Last week, we talked about ways to bust through your writer’s block and come up with compelling blog topics. And, in some cases, once you’ve come up with a great headline or theme, the post essentially writes itself. Wouldn’t it be great if this were always the case? Unfortunately, it’s definitely not, and we’ve all been there: staring at the screen trying to think of what to write about the topic of the day. We’re here this week with some hints on how to flesh out your posts in a meaningful way, so that none of your content feels like it’s been written just to fill space.
5 Ws + 1 H
You probably remember this from eighth-grade English class, and your teacher had the right idea! A good essay—or, in this case, blog post—answers questions that begin with
- Who? Who are the key players in your post? Are you writing about someone in your niche who has accomplished something interesting? Or is the reader the most important person in your post—e.g. are you writing a how-to guide that teaches readers how to use one of your products to great effect?
- What? What are the pertinent details of the event, trend, new release, or how-to you’re recounting here? Remember that you are much more familiar with your industry than the average reader. Points that feel obvious to you aren’t common knowledge for everyone, so be sure to explain yourself fully.
- When? If the matter is time-sensitive, be as specific as possible. For example, if you’re giving readers the scoop on a hot new release or sweet promotion, tell them exactly when they can take advantage of it. If you’re recapping a recent conference, give the date of the event—as well as next year’s, if it’s available.
- Where? If you can point to a location—whether it’s in the real world (like a recent event in your niche) or simply on your own web site—do it.
- Why and How? The answers to these questions are usually the most dependent on the nature of your post. If you’re talking about some of your merchandise, for example, you might talk about why it’s valuable and how the reader can best use it.
Keywords are Key!
You want to write blog posts that your readers will thoroughly enjoy—and you want to make sure that they can find them. Since you’re optimizing your content for search engines, you can use your keywords as a way to build on what you’re explaining or recounting. Have a list of effective search terms and phrases from which to choose, and use them in sentences that explain and clarify the points you’ve made. (Check out our primer on how to work keywords into your content organically, so that nothing feels stilted or awkward.)
“Site” Your Sources
If you’re addressing a topic that’s somewhat new to you or discussing an issue that’s related to medicine, science, or an academic subject, it’s important that you back up your statements using authoritative sources. Be sure to cite them by providing links back to their pages. It adds to the credibility of your post and your business in general, and it provides the reader with the option to explore more about something you’ve mentioned that captures his or her interest.
Give it a Second Look … or a Second Pair of Eyes
When you’ve written the first draft of your post, go back and read through it again. Look for places to expand—thoughts that feel incomplete or areas that could use a bit more explanation or detail for them to really make sense to the reader. If you’re not sure whether this is the case, it never hurts to have someone else read over your post, whether it’s a colleague or a professional writing consultant. Ask that person to make note of where in your article he’d like to read more information, and fill in the gaps accordingly.
How is your post looking now? We’re betting it’s great!