10+ Best practices on how to blog
A blog is a great way to showcase your expertise, cover topics that wouldn't otherwise be a good page on your website, goes in greater detail than a specific page on your website, shows your passion, and provides fresh and relevant content for your users (which makes the search engines happy). We often hear that you should blog, and we agree with that. What is often missed is how do you blog, why you should blog, what do you write about, and what are the best practices when it comes to blogging? We'll cover each of the major items that we cover for our clients.
Don't be scared
One of the first items we hear is a person is scared to write. We admit a blog can be intimidating as you are putting yourself "out there" for everyone to critique. You will make mistakes – we all do and the first step is always the hardest step in anything you do. The first thought of a blog is that of a book. A blog is much shorter than a book. We liken a blog to that of a short (very short) chapter that covers only a portion of the journey. When you are done doing your blog (years from now we hope) you may have ended up writing a book (or two). Each article you write will be easier than the last.
Often missed in deciding to write a blog article is figuring out who your intended audience is. If you are writing a technical article you are focused on other industry experts. When the article is technical having industry, acronyms is common and those reading your blog are familiar with those acronyms. If your audience is more beginner or intermediate level make certain to limit your industry acronyms and when you use them make certain to clearly explain them to your reader.
The title of your blog is as important, potentially more important, than the blog article itself. The blog post title is what captures the eye of your audience. If they don't see value in the title they will most likely not want to read your blog. Your title should also be consistent with the Google best practices for page titles. Your title should never be more than 70 characters in length. Do not make your title super long just to try and get more SEO keywords in the title.
Like classic newspapers that provide a teaser or introduction your blog will have a teaser or introduction. This introduction should clearly outline what your audience is going to learn and why they want to read it. This serves a couple of benefits for your audience. This allows them to make certain the article is relevant and doesn't waste their time reading something that isn't important to them (even though your title grabbed their attention) and it helps you make certain you cover all your high-level bullet points that you want to cover.
Following your introduction is the meat of your article. We try to keep are blog articles between 1 and 2,000 words. This comes to one to two pages. Longer is "okay" if you are going into technical details but for most articles staying between 1 and 2 thousand words will be perfect. All our time is valuable and by keeping to 1-2 pages of content a reader should be able to read your article in 10 minutes (or less).
Tone & Personality
When you write your article, you want to have a consistent voice for all your articles. Your personality should come out to your audience.
Your URL (e.g. http://yoursite/my-blog-title/) has a few key benefits. The first is it makes it easy for someone to know they are on the right article. The other is solely for selfish reasons. The selfish reason is it helps your search engine optimization which is one of the key reasons you are blogging. The best practice as of this writing is to have just A-Z and 0-9 in your URL with spaces separated by dashes (-). If your title is "My Great Blog Article" then your blog URL would be "my-great-blog-article". Upper and lower case don't matter and can be how you want it. You should never have a space in your URL as the browser will replace a space with %20 and makes a poor user experience.
Tagging is where you categorize your blog article. This allows you to keep all your articles organized and on topic. For your audience, the benefit is equally huge. If you are writing a blog article on search engine optimization or SEO you might use a tag of SEO. If your reader finds a certain SEO article important they can quickly look at all your other articles that are written on that specific topic (e.g. tag).
Auto posting to social media outlets
We really do not like to "auto-post" for one specific reason. It takes away the ability to personalize and auto-posted articles/links on social media tend to not show on your user's timeline than going directly to the site and doing it manually. A nice and short (different than your introduction) with a link will show on your user's timelines more often when done manually. Part of social media is getting people to engage and if we see a way to get more engagement we will take the extra time (a minute) to get the widest audience possible.
Re-read what you've written
This is where we see the most mistakes. When you write the article, you know exactly what you want it to say and many figures they didn't make a mistake as in their mind it came out perfect. You've spent 30-60 minutes typically writing your article (more if you have external references). Taking an extra 5-10 minutes to provide the most polished article is a key to making certain the tone of your message comes out.
Call to Action
You should be providing a value to your audience or they won't read your articles. As people read they will often understand a slight sales pitch or call-to-action. The action might not be sales related and just "hey read these other great articles". This is not a requirement but all good writings should help people understand how awesome your products and services are. Just don't make the entire article a sales pitch or you will risk losing your audience.
Scheduling & Consistency
Life is always full of uncertainty. Your blog should not be one of them. Decide and stick to a schedule. The holy grail of blogging is once per week. If you can do that you are doing truly great. We always encourage our clients to do so once per month as that provides you twelve unique pieces of content for your website each month as well as your social media sites to share.
Blogging for the wrong reasons
Yes, we just told you to blog but before we conclude we feel it is appropriate to cover reasons you should not blog. If your purpose is not to help others do not blog. If you are solely out for monetary (e.g. money) do not blog. If your purpose is to gain notoriety and become "internet famous" do not blog.
At the end of your blog it is common to thank your audience (Thank you!!!!) as well as cover any final key points within your blog. As you write your blog your personality and true character will continue to come out. This is a key part to blogging. Throughout your blog journey continue to be yourself and stick to why you started blogging in the first place. When you are true to yourself, stick to your values, and are consistent you will be a successful blogger in your niche.