The other day in a work meeting I was asked a question I felt I’ve been preparing for years to answer in real life as part of my blogging journey
“James, how do you write a blog?”
I gave a smug satisfied smirk to the attendees through my web camera, paused, paced my briefing and took the time to enjoy that moment for a question I never felt so confident to answer.
“Well…” I began
“… when writing a blog post you need to structure it so it’s easy to read…”
“Get your page and write – Introduction, Point 1, Point 2, Point 3 and Conclusion, that will give you the structure you need to write a good post.”
The call stopped in silent, holding onto my next words…
…I’ll be honest that was my full answer (no one can accuse me of not being concise)
Realising they wanted more, I added a bit more –
“You need to make sure that every word has a purpose – your title is your hook, and each sentence should add conviction that the person will read the next.”
In the MS Teams call I could see the raised eyebrows, the questioner bit their lip as if they wanted to say
“What?… That’s your advice? …”
And as the call moved onto the next bit of business, I began to think how much better I could answer that question.
Here is what I wish I’d said:
The first question to ask
Before you do anything else, this is the question to ask:
Where are you looking to publish your blog?
The difference between personal and professional blogs, is one you can just go off and publish when you like (regardless of quality).
If you’re writing to get on an industry publication or your companies websites, I’m sure you’ll appreciate you can’t just do that.
You need to understand your industry landscape.
Do your homework first – identify where you want your potential blog to sit. Then get in touch understand the editorial team to understand the requirements.
A common mistake I find professionals make is they spend all the time writing the blog, but then have no home for it because it doesn’t meet a required standard
You can find your post may get derailed from being published because of various reasons from your style of writing, failing to meet brand guidance, or something petty as the personal opinion of the contact in the publication you’re trying to work with.
Once you sort out where it’s being published, now lets move onto the layout.
Get your blog structure right
First rule of blogging – respect that there is so much content out there, that no one owes you their limited time to read your work.
Now you understand this, you also must appreciate that even if they do click, most won’t study your post in careful detail.
The reality is most people will speed read or skim to find the bits that interest them most in your blog.
Therefore you should structure in a simple format of:
- Point 1 (what you want to make)
- Point 2
- Point 3
Write these headers on a page to help keep the structure, and your word count under control
For an opinion led piece, make each point around 200 words.
The introduction and conclusion max 100 words.
This is 800 words in total – for an industry blog post this pushes the limits of attention spans – remember professionals are busy people.
Blog writing guidance that says you should hit a minimum word count are garbage –
Tip: let the content drive the word count needed, not the other way around.
As you populate each point, you’ll begin to figure out what the main theme is.
Turn those Point 1, 2 and 3 placeholders into interesting sub-heading titles that draw attention, and/or get an understanding what each section will talk about (this will help the skimmers).
Start the conclusion with a heading to show your wrapping up – keep it simple ‘Conclusion’, ‘Further discussion’, ‘Closing thoughts’ are good generic go to’s
You can find out more about using this structure here: How To Write a 1000 Word Blog: Copy This Framework
How to make your blog interesting?
This is a good question.
Everyone who wants their blog to be read should aim for each part to follow a simple function –
Get the viewer to move on to reading the next part.
Your title is the first impression, and needs a good hook to encourage the viewer to read your blog.
James’ thoughts on the Electronic Patient Record webinar
Is a boring title and will get little/no engagement when shared on social media.
The Secret To Success: Behind Manchester Foundation Trusts Hive Electronic Patient Record
Provides a bit more intrigue – it gives clues what the content is about, gives a real life example, and lets the viewer know what they will gain from reading your post.
Once they click to read the introduction serves the purpose to encourage the individual to keep reading – you need to make sure this is clear what the post will be about.
Other ways to keep interest:
- Concise writing and Short sentences (your audience maybe academics, but trust me, they don’t have the patience to read everything at a postgraduate level)
- Media – photos and videos (your blog publisher may provide these – check the publishing/editorial requirements)
- Formatting – add bold, italics, bullets and other ways to make text stand out
What images should you use?
An easy mistake is to go into Google image search and type in a term related to your subject matter.
Don’t do this as you may subject yourself to a fine for using a licensed image.
You can use free stock images – Wikimedia is a personal favourite as you’re not limited to gurning, posed photos that take away from the serious message of a post.
Industry professionals may struggle to find real looking images, working in the NHS in England I struggle to find free images of nurses – I either get photos of US nurses, or sexy nurse Halloween getup.
A couple of alternatives are to create your own images. Take photos from your industry to build up your image library, but make sure you receive the appropriate permissions.
Or you can create your own graphics in Canva, though be mindful of any organisation branding.
To summarise if you want to write a blog post:
- Establish where the blog is being published and check any editorial/house guidelines
- Keep a structure to help it follow. I use the skeleton layout of Intro / Point 1 / Point 2 / Point 3 / Conclusion, to frame the content around
- Let the content drive the total word count, not the other way around
- Split the blog into sections to make it easier to read for skimming
- Keep your blog interesting by writing each part so it encourages the person to keep reading
- Vary the layout of your blog to keep attention with media (subject to style guidelines), snappy writing, and formatting.
- Take care with the images you used, create your own to make your post more real.
I hope this is useful – this post was written for professionals who have no experience writing a blog post, though a lot of this advice can apply to anyone who blogs.
And if you’re struggling to write at the moment check out this post: The Blog Writes Guide To Overcome Writers Block
Wishing you the best in your success,
James @Perfect Manifesto
Copyright © 2023 James M.Lane perfectmanifesto.com
3 thoughts on “4 Tips For Professionals To Write Your First Blog Post”
James, your posts are always so useful and immaculately presented. I didn’t know there is Wikimedia- ? I think your day job really gives you great opportunities to blogging, publishing, social media, that is just so cool. Have a great rest if your week.
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Thanks so much Bella!
Yes – check it out its a useful site if you’re wanting free images, but want something a bit more than your standard stock image website – for example if you’re wanting to write about a celebrity it contains good quality photos from fans etc.
It’s been really useful as it gets me thinking a lot about the process, plus I’m writing content everyday on the job – the challenge so far has been having the creative juices when you do it all day!
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Thank you. Yes writing all day everyday, must be hard to keep creative juices going.