A perfect blog post is equal parts niche, quirk, facts, assets, and carefully-targeted SEO keywords. Anything less will get lost in the abyss of the internet within minutes after you post it.
There are a million articles on this topic, but I’m a synthesizer, so I have distilled the most fundamental pieces into this simple checklist, followed by a quick rundown of the do’s and don’ts of writing awesome, memorable blog content that will be perennially shared and appreciated for years to come.
Every article should include a headline of 150 characters or less that includes the keywords you want to target and is written in the language of the readers you want to reach.
This is what will show up in any share previews on social media, and in search results, and it needs to contain the same keywords as your headline. In places like wordpress, weebly, etc, you will find a spot to enter the SEO description. On formats like Medium.com, the first sentence of your article will post as the description.
- Opening paragraph.
Tell readers what to expect in your article, and outline the problem you are going to solve for them. Tell them, in no uncertain terms, what they will get out of reading further.
- Body of the article.
Now, deliver what you promised. This can be done in so many ways: essay format, listicles, interview style, how to instructions — whatever makes sense for the topic you’re presenting. But the rules remain the same: tell them what the headline, description, and opening paragraph promised. No more, no less. Stick to the topic and get the job done.
- Supporting images, infographics, and references.
Every article needs at least one image and at least one reference. More is more. People LOVE visuals, and the visuals are more likely to be the reason your article gets shared than the writing.
- Closing paragraph.
Summarize what you just told them and tie it into whatever experience you have that makes you qualified to write this article, then finish with the…
- Author blurb.
Now’s your chance to sell yourself, but keep it short and sweet. Two sentences, then invite them to visit your website, or, if they’re already on it, invite them to read a related article, join your mailing list, or both.Don’t forget the social media links, and you’re done!
Image from this AWESOME article: https://socialtriggers.com/perfect-blog-post/
Anatomy of a Perfect Blog Post, the DO’s and DON’Ts:
DO write what you know.
You have a wealth of knowledge and you owe it to the world to find your unique gift and share it. If you feel like you know the same stuff as everybody else, or you feel like an imposter, then look for the intersections between different skill-sets you have. The edge is where the action is, and it’s also where you will find your niche.
DO make assertions and state your beliefs and philosophies.
Don’t just write about what you know, write about how you know it, and why it’s important to you. Find a balance between opinion, curiosity, and a genuine desire to connect with your readers, and they won’t be able to resist you!
DO focus your writing on solving problems for others.
Even if you’re writing memoir, you’re writing it so that others can learn from your experience. Get clear on that. It’s not just about you, and generous writing sells.
DO share your secrets.
Go towards the fear. Tell stories about obstacles you’ve overcome, mistakes you’ve made. Readers LOVE vulnerability. Even if you’re writing how-to, share your trials-and-errors — they make excellent examples of “what not to do.”
DO share facts, specifics, and statistics.
Get your head out of the clouds, demonstrate needs, offer concrete, actionable solutions, and ALWAYS fact-check your work.
DO try to stay “on brand” within the niche you want to occupy.
Remember that every article you post with your byline could lead you to a potential gig, client, colleague, or opportunity. Keep your eye on the prize and try not to get too scattered.
DO have somebody else edit and proofread everything you publish.
A writer who edits her own work has a fool for an editor.
DON’T write hubris.
Keep it real, practical, and non-evangelical. There is no such thing as the one true path. Avoid the Royal “We.”
DON’T write anything that you wouldn’t want to read yourself.
This isn’t some technical writing side gig. This is your blog, your byline, and your career. Do it with passion or don’t do it at all.
DON’T try to tell them everything about the topic in one post.
If you can’t fit it all in, do a multi-part series, or even better: offer the blog post as an intro then draw them into an online course.
DON’T regurgitate other people’s work.
That is so tacky! Shine a light on them instead. Present their ideas, with credit, then continue the conversation by adding your own layers.
DON’T center white men, even as a critique.
This is just my own soapbox here, but it is all too easy to do this, even by accident. Even a lot of feminist writing still centers white male emotions and privilege, and seriously: there is so much more interesting stuff to write about!
If you scan the internet you will find a massive domination of white mens’ opinions, everywhere! So for me, in the name of balance, I err on the side of excluding them in my work altogether. I’m not saying we shouldn’t give credit where due, but when researching, if you seek sources outside of the dominant paradigm, then your work will empower that which resists that paradigm. Just sayin! Along with that…
DON’T try to make everybody like you.
If nobody disagrees with your writing, it’s probably crap. You have ideas, opinions, beliefs, skills, experiences, and so much to offer. Don’t be afraid of the trolls; they will troll you no matter what, so just ignore them and get to your truth.
DON’T ever stop learning, reading, experimenting, and challenging yourself, such as with one of my free writing challenges!
I hope this quickie overview of the anatomy of a perfect blog post helps to empower you and give you some structure to your blogging ideas.