When I started blogging, writing didn't come naturally to me.
Not at all.
It took me forever to craft a single post and sometimes I'd be halfway through an article when I would decide to scrap the entire thing because I didn't like where it was headed.
It was rough—but over time I've had a lot of practice and picked up a ton of tips that I'm happy to share with you today.
I'm no CopyBlogger, but these are the things that help me write more efficiently.
Before the fingers hit the keyboard, there are some things you can do to increase the chances that you'll have a great writing experience.
Start With the End
“If you don't know where you're going, how are you going to get there?”
No—I'm not telling you to start off by writing your last paragraph. Instead, I'm asking you to think about what your concluding paragraph might say.
Beyond that, what do you want your readers to experience after reading your post? What do you want them to do? How do you want them to feel?
These are all important questions you should ask yourself first because the answers can help you craft your post and exactly what elements might be included in it.
What Part of the Content Pyramid Are You Shooting For?
Have you ever considered The Content Pyramid?
The content pyramid is my made-up guide for understanding the different types of content that you can publish on your blog, which appeal to different kinds of people and how much of each type one should write.
Here's a refresher image:
Before you begin writing a new post, it's good to know where on the Content Pyramid that post might lie.
Sometimes, the Content Pyramid itself can help you determine what kind of post to write too.
Mind and Body Prep
I don't know about you, but I have to be in the mood to write.
If I'm not—it's going to be a struggle and the last thing I want to do is try to force an article out of myself. I want my writing to flow naturally, and I'm sure you do too.
In order be in the mood, it's all about properly preparing your mind and your body. You can do so by thinking about these two elements:
- Energy: One of the hardest things to do is write when you don't have the energy to do it. So many things play a role in how much energy you have—from sleep to diet, fitness and even stress. You should at least be conscious about your energy levels and what you know you can do to keep your energy levels high.
Quick Tip from Pat: One thing I always think about is what time(s) of the day I have higher energy levels, and make sure that is when I write. For me, I always write late at night.
- Environment: Another vital factor to your mood can be the environment that you are writing in. Everyone has different preferences for what is the best environment to write in, but again it's just something to be conscious about. For example, I need a well-lit area and I need the area to be absolutely clean and quiet, so I'm usually in my office (and I need to wear socks too, but I won't get into that now). I absolutely cannot concentrate in a cafe or coffee shop, while I know a number of other bloggers who have written their best posts while sitting in a coffee shop somewhere.
Once you actually start writing, it's a whole new ballgame. Let's get into some tips that you can use while you're constructing your post.
The headline or title is one of the most important elements of your post.
You can have the best content in the world, but if your headline is terrible chances are people are not going to read it because they'll skip over an uninteresting headline. This is especially true when you consider social sharing.
As a result, one of the first things people do is try to come up with the perfect title. This is good—except that sometimes the perfect title doesn't come right away, which can lead to frustration and a lack of—well, content in your post.
My tip for you is this: if you can't think of a good title or headline within 3 minutes, just start writing your post. Don't let the headline stop you from pouring out the excellent content that you know you can write, and sometimes as you write the headline will naturally come later.
When You Get Stuck
Sometimes you'll be in the middle of a post and for whatever reason all of a sudden you draw a blank.
This happens to me all of the time!
The first part of the post is awesome, but for some reason something doesn't click and every new line I write just doesn't seem right.
When this happened in the past, I used to delete the entire thing and start over.
Now—I do a number of different things when I arrive at this point:
- Take a Break: 15 minutes away from your writing can do wonders for the rest of your post.
- Save as a Draft and Start a New Post: If it's not working out, save it as a draft and start a new post. You can come back to it later (like when you're stuck in another post in the future) and maybe you have another idea that's better for you to write now. Personally, I currently have 12 half-written posts saved for later. 😉
- Get Inspiration from Your Community: Ask a relevant question to your fans on Facebook or Twitter and you might get something interesting or inspiring that can guide the next part of your post.
Imagine Who You're Writing To
This is, by far, one of the best tips I can give you when it comes to writing your posts:
Imagine who you're writing to.
Remember—we aren't writing for ourselves, and we aren't writing for the search engines (although search engines can guide how we present our information).
We write for our audience, and if you can imagine a single person in your audience who you're writing to, your ideas and writing are going to flow much better.
When I write, even though I know a lot of people will read my posts, I imagine a specific person who I feel will benefit from it, and I do my best to make sure that he or she will totally get what I'm trying to convey.
When I can do that, the post reads better for everyone.
A blog post doesn't end after you finish your last word. In fact, that's only the beginning of many other things that should be done.
Preview the Post and Read Your Post Aloud
Instead of just skimming what you just wrote in your WordPress editor, actually preview the post so you can see what it looks like when it's published on your blog.
In addition to that, read your post out loud. Not out loud in your head, but actually outloud-outloud so that you can hear yourself saying the words.
Reading your post aloud in a new environment, one that's different than the one you're editing on, will help you locate some possible spelling, grammatical and formatting errors that you wouldn't have caught otherwise.
Also, you'll be able to hear the flow of your post. Maybe it makes sense in your head, but when you read it out loud it might not sound right or things might need to be rearranged at little.
Publish the Darn Thing
At some point, you're going to have to push that publish button, so when you feel your post is ready, just do it.
When I first started blogging, I'd finish a post, proofread it and then hover over the publish button for what seemed like days, scared like something immediate and drastic would happen if I didn't get the post absolutely right.
Yes—when you hit the publish button your post goes live, your RSS subscribers get notified and your site pings the search engines, but really it's not that big of a deal. If you made a mistake—it's all good.
Just fix your mistake, republish the post and know that you did what you could. It's not the end of the world.
At this point, however, you're still not done with your post. In fact, some of the most important things that can happen to your post happen after it's published.
Here are two additional “oldie-but-still-goodie” posts here on SPI that will help you understand what you should be doing after your post goes live:
There are obviously several other tips for writing blog posts that I haven't touched on today, but these are definitely some of my favorites—mainly because they are different.
Do you have one or two writing tips that you'd like to share with the community? If so, please post a comment and share the knowledge!
I hope you enjoyed this post! And if you did, please feel free to share it!
Cheers, and all the best! 🙂