Writing for a blog isn’t the same as other types of writing. It’s not even the same as writing static copy for a website or email marketing sequence or posts for a social media audience.
Whether you’re writing for your first blog or are an experienced blogger, you also need to focus on the quality and style of your blog writing. Good blog posts should be persuasive, well-written, properly formatted, and adequately sourced. A great blog post is also compelling and highly engaging.
If you’re planning to launch a new blog or you’d just like to improve your writing skills, start with these ten writing tips and tactics. They’ll help you create tighter, more engaging, and persuasive blog posts.
1: Know what kind of post you’re writing.
While styles vary from blog to blog, most blog content can be divided into the following general blog post types:
- Thought leadership showcases strong opinion and well-crafted supporting arguments.
- News and current events posts keep readers informed on timely developments and breaking news in a specific niche or field.
- How-to guides and tutorials set out a step-by-step guide to accomplish a certain goal or task.
- Listicles and rankings posts present multiple informational points in a streamlined list format.
- Case studies are narratives that set out a client’s problem, what you or your company did to solve it, and the results they enjoyed.
Use these categories to provide a template for your blog post and target your writing accordingly. For example, you’ll want to be more eloquent in thought leadership but more succinct in a list post.
2: Pay attention to grammar.
Occasional mild errors, such as misspelled words or misplaced punctuation marks, probably won’t have a significant impact on your audience or prospects. However, some grammatical errors, such as heavy use of passive voice, can weaken an otherwise persuasive argument and put the brakes on your conversion rates. Others, like failing to follow verb tense rules, can lead readers to conclude your blog isn’t authoritative or reliable.
If grammar isn’t your particular strength as a writer, bookmark and consistently use digital and print resources to help improve your writing skills.
- Websites such as Grammar Girl (and its associated eponymous podcast), Daily Grammar, and Lousy Writer offer blog posts and a wealth of static resource pages on various aspects of English grammar.
- If you’re writing according to a specific set of style guidelines, invest in a subscription to the digital version. The AP Stylebook and Chicago Manual of Style both offer subscriptions for users.
- Another worthwhile investment for bloggers and other digital writers is Strunk and White’s classic, ‘The Elements of Style.’
- Add apps, browser extensions, and tools such as the Hemingway App or Grammarly to help you spot grammatical errors and typos as you work on your posts.
3: Start with a strong outline.
Even before you start writing, take a stab at creating an outline for your post. New bloggers often find this as an unnecessary step, but more experienced bloggers actually find creating an outline helps them save time in the long run by helping them target their writing and research.
A good outline also helps you pinpoint those areas you’ll need to research. After all, sometimes you don’t even know what you don’t know until you try to map it out. If you hit a point where you just don’t know what to write, then pause at that point in the outline and list your questions. If you’re not even sure what questions to ask, then simply jot down a placeholder like “TKTK” and keep moving forward.
4: Research your post.
It might seem like unnecessary work to research blog posts, which often seem more informal than other types of writing. Yet research adds so much to your writing that it’s almost always worth taking the time to dig a little deeper, even for blog posts on topics with which you’re already familiar. It can also help your on-page SEO efforts by revealing valuable keywords to include, which helps search engines rank your content more favorably.
Research can help you improve your blog writing in a number of ways:
- Add interesting facts for color and greater reader engagement
- Support your arguments with authoritative studies, research, and other reliable sources
- Double-check your assumptions and make sure your argument or message is resting on a solid foundation
In addition, linking out to leading blogs in your field as source material helps you build relationships with other bloggers. It’s important to link to other sites when it’s genuinely useful to your reader, not to you. However, linking out does present an opportunity for you to form a genuine relationship with those writers. It may also make them more likely to link back to your site.
5: Write for the digital landscape.
People read digital text differently than words in print. We tend to skim and scan a webpage instead of reading each blog post word-by-word.
The tendency to scan a blog post quickly also means users may not retain information contained in digital content as deeply or for as long as they do with printed text.
As you craft your blog posts, keep in mind these four fundamentals of digital writing:
- Cut unnecessary words. Compact writing trims out the verbal fat and will attract more focused reading.
- Vary the length of sentences and paragraphs to create visual interest. Similarly sized chunks of text create visual fatigue in the reader and increase the likelihood of shallow scanning.
- Use formatting strategically. Call attention to the major points with bold or italicized text. Use bullet points and numbered lists to help readers group concepts together.
- Leave whitespace. A cluttered page also creates attention fatigue. Leave a whitespace buffer around your text to put the spotlight on your words.
6: Don’t shy away from voice.
The indexed web hosts approximately 5.27 billion pages of content, and that number is constantly increasing. In a sea of noise, it’s difficult for signals to stand out — even if that signal is meaningful and truly valuable.
One method for grabbing your audience’s attention is by expressing your own personality in your writing. It makes you stand out from every other blogger, which means you can build an audience organically. Don’t be afraid to let your personality infuse your blog writing.
7: Read your blog writing out loud.
Reading a draft blog post out loud can help you pinpoint some sneaky writing problems that need to be fine-tuned, such as:
- Any phrase or sentence with awkward wording
- Grammatically incorrect segments, such as run-on sentences
- Long sentences and paragraphs that need to be chopped up into smaller parts
- Leaps in logic or other parts of your argument that need clarification for readers
Make a note of those weak spots and edit them accordingly. Sometimes, all it takes is a minor tweak. Read the passage aloud again to be sure you’ve fixed the problem.
8: Get an editor.
Any writer can become blind to their own writing. Editors bring a fresh set of trained eyes to your piece to highlight and fix grammatical, spelling, and other errors as well as help you improve your on-page SEO with keyword placement and formatting suggestions.
A good editor will also help you tighten up your prose, making it easier to read and comprehend, which means your readers will come away with a better impression of your content and the brand behind it. It’s far better to learn of any flaws before you publish than to recognize them after the post is live.
9: Take an online writing course.
Even the most successful writers periodically take a writing class or workshop. Additional training and refresher courses can help you improve your writing weaknesses and give you a fresh perspective on your process.
Many educational websites such as Skillshare and Udemy offer writing classes tailored to the unique needs of bloggers. You may also want to search for courses on content writing and content marketing, as both of these skills are involved in successful blog writing.
10: Read other blogs.
If you want to improve your blog writing skills, it’s essential to read other well-written blogs. Choose relevant blogs that help you learn more about your field, your competitors, or the digital landscape in general. You may also want to check out a writing blog or two.
Three specific guidelines can help you sort out the blog writing that will be most helpful to your own work:
- Read broadly: Choose blogs in other niches, not just your own. You’d be surprised how often a seemingly unrelated topic leads to creative breakthroughs in a blog post.
- Read deeply: Look for posts that go in-depth on topics related to your own so you can analyze how successful bloggers construct arguments, craft headlines, and attract traffic.
- Read aspirationally: Check out award-winning blogs. Regularly absorbing the words of talented writers helps you raise your own game by showing you what’s possible and giving you additional tools for your blogging toolbox.
Keep working at it.
Meeting your blogging goals means putting out the best possible content. When you’ve crafted that perfect blog post, don’t forget to promote your work on social media, to your email list, and elsewhere.
And keep working at improving your work. Great blog writing is a skill that improves with attention, practice and feedback.
Thanks for reading! Do you want to create thought leadership articles like the one above? If you struggle to translate your ideas into content that will help build credibility and influence others, sign up to get John’s latest online course “Writing From Your Voice” here.