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As a blogger who accepts guest posts, I’ve seen my share of poorly formatted blog posts. To help you get better traction with your posts, I wanted to write a comprehensive guide to help you write a blog post and format it for the web.
I wrote my first blog post in October of 2013. Back then, blogging was a new hobby for me. I was looking for a way to have a creative outlet as a homeschooling mom.
At that time, I had no plans to become a “real blogger.” And I had no idea that you could actually make money from home as a freelance writer.
I was just writing for fun, trying to document some of the things we were doing on our homestead and in our homeschool.
When I look at that first post now, I cringe. It’s super short. It’s not formatted properly. And it sure doesn’t look anything like the posts I write now.
So why do I leave it up?
To help me remember. I can look back at those old posts and realize how far I’ve come in the past few years. It also makes a good teachable moment – I can use posts like that to help share what not to do when it comes to writing blog posts.
If you’re ready to learn how to write a blog post and format it for the web, keep reading. I’ll share everything I’ve learned in these past several years.
What Makes a Blog Post Different
Prior to writing for the web, I taught. I learned a lot of writing rules throughout my time in college and in the classroom.
And while those rules are pretty important in the academic world, they don’t mesh well with the internet.
Here are four specific ways that blog posts are different than other types of writing:
1. Paragraph Length
Do you remember when you first learned how to write paragraphs? If your teacher was anything like mine, you learned that all paragraphs need three to five sentences.
But, when you’re writing blog posts, that is not a rule.
You can have a single sentence paragraph (I’ve had several in this post already.) You can also have a couple of sentences. It just depends.
However, blogs posts shouldn’t have blocky paragraph after blocky paragraph. And if you try to make sure every single one has the right number of sentences, that’s what you’ll end up with.
So don’t be afraid to mix things up. Sprinkle a few one-line paragraphs into your writing, to help make it flow better. Have a couple of well thought out longer paragraphs as well. The variety is nice for your readers. And it makes your content flow well.
2. Lack of Fluff
Busy online readers don’t have time for fluffy words. So cut them out of your blog posts.
If you’re not quite sure what fluff is, here’s a quick definition from The Content Panel:
Fluff is a general term used to describe any content that doesn’t contribute much, if anything, to the blog or article you’re reading.John Townsend ~ The Content Panel
When you first start writing, you might have more fluff. It’s natural. Many of our writing classes in school wanted those extra details. They make a lot of sense in many types of writing.
Also keep in mind that it’s easy to add fluff when you’re trying to hit specific word count goals.
So how do you identify and eliminate fluff? You read your work aloud. As you read, listen for any sentences or paragraphs that seem unnecessary. Give it another read, this time without the fluff.
If everything still makes sense, and you’ve lost no important content, you’ve identified some fluff that you can get rid of.
3. Scannable Features
Most people aren’t ever going to sit down and read your entire blog post. Instead, they’re going to skim it.
Because of his, you need to make it easy for them to read with scannable features. These include bullet points, subheadings, and visual features (images, screenshots, etc.).
To help you get a better sense of what a blog post should look like, go read blogs. Read a variety of them and look for patterns. What do you notice?
As you write, try to mimic these features in your own work. It’ll feel unnatural at first, especially if you’re used to writing other types of material. But pretty soon it’ll be second nature.
4. Tone and Style
Blog posts are more conversational in style. You can get away with breaking “rules” of grammar.
I start sentences with “and” or “but” frequently in posts. However, I wouldn’t do that if I were still in the classroom, writing something more professionally.
You want your voice to shine through when you write for the web. You readers will keep coming back because they want to hear from you. They won’t want something stiff and formal.
So feel free to break some rules (and believe me – you will have the grammar police emailing you to let you know. Just learn to ignore them!)
If you’re struggling to make your voice loud and clear in your writing, here are a few ideas for you to try:
- Use dictation software so you can speak your post and it’ll get typed for you – this way you can talk like you normally would
- Pretend you are writing for one specific friend (who is your ideal reader.) If you were sitting down over a cup of coffee, what would you say and how would you say it? Aim for that verbiage.
- Read a lot of blog posts from different bloggers. Look for similarities and differences. If you were to pick three random blog posts from bloggers you follow, could you identify the author of each? Why? What makes that blogger’s style different from the others?
A quick note about your style. It will evolve over time. You might try to copy someone else’s style at first. I know I did.
But, that only gets you in trouble. Instead of thinking how would I say this, I started thinking how would (xyz blogger that I respected) say this. That got very complicated and lead to feelings of being an imposter.
Just be yourself. Not everyone will love your style, and that’s okay. You’ll find your true fans and they’ll keep coming back to hear from YOU.
How to Write a Blog Post
Now that you have a basic idea of what separates a blog post from other types of writing, let’s look at the actual writing process in more detail. In this section, you’ll learn about:
- Prewriting for a blog post
- Drafting a blog post
- Editing and proofreading a blog post
- Formatting your blog post
Are you ready? Let’s talk about prewriting first.
How to Prewrite Your Blog Post
If you remember high school or college English classes, you probably already have a good idea of what prewriting is.
Prewriting is the stage of the writing process where you tackle planning. It’s when you think about what you want to write about, do some research, and outline your thoughts.
You don’t want to skip this step. If you do, your blog posts will take SO MUCH LONGER to write.
I already have a post that goes into detail about outlining a post, so if you need more information please read this one:
Here’s a quick overview:
Before you write a post, you need to do four key things.
- Select a topic
- Find keywords
- Do some research
- Create an outline
1. Select a Topic
What are you going to write about? You need to pick a topic that is appropriate to the content on your blog. All of your posts should be written with your reader in mind, so think about what your readers want to read.
You can find blog posts ideas on Pinterest, social media platforms, other blogs, and more. Here’s a post to help you brainstorm blog post ideas.
2. Find Keywords
When you blog, you need to write about things people actually care about. Otherwise, you won’t get any traffic.
Keywords can help you identify what people are looking for. You can use free SEO tools to help you pick keywords related to your topic.
Once you find your keywords, don’t stuff them in. Instead, integrate them naturally into your content. You are writing for humans first after all.
3. Do Some Research
This step is optional. If you’re writing about a personal experience, or a topic you have tons of knowledge on, you don’t need to do as much. You may even skip it altogether.
But, if you want to create a great blog post, this step can help. As you research, look for:
- High-quality posts on the topic
- Authoritative quotes or stats you could include
- Reviews from books about this topic
As you research, look for what is missing. Reviews and comments can be a good place to mine for this data. What do other people wish this content had covered?
Then, make it your goal to include those things. Try to create better material than what is already out there.
And it should go without saying, but never, ever plagiarize someone else. Taking their words and passing them off as your own is wrong.
Yes, there will be other blogs posts on the same topic. But yours should not read exactly like those other posts. It should be unique content, created by you.
4. Create an Outline
This is the most important part of the prewriting process, especially if you’re trying to create a blog post as a busy mom. You will be in the middle of your thoughts and get interrupted.
If that happens, an outline can help make sure you get back on track.
I never completed an outline in college or high school. I didn’t see the point. If my teachers insisted on them, I created them after I wrote the main piece.
But now as a busy mom blogger, I need all the reminders I can get about what direction I was going with my post. So now I always write a quick outline for every post.
For more help planning your posts, read this article:
How to Draft Your Blog Post
Once your prewriting is done, you can get started on drafting. I personally draft my blog posts directly in WordPress. However, I write all of my client posts in Word.
Then, if they prefer, I transfer it over to Google Docs before I submit it. But I like Word’s interface better than Google’s.
As I draft, I go ahead and put in the subheadings and use bullet points. This is just a personal preference for me, as I prefer to have it take less editing to get it ready to go once I’m done writing. Experiment to see what works best for you.
To draft your blog posts, simply star writing. Use your outline as a guide and start sharing what your readers need to know.
Here are a few tips for this step in the process:
- The intro is often the hardest – feel free to skip it and come back to it later. No one says you have to write your posts in order.
- You may realize you forget something important in your outline. That’s okay. You can add it in now.
- Make sure you stay on topic. Rabbit trails don’t belong in blog posts.
If you can get in the groove with the writing, you’ll write it more quickly. During this stage, I recommend just writing. Don’t worry too much about misspelled words or anything. Just write.
Also, the more you write, the better you’ll be. The first time you sit down to write a blog post, it might take you a long time. Don’t worry. You will get faster as you gain experience and become more comfortable.
How to Edit and Proofread Your Blog Post
Once you’ve drafted your post, I recommend letting it sit for at least a few hours. That way, your brain has a chance for a break.
Then, go back to it and edit and proofread.
During this stage of the writing process, you want to answer a few key questions:
- Did I present my information in the best order?
- Does my content make sense?
- Does this content do what I said it would do in the headline?
- Is there anything that can be cut?
While editing, you’re looking for any sentences your brain finished but not your fingers. (It happens more often than you may realize.) You’re also looking for places that stray from the purpose or are presented in the wrong order.
During this phase, check your subheadings. Your headline should be in H1. Then, your main points from your outline would be H2.
If you need to further break a subheading, you can use H3. You want to use the write setting for each, as it will help you readers more clearly understand. Subheadings also help with SEO, so it’s an important aspect to any blog post.
Once your post is in good shape, it’s time for a final proofread. Look for misspelled words or grammatical errors. You don’t want anything to distract your readers as they go through your content.
You can use Word, Grammarly, or the Hemmingway App to help with this if you prefer. It’s also a good idea to read your blog post aloud once more. This can help your brain catch errors it previously overlooked.
If you struggle with writing clearly and concisely, it might be a good idea to have a proofreader go over your posts before publication. However, this will be another investment, so you’ll have to weigh the pros and cons.
For more information on proofreading your blog post, see this post:
How to Format Your Blog Post
This has already been covered a bit, so I won’t spend a lot of time on it. As you format your blog post for the web, make sure you have:
- Subheadings with H2 or H3 and not just bold font
- Plenty of white space
- Scannable features
- Visual content as appropriate
If you remember that many posts will be read on the phone, this can help you format it properly. Your goal is to keep it easy to read, no matter how your readers access it.
Now You Know How to Write a Blog Post
Phew! That was a quick overview of how to write a blog post and get it ready for publication on the web. If you follow these guidelines, you’ll create a post that is in good shape for your own blog, or to use as a guest post for someone else.
If you’re just getting started, you should definitely enroll in her webinar, 3 Steps to Start that Blog You’ve Been Dreaming Of. It’s free and will help you turn your blogging dreams into a reality.
Lisa Tanner is a former teacher turned homeschooling mom with 11 kids. She's also a successful freelance writer. Lisa enjoys helping other busy moms find time to start and grow a side hustle of their own.