Writing is hard. The more you write, the easier it usually gets, but this is not always the case. Even experienced, influential bloggers may have a hard time struggling to put together their thoughts. I’m a corporate blogger who writes at least one post per week for my company blog and constantly help our experts compose meaningful content for internal and external use.
This post will be useful for those who have to create blogs on their corporate websites and lack skills or inspiration for such kind of task.
My general suggestion is to start working on your writing without postponing it and use special tools to make your work a bit easier. You will need to complete 5 steps:
- Come up with a good topic idea.
- Create an outline and select trustworthy resources.
- Write and edit your draft.
- Select visuals.
- Optimize your content.
The fifth step is optional, but I strongly recommend you to complete it as well. Let’s get started.
Step 1: Know What to Write About
You should have at least a general idea about a topic to cover and a preferred format. If you are not the only author, you have to discuss what to write about with another person and/or a subject expert first.
Choosing an Appropriate Topic for Your Target Audience
In case you do not have a content manager who provides you with a selection of topics to cover, you need to demonstrate creativity. On the one hand, your idea should meet the needs of the target audience. On the other hand, you need to be an expert in what you are going to write about. Consider the following:
- In what areas are you most knowledgeable?
- Is your expertise useful for the target audience at the moment?
- Do you have to aim for increasing traffic?
You can also think of many other facts, but the aforementioned three work well for me.
First, you select the area. Let’s imagine that you have 5+ years of experience in written communication. Then, think for whom you are going to write. For instance, your colleagues do not communicate via email efficiently. So, your tips on how to make the reader do what is expected after receiving an email will be helpful for your audience. The last aspect to consider is driving traffiс, which may not be the case if you write for your colleagues.
I recommend composing a draft title right after you have selected a topic and type it at the top of the document. From time to time, look back at the title to ensure that you are not writing off topic.
Helpful resources for developing a topic and writing a title
- HubSpot’s blog topic generator is a great tool if you have no idea what to write about. Simply select a few nouns and get 5 useful suggestions. To get some more, fill in a short form. However, developers warn you that the algorithm is not perfect, so craft the topics to make them more relevant to your terms.
- Portent’s Content idea generator is another content idea generator. You should enter a keyword and viola. You receive a topic with fun, yet helpful tips. For example, the tool advises you to use more verbs, be personal, insert a fun adjective, and so on.
- TitleCase tool is an instrument that helps you capitalize letters in your titles correctly. Depending on the blog’s requirements, you can select uppercase, lowercase, or AP style title case and no worries about whether to capitalize “an” or not.
- CoSchedule headline analyzer is an instrument designed to help you write attractive headlines. It analyzes the overall structure, grammar, and readability of your headline; provides you with some tips, identifies keywords that you target in your title/headline, and gives you a Google search preview.
A few more topic generators can be found here.
Step 2: Create an Outline and a List of Resources
Unless you are an experienced writer, try to compose a sentence outline instead of a topic one. Brainstorm what subtopics you need to cover to reach the goal of your post and write them down using complete sentences. Try to be as specific as possible, avoid general statements unless this is necessary. I work on my outline this way:
- Compose the thesis statement that I want to share with the readers.
- Pick from three to five arguments to support my thesis.
- Add a few details to every argument.
- Compose a conclusion.
- Reorder my subtopics to make the ideas flow naturally from one to another.
Even if you think that you know everything about a chosen topic (you are an expert, remember?), it makes sense to search for the news, ask your colleagues, or think hard about what resources can make your post more helpful for the readers. A good example is finding new stat data or a quote of a well-known expert. So, having a list of sources handy is a good idea. Remember to give a credit to the authors of ideas or data that you want to use in your piece.
Outlines may be quite different. For good templates visit this resource or simply search online.
Step 3: Write, Write, Edit
To get your blog post done, you need to actually write it. After you have completed an outline, you should take a break and get to work. This is easier than you may think. At least, if you keep all the researched points in mind and use one of the helpful techniques. I prefer using a method of three drafts. The main points are as follows:
- First draft: write how it goes. Put on the paper everything that you come up with. If your post is 400–800 word long, try to write everything at a heat. Otherwise, be prepared for a few writing sessions. Do not think about your readers and listen to your own voice.
- Second draft: write for your reader. Step back and return to your draft later. Read it the way your audience would. For instance, skip the headlines and ensure that the main idea is straightforward. This is the right time to delete everything that does not help to reveal your topic. It is also necessary to add the background knowledge to help your readers understand your main points.
- Third draft: write for critics. Imagine that your piece of writing is read by a person who wants to find there all the inaccuracies, mistakes, and typos. Become that person and find the places where the text is weak. And make the necessary corrections
Completing the last draft seems the most tricky one. If you have an editor in your team, this is his or her job to prepare the third draft. Otherwise, you may have a hard time trying to catch all the mistakes and illogicalities. The following tools will make your work a bit easier:
- Grammarly, After the Deadline, and Ginger help you catch grammar and punctuation mistakes.
- Hemingway App is designed to improve your writing style and increase the text’s readability.
- Cliche Finder catches cliches and clarifies your statements.
- Power Thesaurus finds dozens of synonyms and helps you clarify your post.
Step 4: Select Visuals
Writing a blog for the Web is a bit different than writing a book. One of the differences is that website visitors have trouble focusing on lengthy posts without any visual stimulation. Even a well-structured piece of text is unlikely to hold the user’s attention for a long time, yet the visuals can do the job:
- Become an effective visual punchline;
- Make your blog post flow with ease;
- Help your readers understand complex topics.
Naturally, if you build graphs and schemes, take your own photos, and create original infographics, this brings additional value to your readers. For example, you can pick one of the resources below to create infographics:
- Easel.ly is the place to “create and share visual ideas” as they write on their “Home” page. There are more than 1,000 templates of timeline, reporting, process, and resume. You can download them in either low or high quality, create a PDF, or export your work.
- Google Chart Tools. You can create either interactive or static charts. They are free, customizable, real-time, cross-browser compatible. Traditionally, Google provides numerous help options and useful guidelines.
- Infogram helps to design and share infographics, charts, and interactive maps. The Excel style spreadsheet makes the process of infographics creation easy.
You may also purchase visuals on different platforms, such as Shutterstock. There are also many places with high-resolution photos free from copyright restrictions to illustrate your ideas:
- Unsplash: a wide collection of photos of different places and spaces.
- StockSnap: many photos filtered by popularity, trending, and other factors.
- Gratisography: pictures photographed by Ryan McGuire.
- Giphy: a collection of different giphies: reactions, entertainment, sports, stickers, and more.
- The noun project: icons for everything.
Step 5: Optimize Your Blog Post
People write to people, not search engines. However, to help your target audience find you on the Web, you need to optimize your blog post and make it visible for search bots. In the first place, I recommend to pay attention to the following nuances:
- Find keywords relevant to your topic. You may already have some in your post, but you can often add a few to improve your position in search results. For instance, use the Google Adwords Keyword Tool or SemRush.
- Place your keywords where they will have the most impact. Consider the following places: title, headings and subheadings, the first sentence, concluding sentence, anchor text, meta descriptions, and title tags. However, ensure that everything sounds compelling and natural.
- Reference other resources if appropriate. Quality links still matter for search engines. Besides, if you borrow someone’s idea or use data, you should give a credit to the author anyway. From my experience, a typical blog post has at least two quality links.
- Optimize your visuals. Keep in mind that most users are likely to read your blog on a mobile device. Some of your readers may have a weak Internet connection. So, make sure that your graphic is easy to upload and it has a description. The latter should also include keywords.
Either way, your post should bring value to your readers. And you need to share your writing using social media to attract your audience. If you write for your colleagues, remember to notify them using a corporate Intranet.