We all know that Be a Freelance Blogger is the place to go when you want to learn how to become a better freelance blogger. There are articles on how to get hired, how to “stay sane” while working, and how to get paid what you deserve.
Most importantly perhaps, BAFB is great about sharing how to write pitches that “sell” your blog posts. The quarterly Pitchfest contests are great for that – showing freelance bloggers exactly what needs to be said in order to get an idea accepted by an editor or potential client.
However, writing the best pitch in the world won’t do you any good if you can’t deliver on the final product.
As strange as it may sound, a lot of “freelance bloggers” out there simply don’t know how to write a great blog post!
We’ve gotten so caught up in what comes next – getting a raise, or what have you – that we’ve ignored the most basic element of our jobs: Writing blog posts that captivate our audiences and please our clients.
So, whether you’re a complete newbie or an established blogger, let’s go over the basics. Here are eight elements each of your blog posts needs in order to succeed:
1. An Eye-Catching Headline
A whopping 80% of your readers will only read your headline and not bother to read the rest of your blog post. So the headline better be good!
This is true of clients as well: If you send them a post with a less than fantastic headline, they often won’t bother to read the rest of your work. Which, of course, can lead to complaints and a lot of unneeded rewrites on your end.
Try these ideas…
Use “How To” headlines.
When in doubt, use “how to.”
This automatically informs the readers that you’re going to educate or inform them on something that they need to know. Very clickable.
Audiences and clients love numbered posts. When you put a number in your headline, they know exactly how many points of information to expect, and can make a well-informed decision on whether to keep reading or not. (You’ll notice that my headline for this article combined both the “how to” and numbered headlines!).
Use attention-catching adjectives.
Try to think of the most scrumptious word you can imagine to describe what you’re about to write and use it. Are you solving an “agonizing” problem for your readers? Or maybe you have something “incredible” or “essential” to share with them? Oh, and let’s not forget everyone’s favorite word: FREE! If you have something free to offer in your blog post, use that magic word in your headline!
Use what, why or when.
The three W’s are magical when it comes to persuasive headlines. “What to do the next time you travel” or “Why you can’t get a date” or “When you should start planning for retirement.”
You can combine any of these headline styles to create something truly terrific.
Don’t have enough room to say everything you want about your article? That’s fine. That’s what sub-headings are for. Stick to the most important points when it comes to your main headline and then fill in the rest of the information later on in your post.
2. A Relevant Image
Images add visual interest to your blog post and can enhance the readers’ (or client’s) expectations of what the post is going to be about. Choose an image that fits well with the theme of your blog post’s content.
Images also give you a second chance at writing a unique headline by adding words over the picture.
Pro tip: Make sure that you write an alternative headline over your image, especially if you place it near the top of your post, so that readers aren’t greeted with the same headline twice in a row. (Scroll up and look at the feature image Lauren created for this post, for example — the text on the image is an alternative headline.)
Need a little help? Here are twelve sites where you can nab free images:
- Death to Stock
- Negative Space
- Life of Pix
- Ancestry Images
3. Informative Sub-Headings
Sub-headlines are like headlines for each section of your blog post. They help to break up your blog post into readable sections (which we’ll talk more about in point #4).
Sub-headings can be as eye-catching as the main headline. And should be, considering most readers will skim your post, stopping only to read what interests them.
Whereas your main headline should be as titillating as possible in order to hook readers, your sub-headings should strive to be as informative as possible. Let the readers know exactly what they’re getting into for each section you sub-head.
4. Short Paragraphs
Reading things online is harder on the eyes than traditional print. In order to keep your readers from getting eyestrain, you need to break up your paragraphs.
Don’t be afraid to write paragraphs that are only one sentence long.
Yes, your high school English teacher will probably have a conniption fit when she reads your posts, but she’ll learn to understand. 😉 You need to avoid huge “walls of text” at all costs.
5. Relevant Links
Whether you’re citing your sources or simply adding extra information – “spice” – to your blog posts, you need to add in relevant links. These can be a mix of internal links (which direct readers to other content on your client’s site) or external links (which direct users to content on other websites).
6. Attention to SEO
Sometimes your clients will give you keywords that they want placed in their blog posts. These words make great anchor text and should be utilized to link to other posts they want attention drawn to.
You should also make use of Meta data. Fill in the Meta descriptions (usually about 155 characters-worth of text) and use tags.
Putting alt text on your images to make them searchable is also a great SEO practice.
7. Careful Proofreading
Writing a great blog post can be exhausting work. It can be tempting to send in a first draft just so that you’re “done” and can move onto the next thing. However, doing so could get you into big trouble with your clients and editors.
We all make mistakes in our writing. Every post deserves a second – or third or fifteenth – read-through before it’s sent off to its final destination.
Unless you’re under contract not to share your work (like with certain ghostblogging gigs), share your post as much as possible.
This isn’t limited to social media – although that’s great too. You should also be adding your posts to your online portfolio.
Still need help with writing blog posts or starting your own successful blog? Check out this “how to start a blog” guide! Or leave me a message here in the comments.