You have a brilliant idea for a blog post, write it compulsively, and end up with a confusing mess not even you can follow.
We have all been there! Even professional writers spend more time editing their creations than writing them.
So, regardless of how confusing your first draft is, do not give up just yet. Leave it on pause for a few days and come back with a fresh head. Then, edit and format your post to enhance your readers' experience and to make it easier for search engines to find it.
1. Choose the right type of blog post
You may do this step before or after you write your first draft. I usually do it before I put pen to paper based on the idea I have.
There are many types of blog posts to choose from but you will learn them in time and organically. Here are the types of blog posts I use the most and find most interesting from business:
- Short announcements and random thoughts
- How-tos and step-by-steps
- Case studies
1.1. Short announcements and random thoughts
Sometimes you just need to say a few words, whether it is to announce something that just happened or is about to happen or to share a few random thoughts that have been playing in your mind and that you think will be useful for your audience.
There is not a strict structure to follow in these cases since this are short and, therefore, easy-to-read posts. But here are a few guidelines:
- Introduction: introduce what you are going to write about, who the post is for, and/or why it matters.
- Body: say what you have to say while trying to be succinct and straight-to-the-point.
- Conclusion: this is where you briefly reaffirm what you want the reader to take away from your post and add a call to action where you tell your reader what you recommend their next is (e.g. sign up for an event mentioned or buy the product you are launching).
This is one of the most popular types of blog posts because of how easy it is to skim through it to get to what interests you. Listicles are themed lists in which the author writes a bit about each list item.
For businesses, listicles are an effective way of showcasing your products as part of a larger topic. Here are a couple of example of topics that work well in listicles: 5 cosiest hotels in Galway, 10 fashion trends for 2021, 50 songs to ignite your workout.
1.3. How-tos and step-by-steps
Most of my resources here are of this type. How-to and step-by-step posts are informative content that helps the audience do or achieve something.
For example, with this type of blog posts you can teach your audience how to use your products or how to continue making the best of the momentum created by your services after the end of your collaboration.
1.4. Case studies
How do you help you customers and clients? Case studies are the best way for you to show the benefits you offer to your target audience.
Case studies share a specific situation in which your products or expertise helped someone and highlight the results had. A case study usually includes:
- The situation/problem: who did you help (if confidential, avoid mentioning even vaguely identifiable characteristics) and why did they need your help?
- The solution: what exactly did you offer and how did that overcome the existing obstacles?
- The results: what measurable (e.g. data that show a 50% increase in Instagram post reach) or subjective (e.g. a written review by the customer or client) results did you achieve?
2. Make it easier to read with the right elements
After you write your first draft and have a clear idea of the type of blog post you have on your hands, it is time to go through the whole thing and make it easier and faster to skim through and read.
In addition to editing and proofreading the wording itself, you can also add structural elements to improve your readers’ experience with your post.
2.1. Sections and index
I love dividing blog posts into sections! It allows readers to skip to what they came there for. It improves reader experience and, if you are anything like me, you write for your readers and their experience is what matters the most.
The benefit of doing this is better illustrated by an example. The first how-to resource I wrote for Alexandra Pedro Marketing is called How to Reply to Reviews. While some people will read the 9-minute article with everything there is to know about replying to client reviews on social media, others will only want to know how to reply to the worrying negative review they got the day before and do not know how to reply to. In those cases, it is essential for the reader to be able to skip all the rambling about positive reviews and quickly get to the section about negative reviews.
So, to make it easier for your readers to get to the bits they are interested in, divide your blog post into sections and add an index to the top of the page with each section heading.
2.2. Lists and tables
A lot of information can be compiled into lists. Go for ordered lists when the order of the items is important (e.g. steps of a process). Or go for an unordered list if you are simply putting together an inventory (e.g. products, services, industries).
Another easy-to-read way of formatting your data is tables. You can create tables for your website in two ways: directly on your website or uploading them to your website as images. Whatever is easier for you.
2.3. Bold text
Making the most of bold text is one of the easiest way of improving the usability of your blog posts. Use bold to make it faster for your readers to find what they are looking for by using bold on a few keywords that represent the main topics covered by your post.
You can pair lists with bold text. Just turn the initial section of a list item into bold text and you will make it easier to skim through your lists!
Use images with purpose. Use images to make your point or idea come alive or to show a visual example of what you are trying to get across. Use photographs to showcase your products or services.
You can also use mind maps to connect the various concepts mentioned. Create them using a software like Freeplane or simply draw them on paper or on a whiteboard. Then take a screenshot or a photograph of the mind map and upload it as you would any other image.
While you can use images with the sole purpose of enhancing the look of your blog post, I advise you not to do that when your post is supposed to be informative. Try to add value with each image you add to your post.
3. Optimise it for accessibility and search engines
You have a brilliant blog post. It has a purpose and it achieves that purpose both through the words you wrote and how they are displayed. But the journey does not end here. Before you hit publish, take a few minutes to make sure your blog post is easy-to-read for people who cannot see and rely on screen readers and easy-to-find for search engines.
Most of the following changes can be made manually on your website’s HTML code but most platforms (like Wordpress and Squarespace) have more intuitive ways of achieving the same results.
It is not enough to divide your blog post into sections, you need to format each section heading appropriately for screen readers and search engines to understand what those words are!
The title of your blog post should be configured as a H1, the subheadings below that should be H2, the subheadings below those subheadings should be H3, and on and on until H6.
3.2. Alt text
If you are going through the trouble of adding images to your blog post, you might as well go the extra mile and make them readable for those who cannot see. Adding alternative text (also known as alt text) does just that.
When you write alternative text for an image, succinctly explain what is on that image. Screen readers will read that alternative text to people who cannot see and search engines will use that alternative text to understand your image and how they should list it.
3.3. Title and description
The meta title and meta description are two important components if you are trying to make the best of search engines. They are typically shown when search engines list your page as one of their results.
Make sure your meta title is short and includes what your post is about and the name of your blog/business. When it comes to your meta description, it should also be succinct and explain to a person scrolling through a search engine results page how your post will answer their query.
Also change the URL of your blog post to make it shorter and easier for your readers to remember it!
If all this information is too much for you right now, just pause for a second and restart. See how all the steps on this resource are numbered. Just start with the first concept, nail it, and then go on to the next one. One step at a time!