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How to write a blog - Ultimate guide

How to Write an Amazing Blog in 2020- Step-by-Step Ultimate Guide

Let’s get straight to the point. I know you have been looking for a guide that teaches you how to write a blog in 2020 and answers all your questions about writing a blog, and that is exactly what I’m going to give you here.

As much as it is tempting to do a build-up before getting into practical details of blog writing, I am going to refrain from that and get down to business right away.

You might be wanting to start a blog to grow your business, or get into affiliate marketing, or promote your existing business, or to learn the tricks of content writing / digital marketing.

In this article, I will give you a structured thought process and a framework that you can use to write amazing blogs hereon. It will be your guiding light to create consistently high-quality content that performs.

Here we go:

First things first,

5 simple steps on how to write a blog in 2020 for beginners

  • Step 1: Do the planning for your blog post. What topic do you want to write on? What will be the outline and the highlight pointers? What are the facts or research to support the content of your blog post?
  • Step 2: Freeze upon a headline that is compelling, catchy, and informative.
  • Step 3: Write the post. You could either start writing a draft in MS Word in one go or write it in parts depending on the availability of time you have.
  • Step 4: Add images, improve the flow of the blog post, add punchlines, and even funny anecdotes to make the article more readable and less mundane.
  • Step 5: Proof-read the post and ensure there are no typos, grammatical mistakes, or other repetitions. The idea is not to achieve perfection, but to create a piece that adds value without looking like someone didn’t pay much attention to it.

Sounds simple right?

Once you get a hang of it, it will become like second nature to you. But we need to do a deep-dive into these 5 steps and know how to write a blog in 2020.

So let’s get right into it.

Step 1: How to Plan your Blog Post

I want to give you a heads-up here. Blogging is a serious profession and you need to be committed to it.

Even though reading a blog post might take you a few minutes, writing one can sometimes take hours (depending on the research and effort required).

An average person types with a speed of ~40 words per minute. If you are a proficient writer with a very clear thought-process and topical clarity, you might be writing at 70-80 words per minute.

But the idea to publishing process might take days or even weeks.

However it is important to devote those crucial hours planning your post as well as thinking about your post before you actually write it.

A lot of new bloggers make the mistake of omitting this planning process before they start typing the post. The enthusiasm and the excitement to put new content out as soon as possible seems like a good reason to do this for them.

But in reality, doing this planning not only saves a lot of time later, it also makes the end product (the blog post) way more superior.

Remember, if you do not enjoy writing the content, your readers aren’t going enjoy reading it either.

Choose the right Topic for your blog post

Before going ahead, ensure that you pick a topic that genuinely interests you. Your writing can actually reflect the kind of enthusiasm you have for that topic.

I have worked with numerous freelance writers over the years and I have come to realise that when a writer is genuinely passionate in the topics that are given to them, the articles turn out to be way superior than otherwise.

You can easily tell when a writer is either tired with a certain topic, or has no interest in it. The end-result is superficial and shoddy. It’s hardly useful.

A lot of content writing freelancers might say “Hey Puneet, I have a client that is into stock broking or asset management, and I have little interest in that space. What should I do!”

Honestly, I understand this. I have also worked for mundane clients and non-exciting projects in my life. In fact, I have talked about this in my E-book called “Stop Working for Peanuts – The ultimate guide to become a freelancer”.

But what I have learned over years of my branding and marketing experience is that the true power of a good content writer or a marketer is to tell the driest and bland stories in the most enthusiastic and passionate way.

The writer’s passion gets transferred to the reader.

In addition, you must accept that not every article is going to get your inner passion flowing. Some posts will feel like just something you need to finish, more like a chore. And that is bound to happen when you start off with blogging.

But slowly when you have more control over what kind of content you want to write, it will be great for you to choose the niches that you yourself are interested in.

Let’s take an example here:

An important part of topic selection is the selection of your focus niche. And when I say niche, it means going specific about what you are going to talk about. The more specific you are about a topic, the better chances you will get visitors, looking for the same thing, on your website.

Let’s say your macro niche is – Fashion.

But since that is very wide and the keywords in that niche will be extremely competitive, we need to go deeper into the niche, and let’s say you select – Men’s Fashion.

But hey, that’s still too wide a niche. People tend to search for specific things instead of a whole wide niche.

So when you want to solve someone’s problems, you have to go micro. Go specific.

Let’s say you have decided to write about – 7 Men’s Formal outfits for specific occasion.

Create an Outline or Roadmap for your Blog Post

Blog articles mostly aren’t written spontaneously, in the spur of moment. The most experienced bloggers also create a rough outline of their posts before starting.

An outline does not need to be very elaborate or detailed. Think of it as a rough point-by-point guide of what you want to cover in your post.

This will help you keep your blog structured and will stop you from getting off-track from what you intend to cover in the post.

If you are outsourcing your work to a content writer, this guideline will guide them on what the end result should look like.

If you are a freelancer yourself, it’s better to get an approval on this outline before you write the complete draft. This will ensure the client and you are on the same page.

Below is a sample of what your blog post outline could look like. We are again using the same Men’s fashion blog post example here:

Intro
Address the problem you are solving here. Give a summary of what will be covered in the blog post.

Heading 1 – Occasion based outfit 1

Formal Men’s wear for an Indian Wedding Cocktail. Add that rustic touch. Talk about the right shoes.

Heading 2 – Occasion based outfit 2

Formal Men’s wear for a College Reunion. Keep it formal but smooth.

.

.

Heading 7 – Occasion based outfit 3

Formal Men’s wear for Derby. Talk about a hat. What shoes will go with the outfit.

Heading 8 – Conclusion

Wrap up and give some parting thoughts. Add a call to action asking readers to comment what they think or share this on their social networks.

How to write a blog in 2020

The objective of this outline is to make certain that you as a writer know what do you want to cover in your blog post, in what sequence each post section will appear, the important pointers that you must cover (and don’t want to miss out).

The purpose of an outline is to keep you in the lane. It stops you from getting distracted and writing what is not supposed to be in the blog post.

Where should you write your outline you ask? Honestly, anywhere.

You can write it on your text editor (Word) or a diary. Whatever works for you and will be accessible to you when you sit down to write the final draft.

Research is Important for a blog post

Not many established bloggers will tell you this. But most of them know little to nothing about a topic when they sit down to write about it.

An important aspect of selection of a topic is Keyword Research and content discovery around that particular topic.

Keyword research in layman’s terms is finding out what “keywords” are people searching for on search engines in a certain category (for example: men’s fashion).

The next step is to find out what are the keywords that have a good search volume (number of people searching for it each month) and what is the competition (other websites ranking for those keywords).

You ideally need to find the keywords that have a decent search volume but have low competition from other websites. Once you have these keywords in place, then you turn these keywords into the topic of your blog post.

The popular Free/Freemium keyword research tools are – Google Keyword Planner, Google Trends, Ubersuggest and AnswerThePublic. I also use Quora and my own Instagram DMs/Comments to understand what is it that people want solutions for.

The popular Paid Keyword research tools are – Aherfs, SEMRush.

So, when a blogger decides to write on a topic, he/she might not be an expert in that. But they might have identified this is a large problem that they could solve through their blog post.

And that could very well mean they are not experts on the topic. But that doesn’t mean they’re faking it. If you make content for a living, it is practically impossible to only keep writing for your whole life only about what you have expertise in.

What allows content creators or bloggers to do this, and to write authoritatively about subject areas which are new to people, is understanding how to properly do the research to write a blog post.

So what are good sources for research?

Let’s start with which are not the ideal places to quote in your research. Wikipedia is one.

I remember during my college days when my fellow students would make assignments and quote Wikipedia as the source and the professors would bomb them.

The thing about Wikipedia is, that while it is a great knowledge repository about anything and everything, it is still crowd-managed. General public can edit or create Wikipedia pages and sometimes incorrect information slips by the moderators.

When using third-party sources for your blog posts, try to cite authoritative news publications, research papers or government websites (they generally have a .gov domain extension).

But remember, there is always a chance that even the most trusted source could have incorrect information. Hence, it is a good idea to double check the information from multiple sources to be sure.

Do a Fact-Check

Continuing from the above tip, a Fact-Check is something you should pay a lot of attention to, especially if you are quoting numbers and figures in your blog post.

It is highly possible that due to tight deadlines or a lot of piled up work, content writers might neglect this part. But it could be suicidal for the credibility.

With the democratization of content creation, there is so much content out there on social media and websites that it becomes difficult to separate Fake News from Genuine one. (In fact, I also spoke about this issue in my TEDx Talk).

Sometimes one big error that got missed due to lack of due-diligence can harm the credibility of a blogger or the content writer in more ways than you can imagine. This can result in a writer losing a project, lose followers, and get their online reputation tarnished.

This is why I am stressing so much on the importance of Fact-Checks.

But what do you do when despite all safety measures, you still get into a crisis situation like this?

One of the best ways is, own up the mistake and be transparent. If you try to befool your readers by making excuses or playing a blame game, it might just do more damage than fixing. And while you’re at it (owning up), do it fast and don’t waste time.

Step 2 – How to Write a Blog Post with a Gripping Headline

The headline is generally the first touch-point for your readers. This is what will get them to click and visit your blog post. This could also make or break the success of your blog post.

There are various schools of thought when it comes to deciding the Headline.

Some people feel it is okay to create scandalous headlines and create a clickbait. They believe that it is the audiences’ problem to manage their expectations once they are on the website.

Some people write extremely creative, but abstract headlines. It works well for large brands or known personal-brands. These can be intriguing and can get people to land on the blog posts.

But my preference is towards writing creative but specific headlines. I do not incline too much towards creating clickbait as sooner or later it is going to annoy your readers. But that doesn’t mean we cannot add the spunk to the headline.

I try to set the expectations right in the headline itself. I do keep experimenting with different type of headlines too.

It gives me more and more insights about my audience’s behaviour.

But do you need a headline right before you start writing?

Not necessarily. I generally start with a working headline while writing the article.

I, then, circle back to the headline later before publishing to finalise it and make any edits to it.

Your strategy to headlines should vary depending upon your audience.

For example, take a look at the below headline options and ask yourself that which one would you click on.

Option AOption B
7 Men’s Formal Outfits for any occasionGet noticed by women at any occasion with these 7 Men’s Formal Outfit Ideas

I have a strong feeling most of you might have chosen Option B. It is intriguing, it clearly tells it contains Formal Outfit Ideas. It feeds the aspiration, and induced the desire to click on it.

The headline copy can make all the difference

It has been known that Headlines that contain numbers also tend to get more clicks than those that don’t.

This is one of the reasons why Listicles became so popular.

Here are some examples of headlines with numbers:

  • How I grew my E-Commerce business by 65% in 6 months
  • 5 Tricks by which I got 5000 Instagram followers in 180 days
  • 23 free pitch templates to help you grow your agency by 10x

Adding numbers to the headline brings in some form of credibility and tangibility to the content. It makes the content appear more scientific and believable.

Another popular way to structuring your headline is by asking a question. And the article excerpt or meta description then hints that the question is answered in the blog post.

Headlines that ask a question directly hit the reader hard especially if they have been struggling with the same question. It can be extremely effective.

Let me show you an example:

One thing you need to remember while asking a question in your headline is that your audience should be genuinely curious about that question. The question should exist in minds of people for them to want to know the answer.

There is no fixed template for headlines. If you want a proof, pick up a newspaper and start looking at its headlines every day. You’ll realise each headline could be starkly different from the other in terms of template depending on the kind of story it is.

Perfecting your headlines is an ongoing process and will change with each time you write a blog post. I would recommend you to keep experimenting and refining what works with your audience and what doesn’t.

Step 3 – Getting into Execution and Writing the Blog Post Content

Now that you have chosen your topic, have done some research, and have frozen upon a headline (even if it’s a working title that will be changed later), it’s time to sit down and write the actual content for your blog post.

You can either write the whole draft in one go, or you can write is in bits, gradually. There’s no right way to do it. Whatever floats your boat.

An advantage of doing this in one go is that you stay focused, and ensures you will not forget some critical points you want to add in the post.

But if you decide to do that in parts, which is completely fine, try and maximize the amount of writing that you do in those sessions. The longer you take to complete your draft, the more temptation you might have to revaluate the draft, and keep adding a little bit every time. And that’s going to keep dragging your draft longer.

Writing, like a lot of other skills, gets better when you do it more and more. If you are a beginner, you might feel that it takes a lot of time (days) for you to write decent blog posts. But when you keep doing it, you will realise that you will get faster and will be able to create amazing blog posts in a matter of few hours.

How to write the introduction of a blog post

Introduction (the first paragraph) of the blog post is what summarises what a reader will learn after reading the whole piece. And many people begin the article by writing an introduction and then struggle a lot.

A cool trick to write introductions is to write it at the end. When you start writing the post, directly get into the body content. Once you have done that, write the introduction in the end.

You’ll find much easier to summarise your article after you have written the main body content.

Step 4 – Using Images in your Blog Posts

The writing style has to be adapted depending on the distribution channel. This means writing for a blog or a website is very different from writing for a newspaper or magazine.

On the internet, people have a very short attention span and there is too much around for them to get distracted. Especially when it comes to writing lengthy blog posts (similar to this one).

Having a visual stimulation (images) helps.

Images improve the readability of your blog posts

One of the reasons to include images is to split up text. A lot of people quickly skim through the blog post rather than reading through each line phrase-by-phrase. And when you add images to your post, it makes your post less intimidating.

Images can add a mood to your blog posts

Whether it’s humorous, or intense – images can amplify the tone and mood of your blog post. You could use funny images to go with a humorous tone of the blog post and so on.

Think of images as punchlines for your content.

Images can Make Complex Topics Easy to Understand

You will have to someday probably write about topics that are complex and not that easily understandable. That’s where using images in your blog posts will help you.

And when I say images, I mean all forms of them – photographs, vectors, infographics, diagrams, tables.

In this very article, you can see the use of multiple of such visual elaborations and punchlines that make this article better to read through.

You can get Free stock images from websites like Unsplash and Pexels.

To edit the images, you can use free apps like Canva (Desktop & Mobile) or Photogrid (Mobile).

Step 5 – Proof-Reading and Editing your Blog Post

After you have written your blog post, comes the more challenging part – Proof-Reading and Editing.

I have worked with a lot of Content Writers that finish writing down a blog post, and then quickly send it over to the client (Me, in some cases) without even going through it themselves.

And it is not a great sight for the person on the other side to spot glaring grammatical errors, typos and repetitions.

This also happens when new writers work on their own posts.

And if by chance the mistakes get overlooked or missed and the blog post gets published, it can become very embarrassing.

This is precisely why you should always proof-read your content thoroughly before publishing it or sending it to the client.

However, editing encompasses more than just typos and grammatical errors. It is also the process of making the sentences crisp, omit redundant parts and make changes for the sake of cohesion and better readability.

Checking spelling and grammar is a no brainer. But you need to check for some more things to tighten up your writing so that it keeps a grip on readers’ attention and keeps them scrolling till the end.

Avoid Repetition

You don’t need things to repeat again and again during your content. It can become annoying for the reader.

Some blog writers might get tempted to repeat things after rephrasing them just to fulfil the word-count mandate, or maybe just because they aren’t that vigilant about it.

I call this a 10 mark Answer Syndrome. It comes from the examination experience I encountered as a kid in school. Each question in the exam would have marks/scores attached to it. There would be 2 mark questions, 5 mark questions and 10 mark questions.

Whenever there would be a 10 mark question that a student wouldn’t know much about, they would just repeat whatever little they know in different ways to increase the word count and give the illusion to the evaluator that they put in an effort.

But as you guessed, this technique never really worked and the evaluator would just give the bare minimum marks for this redundant answer.

If it didn’t work then, it won’t work now either.

So, make sure you read your blog post thoroughly before posting it.

Check the flow of your Blog Post by Reading it aloud

This is something a lot of writers do. If a part of the article doesn’t sound quite right when you say it out loud, it needs to be changed.

It may appear a bit bizarre, but it is advisable to read aloud to check for complicated sentences and odd flow.

The trick is to change it till it becomes easy to roll off the tongue.

Try to get Someone Else Read Your Draft

If you are a fresher, you can show your draft to a friend or a family member and ask them to read it. Ask them to give you an unbiased feedback about the content and ask if they could easily understand it.

Asking someone else to read doesn’t mean you are weak or under confident. It just means that you are committed to make amazing content for your audience.

And if you can ask someone with an expertise to proof-read for you, nothing better than that.

Just clarify to them that you are not looking for assistance in identifying typos or grammatical errors (I mean if they do that, no harm), but you would like to hear their thoughts on the flow of the draft and if it makes sense structurally.

Ask them is you your points come together naturally? If your stand on the issue being discussed in the blog post clear? If the blog post will be value-adding for the audience?

Getting a different perspective might greatly help.

Make sure your Sentences and Paragraphs Are Short

Long and complicated paragraphs can be intimidating for readers. It’s a common mistake many new bloggers make.

Try to keep sentences as short as possible. They are easy to read and won’t give your readers a headache. They will also stop your readers from bouncing off your blog post.

And your Paragraphs should be short too. The briefer the paragraph, the more chances your readers would want to go through it.

The advent of Content Blocks has changed the way paragraphs were perceived in online blogs. As you see in this article, I have kept my paragraphs as one-line or two-lines. It makes the content look cleaner and easier to read.

There is no such thing as a Perfect Blog Post

This is something you must accept. The pursuit of making the perfect blog can block a lot of other things you want to do and can make you set unreasonable benchmarks for yourself.

Whether you are a content writer, or someone running a business venture – time is of essence. You cannot spend all your time and energy on a single piece.

Because that is going to keep you from moving forward to more the next things – whether it’s the next blog post or a product launch.

If you are a freelance or employed content writer, you will have to work within deadlines set by clients or an employer. And in my experience from my agency days is that is it always a race against time.

You can still make edits till the last moment

While we have talked about putting the outline and other structures in place before starting to write the draft, it doesn’t mean you can’t improvise of adapt while writing the draft or before publishing.

A lot of times, I keep getting more clarity when I am actually writing the blog post. I keep modifying the outline and structure on the fly if I deem fit. And so can you.

Remember, your outline is a guide for you. Not a law that cannot be bent.

So if you feel you can give a better experience to your audience by making some changes, go ahead and do that.

And Finally…

Blogging might sound like an easy task with a lot of people picking it up, it requires the right strategy and understanding to succeed in it. Like all things it might be very challenging in the beginning, but it can get easier over time.

This is the longest blog I have written to date and it was something a lot of Young Urban Project’s followers on Instagram had requested me for. And I felt it would be great if I create an elaborate guide with real examples instead of a superficial listicle.

I hope you have found this valuable. If you did, do leave a comment and tell me about it. I would like to hear about it.

And if there is anything you would want me to post about next, you can suggest that in comments too. I look forward to it.

Signing off.