If you’ve ever read a blog post, you’ve consumed content from a thought leader that is an expert in their industry. Chances are if the blog post was written effectively, you came away with helpful knowledge and a positive opinion about the writer or brand that produced the content.
Anyone can connect with their audience through blogging and enjoy the myriad benefits that blogging provides: organic traffic from search engines, promotional content for social media, and recognition from a new audience you haven’t tapped into yet.
If you’ve heard about blogging but are a beginner and don’t know where to start, the time for excuses is over. Not only can you create an SEO-friendly blog, but I’ll cover how to write and manage your business’s blog as well as provide helpful templates to simplify your blogging efforts.
Let’s get started with an important question.
Blogging may mean different things depending on your niche — so let’s begin with this definition.
What is a blog post?
A blog post is any article, news piece, or guide that’s published in the blog section of a website. A blog post typically covers a specific topic or query, is educational in nature, ranges from 600 to 2,000+ words, and contains other media types such as images, videos, infographics, and interactive charts.
Blog posts allow you and your business to publish insights, thoughts, and stories on your website about any topic. They can help you boost brand awareness, credibility, conversions, and revenue. Most importantly, they can help you drive traffic to your website.
But in order to begin making posts for a blog — you have to learn how to start one, first. Let’s dive in.
How to Start a Blog
- Understand your audience.
- Check out your competition.
- Determine what topics you’ll cover.
- Identify your unique angle.
- Name your blog.
- Create your blog domain.
- Choose a CMS and set up your blog.
- Customize the look of your blog.
- Write your first blog post.
1. Understand your audience.
Before you start writing your blog post, make sure you have a clear understanding of your target audience. To do so, take the following steps.
Ask yourself exploratory questions.
To discover your audience, ask questions like: Who are they? Are they like me, or do I know someone like them? What do they want to know about? What will resonate with them?
Jot down your notes in a notepad or a document. This is the time to brainstorm audience attributes from scratch, no matter how out of left field they may feel. You should also think about your audience’s age, background, goals, and challenges at this stage.
Carry out market research.
Doing market research sounds like a big task, but in truth, it can be as simple as accessing a social media platform and browsing user and blog profiles that match with your potential audience.
Use market research tools to begin uncovering more specific information about your audience — or to confirm a hunch or a piece of information you already knew. For instance, if you wanted to create a blog about work-from-home hacks, you can make the reasonable assumption that your audience will be mostly Gen Zers and Millennials. But it’s important to confirm this information through research.
Create formal buyer personas.
Once you’ve brainstormed and carried out market research, it’s time to create formal buyer personas. It’s important because what you know about your buyer personas and their interests will inform the brainstorming process for blog posts.
For instance, if your readers are Millennials looking to start a business, you probably don’t need to provide them with information about getting started on social media — most of them already have that down.
You might, however, want to give them information about how to adjust their social media approach (for example — from what may be a casual, personal approach to a more business-savvy, networking-focused approach). That kind of tweak is what helps you publish content about the topics your audience really wants and needs.
Don’t have buyer personas in place for your business? Here are a few resources to help you get started:
2. Check out your competition.
What better way to draw inspiration than to look at your well-established competition?
It’s worth taking a look at popular, highly reviewed blogs because their strategy and execution is what got them to grow in credibility. The purpose of doing this isn’t to copy these elements, but to gain better insight into what readers appreciate in a quality blog.
When you find a competitor’s blog, take the following steps:
Determine whether they’re actually a direct competitor.
A blog’s audience, niche, and specific slant determine whether they’re actually your competitor. But the most important of these is their audience. If they serve a completely different public than you, then they’re likely not a competitor. That is why it’s important to define your buyer personas before taking other steps in the blog creation process.
Look at the blog’s branding, color palette, and theme.
Once you determine that they’re your competitor, it’s time to take note of their techniques so that you can capture a similar readership. Colors and themes play a huge role in whether you seem like part of a niche — for instance, a blog about eco-friendly products should likely use earthy tones instead of bright, unnatural colors such as neon yellow or pink.
Analyze the tone and writing style of the competition.
Take note of your competition’s copywriting. Is it something you feel like you can successfully emulate? Does it ring true to the type of blog you’d like to create? What do readers most respond to? For most, creating a tech blog might be an excellent idea, but if journalistic, review-based writing doesn’t work for you, then that might not be a good fit. Be aware of what you can feasibly execute or hire freelance writers.
3. Determine what topics you’ll cover.
Before you write anything, pick a topic you’d like to write about. The topic can be pretty general to start as you find your desired niche in blogging.
Here are some ways to choose topics to cover.
Find out which topics your competitors often cover.
One easy way to choose topics for your blog is to simply learn what other blogs are writing about. After you determine your competitors, go through their archive and category pages, and try to find out which topics they most often publish content about. From there, you can create a tentative list to explore further. You might find, for instance, that a competitor only covers surface-level information about a subject. In your blog, you can dive more deeply and offer more value to readers.
Choose topics you understand well.
No matter what type of blog you start, you want to ensure you know the topic well enough to write authoritatively about it. Rather than choosing a topic you’ll need to research as you write, think about those that come most naturally to you. What has your professional experience been like so far? What are your hobbies? What did you study in college? These can all give rise to potential topics you can cover in depth.
Ensure the topics are relevant to your readership.
You may find that you hold deep expertise in various topics, but how relevant are they to the audience you understood back in step one? If you’re not serving their needs, then you’d be shouting into a void — or, worse, attracting the wrong readership. For that reason, after identifying the topics you can feasibly write about, ask yourself whether those are subjects your audience would like to explore.
Do preliminary keyword research.
Keyword research is the process of searching for topics using a keyword research tool, then determining whether there is demand by looking at each topic’s (or keyword’s) search volume. If you found the perfect topics that are the perfect cross between your expertise and your reader’s needs, you’ve struck gold — but the gold will have no value unless people are searching for those terms. Only then can you capture the audience that is waiting out there.
4. Identify your unique angle.
What perspective do you bring that makes you stand out from the crowd? This is key to determining the trajectory of your blog’s future, and there are many avenues to choose in the process.
Here’s how you can find your unique selling proposition in crowded blogging niches:
Write a professional and personal bio.
Knowing your own history and experience is essential to determine your unique slant. To get started, write a professional bio that explains, at length, who you are and which experiences most inform your blogging efforts. While I could write a lengthy exposition about my childhood, that history isn’t essential unless I’m launching a blog about raising children.
What unique experience makes you a trusted expert or thought leader on the topic? You can use your answers to that question to find your angle. Use this information to populate your “About me” page on your blog and share more about yourself.
Determine the special problem you will solve for readers.
Your readers won’t trust you or return to you unless you actively help them solve a problem. As you try to find your angle, think about ways you can help your audience surmount challenges typically associated with the topics you’ve chosen for your blog. For instance, if you’re creating a blog about sustainability, then you might help readers learn how they can compost organic materials in their home.
Choose an editorial approach.
Will you share your opinions on trending debates? Teach your readers how to do something? Compare or share original research? The editorial approach you choose will in part be informed by the topics you cover on your blog and the problems you’re helping your readers solve. If your blog is about marketing trends and your goal is to keep marketers up-to-date on the latest changes, then your editorial approach should be journalistic in nature. This is only one example of how to choose a technique.
5. Name your blog.
This is your opportunity to get creative and make a name that gives readers an idea of what to expect from your blog. Some tips on how to choose your blog name include:
Keep your blog name easy to say and spell.
No need to get complicated at all with your name, though it might be tempting, since there are so many blogs out there. While choosing a unique name is essential, it’s also important to choose one that is easy to memorize for readers. It should also be simple to remember as an URL (which will come into play in the next step).
Link your blog name to your brand message.
The more related your blog’s name is to the topics you cover, the better. For instance, DIY MFA is all about writers doing their own Master of Fine Arts in writing at home. The brand’s message is all about delving deep into one’s writing practice without needing a formal degree. Try to do something similar for your own blog name: Alluding to your blog’s message, value proposition, and covered topics in one sweep.
Consider what your target audience is looking for.
Your blog name should tie directly into what your readers want to achieve, learn, or solve. DIY MFA is about writers who don’t have the money for graduate school, but who still want to develop their writing skills. The HubSpot Marketing blog is — you guessed it — about marketing trends and tips.
It’s okay if your blog name feels “too straightforward.” Straightforward names accurately communicate what you’re about and effectively attract the right audience.
If you still need more assistance, try using a blog name generator. One last tip: Make sure the name you come up with isn’t already taken, as it could lessen your visibility and confuse readers looking for your content.
6. Create your blog domain.
A domain is a part of the web address nomenclature someone would use to find your website or a page of your website online.
Your blog‘s domain will look like this: www.yourblog.com. The name between the two periods is up to you, as long as this domain name doesn’t yet exist on the internet.
Want to create a subdomain for your blog? If you already own a cooking business at www.yourcompany.com, you might create a blog that looks like this: blog.yourcompany.com. In other words, your blog’s subdomain will live in its own section of yourcompany.com.
Some CMS platforms offer subdomains as a free service, where your blog lives on the CMS, rather than your business’s website. For example, it might look like this: yourblog.contentmanagementsystem.com. However, to create a subdomain that belongs to your company website, register the subdomain with a website host.
Most website hosting services charge very little to host an original domain — in fact, website costs can be as inexpensive as $3 per month when you commit to a 36-month term.
Pro Tip: You can connect your custom domain to free hosting with HubSpot’s free CMS or in premium editions of CMS Hub. This includes access to built-in security features and a content delivery network.
Here are five other popular web hosting services to choose from:
7. Choose a CMS and set up your blog.
A CMS (content management system) is a software application that allows users to build and maintain a website without having to code it from scratch. CMS platforms can manage domains (where you create your website) and subdomains (where you create a webpage that connects to an existing website).
HubSpot customers host web content via CMS Hub. Another popular option is a self-hosted WordPress website on a hosting site such as WP Engine. Whether you create a domain or a subdomain to start your blog, you’ll need to choose a web hosting service after you pick a CMS.
Pro Tip: You can get started for free with HubSpot’s free blog maker. Our free CMS offers everything you need to get started– including hosting, a visual editor, and hundreds of free and paid themes to choose from.
8. Customize the look of your blog.
Once you have your domain name set up, customize the appearance of your blog to reflect the theme of the content you plan on creating and your brand.
For example, if you’re writing about sustainability and the environment, green might be a color to keep in mind while designing your blog.
If you already manage a website and are writing the first post for that existing website, ensure the article is consistent with the website in appearance and subject matter. Two ways to do this are including your:
- Logo: This can be your business‘s name and logo — it will remind blog readers of who’s publishing the content. (How heavily you want to brand your blog, however, is up to you.)
- “About” Page: You might already have an “About” blurb describing yourself or your business. Your blog‘s “About” section is an extension of this higher-level statement. Think of it as your blog’s mission statement, which serves to support your company’s goals.
9. Write your first blog post.
Once you have your blog set up, the only thing missing is the content. While the design and layout are fun and functionally necessary, it’s the content that will draw your readers in and keep them coming back. So how do you actually go about writing one of these engaging and informational pieces?
Writing Your First Blog Post
You’ve got the technical and practical tidbits down — now it’s time to write your very first blog post. And nope, this isn’t the space to introduce yourself and your new blog (i.e. “Welcome to my blog! This is the topic I’ll be covering. Here are my social media handles. Will you please follow?”).
Start with “low-hanging fruit,” writing about a highly specific topic that serves a small segment of your target audience.
That seems unintuitive, right? If more people are searching for a term or a topic, that should mean more readers for you.
But that’s not true. If you choose a general and highly searched topic that’s been covered by major competitors or more established brands, it’s unlikely that your post will rank on the first page of search engine results pages (SERPs). Give your newly born blog a chance by choosing a topic that few bloggers have written about.
Let’s walk through this process.
1. Choose a topic you’re passionate and knowledgeable about.
Before you write anything, pick a topic for your blog post. The topic can be pretty general to start. For example, if you’re a company that sells a CRM for small-to-enterprise businesses, your post might be about the importance of using a single software to keep your marketing, sales, and service teams aligned.
Pro tip: You may not want to jump into a “how-to” article for your first blog post.
Your credibility hasn’t been established yet. Before teaching others how to do something, you’ll first want to show that you’re a leader in your field and an authoritative source.
For instance, if you‘re a plumber writing your first post, you won’t yet write a post titled “How to Replace the Piping System in your Bathroom.” First, you’d write about modern faucet setups, or tell a particular success story you had rescuing a faucet before it flooded a customer’s house.
Here are four other types of blog posts you could start with:
- List (“Listicle”): 5 ways to fix a leaky faucet
- Curated Collection: 10 faucet and sink brands to consider today
- SlideShare Presentation: 5 types of faucets to replace your old one (with pictures)
- News Piece: New study shows X% of people don’t replace their faucet frequently enough
If you’re having trouble coming up with topic ideas, a good topic brainstorming session should help. In the post I’ve linked, my colleague walks you through a helpful process for turning one idea into many. Similar to the “leaky faucet” examples above, you would “iterate off old topics to come up with unique and compelling new topics.”
This can be done by:
- Changing the topic scope
- Adjusting your time frame
- Choosing a new audience
- Taking a positive/negative approach
- Introducing a new format
And if you’re still stuck, let’s take a look at some first blog post idea examples.
First Blog Post Ideas
The Difference Between [Niche Topic] and [Niche Topic], Explained by a [Niche Expert]
- The Difference Between SEM and SEO, Explained by a Marketing Expert
- The Difference Between Sedans and Coupes, Explained by a Car Mechanic
- The Difference Between Baking and Broiling, Explained by a Professional Baker
The 10 Best and Worst [Niche Tools] for [Niche Activity]
- The 10 Best and Worst Writing Software for Fiction Writing
- The 10 Best and Worst CRMs for Nurturing Prospects
- The 10 Best and Worst Family Cars for Cross-Country Roadtrips
8 [Niche Activity] Common Mistakes (+ Ways to Fix Them)
- 8 Non-Fiction Writing Common Mistakes (+ Ways to Fix Them)
- 8 Salmon Broiling Common Mistakes (+ Ways to Fix Them)
- 8 Car Maintenance Common Mistakes (+ Ways to Fix Them)
9 Proven Tips for [Niche Activity]
- 9 Proven Tips for Checking Plumbing Problems under Your Kitchen Sink
- 9 Proven Tips for Writing a Non-Fiction Bestseller
- 9 Proven Tips for Doing DIY Car Maintenance
Why We/I Switched from [Niche Tool] to [Niche Tool] (Comparison)
- Why We Switched from Pipedrive to HubSpot (Comparison)
- Why I Switched from Microsoft Word to Scrivener (Comparison)
- Why We Switched from iMacs to Surface Studio (Comparison)
[Niche Tool] vs [Niche Tool]: Which [Tool] is Best for You?
- Zendesk vs Freshcaller: Which Call Software is Best for You?
- Air Fryer vs Convection Oven: Which One is Best for You?
- Mazda Miata vs Toyota Supra: Which Sports Car is Best for You?
The Ultimate Roundup of [Niche Activity] Tips and Tricks
- The Ultimate Roundup of Novel Writing Tips and Tricks
- The Ultimate Roundup of Macaroon Baking Tips and Tricks
- The Ultimate Roundup of Solo Traveling Tips and Tricks
Want some real examples of blog posts? See what your first blog post can look like based on the topic you choose and the audience you’re targeting.
2. Target a low-volume keyword to optimize around.
Finding a keyword with low searches in Google (I recommend sticking to about 10 to 150 monthly searches). These topics offer less competition and should therefore allow your new blog post to rank more easily.
To choose a topic, you can either do a traditional brainstorming session or carry out keyword research. I suggest the latter because you can actually see how many people are looking for that topic.
Now, don’t be intimidated by the term “keyword research.” It’s not just for marketers, but for new bloggers, too. And it’s really easy to do.
To jumpstart your keyword research, first begin by identifying the general topic of your blog.
Say you’re a plumber. Your general, high-level topic might be “plumbing” (67K monthly searches).
Next, put this term into a keyword research tool such as:
When you run this term through the tool, a list of related keywords will appear. Scan the list and choose one with a lower search volume. For this example, we’ll use “under sink plumbing” (1.4K monthly searches).
Run that keyword in the keyword research tool again. Look at the related keywords. Find one with a lower search volume. Do that again.
For this example, we’ll settle on “plumbing problems under kitchen sink” (10 monthly searches). That’s the topic for our first post.
TLDR; Choose a low-volume, low-competition keyword that will ensure your first post ranks.
For more help on keyword research, here are more resources you can use:
3. Google the term to understand your audience’s search intent.
You’ve got your topic — now, you need to check that the user’s search intent would be fulfilled by a blog post.
What does that mean?
If someone is looking for “plumbing problems under a kitchen sink,” they might be looking for a tutorial, a diagram, an article, or a product that can fix the issue. If they’re looking for the first three, you’re good — that can be covered in a blog post. A product, however, is different, and your blog post won’t rank.
How do you double-check search intent?
Google the term and look at the results. If other articles and blog posts rank for that term, you’re good to go. If you only find product pages or listicles from major publications, then find a new topic to cover in your first post.
Consider the term “under sink plumbing bathroom” (30 monthly searches). It seemed like a perfect fit because it had low monthly searches.
Upon Googling the term, I found product carousels, product pages from Home Depot and Lowes, and guides written by major publications. (You’ll also want to avoid topics that have been covered by major publications, at least for now.)
TLDR; Before writing your first blog post about a low-volume topic, double-check the user intent by Googling the keyword. Also, don’t forget to take a look at who’s written about that topic so far. If you see a major brand, consider writing about another topic.
4. Find questions and terms related to that topic.
You’ve got a highly unique topic that’s been covered by just a few people so far. It’s time to flesh it out by covering related or adjacent topics.
Use the following tools:
- Answer the Public: When you place your keyword into this tool, it will give you a list of questions related to that term.
- Google: Google is your best friend. Search for the term and look under “People also ask” and “People also search for.” Be sure to touch upon those topics in the post.
You can also use these keyword research tools we mentioned above in step one.
5. Come up with a working title.
You might come up with a few different working titles — in other words, iterations of approaching that topic to help you focus your writing.
For example, you may decide to narrow your topic to “Tools for Fixing Leaky Faucets” or “Common Causes of Leaky Faucets.” A working title is specific and will guide your post so you can start writing.
Let’s take a real post as an example: “How to Choose a Solid Topic for Your Next Blog Post.”
Appropriate, right? The topic, in this case, was probably “blogging.” Then the working title may have been something like, “The Process for Selecting a Blog Post Topic.” And the final title ended up being “How to Choose a Solid Topic for Your Next Blog Post.”
See that evolution from topic, to working title, to final title? Even though the working title may not end up being the final title (more on that in a moment), it still provides enough information so you can focus your blog post on something more specific than a generic, overwhelming topic.
6. Create an outline.
Sometimes, blog posts can have an overwhelming amount of information — for the reader and the writer. The trick is to organize the info in a way so readers aren‘t intimidated by length or amount of content. This organization can take multiple forms — sections, lists, tips — whatever’s most appropriate. But it must be organized!
Featured Resource: 6 Free Blog Post Templates
Let’s take a look at the post, “How to Use Snapchat: A Detailed Look Into HubSpot’s Snapchat Strategy.” There‘s a lot of content in the piece, so it’s broken up into a few sections using descriptive headers. The major sections are separated into subsections that go into more detail, making the content easier to read.
To complete this step, all you really need to do is outline your post. This way, before you start writing, you’ll know which points you want to cover and the best order to do so. And to make things even easier, you can download and use our free blog post templates, which are pre-organized for six of the most common blogs. Just fill in the blanks!
7. Write an intro (and make it captivating).
We’ve written more specifically about writing captivating introductions in the post “How to Write an Introduction,” but let’s review, shall we?
First, grab the reader‘s attention. If you lose the reader in the first few paragraphs — or even sentences — of the introduction, they’ll stop reading (even before they’ve given your post a fair shake). You can do this in a number of ways: tell a story or a joke, be empathetic, or grip the reader with an interesting fact or statistic.
Then, describe the purpose of your post and explain how it will address a problem the reader may be experiencing. This will give the reader a reason to continue reading and show them how the post will help them improve their work or lives.
Here‘s an example of an intro I think does a good job of attracting a reader’s attention right away:
“Blink. Blink. Blink. It’s the dreaded cursor-on-a-blank-screen experience that all writers — amateur or professional, aspiring or experienced — know and dread. And of all times for it to occur, it seems to plague us the most when trying to write an introduction.”
8. Build out each section of your outline.
The next step — but not the last — is actually writing the content. We can’t forget about that, of course.
Now that you have your outline or template, you’re ready to fill in the blanks. Use your outline as a guide and expand on all points as needed. Write about what you already know, and if necessary, conduct additional research to gather more information, examples, and data to back up your points, while providing proper attribution when incorporating external sources. When you do, always try to find accurate and compelling data to use in your post.
If you‘re having trouble stringing sentences together, you’re not alone. Finding your “flow” can be challenging for a lot of folks. Luckily, there are a ton of tools you can lean on to help you improve your writing. Here are a few to get you started:
- Power Thesaurus: Stuck on a word? Power Thesaurus is a crowdsourced tool that provides users with a number of alternative word choices from a community of writers.
- ZenPen: If you’re having trouble staying focused, check out this distraction-free writing tool. ZenPen creates a minimalist “writing zone” designed to help you get words down without having to fuss with formatting right away.
- Cliché Finder: Feeling like your writing might be coming off a little cheesy? Identify instances where you can be more specific using this handy cliché tool.
You can also refer to our complete list of tools for improving your writing skills. And if you’re looking for more direction, the following resources are chock-full of valuable writing advice:
9. Publish and promote your first post any way you can.
A promotion strategy is your master plan for how you create, post, and engage with your social media content. It helps you take advantage of social and digital technologies to share your business, or in this case, your content. Having a solid promotional strategy offers your audience from different marketing channels more ways to find your blog posts.
Here are more blog post promotion resources:
What makes a good blog post?
Before you write a blog, make sure you know the answers to questions like, “Why would someone keep reading this entire blog post?” and “What makes our audience come back for more?”
To start, a good blog post is interesting and educational. Blogs should answer questions and help readers resolve a challenge they’re experiencing — and you have to do so in an interesting way.
It‘s not enough just to answer someone’s questions — you also have to provide actionable steps while being engaging. For instance, your introduction should hook the reader and make them want to continue reading your post. Then, use examples to keep your readers interested in what you have to say.
Remember, a good blog post is interesting to read and provides educational content to audience members.
Want to learn how to apply blogging and other forms of content marketing to your business?
Check out HubSpot Academy’s free content marketing course.
Now, let’s dive into some formatting guidelines to use before you publish your blog posts.
Blog Format Guidelines
- Include H2s to arrange ideas.
- Center your Images.
- Add alt text.
- Keep your sentences clear and concise.
- Use media with purpose.
1. Include H2s to arrange ideas.
When you begin typing your blog content, it’s important that you divide paragraphs into sections that make it easier for the reader to find what they need.
If you’re just starting out, then focus on the overarching H2s you want to talk about, and you’ll be able to branch off into subheaders and more naturally as you continue.
2. Center your images.
This is a simple practice that can help your content look more professional with little effort. Centering your images keeps the reader’s attention drawn to the subject — not searching for elsewhere.
Centering also looks better when translating from PC to mobile devices. As formatting transitions to small screens or windows, a centered image will remain the focal point.
3. Add alt text.
So those images you centered earlier, make sure you have descriptive alt text for them, too.
Image alt text allows search engines, like Google, to crawl and rank your blog post better than pages lacking the element. It also leads readers to your blog post if the keywords included are what they searched for in the first place.
Besides SERP features, image alt text is beneficial to readers by providing more accessibility. Image alt text allows people to better visualize images when they can’t see them, and with assistive technology, can be auditorily read aloud for people to enjoy.
4. Keep your sentences short and concise.
When you begin working on the body of your blog post, make sure readers can clearly understand what you’re trying to accomplish.
You shouldn’t feel pressure to elongate your post with unnecessary details, and chances are that if you keep it concise, readers will derive more value from your work.
5. Use media with a purpose.
Break up the monotony of your blog post with some multimedia content where seen fit.
Your reader will enjoy visiting a blog page with images, videos, polls, audio or slideshows as opposed to a page of black and white text.
It also makes it more interactive and improves your on-page search engine optimization (SEO).
Now, do you want some real examples of blog posts? See what your first blog post can look like based on the topic you choose and the audience you’re targeting.
Blog Post Examples
- List-Based Post
- Thought Leadership Post
- Curated Collection Post
- SlideShare Presentation
- Newsjacking Post
- Infographic Post
- How-to Post
- Guest Post
1. List-Based Blog Post
List-Based Post Example: 17 Blogging Mistakes to Avoid in 2021, According to HubSpot Bloggers
List-based posts are sometimes called “listicles,” a mix of the words “list” and “article.” These are articles that deliver information in the form of a list. A listicle uses sub-headers to break down the blog post into individual pieces, helping readers skim and digest your content more easily.
As you can see in the example from our blog, listicles can offer various tips and methods for solving a problem.
2. Thought Leadership Post
Thought leadership posts allow you to share your expertise on a particular subject matter and share firsthand knowledge with your readers.
These pieces — which can be written in the first person, like the post shown above — help you build trust with your audience so people take your blog seriously as you continue to write for it.
3. Curated Collection Post
Example: 8 Examples of Evolution in Action
Curated collections are a special type of listicle blog post. Rather than sharing tips or methods for doing something, this type of blog post shares a list of real examples that all have something in common in order to prove a larger point.
In the example post above, Listverse shares eight real examples of evolution in action among eight different animals — starting with the peppered moth.
4. Slide Presentation
Example: The HubSpot Culture Code
HubSpot Slides is a presentation tool that helps publishers package a lot of information into easily shareable slides. Think of it like a PowerPoint, but for the web. With this in mind, SlideShare blog posts help you promote your SlideShare so that it can generate a steady stream of visitors.
Unlike blogs, slide decks don’t often rank well on search engines, so they need a platform for getting their message out there to the people who are looking for it. By embedding and summarizing your SlideShare on a blog post, you can share a great deal of information and give it a chance to rank on Google at the same time.
Need some slideshow ideas? In the example above, we turned our company’s “Culture Code” into a slides presentation that anyone can look through and take lessons from, and then promoted it in a blog post.
5. Newsjacking Post
“Newsjacking” is a nickname for “hijacking” your blog to break important news related to your industry. Therefore, the newsjack post is a type of article whose sole purpose is to garner consumers’ attention and, while offering them timeless professional advice, prove your blog is a trusted resource for learning about the big things that happen in your industry.
The newsjack example above was published by Houzz, a home decor merchant and interior design resource, about a new mobile app that was launched just for interior designers. Houzz didn‘t launch the app, but the news of its launching is no less important to Houzz’s audience.
6. Infographic Post
The infographic post serves a similar purpose as the SlideShare post — the fourth example, explained above — in that it conveys information for which plain blog copy might not be the best format.
For example, when you’re looking to share a lot of statistical information (without boring or confusing your readers), building this data into a well-designed, even engaging infographic can keep your readers engaged with your content. It also helps readers remember the information long after they leave your website.
7. How-to Post
Example: How to Write a Blog Post: A Step-by-Step Guide
For this example, you need not look any further than the blog post you‘re reading right now! How-to guides like this one help solve a problem for your readers. They’re like a cookbook for your industry, walking your audience through a project step by step to improve their literacy on the subject.
The more posts like this you create, the more equipped your readers will be to work with you and invest in the services you offer.
8. Guest Post
Guest posts are a type of blog post that you can use to include other voices on your blog. For example, if you want to get an outside expert’s opinion on a topic, a guest post is perfect for that.
Additionally, these posts give your blog variety in topic and viewpoint. If your customer has a problem you can’t solve, a guest post is a great solution.
If you begin accepting guest posts, set up editorial guidelines to ensure they’re up to the same standards as your posts.
So we’ve gone through the different types of blog posts you can make, but how do you consistently make quality blog posts that your viewers will enjoy?
How to Write a Blog Post
- Draw from your buyer personas and what you know about your audience.
- Pull from your content strategy and/or brainstormed topics.
- Identify what’s missing from the existing discourse.
- Choose what type of blog post you’re writing.
- Generate a few different titles and choose the best one.
- Create your outline and designate keyword-rich H2s and H3s.
- Write your blog post!
- Proofread your post.
- Add images and other media elements to support your ideas.
- Upload your post into your CMS.
- Determine a conversion path (what you want your audience to do next).
- Add calls to action to guide your audience to take action.
- Link to other relevant blog posts within your content.
- Optimize for on-page SEO.
- Publish and promote the blog post.
- Track the performance of the blog post over time.
1. Draw from your buyer personas and what you know about your audience.
Before you start writing your blog post, make sure you have a clear understanding of your target audience.
Ask questions like: What do they want to know about? What will resonate with them?
This is where the process of creating buyer personas comes in handy. Consider what you know about your buyer personas and their interests while you’re coming up with a topic for your blog post.
For instance, if your readers are millennials looking to start a business, you probably don’t need to provide them with information about getting started in social media — most of them already have that down.
You might, however, want to give them information about how to adjust their social media approach (for example — from what may be a casual, personal approach to a more business-savvy, networking-focused approach). That kind of tweak is what helps you publish content about the topics your audience really wants and needs.
If you haven’t developed buyer personas yet, I’ve found that it’s easiest to get started by gathering the information you already have about your audience and looking for trends. Sending out feedback surveys and interviewing followers can also be helpful.
Does your blog attract a specific age group? Does your audience live in a certain region? How do readers typically discover your content? Finding answers to these questions can help you get a better idea of who your buyer persona is.
Don’t have buyer personas in place for your business? Here are a few resources to help you get started:
2. Pull from your content strategy and/or brainstormed topics.
If you already have a pre-existing portfolio to look back on, it would benefit you to pull from those brainstormed post ideas or previous content strategy.
One thing that’s been helpful for me is specifically looking at content performance data when brainstorming ideas. In doing this, I’ve discovered which topics tend to resonate with my audience (and which ones don’t) and created content around them.
By focusing on your core blog topics, or clusters, you can establish yourself as a thought leader, gain the trust of your audience, rank better on search engines, and attract new readers.
3. Identify what’s missing from the existing discourse.
Fill in the gaps of the existing discourse in the topic of your choosing.
You want to meet a need that hasn’t already been met in your topic cluster. Otherwise, you run the risk of writing content for topics that are already over-saturated.
It’s hard to beat saturated search queries when you’re trying to rank against high authority publications — but not impossible if your content is answering the queries the competition hasn’t.
To discover what’s missing within a topic, I conduct a competitive analysis to see what my competitors offer in their content and how I can make my blog post better. Here are some things to look out for:
- Unanswered user queries
- Content depth
- Content freshness
- Media richness
- User experience
If your competitors are lacking in any of these areas, you can use that to your advantage and focus on them when writing your blog post.
Another way to differentiate your blog is by offering original data, quotes, or perspectives. Some of my best performing posts have come from getting a unique quote from an industry expert.
4. Choose what type of blog post you’re writing.
There are several types of blog posts you can create, and they each have different formats to follow.
Six of the most common formats include:
- The List-Based Post
- The “What Is” Post
- The Pillar Page Post (“Ultimate Guide”)
- The Newsjacking Post
- The Infographic Post
- The “How-To” Post
5. Generate a few different titles and choose the best one.
Your blog title should tell readers what to expect, yet it should leave them wanting to know more — confusing, right?
This is why when you’re coming up with a blog post title that you should brainstorm multiple ones instead of just one. I find it helpful to share these titles with a couple coworkers to get their feedback and see which one is most engaging to them.
I’ve also enlisted the help of ChatGPT to generate sample blog post titles by inputting a prompt like, “Write a list of blog titles about [topic].” Even if it doesn’t give you exactly what you want, it can still get ideas flowing.
6. Create your outline and designate keyword-rich H2s and H3s.
When outlining, you need to center your main ideas with keyword-rich H2s and H3s. These are going to be your headers and subheaders that readers typically search for, and the information that Google crawls when indexing and ranking content.
- Relevance to topic and search intent
- How authoritative my blog is on the topic
- The amount of search traffic my blog could gain
Remember, your outline should serve as a guide to make writing your blog post easier, so make sure you include all the important points you want to discuss and organize them in a logical flow.
7. Write your blog post!
I already told you how to build out your outline earlier in the post, so we’ll quickly go over the main points once more.
You‘ve already outlined your main headings and subheadings, so now’s the time to add the body.
Write about what you already know, and if necessary, conduct additional research to gather more information, examples, and data to back up your points, while providing proper attribution when incorporating external sources. When you do, always try to find accurate and compelling data to use in your post.
This is also your opportunity to show personality in your writing. Blog posts don‘t have to be strictly informational, they can be filled with interesting anecdotes and even humor if it serves a purpose in expressing your ideas. It also factors into creating and maintaining your blog’s brand voice.
Don‘t be discouraged if you’re having trouble stringing sentences together, you’re not alone. Finding your “flow” can be challenging, but there are many tools to ease the process.
8. Proofread your post.
The editing process is an important part of blogging — don’t overlook it. I tend to self-edit while I write, but it’s essential to get a second pair of eyes on your post before publishing.
Consider enlisting the help of The Ultimate Editing Checklist and ask a grammar-conscious co-worker to copy edit and proofread your post. I also really enjoy free grammar checkers, like Grammarly, to help proofread while I’m writing.
If you’re looking to brush up on your self-editing skills, turn to these helpful posts for some tips and tricks to get you started:
9. Add images and other media elements to support your ideas.
When you’re finished checking for grammar, shift your focus to adding other elements to the blog post than text. There’s much more to making a good blog post than copy, here’s some following elements to add in support of your ideas:
Choose a visually appealing and relevant image for your post. As social networks treat content with images more prominently, visuals are more responsible than ever for the success of your blog content.
For help selecting an image for your post, read “How to Select the Perfect Image for Your Next Blog Post” and pay close attention to the section about copyright law.
No one likes an unattractive blog post. And it‘s not just pictures that make a post visually appealing — it’s the formatting and organization of the post, too.
In a well-formatted and visually-appealing blog post, you’ll notice that header and sub-headers are used to break up large blocks of text — and those headers are styled consistently.
Here’s an example of what that looks like:
Screenshots should always have a similar, defined border so they don‘t appear as if they’re floating in space — that style should stay consistent from post to post.
Maintaining this consistency makes your content look more professional and easier on the eyes.
Topics and Tags
Tags are specific, public-facing keywords that describe a post. They also allow readers to browse for more content in the same category on your blog. Refrain from adding a laundry list of tags to each post. Instead, put some thought into a blog tagging strategy.
Think of tags as “topics” or “categories,” and choose 10-20 tags that represent all the main topics you want to cover on your blog. Then stick to those.
10. Upload your post into your CMS.
You filled out your blog post with all the optimized content you can, now is the time to publish it in your content management system.
I also use this step as an opportunity to double check my post for any errors that were potentially missed during the proofreading process. It’s especially important to preview your post before publishing to make sure there aren’t any formatting issues.
You can opt to post your content immediately, save it as a draft, or schedule when you want it to be posted live in case you adhere to a posting schedule.
11. Determine a conversion path (what you want your audience to do next).
A conversion path is a process by which an anonymous website visitor becomes a known lead. It sounds simple enough, but creating an effective conversion path requires a clear understanding of your target audience and their needs.
Having a conversion path is important because when you share your content on the web, you should have an idea of what your audience should do next, or in other words, provide them with a path forward.
The HubSpot Flywheel model is a great example of this as it shows how our organization gains and maintains leads.
12. Add calls to action to guide your audience to take action.
Call to action (CTA) are a part of a webpage, advertisement, or piece of content that encourages the audience to do something. You can add them to your blog post to guide your reader with “next steps” or a conversion path.
Different types of call to actions include asking readers to:
- Subscribe to your newsletter to see when you publish more content.
- Join an online community in your blog domain.
- Learn more about a topic with downloadable content.
- Try something for free or discount to convert readers to customers.
To get a better idea of how to make a CTA that readers want to click, we have a whole list of effective call to action examples for you to check out.
13. Link to other relevant blog posts within your content.
When you’re completing your blog post, you should link relevant content throughout it. An effective way to do this is to link within the same content cluster.
One thing I do to make finding relevant links easier is going to my search browser and typing “site:website.com: keyword.” By doing this, you can find all the posts you have published on that topic.
Keeping relevant content throughout your post can provide your readers with more helpful information, and potentially boost search engine rankings with corresponding longtail keywords.
But we’ll talk more about how to improve your ranking in the next step.
14. Optimize for on-page SEO.
After you finish writing, go back and optimize the on-page elements of your post.
Don‘t obsess over how many keywords to include. If there are opportunities to incorporate keywords you’re targeting, and it won‘t impact reader experience, do it. If you can make your URL shorter and more keyword-friendly, go for it. But don’t cram keywords or shoot for some arbitrary keyword density — Google’s smarter than that!
Here’s a little blog SEO reminder about what you should review and optimize:
Write your meta description.
Meta descriptions are the descriptions below the post‘s page title on Google’s search results pages. They provide searchers with a short summary of the post before clicking into it. They are ideally between 150-160 characters and start with a verb, such as “Learn,” “Read,” or “Discover.”
While meta descriptions no longer factor into Google‘s keyword ranking algorithm, they give searchers a snapshot of what they’ll get from reading the post and help improve your clickthrough rate from search.
Optimize your page title and headers.
Most blogging software uses your post title as your page title, which is the most important on-page SEO element at your disposal. But if you’ve followed our formula so far, you should already have a working title that will naturally include keywords or phrases your target audience is interested in.
Don‘t over-complicate your title by trying to fit in keywords where they don’t naturally belong. With that said, if there are clear opportunities to add keywords you‘re targeting to your post title and headers, feel free to take them. Also, try to keep your headlines short — ideally, under 65 characters — so they don’t get truncated in the search engine results.
Consider anchor text best practices as you interlink to other pages.
Anchor text is the word or words that link to another page — either on your website or on another website. Carefully select which keywords you want to link to other pages on your site because search engines take that into consideration when ranking your page for certain keywords.
It‘s also important to consider which pages you link to. Consider linking pages that you want to rank for a specific keyword. You could end up getting it to rank on Google’s first page of results instead of its second page — and that isn’t small potatoes!
Write alt text for all of your images.
Alt text conveys the “why” of an image as it relates to the content of your blog post to Google. By adding alt text correlating to the topic clusters and keywords of the post, Google can better direct users’ searches to you.
Check that all images are compressed for page speed.
When Google crawls different websites, a page’s load speed holds weight in page ranking. Make sure the images you include throughout the page aren’t unnecessarily large to shorten the duration it takes to load.
Use apps like Squoosh to minimize the size of your images without losing the quality.
Ensure that your blog post is mobile friendly.
More than 60% of organic visits are carried out on a mobile device. As such, having a website with a responsive design is critical. In addition to making sure your website‘s visitors (including your blog’s visitors) have the best experience possible, optimizing for mobile will score your website some SEO points.
15. Publish and promote the blog post.
Share your post across all the marketing channels in your repertoire. The further the reach, the more of a possibility that readers will find it.
Channels to expand your blog post promotion strategy include:
16. Track the performance of the blog post over time.
Your post is published for the world to see, make sure you’re keeping an eye on its performance over time so you can see if your blog post strategy is working well enough for your goals.
Here are some blog KPIs I like to keep track of:
- Total traffic per post
- Average CTR
- Average SERP position
- Traffic source breakdown
- Number of search queries per post
- Average comments per post
- Social shares per post
- New blog leads
- Conversion rate
There’s a plethora of website traffic analysis tools that you can take advantage of to better understand your audience’s behavior on your blog posts.
Quick Blog Writing Tips
If you’re feeling stuck as a new writer, don’t give up. It gets easier with practice. Whether you’re struggling with writer’s block or wanting some ways to add depth to your content, here are some quick tips I compiled to help take your blog writing to the next level:
If you don’t know where to start, start by telling a story.
When you’re facing writer’s block, start with what you know. Not only will sharing personal anecdotes help you get ideas flowing, but it can also keep your readers engaged with what you’re saying.
Stories can simplify complex concepts and make your content more relatable. Plus, they add a human touch and help set the tone for the rest of your blog post.
Include interesting quotes or facts for emphasis on the subject.
When you back up your ideas with unique, expert quotes or share facts from reliable sources, it shows that your blog post is well-researched and trustworthy.
If you don’t know where to start with finding quotes, think about the people you know and their expertise. For example, I’m lucky enough to have incredibly knowledgeable coworkers here at HubSpot that I can reach out to if I need a quote.
I’ve also reached out to connections on LinkedIn to see if they can provide a quote or know someone who can. HARO can also be a great resource if you need a quote in a pinch.
Make your content skimmable; break it into digestible chunks.
There’s nothing that turns readers off more than opening an article and seeing a large wall of text. Think about it: most internet users have a short attention span and tend to skim through content rather than reading every word.
That’s why I recommend breaking up your blog post into smaller chunks to make it more digestible. You can do this by utilizing subheadings (H2s, H3s, H4s, etc.), bullet points, and short paragraphs.
Not only does breaking up your content make your blog post more visually appealing, it also helps readers quickly find the information they’re looking for without getting lost in a sea of text.
Paint a full picture with images, graphics or video.
Aside from aesthetic appeal, visuals can help convey complex ideas in an easier way and help readers remember the information you share.
I recommend reading through your blog post and putting yourself in your reader’s shoes. Is there anything you wrote about that would be better explained with the support of an image or graphic?
For instance, whenever I write about the pros and cons of something, I like to create a graphic that shows those pros and cons in a side-by-side comparison.
I also look at search engines results when determining what images to add to my post. Does the SERP for the keyword you’re targeting have an image pack? See if you can add in images and optimize them with alt text to increase the chances of appearing in those results.
Each sentence should convey a single idea.
Keep it simple, stupid. There’s no reason to write overly complex sentences that confuse your readers. Instead, opt to convey your message in a simple and accessible manner. At the end of the day, readers just want to find the answers they’re looking for, and writing in a straightforward manner can effectively meet this need.
I like to use the Hemingway App to make sure that my writing doesn’t get too dense.
Use active voice.
Although your writing should captivate the reader, you should avoid overwhelming them with fluff. Using active voice can help keep your writing clear, concise, and energetic while still getting your point across.
For example, instead of saying something like “the product was loved by customers,” write “customers loved the product.”
Ready to blog?
Blogging can help you build brand awareness, become a thought-leader and expert in your industry, attract qualified leads, and boost conversions. Follow the steps and tips we covered above to begin publishing and enhancing your blog today.
Editor’s note: This post was originally published in October 2013 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.