3 Critical Steps You Should Take Before Writing Your Next Blog Post
Every blogger that’s just starting out has a tough time writing their first blog posts. Oftentimes, their initial posts feel like a meandering maze through a topic that leaves readers guessing about what they are supposed to learn or take away.
Part of the problem is that newbie bloggers dive headfirst into writing their blog posts without taking the time to think through their topic first. Starting out with a blank page is often a recipe for disaster for new bloggers because they don’t know where to start or what to write about.
How to Write Better Blog Content
The trick to better blog writing is to do some planning before you start writing. Blogging newbies should take three simple, but important, steps before they ever start penning their post. Not only will it help you make your content more focused, but it will also help you write faster too.
Before writing your next blog post, take these three steps first:
1. Pick ONE focused topic to write about.
Because blog posts are typically pretty short, it’s important that they are laser-focused on ONE specific topic. While it may be tempting to just pick a generic topic to write about, your posts will be much better if you get more detailed.
Instead of generally writing about your industry (estate planning, for example) you should write about one specific component of it. For instance, you could write about why it’s important to have a will and power of attorney in place. Or, more specifically, you could write something like this – “The 5 documents your attorney needs to write your will”.
It’s also important to remember to not simply write about something you’d like to talk about. Your blog content should be focused on what your target audience wants to hear.
- What questions do they have?
- What are their hopes, fears or desires?
- What problems are they trying to solve?
- How can you make their lives easier or better?
Make sure your blog post topic answers these questions for your audience. It will make for a better blog post.
Hopefully, you have already built a content plan for your blog. If you’ve done that, you should be able to easily choose a topic from your list to get started.
2. Determine the takeaway.
Before you get started writing, you should think about what you want the reader to take away after reading your post.
For instance, with this blog post, I want to give you a formula for improving your blog writing. And, for those that still need help, they can always give me a call.
Put yourself in the reader’s shoes – what do they want to know? What questions do they have? Looking at your blog posts through this lens will help keep your writing more focused on the reader.
If you’re struggling with how to do this, my pal, Stan, offers up some great tips on how you can crawl inside your reader’s mind to better understand them.
3. Write an outline.
Once you have chosen your topic and your takeaway, you should write an outline. It doesn’t have to be incredibly complex, but doing this will help you build a more organized blog post that easily takes the reader through the topic.
Your outline can be as simple as a few bullet points that highlight your advice, which is exactly what I did with this post. Notice the sub-headings? Those were each an item in my quick outline.
Here’s a simple formula for what your outline might look like:
- Present the problem. What is your reader struggling with?
- Talk about why it’s important (and needs to be resolved).
- Give your tips/recommendations for how to solve the problem
- Provide final marching orders (aka a call to action).
If I were a financial planner, let’s say the topic is “Choosing the best software to manage your finances.”
Here’s how I would break this post down:
- Why it’s difficult to manage your budget with online banking alone.
- Talk about why money management software is important to managing your finances properly.
- Provide a list of the best software options on the market.
- Encourage readers to choose a software option to try (or call to get a recommendation).
What to Do Before Writing Your Next Post
Before you write your next post, try these three steps first. You’ll find that your posts will have more focus and that it will be easier to write them once you’ve completed this exercise first.
Once you’ve given this a try, come back and let me know how it worked for you!
Have you ever tried this or do you just start writing? What process works best for you?
NOTE: A version of this post was originally published on August 22, 2012. Because these tips are still so relevant today, we dusted it off from the archives and refreshed it a bit for our newer readers (or those who missed it the first time). We hope you enjoy it!