The stages of writing: The Art of (Blog) Writing
To become a writer you have to understand one thing: most of the time, people are not interested in your personal experiences. You need to convince them right away, why your article will bring them value. To do so, you first need to have a great title which answers a question. You then need to craft the perfect first paragraph which will hook your reader and offer a comprehensive article which solves a problem.
The devil lies in the details. When you decide to become a blogger, you need to understand certain writing strategies. Your articles have to be SEO focused whilst keeping your writing style. Remember that as much as you want to write for robots, you should aim at writing for humans first. The biggest writing mistake bloggers make? They make their articles sound forced. In a way, you have to marry your literal and marketing skills to create the perfect blog post.
The stages of writing are as follows:
- Finding and focusing your story
- Crafting a structure: Article writing format
- Keyword Research
- Niche Research
- Persona Research
- Forum Research
- Understanding Titles
Finding and focusing your story
When it comes to writing a new article, you have to decide what your focus is going to be. For example, say you went on a trip to Tokyo. When someone asks you “how was Tokyo” what is the first thing that comes to mind? Make the answer to that question be the focus. More often than not, bloggers pick a wide subject and decide to write about it. This usually doesn’t work for multiple reasons.
First, it is very difficult to craft an SEO article with no real focus, because you won’t have a specific keyword in it.
Second, people will be interested in only one area of your Tokyo trip (accommodation, food, transportation, culture etc). Consider creating multiple articles which have one focus alone. If you still want to write about your experience as a whole, consider breaking the article into different chapters or pages onto your blog, so you still get the proper SEO you deserve.
Article Writing Format: Crafting a structure
Just because you are a blogger, it doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t craft your story properly. You should have a clear introduction, main content and conclusion.
The introduction is usually the first two paragraphs and this is your chance to set the focus of the story and grab your readers’ attention. Here are some potential options:
Have an intriguing example or a provocative quotation that is closely related to your argument. Start with a puzzling scenario or a vivid and perhaps unexpected anecdote. And ultimately why not try a thought-provoking question.
The main part of the article has to offer value to the reader. They need to want to read more and feel like they are gaining insights. This is very important! The more problems you solve for your reader, the more they are going to trust your authority and become part of your loyal audience. It may be tempting sometimes to just draft an article which is just ok. Asks yourself, will you ever come back for more after reading a mediocre article? Of course not! The whole point is that you have something to offer. Focus on reading a lot from other bloggers which are successful. Write down what makes their story stand out. Learn from them and make your stories even better. Don’t be afraid to invest into writing courses. Or better yet, spend a lot of time reading books, upon books. The best writer is the avid reader.
The conclusion of your article has to wrap up the story, bring the reader back to reality and leave them wanting to read more of your blog or engage with your post. Remember that your end should have a satisfying conclusion and you should never leave your reader hanging. Remember those movies with no particular clear end which just make you frustrated? You definitely don’t want to do that. Give your article the ending it deserves and your reader the satisfaction it needs in order to continue reading your blog more.
At the bottom of the article, don’t forget to add a call to action. Tell your readers to share, subscribe or comment. Without a clear call to action, your reader will very likely leave your site.
Although keyword research is not relevant to the format of article writing, it is one of the most important writing strategies.
It’s one thing to write for a print publication and another to write an article which has to be put online, on your blog. Keyword research should absolutely be part of the stages of writing.
Most bloggers figure out what they want to write about, come up with a couple of keywords, pop them into Google Keyword Planner to see if they would work and pick the ones that are the most appealing. Although some swear it works, I am reluctant to believe it. I've tried this method myself and saw no results whatsoever. Since I invested in a professional keyword research tool, my organic traffic boomed. I now get 70% of all my traffic via organic search.
The keyword research ties in with a lot of what is expected of your articles. Your article has to have a focus (that’s your keyword) and has to solve a problem (people will search for your keyword, and you will provide them with an answer). Think about it, when you have a question what do you do? You type it into Google. What then? You scan the first few titles on Google and click (usually) on the first article. Well, you are not alone. This is how the internet users operate. You need to start thinking like a consumer.
For example, say I want to write an article about my experience with a new brand of green tea. I will start searching for this online to see how many people already wrote about this topic. I will check forums and search for my topic to see if people are interested in it. And I will also try to figure out how do people search for questions related to my chosen topic.
It could be “how to drink green tea” or “is green tea good for me” and so on. Don’t just use your gut feeling about what people may be searching for, but take the time, research and investigate this information. This is why you will need to do a niche research.
The first step is to figure out what your topic is going to be. So let’s start thinking about our above example: green tea. Start by making a list of the things that come to mind when you are thinking of green tea. Probably something like Asia, Japan, China, organic tea, tea cup, relaxation, meditation etc.
However, when you put “green tea” into your google keyword planner only tightly related words come up:
“Matcha green tea”
“Best green tea”
This is why you need to find relevant topics to your keyword.
There are lots of other keywords which are related to “green tea”, not overly saturated and very lucrative. Someone interested in green tea might be interested in learning about the benefits of drinking matcha, for example, the history of the Japanese tea ceremony, why are antioxidants good for you and so on.
Make sure you make a list with all these possible focus topics. This can take hours sometimes, but all well-researched articles, pay off!
As a user experience designer, this is something I very much enjoy doing. You might wonder, ok, but why do I do this? Actually, this is relatively easy to do. We already talked about persona research in our blog business plan article.
To create a persona you need to: Come up with gender, age, income, hobbies, things they struggle with and they want to accomplish in their life. This is very important because once you figure out these personas, you will literally know who to target and why. Going back to the green tea keyword we’ve been discussing. Figure out a few people who will be interested in this.
Here is more information about our fictional persona, Laura:
"Laura, 31, from the UK, is interested in yoga and fitness and started looking into the link between antioxidants and prolonged health.
Laura learned that green tea has a lot of antioxidants and wants to read more about it. Laura's ultimate goal is to lead a healthy lifestyle. Laura knows her way around the internet and likes to research a product before buying it. Once she likes a product, she becomes loyal to the brand."
Although this is a basic example of a persona, it's pretty much what you need.
So who cares about Laura and her new yoga interests? Well, this is when you need to impersonate Laura. Think like Laura, be Laura. Imagine yourself running everyday, imagine being interested in yoga and searching for green tea properties. Figure out what you would search for, why would you be buying green tea, what does the product have to be like, how does it have to look like, what types of articles you would read about before buying green tea.
Yes, it may be tedious, but in order to figure out WHO and HOW to target people with your articles, you need to do this research. Apply the above to each and every single article you create. Research it's the most important stage of writing an article.
Hello Forum Time
It might seem weird that I make you wonder around the internet when you should be focusing on content. Well, without serving the right content, people won’t flock on your website. So what should you do on forums? Search for your keywords. You can search on Google for “green tea” + “forums”.
This is a great way to identify a few potential niche topics at a glance. Here, you will find what people are mainly interested in, what types of questions they ask and of course what specialised topics some forums have.
For example if you perform the search I just recommended you “green tea” + “forums”, you will find a forum called teachat.com When you click on it, you will notice several topics “green tea general questions”, “benefit of green tea”, “ready for matcha” etc. You just discovered what people are interested in reading about. You now know their problem and the type of questions and topics they are searching for.
Short or long keyword?
So many people make the mistake of trying to rank high for the obvious short keywords e.g: “tea”. These type of keywords are not just competitive but don’t convert well. This is because your keyword “tea” doesn’t represent the searcher’s intent (someone looking for “tea” might not also want to buy your product). These type of keywords come with a ridiculous amount of search volume and competition.
The next option you have are “body keywords”. These are 2-3 word phrases that get a good amount of search volume. They are still highly competitive but also very lucrative. Someone looking for “matcha tea” or “buy matcha tea” has already done most of the research and is ready to either purchase or find a possible purchasing source.
But we are bloggers, we are not trying to sell. So you might wonder, what does “highly lucrative” means to us. Well although you might not work in e-commerce, you will probably want to set up affiliates for your articles. This means that although you might not directly be selling “matcha tea”, you might work in partnership with a brand which does, and your aim is to offer them leads. The better your keyword, the more people will find you on Google. The more people read your article, the better your rank and the more chances of them buying products through your affiliate links. Affiliate link purchases = money. Everyone is happy.
I mentioned that body keywords are highly competitive still. Imagine the sheer amount of people wanting to rank high for words such as “matcha tea”. These are the people that invest a lot of resources into ranking as high as possible. As a blogger, you might not have the monetary investment, to begin with.
But worry not, there are still options. Have you ever heard of long tail keywords? These are 4+ word phrases that are very specific. Think about “cheap matcha tea in the UK” or “buy matcha tea online”. Most of your effort should go into long tail keywords. They might not have the search volumes that body keywords such as “green tea” have, but if chosen correctly, these are the most lucrative keywords out there.
Why? Think about it. Someone searching for “tea” is just browsing the internet and wants information. Someone searching for “matcha tea” has a specific need, and is looking for comparison and options. But whoever searches for “buy matcha tea online” has their credit card ready for a purchase.
In order to make your blog into a lucrative business, you have to think what types of solutions people need and how you can write to solve their problem. For example, you might want to explain why “Barcelona is a great place for digital nomads”. In an article like this you can include plenty of accommodation, transportation and partner affiliates. People who then search for “great place for digital nomads” or “the best place for digital nomads” could find your article.
There are several tips you will find online including “X amount of mistakes bloggers do, to begin with”. Amongst these mistakes, you will find something along the lines “new bloggers spend too much time writing content”.
Ok, let’s clarify this one. When you first start a blog, you need as much content as possible. So please sit down and write as much as you can. This will also enable you to tailor your writing style as you go along and find what suits you and your readers. However, as you start attracting readers, indeed, you need to lower a number of days spent on creating a blog post and increase the time spent on marketing, keyword researching and promotion.
I think blogging patience is essential and strategy is key. If you want to know how to start, check out blogging for dummies. So instead of writing, writing, writing and burning out after 3 months, I suggest coming out with a blog business plan on how to tackle this. This is why a writing schedule and a writing strategy might come in handy.
In the first month (or more) I would focus on writing at least 5 articles a week. Allow a few hours a day to write, write, write. Then, as you progress, decrease this to 3 times a week, then twice a week and so on (until you reach your optimum time).
There is no magic formula. Several successful bloggers write daily, whilst others write once a month. It is entirely up to you and your blog niche on how you tackle this. However, just because you write less, it doesn’t mean that you gaining spare time! The time you gain, has to be spent writing still, just not on your blog. Write guest posts, articles for magazines, freelance content etc. Spent the time researching keywords, promoting your content on social media, finding ways of getting others to promote your blog. It’s very easy to scare a new blogger and tell them that writing a lot is a mistake. It’s not a mistake but essential for new bloggers. However, it comes a time when your focus should be on marketing as opposed to writing daily.
Blog Post Titles
There is no denying the fact that nobody clicks on a title which sounds dull. So you have several boxes to tick when it comes to choosing the right title for your article.
First, you need to ensure your title contains your keyword in it. To go back to our “buy matcha tea online” example, you should aim for something like “What is the best place to buy matcha tea online”. Yes, of course, this is an example, but you can notice a few things about my chosen title. It creates intrigue, it asks a question (because most people will be searching on Google by asking a question), it contains my long tail keyword “buy matcha tea online” and it also automatically contains a body keyword “matcha tea”.
Second, your title should have the right length and should stir some sort of emotion. In my example, I am asking a question and I am making people curious. I possess some sort of information they want, hence, they will want to click on this title to find it all out. You can try and be shocking, negative, positive and so on. Whatever you do, remember to aim to be emotive, one way or another.
Third, your title shouldn’t be a click bait (unless you are a marketer guru). Please, please don’t do it. If my title is “What is the best place to buy matcha tea online” then somewhere in the article I must provide the answer to my readers. How many times have you clicked on an article which promises to tell you a story, but the copy itself was a complete waste of time?
I hope you now created your own article writing format with a great intro, main and conclusion. Don't forget to add an amazing title so your readers are keen to click on it. Remember that keyword research is the most important when it comes to writing strategies and ultimately you write to solve your audience's problem.
Are you ready to start writing more content? Is there something I missed that you need more help with? Let me know in the comments section below.