How to Write a Blogpost

Use this as a best practices guide for writing blogposts. If you ever need help or have any questions/feedback, just contact your favorite MarCom staff member.

BEST PRACTICES

Before you start writing

Make an outline and define the audience and goals for your blogpost. Focus on a single, MOST IMPORTANT takeaway. We have a step-by-step guide for how to do that below.

Watch your language

Use active voice.
“We protected open space.”
instead of
“Open space was protected.”

Use strong language.
“We shaped the plan.”
instead of
“We helped shape the plan.”

Avoid the wonk; try to use language that a teenager would understand.

Avoid using acronyms as much as possible. This also helps with our site’s search ranking.

Refer to our editorial style guide for words you should avoid, proper capitalization, proper formatting, etc.

Writing for the Web

Cross-link to other blogposts or relevant articles. This can help you avoid re-explaining something and can keep the blogpost more concise. Referring to relevant articles is also a good way to write your intro/hook.

Elevate the main takeaway/action/purpose of your blogpost to the top. Your reader should know what you want them to do/know within the first two paragraphs. This also improves the excerpts for e-news and the blog.

Avoid huge blocks of text. Use paragraphs, subheads, bulleted lists, images, and/or pull quotes to make your blogpost more digestible.

When appropriate, cite your sources.

HOW TO OUTLINE YOUR BLOGPOST

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1. Create a working title

A working title should convey the goal of your blogpost. To get started, answer the following:

  • Who is your audience?
  • What action do you want the audience to take?
    • IF there is no exact action, what do you want the audience to take away from your post?

Your working title should be specific. This will serve as a good reminder to be focused in your writing—you can finesse your working title into a catchy final title later.

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2. Write down as many distinct takeaways from the article as you can

This is the brainstorming step. What are all the possible things that you want your audience to do or take away from your blogpost? Write them all down into a list without worrying about prioritization or organization.

If my working title was “The Broadway Valdez Plan is Good for Oakland,” I’d probably want readers to know:

  • What makes the plan good for Oakland or the Bay Area
  • Where is Broadway Valdez
  • What they can do to help
  • What stands in the way of getting it passed
  • How to get in touch or ask questions
  • When is it happening, what’s the urgency
  • What’s the history of the area and why this is a better use
  • How many people are affected by the plan
  • What do the people of Oakland think of this
  • Interesting statistic or social math

Notice how these are really unfiltered and all over the place. That’s okay. We’ll wrangle it all in in the next step.

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3. Group those takeaways into larger sections

Take your takeaways/actions and group ones with common themes together under that overarching theme. These themes will ultimately be the subsections of your blogpost. Note that subsections aren’t necessary for simple blogposts with only one takeaway or ask.

So if we’re writing that post, we’d bucket my ideas into the following buckets:

  1. Intro – hook the audience and tell them to take action
  2. Explain: Why the plan is good for Oakland and the Bay Area
    • Where is Broadway Valdez
    • When is it happening, what’s the urgency
    • What’s the history of the area and why this is a better use
  3. Threat: What stands in the way of getting it passed
    • Interesting stat or social math
    • How many people are affected by the plan
    • What do the people of Oakland think of this
  4. You Can Help
    • Reiterate action to take
    • How to get in touch or ask questions
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4. Add more takeaways to some sections

In case you missed anything in Step 2, this is when you can beef up the content of your outline.

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5. Revise, remove, and reorganize details in each section

Now let’s tighten up that outline. Cut anything that is unnecessary, revise anything that doesn’t make sense, and move your sections around so that your blogpost flows. Be sure to elevate your primary takeaway/ask high up in the blogpost—this should be clear by the second paragraph.

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6. Include links to your examples and/or data

If you are referencing other blogposts, data, partner organizations, or anything else that will require linking out, dump them into your outline now underneath the appropriate sections. Making good use of existing content and linking out to it can significantly shorten the length of your blogpost, which is always a good thing. Keep your audience in mind when referencing content or making claims: Will they understand what you’re writing? Is more context needed? Does Jim in Santa Rosa know what a community separator is?

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7. If any details come to you that you don’t want to forget, add them in

This can be anything from a hook for your intro to a current event that you want to refer to. Basically, throw anything that will help you with your writing into the outline before the idea slips out of your brain and into the ether.

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Source: http://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/how-to-write-blog-post-outline