Writing A Blog Post In 2020: Ultimate Guide To Outline, Draft & Structure

blog content writing

According to Worldometers, more than 4.4 million blog posts are published every day. However, not all blog posts receive equal attention. Why?

For any type of content writing, the key is quality. Writing a blog post is easy, but writing a high quality blog post isn’t.

From finding the right topic to organizing your thoughts and formatting for readability to optimizing for SEO, blog content writing takes serious time and labor.

If you wish to master content outline and an article structure that tons of people will read and engage with for months to come, you need to create something valuable that cuts through the noise.

So, I am about to walk you through everything you need to know to write a blog post. With this guide in hand, you can start producing top-notch, shareable content for your readers.

Table of Contents
    Add a header to begin generating the table of contents

    What Is A Blog Post

    Let me get this cleared right up front — what I have written here and what you’re reading right now is a blog post, not a blog.

    I often hear those who are new to blog content writing use the word ‘blog’ and ‘blog post’ interchangeably. It’s an understandable mistake but also something you should avoid making.

    Before I answer what is a blog post, you must understand what is a blog. A blog is a website optimized for content-consumption. And each piece of content/article you write for a blog is called a blog post.

    What is a blog post and how it differs from a blog

    Content in a blog is usually archived by date, so the latest articles (or posts) show at the top, followed by the ones published before, and so on. As such, a blog is a collection of blog posts sorted by date.

    If you don’t have a blog yet, check out my guide to setting up a blog first. Then come back here when it’s time to prepare content outline and write a blog post.

    Why Write Blog Posts?

    Writing blog posts is a great way to educate, inspire or entertain an audience in order to connect and build a trustworthy, long-term relationship with them.

    Blog posts can help you in a number of ways, depending on your goal. The most common reasons include:

    Grow your brand/business - Other than helping your readers achieve their goals, your blog content will also turn some of them into leads and nurture them towards your product or service. That’s how you’ll be able to sell and make more money.

    Benefits of writing a blog post

    Make money from home - Many bloggers make a full-time income through blogging. Of course, it takes work, but is a great opportunity nevertheless if you keep at it.

    Become an influencer/authority in a niche - Blogging lets you showcase your expertise and reach people in your industry. So it has the potential to lead to new consulting projects, book deals, speaking engagements and more.

    To sum it up, blog posts are great opportunities for people and businesses to publish thoughts, stories, insights, analyses, product information, industry findings, and more to establish themselves as experts in their industry.

    Moreover, blog posts help boost traffic, brand awareness, credibility, conversions, and revenue.

    Steps To Write A Blog Post

    A good blog post is both interesting and educational, with a proper article structure. It answers questions or helps readers address the common challenges they experience in life — in an interesting way.

    Fantastic blog post writing also provides the audience with actionable steps. For instance, you should keep your audience hooked right from the intro through the end using examples and hacks. Let’s go over all of these required steps one by one.

    Pick An Interesting Topic

    Assuming that you have picked a blog niche and put a content strategy in place, there is no shortage of ways you can come up with new blog content writing ideas that inform and help your audience.

    The trick to a great content outline is to really know your audience and understand what they want. For instance, having one on one conversations with people in your target audience can often reveal topics you won’t have considered on your own.

    Image Source: CustomerThink

    For more information, read my article covering the best ways to generate blog post ideas.

    Come Up With A Working Title

    Your working title is a mission-critical part of the entire article structure. You need a title that clearly shows what your blog post is about.

    It’s not meant to be your final headline, but still essential to help you stay focused while you develop your outline and write the draft.

    Without a working title, your post will end up going in multiple directions, leaving the readers confused and disoriented.

    Thus, it should not be a broad topic, like “Facebook Ads” or “Windows Movie Maker” because there are countless blog posts you can possibly write around these broad topics.

    You want your working title to be narrowed down to specific concepts. Below are examples of what your working title might look like.

    • How to Generate Crazy Sales Using Facebook Ads.
    • Top 10 Ways to Monetize your Blog
    • Why You Should Be Worried About Global Warming
    • 5 Best Alternatives to Windows Movie Maker

    There are several tools which can help you find specific working titles from broad ideas. The most prominent are:

    You do not need your working title to be perfect at this point. Just ensure it is clear enough to work with. You can always make it catchy later.

    Plan Your Blog Post

    When I say plan, I am not just referring to the content outline. Planning a blog post is more than that. It means preparing a complete blog post brief.

    A blog post or content brief is the document that provides necessary direction and context for writing the post.

    Trust me, when writing a blog post, you don’t want to risk winging it or not taking content writing briefs seriously.

    Image Source: Aboundant

    In order to create a blog post brief which can produce the desired outcome, you need to be familiar with all the components to be included, what details to add in each component and questions to ask before you start writing.

    To learn more, check out my detailed guide to preparing blog post briefs.

    Research Subject Matter

    Let’s face it. Even if you’re an expert in a subject area, you still don’t know everything. In fact, no one can.

    But the ability to properly research a blog post is the superpower that allows you to write authoritatively about new subject areas.

    Moreover, thorough research also helps you make your blog post more interesting as you find several research statistics, charts and other visuals to add to your piece.

    Readers trust you more when your claims are backed by real research from credible sources. So do your research to ensure you are adding value to your audiences’ life.

    However, don’t rely one one source only. For instance, though Wikipedia is a good source of well-researched information, it isn’t always dependable.

    Inaccurate facts do make their way into the articles sometimes without site editors noticing. Also, all the verifiable facts on the site are cited to other websites.

    When researching, always rely on third-party information and choose multiple authoritative sources — official associations, heavily cited research papers, government websites, predominant industry experts, etc.

    To get research data and statistics, you can go directly to websites such as, Statista, Knoema, and Internet Live Stats.

    On these websites, enter your keyword on their search box and you will get a bunch of stats and data about the keyword you inputted.

    Image Source: Statista

    Alternatively, you could hit Google with statistical questions concerning your topic and you would get some useful information.

    For example, let’s say you are writing a blog post about using Facebook ads for business. You can look up information like what percentage of businesses use Facebook ads, how much money people lose to unprofitable Facebook ad campaigns, etc.

    You could also just simply search for terms like “Facebook advertising statistics,” “Facebook marketing research study” etc.

    Finally, remember that nobody is right all the time. So, approach every source with the skepticism of a journalist and question every piece of information until you’re positive it is trustable.

    Prepare Blog Post Outline

    One of the primary reasons for having a content outline is that it helps you to stay focused on the topic and not scatter your points all over the place. This saves you a considerable amount of time and energy.

    Also, an outline helps you keep the balance between speed and quality. This is crucial not just for you, but also for your readers.

    To start building a blog post outline, consider the benefits you expect your readers to get from your blog post. The idea is to bring these takeaways into distinct subheadings when you write a blog post draft.

    For example, let’s say you’ve settled on a blog content writing topic - “How to Generate Sales Using Facebook Ads,.” So what benefits/takeaways would be in store for the readers?

    One way to determine this is by considering the questions your readers would probably ask, along with important things you think they should know. For instance, here are some probable takeaways:

    • The actual steps to setting up a highly profitable Facebook ad campaign.
    • Tips and tricks to optimize results.
    • How to retarget potential customers/clients (using Facebook Pixel).
    • How much do Facebook ads cost?
    • What’s a great ROAS (Return On Ad Spend) for a campaign?

    A quick trick if you’re running out of blog writing ideas is to hit Google with your topic. When your search results show up, scroll down to the People Also Ask section, and you’ll see a list of possible takeaways you can use.

    Search takeaways when you write a blog post

    From here, you can choose the ones that make the most sense and add them to your key takeaways in the article structure.

    Next step of blog content writing is to work them into subheadings. Subtopics give your blog posts a great shape.

    You don’t want your blog to be a melange of ideas without anything to separate them into sections. Such blog posts are tiring to read.

    Once you have all the research material, takeaways and subheadings, you can arrange them in a way that makes sense to form a content outline.

    To illustrate this, here’s what my outline will probably look like with the steps covered so far, including research.

    Intro

    Facebook Ad Types

    • Image Ads
    • Carousel Ads
    • Video Ads
    • Slideshow Ads

    Setting Up Your Facebook Ad Campaign

    • The actual steps to setting up a highly profitable Facebook Ad.
    • Pro tips and tricks to optimize results.
    • How to retarget potential customers/clients using Facebook Pixel.
    • 70% of customers convert after retargeting.

    Managing your Ad Spend

    • How much they should realistically spend on Facebook Ads and when to increase their budget.
    • Facebook Ad costs $0.97 per click on average.
    • What’s a great ROAS (Return on Ad Spend) for a campaign?

    Conclusion

    Write The First Draft

    Once the research part is done and the outline is ready, it's time you start writing the first draft. Use the headers and subheaders as your guide to writing the draft as per the article structure.

    Writing a blog post draft is all about getting everything down on the page. So, avoid any forms of distractions and don’t self-censor as you write.

    Don’t try to rearrange the content outline to make things flow better or rewrite a single sentence ten times to make it read right.

    As I said earlier, this stage is about writing and just writing. You can always come back and edit the first draft for perfection later on.

    Come Up With A Catchy Headline

    Your blog post headline determines whether people will start reading your article or just ignore it, no matter how great the content.

    So you can’t rush into a headline. Take the time and effort to come up with the best one. Creating a good blog post title is tricky because it should do well on a number of factors at the same time.

    • It should have your main keyword
    • It should persuade the reader to read the blog post
    • It should be relevant to the content covered in your blog post

    Many experts recommend writing several headlines for your blog post before you pick one. Even share them with others for a second opinion if you can.

    Title for blog content writing

    You can also make use of a title generator to get headline ideas, and then a headline analyzer to grade your chosen blog post titles.

    Write An Engaging Intro

    Readers are unpredictable. They can take a quick glance and vanish in seconds. Your introduction is a crucial part of blog content writing because that’s where your readers decide if your blog post is worth their time.

    An introduction describes the purpose of your blog post and explains how it will help readers solve a problem.

    Image Source: Successful Blogging

    The main purpose of introductions is to grab the readers’ attention and give them a reason to keep reading. If your introduction is drab, you’ll lose the reader in the first few sentences.

    There are various ways to make your introductions captivating.

    • Start with a hook. This can come in the form of shocking statistics, a thought-provoking question, or just something smooth to break the ice.
    • Highlight your readers’ situation to connect with them - Are they looking to improve? Are they afraid of making mistakes? Briefly talk about it while being optimistic.
    • Give a hint into what they would get from the main sections of your blog post, and how it will help them.

    Add Visuals Where Appropriate

    Images are a must to make your blog post more readable and engaging. Adding graphics that illustrate your claims can boost your readership by miles.

    Visuals are essential part of article structure

    Take every opportunity to use relevant photos, graphics, and other visual elements when they clarify what you are communicating.

    Images should be relevant and added in a way that supports the points covered in your article structure. As a rule of thumb, you can use at least one visual after every 500 words of content.

    Now, the question is, how to create compelling visuals? You may not have the budget to hire a professional designer or knowledge of complex design software like Adobe Photoshop, but the good news is you don’t need to.

    First of all, keep in mind to stay away from generic stock photos. Everyone is using them without customizing much and so they don’t help much in differentiating your content from others.

    It’s much better to use originally taken, heavily customized or in-house graphics.

    Second, there are a number of easy to use tools that even non-designers can use to design graphical content. Some of the most prominent are: Canva, Crello, DesignBold and Snappa.

    All these tools come with a great number of readymade templates, grids, illustrations and more to help you design great looking graphics quickly and easily.

    Write Blog Post Conclusion

    We’re almost at the finish line and this where you should close your post with a bang and show your readers that you believe in them.

    When writing your conclusion, put yourself in your readers' shoes. How will their lives change if they successfully practice the advice in your post? How will that make them feel?

    Reiterate why the topic you just discussed is important to your readers. And show your readers that they can achieve the goal you promised in your headline.

    The more efficiently you can understand your readers’ point of view, the more you can motivate them to keep pushing forward.

    In addition, your conclusion is crucial because it gives you the chance to transition to your final Call to Action (CTA).

    Ensure Good Readability

    For your content to be engaging, it has to be readable first. It means the overall look and feel of your website and content should be easy on the eyes, and the brain.

    Ensure readability when you write a blog post

    Your website should be easy to navigate and blog post should be easy to scan.

    Ensuring good readability when writing a blog post includes a number of things, like short sentences, small paragraphs, active voice, subheadings, bullet points, plain language and more.

    For more information, refer to the Smemark writing style & readability guide.

    Optimize For SEO

    Most people look for information using a search engine. If they can’t find your page in search engine results, they won’t reach your content.

    To make your blog post easy to find, you need to think about what would they type in a search engine to find your content.

    Use their vocabulary and keywords when you write a blog post, starting with your page title, summary, and first paragraph.

    Image Source: ReliableSoft

    For instance, use tools like Google Trends to compare different keywords to use in your heading. What you’re calling the topic of your page might not be what your users are calling it. Generally, it’s best to use whichever phrase is used more often.

    For a complete list of guidelines to optimize your content for search, refer to our on-page SEO checklist.

    Edit/Proofread Your Blog Post

    Once it is done, look over it to fix all the glaring mistakes. What are the things you could do to make it better?

    For instance, re-ordering sections for the blog post to flow smoother. Inspect each section and see if there is any new stuff you should add.

    Also, fix grammatical errors and awkward sentence construction. Tools like Grammarly and Hemingway App can quickly help you with your writing mistakes.

    Final Thoughts

    Blog content writing is no cakewalk. There are so many new things to take care of, including content outline and article structure.

    The good news is writing great blog posts is a skill you can master. These steps will help you write blog content like a professional.

    With this guide in hand, you’ll find it far easier to write your blog post. The reason for this is obvious. You have carved out a well-defined pathway and won’t spend any extra time thinking about irrelevant points.

    Did I miss a step? Did you try applying these steps? Share your experience or questions in the comments section below.

    seo-book-cover

    Get My Definitive 20-Step Guide To Optimize Your Content For SEO In 2020

    Be the first one to know about new articles on the Smemark blog. Plus, get an exclusive copy of my blog post / copywriting SEO checklist, free.

    Or click here to subscribe to our RSS feed using your favorite feed reader.

    Take Your Business To The Next Level

    Let us handle content writing for your brand, so you can save time, boost traffic and turn more of your website visitors into leads and customers.

    You may also like these related guides:

    What's on your mind? Share below.

    Leave a Comment

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

    Get My Definitive 20-Step Guide To Optimize Your Content For SEO In 2020

    FREE

    Be the first one to know about new articles on the Smemark blog. Plus, get an exclusive copy of my blog post / copywriting SEO checklist, free.

    Scroll to Top
    Send this to a friend