The recipe for the perfect blog
I LOVE to bake. Muffins, cakes, scones, cookies. You name it. I'll bake it.
Sometimes the batter even makes it into the oven! Womp Womp.
And anyone who bakes knows the cardinal rule of baking is to always follow the directions.
Cooking is an art form. A well-seasoned chef can go off-piste with a recipe, adding an extra dash of something here or subtracting an ingredient there, they can even play around with the cooking method.
But baking is a science. Misread a teaspoon of salt for a tablespoon, my friend, and you're in for a world of hurt. Source: I have done this an embarrassing number of times.
Blogging is a lot like baking. Of course, artistry is involved (those sentences aren't going to craft themselves), but there is a science, a formula, nay, A RECIPE, for the perfect blog. Read on for the goods.
*Note: I will not write this blog like 'A sprinkle of SEO and a cup of metadata.’ So, if that's what you're looking for, you should probably get some help.
Step 1) Pick a relevant topic
You're probably not going to bake rhubarb pie in the middle of winter (good luck finding those fleshy stalks out of season). Likewise, you don't want to write about topics that aren't 'in season' or relevant (OK, that's a stretch of an analogy, just roll with it) to your brand and, more importantly, to your audience.
[Read our blog post: How to write high-impact copy for your business (even if you’re not a copywriter)]
Find out what your audience struggles with in relation to the products and services you sell (for instance, writing blogs) and then write a post about solving their challenges. It's more nuanced and more complex than that, but at the same time, if you're just getting started, it really is that simple.
Step 2) Back up your facts, yo
Once you've got a topic, it's time to get all your ingredients together. That is, your information, your data, effectively the meat of your post. The best way to do this is to interview a subject matter expert within your business. Let their insights provide the thought leadership for the blog.
Once you've interviewed them about the topic, do some desk research and find reputable stats to back up these claims. This is important because anyone can make any old claim they want ("Staplers are making a comeback!"), But it doesn't mean much unless you've got verifiable data to back it up. Sorry, stapler guy.
Step 3) Break up your @#&$!*% copy
I can't count the number of times someone has sent me copy to review, and it's just a goddamn wall of text. No one in the history of time has enjoyed reading that. So don't think your piece on inheritance bridge loans will be the game changer here.
Headers are your friends. They help to visually break up your copy. They highlight and introduce ideas. They help readers who skim first and deep-dive later (which is basically all of us). Divide your copy using compelling headers. Bullets are also friends, as are cross-links, images, graphs, and videos. See where I'm going?
And make paragraphs choppy. One or two sentences max. It's easy for a few longer sentences to start resembling that dreaded wall 'o' text.
Vary the length of your sentences.
Some can be a bit longer.
Some can be even longer, but make sure they aren't run-on sentences.
There are many schools of thought on the length of the ideal blog post and what that is depends on many factors, but the minimum length for a well-crafted, informative blog post is no less than 500 words. A well-ranking blog post needs to be at least 1,000 words. If you want in those top 3 sweet spots on Google, you're looking at 2,500.
Step 4) Don't write your blogs for search engines
Here's the thing about keyword-optimized blog posts - they need to have the keyword in them and follow on-page SEO best practices. But the writing needs to sound natural. Stuffing in keywords and phrases 1) Sounds awful 2) Doesn't work 3) Pisses off your reader.
So don't do it.
Develop a blogging strategy with keywords in mind, but remember, the goal of SEO is to build trust with your audience, not with Google. Google wants you to serve its customers. That’s what makes them happy (Google and their algorithm robots are not the end-user). So your blog posts must be optimized for the user first, not search engines.
Step 5) Inject your brand tone of voice into your writing
A brand tone of voice is important – it helps distinguish you from your competitors and gives your brand personality. And you need to get that tone of voice into your blog posts too.
Not every company has to be funny - your TOV can be many things: informative, authoritative, helpful, compassionate, provocative, etc. The most important thing is that you take the time to define a brand voice and ensure it’s consistent throughout all your marketing copy.
Your brand tone of voice should reflect your brand values and brand positioning. Law firms, generally speaking, aren't going to be silly (for good reason). An online gaming platform probably isn't going to be serious. You get the gist. Here's a great starter guide from HubSpot on creating your brand's TOV.
And regardless of what characteristics your brand voice has, it should always be confident, specific and offer clarity of thought. Always.
Step 6) Write your headline last
I don't like a blog post without a title when I'm writing (it feels like it's naked), but don't spend too much time on the headline initially. When you're done writing your post, you'll have a better sense of what the blog is about and, as a result, what the headline should be.
[Read our blog post: Foolproof journalism techniques to improve your content marketing]
Remember to spend a LONG time crafting your headline. Only 20% of people read past it (RIP David Ogilvy). And for the love of all that is good, make sure your blog post ACTUALLY delivers what's in the body of the blog. I don't want to buy a pumpkin pie and come home to find out it’s actually apple pie in the box (I mean, I would still devour it happily, but I would feel hoodwinked, you know?)
Your recipe for successful blogging
Not to mix metaphors here, but exercising your blogging muscle is the only way to strengthen it. The more you write, the better your posts will get. Over time, you’ll develop a recipe that works for your brand and your audience.
If you need help getting started, let’s have a chat. I’ve been writing blogs for over a decade, and I still get a thrill every time I press ‘Publish Now.’