Writing blogs

Writing blogs or articles is a great way to engage your target audience and create interest in your brand. When you provide relevant content that is interesting, helpful or entertaining, consumers will be more likely to remember you. They will think more positively about your brand. But where and how do you actually start blogging, and how do you link it to your marketing activity?

Writing blogs

How this guide raises your game.

1. Learn how blogging boosts your marketing impact by meeting the needs of your target audience. 

2. Where to access online research tools to generate ideas and keywords.

3. Practical blog writing tips to improve readability and searchability. 

A blog is a regularly updated part of a website that acts like an online journal for you and your brand.

With a blog, you can share your latest thoughts, ideas, news and activities in a way that’s topical and usually less formal than a standard website information page.  

You can publish blog content, either through a third party blogging website or on your own website.

Writing a blog means you need to be able to write relevant, interesting and good quality content on a regular basis. It’s also a great way to practice related writing skills like SEO writing.

However, it does take some discipline to write blogs regularly to a schedule. And you also need to understand the skill of blog writing.

There are many blogs out there, so you need to understand how to make your blog work best for your business. 

Laptop, phone, coffee, notepad ready to write a blog

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Writing blogs and marketing impact

From a marketing point of view, there are a number of benefits to writing blogs. For example, writing blogs gives you the opportunity to create direct engagement with your target audience. You can create relevant and shareable content that can boost the perception of your brand.

This content helps you maintain the online presence for your brand. And it can have a lot of benefit for how searchable your website is. Good blog content has a positive impact on SEO search ranking.

Within your marketing plan and brand activation, you would normally identify the purpose of writing blogs as helping your brand drive consideration and engagement.

Blogs also help with awareness, as they give you content that you can “push” out in your media plan.

But on their own, they generally need consumers to come to your site to read. You would normally consider writing blogs as a way to “pull” in consumers.

You should think about blogs as an opportunity to influence consumers and make them think more positively about your brand.

 

The brand choice funnel - trust - aware - consider - trial - loyalty - repeat purchase

Bring your brand identity to life

The content you cover in a blog is a way to bring your brand identity to life. The topics that you choose to blog about will reflect your brand essence, values and personality. This identity should also come though in the tone of voice that you use to write about those topics.

It’s an opportunity to share insights, options, guides and longer forms of content that would never fit into a pure advertising copy or a social media post. That doesn’t mean that blogs operate independently of advertising or social media. In fact, you can and should use these channels to highlight your blog posts. But the actual content stands on its own on a blogging platform or a website.

For the consumer, blogs are a way to access relevant, interesting, helpful or entertaining content from brands.

They are a way to “keep in touch” with their favourite brands and what they stand for. Blogs will give consumers the most up to date point of view of the brand. And often they can offer an ‘inside view’ to additional content that’s not so obviously available elsewhere. 

Writing blogs for your target audience

But before you even start to write a blog, you need to think about who the target audience is. And what they will get out of reading the blog.

There are a number of related skills which can help you narrow down and define this view of the target audience. The most obvious of these is the customer experience process and the creation of customer persona descriptions.

This description of the target audience identifies key characteristics of the target audience.

Customer Experience Personal Template Blank.001

Based on insights from a market research, it identifies key demographic variables, occasions that related to your category, and relevant attitudinal and psychographic variables.

When it comes to the overall theme that you will write your blog content about, you should start with the potential reader in mind. What topics will interest them? Why would they read your blog? What do they want to get out of it? Is it information, entertainment or something else? 

What your audience are interested in

It may be that through your qualitative or quantitative research, you’ve already identified an overall theme and topics that interests your target audience. 

But if you haven’t, there are a number of secondary research tools and techniques anyone can use to identify potential topics. These tools help you make sure that the topics you write about are topical and will generate enough interest. 

When you write with a specific audience in mind, and try to solve a specific question or problem, you’ll find the quality of your blog writing is better. It feels more relevant, more focussed and gives better structure to what you write. 

Research tools

We have a full guide on the online tools you can use to do secondary research in a separate section of the website. But from a writing blogs point of view, here’s a quick run through of the key ones. 

Google Autocomplete. 

The first research tool you can use is Google Autocomplete. If you know a broad topic that interests your audience, it will give you nine of most commonly related search terms related to that topic.

So imagine, that you want to blog about “writing blogs”, like we have done in this example. 

We can see from the related terms that appear, more specific ideas for topics around writing blogs.

So, for example writing blogs for SEO shows that there is interest in how writing blogs and search work together. Writing blogs websites shows that there is interest in how blogs and websites work together. 

Writing blogs - screengrab of Google Autocomplete for writing blogs

Google Trends

Google Trends is another online tool you can use to explore your blogging topic and find related topics based on how people search. This tool also lets you identify the relative popularity of topics based on the amount of searches carried out on that topic. 

It’s a surprisingly flexible tool. You have the option to adjust the countries and timeframes that you look at, and analyse the relative trends of five topics at a time. 

It also helps you to identify topics that are increasing in interest over time. This is important, because if you can write about a topic that is growing in interest, then your content will potentially reach a wider range of people. 

Writing blogs - Google Trend research on baking example

In this example, we looked at search trends on “baking”. We already know that interest in baking went up when consumers were forced to stay at home because of the COVID-19 pandemic. And if we were a business that operated in the baking area, we would use a blog to write content based on what people searched for.

So, in this example, there are specific recipes like Anzac biscuits and blueberry muffins that we would want to make sure we covered in our baking blog.

You can read another example of this type of research in our blog post about finding consumer needs during the Corona pandemic.

Google Ads Keyword Research

The final Google tool that anyone interesting in writing blogs can use is the Google Ads Keyword research tool. This works on the same premise as Autocomplete and Trends. It shows data related to the volume of searches on particular topics, but it is focussed more on paid search.  

It requires you to create a Google Ads account. But once you set it up, it’s free to use. And it gives much more specific volumes on the number of searches and also importantly suggests more keyword search terms related to your initial search. 

You can read more examples of using Google Ads research in our guides to writing for SEO and secondary research.

Answerthepublic.com

A final free online research tool you can use is the website answerthepublic.com. Here, you can put in topics and the site will find the most asked questions online about that particular topic. 

These questions normally start with “what’, “where”, “when”, “why” or “how” and can again give you ideas about topics to write about that people actively ask online. It’s a search listening tool that runs off Google Autocomplete, but it gives you a wider range of possible suggestions. 

Where you’ll blog and how to set it up

In our guide to websites, we talk about how blogging is often the first way that new brands create an online presence. 

This is because there are sites like WordPress, Wix and Blogger. These are dedicated blogging platforms where anyone can create a blog page in a matter of minutes for free. For anyone who wants to start writing blogs, they are a fast and low risk way to get started. 

However, they do come with limitations. 

These sites are all template based. So, you are limited to the styles and layouts they offer. You can make some adjustments to design areas like colours and typography. But you will have much less flexibility to adjust all these design elements than you would with your own website. 

Though you can name your blog, because it will be on their platform, you won’t be able to have your own URL. Your blog will be yourblogname@bloggingplatform.com. For new bloggers, this may be OK. But if you want to build a brand online, ideally, you would want your own URL. 

Also, you will have very limited access to data and analytics for your blog. While you will be able to see high level statistics on how your blog is performing, you won’t have the full flexibility that something like Google Analytics offers, when you have your own website.

You’ll also have no real ability to add any extra functionality to the site. For example, you won’t be able to adjust the HTML code or add interactive plug-ins to make the site more interesting. 

So, while most people start writing blogs on a third-party platform, most people eventually move their blogging activities to their own website. 

Blogging on your own website

This gives you much more flexibility on how to set up and integrate the blog to the rest of your website activities. With the blog on your own website, you can change the design, layout, colours and typography as you want. You can see much more detailed data and analysis of how your blog performs. 

And there are a load of extra tools you can add to your blog when it sits on your own website. Tools that can help you improve your SEO set-up, tools that help you moderate comments and tools that help protect the blog from spam attacks for example.

When you set up your website with a platform like WordPress, you have the maximum flexibility to tailor and style your blog as you want it to look and operate. And you have access to all the additional benefits and functionality that a fully owned website brings. 

Plan your blog post structure 

So, once you’ve worked out the general topic that you want to blog about, based on the interests of your target audience, and worked out where you’ll blog, it’s time to work on your first blog post. 

To do this, there are a number of key elements of structure you should consider to help you start.

Headline

The headline is the first thing that consumers will read on your blog post. It’s usually the part that Search engines pick up on and display. If you can write a headline that stands out on a search page, that can make a difference as to whether people even see your blog or not. 

Think about the words you want to use in your headline. You need enough familiar words so that the reader understands what the blog post is about. But it also needs to use words that make it stand-out or sound different from other headlines about the same topic. 

Words that sound emotional or are attention grabbing are great to include in your headline. You need to aim for headlines that are long-enough to capture people’s attention in searches. But not so long they don’t read them. Yoast for example suggest that around 55 characters and 6 words is about the ideal for a headline. 

The opening paragraph

Your opening paragraph should encourage the reader to want to read more of the post. It should give a flavour of what the content will be. In our blog posts, we always try to include a snapshot, a single paragraph that sums up the intent of the post. This snapshot includes keywords to help the SEO for the post, and it’s also what appears on any blog summary pages.

The middle structure – key points

For the middle section of your article, that’s really where you want to be writing about the main couple of points. We recommend you aim for around three broad themes per topic. But how many points you want to make will depend on the topic and your brand identity. 

For us, we generally aim for three because we know three is a strong number when it comes to the number of key points an audience can remember. It also fits in well with our brand identity. And from a word count point of view, three main topics is usually enough to get your word count with the right range. 

Close the blog post well

As a final part to this section on writing blogs, you should also consider how best to finish your blog post. Is there a call to action like in advertising copy, where you want the reader to think, feel or do something differently? In advertising copy, the call to action tends to focus on “do” something. Click a link. Visit a store. Buy a product. 

Blog posts can and should do this sometimes too. But remember the point of blog posts is to drive engagement. If every post is just to drive a sale, that’s maybe not what the target audience wants all the time. 

You can also have your call to action be more “think” or “feel” to build more of a a positive impression of your brand. That you have something to offer in your blog writing that is of value to your audience. Information they didn’t know. A point of view about a subject that they hadn’t considered before. Or just stories, anecdotes or ideas that entertain and educate. 

The close of the post will be the last thing the reader will read, so it’s the part that will be most likely to be remembered. Think about what you want them to remember from the blog post. Do you summarise the key points you made? Or do you focus on the one biggest point you want them to remember? 

You need to think about the context and spend time to make the close as well-written and memorable as you can.

Make your writing more readable

As well as having a strong headline, and a solid beginning, middle and end structure to your post, there are a number of other writing practices you should consider to make the content easier to read, and therefore more impactful.

Sub-headlines

When writing blogs, you also need to consider the use of sub-headlines. Sub-headlines help your blog in two ways. They make it easier for the reader to understand the writing as they can scan the sub-headlines to get an idea of the overall structure of the blog post. And they help with SEO writing too. Because the sub-headlines will be highlighted as headings to the search bots, rather than paragraph body copy. These heading classifications – H2 and H3 primarily – we cover in more detail in our guide to SEO writing. 

From a reading point of view, sub-headlines in a blog post also help to break up long paragraphs of text. Long paragraphs can be off-putting to read. Sub-headlines create white space and break up paragraphs and sections. They can make it more likely the reader will read the whole post. 

Paragraph lengths

Though less directly impactful on SEO ranking, you should also consider paragraph length as a way to make your blog post more readable.

Paragraphs are blocks of text that cover a single point or topic. But when you write long paragraphs, they can be visually challenging to plough through for the reader. 

Each time you start a new paragraph, you signal that you have moved on to the next point, and that the previous point is ‘closed’. This is less taxing on the reader.

When they have to read a long paragraph, they have to interpret that whole paragraph as a single point. 

Blogs in general are quite informal. Remember that reading text on a screen is more tiring than reading text on printed material. You want to do everything you can to make it easier for the reader to focus on the topic content. And less on the technical way the content has been laid out. 

Active and passive voice

When writing blogs, you should always consider how to make your writing clear and concise. One of the key ways to do this is to focus on using the active voice where possible, rather than the passive voice. 

Active voice follows the order subject-verb-object. The focus is on the subject doing something to an object. I read this blog for example is an active voice sentence. I (subject) read (verb) this blog (object).

Compare this to the passive voice. The passive voice follows the order object-verb-subject where the focus is on the object that has had something done to it. This blog is read by me for example is a passive voice sentence. This blog (object) is read (verb) by me (subject).

From a readability point of view, the active voice is easier to read. It uses less words and is more ‘obvious’ to process than the passive voice. 

It also sounds more confident and authoritative. 

With the passive voice, the brain has to work slightly harder to join up the concepts. While you can use passive voice, when you use it too much, it can make your writing more tiring to read. 

Clear, concise and compelling writing

Writing in the active voice improves readability. But it is only one of the tools you can use to make your writing clear, concise and compelling.

If you have done your keyword research properly, and have a clear picture of the target audience and what they need, try to write in a style that feels relevant to that type of person.

Imagine you are having a conversation with them, and try to get that down on paper.

 

Conversation

You want to make the tone conversational, like you are talking directly to the reader. Why not stop and ask an open-ended question to make the reader pause and think for example? What about including a relevant example or relevant story to back up your point?

It’s easy when writing to lapse into more complicated language and technical jargon. Unless it’s a very specialist piece of writing though, that style of writing isn’t helpful for most people. If you can get your point across with simpler words, with shorter sentences and in a more conversational way, that creates a better impact for your blog writing.

Make it interesting

When writing blogs, bear in mind that there will be plenty of competition out there. Other blog writers writing on the very topic you have picked. So, think about what extra you can add, that will make it interesting or different. How will you make it stand out from the crowd?

Maybe it’s a fact or an observation that you think the reader won’t know. Maybe you have a good story or anecdote from your own experience that you can share. In writing blogs, you are bringing to life your brand identity – your essence, values and personality. So, think about what you can write that will help to demonstrate those.

Consider lists

If you start to research blogs and articles, you’ll also see that lists are a very popular way of creating blog content. The Top 10 ways to bake a cake at home. 50 ways to improve your website. 1,000 best way to set up your own business.

We can’t argue with the popularity, but our build would be to think about the context of how someone might use the list.

When you do lists, can you include the list as a separate pdf or download that the reader can access, for example?. You can see we include some such lists in our resources guide and we try to link blog posts and resources together when we can.

Boost the searchability of your blog post

Beyond the writing of the blog post itself, you also need to consider how you can use your writing to boost the chances of your post appearing in searches. We cover this SEO writing in much more detail in a separate guide. But for blogs, there are three key areas which you should definitely consider on every post. 

SEO metadata

If you run your blog post on your own website, such as with WordPress, you’ll be able to input and edit the metadata.

This is information that sits behind the writing that essentially tells the Google search algorithm what the page is about. This includes for example the page title, the URL and the short description of the page that will appear in the search. This description is called a snippet. 

With WordPress, you’ll also have access to SEO tools like Yoast which will run an automatic SEO check of your post. The tool will make suggestions based on best practice for SEO. 

 

Writing blogs - Yoast SEO check

For example, the tool can tell you if you’ve used a keyword too much or not enough. It can tell you if the keyword appears in the right places – such as in the sub-headlines and the opening paragraph – to make it easier for the post to be found. 

You can also see if you have enough links and whether you have set up the URL and title well enough to be search-friendly.

Include links

As you write, you should also consider what links you could include in the writing. Links can either be internal to the website or external to another website. 

These internal links might be to other blog posts you have written, to resources that the reader can access or to other relevant pages within your site. If you look at our blog posts for example, almost all of them will link back to a hero content page that has more formal coverage of the topic under discussion. 

External links are also helpful from a search point of view, as they help link the post into other relevant content about that topic. But they are also helpful to the reader by taking them to relevant and additional content. These links need to feel natural and make sense in the context of where they appear. Try to build the links in to the natural flow of how you write. 

Links are also helpful in that they make sure the blog post connects in to other parts of the site. A blog post with no links potentially becomes a ‘dead end’ with nowhere else to go. You want to avoid this if possible. It’s always better to offer the reader options of where they can go next though well-chosen links. 

There’s no hard and fast rule about how many links to include. You want to include enough that it is genuinely helpful to the reader. But you don’t want to include so many that Google’s search algorithm thinks your page is only there for link-building purposes. It causes a lot of discussion on SEO writing forums and threads. But as a rough rule of thumb, anywhere between 2 and 7 links per 1,000 words is probably about right. 

Consider use of images

Another way you can also boost the quality of your blog post is by the use of images. While not strictly “writing blogs”, images help to break up the text into more easy to digest chunks and can be used to illustrate key points you wish to make. 

Images potentially also give you an extra boost from an SEO point of view. The image might also get picked up in searches as well as the blog post itself. 

There are many ways to source images and photography for your blog, and we cover some of these sources like unsplash and pexels in our guide to photography for marketing. 

Woman holding camera showing photography for marketing skills

Add comments and feedback links

As the marketing objective is to drive consideration and engagement, most blogging pages will also allow the reader to comment and give feedback on the post. This lets other people who read the post see what previous readers thought.

It usually requires some form of moderation and anti-spam software like akismet or anti-spam bee so you have control over what appears. Blog posts do seem to be prone to spammers and people posting inappropriate comments, so these are good precautions to take.

Blog posts that generate a lot of engagement will tend to rank higher in search too.

Now go write the blog

So, clearly there’s a lot to consider when you start writing blogs. The target audience, the audience need and what you want it to do for your brand identity for example. Then there’s all the set-up of where the blog sits, and how you will organise and structure the content. But, we’re not quite done yet. Because we need to cover how you actually write the blog itself and publish it. And then also, how you get into the habit of writing blogs regularly. 

The first draft

For the actual process of writing blogs, once you have done your research and planned your structure, then you just have to start writing.

Sometimes, the research will have inspired you and the words will flow naturally. But sometimes, you just have to grind out words to what’s in your head at the time. 

The important point is to try and get as much down as you can before you run out of creative energy. Some blog writers prefer to write in one continuous stream, while others prefer to write in short bursts. 

Try to find what works for you. 

You should have a rough target number of words for how long the post needs to be. There’s no golden rule that says a blog post has to be a certain length.

But posts that are under 300 words tend not to do well in search. So, you need a minimum of 300 words. In fact you should aim for around 1,500 to 2,000 words when writing blogs. 

When we were doing our own research on this topic for example, we came across this study on medium. It proposes 7 minutes as the ‘best’ time it should take a reader to read your article. Most people read at between 200 and 300 words per minute, so 1,500 to 2,000 words falls within this seven minute window. 

Woman writing at old desk

Editing

Once you have your first draft complete, it’s important to allow some time to edit it. Editing is important to check for accuracy and readability.

Accuracy covers key areas like spelling, grammar and checking that links work. In editing, you should check that you can back up any facts or claims with evidence from credible sources.

Readability is where you can go back and check the “flow” of the blog post. Do the points you make follow in a natural order that will make sense to the reader? How is your sentence and paragraph structure to read? Have you used the simplest and clearest words to make your point?

You can self-edit or have someone else do it for you. Having someone else do it for you gives you a fresh perspective on the content. Another reader will often spot things that you as the writer may have overlooked. We cover more of the benefits of editing in our business writing and be a better writer guides.

Nonetheless, before you publish the post, you should proof-read and check the post to make sure there are no obvious errors. Think about the timing of when you need to publish the post. Does it need to be published right away? Or can you leave it and come back and read it fresh in a day or two?

Unless, it’s highly topical content, most blog posts benefit from sitting for a day or two to be tightened up before publishing.

Blog calendar

You should also start to plan ahead what your future blog content will be.

It can be helpful to set aside a specific time when you write your blog and a regular time to publish. 

You need to consider how often you will blog. Daily blogging would be a lot of work, so weekly or slightly less regularly is more common.

We publish our blog every Wednesday for example. 

 

Calendar

Aim to set up a content calendar where you know the topics, headlines and key points that you will write about in the next few weeks. With our blog, we generally aim to have 6 to 8 weeks ahead of future content topics.

As you research topics, keep a note of related topics from tools like Google Autocomplete and Google Trends, so that you always have a list of potential topic ideas to choose from.

Blog promotion

Finally, you should consider how you make your target audience aware of your blog. This promotion of your blog is usually through digital media channels and on your website. 

You can for example use your social media channels to publish short summaries of the blog post. You want to tempt people to come and read the full article. We do this on our LinkedIn channel for example.

It’s also important to make sure that the blog content is easy to find and visible on your website.

Make sure there is a clear link from the home page and in the main navigation bar. Think about how to lay-out the blog posts and how to make them easier to search internally on your website.

Our blog posts are organised by categories and tags for example. These make it easier for readers to find posts related to specific topics.

 

Writing blogs - categories and tags

If you have a CRM system, you can include summaries from your blog posts on outbound e-mails if they are relevant to the needs of specific audiences.

Blog analysis

As part of your digital data and insights, you should also regularly check how your posts perform via Google Analytics.

Do certain topics tend to get more visitors? And do certain topics perform better when it comes to bounce rates, clicks and time spent on page?

These insights about how people read your blog posts can give you ideas on how to improve future blog posts. 

Look at your best performing posts. Try to work out why they work better than others. Apply these insights to future posts to continue to raise your blogging game. 

Google Analytics

Three-brains blog

Our blog is part of our overall digital marketing strategy. It’s designed to share interesting thoughts, ideas and experiences around marketing , creative and e-Commerce topics. We’ve tried to take the key ideas of what works and what doesn’t and shared them with you in this guide. 

For us, writing blogs for your brand is a great way to drive engagement with your brand. It’s also a great way to practice and show off your writing skills, since it takes time and commitment to post regular content. 

Our final lesson is to remember that it’s a much more informal way to engage with your target audience than other digital media channels. So, you should stress less about making your blog content perfect. Focus more on getting something interesting out to your audience. 

Keep practising and posting and you’ll find the quality of what you write will improve over time. 

Three-brains and Writing

We have a lot of experience and expertise in blogs and business writing.

From creating and commissioning writing to the editing and refining of it for marketing and e-Commerce purposes.

We specialise in coaching and advising on how to raise your business writing skills. Whether you use writers, manage it in-house or want to build your own writing skills, we can help. 

If you want to know more about how we can support your business writing needs  through our coaching and consulting services, click the button below to get in touch.

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