How to Write a Blog
Sharing your thought leadership is an important part of owning your voice and building your personal brand. While some element of writing always comes down to your personal style and approach, there are some best practices you can use to write a great blog post every time.
Know Your Purpose
What is the goal of your blogging? This question is important because your strategy will change based on what you hope to achieve. For example, if you want to rank for a specific service on Google’s organic rankings, your approach will be different than if you are using your blog primarily to engage with your audience. You can definitely accomplish more than one thing with each of your blogs, but the core should help drive how technical you make the blogs, how much research you include, and the final polished look.
Knowing your purpose also helps you with another process: defining your voice. Your voice will be unique to you and your audience. Companies or people who write humorous or sarcastic blogs will have a completely different flair from a professional who writes matter-of-factly. You decide what truly represents what you’re aiming to accomplish.
Create an Editorial Strategy
Do you want to focus on a certain topic each month? How will one blog’s title flow to another in your publishing sequence? These are important questions that must be answered by your editorial strategy.
Your editorial strategy will be driven by the titles you choose to write about and the order in whcih you publish and share them.
While the title of your blog can be whatever you want, it’s good to ensure that it matches the actual content of your blog. This is why the exercise of determining your main point or argument is so key: it’s the first step in figuring out your title. Great titles often ask questions or explain a “how to”, but you are not limited to those strategies alone.
One of the best ways to get topics is to be an avid reader and follower of other leaders in your space. This helps you see what other people are thinking about and working on. Before committing to coming up with a specific set of topics, allow yourself the freedom to read, listen, and make mental notes about your thoughts and questions.
Over this process of allowing one article or idea to link to another, start to jot down some notes:
- What do you agree or disagree with?
- What new ideas or questions were sparked by you as you went through the process?
- What made you think of a related topic that you now want to research?
Here’s an example of a recent research topic process I went through:
- I was curious about the gender pay gap and whether it’s gotten any better.
- I started by doing hard research in Harvard Business Review to find the most relevant statistics. During that process, I found some interesting mentions that disparity was worse for certain industries or races.
- This led me to do other research to see who was writing about these issues and whether or not anyone had proposed solutions.
- From there, I started to make my hypothesis about my main point: we’d come a long way with the gender pay gap, but improvements haven’t helped everyone equally.
- I used the information I found and some of my notes to lay out an outline and decide on the total flow of the finished blog.
Make a Hypothesis or Key Argument
If you had to explain to someone else what your blog is about, could you do it in one sentence? Challenge yourself to have a “main point” or argument that someone else could easily understand in a brief conversation.
While there’s probably a lot more “meat” to your article, this is your way to ensure you have one concise idea. For example, maybe your blog goes into the fact that few Americans take all of their vacation days from their work and how this connects to a serious hustle and burnout culture, but you also reference issues around differences by gender and type of industry. You could consolidate that down to “I make the argument that the current system of paid time off isn’t working and what I think might solve this issue.” This sets someone up to be intrigued about your final blog post, but clearly makes one argument or statement that is easily understood by a stranger.
This is a great test to use because it helps make sure that your blog can connect with a broad range of people in your target readership.
Make an Outline
Your outline should include your main title and then some of your subheadings or subtopics. These are the main points you want to make in the article that you want to “call out” to the reader.
If possible, let your outline sit for a day or two. This gives you a chance to mull things over in the back of your mind. Then you can add new ideas or rearrange the text of what you’ve included to determine the best possible outline.
From your outline, this is where you also notice if there are holes in your research. Have you included a subheading that you don’t have the data for or need to spend some more time looking into? Now is the chance to complete that research before you move into the writing phase.
Write the Blog
Once you have all the information you need and your notes are ready, write. It can take anywhere from one to eight hours to write a blog post depending on the length of the finished blog, how technical it is, and more.
View your first draft as a true draft- don’t try to edit as you write. Instead, allow a minimum of a few hours to pass between when you write and when you edit the blog. Try to make your writing time focused and free from distractions, and carve out time on your calendar so that you’re not rushed.
Make Edits & Publish
After you’ve had some time to step away from your original draft, come back to edit this version. Read it out loud to catch any mistakes and decide where something doesn’t transition well.
Your publishing process is just as, if not more, important than writing the blog itself. It’s no good if no one sees your material. So once you feel it’s in finished version, look for opportunities to add images and polish and decide how you’ll share. Some ideas might include:
- On your personal LinkedIn profile
- On other social media channels
- To your email list
Make sure that you don’t just share this on your social media once. You can actually come back and share this one month or two months from now, especially if you pull out a different social media snippet. Sometimes people in your circle don’t see the post right away and when you’re adding new people all the time, you want to ensure you’re sharing your best content.
Get Started with Blogging
You can use the template below to start brainstorming your next blog post.
Blogging Template - Concept
What is my main point/argument?
Finished product text