Last Updated 6th October, 2017 — Want to learn how to write the perfect blog post? Of course you do! Let’s start with a graphic summary and then get in to all the juicy details.
Feel free to share or use this graphic on your own blogs if you like. Please just link back to this post as a credit.
Now we can get into the bulk of the details that you might want to bookmark and follow along whenever you write a new article.
Okay, so what makes this the perfect blog post?
Okay, so let me do a bit of explaining.
I’m not saying that I know how to write the perfect blog post and that everything I do on my blog is perfect.
In fact, I really don’t like my writing that much at all. (Do all bloggers feel like that?)
But I have been blogging for quite a while now and in that time I’ve been able to hone my posts by looking at what has worked and what hasn’t over the years.
It’s basically a lot of trial and error.
Today all I am doing is sharing the elements, strategies and ideas that I have seen make a big difference to the stuff I write. I’m hoping that you might read something new, apply it to your own blog and see a big difference in your own results.
So it’s more like a quest for finding your own perfect blog post based on what has worked for me.
5 things to keep in mind before you start
Let’s start this post by talking about a few background idea that you kind of need to keep in mind while you are writing your posts. This is a bit like the instructions as opposed to the actual creation.
1. Ask yourself “…and then what?” before you start writing
One of the best lessons that I ever learned as a blogger is this:
All your blog posts should form one big beautiful picture as opposed to each being stand alone items. – Tweet this.
What this means is that you need to sit down and carefully figure out what it is that you want your blog, and your blog posts, to achieve every single time.
The question “… and then what?” seems to help me the most.
I’ll sit down, log in, and fiddle around with a title and an idea. Once I’m pretty sure on the topic I’ll ask myself very deliberately what I want people to do before I write any words.
Make sure your post all work together as a team to achieve one or two very deliberate goals – and remember that everything that you write should help people solve problems in their lives and generally be something that adds a bit of goodness to the world.
This is so important.
2. More is more
The next few items are really going to grate on a few people – the idea that more is more is kind of something we’ve all been trained to disbelieve.
But, in blogging at least, the longer posts with more perceived value seem to have some of the best results. This also counts for landing pages that are selling a product or service.
Of course, no one is going to read 5,000 words of rubbish. But in my experience, if you can write a hugely long post you are more likely to grab someone’s attention as they instantly associate the length or number of compiled items as being of high value.
As always, test it for yourself. But here on Blog Tyrant I rarely publish anything less than around 2,500 words.
3. The way it looks matters as much as what it says
When I’m drafting my posts (I always do that in WordPress) I’m constantly hitting “preview” in order to see how the post is looking from a visual point of view.
Many writers out there will hate this idea.
But the more I go on, and the more aware I become of my own blog-reading habits, the more I realize how important it is for the layout to be appealing, simple and easy to read.
That means making sure you have:
- A nice large font-size
I talked about this a little bit last week but you want to make sure your font is easy to read and matched to your brand.
- Quality images
Draw people in with high quality (but fast loading) photos and images that add value to the post and pull the eye down.
- Small paragraphs
Make sure you don’t waffle on for lines and lines of text. People are used to skimming so keep the paragraphs short.
- Bold text and bullet points
Whenever you can break up the text with burst of bold or bullet points you should do it. Just imagine this section as one big bulk paragraph vs how it is now.
- A narrow-ish content width
Don’t make people read your text over a hugh long line. You want your content area to be no more than around 700 pixels (mine is 650) because tired eyes will get lost.
A lot of this is not based on any data I have from my blogs, but more based on how I go about reading blogs, and how I used to design websites for clients. Readability is very important, and you want to develop a level of consistency so that all of these things add up to a blog post that “looks” like one of yours.
The reason I say that this stuff matters as much as what the post actually says is because I firmly believe that a lot of people just won’t read even brilliant text on a super-ugly blog.
4. Adding something for everyone helps uptake
It’s very difficult to please everyone, but one thing you can try to do is cater to as many “groups” of people as possible.
For example, when writing my post about blogging in 2015 I noticed something interesting: the people who shared the post on Twitter weren’t the same people who shared it on Pinterest.
What this means is that people consume things in different ways. Some people like technical explanations, others like a big old infographic and a quick skim.
If you can create a blog post that covers all of these things you are on to a real winner because you are going to touch a lot of different groups of people who will hopefully want to pass on the element of your post that they found compelling.
This also has the dual benefit of being excellent for SEO – Google is constantly looking for websites that have different formats and features in order to provide a more varied front page of results.
5. Each headline/post should address a single evergreen problem
Something that we’ve talked about a few times is the idea of “breaking down” your blog posts and just focusing in on one smaller topic.
For example, a post about How to Be Awesome at Karate might actually be better of as a dozen posts made up of smaller topics like How to Throw the Perfect Karate Punch or How to Make a Fist in Karate.
Dudes like Mehdi from Strong Lifts have absolutely killed it by focusing in on topics like how to bench press.
Over the years I’ve noticed that articles that focus in on one problem such as how to sell a blog or how to start a fashion blog seem to do the best because they solve very narrow problems and these problems never really go out of fashion.
A guide to writing the perfect blog post
Okay, so, with all those things in mind, here is the way I go about writing my perfect blog post. I hope these steps might be useful to you as well.
- Generate your idea
Idea should be distinctive in the market. Try to base the post on reader feedback, a known problem in the industry or competition analysis. Research the front page of Google and your main competitors at this stage to see how you can improve on what’s out there. If you can’t, don’t bother.
- Develop headline
Address problem in the headline using fear (not to scare people, but to show how you’ll solve it!), scarcity or intrigue/questions. Keep under 65 characters long. Ensure SEO key phrase is in title. Constantly refer back to headline as you write. Use websites like ViperChill, Boost Blog Traffic and Viral Nova as a guide for headline generation.
- Write introduction
First line of post should re-address your problem, headline and key phrase. Rest of introduction aimed at drawing eye down towards main points. Tell people what you’re going to do with the rest of the post, what they’ll learn, etc.
- List out the main points
Rattle out your main points of the blog post so you can see the shape of the article and what you’re going to be covering. This helps to avoid double-ups and omissions.
- Open up tabs
At this point I open up dozens of tabs relating to research, competition and topics that I want to cover. I then link to them as I go and if I get stuck I re-read information and try to improve on it.
- Write a base of 2,000 to 2,500 words
I have a little personal rule that if I’m not hitting at least 2,000 words I’m not covering the topic deeply enough. I write out my main points to at least 2,000 words addressing the main keyword.
- Add bonus material
At this point I’ll add extra paragraphs, tips, quotes, videos, photos, click to tweets, references, etc. in order to take the main content to the next level. This might take the article up another 1,500 to 2,500 words. Try to link to influencers who have written extensively or well on the same topic. Make sure you link to your own posts extensively.
- Don’t finish topic/pose question
Don’t quite complete the topic. Leave room for discussion. Pose a question at the end of the article to encourage discussion.
- Select main photo
I spend quite a lot of time looking for a good photo. I want it to be curious, involving a human being and something that fits with my brand. I use a lossless smusher to keep the size down but the quality high, and always make sure they are the same size and format.
- Publish at a peak time
Do a quick read over for spelling and formatting but don’t waste too much time. Hit publish at a peak time. For me that is between 8am and 10am on Monday, Wednesday or Friday on East Coast USA time.
Okay so that’s the main formula that I follow every time I sit down to write. Of course, sometimes it varies based on the topic or strategy that I’m following but for the most part that’s how it goes.
How to ensure your perfect post gets results
Once you’ve written your post there are a few follow up things that you’ll want to take care of.
1. Email the people included
If I know the people well I’ll shoot them an email and let them know that I’ve included their website/post in my own article. I usually don’t ask them to share it because I don’t like putting the pressure on, I just let them know and that’s it. If your article is good enough they’ll usually give it a tweet.
2. Mail your list
I always mail my list to let them know that a new post has gone live. I send these out at peak times when the most people are online and I follow a very simple template of plain text with one link to the post. These emails are a great way to test your short-form copywriting which is aimed at getting people to open emails and click links week in, week out.
3. Test regularly
The perfect blog post will only be revealed through testing. You might hit a winner and go viral and never be able to repeat that success because you aren’t actually sure what made it stick. Split testing titles, formats, length, timing, etc. are all very valuable things to do.
4. Throw $20 at it
Sometimes it takes me a whole week to write a post, especially if it’s 9,000 words like my guide on how to start a blog. And if I’m spending that much time working on an article I want to give it the best chance of success. A quick $20 on Facebook Ads or Twitter Ads can really help to give it a boost.
5. Tweak it regularly based on feedback
As a blogger you get feedback from both human and non-human sources. It’s very important to keep posts “alive” by tweaking them based on things you hear and see. For example, if someone tells you that you’ve missed something, add it in. If Google Webmaster Tools tells you that your title isn’t getting a good CTR then change it and monitor.
Examples of some perfect blog posts
It wouldn’t be right to finish this post without showing you some of the most perfect blog posts that I’ve seen out there in the wild.
- The Beginner’s Guide to the Paleo Diet
Steve Kamb’s post over at Nerd Fitness has had over 2,000 comments and 45,000 likes on Facebook. It’s a massively detailed article with photos, videos and even it’s own app! Incredible value for anyone searching the topic.
- Northern India: the Good, the Great and the Ugly
I only found Legal Nomads recently but have been blown away by the quality of the articles that Jodi puts up. This one on India took my 20 minutes to get through and is filled with the most wonderful photos – a blog post made only after actually visiting the place!
- How to Start a Podcast
This tutorial from Pat Flynn is absolutely massive and contains the most complete instructions you’ll find on the topic. It includes a complete walk through and then a bunch of high res videos that take you through each step. This isn’t ranking number one on Google yet but it will be soon.
- A Long, Ugly Year of Depression that’s Finally Fading
One of the most heartfelt and comprehensive posts you’ll ever read from a CEO. Rand completely laid out his story of depression but also included emails, screenshots, slides, etc. about how and why it all happened. Fascinating read that touched a lot of people.
- The Advanced Guide to SEO
These guides that Neil Patel puts together are absolutely outrageous. Different design and content features and often longer than an actual book. They cost a lot to put together but they really cut through. This is the type of value we should be aiming for.
Do you have a perfect blog post?
Have you ever written a blog post that went viral or brought you a heaps of awesome results? I’d be really keen to hear about it. Please leave a comment below and feel free to leave your links as long as they are appropriate and on topic. Oh, and as always, let me know if I’ve missed anything!