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How to Craft a Blog Post – 10 Crucial Points to Pause

It hits you like a TON of BRICKS! It’s an idea for that KILLER blog post that is just bound to bring you all the traffic that you’ve ever dreamed of.

With the idea fresh in your mind you sit down at your keyboard and BANG it out – desperate to hit publish as quickly as you can for fear that someone else will beat you to the PUNCH!

PublishImage by pallotron

As SMOKE rises from your keyboard you complete your post, quickly add a title to it and proudly hit PUBLISH!

Visions of an avalanche of visitors, incoming links and comments swirl before you.

But then…

Reality hits you like a SLAP in the face. There are few visitors, no comments and no links. It’s not a KILLER post – it’s DEAD.

Ever had that experience?

I have – many many times over.

Today I want to start a series of posts that will walk you through an alternative workflow for constructing a blog post – one that takes…. time.

How-To-Craft-A-Blog-Post
Image by Samyra.S

If there’s one lesson that I’ve learnt about writing for the web it’s that a key element to writing successful blog posts is that in most cases they take time to CREATE.

I emphasize ‘create’ because I think too often as bloggers we ‘PUNCH’ out content as though we’re in a race or under some kind of deadline. It’s almost like we’re on a production line at times – unfortunately the posts we write often reflect this.

In this series I want to suggest an alternative approach – the crafting (or creation) of content.

This process is a more thoughtful process that is about crafting words and ideas – shaping posts into content that take readers on a journey.

To kick off this series I want to suggest 10 points to pause at when writing a post on your blog. I’ll include a link to each post that follows in this series as I update them.

Instead of rushing through a post – I find that if I pause at these key moments my post rises to a new level of quality and posts tend to get more traction with readers. They don’t guarantee the perfect post – but they certainly take you a step closer to a good one.

  1. Choosing a Topic – take a little extra time defining your topic and the post will flow better and you’ll develop something that matters to readers.
  2. Crafting Your Post’s Title – perhaps the most crucial part of actually getting readers to start reading your post when they see it in an RSS reader or search engine results page.
  3. The Opening Line – first impressions matter. Once you’ve got someone past your post’s title your opening line draws them deeper into your post.
  4. Your ‘point/s’ (making your posts matter) - a post needs to have a point. If it’s just an intriguing title and opening you’ll get people to read – but if the post doesn’t ‘matter’ to them it’ll never get traction.
  5. Call to Action – driving readers to do something cements a post in their mind and helps them to apply it and helps you to make a deeper connection with them.
  6. Adding Depth – before publishing your post – ask yourself how you could add depth to it and make it even more useful and memorable to readers?
  7. Quality Control and Polishing of Posts – small mistakes can be barriers to engagement for some readers. Spending time fixing errors and making a post ‘look’ good can take it to the next level.
  8. Timing of Publishing Your Post – timing can be everything – strategic timing of posts can ensure the right people see it at the right time.
  9. Post Promotion – having hit publish – don’t just leave it to chance that your post will be read by people. Giving it a few strategic ‘nudges’ can increase the exposure it gets exponentially.
  10. Conversation – often the real action happens once your post is published and being interacted with by readers and other bloggers. Taking time to dialogue can be very fruitful.

Taking extra time at each of these 10 points looks different for me in every post that I do – but I believe that every extra moment spent of these tasks pays off.

Some times the pause I take in one step will be momentary while in others it could take hours or even days to get it just right. Sometimes the above process happens quite automatically and other times I need to force myself to stop and ponder something like a title or the timing of a post.

Each of the 10 points above have much more that could be said about them so over the weeks I’ll be tackling each in turn in the hope that we can have some good discussion and sharing of ideas around them. I’ll link to each of them from within the list above as I release the posts.

For each point I hope to give some insight into how I tackle them and will share a few practical tips and examples of what I’ve done that has worked (and not worked). Don’t expect posts each day on this series – like all good things – this will take us some time!

About Darren Rowse

Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.

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Comments

  1. Great list! I’m looking forward to reading more about each one. I think I do most of these already sort of instinctively, but it will be helpful to read your suggestions and think about how I can take each of them to the next level. The one I am trying to work on right now is the call to action, I don’t think I do that in my posts nearly enough.

  2. Thanks for the tips Darren. As someone fairly new to blogging, I often overlook this elements with the overwhelming urge to publish!

    I’m definitely going to work on post timing and call to action. I think I’ll use these tips as a checklist when doing my next post.

  3. Brilliant pointers for crafting a post, Darren.

    I like the idea you suggest about “creating” a post, rather than churning one out.

    This aim for quality is what separates the good stuff on the web, from the average. I believe that’s the only way to differentiate a blog from all the countless ones around- by having an obsession with developing great content.

    That is what sets apart those bloggers who care enough about their blog community to give them first class reading material, rather than just throwing out average posts that engage no one.

  4. David says:

    I do have that habit of rushing post. For me it’s a habit that is hard to break.

    I guess I do 1, 2 and 4 and skip to 9 and stop. I am writing down your list as a check list for my future post.

    Thanks Darren

  5. digitaltodd says:

    These are some great tips Darren. I am an exceptionally big fan of #7. I see so many posts on blogs where it looks like the author didn’t have a spellchecker and you are right its a big detraction for me. Why should I read something if the writer didn’t care enough about it to a least check their spelling. I am not perfect in the grammar and spelling departments by a long shot, but I do use the little red underline to identify my mistakes.

  6. Dominique says:

    Hi Darren,
    Am going to print up and post your 10 points onto my whiteboard for easy reference before I do any future post to my blog. Great tips and post that you made.

  7. BlogSavvy says:

    Darren, So true, The posts that have been crafted over a period of time, even if it’s only a couple of days is a much better post than if you try and crank out one in 15 min. Your post from a while back on Staging was something that helped me be a better blogger, I used to be just crank them out, and now I take the time to educate myself before I crank and to throughly develop the content/idea before sharing. Thanks.

  8. Lin Burress says:

    Hi Darren, you are so right about the importance of crafting and creating posts, which takes time and effort. Post titles have a huge effect on getting readers to read the post, as well as how well the post ranks for search engine traffic to come and read your post and other relevant articles.

    It’s unfortunate that many bloggers use a Ho-Hum, non-specific, non-keyword targeted post title, and wonder why even RSS feed subscribed readers aren’t coming to read the post.

  9. Home Biss says:

    A very informative post!

    Unfortunately, I don’t think second-string bloggers should worry too much about the quality of their posts. They are casual bloggers, blogging just for the fun of it. Publicity, fame and fortune are not their objectives.

    Only those out to impress advertisers or big companies and make millions from their blogs should worry about this. :-)

  10. Duhh says:

    Interesting post, I see you removed the problogger book ad for a blog mastermind ad. May I ask if you use a plugin for your ads or if you just edit the template files. That’d make an interesting post, what plugins run problogger.

  11. writer dad says:

    I love this. Each of my posts is as crafted as it is written. I put as much care into my M-F blog as I do the novel I work on during the weekend. They’re my words, and if I don’t love them before I hit publish, how can I expect others to?

  12. This was a really great post. I do believe the timing has to do with how many people are really going to care about your blog post. I know that most of my subscribers are usually not going to see a blog post until after four or five o’clock in the afternoon. So I make sure to post my main posts in the afternoon.

  13. Shanel Yang says:

    Very much looking forward to this series! : )

  14. The only thing I don’t see specifically mentioned (and maybe you have in mind to include it) is visual appeal. I think the best advice I ever got was not to publish a post without a picture. I think it really pulls readers. Even if you have great content, if it’s all just text, the average blog reader gets bored and skims.

    Just look at your marvelous pictures on this post! Perfect example.

  15. Malika says:

    In addition to being excellent information, this was excellently written. I could feel my mind slowing down and relaxing as we moved through concepts like, “crafting” “shaping” “journey”. I think you’ve provided a good example of how carefully crafting your post can also provide it with the right atmosphere to get people to slow down and take it in.

  16. Abdul Akbar says:

    I follow your posts and if it wasn’t for your succint posts, it would really be a handful to understand these on our own let alone explain it to others. Keep it up! Cannot wait for the series!

    Abdul ‘AK’

  17. Mike Nichols says:

    Fortunately, I have resisted the urge to bang out a post in the wild throes of inspiration and hit publish (so far). I let such posts cool off a couple of days, and am I ever glad I have.

    A couple of those wild posts have become some of my most read articles. Am I ever glad I took the time to polish them!

    I’m looking forward to this series — it’s something everybody needs!

  18. Sal says:

    Darren,

    Great post. Blogging is a craft, or an art so to speak, if done correctly, should resemble a masterpiece. Many times my posts seem masterful, but it is a cloudy disillusion and everyone else gets lost in the smoke. Thanks for the pointers. I will work on them, especially the title and the promotion.

    I know you guys did some posts on promotion, but I can’t seem to find them for the life of me. Could you please link me to them so I can refresh my synoptic nerves? Thanks.

  19. So true, Darren. So often I am in such a hurry to get my posts out that I anguish over not having the time to truly craft them, so that they become more like tumblelogs (I posted a warning to my readers about this). I went to a live concert over the weekend and reported on it with my own photos that I took, and that’s probably my longest post in the last two months (excluding the news link posts). I also got to recommend your site to the couple standing next to me, who had their “Blogging for Dummies” book.

    Any tips you can give those of us who write short posts would also be helpful. Thank you!

  20. Fantastic Post Darren. Waiting for the next.

  21. Todd says:

    This is a great post. I have such a hard time slowing down and re-working it. As you said I want to publish it quickly to see the results. What I should be doing is letting it sit for a day or so….publishing the previous days work after working it over…..great advice.

  22. Wayne Tully says:

    I suppose there is some element of rushing a blog post, so I will take on board your advice and chill out abit!

  23. Great points, I especially agree with number 10. Once the comments come in, that is when things get interesting. I love to have conversations with the readers because it shows that what you say actually means something to other people.

  24. Lisa Irby says:

    Boy did you hit the nail on the head with this post. I can’t tell you how many times I just KNEW my post was “right on” and 24 hours later, not a single comment. Ugh! I’ve learned to sloooooooooooow down and take my time before publishing a post. Really sitting down and thinking about how my visitors will absorb it (what questions will they have? what will they want to know more about? do they need examples?) really helps me.

  25. Yachika says:

    Great post. I loved each and every word written by you in this post..I guess those 10 points are perfect for great advice.

  26. I was planning to write a post in just a little while, and now I’ll give my opening line a lot more thought than I would have.

    Look forward to reading more on this topic.

  27. Mitch Powell says:

    This is good. I’m sprinkling a breadcrumb here so I can find my way back. It’s time to start re-doing all my blogs and this is a great consideration in laying down the new foundations for them.

    BTW, where are we in the world that it’s already after midnight?

  28. Liz says:

    Thanks for the tips. I am blogging about music documentary content that our production company releases weekly at docutunes.tv. If anyone has any examples of places that have integrated media and text well together, I’d appreciate any advice.

  29. thanks darren

    i am actually in the process of starting several new blogs on different niches… as for timeliness.. this was very timely for me!

  30. Tim Clarke says:

    It’s either the stars aligning or flat out irony, but I was just talking about how I wish there was a really thoughtful analysis of writing a quality blog post.

    I’m really thrilled about reading this series.

    Thanks!

  31. I was just wondering how this applies to a blog like ours that was founded to bring breaking news to the masses? Our posts have to be churned out in order to meet the fundamental goal of the site… any thoughts?

  32. Pam says:

    Darren – great post! Like Dominique, I’m going to print this out and staple it into my notebook. I find my creativity flows better when I write with a pen – then transcribe it to my blog later.

  33. Joan Kremer says:

    Darren, these are excellent tips. From 30+ years of writing professionally, I can affirm the importance of creating or “crafting,” vs. pounding out a post. Early on I discovered that the process of “incubating” an idea as almost more important than the process of typing the words on the keyboard. You’ve done an excellent job of outlining the crafting process, and your post reminded me to apply that process to my blog entries, as well as my other writing.

    Thanks!

  34. Dan Mihaliak says:

    It looks like the beginning of a great series. I am looking forward to following this.

  35. Zach Smith says:

    Speaking of quality control…, I’m pretty sure number 7 shouldn’t actually end in a question mark.

  36. amirulcyber says:

    Thanks darren for this info.I like it.

  37. Dave Shaw says:

    Great advice! I’m looking forward to reading more. I am guilty of rushing my posts all too often – I must remember to work out what my point is before I post!

    I give lots of talks/presentations in other contexts all the time and the key thing I make sure I do before I start is work out my point (and aim) – even summarising it in one short pithy sentance. But I don’t ever do this for my blog posts – but I ought to and now I’ll try!

    Thanks for the help.

  38. Daniele says:

    Very good tips, I’m waiting for other posts of this series.

  39. will be watching the post ..

    I want to thank you for the post about increasing rss readers… :) mine was 22 and it double to 44 in 1 week .. by just adding subscribe link next to the comment box :) thanks a lot Darren

  40. John says:

    Good points to remember.

    Having just banged out a post late last night, I published the post and had this uneasy sensation. Could it have been better? Where’s the punch? This crystallized my thinking.

    Thanks.

  41. Darren:

    As usual a great post but overwhelming. As a part time blogger this list seems like a daunting task. It looks pretty daunting for a full time blogger! Is this instruction for writing posts on a daily basis? Some blogs, like yours, publish many times a day… Just doesn’t seem like there is enough time in a day to follow all the advice for a BloggerNewbie! Maybe I will get more answers in the detail of the series. (Hopefully)

  42. I’m guilty as sin on this one. It also hit me a few month ago that maybe putting out a lot of content every month wasn’t helping me at all since my numbers surely don’t reflect that number of posts I’ve produced.

    I’ve started writing differently now. It takes far longer to write a post, but the posts are longer and more details and I try not to cut posts into multiple series.

    Another thing I’ve started to do is ask myself the question: does this really matter? do my readers really need to know about this? will everyone one else have covered this?

    These questions force me to look at topics from a different angle or simply look for better topics.

    Great post Darren,

    Miss Gisele B.

  43. Frugal Dad says:

    My most popular post ever was one of the “75 Tips…” posts that I worked up off and on for the better part of a month. I’d add a tip here, elaborate on a tip there, create a link here, etc. After I posted it I shared it with friends and colleagues and asked for a Stumble if they enjoyed it.

    I don’t usually put this much time into every single post, but I do for the ones that I am most proud of, or ones that took a little extra research to compile.

  44. bucs0658 says:

    I can so relate. Had a ‘killer’ post recently, should have paid more attention to the title and opening line going forward. Realized after 2 weeks of very little views that they both sucked.

  45. c k says:

    I like the part that you said about title and first para because that was exactly what drawn me to read this post.

  46. lulumom says:

    Yes Master:)
    Now have you already covered #9, “nudges”?
    I have posted on a few aggregate blog sites that seem logical, how do I know if those are working? comments seem rare, maybe wrong target?

  47. Hi, Darren
    Good point, useful tips. It takes time to create a good post. I usually take 30 minutes, sometimes one hour.

  48. Hmm.. well it usually takes me at least 2 hours and up to 5 to write a post, so I guess I am doing something right! Thanks for the great tips Darren.
    KR

  49. Angel Cuala says:

    This list has great lessons to learn, Darren. But it is the adding depth that I love the best. I think that no matter how attractive your post is and how hard your promotion is, the depth or essence o the post that makes it a masterpiece.

    However, I am quite intrigued about item #8 – Timing of Publishing Your Post. I wish you could make (create, rather) a separate post to elaborate it further.

    I believe this is will be another well-crafted post.

    Thanks.

  50. Dean Saliba says:

    Some great tips I’m sure will help me improve my blogs. :)