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Writing blogs

Why read this? : We look how writing blogs can add value to your business. Learn how to find out what your audience is interested in, and how to start blogging about it. We also share how to plan a blog post, and how to make your writing more readable and searchable. Read this for ideas on how writing blogs can help boost your business. 

Writing blogs

How this guide raises your game :-

1. Learn how blogging fits into your marketing activities.

2. Where to access online research tools to generate ideas and keywords.

3. Practical blog writing tips to improve readability and searchability. 

A blog is a regularly updated part of a website where you share your latest thoughts, ideas, news and activities.

It’s an informal way to keep your audience up-to-date with what’s going on with your brand. This can be on a third party blogging website, or on your own website.

Writing a blog requires strong writing skills and habits. You need to be able to able to write relevant and interesting content. That means knowing how to do keyword research for example. And knowing how to improve your writing’s readability. 

You need to be able to produce good content on a regular basis. And you also need to understand how SEO works so customers can actually find your content. 

But first, let’s touch briefly on why you’d consider writing blogs in the first place. 

Laptop, coffee cup, notebook and phone on a desk ready to write blog

Ready to test your knowledge?

What’s your starting level of knowledge about writing blogs?

Take the 2 minute, 5 question Three-brains writing blogs quiz and see how much you know about writing blogs already.

Writing blogs and marketing impact

Many bloggers see their blog as a passion project. They write about the things they love. Their audience is people who have the same love for that topic. 

There’s an element of that when you’re writing a business blog, but there’s also usually some specific marketing benefits behind it too.

After all, you’ll be investing time and money in creating content and keeping it up to date. You want to see some sort of return for that investment.

Most blogs written for marketing purposes are looking to drive :-

  • customer engagement.
  • brand identity.
  • connections with other brand activation.

Customer engagement

Blogs give you the opportunity to meet customer needs at specific parts of the customer journey. 

Blog content creates a longer interaction with the customer than other communication channels. The longer a customer interacts with your brand, usually the stronger the connection you create. Plus, you give them the opportunity to comment or ask you questions about the comment, which adds to their level of engagement.

In the brand choice funnel, this engagement is usually seen as a way to drive brand consideration.

Customers are more likely to consider buying brands they actively engage with. And blogs are a way to drive that level of engagement. 

The brand choice funnel - trust - aware - consider - trial - loyalty - repeat purchase

Brand identity

Writing blogs also gives you an extra place to bring your brand identity to life.

The content itself becomes a tangible asset and part of your overall marketing mix. It’s a a way for you to communicate with customers. 

But the topics you cover, and the way you write your blog, also help bring your more intangible brand assets to life.

You can use your blog to show how you live your brand purpose and values, for example. The tone of voice in your writing can bring your brand’s personality to life. 

It becomes a brand asset, a place where customers feel they can connect with your brand.

Brand identity asset classification examples

Connections with other brand activation

You can also use writing blogs as a way to deliver specific marketing communication objectives. To land a specific message for example, or build a perception of being an expert in your field. 

It’s also a good place to improve the quality of your website experience, and it’s good for SEO if you can add relevant links. Most good blog writing should also include a call to action which points the reader to where they should go next. (e.g. learn more, contact us, make an appointment and so on). 

Check out our benefits of blogging article for more on these. 

Start with what your audience are interested in

Blogs need an audience. Someone has to read them for them to be of value. When writing business blogs, that means customers or potential customers. Your qualitative or quantitative research may already have given you some idea of themes and topics which will interest your target audience.

But if not, there are some simple ways to work out what customers will find interesting. You can use secondary research tools like keyword research to find topical and relevant topics.

This gives your blog writing a focus because you’re writing about what your audience is interested in. It’s usually about trying to answer a specific question or solve a specific problem. Writing about those in your blog means you content will be more relevant and more likely to be read. 

Research tools

Our secondary research guide has a full run down on research tools you can use, but we’ll touch on some of the most commonly used ones in writing blogs here :-

  • Google Autocomplete.
  • Google Trends.
  • Google Ads.
  • Answer the public.

Google Autocomplete 

First up is Google Autocomplete. If you know a broad topic which interests your audience, it shows you the 9 most commonly related search terms for that topic.

So imagine, you want to blog about “writing blogs”, like in this example. 

We can see from the related terms which appear, more specific ideas for topics around writing blogs.

So, for example writing blogs for SEO shows there’s interest in how blogs and search work together. Writing blogs websites shows there’s interest in how blogs and websites work together. 

Writing blogs - screengrab of Google Autocomplete for writing blogs

Google Trends

Google Trends is another tool you can use to explore a topic and find related topics based on how people search.

It also lets you identify the relative popularity of topics based on the amount of searches on that topic. 

It’s a surprisingly flexible tool. You can adjust the countries and timeframes you look at, and analyse the relative trends of 5 topics at a time. 

It also helps you to identify topics which are increasing in interest over time. Writing about those sorts of topics usually leads to you reaching a wider audience in the long-run. Clearly, that’s a good thing for your blog and your brand.

Writing blogs - Google Trend research on baking example

In this example, we looked at search trends on “baking”. We already know interest in baking went up when COVID-19 lockdowns were in place. And if our business involved baking, we’d use a blog to write content based on what people searched for around baking topics.

So, in this example, there are specific recipes like Anzac biscuits and blueberry muffins we’d want to make sure we covered in our baking blog.

You can read another example in our article about finding consumer needs through trending searches.

Google Ads

The final Google tool for those interested in writing blogs is the Google Ads Keyword research tool. This works on the same premise as Autocomplete and Trends. It shows data related to the volume of searches on particular topics, but it focusses on paid search. 

To access it, you need to create a Google Ads account. But once you set it up, it’s free to use. And it gives much more specific volumes on the number of searches. And more importantly it also suggests other keyword search terms related to your initial search.

You can read more examples of using Google Ads for research in our secondary research guide and in our keyword research article.

Answerthepublic.com

A final free online research tool you can use is the website answerthepublic.com. Here, you can put in topics and the site will find the most asked questions online about that particular topic. 

These questions normally start with “what’, “where”, “when”, “why” or “how”. Again, this gives you ideas about topics to write about which people are searching online for. It’s similar to Google Autocomplete, but it gives you a wider range of options. 

Where you’ll blog and how to set it up

In our website planning guide, we talk about how blogging is often the first way new brands create an online presence.

This is because of sites like WordPress, Wix and Blogger. These are dedicated blogging platforms where anyone can create a blog page in a matter of minutes for free. For anyone who wants to start writing blogs, they’re a fast and low risk way to get started.

However, there’s a limit to how much you can do with them.

These sites are all template based. So, you’re limited to the styles and layouts they offer. You can make some adjustments to design areas like colours and typography. But you have less flexibility to adjust these design elements than you would with your own website.

Though you can name your blog, because it’ll be on their platform, you won’t be able to have your own URL. Your blog will be yourblogname@bloggingplatform.com. For new bloggers, this may be OK. But if you want to build a brand online, ideally, you want your own URL. 

Also, you’ll have very limited access to data and analytics for your blog. You’ll be able to see high level statistics on how your blog performs. But you won’t have the full flexibility something like Google Analytics offers.

You’ll also have no real ability to add any extra functionality to the site. For example, you won’t be able to adjust the HTML code, or add interactive plug-ins to make the site more interesting. 

So, while most people start writing blogs on a third-party platform, most people eventually move their blogging activities to their own website. 

Blogging on your own website

This approach gives you more flexibility on how to set up and integrate the blog with your marketing activities.

With the blog on your own website, you can change the design, layout, colours and typography as you want. You can see much more detailed data and analysis of how your blog performs. 

And there are a load of extra tools you can add to your blog when it sits on your own website.

You can have tools which improve the customer experience, such as the quizzes we have on our site, like the one at the top of this page

Screengrab of Three-brains home page - headline says "Ready to raise your game? Outthink, outplay and outgrow competitors with three-brains"

You can also use tools which help behind the scenes of your website. So, tools to improve your SEO set-up, tools that help you moderate comments, and tools that help protect the blog from spam attacks for example.

When you set up your website with a platform like WordPress, you have the maximum flexibility to tailor and style your blog as you want it to look and operate. And you get all the extra benefits and functionality of a fully owned website.

Plan your blog post structure 

Once you’ve worked out the topic you want to blog about, based on what’s interesting to the target audience, and worked out where you’ll blog, it’s time to write your first blog post. 

It helps to have some idea of the structure, particularly how you’ll cover the :-

  • Headline.
  • Opening paragraph.
  • Middle section.
  • Close of the blog. 

Headline

The headline is the first thing customers read on your post. It’s usually what Search engines pick up on and display. A headline which stands out on a search page can be the difference between people even seeing your blog or not.

Think carefully about the words in your headline. You need enough familiar words so the reader understands what the blog post is about. But you also need words which make it stand-out from other headlines about the same topic.

Words which sound emotional or are unusual often work really well in headlines. You also want headlines long-enough to capture people’s attention in searches. But not so long they don’t read them. Yoast for example suggest around 55 characters and 6 words is the ideal for a headline.

The opening paragraph

Your opening paragraph should encourage the reader to want to read more of the post. It should give a flavour of what the content will be. In our blog posts, we always include a “Why read this” intro. A short paragraph which sums up the intent of the post. This snapshot includes keywords to help the SEO for the post. It’s also what appears on our blog summary page.

The middle - 3 key points

In the middle section of your article, you cover the main points which relate to the topic. As a rough rule of thumb, 3 messages per topic is usually about right. However, this can vary depending on the topic and your objective. 

As per our market research storytelling article, 3 is often used to help structure messages and stories. It’s easier for audiences to process and remember. And from a word count point of view, 3 main messages usually get you to about the right number of words for a blog post. 

Close the blog post well

Good blog writing also has a strong finish. You should always have a call to action like in your advertising copy. You want the reader to think, feel or do something differently.

In advertising copy, the call to action tends to focus on “do” something. Click a link. Visit a store. Buy a product. 

Blog posts can and should do this sometimes too. But remember the point of blog posts is to usually to drive consideration and engagement. If every post is just to drive a sale, that may put the target audience off. Don’t overdo the selling message in your blog.

You can also have your call to action be more “think” or “feel” to build a more positive impression of your brand. That you have something to offer in your blog writing which your audience will value.

Information they didn’t know. A point of view about a subject they hadn’t considered before. Or just stories, anecdotes or ideas which entertain and educate. 

The close of the post will be the last thing the reader reads. It’s the part most likely to be remembered. Think about what you want them to remember from the blog post. Do you summarise the key points you made? Or do you focus on the one biggest point you want them to remember? 

You need to think about the context and spend time to make the close as well-written and memorable as you can.

Make your writing more readable

As well as having a strong headline, and a solid beginning, middle and end structure, there are other writing practices you can use to make your content more readable

Sub-headlines

When writing blogs, you should also consider how you use sub-headlines.

Sub-headlines help your blog in 2 ways. They make it easier for the reader to understand the writing. Readers can scan the sub-headlines to get an idea of the overall structure of the blog post. 

Woman wearing a grey sweatshirt and looking at her phone in a dark room

They also help with SEO. Sub-headlines are highlighted as headings to search bots, rather than paragraph body copy. These heading classifications – H2 and H3 primarily – we cover in more detail in our SEO writing guide.

From a reading point of view, sub-headlines in a blog post also help to break up long paragraphs of text. Long paragraphs can be off-putting to read. Sub-headlines create white space and break up paragraphs and sections. They can make it more likely the reader will read the whole post.

Paragraph lengths

Though less directly impactful on SEO ranking, you should also consider paragraph length as a way to make your blog post more readable.

Paragraphs are blocks of text covering a single point or topic. But when you write long paragraphs, they can be visually challenging to plough through for the reader.

Each time you start a new paragraph, you signal you’ve moved on to the next point, and that the previous point is ‘closed’. This is easier to read, because you don’t have to hold on to the information from before.

But with a long paragraph, the reader has to try and hold all the information to get to the point. That’s harder to read. 

Blogs in general are quite informal. Remember, reading text on a screen is more tiring than reading printed text. You want to do everything you can to make it easier for the reader to focus on the topic content. And less on the how the content has been laid out.

Active and passive voice

When writing blogs, make sure your writing is clear and concise. One of the key ways to do this is to use the active voice where possible, rather than the passive voice. 

Active voice follows the order subject-verb-object. The subject does something to an object. I read this blog for example is an active voice sentence. I (subject) read (verb) this blog (object).

Compare this to the passive voice. The passive voice follows the order object-verb-subject where the object has something done to it. This blog is read by me for example is a passive voice sentence. This blog (object) is read (verb) by me (subject).

The active voice is much more readable. It uses less words and is more ‘obvious’ to process than the passive voice. It also sounds more confident and authoritative. 

With the passive voice, the brain has to work harder to join up the concepts. It’s not that you should never use it. But only use it by exception and where it makes sense. And be aware, when you overuse it, it makes your writing more tiring to read. 

Clear, concise and compelling writing

Writing in the active voice improves readability. But it’s only one of the tools you can use to make your writing clear, concise and compelling.

If you’ve done your keyword research properly, and have a clear picture of the target audience and what they need, write in a style which will feel relevant to them.

Imagine you’re having a conversation with them. Aim to get that down on paper or on screen. Make the tone conversational, like you’re talking directly with the reader.

It helps to talk your sentences out loud when you write. This helps you feel if they sound natural. 

Two people sitting at a table with coffee cups in front of them having a conversation

Why not stop and ask an open-ended question to make the reader pause and think for example? What about including a relevant example or relevant story to back up your point?

It’s easy when writing to lapse into more complicated language and technical jargon. Unless it’s a very specialist piece of writing though, that style of writing doesn’t work for most readers. If you can get your point across with simpler words, with shorter sentences and in a more conversational way, that creates a better impact for your blog writing.

Make it interesting

When writing blogs, remember there’s plenty of competition out there. Other blog writers writing on the very topic you picked. What extra can you add to make it interesting or different? How will you stand out from the crowd?

Maybe it’s a fact or an observation you think the reader won’t know. Maybe you’ve a good story or anecdote from your own experience you can share.

In writing blogs, you’re bringing to life your brand identity – your essence, values and personality. So, think about what you can write that demonstrates those.

Young woman on train station platform looking at her mobile phone

Consider lists

If you start to research blogs and articles, you’ll also see lists are a very popular way of creating blog content.

The Top 10 ways to bake a cake at home. 50 ways to improve your website. 1,000 best way to set up your own business.

We can’t argue with the popularity, but our build would be to think about the context of how someone might use the list.

When you do lists, can you include the list as a separate pdf or download the reader can access, for example?. You can see we include some lists in our resources guide and we try to link blog posts and resources together when we can.

Boost the searchability of your blog post

Beyond the writing of the blog post itself, consider how you can use your writing to boost the chances of your post appearing in searches. For blogs, there are 3 key search areas to consider with every post. 

SEO metadata

If you run your blog post on your own website, such as with WordPress, you’ll be able to input and edit the metadata.

This is information which sits behind the writing that essentially tells the Google search algorithm what the page is about. This includes for example the page title, the URL and the short description of the page that will appear in the search. This description is called a snippet. 

With WordPress, you’ll also have access to SEO tools like Yoast which runs an automatic SEO check of your post. The tool makes suggestions based on best practice for SEO. 

For example, the tool can tell you if you’ve used a keyword too much or not enough.

Writing blogs - Yoast SEO check

It can tell you if the keyword appears in the right places – such as in the sub-headlines and the opening paragraph – to make it easier for the post to be found.

You can also see if you have enough links and whether you have set up the URL and title well enough to be search-friendly.

Include links

As you write, you should also consider what links you could include in the writing. Links can either be internal to the website or external to another website. 

These internal links might be to other blog posts you have written, to resources that the reader can access or to other relevant pages within your site. If you look at our blog posts for example, almost all of them will link back to a hero content page that has more formal coverage of the topic under discussion. 

External links are also helpful from a search point of view, as they help link the post into other relevant content about that topic. But they’re also helpful to the reader by taking them to relevant and additional content. These links need to feel natural and make sense in the context of where they appear. Try to build the links in to the natural flow of how you write. 

Links are also helpful in that they make sure the post connects to other parts of the site. A blog post with no links potentially becomes a ‘dead end’ with nowhere else to go. Avoid this. It’s always better to offer the reader options of where they can go next though well-chosen links. 

There’s no hard and fast rule about how many links to include. You want to include enough that it’s genuinely helpful to the reader. But you don’t want to include so many that Google’s search algorithm thinks your page is only there for link-building purposes. It causes a lot of discussion on SEO writing forums and threads. But as a rough rule of thumb, anywhere between 2 and 7 links per 1,000 words is probably about right. 

Consider use of images

Another way you can also boost the quality of your blog post is by the use of images. While not strictly “writing blogs”, images help to break up the text.

Content is chunked (see our article on design psychology for more on chunking), making it easier for readers to process and remember.

Images can also help with SEO. The image might also get picked up in searches as well as the blog post itself. 

There are many ways to source photography for your blog. We cover some of these sources like unsplash and pexels in our guide to photography for marketing. 

Woman holding camera showing photography for marketing skills

Add comments and feedback links

As the marketing objective is to drive consideration and engagement, most blogging pages also allow the reader to comment and give feedback on the post. This lets other people who read the post see what previous readers thought.

It usually requires some form of moderation and anti-spam software like akismet or anti-spam bee, so you have control over what appears. Blog posts do seem to be prone to spammers and people posting inappropriate comments, so these are good precautions to take.

Blog posts that generate a lot of engagement will tend to rank higher in search too.

Now go write the blog

So, clearly there’s a lot to consider when you start writing blogs.

The target audience, the audience need and what you want it to do for your brand identity for example. Then there’s all the set-up of where the blog sits, and how you will organise and structure the content.

But, we’re not quite done yet. Because we need to cover how you actually write the blog itself and publish it. And then also, how you get into the habit of writing blogs regularly. 

The first draft

For the actual process of writing blogs, once you’ve done your research and planned your structure, then you just have to start writing.

Sometimes, the research will have inspired you and the words will flow naturally. But sometimes, you just have to grind out words to what’s in your head at the time. 

The important point is to try and get as much down as you can before you run out of creative energy. Some blog writers prefer to write in one continuous stream, while others prefer to write in short bursts. 

Try to find what works for you. 

You should have a rough target number of words for how long the post needs to be. There’s no golden rule that says a blog post has to be a certain length.

But posts that are under 300 words tend not to do well in search. So, you need a minimum of 300 words. In fact you should aim for around 1,500 to 2,000 words when writing blogs. 

When we were doing our own research on this topic for example, we came across this study on medium.

It proposes 7 minutes as the ‘best’ time it should take a reader to read your article. Most people read at between 200 and 300 words per minute, so 1,500 to 2,000 words falls within this seven minute window. 

Woman writing at old desk

Editing

Once you have your first draft complete, it’s important to allow some time to edit it. Editing is important to check for accuracy and readability.

Accuracy covers key areas like spelling, grammar and checking links work. In editing, you also check you can back up facts and claims with evidence and credible sources.

Readability is where you can go back and check the “flow” of the blog post. Do the points you make follow in a natural order that will make sense to the reader? How is your sentence and paragraph structure to read? Have you used simple, clear words to make your point?

You can self-edit or have someone else do it for you. Having someone else do it for you gives you a fresh perspective on the content. Another reader will often spot things which you as the writer may have overlooked. We cover more of the benefits of editing in our business writing and be a better writer guides.

Nonetheless, before you publish the post, you should proof-read and check the post to make sure there are no obvious errors. Think about the timing of when you need to publish the post. Does it need to be published right away? Or can you leave it and come back and read it fresh in a day or two?

Unless, it’s highly topical content, most blog posts benefit from sitting for a day or two to be tightened up before publishing.

Blog calendar

You should also start to build the habit of planing ahead on your content.

Set aside a specific time when you write your blog and a regular time to publish, for example.  

You need to consider how often you’ll blog. Daily blogging would be a lot of work, so weekly or slightly less regularly is more common.

We publish our blog every Wednesday for example. 

Aim to set up a content calendar where you know the topics, headlines and key points you’ll write about in the next few weeks.

Calendar

With our blog, we generally aim to have 6 to 8 weeks ahead of future content topics.

As you research topics, keep a note of related topics from tools like Google Autocomplete and Google Trends, so you always have a list of potential topic ideas to choose from.

Blog promotion

Finally, think about how you make your target audience aware of your blog. This promotion of your blog is usually through digital media channels and on your website. 

You can for example use your social media channels to publish short summaries of the blog post. You want to tempt people to come and read the full article. We do this on our LinkedIn channel for example.

It’s also important to make sure the blog content is easy to find and visible on your website.

Make sure there’s a clear link from the home page and in the main navigation bar. Think about how to lay out the blog posts and how to make them easier to search internally on your website.

Our blog posts are organised by categories and tags for example. These make it easier for readers to find posts related to specific topics.

If you have a CRM system, you can include summaries from your blog posts on outbound e-mails if they’re relevant to the needs of specific audiences.

Blog tag word cloud from the three-brains blog main page

Blog analysis

As part of your digital insight gathering, check regularly how your posts perform via Google Analytics.

Do certain topics tend to get more visitors? And do certain topics perform better when it comes to bounce rates, clicks and time spent on page?

These insights about how people read your blog posts can give you ideas on how to improve future blog posts. 

Look at your best performing posts.

Try to work out why they work better than others. Apply these insights to future posts to continue to raise your blogging game. 

Three-Brains blog

Our blog is part of our overall digital marketing strategy. It’s designed to share interesting thoughts, ideas and experiences around marketing, creative and e-Commerce topics. We’ve taken the key ideas of what works and what doesn’t and shared them with you in this guide. 

For us, writing blogs for your brand is a great way to drive engagement with your brand. It’s also a great way to practice and show off your writing skills, as it takes time and commitment to post regular content. 

Our final lesson is to remember that it’s a much more informal way to engage with your target audience than other digital media channels. So, you should stress less about making your blog content perfect. Focus more on getting something interesting out to your audience. 

Keep practising and posting and you’ll find the quality of what you write will improve over time. 

Three-Brains and Writing

We’ve a lot of experience and expertise in blogs and business writing.

From creating and commissioning writing to the editing and refining of it for marketing and e-Commerce purposes.

We specialise in coaching and advising on how to raise your business writing skills. Whether you use writers, manage it in-house or want to build your own writing skills, we can help. 

Contact us, if you want to know more about how we can support your business writing needs  through our coaching and consulting services.

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