I’ve been blogging for over 10 years and I’ve written thousands of blog posts across multiple sites, not all of them under my byline. I’ve spoken with dozens of clients and even colleagues about blogging and I get the same questions and concerns over and over again, which means lots of people have similar things that hold them back.
Blogging about your expertise can be intimidating and it can also feel like you’re giving away what you do for free. Will you give away a lot of your expertise? Absolutely. Will it impact the business you get? Highly unlikely.
The person who will only ever read your blog and book a free consult with you without signing a contract isn’t in your target market. There are ways to filter this person out.
You can blog everything you know about what you do and it will never equate to you providing the experience that backs up your expertise for that person/business.
With that in mind, I’ve decided to share some of my blogging expertise with you that I’ve gained over the last 10 years in a couple of posts that I hope will help you gain more comfort and confidence in the process. Today, I want you to write down a single topic you can write about and I’ll break down a process you can use to craft a blog post on the topic you’ve chosen.
1) Write down 3-5 key points you want to make in your post
This doesn’t have to be a well-crafted outline. By writing out the points you want to make before you start filling in your post, you’ll stay focused on the most important things you want to say and you’ll be able to decide how you want to organize the content.
One option is to have a free-flowing narrative (I don’t recommend this for readability reasons). Or you might lay it out with headers breaking up the different points you’re making. Another option is to make an orderly numbered list (or “listicle” = list + article). This post is a step-by-step how-to, which is another option.
2) Draft your first paragraph to hook the reader in
This paragraph is critical. It needs to have enough information help the reader determine whether to keep reading. Not everyone will and that’s okay. But you don’t want people to stop because the first paragraph is rambly or vague.
Give them a clue about what value you’re going to provide in the rest of the post that makes it worth their time. There are too many things competing for our attention in the world right now to waste time on a blog (or any other content) you don’t need to read.
3) Fill out the rest of your post with more detail
Take those 3-5 points you wrote down and expand on them:
Why are they important?
How will they help your reader?
What practical action can they take with them?
When you’re fleshing out your content, the 5 Ws+H (who, what, when, where, why, and how) can be a useful way for you to get into the mind of your reader to help them.
4) Make your post easy to scan
I mentioned readability up above because it’s one more way you can help your readers digest your content quickly in today’s fast-paced world. And it’s easy to do:
Add headings to break up longer blocks of text.
Use bullets or numbered lists to further break up your copy.
Keep paragraphs short - 2-3 sentences max.
Avoid using all caps. (IT’S TOO SCREAMY!)
The headings and bullet lists are also good for search engine bots that scan your website. They’ll index your post to include in search results and good headings that include the right keywords and rich media (see #5) give you a boost and put your post in the right context for search engines.
5) Add pictures, videos, and links that support your content
Pictures add visual interest and illustrations can can help you explain more complex concepts. They also help make the post more scannable for the reader. (You should also learn how to add images and videos using accessible methods, but that’s a post for another day.)
Videos and links to content that support your points are valuable validation, even if it comes from another source. I just wouldn’t advise using your competitors as a source. External sources do add credibility to your thoughts and ideas by showing you stay up-to-date with what’s going on and you know what you’re talking about.
6) Reiterate the most important points in your conclusion
I avoid using “conclusion” as a heading and I don’t open the concluding paragraph with “in conclusion.” These are both fairly formal practices that don’t fit as well in the blogging world. However, you don’t have to reiterate all of your points. You can stick to a key takeaway based on applying the whole of your post.
7) Indicate the next step for your audience
Figure out what you want your reader to do next and ask them to do it. Every post should have a call to action (CTA), whether it’s directing them to a resource, offering up your time for a call, or asking a question for them to respond to in the comments.
Just avoid salesy CTAs and your audience will be more likely to take action.
8) Finalize your headline
You can write your headline anytime in this process. If you know what you want it to be before you start writing your post, that’s fine.
No matter when you decide the headline, always revisit it after reading through the entire post again. That gives you the chance to ensure it’s still relevant and fitting to the content of your post.
9) Read it one more time
I’m writing this post roughly three weeks before it’s going to be published. I’ll mark it “needs review” and come back to it for another read-through in a day or two. This gives me some time and space between writing and reading so I’m able to catch errors and refine anything I think is unclear.
No one expects absolute perfection in grammar, sentence structure, and spelling. But the more errors you can eliminate (if you don’t have an editor at your disposal), the better for your readers.
Your blogging challenge for this week
I challenge you to try it out. You don’t have to publish it. Just go through the nine steps in a document. You can even send it to me; I’d love to read it!
And next week, I’ll show you how to use a content map to keep a steady stream of content. That way, you can do this over and over as you grow your blog!