I’ve been writing blog posts for a really long time. In fact, my first website is still floating out there in the internet — despite my best efforts to remember the login info. Since then, I’ve picked up quite a few usual tricks that have helped me write better blog posts, and it’s actually way less work than you might think.
1. Know your audience.
If you want to write a killer blog post, it kinda helps to know who your audience is. This doesn’t just help you define your topic and the angle at which you’ll approach it, it also helps narrow down your tone, word choice, word count, and even the images you use. (Not sure who your audience is? Start by defining your niche.)
Too many writers start by picking topics that they want to write about, and they promptly get frustrated when no one ends up reading their stuff. Sure, you should write what you love (I do), but if you’re hoping to use your blog to build your platform and potentially earn revenue, that means your audience matters.
You don’t have to spend hours stressing about whether or not your audience will like a certain sentence, but — over time — you should develop a good sense of whether or not something will work. (Plus, you should probably know in advance whether your audience will read a 3,000-word blog post or not.)
2. Use analytics.
One of the best ways to get to know your audience and what they like is to use analytics. Google Analytics is free and easy-to-use, and it’s totally transformed my content strategy on my blog. Not only can I see how many people are reading my posts, I can also see how long they’re spending on a specific page (shorter = probably not reading it), which can tell me if I need to improve that post, headline, or something else entirely.
Because I’m able to see what’s popular on my blog, I can use that to learn how to improve my writing in the future. Maybe people respond more to personal stories versus listicles, maybe they want more content about self-care versus productivity. I can also tell which blog posts used an outline or not (since I have all of my outlines saved in Trello), and I can compare numbers to see if outlining helps or hurts the performance of certain posts.
3. Write a (better) outlines.
Speaking of outlines, this one’s pretty easy. Not everyone is a fan of in-depth outlining for blog posts, and I don’t blame you. I like to let my writing flow in whatever direction it feels like going, but — when it comes to learning how to write better blog post faster — outlines are an indispensable tool.
An easy way to get the most out of outlining? Next time you’re brainstorming content for your blog, jot down a few notes for what you think should go IN the blog instead of stopping at the topic. If I know I’m going to write a blog post about X Tips for Coping With Professional Stress, I might go ahead and make a list of all the tips I can think of while my brain is on the subject.
Will I use all of the tips? Probably not. But this helps me jump into writing the actual post faster (whenever I decide to write it), and makes it easier for me to keep the flow of the article going.
4. Keep paragraphs short.
One of the biggest mistakes I see on blogs these days is longgggggg paragraphs. Why is that a problem?
Mobile web traffic is at an all-time high (over 50% of all web traffic happens on mobile), and that number keeps climbing. For my audience? 82% of the 5,000 visits to my website over the last thirty days have been on mobile devices.
Long paragraphs not only impact SEO and readability, they simply don’t look great on a tiny mobile screen. Think about the flow of your content, and remember that the visual element matters online just as much as the quality of your writing. You could be the best dang blog writer in the universe, but if your 1,000 word post is broken into 2 paragraphs then there’s a good chance people aren’t going to read it.
5. Prioritize readers over SEO.
When it comes to learning how to write better blog posts, SEO is a critical element. I won’t dive heavily into the details of SEO (I recommend checking out Moz if you need a refresher), but I will remind you to not go too hard into search engine optimization.
Yes, SEO matters, and becoming knowledgeable on the topic can be a HUGE boost to your website traffic. However, it’s important to remember that your target audience is made up of real people — not Google’s web crawlers — and you want to write with them in mind.
Plus, Google is actually getting better at finding quality content, which means readability is more important than ever.
6. Use section headers. (Seriously.)
I’ll admit, I spent a long time fighting the listicle. (Hello, this is a listicle, and I accept it.) I stuck to longer essay-style blog posts, and I quickly realized that they were way too monotonous to keep people’s attention online.
Using section headers in your blog posts can be a quick and easy way to improve the readability of your content. It helps to break up the text (short paragraphs are good, remember?) and allows you to pull out important things you want to highlight.
Even if you aren’t writing a listicle, try placing relevant section headers between paragraphs. Not great at figuring out where these headers should go? My trick is to make certain sentences “pop” by making them a section header. (Check out my post on how I learned to stop sabotaging my own success for an example.)
This helps keep the flow of the post moving while allowing visual breaks *and* improving the readability and SEO of my posts. Win-win!
7. Batch your content.
I talk about batching a lot. It’s one of my favorite productivity tools, but it’s also a super useful hidden skill for bloggers. Why? Because context switching is your biggest enemy.
Think about your own personal blogging process. Mine used to be something like this:
- Brainstorm a topic
- Research + maybe write an outline
- Start writing the post
- Optimize for SEO + edit
- Add images
- Fiddle with formatting and prep to post
- Hit “submit”
There’s nothing wrong with this process, and it worked pretty well for me over the years. However, I realized that those first three steps were taking up a LOT of my time (especially the first two). No matter how hard I tried to write better blog posts, it still took a lot of time to go through the entire process.
Now, I batch these tasks together. Whenever I’m brainstorming a topic for my blog, I’m brainstorming 10 ideas. (Seriously, I have a running list of about 50 blog topics at any given time.) That’s because my brain is already in the ‘idea generating’ mode, so I let it keep going. This means I only have to spend the time trying to get into idea generating mode once (let’s be honest, sometimes your brain needs to warm up) versus every single time I sit down to write a blog post.
The goal here is to reduce the amount of context switches your brain makes — jumping from one topic or type of task — so you eliminate the added time it takes for you to get your brain back on task.
Think about it this way: do you start writing the second you open a blank document? If you’re anything like me, it takes you a few minutes to get focused. When we context switch — whether that’s checking email or scrolling through Twitter — we reset that internal “get focused” countdown to zero, so we have to repeat the process. Every. Single. Time.
Batching cuts out those context switches so you reduce the number of “get focused” countdowns as much as possible. Instead of needing them for every blog post — and every interruption — if you write 3 blog posts at once, then you only need one.
BONUS: Switch your font to Comic Sans.
I’ll be the first to admit that I was a Comic Sans skeptic, but I’m a diehard convert. I don’t know how it came about, but when the writing community on Twitter started mentioning that Comic Sans improved writing speed and helped break through writer’s block, I was skeptical to say the least.
Until I tried it, and I wrote a blog post in half the time. It’s been months since I started using the Comic Sans trick, and my blogging productivity never slowed. I use it for everything — including work — and I’ve seen a major improvement. Is it mental? Maybe. Does it matter? Heck no. What matters is finding what works for you.
So, what things have helped you write better blog posts? I’d love to hear your tips and tricks, so be sure to drop them in a comment below!