Writing WordPress Blogs. How to be a Blogger.
This is a post specifically about blog post writing. In my post How to Start a Blog, Easy Step by Step Guide, I go through the basic set up instructions for creating your own wordpress blog, and I recommend that you jump straight into blogging, once you have set up your blog. You can get into fine tuning and boosting your blog a bit later with various other steps I will take you through, but first of all – get started as a blogger, by blogging. In this post I’ll talk about what you should keep in mind as you’re starting to write your very first blog posts.
When you’re first starting to write blog posts, it will probably feel a bit strange – this is normal, but the one thing to keep in mind, is that when blogging, you write as yourself. This may seem obvious ;-), but I’ll explain what I mean.
When writing a formal letter, or a corporate article or anything like that, people tend to get formal and corporate, similar to the way some people have a specific voice they use when they answer the telephone which is much different to the normal way they would talk to a friend or family member.
It’s important to remember though, that when you’re blogging, you need to write as you, so that your personality shines through. So as you’re writing your first blog posts, try to shake off the automatic tendency to write in a more formal manner, and instead write as if you were writing to your best friend.
What attracts people to blogs is not just the information, but the personality behind the info. If I go to a blog and read an article which feels like lifeless corporate information, I may read that post if it contains the info I was after, but it’s not very likely I’ll bookmark the blog, sign up to the newsletter or start looking for other posts on the blog that may be of interest. If I get to a blog and I instantly like the personality behind the information, I’m far more likely to become engaged, and to follow the blogger on Twitter, and to read through their other posts & bookmark the blog – and I think many people would do the same.
Do you know anyone at work or socially who is just naturally a boring person? We all know someone like this I think ;-), someone who drones on in monotone about nothing in particular, while you rapidly lose the will to live, while thinking of an excuse to make a sharp exit. Online, you don’t need to make an excuse or feel embarrassed about clicking the back button and taking your attention elsewhere, so a boring blog with the personality of a house brick is not likely to do very well.
I discovered this years ago when I took a sales copywriting course. It was a two or three day course in London offered by a top copywriter, and I maxed out my credit card at the time to afford it, because I had the feeling that I would be able to do a much better job with the marketing newsletters I was sending out at the time for my business. During the course, the pro writer looked through some of the communications I’d been sending out, and pointed out that I hadn’t written them as me. I had exchanged emails with this guy, he knew how I wrote, and in the marketing emails I was sending to my customers, I was putting on a formal, commercial disguise – which meant I had taken out all personality from these communications.
He told me to drop the facade and write the same way that I speak, or that would write to a friend, and see what happens. I did exactly that, and instantly the response from my business emails went through the roof! Instead of people complaining and unsubscribing when I emailed them, as had happened in the past, some subscribers were actually emailing me and complaining when I’d not emailed them recently, and told me that they enjoy my emails and were missing them!
Writing for readers, not the search engines.
Yes you need search engine traffic, but write for your readers first, and the search engines second. What I mean by this, is that yes you need to include relevant search terms, the most important terms in a post should appear in the post title and the meta description, and the first paragraph, image alt tags and so on (I’ll take you through all this in another post) but pleasing the search engines should be secondary to pleasing your readers.
At the bottom of the editor while you’re typing in wordpress, you can see the word count, I’ve just glanced down, and this post is up to 840 words so far. Yay ;-). My advice on blog post length is not to worry about it too much, just finish the post when it feels like you’ve come to the end of what you wanted to say.
If the post is very short, such as only a couple of hundred words, then I might re-think the post and include it as a section within another post. If a post gets to be very long, for example a few thousand words, then I would be inclined to spend some time on the post ensuring that it flows well and that there are images within the post to break it up and keep it from becoming hard work to read. In some cases I may split a particularly long post into more than one.
For example the post How To Start a Blog & Why – A Simple Guide to Blogging was initially the introduction to the post How to Start a Blog, Easy Step by Step Guide , but it was turning into a very long post – there are no rules against having a long posts, but I felt that this would turn into a slog to read, and it would make sense to split it into two separate posts.
Other than this though I wouldn’t pay post length all that much attention, just start at the end and finish the post when it feels like you’ve finished.
Affiliate links are the main income stream for most bloggers, and you should definitely think about naturally linking to anything which you would genuinely recommend, via your affiliate link. But when you’re first blogging, I wouldn’t recommend that you worry about affiliate links, it will be a little while before people start reading your posts anyway, so I would just focus on publishing new posts, and then think about revisiting these posts in the future and adding any relevant links.
If your blog is relating to your business, or to a product or service you offer, or anything of this nature, then you will naturally want to promote yourself via your blog. The only caution I’d advise here though, is to not get too caught up in self promotion right out of the gate, and not to be too pushy, especially when your blog is new. You need visitors, and you need repeat visitors, hitting the ground running with lots of self promotion early on isn’t a great move in this regard.
What to write about
If you’ve chosen a subject that you’re interested in, it shouldn’t be too difficult to some up with blog post ideas. What I do, is I have the app Evernote on my phone, and I have it set so I can add a note from the notifications area, so I can add a note really quickly. Whenever I feel inspired, I’ll create ideas for blog posts via these notes, and then later I can go through them if I’m struggling for ideas.
Review posts can be good blog posts to think about writing if you’re ever struggling for ideas, as they also lend themselves well for affiliate links, as long as there is an affiliate program for the product in question.
Story type posts, about events that have happened recently or in the past, can make for good interesting posts. How to guides are good ideas, as are lists of tips and tricks.
If I’m ever having writers block, I’ll jump on Google and start looking for inspiration on other similar blogs. I would never copy someone elses blog posts, but there is nothing wrong in gaining inspiration for blog post ideas. Sometimes I’ll get ideas from completely unrelated blogs or tweets.
Blog post titles
Titles are very important. You know there are successful books that were first released under a given title, which have flopped, only to become best sellers further down the line when released with a better title? As with books, the post title is the first thing that readers see, so it’s important to create interest provoking titles.
SEO means search engine optimization. “On page optimization” refers to optimizing the content of your blog so that you rank higher for important search terms. “Off page optimisation” means building the domain authority / trust flow of your website mainly by getting links on other websites pointing back to your blog. Both on page and offpage SEO are important, but don’t be overly concerned about it for now. The most important thing about SEO is search terms, if you know which search terms can bring traffic to your blog, and more importantly – search terms that your new blog stands any chance of ranking for, then you can use your target search terms as the inspiration for your blog posts. I use longtail pro for keyword research, by entering keyword ideas into the software and allowing it to then give me a big list of potential search terms and tell me which ones are lower competition, and how much traffic these terms will pull in. This way I can make sure I’m writing blog posts which focus on search terms which there is traffic for, and which my blog has a chance of ranking highly for.
You don’t have to do this, but I find it generally helps to write a paragraph introducing the post, letting the reader know in a nutshell what the post is about, basically a brief synopsis. This is also a good way to ensure you get the main search terms for the post included in the first paragraph, so it’s a good thing for search engine marketing.
Again you don’t have to do this, but I usually think about finishing up with a conclusion for review posts, or for long posts where some of the points may be forgotten about by the time the reader gets to the end. This can also be a good place to get the main search term into the post one last time.
Make it easy to read
It’s a good thing to remember to write for the kind of people who will be reading your blog posts. If you’re writing for beginners in a subject, don’t intimidate people by writing at a level that may be above their heads. This blog for example is to help beginner bloggers, so I keep the posts very simple and easy to understand – if I was writing with much more experienced bloggers in mind, then the subject matter would be a lot more advanced. If you came to this blog looking for beginner blog information and found really advanced blog posts using terminology you’ve never heard, you’d probably click on your back button fairly soon.
Also readability is a factor to watch out for, in terms of keeping sentences and paragraphs from getting too long. There is a free plugin to help with this, but I’ll include this in a future post.
Now – get blogging 🙂 Go write a few blog posts, at which point you’re officially a blogger, and then come back here and read some of the other posts about improving the power of your blog.