In the last TPK article, you learned the necessary steps for starting a creative blog. Now that you’ve done everything from choosing a domain name to hiring a hosting company, it’s time to add content! In this installment of the three-part Creative Blog series, you’ll learn six valuable tips for writing a blog post. Please note that, like Tuesday’s blog post, this post contains affiliate links (to Photoshop and Bluehost).
Before we begin, we should talk about how to get to the blog post writing portion in WordPress. First, go to (yourdomainname).com/wp-admin. That will take you to a screen where you can login. Once you’re logged in, click on “Posts” in the black menu on the left, then “Add New”.
You’re now ready to write your first post!
1. Make an Outline
Did your high school and college teachers encourage you to make outlines of essays before writing them? Mine, too. At the time, I despised outlines because they add extra work to an already time-consuming task. Now, though, I’ve grown to love them! They help me to communicate ideas more effectively and stay on track when writing a blog post.
To make an outline, you’ll want to identify the general topic your blog post will be about. Then, come up with points that contribute to the topic, and add details to those points. Let’s take this blog post as an example: the general topic is “Tips for Writing a Blog Post”, and I came up with five points that contribute to the topic. (As I was writing the post, a sixth came to me!) Below is a photo of the outline I wrote:
You don’t have to create your outline by hand like this; you could just as easily type one out on your computer. Remember, too, that your outline isn’t concrete. It only exists to help you! If you need to modify a few of the points as you’re writing your blog post, then that’s perfectly fine.
2. Use a Conversational Writing Style
A lot of bloggers write like they are talking to a huge group of people, which can be unappealing. I understand why it happens; after all, a lot of people will be reading your post, and there’s a tendency to want to group those people together with words like “you all”, “ya’ll”, “everyone”, etc. However, what’s happening right now — you reading these words — is between you and me. I’m a person who is writing words, and you are a person who is reading those words. For that reason, it’s best to use the word “you” when you want to talk to your readers.
When you write a blog post, you’re essentially having a conversation with the person on the other side of the screen. Think about it: if you were face to face with one person, you wouldn’t say, “Hey everyone!” or refer to the person as “you all”. If you’re having difficulty with a conversational writing style, just pretend you are writing a letter to a specific friend! A conversational style is more fun for you to use as the writer, and much more appealing for the reader.
3. Use Good SEO
“SEO” means “Search Engine Optimization”. If a blog post has good SEO, that essentially means that people will be able to find the post via a search engine like Google. For example, if I type “modern calligraphy” into Google, the first result that pops up is my blog post “The Beginner’s Guide to Modern Calligraphy“. That’s exactly where you want your posts to show up because studies have shown that searchers rarely scroll past the first couple of search results.
There are a lot of incredibly technical and detailed articles about SEO out there, and the concept can be very intimidating. I use a pretty simple system for it, though: first, I pick a keyword or a short key phrase that I want my blog post to “rank” for. (If a blog post “ranks” for a keyword, that basically means that the search engine will consider showing the blog post to someone when they search for that keyword.) For example, in the “The Beginner’s Guide to Modern Calligraphy” post, my key phrase was “modern calligraphy”. After I have chosen my keyword or key phrase, I make sure and do the following:
- Include the keyword in the post’s title.
- Include the keyword in the first paragraph of the post.
- Use the keyword several times throughout the post.
Download the Yoast SEO WordPress Plugin
If you’re still grimacing at the term “SEO”, which sounds very tech-y and unapproachable, I’d highly recommend downloading the WordPress plugin Yoast SEO. It’s free, and it keeps you abreast of how your blog post is doing from an SEO standpoint. I use it on the TPK website, and it helps me a lot!
To add the plugin to your WordPress site, you’ll need the WordPress.org version of the software and your own hosting provider (such as Bluehost), as described in the “Six Steps to Starting a Creative Blog” post. Log in to your WordPress dashboard by going to “(yourdomainname).com/wp-admin”. Enter the username and password you used to register your blog when you created it. Then, go to the “Plugins” tab in the black bar on the left, and click “Add New”.
Search for Yoast SEO, and click “Install Now”. (In the screenshot below, the button says “Installed”. However, on your screen, it will say “Install Now”.)
Once you have installed the plugin, it will appear under the field you write your blog post in. You can ignore it as you write the post. After you’re finished writing, however, you should type the keyword or key phrase you want your post to rank for in the field marked “Focus Keyword”.
Once the plugin knows your focus keyword, it will tell you whether you’ve got good SEO (green), so-so SEO (orange), or bad SEO (red). If you’re in the orange or red, it will tell you what you can improve to get the blog post up to green! It’s okay if some of the analysis tips give you a bad rating; just make sure the overall rating is green.
4. Practice Polished Writing
Writing a blog post doesn’t require out-of-this-world communication skills, but it is important to try the best you can to write a post with proper grammar and punctuation! You should generally try to use short sentences (under 20 words), and avoid using a lot of obscure words.
One extremely helpful trick I use to ensure polished posts is reading them out loud. It sounds odd, but there’s actually a difference between giving your post a quick mental proofread versus taking the time to say the words that you wrote. You’ll catch a lot of duplicate words, sentences that just don’t flow, and spelling errors that you would not have found otherwise!
5. Include Plenty of Interesting Photos
I am a very visual person, and I know that many of the people who come to the TPK blog are also visual people! It’s more interesting to see a nice interplay of paragraphs and photos rather than one photo and a whole bunch of text. While you can obtain stock photos from the internet, it’s difficult to know what’s okay to use and what’s not. For that reason, I recommend that you take your own photos!
Photoshop makes it easy to create compelling photos that will stand out from the competition. It’s $10 per month, and well worth the price! What other program could transform this photo …
… into this photo?
Pretty amazing, right? Photoshop also allows you to create Pinterest-friendly pictures with text overlays! For example, I used Photoshop to make this photo for the Paper Feathers Tutorial post:
If you’d like to learn how to use Photoshop for text or calligraphy overlays like the one above, you can enroll in the Digitizing Artwork and Calligraphy eCourse! To learn about editing photos in Photoshop, I encourage you to take advantage of the plethora of free tutorials available on the Adobe website. That’s how I learned how to edit photos!
6. Don’t Feel Pressure to Write a Long Post
When I first started blogging, I would write mammoth posts that took me forever to put together! For example, the post “10 Ways to Draw Laurel Wreaths” was a three-day affair. Last year, however, a friend of mine (who happens to be a super-smart consultant) delicately suggested that I try breaking posts up into more digestible bits. Writing a blog post in parts is better for me as a writer because it takes less time and energy to create, and it’s better for you as the reader because it takes less time and energy for you to read!
There will be days when you don’t have a lot to say about a topic, and that’s okay! Short posts are fine as long as they are well-written, have good SEO, and a handful of great photos.
If you have any questions about writing a blog post, please feel free to ask them! Remember, too, to take these tips with a grain of salt: following these guidelines works for the TPK blog, but every blog is different. As your blog grows and you get to know your audience better, you may find that you come up with your own guidelines!
I’d like to thank you for reading this post; I hope you’re enjoying the Creative Blog series! In the final installment of the series, Five Creative Blogging Tips, we’ll explore a few final tips for having an effective and appealing blog. You can look for that post on Tuesday! In the meantime, have a fantastic weekend. 🙂