The hard part about writing isn’t the writing itself… It’s the getting started.
That’s the hard part.
Maybe you start with the headline… A basic idea of what you want your post to be about.
You add some bullet points as you go along… Talking points that are meant to compliment and support your main idea.
You just write.
But, A Few Things To Avoid…
- Don’t worry about the title. If it sucks, well, you can always edit it and make it better later. For now, just go for something that gets the main point across.
- Don’t edit as you go along…just write. You can edit things later. Right now, it’s about getting every possible idea down on paper.
- Don’t worry about grammar and punctuation. Again, you can edit that later.
- Don’t worry about length. If it sounds too verbose, you can trim it down later.
- Don’t worry about structure. You can rewrite for structure during the editing/rewriting process (that comes later).
I think you get the point.
The first draft isn’t meant to be perfect. It’s about squeezing every single little thought that contributes to your main point down in writing.
Then, the Rewrite:
This is the part where you edit.
…for typos, for structure, for strategy and for clarity.
Here’s a general outline of what you need to score a good post…
1. The headline is what draws the reader in.
Pick up a magazine (any magazine) or grab today’s paper. Look at the headlines. Each has been masterfully crafted to grab your attention. They’re sensational, sure, but they grab your attention.
Your blog posts need to do the same thing. Your headline after all, is your first point of contact with a potential reader. Either it grabs their attention and they’re compelled to click to read on, or it doesn’t and you’ve just lost a reader.
The lesson: master the art of writing compelling headlines. To do that, I recommend reading Jon Morrow’s Headline Hacks: a “cheat-sheet” for Writing Blog Posts That Go Viral.
2. Have a compelling opening hook that makes the reader want to read more.
You’re headline got me here, but now your opening sentence needs to be compelling enough to make me want to read more.
…a statement of fact with supporting statistics or studies to follow.
Whatever it is, it needs to be compelling enough to keep my attention and make me want to read more. But also, it’s needs to be relevant to the promise made by your headline.
If either of those isn’t in sync, you’ve just lost a reader.
3. You need an image to compliment your post.
Why? For one, it makes it easier on your reader’s eyes. And a good image, allows the reader to make a deeper connection with your content.
Ever read a cook book? They’re riddled with recipes and photos of the dishes you’re about to prepare. The recipes themselves are boring, it’s the images that make you salivate.
4. Support what you say with specific and concrete examples.
If you want your post to be compelling, you need to support what you have to say with specific examples – stats, expert references, case-studies, etc. Your goal is to come off as authoritative.
5. Lastly, close with a strong call to action.
You’ve grabbed your reader’s attention with a captivating headline, you’ve hooked them in with your opening paragraph, and you’ve supported the thesis of your post with tons of supporting bullet points. Now what?
It’s time to wrap it up…
You don’t want to leave your reader hanging, wondering over what to do next. Don’t leave them wondering why they bothered to read your post to begin with, offer them a takeaway (or two).
Do you want them to think about the subject and start a discussion in the comments? Close with a question… Something for them to think about and answer.
What them to share your post? Tell them to do so.
Give them something to think about and something to take away.
A Simple 8 Step Process:
- Start with a title.
- Write without editing. (Just write)
- Let the first draft sit for a while.
- Then, rewrite. For clarity, for proper punctuation and grammar… For structure and purpose.
- Find a good image to compliment your post.
- Reread and edit.
- Double-check your closing statement(s) (your Call To Action).
- And publish.
The first draft isn’t going to be perfect (it was never meant to be). But follow these steps and it’ll get easier and easier to publish great blog posts.
What do you think? Did I miss anything important? What’s your process for writing a great blog post?