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What makes a good blog post?

Before you write a blog, make sure you know the answers to questions like, “Why would someone keep reading this entire blog post?” and “What makes our audience come back for more?”

To start, a good blog post is interesting and educational. Blogs should answer questions and help readers resolve a challenge they’re experiencing — and you have to do so in an interesting way.

It’s not enough just to answer someone’s questions — you also have to provide actionable steps while being engaging. For instance, your introduction should hook the reader and make them want to continue reading your post. Then, use examples to keep your readers interested in what you have to say.

Remember, a good blog post is interesting to read and provides educational content to audience members.

(Want to learn how to apply blogging and other forms of content marketing to your business? Check out HubSpot Academy’s free content marketing training resource page.)

So, how do you actually go about writing one of these engaging and informational pieces?

How to Write a Blog Post

Here are the steps you’ll want to follow while writing a blog post.

1. Understand your audience.

Before you start writing your blog post, make sure you have a clear understanding of your target audience.

Ask questions like: What do they want to know about? And, what will resonate with them?

This is where creating your buyer personas comes in handy. Consider what you know about your buyer personas and their interests while you’re coming up with a topic for your blog post.

For instance, if your readers are millennials looking to start a business, you probably don’t need to provide them with information about getting started in social media — most of them already have that down.

You might, however, want to give them information about how to adjust their social media approach (for example — from what may be a casual, personal approach to a more business-savvy, networking-focused approach). That kind of tweak is what helps you publish content about the topics your audience really wants (and needs).

Don’t have buyer personas in place for your business? Here are a few resources to help you get started:

2. Create your blog domain.

Next, you’ll need a place to host this and every other blog post you write. This requires choosing a content management system (CMS) and a website domain hosting service.

Choose a CMS.

CMS helps you create a website domain where you’ll actually publish your blog. CMS platforms can manage domains (where you create your website) and subdomains (where you create a webpage that connects to an existing website).

HubSpot customers host web content via CMS Hub. Another popular option is a self-hosted WordPress website on WP Engine. Whether you create a domain or a subdomain to start your blog, you’ll need to choose a web hosting service after you pick a CMS.

Register a domain or subdomain with a website host.

Your blog’s domain will look like this: www.yourblog.com. The name between the two periods is up to you, as long as this domain name doesn’t yet exist on the internet.

Want to create a subdomain for your blog? If you already own a cooking business at www.yourcompany.com, you might create a blog that looks like this: blog.yourcompany.com. In other words, your blog’s subdomain will live in its own section of yourcompany.com.

Some CMSs offer subdomains as a free service, where your blog lives on the CMS, rather than your business’s website. For example, it might look like this: yourblog.contentmanagementsystem.com. However, to create a subdomain that belongs to a company website, register the subdomain with a website host.

Most website hosting services charge very little to host an original domain — in fact, website costs can be as inexpensive as $3 per month.

Here are five popular web hosting services to choose from:

3. Customize your blog’s theme.

Once you have your domain name set up, customize the appearance of your blog to reflect the theme of the content you plan on creating and your brand.

For example, if you’re writing about sustainability and the environment, green might be a color to keep in mind while designing.

If you already manage a website and are writing the first post for that existing website, ensure the article is consistent with the website in appearance and subject matter. Two ways to do this are including your:

  • Logo: This can be your business’s name and/ or logo — it will remind blog readers of who’s publishing the content. (How heavily you want to brand your blog, however, is up to you.)
  • “About” Page: You might already have an “About” blurb describing yourself or your business. Your blog’s “About” section is an extension of this higher-level statement. Think of it as your blog’s mission statement, which serves to support your company’s goals.

4. Identify your first blog post’s topic.

Before you write anything, pick a topic for your blog post. The topic can be pretty general to start. For example, if you’re a company that sells a CRM for small-to-enterprise businesses, your post might be about the importance of using a single software to keep Marketing, Sales, and Service aligned.

Pro tip: You may not want to jump into a “how-to” article for your first blog post.

For instance, if you’re a plumber writing your first post, perhaps you’d write about modern faucet setups, or tell a particular success story you had rescuing a faucet before it flooded a customer’s house. Here are four other types of blog posts you could start with:

  • List (“Listicle”): 5 ways to fix a leaky faucet
  • Curated Collection: 10 faucet and sink brands to consider today
  • SlideShare Presentation: 5 types of faucets to replace your old one (with pictures)
  • News Piece: New study shows X% of people don’t replace their faucet frequently enough

If you’re having trouble coming up with topic ideas, check out this blog post by my colleague. In the post, she walks through a helpful process for turning one idea into many. Similar to the “leaky faucet” examples above, she suggests you “iterate off old topics to come up with unique and compelling new topics.”

This can be done by:

  • Changing the topic scope
  • Adjusting your time frame
  • Choosing a new audience
  • Taking a positive/negative approach
  • Introducing a new format

5. Come up with a working title.

You might come up with a few different working titles — in other words, iterations of approaching that topic to help you focus your writing.

For example, you may decide to narrow your topic to “Tools for Fixing Leaky Faucets” or “Common Causes of Leaky Faucets.” A working title is specific and will guide your post so you can start writing.

Let’s take a real post as an example: “How to Choose a Solid Topic for Your Next Blog Post.” Appropriate, right? The topic, in this case, was probably “blogging.” Then the working title may have been something like, “The Process for Selecting a Blog Post Topic.” And the final title ended up being “How to Choose a Solid Topic for Your Next Blog Post.”

See that evolution from topic, to working title, to final title? Even though the working title may not end up being the final title (more on that in a moment), it still provides enough information so you can focus your blog post on something more specific than a generic, overwhelming topic.

6. Write an intro (and make it captivating).

We’ve written more specifically about writing captivating introductions in the post, “How to Write an Introduction,” but let’s review, shall we?

First, grab the reader’s attention. If you lose the reader in the first few paragraphs — or even sentences — of the introduction, they’ll stop reading (even before they’ve given your post a fair shake). You can do this in a number of ways: tell a story or a joke, be empathetic, or grip the reader with an interesting fact or statistic.

Then, describe the purpose of your post and explain how it will address a problem the reader may be experiencing. This will give the reader a reason to continue reading and offer a connection to how it will help them improve their work/lives.

Here’s an example of a post we think does a good job of attracting a reader’s attention right away:

A captivating blog intro.

7. Organize your content in an outline.

Sometimes, blog posts can have an overwhelming amount of information — for the reader and the writer. The trick is to organize the info in a way so readers aren’t intimidated by length or amount of content. This organization can take multiple forms — sections, lists, tips — whatever’s most appropriate. But it must be organized!

Let’s take a look at the post, “How to Use Snapchat: A Detailed Look Into HubSpot’s Snapchat Strategy.” There’s a lot of content in the piece, so it’s broken up into a few sections using descriptive headers. The major sections are separated into sub-sections that go into more detail, making the content easier to read.

To complete this step, all you really need to do is outline your post. This way, before you start writing, you’ll know which points you want to cover and the best order to do so in. And to make things even easier, you can download and use our free blog post templates, which are pre-organized for six of the most common blogs. Just fill in the blanks!

8. Write your blog post!

The next step — but not the last — is actually writing the content. We can’t forget about that, of course.

Now that you have your outline/template, you’re ready to fill in the blanks. Use your outline as a guide and expand on all points as needed. Write about what you already know, and if necessary, conduct additional research to gather more information, examples, and data to back up your points, while providing proper attribution when incorporating external sources.

(Need help finding accurate and compelling data to use in your post? Check out this roundup of sources for inspiration.)

If you’re having trouble stringing sentences together, you’re not alone. Finding your “flow” can be challenging for a lot of folks. Luckily, there are a ton of tools you can lean on to help you improve your writing. Here are a few to get you started:

  • Power Thesaurus: Stuck on a word? Power Thesaurus is a crowdsourced tool that provides users with a number of alternative word choices from a community of writers.
  • ZenPen: If you’re having trouble staying focused, check out this distraction-free writing tool. ZenPen creates a minimalist “writing zone” designed to help you get words down without having to fuss with formatting right away.
  • Cliché Finder: Feeling like your writing might be coming off a little cheesy? Identify instances where you can be more specific using this handy cliché tool.

For a complete list of tools for improving your writing skills, check out this post. And if you’re looking for more direction, the following resources are chock-full of valuable writing advice:

9. Proofread and edit your post.

You’re not quite done yet, but you’re close! The editing process is an important part of blogging — don’t overlook it.

Ask a grammar-conscious co-worker to copyedit and proofread your post. You may also consider enlisting the help of The Ultimate Editing Checklist or using a free grammar checker like Grammarly.

If you’re looking to brush up on your self-editing skills, turn to these helpful posts for some tips and tricks to get you started:

When you’re ready to check your formatting, keep the blog elements in mind …

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