciated as a reader is what can be refereed to as “filler”. Words put on a page just to take space but don’t actually add value.
As a reader I never appreciated a list of ingredients that was at the top of the page with the recipe card at the bottom. I also never enjoyed reading why a blogger supposedly “loves baking with brown sugar.”
Instead, do things that enrich your post. Tell your story, answer questions your reader may have or has had.
I cannot tell you how many times I’ve edited posts that were years old just to interoperate answers to questions that someone asked me on another post, or in person, or that I thought of myself.
Doing this will get you a lot more thank you’s for the content in your post than complaints about length.
Another helpful thing for length is something that is also important for SEO for blog posts and that is writing for mobile.
Be True to Your Self and Your Voice
Something that is often recommended to bloggers is to be authentic. I think the need to say this shows how much pressure bloggers feel to conform to keep up.
Some of the most successful blog though will tell you they simply don’t care. They do what they want for themselves and that is what makes them stand out.
If you want to stand out, be true to yourself. Be who you are. Your readers will find you and feel connected to you.
If you try to do what everyone else is doing what will make you stand out?
To quote Dr Seuss “Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.”
As for voice, when I first started writing blog posts I was concerned about my voice.
In personal, I’m warm, lively, and bubbly known for my with wit, sarcastic, and outrageously blunt comments. In writing on the other hand, I am more serious.
I was worried I’d sound too serious and come off as dry and boring. So, I tried to sound very bubbly.
I felt so fake doing that despite being bubbly in person. So, I tried on a few other voices none of them fit either.
In hindsight, I can’t imagine being able to keep anything but my natural writing voice up for long.
Who to Keep in Mind when Writing
Some people create an avatar and write to them. This is basically a person you’ve made up in detail in your head who you see as your ideal reader.
Others write to an important person in their life. This can be a spouse, boyfriend/girlfriend, a best friend, a favorite cousin. Whoever.
I’ve also heard of writing to yourself from when you were knew to the topic. This is helpful to remember to keep things simple.
I write the way I would in a journal. There isn’t really a clear person in mind and part of that person is me. Basically, I just write.
Know Your Audiences
While you should write for yourself and your reader, when it comes to deciding what to write, you have three groups to consider: you, your Google audience, and your loyal readers.
If you want to write something because it speaks to you but you doubt Google will pick it up, who cares? Write it anyway.
I’ve been surprised how posts I shared just because I wanted to ended up getting good traffic from Google or Pinterest.
If you want to write something for Google traffic but you don’t think your loyal audience will connect with it, write it anyway.
You want that Google traffic and even your loyal audience doesn’t see most of what you post. If you don’t want it to be obvious, just back date it.
If you want to write something for your loyal audience but you don’t think it will ever rank on Google, write it.
I have plenty of content that Google and Pinterest ignore but people on my email list love.
Pretty much, if you have a good reason to write it, even if it is just because it brings you joy to or to have something to refer friends and family to, write it.
There is a lot of room to express your own style when writing a post but there are some basic rules you should follow.
When you write a blog post you need to write it for mobile as opposed to desktop. The vast majority content consumed today is on mobile.
To do this, you need to writing paragraphs that aim to be one to two sentences long instead of three to four. Also, you need to increase your font size and line height.
Doing this will make it much easier for readers to consume and engage with your content on mobile. Google puts a big emphasis on this.
Your first paragraph should contain the phrase you are targeting and any additional phrases you would like to rank for.
Ideally you will also have five or six images but only if they add to the content in some way. This is easy for travel bloggers and bloggers writing how to posts. For other blogs this it’s just as good to only have one image if nothing else is going to be useful to your reader.
Headings and subheadings are also necessary because they add length due to size and line-padding. Just as importantly, they also make it easier for your reader to read through your content.
If you’re worried about people skimming, don’t be. Skimming means that they will probably end up finding useful content to engage with. If you don’t have headers they will likely skip everything you write entirely.
Ideally, your post should be at least 300 to 1000 words long.
Craft of writing a blog post
When you write a blog post, it’s something between writing an essay and story with a little letter writing thrown in.
A new blogger once asked me how I get my posts to flow so naturally but cover many ideas. So, I told her my process and it really wasn’t all that different than when I write an essay.
I listed out my ideas, in a document or in my mind. Then, I order them in the way they seem most likely to connect so they can flow naturally. Lastly, I write one or more paragraphs around each idea.
When giving over information, each paragraph should clearly address a single topic and connect to the next seamlessly.
Creative writing comes in when you tell a story.
I remember a writing professor I had once said, people are inclined to write in broad general terms to make it more relatable to strangers. However, it is actually the details that are the most specific and the stories that are the most personal which readers relate to.
To be clear, personal in this sense is not suggesting sharing private and intimate details of your life and self. It just means stories that are yours.
When you telling a story you want to paint a picture using tangible details. Specific details are what makes things relatable.
People can pull up images based on their own experiences like sitting on a beach with their feet in the sand or the taste of fresh lemonade on a hot summers day.
The letter part comes in because you want to sound casual. I’ve heard of people having one person in mind that they write to, a boyfriend, wife, even a friend.
When I write to my readers, I don’t have anyone specific in mind. I just write the way I do to in a journal. I simply sharing my thoughts as if I’m writing to someone.
Keyword and Where to Put Them
Keywords, or rather key-phrases since they aren’t just words, are a must if you want your blog post to rank. In fact, it is based on these search terms that you decide what to title your post.
Say you wrote a post on vegan brownies that are made with avocados and through keyword research you decide to target the search “avocado brownies.”
Your key-phrase should be used in:
- Your title
- The first paragraph of your post
- In the title of your image if it is applicable
- In the description of your image if applicable
- Once or twice further down in your post
- In a H2 or H3 heading
- In your meta description
- In your card (in the card title, in the card description, and in the keyword section of your card)
Recipe, How To, and List cards are all very useful to Google and should be used – I recommend Create Cards.
Since this is often the information your reader is coming for, if you earn money from ads, put it at the bottom of the post to encourage scrolling.
How to Make Your Post Longer
The longer your post is the more you can show that you are an authority on this topic. Length is also important if you are making money off your site through ads because the longer your post is, the more space for ads you have.
Tell a Related Story
If you have an interesting personal story to share that can enrich the readers experience then share it.
Depending on the topic, adding a personal story can draw your reader in.
To you, your cultural background may see boring, but to others it may be extremely fascinating. Paint a picture of your world for them.
Living in New York City for 15 years seems normal and boring to me but people always ask me about it. On the other hand, I find people from the South or other countries particularly interesting.
If you are live in another country, share about it in a way that relates to your post. When I was 26 I moved out of the States and when I’ve shared related stories in posts, it was not unusual for readers to email me telling me how much they enjoyed reading about it.
For family blogs in particular, it can be very impactful to write about your own struggles as a parent as it relates to the topic, especially if the topic is the solution to both your and your readers problems.
Share the history
I’ve always found history and cultural aspects of food and places interesting so I started adding it to posts where it was relevant.
To my surprise, some of my readers enjoyed it enough to comment on it.
This can be a very easy way to add a lot of relevant content to your post that will engage your reader.
Answer Questions on The topic
While there will always be those who will complain that they have to scroll through your post, most people will be glad for useful information.
So, one of the best ways to lengthen a post is by trying to answer as many questions and be as helpful as possible.
No matter how many questions you try to anticipate, there is a good chance a reader will come up with something you didn’t think of. When this happens, use this as an opportunity to lengthen your post and any other posts the question relates to.