From Start to Finish: How to write engaging blog posts

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Let’s write a blog post. Is it done yet? I wish it were that easy, but as companies see the value of writing good blog articles to drive company visibility, it’s an important question: How to write engaging blog posts?

This article discusses the following steps:

To write a blog post sounds simple, and some companies truly oversimplify it:

  • Please write a blog post on this topic.
  • Go.

Let’s look into what should go actually into writing a good blog post.

Strategic writing – like anything that takes an advanced skillset – can take time and include a certain amount of steps. Those steps can help us be on track for content success. But, of course, it’s good to know those steps to understand what’s involved, even when it’s just at a high level.

Jacob McMillen discussed copywriting misperceptions on this podcast episode with me. Not understanding the purpose of the content or the process of getting helpful content can also slow things down.

To start, it’s good to remember that the writers might not be the subject matter experts on the topic. And googling the issue won’t help you become an expert and offer a unique opinion. Nonetheless, keyword research matters. So the first step once you have a topic in mind should be to see what people are searching for.

Step 0: The Strategy

Ensure you know who you are trying to reach, what topics to cover, and determine your publishing frequency.

Read next: Why a content creation strategy must include getting on a blogging schedule

Step 1: Keyword research

I use Ubersuggest and Keywords Everywhere on Chrome to validate the terms people search for. I then consider what can flow naturally into the content I have in mind.

Read more about SEO:

How to measure SEO performance

Are you ready for voice search SEO?

Finding your blogging niche

What Google Ranking Tracker should I use?

The keyword research should also include a basic understanding of how search currently works. For example, can we create an article that contains several sections and goes deeper than just the surface level? Sections, when they are linked correctly, can even show up in search results, as you can see in this example:

sections of article in search results

where search results pull sections from

That gives us additional opportunities to get that valued click from the user.

And while Google says content length doesn’t matter, Yoast now says that articles should be at least 900 words. That used to be 300 words. Going for 900 words is a good goal when you want to cover a topic in depth. Sure, some articles might be shorter, but as general guidance, I think 900 words are an excellent goal to aim for.

Yoast says blog posts should be at a minimum 900 words now

Step 2: Determine the production process

There are many ways to create written content nowadays. From artificial intelligence to voice dictation to writing on a mechanical keyboard, there are many ways to write a blog post today. And that can make the process easier and quicker when we understand how to create content best.

It also doesn’t need to be an all-or-nothing proposition. For example, I often use voice dictation on my PC to write new articles. But when I update existing articles, I rarely use voice dictation and use a traditional keyboard to edit, add and expand on the content. Find what works for you and use the advancement in technology to your advantage.

Watch this video: KEYNOTE VIDEO: The six steps to tell better stories

The role of AI

There are many ways to use artificial intelligence now in your content creation:

Step 3: Outline and questions

When I produced training in the financial industry, I spent much time on outlines. That outline was then reviewed and approved. Some topics make sense, but it also adds a ton of time. Today, I mostly think about the questions I want the blog post to answer. Seeing what people search for and what’s already been covered helps me a ton there. Jotting those down help, but I’m also not married to the outline. Sometimes, I find additional information later and add it to the content where it makes sense.

These questions get you the details to make the content meaningful.

Read next: When to use acronyms in your content

Step 4: Get the answers

Next, we need to get the answers to the questions we identified. Again, I would not recommend just googling them and regurgitating what’s already out there. Instead, talk to internal subject matter experts. Interview the founders. Chat with the product team. Consider asking customers when that makes sense. To get that unique content, we must create it, which goes beyond just copying and rewriting what’s already out there.

A few years ago, when I worked in healthcare, I got the answers by interviewing physicians and then writing articles based on what they said. The interviews were recorded, and easy to go back to and find content – oftentimes – for multiple stories.

Today, I prefer the “Going Live” model when interviewing experts. Instead of interviewing experts behind closed doors, which was the only or at least best way to conduct those interviews then, we do it live on air.

In this model, I invite experts on my podcast and livestream to talk about the topic of interest. The answers are given publicly while we stream to social media networks – usually using Restream.

Read next: Why we must de-prioritize using Google in our content research

Step 5: Determine where to use the answers

I write new articles from podcast episodes. That especially holds if I haven’t written about the topic previously. Other times, I may use bits and pieces in existing blog posts that could use a refresh. Sometimes I create YouTube Shorts or Web Stories.

Step 6: Getting it through approvals, published, and distributed

The approval process also should be included in the answer to the question of how long it takes to write a blog post. Sure, if I can write it in 2 hours or four or whatever, that’s great, but if it takes two weeks to get approved, that all counts. Also, consider how long ideation can take. I somewhat jokingly created this T-shirt to recognize that thinking also takes time. (Affiliate link).

So how long it takes to write a blog post, all depends on what you count into the process. Ideation and being creative certainly are essential parts of the process. So is the actual writing part. But writing isn’t the only thing that is part of writing a blog post. Finally, we also need to follow basic best SEO practices to make our content valuable and findable.

At the end of the day, it shouldn’t be a question about how long it took to create, but is it working? Are people finding it? Is it being consumed? Is it helping us make a difference from a business standpoint?

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