Learn how to write a blog and make a living online. It is definitely possible – this tutorial will teach you how.
- Start with an Outline / Site Structure
- Write Good Headlines
- Write the Content
- Find Free Images for Commercial Use (And Other Media)
- Format Your Content
- Write With Your Audience in Mind
- Practice, practice, practice
Note: This tutorial assumes you have already identified a niche – a less than six-word descriptor of what your blog is about. For example, “how to get out of debt”, “how to create a website” or “expert photography”. If do not yet have a niche in mind, read How to Find a Niche first.
1. Start with an Outline / Site Structure
Assuming you already have a niche in mind, begin by doing a mindmap or brainstorm. Map out the key topics relevant to your niche. There are three main topic categories you should be thinking about:
1. Tier One Topics
This should be your niche
2. Tier Two Topics
Tier two topics are topics that will form the main topic areas for your website. For example, someone writing a blog on personal finance (Tier 1 topic) might have the following Tier 2 topics:
- Financial Freedom
- Credit Card Debt
- Student Loans Stock Market Investing
- Real Estate Investing
- How to Save Money
3. Tier Three Topics
Tier three topics branch out from your topic two topics, and will target specific concerns or issues that your articles will be about. Taking the first tier two topic above (“Financial Freedom”) as an example, example tier three topics include:
- What is Financial Freedom
- 7 Bloggers Who Attained Financial Freedom Online
- How to Start an Online Lifestyle Business
- 7 Ways to Reduce Your Expenses
Notice how by the time we hit tier three topics, we start thinking in terms of multiple-word, long-tail keywords that can be used as headlines for each article.
Here are a few great ways to brainstorm Tier Three topics:
- Use Google Suggest – start typing your niche or tier 2 keyword into Google, and see what Google comes up with in the drop-down. These are searches other people have been typing into Google that are related to your keyword
- Go to Wikipedia – Wikipedia articles provide a good run-down of the topic areas your topic can branch into
- Industry Blogs / Blogs by Influencers – Find industry blogs or blogs by influencers on your topic. What topics are they writing about?
- Use keyword research tools such as Market Samurai and SEMRush to find related relevant keywords
2. Write Good Headlines
The single most important skill to learn when writing a blog is to learn to write good headlines. The headline is what prospective readers read first, be it in a Google search result, Tweet, or Facebook share. These readers read the headline before deciding whether to click and read further. It has been proven that some people will retweet or share articles on the basis of the headline alone, without even reading the article.
The good news is the best headlines do not get re-invented everyday. The best copywriters do not think of new headlines from scratch. Rather, they pick from their swipe file of good headlines that are proven to work. Here are several you can start with:
- 8 Warning Signs That [Something Unpleasant]
- 7 Ways to Simplify Your [Something in the Reader’s Life]
- 7 Ways to Get Rid of [Something Frustrating/Is a Nuisance]
- How to [Do Something] in [X] Minutes/Hours/Days
- 7 Secrets of [Somebody or Group Intriguing]
- Do You Make These [X] Mistakes?
- How to [Something Good] and [Something Better] – eg. How to Win Friends and Influence People, Dale Carnegie’s bestselling classic
- Top [X] [Products/People]
- 7 Laws of [Success/Love/Blogging/etc.]
- How to [Do Something] That Your [Boss/Mom/Wife] Will [Remember/Love/Pleasant Emotion]
3. Write the Content
Start writing the content based on the headline you have brainstormed. This is the most dreaded step for most people. Here are a few tips to make this easier:
- Write in 30 Minute Blocks – I have found 30 minutes to be the perfect writing interval. If focused, I can usually hammer out 500 words within 30 minutes, or about a third to half of an article. I will then take a break, and finish the article in the next 30-minute block
- Write first, edit later – Writing and editing are two very different ways of thinking or skillsets. Switching between the two constantly taxes your brain and lowers your efficiency. Instead of trying to write and edit at the same time, focus on writing out the entire article first before going back to edit it. You will find yourself much faster this way
- Outsource the Content Creation – if you are writing a niche site that is research intensive, it may make sense to outsource the article writing. You can then edit the finished articles for your own style and personality instead of starting from scratch. Here are the best online outsourcing providers I have worked with
4. Find Free Images for Commercial Use (And Other Media)
Consider adding any or all of the following media to your blog post: images, videos and infographics. Adding any or all of them will increase user interaction, average time spent on site, number of shares, and lower your bounce rate.
Finding great free stock photos to add to your site is easier than it sounds. We even compiled a list of 41 websites with free images for commercial use.
5. Format your content
Notice how the headers, selective use of bold and italicized text and links on this image make it easy to scan the page. Formatting your content makes it easy for your readers and increases the likelihood that they will want to keep reading.
Here are the most common formatting HTML tags to have handy:
- H1, H2, H3 tags – these header tags help you delineate large blocks of content. Search engines such as Google also pay attention to these headers to figure out what your content is about, so make sure you use them
- ol, ul, li tags – ol stands for ordered list, while ul stands for unordered list. li is used to indicate the start of a new bullet. Indented lists group pieces of information together easily
- b, i tags – bold and italicize text to add emphasize along the way
- br, p tags – paragraph and add line breaks as necessary to break up your text
- hr tag – use this tag to add a horizontal line across the page
- a href tag – use this tag to add hyperlinks. Internal linking is an important search engine ranking factor
6. Write With Your Audience in Mind
The best blog posts have a conversational, friendly, easy-to-follow style of writing. Write as if you were speaking directly to your audience. Avoid verbose, complicated vocabulary and long sentences. Make your writing as easy to understand as possible.
7. Practice, practice, practice
Finally, remember that writing great blog posts is a skill like any other. In Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers, he studied the world’s top performers in many fields and observed that most of these top performers needed at least 10,000 hours of practice to attain mastery.
Practice makes perfect – keep writing, and you will definitely get better at it over time.
Hope this tutorial on how to write a blog was helpful. Any comments or suggestions? Please leave a note below.