Your headline should not promise them a trip to the moon and back — readers are way too swift for such shenanigans. Keep the benefit specific and narrow, and readers will feel compelled to click and get the solution to what’s bugging them.
How to Write a Blog Post: A Step-by-Step Guide [+ Free Blog Post Templates]
6 Free Blog Post Templates
If you’ve ever read a blog post, you’ve consumed content from a thought leader that is an expert in their industry. Chances are if the blog post was written effectively, you came away with helpful knowledge and a positive opinion about the writer or brand that produced the content.
Anyone can connect with their audience through blogging and enjoy the myriad benefits that blogging provides: organic traffic from search engines, promotional content for social media, and recognition from a new audience you haven’t tapped into yet.
If you’ve heard about blogging but are a beginner and don’t know where to start, the time for excuses is over because we’ll cover how to write and manage your business’s blog as well as provide helpful templates to simplify your blogging efforts.
What is a blog post?
How to Start a Blog
Writing Your First Blog Post
What makes a good blog post?
Blog Post Examples
How to Write a Blog Post
6 Free Blog Post Templates
Fill out the form to get started blogging.
2. Check out your competition.
It’s worth taking a look at popular, highly reviewed blogs because their strategy and execution is what got them to grow in credibility. The purpose of doing this isn’t to copy these elements, but to gain better insight into what readers appreciate in a quality blog.
3. Determine what topics you’ll cover.
4. Identify your unique angle.
5. Name your blog.
6. Create your blog domain.
Want to create a subdomain for your blog? If you already own a cooking business at www.yourcompany.com, you might create a blog that looks like this: blog.yourcompany.com. In other words, your blog’s subdomain will live in its own section of yourcompany.com.
Some CMS platforms offer subdomains as a free service, where your blog lives on the CMS, rather than your business’s website. For example, it might look like this: yourblog.contentmanagementsystem.com. However, to create a subdomain that belongs to your company website, register the subdomain with a website host.
7. Choose a CMS and set up your blog.
A CMS (content management system) is a software application that allows users to build and maintain a website without having to code it from scratch. CMS platforms can manage domains (where you create your website) and subdomains (where you create a webpage that connects to an existing website).
HubSpot customers host web content via CMS Hub. Another popular option is a self-hosted WordPress website on a hosting site such as WP Engine. Whether you create a domain or a subdomain to start your blog, you’ll need to choose a web hosting service after you pick a CMS.
8. Customize the look of your blog.
If you already manage a website and are writing the first post for that existing website, ensure the article is consistent with the website in appearance and subject matter. Two ways to do this are including your:
9. Write your first blog post.
Once you have your blog set up, the only thing missing is the content. While the design and layout are fun and functionally necessary, it’s the content that will draw your readers in and keep them coming back. So how do you actually go about writing one of these engaging and informational pieces?
How to Write a Blog Post, Step 1: Planning
First, a disclaimer – the entire process of writing a blog post often takes more than a couple of hours, even if you can type eighty words per minute and your writing skills are sharp. From the seed of the idea to finally hitting “Publish,” you might spend several days or maybe even a week “writing” a blog post, but it’s important to spend those vital hours planning your post and even thinking about your post (yes, thinking counts as working if you’re a blogger) before you actually write it.
Long before you sit down to put digital pen to paper, you need to make sure you have everything you need to sit down and write. Many new bloggers overlook the planning process, and while you might be able to get away with skipping the planning stage, doing your homework will actually save you time further down the road and help you develop good blogging habits.
[ Learn how to write better ad copy with our free guide: 10 Tricks to Get the Click ]
Choose a Topic That Interests YOU
Before you do any of the following steps, be sure to pick a topic that actually interests you. Nothing – and I mean NOTHING – will kill a blog post more effectively than a lack of enthusiasm from the writer. You can tell when a writer is bored by their subject, and it’s so cringe-worthy it’s a little embarrassing.
I can hear your objections already. “But Dan, I have to blog for a cardboard box manufacturing company.” I feel your pain, I really do. During the course of my career, I’ve written content for dozens of clients in some less-than-thrilling industries (such as financial regulatory compliance and corporate housing), but the hallmark of a professional blogger is the ability to write well about any topic, no matter how dry it may be. Blogging is a lot easier, however, if you can muster at least a little enthusiasm for the topic at hand.
You also need to be able to accept that not every post is going to get your motor running. Some posts will feel like a chore, but if you have editorial control over what you write about, then choose topics you’d want to read – even if they relate to niche industries. The more excited you can be about your topic, the more excited your readers will be when they’re reading it.
Write an Outline For Your Post
Outlines keep you honest. They stop you from indulging in poorly thought-out metaphors about driving and keep you focused on the overall structure of your post. Sometimes I’ll write a more thorough outline (and sometimes I won’t bother with one at all), but most of the time, something like the outline above is perfectly acceptable.
Do Your Research
One of the biggest secrets professional bloggers (myself included) don’t want you to know is that we don’t actually know everything. Truth be told, sometimes we don’t know anything about a topic before we sit down to write about it.
This doesn’t mean that all bloggers are insincere fakers. On the contrary, many bloggers’ natural curiosity is what makes them great at what they do. If you blog for a living, you have to be comfortable jumping from one topic to the next, even if you don’t know anything about it. What allows us to do this, and to write authoritatively about subject areas that are new to us, is knowing how to properly research a blog post.
It almost goes without saying, but relying solely on Wikipedia as a primary source is almost always a bad idea. Yes, Wikipedia does have thousands of excellently researched articles, but it’s not infallible, and erroneous facts do make their way into articles without site editors noticing. Plus, every verifiable fact on the site is cited from links elsewhere on the web, so why cite the middleman?
If you’re relying on third-party information to write your blog post, choose authoritative sources. Official associations, government websites, heavily cited research papers, and preeminent industry experts are all good examples. Nobody is right all the time, though, so approach every source with a the practiced skepticism of a journalist and question everything until you’re positive your information is solid.
Check Your Facts
A few years ago, I edited a piece written by a colleague focusing on the highlights of a major technology conference. The writer, under a seriously tight deadline, had done a bang-up job of writing great copy in virtually no time, but he failed to properly check his facts. He cited an article from Forbes in which the writer claimed Steve Jobs was using PowerPoint on stage – something that never happened. It was lazy journalism on the part of the Forbes writer, and an easy mistake to make on my colleague’s part, but the result was the same; one poorly researched article directly impacted another because both writers failed to do their due diligence.
Deliver Advice That’s Easy to Consume and Impossible to Ignore
Content Rule #1. Add Pitstops
#1. Add a Subhead Every Few Paragraphs
#2. Avoid the 3 Subhead Blunders That Make Readers Bounce
#3. Compare Each Subhead to Your Main Headline
#4. Follow a Format
Content Rule #2. Unleash the Unexpected
You don’t want to go overboard just for the sake of adding shock value. Your advice must be authentic and truly helpful. But regurgitating old advice doesn’t challenge you as a writer, nor does it enlighten your audience.
Content Rule #3. Follow a Formula
Let’s say you write a list post covering five steps to achieve something. If the first step is 500 words, the second and third steps are 100 words, the fourth step is 200 words and the fifth step is 400 words, it looks sloppy. As though you didn’t bother to proofread it before hitting publish.
Want to go even more pro? Look at the beginning, middle, and end of each section you write, and create a guiding formula. Perhaps you start each section with a bold statement or personal experience. Then you flesh out your advice in the middle. And then you end each section with a one-sentence call to action.
Content Rule #4. Be Ridiculously Generous
Don’t hold back on your readers. Fully work through the problem with them. Give them complete solutions and powerful advice. Wow them with your generosity and they will stick around as loyal readers and customers.
Content Rule #5. Start and End Strong
Of course, every section should have great content, but if you’re offering five ways to achieve something, save your absolute best tips for the first and fifth ways. The first way will grab your readers’ attention, and the fifth way will leave them feeling fully satisfied.
While all ten ways are excellent, I’d argue that the first (about writing under the pressure of a full bladder) and last (about gambling with your reputation) are the most bold and attention-grabbing (bathroom break, anyone?).
Writing a Blog Post: Bonus Tip
Polish Your Post So It’s Smoother Than a Slip ‘n Slide
- Take a Knife to It. Slash all unnecessary words, sentences, paragraphs, stories, etc. Include only what is absolutely essential to convey your message. Nothing more.
- Motivate, Don’t Lecture. Tweak any statements that hint of being the condescending professor. Make readers feel like you’re on their side and dedicated to their success (because you are).
- Add Emotion. Infuse your writing with passion, energy, and enthusiasm. If you’re bored by your blog topic, readers will be too.
- Make it Easy on the Eye. Break up any large paragraphs (2–5 sentences maximum is your goal) and run-on sentences.
- Break it Down. Clarify overly complicated wording. If you can’t say it simply, don’t write it. You don’t want to confuse your readers.
- Speak Their Language. Add examples or metaphors to make complex ideas feel more tangible and easier to digest.
- Check Yourself. Remove any contradictory statements or repetitive ideas (trust me, they’re there).
- Don’t Yo-Yo. Ensure each sentence, paragraph and section drives the post forward toward the destination promised by the headline (no side routes or backtracking).
- Be Smooth. Make each sentence and paragraph flow seamlessly into the next. Each sentence should be completely dependent on the ones before and after it or the transitions will feel choppy.
- Avoid Sharp Turns. Adjust any abrupt changes in topic. They’re jarring to readers.
- Keep It Real. Don’t mimic styles that don’t come naturally to you. The more you write, the more you’ll find your authentic writing voice.
- Add Highlights. Use bold and italics to add stress where appropriate (but do so sparingly).
- Shoot Bullets. Use bullet points to group related topic ideas and make them more digestible.
- Spark the Senses. Be specific and concrete (describe things readers can see, feel, hear, smell or taste). Avoid abstract statements.
- Be Firm. Avoid words like “might,” “may,” “possibly” and “perhaps” when delivering your advice.
- Give Some Eye Candy. They say a picture is worth a thousand words. Add relevant images, screenshots, and infographics to your blog content.
- Respect Nature. Put things in their natural order (e.g., past to present, young to old, small to large, breakfast to dinner, etc.).
- Be Consistent. Make sure all points in a list belong to the same category; a list of steps should only list steps, a list of things should only list things, etc. This might sound like common sense, but this rule gets broken often.
- Don’t Be Lazy. Ensure all the necessary information is contained within the post itself. (External links should only provide supplemental information. A reader shouldn’t have to click a link to comprehend your post.)
- Kill the Weak. Eliminate weak and flabby words. Replace weak verbs (e.g., “she went”) with more concrete, visceral verbs (“she walked”), replace passive voice (e.g., “he was pushing”) with active voice (e.g., “he pushed”) and replace weak adjectives (e.g., “good”) with strong adjectives (e.g., “wonderful”).
- Feel the Beat. Be mindful of the pace and rhythm of each section. Speed things up or add some punch with crisp, short sentences. Slow things down with longer explanations. Good writing uses both.
- Do the Obvious. Fix any typos, spelling mistakes, or grammar mistakes (you can use grammar checkers like Grammarly and Hemingway App).
- Be Honest. Give credit where due.
How to Edit a Blog Post: Bonus Tip