In this blog post, we cover:
I’ve been writing blog posts since 2015. But it wasn’t until 2017 that I learned how to make money from my work. And now, a large portion of my income comes from writing online. I like to think I’ve learned a few things about good writing along the way.
In this blog post, I’m going to share all the basics I know about writing interesting, clear, and compelling blog posts. Hopefully it can serve as a jumping-off point for you to start blogging yourself!
As we go, I’m also going to show you my process for writing this piece. The first step of writing any post is creating a space for your writing. I do this within Edvo because it allows me to customize my writing space however I want, and bring in all my inspiration and tools I need to write.
Allowing yourself to have a space that enables flow and minimizes distractions is key. The best writing comes from being in the flow. More on this later! Here’s my setup:
In order to be valuable to a reader, any blog post you write has to have a core message – a key piece of value it’s unlocking for the reader.
That's the starting point for any piece you write. What’s the core value you want to communicate?
For me, it’s helpful to try to boil my thoughts down into a simple sentence. For example, the goal of this post is to show you how to write a blog post. A secondary goal would be to make blogging feel easy and straightforward. (You’ll have to tell me how I did!)
Summarizing your goal before you start writing is important, because you want your post to be informative but focused. People have short attention spans – they want useful details, but they’ll get distracted very quickly if they don’t see the value in what they’re reading.
When you start a new section, you can double check: does this help move my readers towards the end goal of this post? If it does, keep going. If it doesn’t, delete the section and move on.
You can write down your core goal at the top of your document, or on a sticky note attached to your desk. Mine is always pinned in my Edvo workspace:
Put this into practice: next time you write a blog post, figure out the goal of your piece before you start writing. Summarize that goal in a single simple sentence, and save it where you can see it as you’re writing.
I’ll admit, I used to be anti-outline – I thought they were boring and a waste of time. Now I almost never write without one. I changed my mind when I realized how much faster the writing process is when you outline first, fill in all the details second – plus how much clearer the finished product became!
There are a few different ways you can outline a blog post, but here are my favorite steps and strategies:
I personally like a mix between plain text and bulleted outlines. I use plain text for my section headers and intros, then bullets for all the secondary points. Here’s a screenshot of my outline for the start of this post:
See how I’m bulleting the core ideas I want to include? I’m not writing anything extensive – I’m just hitting the core points. All the details can be filled in later!
Once I finish outlining, I pull all the resources I’m going to reference into my Edvo space for easy access. This makes sure I don’t go hunting for things later and breaking my flow.
Here’s a picture of Edvo writing space after my outline is finished:
Put this into practice: next time you sit down to write a blog post, complete an outline before you start writing. Bullet out all the points you want to cover, then come back and fill them in later.
Once you have your outline finished, you’re ready to write. It’s time!
This may feel like the most intimidating part of the process. If my blog post isn’t well-written enough, people won’t want to read it, right?
Yes, but there are also a lot of things you can do to write a well-crafted piece.
The most important thing: a good blog post is clear, detailed, but focused. It tells you what you need to know in a way that’s compelling enough to remember, but not so detailed that you get lost. Stories are great, but only as they serve to hook a reader’s attention and illustrate your points.
A few strategies I love for writing blog posts:
Also remember that people love interesting sentences. This is a great quote from Gary Provost on the art of sentence length:
Put this into practice: next time you sit down to write a blog post, choose a few tricks to help increase the quality of your piece. Use stories to engage your reader, utilize white space, and vary your formatting to draw a reader’s eye down the page.
If you’re serious about blogging and gaining traffic, you probably have a lot of questions about SEO. SEO stands for “search engine optimization” – writing your blog posts in a way that increases the likelihood they’ll show up in Google searches and people find your work.
But SEO isn’t just an optimization thing. Most SEO best practices go hand in hand with writing best practices.
For example: SEO cares very much about your article formatting. It places priority on articles that have a clear header structure: key headers for main points (H1), with smaller headers (H2 and H3) for subsections. Even if you don’t care about your SEO rankings, using clear headers is still important!
SEO also cares very much about keywords. You want to structure your post around a few core words or phrases, which will become your keywords for the piece (the google searches that will pull up your post as a result).
For example, one of my early articles (Six Rules for Writing Good Articles) did very well in terms of SEO – mostly by accident, because I didn’t know about SEO yet. I published it in 2017, and I still get messages from people who’ve read this article.
It did so well because people consistently search “rules for writing good articles.” Because I used that keyword again and again in my piece (in every H1 header, to be exact), it shows up near the top of Google’s search results when people look for that phrase.
SEO is tricky (and some keywords are very hard to rank for because there’s so much competition), but if your keywords are more niche topics it’s much easier to rank.
Really the key takeaway is:
Okay, so you understand how to write a good blog post, but you want to do this professionally. Awesome! I make a large portion of my income through writing, so I’ll share what I know.
There are tons of different options to make money as an online writer. Freelancing sites, writing for 3rd party publications, working as a contractor, blogging and making money through affiliates – to name just a few!
Regardless of what avenue you choose, building a portfolio is really helpful. That’s how I got started. I wrote on my own website, and then I started publishing on third-party sites. As my portfolio grew, people started finding me through my writing. Some of my best clients found me through the work I’d already published and reached out!
I’m working with a number of different clients now. Here you can see me start my day in my “All projects” space and then clicking into the project space for this post. I optimize my writing time by having everything I need, for any project, in one place.
Really, my top piece of advice is to just write. It’s easy to get caught up in preparation for writing, but besides understanding the basics, that can only get you so far.
The best way to learn is by trying your hand at it yourself, doing some writing, seeing what happens, and adjusting your approach based on what you learn.
My challenge for you: go write a blog post! Decide what you want to say, create an outline, draft a post – and most importantly, publish! Writing is the only way you’ll ever become a writer.