Engage Your Readers from the Start: Five Tips for Writing Your First Blog Post
You want to start a blog to share your ideas with the world, become a better writer, or develop a portfolio for a content marketing job application. And yet, every time you see a blinking cursor in a blank document, you feel your blood pressure rising and your self-esteem sinking. You suddenly remember that you urgently need to fold your socks, change your LinkedIn profile photo, and clean your desk. “Writer’s block,” you tell yourself, and look for inspiration at the bottom of a bag of [insert addictive snack of your choice]. Two hours later, you’re still one blog post away from your first blog post. Sound familiar? If so, this article is for you. You know that you want to use your unique voice to help others, whether it’s by reviewing indie films, sharing travel tips, or helping people find a career they love, but you still have a lot of questions. How do you stop procrastinating and find the time to write a good blog article? How do you come up with post ideas? How do you write a great title? These five blogging tips will help you get started writing a blog post.[bctt tweet="5 Tips to Help You Write an Engaging 1st #Blog Post, by @MilaHadzh #blogging"]
How to start writing a blog post:
Know your audience
A blog is an opportunity for you to share your stories, meditations, personality and sense of humor. At the same time, it needs to educate, entertain, inform and inspire your followers - why else would they read it?
If you struggle with deciding what people want to read, write with a specific audience in mind. Spend a few minutes describing your target readers in a blank document. What problems do they have? What have they tried already? What do they want to know? What lingo do they use?
Why is it important to base your posts on the needs of your readers? If all your followers are eco-friendly backpackers interested in meeting locals abroad and you decide to show them a list of the year’s best five-star beach resorts, they’ll quickly move on to another blog. Consider why people visit your blog, and write good posts that answer their questions. No idea where to start? Type a keyword in Quora or do a quick Ctrl+F in the comments section of a popular blog article dedicated to a similar topic to find out more about the questions, interests and concerns of your potential readers.[bctt tweet="Consider why people visit your #blog + write to answer their questions, says @MilaHadzh"]
Choose a topic for your blog post
Many people never start writing because they just can’t decide on a topic. If you simply can’t make up your mind, a great starting point is often a question from a friend or coworker. Are your friends always asking to pick your brain about something? Do you often get the same few questions from clients and coworkers? Write down a few of those ideas and start thinking about each one in turn.
Something I’ve found useful in the past is drafting an email to someone who asked me for advice on a certain topic. Spend a few minutes writing down some tips in the email and see how you feel. If you don’t like the topic, move on to the next one on your list. Repeat until you find a topic that makes you go into flow. If you feel you could spend another hour writing about this subject (without having to turn to your Facebook feed for entertainment), you’ve got a winner.
The cure for indecisiveness is action. The perfect blog topic idea doesn’t exist - instead of waiting for it, start brainstorming, run with all the ideas you like, and see which one is most fun to write about.
Now you know what your topic is, but what about the focus of your post? To come up with a great angle, you need to do two other things: keep track of your ideas and do some light research.[bctt tweet="The only cure for indecisiveness is action. Just start #blogging, says @MilaHadzh"]
Keep track of your ideas
Most bloggers use tools such as Trello, Evernote or Google sheets to jot down so they can access and edit them at all times. See if any of these tools works for you – the most important part is not losing track of your ideas, whether you write them down on post-its or in an encrypted journal.[bctt tweet="#Bloggers- Use tools like @trello + @evernote to keep track of your ideas, says @MilaHadzh"]
How to research for a blog post
Adding statistics and crediting trustworthy sources will make your post more informative and effective. If you write that “most jobs are found through networking”, use a stat to back up your claim – “According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics 80% of jobs are found through networking.” Sounds more convincing, doesn’t it?
Research can also help you find a great title for your post: enter a keyword in Buzzsumo to see what kind of content has been popular on social media in the past. Similarly, you can Google the topic you want to write about to see what already exists out there. Look at the body of content that’s already on the web and consider how you might take your own piece a step further. You can use other posts for inspiration, but don’t just rehash the content—improve it. Offer more tips, better writing, a catchier title.
Finally, use Ubersuggest or Google Trends to look for keywords to include in your description, intro, or sub-headings. This will make your post easier to find online.[bctt tweet="Research on @BuzzSumo to find popular #blog topics + titles, says @MilaHadzh"]
Finding the time to write
Writing a blog post usually consists of three main steps: researching, squeezing out the first draft, and editing. It sounds simple enough, but if you don’t know how long each step is supposed to take, it’s easy to lose focus.
Have you ever spent three hours reading articles on the internet and telling yourself you’re doing “research,” only to run out of time or feel too tired to get anything else done afterwards? We’ve all been there; there’s even a name for it. “Screen sucking," a term coined by Dr. Edward Hollowell, is what happens when you waste time on your computer or phone without achieving anything.[bctt tweet="Don't let screen sucking hamper your #productivity, says @MilaHadzh #blogging"]
The solution? To keep procrastinations to a minimum and avoid going down the Internet rabbit hole, you need to restrict your researching and writing time. Check out this great article about how long it takes to complete each part of the writing process. Start by allocating an hour for research and planning, an hour for writing the first draft, and an hour for editing. Schedule this time into your calendar and set alerts so you can keep yourself accountable. As with everything else on your to-do list, if it’s not in your schedule, it doesn’t exist. [bctt tweet="Schedule your #writing time. If it’s not in your schedule, it won't happen, says @MilaHadzh"]
Always start a couple of days before your intended publishing date so that if your post is still looking a bit skeletal after those initial few hours, you can flesh it out when you feel more rested.
This also gives you a chance to look over your draft and correct typos, break up long sentences, cut out fluff, annihilate adverbs and polish details such as the title, subheadings, layout and images. Ideally, the research, first draft and final edit will all happen on different days.
If you’re still finding it hard to start writing a blog, use a simple psychological trick to stop procrastinating. If you want to commit to writing, post a link to your blog on Facebook and tell all your friends (or just your mom) to expect a weekly article from you. Let the guilt fuel your productivity.
Finally, if you find yourself putting off writing until your surroundings are perfectly serene, or until your research is “finished,” remember E.B. White’s words:
A writer who waits for ideal conditions under which to work will die without putting a word on paper.
And on this happy note, go fold your socks, and after you’re done, start blogging.