Welcome to Part 2 in my How to Start a Blog Series; Writing a Blog Post! If you missed the first one, which is all about the foundations of creating a Blog, click here! This second part is to share what I have found is useful as well as necessary when writing a post. Knowing the different ways I can accomplish a task quickly, efficiently, and as professionally as possible is my goal, and I want to share them with you. In this post, I will go into detail on what is needed to successfully create the best possible blog posts!
Browser Extensions That are Helpful in Writing a Blog Post
You would never know it, but some browser extensions, be it in Chrome or even Firefox, are extremely helpful when you are planning and writing posts on your new blog.
Below are some extensions that I no longer know how I can blog without! And did I mention that they’re FREE?
Grammarly for Your Blog Posts:
Punctuation has always been extremely important to me, but I never quite know when to add all the commas. I’m never positive if I’m using a word that is not the most concise or if there is a different structure I should be utilizing in a sentence.
Grammarly is awesome for this! So many times I will be writing a post and it’ll tell me when I’m being an idiot and forgot to spell a word correctly, forgot a word entirely, or when I forgot to add a comma, or even added a comma unnecessarily.
When I’m about to publish something on the internet (for hopefully many many thousands of people) the last thing I would like is for my published post to have too much of an unprofessional slant.
Grammarly also sends weekly reports on your writing for the last week and tells you how many words have been checked or written, as well as your stats compared to their other writers. It’s extremely interesting to view, and very inspiring to see how much you’ve written.
This extension is not necessarily to help in writing posts per se, but it helps you GET to your posts.
A regular person, without a blog, will have tons of passwords and usernames to remember. Add in a blog and then you’ve added passwords for email, WordPress, your Hosting site, Social Media, Plug-ins, and so many more.
LastPass safely keeps these usernames and passwords for you, and will even generate new and more secure passwords to ensure you don’t use the same password for all accounts that you create. There is no cost to this either! Absolutely free service, unless you’d like to pay for their upgrade. I have not seen a need to do so, however. Also, there is no need to only keep your blog associated accounts within LastPass.
The service is very friendly and allows you to add any login account information. The extension allows you to easily use it across different browsers and you can even install the LastPass app on your phone. No more worries on losing or forgetting your passwords again! And did I mention, free?
Pinterest Save Button
Pinterest Save Button is an amazingly useful extension that places a Save button on images and allows you to pin that image to your Pinterest account. Don’t have a Pinterest account yet, or only have a personal Pinterest? Get one for your blog!
Half of the traffic, if not more, that a blog gets is from Pinterest and the Pin Images that are created for the different posts you will create.
Once you have created the Pinterest Pins for a blog post, you would use the Pinterest Save Button extension and pin that easily and oh so quickly to your Pinterest account in order to start marketing that post.
For great help in learning how to create a Pin Image, I looked on YouTube and learned a great deal from Startamomblog. She breaks it down in such an easy to consume way and makes it an “aha” moment. She has a lot of free videos on this on YouTube!
Depending on which browser you use, such as Firefox or Chrome or even Internet Explorer will depend on where this can be installed. Simply complete a Google search for “Pinterest Save Button extension” with your browser name. Then just install it, and enjoy!
I love Keywords Everywhere. This is an excellent way to determine what topic has a great search volume and the tool also provides additional phrases that you can either include in the same blog post or expand on in future posts.
When deciding on what type of blog to create or which topics to put into an existing blog, it’s very helpful and extremely useful to have actual numbers that show which keywords are getting searched.
Keywords Everywhere will also show how many times per month a keyword is searched as well as the typical Cost Per Click for that Keyword. This is the analytics that will allow you to determine if the topic or keyword you have chosen for a post is currently or historically getting searched for.
It’s a wonderful tool to ensure you are writing on a topic that people are wanting to read about. When you are trying to get traffic to your blog, this part is enormously important.
What Type of Blog Post to Write?
You’ve started a blog, you’ve done your research, you have your keywords. Now it’s time to write the post! Not so fast! First, you will want to think about this: There are a few different TYPES of blog posts that you will want to write.
A pillar post is exactly as it sounds. It is a post that can hold up the majority of posts around a topic. This particular post will be quite long and very in-depth…think mini ebook. It should definitely be around 2000 words at least.
You want to reassure your reader that you do actually know what you are talking about though this post, and this is also a wonderful post type for SEO ranking.
Make sure in the pillar post that you are using your keywords liberally, but at the same time ensure that it flows nicely for your reader and doesn’t seem like you are just spitting out the keywords to just spit them out. It’s a fine balancing act that needs to be finessed, and not spewed.
When thinking of what to write as a response post, these are the “responses” to questions that are raised from your pillar posts. See, everything really does go back to that pillar!
Upon looking for your keywords in Google, or Bing, or Keywords Everywhere there are many different questions that arise from just that one search. Scroll down the screen after your search, and you will see questions Google shows under a section labeled “Searches related to”… and then Google will list your keyword search topic.
These specific search topics that Google is suggesting? It’s Gold! These are topics people are searching for and they are based around your main keyword. Now you have tons of ideas for posts, and Google has already told you people are searching for them!
- Now, to the all-important staple blog post. Pizza is a staple in many diets. Likewise, these posts will be the cheese that holds your pepperoni together. Translation? Without cheese, the pepperoni falls off the pizza, or it may slide around on the sauce (response posts).
So…without the staple posts your pillar posts would stand alone and have no “glue”. Now that I’ve made myself hungry, what does the pizza analogy mean?!
Think of a staple post as your “helpful”, yet money-making post. This is your tips and tricks and “best of” posts that can then link out to your affiliate products.
- 10 Best Pizza Recipes
- 5 Best Ingredients for Homemade Pizza Dough
- The Absolute Best Pizza Stone You Can’t Live Without
The above ideas are examples of something that you would see as a Stape Post.
If you make a Pillar post called something like: “How to Make Pizza to Rival the Best Restaurants” that is really in-depth, and gives a visitor all they would need to know around the process, you could then easily link the pillar post to the other staple posts and vice versa. This will keep them stuck on your site for a long time!
Making a Sticky Blog Through Your Blog Posts
Speaking of a sticky blog. When writing a blog post, you want to think during the writing process how you will go about making your blog as sticky as possible. This means – make it like double-sided tape.
If you get a reader….keep ’em reading and scrolling as long as possible!
If they are on your blog reading one of your posts, you want to be able to refer them, meaning provide a link, to another of your posts that is related to the one they are reading. This keeps them reading more than just the initial post that they arrived on your site to see. In order to do this, LINK LINK LINK.
When writing your post, think about the other posts you have on your blog and make sure to link back to them to entice your reader to keep reading more of your posts and stay on your blog even longer!
You could then also go back to your older blog posts that relate to the newest one and link to that as well. This doesn’t only make your blog sticky either. This also makes for good SEO. The longer a viewer stays on your site, the more posts that they read, the more Google will start to like you.
How to Plan a Blog Post
There are a few different things I do when I’m prepping to write a blog post. First thing I do is channel my high school and college days in English class. Remember those “fun” papers that would have to be written and the format that would have to be followed?
Unfortunately, my English teacher could now say, “I told you so” in regards to needing this information in the future.
When I’m researching and planning a blog post, the first thing I do is map it out.
Decide What Type of Blog Post to Write
Surprisingly, there are actually two decisions you need to make when you decide what type of blog post to write.
- Pillar Post, Response Post, or Staple Post – Decide which type of Blog post
- Informational, Entertaining, Instructional, or Influential – Decide how you’d like to approach the writing. Will you inform them on your topic, entertain them with it, teach them how to do something, or try to influence them to your way of thinking, or even influence them into buying something?
See? You’re starting to have flashbacks to English class now too, aren’t you? But it comes in so handy! Once you realize how you’d like to proceed with your post the planning is so much easier.
How to Plan Your Blog Post Structure
Just as in English class, there is a certain structure to your posts. You want to be able to guide your reader easily through the different transitions within the post itself.
Make this paragraph slightly larger, and maybe even in bold font. You don’t have long to really grab a viewer, so grab them in that first couple of sentences. This will give them a brief overview of what your post will be helping them with, and will basically let them know if it’s something they want to spend time reading.
Plan H2 and H3 Headings
You’re probably thinking to yourself right now? What the heck? Headings? And why are we starting at H2? What happened to the H1? Ok, let’s think of this as a movie, and break down the differences.
This will be your Title heading type. So, other than that, you won’t need to worry about it. But, just to have a title name, ours will be, “The Adventures and Mishaps of SlapHappy Man”. (I think I need a better superhero name)
These are the main transitions within your post or the main characters in your plot. They will help you completely explain and categorize the main topic. If your title (H1 Heading) is “The Adventures and Mishaps of Splatman”, then an H2 Heading would be “How the Adventures of SlapHappy Man Began” or “SlapHappy Man Overcomes Mishaps to Save the World!” Do you notice that the H2 headings are using the same keywords, and they are allowing themselves to be played off somehow in a sequel post? This would be a great way to invite readers to continue the story with an extended blog post on this same heading that you can link out to on your blog!
These are the sub-headings under the H2 Headings. Confusing? Well, let’s continue to break this down. When you are writing with SEO in mind, the Yoest Plug-in recommends no more than 300 words per heading, which is why the H3 headings are so perfect under your H2 Headings. Plus, this is a great way to make your post a lot easier to read, and much more digestible when it’s completely broken out. In this case, under our H2 heading of “SlapHappy Man Overcomes Mishaps to Save the World!”, you could have an H3 heading of, “Will SlapHappy Man Survive in a Cell with the Killer Clowns?” It’s still its own category, but it fits in line with what your main H2 heading is working at trying to extrapolate on. So, to see our progress, we have now planned our title, an H2 heading, and an H3 heading:
- H1: “The Adventures and Mishaps of SlapHappy Man”
- H2: “SlapHappy Man Overcomes Mishaps to Save the World!”
- H3: “Will SlapHappy Man Survive in a Cell with the Killer Clowns?”
- H2: “SlapHappy Man Overcomes Mishaps to Save the World!”
- H1: “The Adventures and Mishaps of SlapHappy Man”
Writing The Blog Posts
You didn’t think I’d forget the whole recipe for post writing, did you? Oh, ye of little faith. Below are the steps you want to make sure to take when writing that blog post!
Using Microsoft Word and Google Docs When Writing a Blog Post
One of my favorite ways to start planning my blog posts is within Microsoft Word or Google Docs. If you don’t have Microsoft Office, then Google Docs is a really wonderful free option that you can use, and it has almost the same features and abilities!
In using Microsoft Word or Google Docs, you can completely plan out your blog post, with all the Headings set WITHIN the document, and write out the majority, if not all, of your post within Word or Google Docs. Even better, when you format the document to have the H2 and H3 headings and even bullet points, once you complete a copy from the document and paste it into WordPress, it KEEPS the headings and bullet points!
That’s not to say that you won’t have to still tweak it a bit to make it look how you want, but all in all, this makes a blog post much easier to plan and write!
Also, Microsoft Word and Google Docs both have Apps for your mobile devices. If you are wanting to plan a post or even start writing it, and don’t have your computer with you? No worries! Open up your app and just start typing! No more boring waits in the doctor’s office or while getting an oil change!
Choose a Title Name for Your Blog Post
First things first! Don’t forget to Title your post. This is a very important first step. Don’t worry, most people don’t forget this step. What is forgotten sometimes is the Permalink setting that is tied to your title. If you are unsure of what a Permalink is, I explain it more in-depth in part 1 of my blogging series here, but basically, the permalink is the slug or extension of your website address which points to your blog post.
Example: actionherosareus.com/the-adventures-and-mishaps-of-slaphappyman. The first part, actionherosareus.com is your website name. Following that, the “/the-adventures-and-mishaps-of-slaphappyman” is the slug or the permalink to your title. You can also see the WordPress.com definition of slug here.
Important note for titles: You will want to keep your title names to 70-71 characters. Not words, but actual characters. This is spaces, special characters, or even numbers. The reasoning for this is that titles will be truncated, or cut-off, after 70-71 words and shortened by Google. In order to have a more friendly SEO and title name when someone is searching for your topic, it’s best to stick with this rule of thumb. You can count this either in your Word document or Google Doc, or a free website I really like that counts this is Word Counter.
Re-read and Edit Your Blog Post
This is probably a given, right? However, it really is an important step. You want to re-read your blog post and just ensure that it really does make sense to you. Make sure it flows in an easily digestible way and doesn’t have any blatant errors. While this is definitely an important step, it’s also NOT like English class in that it needs to be absolutely perfect. A reader is not going to get out their red pen and start grading your post.
Don’t Forget Grammarly for Editing
As indicated above, it’s not imperative to have a completely perfect post, but you still want it to be as free from errors as you can make it during your re-read and cursory glances. Don’t forget the use of Grammarly! It’s such an easy install, free to use for the basic version, which I utilize currently, and will assist you in editing your content within the browser as well as Google Docs and Microsoft Word.
If like me, you have concerns on where to place your commas, cannot spell all the words correctly, and could use help in being more precise with your wording, then this is the extension for you.
I’ve actually enjoyed this so much, I’ve added it to my iPhone. I think I have a problem. However, I really love any tool I can use to make post writing easier and streamlined!
Add Headings and Sub-headings
This is just more of a reminder than anything….DON’T FORGET the importance of your H2 and H3 headings within the blog post! While you don’t need to completely worry about SEO on every single post, it’s still best to get into the habit of writing for your readers.
Breaking your post up in easy to consume chunks will make the reading much easier and keep the reader around ’til the very end!
Provide the Reader a Conclusion or Post Wrap-up
When you are ending your post, do so in a concise manner that nicely wraps up what you stated in the post and how you hope you helped them. Follow this up with a “call to action”. Ask them to comment, sign up for your newsletter, or something else that you are wanting them to do.
Don’t just end your post with, “OK, bye!” Make sure they know that this is the end of the blog post, but keep reading more content or stay tuned for additional content.
Include Links Within the Post
When you are researching the topic you are wanting to write about, link to the pages you found information. This will really help show your reader that you are not just making crap up, and it’ll also show Google that you are referring to more authoritative sites. A bonus of this: if you refer back to another site and you either inform then or they find out, and they like what you wrote, they may send a link back to you. More traffic is awesome!
Also, very importantly — Link back to your own content!!!! Do you have a post that you can reference in an organic manner? Do it! Remember, your sticky site!
Importance of Including Images When Writing a Blog Post
Images are a multipurpose feature for your blog post. The first purpose for images is to break-up your post and keep a reader riveted and interested. When you have a picture in your post and not just text it allows your reader to have a tiny break from reading and gives them something to view.
If you are writing a tutorial, then the pictures are even more important as you can provide screenshots in order to guide your reader and show them exactly what you are talking about.
The second reason? Pinterest! One of the images you have on your blog post could definitely be one of your Pinterest Pins and it would also help for your reader to be able to have a shareable image to save to their Pinterest account. This also encourages them to come back to your blog when they see this pin once more in their Pinterest board in the future.
***Important PSA Notice Regarding Images***
Remember these very IMPORTANT facts!!!!!
- All images are NOT created equal. Please do NOT just grab any photo you’d like off of the internet and plop it onto your blog. Why? You could be sued for Copyright infringement. NOT WORTH IT!
- When using “free” stock photos make sure to read the license on the webpage you are getting the photo from and ensure that it states that no attribution, meaning credit to the photographer/site, is required, or if it is, what is required of you in order to use it.
My favorite Free Stock sites:
Set a Featured Image for Your Post
Each blog post should have a featured image. This is an image that will show on the main homepage of your blog post or the page where you publish your blog posts. If you have the featured image, then instead of just looking at the text, they will be able to see a thumbnail picture as well as a small portion of the blog post. This is a great way to entice them to read the post.
Think of it as the cover of a book. If you don’t have a cover on your book, and only see the inside text, it doesn’t exactly grab your attention and shout, “pick me, pick me!”
There is one issue when applying your featured image. Most themes that are used place the featured image front and center on your blog post. For me, I do not like this, as I like control over my content. If you don’t have an issue with the way it posts your featured image right in the post, then no worries.
However, if you are like me, and prefer to have complete control over the images within the post itself, there is an easy way to turn this off.
Turning Off Featured Image From Posting as an Image Within a Blog Post
In my post describing how to initially set-up a blog, I share that I use Divi, which is my WordPress Theme of choice. The instructions for how to remove this default setting are specific for the Divi Theme.
The first thing you will want to do is log in to your WordPress admin site, and in the menu down the left side, click on Divi → Theme Options → Layout.
Once on Layout, under “Single Post Layout” – Disable Place Thumbs on Post
That’s it! How easy is that? I love WordPress and Divi for their ease of use.
Photo Editing for Post Images
Have you ever looked at a blog post, or even a social media post, and thought, “how in the world did they do that?” Let me tell you! Photoshop. Ha! Just kidding. Kinda. Photoshop is a wonderful tool, very useful, extremely effective, but currently out of my price range. SO! During my research, I’ve discovered the following tools that I use on a consistent basis and I could NOT create or edit my images without these!
How fun is the name of this editing tool? I think that is actually one of the first things that attracted me to the tool in the first place. Picmonkey is one of the few things I use that I must pay for every month. But wow is it worth it! I can upload one of my own images or a stock photo that I’ve purchased, OR I can completely create one of my own and completely personalize every aspect of that picture.
Picmonkey has templates that you can use for the different social media outlets you choose to play on as well. Did you know that each social media platform has its own preferred size for an image?
Yeah, I didn’t either. It’s amazing the things you pick up when working your marketing to get someone to see your website and content.
Ok, I have quite the crush on Canva as well. Even better is the fact that they have a free option. How amazing is that? It even pulls in images from websites that provide images that are ok to use on your blog for free, or for purchase.
Canva also has already created templates as well with text, images and for the size of the social media platform you are creating it for. Or you can just edit your own image, create an infographic, and pretty much anything else you can think of.
I consistently use both Picmonkey AND Canva. Between the two of them, I can do ANYTHING I’d like to do with my marketing content as well as blog images.
Importance of Resizing Compressing Images on a Blog Post
Do you know how on emails that you send out if you attach a file too large it won’t let you send? And then you have to start working your magic, or zipping the file, or compressing the file in order to get it to JUST the right size to send it without it being bounced back?
This is pretty similar. No, your blog site will not reject your image. However, an important factor for SEO is how fast your site or page loads. If you have many different images on your post and they are full size, this will drastically slow down your load time, irritate your readers, lower your SEO score, and also cause you to potentially run out of storage with your website host.
How to Set the Image Size?
One factor is to be careful of the pixel size you use on the pictures or images as well. From my research, a large main picture should be around 900 px and a smaller image would be around 300 pixels.
Save the images as .jpg as this will get you a smaller file size. However, if you have created an image with transparency on it, then you will want to save it as a .png as this keeps your image looking clean and crisp.
I typically use Canva or Picmonkey to complete my image sizing.
How to Compress the Image for Blog Post Optimization
Once you have your images sized correctly, then the next step is to compress the images themselves. There are plugins you can use to do the trick, but I try to limit the number of plug-ins I use in order to keep the speed of my site as high as possible, and more plug-ins will slow down your site.
There is a free website I use CONSTANTLY to compress my images. The website is called toolur. All you will need to do is go to the toolur site, click on “Upload Image”, find your image and select it. Then the next step is to click “Compress Image”. Once your image is compressed, the website allows you to download the now smaller image to your computer and then lastly you can load it to your blog.
Yes, the steps are tedious, but they take less than 5 minutes. You can load multiple pictures at a time for compression which lessens the number of times you need to complete this task, and in the end, the images uploaded to your website are optimized and allow for better functionality as a whole.
I hope this post on how to write a post has been helpful! I know when I started writing in my blog I was so confused as to where to start, how to write, what to write, when to write, etc. It’s so overwhelming at first, and I promise, I’ve been there! Have you started a blog yet? Do you use any of these tips already? Please comment below how they work out for you, or if you have some ideas I haven’t mentioned and possibly haven’t run into yet! I’d love to hear it.