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Why Your Blog Posts Are Falling Short of Greatness and What To Do About It

This is a guest contribution by Belinda Weaver, marketing copywriter behind The Copy Detective.

You’ve finished your latest blog post and it’s pretty good isn’t it, isn’t it?Boy looking confused

Are you sure?

 

Some bloggers think that coming up with ideas is the hardest part of blogging. Maybe you agree. Personally, I think it’s harder to turn an idea into blogging GOLD.

I’m going to let you in on a little secret.

Writing a really great blog post isn’t simply down to your writing. Sure, you need to use language that will appeal to your reader, and all your verbs need to be the right way up but the secret to writing an exceptional blog post, every time, is the planning.

I know what you’re thinking. Planning? How time-consuming and boring!

I know some bloggers sit down and let the words simply pour from their mind. Others will agonise over each word. Whether you find blogging easy or difficult, planning your blog post for as long as it takes to have a cup of tea will bring you that much closer to bloggy GOLD.

Quick–fire planning process

The planning stage of writing a blog post – or any piece for that matter – is all about deciding what you’re going to say.

You might love to start a post and let the keyboard take you where it will. And that’s ok. Your post will be ok, but it won’t be great. If you want your blog posts to stand head and shoulders above the thousands of other blogs in your niche, you have to aim higher.

Step 1: Boil the kettle

My favourite way to procrastinate is to make a cup of tea and that’s the perfect way to start your planning process.

While the kettle is boiling, grab a pen and some paper, or the app and device of your choice, and set a timer for 3 minutes.

Write down the main point you want your readers to walk away with. Just one or two sentences about what you want them to learn or maybe how you want them to feel. That’s your blog theme.

It will depend on what you’re blogging about and your style of blogging, but setting a high-level theme to your post will help you assess whether you’ve nailed it once the writing is done.

Step 2: Dig deeper and explain it.

Your next task is to turn your theme into a more detailed outline.

Set the timer again – this time for 7 minutes.

Blog time

Image courtesy stock.xchng user colombweb

Create a list of specific points you want to make. It might be the elements of the story you’re telling, or the top takeaways on the topic you’re delving into or even the steps of a process (like this post).

It doesn’t have to be a long list. I recommend having no more than 10 points in your list. Depending on your topic, this might even take you a lot less time than 7 minutes.

Remember, you’re not writing the post during this time. You’re simply creating a list. Just like your blog post theme from step 1, this list will help to guide your ideas and your writing.

Step 3: Plan the introductions

How you open your blog post is pretty important. Actually, it’s very important as it’s in the first few sentences of your blog post that your reader decides whether to stick around, or lend their eyeballs to someone else. Not literally, of course.

Set your timer for another 5 minutes.

Write down the challenges your reader is facing, the ones your blog solves or even just talks about. You should also jot down why they would care about your post. What are you offering them?

These two elements will help you keep your reader in mind while you write. After all, your blog posts aren’t really about you… they’re about your readers.

Then you need to choose your approach. There are lots of different ways you can introduce your reader to your topic. You can ask a question or quote a statistic, make a claim or tell a story. Here are 10 great ideas from Darren or you could startle your reader with something a little more shocking.

Now, let’s see where we are.

You’ve got your theme. You’ve got the guts of your post mapped out and the introduction. And you’ve only spent 15 minutes out of your day!

happy_time

Image courtesy stock.xchng user lusi

Step 4: Plan the wrap-up

Now you need to plan the conclusion. Your conclusion is the final impression you’ll leave on your reader’s brain. It’s possibly one of the biggest influences on how much your blog post is shared and how many comments you get. So it’s worth a few more sips of tea, isn’t it?

Get that timer and set it for 3 minutes.

Inspiring your reader to take action is a really popular way to end your post. Think of asking your reader to share their story or their advice, or even setting them some homework. But you don’t have to set an action in your conclusion. Your wrap might simply spell out the main point you wrote down in step 1, leaving your reader feeling inspired.

Here are 7 powerful ways to wrap your post up. Choose one and make a note of it in your plan. 

Step 5: Name your baby

The final piece of the puzzle is the blog title. This might just be a working title until your blog post is written but your title is one of the hardest-working parts of your blog post. Before they even get to your introduction, many readers will have decided to read or ignore your post, based on the blog title.

Here are some of Darren’s tips on writing a blog title that gets noticed.

I often write a few working titles during the planning stages then choose one and adjust it once I’ve written the post.

And you’re done!

Sometimes, the best-laid plans will go to waste. In fact, they might just be thrown out the window and driven over a few times. And that’s ok.

Don’t feel that you have to stick to your blog post plan if inspiration pulls you in another direction. Go with it!

But, if you spend a little bit of time, your blog posts will:

  • Make the writing stage so much easier.
  • Make sure your points are clearly made, without rambling.
  • Give you more ideas for follow-up or add-on posts!

Now it’s over to you. I’d love to know how you approach your blog writing now, and whether you plan your posts out. If you don’t spend any time planning right now, can you find the time to have a cup of tea to lift your blogging game?

confidently walking the line between writing effective copy and creating an engaging brand personality. Get your FREE copy of her cheat sheet to incredibly effective copywriting or get Copywrite Matters on the job.

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Comments

  1. Shana Norris says:

    This is great advice, Belinda. I love that it’s step-by-step. I’m printing and will give it a try when writing my next post.

  2. Hey Belinda, I actually go through a very similar process to this when I write my own blog posts. I just need to work on getting distracted with editing and correcting spelling mistakes. I always tell my self I’ll leave these til the end but I can’t bring myself to leave them be!

    • Ah yes, actually stopping the writing and editing process can be just as hard as starting sometimes! When is enough, enough?

      Personally, if I’m generally happy with the post I leave it simmer gently for a week, make any further edits on the concepts I’m presenting then let my proofreader get to work. Handing it over to someone else helps me feel like my work is done!

  3. The steps outlined are very useful. I am not a mechanical meticulous as the article suggests. But the are thought processes I go through are very similar.

    As I surf through the blogosphere, I am trying to land on my homespace. My posts are personal, frivolous, serious, and also about my active engagement on social media.

    I enjoy the subject topics covered and would use the suggested thought themes to produce more readership. I would like to be an income producing blogger and I am exploring and making discoveries with every new read and recommendation

  4. A Great Post Belinda! Today, I finally found a simple, efficient and a proper way to write a great blog post. Thanks For The Tips Belinda!

  5. Mark says:

    Great advice. It’s hard to get nice ideas for your posts. i usually build up my post idea on my mind, i create the whole process in a matter of seconds. After that, i start writing the main components that will compose the story. As soon as you have the skeleton, it’s much more easier to find the right content, thanks.

  6. Great advice for writing a blog. I was doing ok for a while with my blogs. Suffered from writer’s block for a while but now I’m able to write pretty descent stuff again. But it’s just not getting the looks that my blogs use to. My issue is the TIME.

    • Making time will always be a challenge as our various priorities fights for supremacy. I notice you read Darren’s recent post about Making Your Dreams Come True. His tip about allocating just 15mins each day is a pearler. I find it incredibly useful to progress my blogging, my product development and my general marketing activities.

      After all, 15mins is not enough time to have that cup of tea!

      The key is consistency. If you try and “find” 15mins each day, you never will. If you’re 15mins is spent before you do anything else, then it done and you’re free to carry on with your day knowing you’ve already achieved something great.

  7. Greg Narayan says:

    Great post Belinda (I mean, I read the whole thing ;)

    Love your advice about a consistent theme. I think without that, the theme vanishes pretty quickly and our rambling thoughts take over :/

    I’ve been trying this thing where I use a story to graft the messages in my post. Not unique at all, but unique to me. I’ll intro with a snippet of the story then weave it thru surrounding the points. Works well with my readers!

    • Thanks Greg. To the end! As a serial-skimmer, that’s made my day.

      I have to admit that sometimes, I start a post writing about one thing and it turns into something else. And I’m ok with that. But banishing rambling is really, really important. It’s a trap to think rambling is ” part of your blogging style”, when it’s just lazy writing. You can still put a lot of personality into a post – and keep it on track. Your readers will thank you!

      And great approach on the story telling. It’s exactly the kind of thing that really connects people to your message.

      Thanks for commenting!

  8. Hi Belinda,

    This is such a great post. Thank you very much for sharing this. I do believe that in any article, introduction is very important.How you open your post is really important. so you must take time in writing your introduction. In here, you need to catch the attention of your reader. It is very important as it is in the first few sentences of your post that your reader decides whether to stick around or not.

    Regards,
    Charles

  9. Okto says:

    I think making an outline is the best way to ease the writing game. It can save us a lot of time to finish the whole post faster.

  10. Louie Sison says:

    Rapid writing is the best procrastination killer.

  11. Edson Hale says:

    The entire idea is brilliant; but you missed two points slightly while planning your next post:
    What you can give to your readers in the post that has value
    What you can offer to your readers that no one offered so far
    I think there are two ways of writing a great post; first one is that when you write forcibly just by planning and researching and the second one (the most effective one) is that when you just sit on your laptop and start writing all you learnt about a topic with practical experience and now you want to share it; I think the latter one goes more viral because whatever you offer you do so from you heart

    • Thanks for the additions Edson. I absolutely agree about thinking about the unique value you’re offering.

      In regards to your second method of writing a great post, I think that would work for some people but it opens the door to rambling. I don’t think it’s a short cut to going viral either. Having content go viral is about getting the whooole package right. That said, the concept of sharing your knowledge and experience will always be a good approach to content marketing.

      If you sit down to write what you have a learned about a topic *after a quick planning session*, your blog will stay on topic and probably end up being more easily digested.

  12. Confidence says:

    Edson makes a good point – I think the primary aim should be to offer value. That’s how you build customer loyalty and ensure you start a flow of giving. Your steps are great though, I’ll be recommending this post to my friend who’s about to start a blog

  13. Jason L says:

    Great advice. I usually catch up on the football stories on breaks as a time filler, but this is a much better use of time.

  14. I love the idea of tying in the planning of a blog post to making a cup of tea. I can’t think of anything that can’t be made better by a cup of tea.
    You’re right about the plan going out of the window, though. I often end up with a completely different post to the one I envisioned, once I start writing it and again when I go back to edit it. I also find that I usually write the introduction last.

  15. jerrylewis says:

    This is a nice post and to tell you frankly these are the things that I incorporate before writing anything and I can relate to this post. It reminds me of me and the way I visualize my thoughts.

  16. iLyn says:

    Wow..and I spent hours writing and rewriting stuff and then before I knew it…I’m lost. I really find it hard to start the introduction so what I usually do is to just write, ramble and mumble everything. Tweak it. And then wheew..im lost. Thank you Belinda for saving me another headache! Very useful! Thanks

    • Thanks iLyn. I used to approach my blogging that way too so I feel your pain. The big change came when I realised that they way I approached copywriting projects would totally work for blogging, saving me time and frustration. My blog posts improved almost instantly!

      Thanks again for commenting and happy blogging!

  17. this is nice post thanks for sharing this for given your valuble time.
    Thanks

  18. Dan Erickson says:

    As a public speaking teacher, I inherently understand the methods of planning and organization. Although I’m not as intentional about it, I do go through a similar process for my best blog posts. Great ideas!

    • Thanks Dan. I have to admit that I don’t sit down and plan every post but I think, having been a blogger for a while now, I instinctively follow the process anyway.

      I’m glad you found the post useful! Thanks for commenting.

  19. I impresed with this blog post. Actually you have showed how to do a great blog posting with this post. I always thought why my blog is not creating enough buzz, but now I have to think according to your tips. Thanks Belinda.

  20. Brilliant tips, thank you Belinda! I’m going to use your advice to crank out a whole bunch of posts that are still in my head!

  21. Thank you for contributing the info in this article Belinda. Like most blog authors I often struggle with the process writing compelling content frequently. Today I used the checklist you laid out and wrote this post for my readers:

    http://www.fightthefightclothing.com/2013/06/4-not-so-secret-secrets-to-live-longer.html

    If you compare it to some of my previous posts you can clearly see the difference the planning and prep work you emphasized made. Thanks again, -Pete

  22. Mike Martel says:

    Hi Belinda,
    Good guide for the beginning blogger. I have to admit though all the timers and alarms going off would drive me crazy. You didn’t mention topic much. I think it is important to keep in mind what people are looking for – answers to their problems. First grab the readers attention, tell them what their problem is and how to fix it. Make sure you talk in your own voice, tell personal stories and you have a great combo for an awesome blog post.

    • Hi Mike,

      The timers don’t bother me as I often use something called the Pomodoro Technique to keep me focused. In a nutshell, you set a timer (it can be silent) for 25mins and you only work on one thing during that time. No flitting over to emails, or social media. The amount of work you can do when you avoid distractions is quite remarkable!

      But onto your comment about topic. You make an excellent point but this planning approach assumes you’ve already picked your topic and are taking the next step to turn it into a blog post.

      Thanks for commenting.

  23. julie says:

    This is definitely worth a try, since I will just procrastinate otherwise. Forcing a deadline for myself may be a good thing.

    I do usually write the titles first though.

  24. Ferb says:

    The introduction of post the most important and these steps are so worth trying, Brian Clark has the best of creating a kill introduction and everybody should definitely check it out.

  25. Razak Gory says:

    Great post, i was searching about this topic, finaly i got here.

    keep writing like this articles :)

  26. Hi Belinda,

    You’ve nailed it in this post.

    Couldn’t agree more with the whole planning process. Too often a “naturally flowing post” without a prior planning ends up confusing your readers even more.

    Action points and the main idea behind your post needs to be well planned.

    Hope to see more posts from you.

    • Hi Jawad and thanks!

      I find the planning steps usually flush out a few more topics I hadn’t though of as well, so it’s time well spent.

      Thanks for commenting and I hope you see more posts from me too ;)

  27. jerrylewis says:

    Great post!!!!! I do believe in getting the attention of your reader you should create a good introduction and the rest will fall on its proper place. The body of the article comes second and it is also a must that it should be written in away that you readers could easily relate to your thoughts.

    Great share

  28. Angela says:

    Thank you for the great post! I really want my posts to be concise and actually benefit my readers, rather than a rambling story where you’re not sure what the takeaway is. Your framework will help me write more efficiently and accomplish that goal. Thanks!

  29. Ana says:

    This is advice that can be applied to other areas of writing.
    (Oh, how I need to finish some papers!)

  30. Louis says:

    You can also put the article in draft for a night or two. Sometimes new additional ideas can surface to complete the article. Just don’t overdo it by the way :)