Having a plan before you start writing your blog post is great for 2 reasons:
- you are not starting with what can be a dreaded blank page
- you have an idea in mind of where you are going with your topic
Both these elements help you clearly articulate the ideas you want to make, while preparing ahead of time allows you to think of additional facts to include with new insights gained from your research along the way.
We take a look at the steps needed to create a solid plan for a dynamic blog post.
Step 1: Choose a topic
While this may sound a little obvious, this stage is often used as the idea generation phase. Although you may have an overall idea about what you want to write, this stage is used to get specific about your exact topic.
Take this blog for example. Yes, the subject I wanted to look at was a blog or blogging. It was only once I started researching the topic that I thought it would be valuable to look at it from ground level upwards… hence the title … how to plan an amazing blog post which drives traffic to your website.
Step 2: Create an outline
Once you have your title, start with an overall structure of your introduction, main body and conclusion. Then it’s time to brainstorm around this topic by creating a mind map which essentially entails writing the main idea in the centre of a blank page and then drawing branches relating to that idea or subject.
This will provide insights into your topic, allowing you to drill down further and pinpoint the different points you want to cover in your blog.
These are your sub-headings which serve as stepping stones for your content. Sub-headings create focus, keeping you on track so that you keep to your subject. They also help to maintain structure, guiding your writing so that it unfolds in a logical and well-thought out way.
These are all the points which you need to mention in your blog. Use words which will attract your reader’s attention. Make your sub-headings short so that your blog is easy to scan.
Step 3: Write the introduction
Once you have these points you know the information you will be discussing. You are now ready to provide a brief introduction to set up these points, either explaining the topic, providing a context or presenting an argument which you will discuss in detail in the main part of your blog.
Step 4: Research
Research enables you to expand on your sub-headings, while giving you insight into current developments and news on the topic.
This stage includes finding statistics or quotes. These serve to support your blog’s authority, re-inforcing the credibility of the content. Always quote the source of the information, either by creating a hyperlink to the source or mentioning the source’s name such as the hyperlink in ‘mindmapping’ in step 1 above.
Step 5: Blog Headline
Think of what makes you stop and read something further? The first thing to catch your eye is most likely the headline of the blog or article. Right there, at the beginning is your most important opportunity to motivate your reader to continue reading.
Optimise your headline, first for your audience, then for search and social media. Content always needs to serve your audience first, so start by creating a headline which is relevant to your audience’s needs and interests. Optimising your headline for all 3 categories (social, audience, search) can be best achieved through research into keywords, providing insights into the customers that you are targeting.
Some of the top Keyword research tools include:
Additionally, headlines can be generated using the following tools:
- SEOPressor’s Title Generator, the plugin for WordPress Sites
- Coschedule’s Headline Analyzer or Hemingway’s Sharethrough
- BlogAbout by Impact
Generated headlines can be used as a starting point for your blog and refined and optimised further to reflect your brand and cater for your target market.
Step 6: Conclusion
Use your conclusion to round off your writing, drawing attention to the key points you wanted to make and using a call-to-action to inspire your reader to connect more with your brand. This may be a call-to-action such as adding comments below your blog post or joining the discussion on Facebook.
Once you have these structures in place, start writing. Don’t try to get it perfect the first time. Just write, so that you have a draft copy as a starting point.
Often our worst stumbling block when it comes to writing is our own judgement. The key part is to get started, then edit and refine your writing so that you create compelling content with valuable, relevant information for your audience.