First, I want to explain what I mean by “blogpost” (a bit dry, I know), before we get into the "perfect" part.
A blogpost—and I use the word “blog” as a catch-all term, not *only* those posts you put on your blog—should be a valuable piece of content that your readership will want to digest, but written with a goal in mind.
(And yes, I am aware of the metaness of writing a blog about how to write the perfect blog).
Andrew Sullivan, who operated one of the most popular political blogs of all time, which he has since retired, had this to say about blogs
“…the first journalistic model that actually harnesses rather than merely exploits the true democratic nature of the web. It’s a new medium finally finding a unique voice.” — Andrew Sullivan
And I think Mr. Sullivan gets that right, in that the nature of the blog isn’t to exploit or sell something to you, though, if you do it well, the effect is that your products are sold.
⏩⏩ DOWNLOAD THE PERFECT BLOG CHECKLIST AND NEVER WRITE ANOTHER SUB-PAR BLOG AGAIN. ⏪⏪
The nature of the blog is to bring value to your readers.
Let me repeat that, because it’s important.
The nature of the blog is to BRING VALUE to your readers.
Why? Because marketing has changed. Free value to your audience = loyal readership = money in your pocket.
The blog is your chance to give back to your readers, your customers, and your audience. It helps your audience wade through all the “give me” out there and say, refreshingly, “have this.” 🎁
Out of all the things we do for our clients at Social Lite, we believe the blog is the most important. So important, in fact, we started a tradition around our office.
We ask ourselves...
“is this blog and / or blog topic good enough to be a part of the business’s portfolio?”
Which is a good place to begin: how to choose your topic.
WHAT DO I WRITE MY BLOG ON?
There’s a variety of ways to decide what to write on, and I suggest you utilize all of them.
- Looking at what your competitors are talking about (and what’s working for them)
- Reading through competitor’s and your reviews, and seeing what the pain points are
- Search your topic on the many websites out there that will tell you the most shared social posts on that topic
- Look at aggregate sites, like Reddit, and see what type of posts are the most upvoted on your topic
- Ask your customers and audience what they want to see
The last one was bolded, because I believe it’s the most important part of writing the perfect blog. You don’t want to be doing guesswork. You (presumably) have an audience that you’re trying to market…
Why not ask them what they want to read?
- Email them.
- Respond to comments.
- Ask your current customers the next time they come in.
- Send out a survey.
- Add mid-blog questionnaires, like this one…
Through their answers, you can now begin to create an editorial calendar.
Pay close attention to the verbiage they use to answer your questions, as you’ll want to use that same verbiage to build your headlines.
HOW DO I WRITE HEADLINES?
“Blogs don’t go viral, headlines do.” — my foggy memory.
The main point of a headline, and this might seem counter-intuitive, is not to describe what they are going to read, but to get them to click.
Your only goal with a headline is the click.
I know you’ll be tempted to describe or summarize your blog, but don’t. If they’ve already got the coles notes, why read the blog?
If you’ve spent anytime on Reddit, you’ll know that nobody actually reads the articles on that site, they ONLY read the title. Why? Because they’ve summarized the article already.
By a show of hands — are you guilty of reading the title only?
So how do you get them to click?
There are four main reasons someone would click your blog. They are…
- You’ve piqued their curiosity.
- You’ve outlined some type of benefit they’re going to receive from the blog.
- You’ve outlined some type of negative / instilled a fear of missing out in some way (but try not scare your audience away).
- You’re showing proof / results that they would like to have themselves.
If you can connect with your audience on one of these four, you’re probably going to get the click.
For example, the headline: A “Cheat Sheet” For Writing Blog Posts That Go Viral — 36 Outrageous Headlines You Can’t Help but Click is a proven, topical benefit.
If you're interested in headlines, and if you're interested in going viral, you're going to want to click it.
Sidenote: don’t be afraid to be controversial.
We often abide by the adage, “If it bleeds, it leads.”
In this blogpost, I chose to go with “[CONTENT BIBLE] How to write the perfect blogpost.”
Our audience, someone who is interested in digital marketing (if we’ve done our job correctly), wants to write blogs for their website / product. They will clearly benefit from a blog about writing the perfect blogpost.
I then added [CONTENT BIBLE] to the beginning, one, for personality, two, because everyone understands just how important a “bible” is, and it suggests how important this blog will be to anyone who wants to write a blog.
Bonus: “How to write the perfect blogpost” is likely going to be the exact search term someone is going to use on google. Try to always keep SEO in mind (I know, it’s an added layer of complexity, but try!).
Okay, you’ve found your topic, written your headlines, now how do you write the post?
WHAT ABOUT THE BLOG COPY?
Sadly—or happily, depending on how much of a rush you’re in—we’re not going to dig deep into the nature of writing or how to write effectively.
That you’ll have to learn another time.
What I can do, however, if you’re so inclined, is suggest further reading that will get you on your way:
- How to Write, Speak And Think More Effectively by Rudolf Flesch
- The Elements of Style by Strunk and White (A classic)
- Rhetorical Grammar: Grammatical Choices, Rhetorical Effects by Martha Kolln and Loretta Gray
- Sense of Style by Steven Pinker
- And if you’re struggling with that all-too-familiar fear of writing: Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott
Anyway, back to the blog at hand!
What I can tell you is what I believe every perfect blog should have.
You’ll notice that a lot of newer, industry leading blogs are skinny. That’s because, if you’re focusing on readability (as you should), the optimal line length for your body text is considered to be 50-60 characters per line, including spaces.
Your font size should be large and inviting, with consideration taken for those reading on mobile. Here’s a good chart to follow:
You should make use of h1, h2, and h3 title tags, because Google loves them—and you love Google.
Utilize bolding, italics … ellipses, underlining, “quotes” and • bullet points •.
And the biggest, perhaps most egregious, sin you can commit in your blogs is using long paragraphs. They’re intimidating. They’re scary. People don’t want them.
Make your sentences quick, fun, and strong enough to stand on their own.
Okay, I said before that you’re trying to provide value for free — but I lied, sort of.
You’re trying to look like you’re providing free value, all the while you’re inputting small opt-in points, capturing their information, and marketing to them at a later (but not too later) date.
"Without a successful conversion gate in place, all that traffic you’ve generated ... will ultimately be useless."
A perfect blog must have a minimum of three opt-in points.
- There should be one after the introduction, because often that’s only as far as people go.
- There should be a content questionnaire halfway through, which also captures an email.
- And there should be one at the end, so that the customer journey doesn’t end there.
BONUS: Keep in mind that “Content Upgrades” are excellent ways to get conversions. If you create a blog, something like “10 Instagram Accounts With Colour Themes You'll Want To Copy” and at the end you include an opt-in point that is “100 MORE Instagram Accounts With Colour Themes You'll Want To Copy,” you’re guaranteed to get conversions.
⏩⏩ DOWNLOAD THE PERFECT BLOG CHECKLIST AND NEVER WRITE ANOTHER SUB-PAR BLOG AGAIN. ⏪⏪
Everyone has a personality and yours should represent the values of your company.
The company values I am trying to convey here are fun, relaxed, experts.
Ask yourself what message you’re trying to convey. Different readers like different things and different industries have different standards.
But remember, nobody likes boring. Nobody likes stuffy.
Have fun with it!
I’m going to be quick here because there's millions (billions? trillions?) of “good SEO’ resources that can be found on this subject, some with their own bible (i’m looking at you, Moz).
But, as a baseline, make sure to…
- Have a solid searchable title
- Use H1 Tags
- Fill out the meta description
- Alt-tag your photos
- Re-write your url slug to be searchable, while removing stop points (and, or, to, etc.)
A good rule of thumb is, at minimum, three internal links and three external links.
But don’t overcrowd your blog with links.
They’re on your page because they want to read your blog. They don't want to be propositioned to leave every few words.
Some people sleep on adding graphics, pictures, and designs to their blogs.
”Processing print isn’t something the human brain was built for. The printed word is a human artifact. It’s very convenient and it’s worked very well for us for 5,000 years, but it’s an invention of human beings. By contrast Mother Nature has built into our brain our ability to see the visual world and interpret it.” — Marcel Just, the director of the Center for Cognitive Brain Imaging at Carnegie Mellon University.
Don’t do that. People like to digest content in many forms, and you should give them the chance to do that in as many formats as humanly possible.
Gifs, videos, pictures. Add them all!
But when you do, here’s a few rules:
- They should be high quality pictures.
- Original is better than not.
- If you can’t swing original, make sure you have the right to use them (be on the lookout for copyright phishers).
- They should all be the same size.
- They should fit the same line length as your body text.
- They should either be linked or click-to-zoom.
- Alt tags are your friend because alt tags are google’s friend.
If you’re not a savvy-designer (like me), one of the best ways to make original, free graphics is through Canva.
Alternatively, if you have the money, hire a designer and / or a photographer to whip you up fancy pantsy photos.
Alright! You’ve got the perfect topic, the perfect headline, and everything you need to know about making the best blog possible.
Go out there and write it!
And if you do, and you’ve created something you’re immensely proud of (and why shouldn’t you be?), send it to me at firstname.lastname@example.org!
We’ll link to it on this blog for the whole world to see.
Just like these blogs… ⬇️⬇️⬇️⬇️⬇️
[This space reserved for you blog]
BONUS: questions you may have, but were not answered above.
What time of day do I post my blog?
What social media platforms do I post my blog on?
How much time should I spend writing a blog?
How long should my blog be?