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.
Before you start writing
Make an outline and define the audience and goals for your blogpost. Try to focus on a single takeaway if possible. We have a step-by-step guide for how to do that below.
Watch your language
Use active voice.
“We protected open space.”
“Open space was protected.”
Use strong language.
“We shaped the plan.”
“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
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 do you want the audience to take away from your post? What action do you want the audience to take?
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.
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 take away from your blogpost? What are all the possible things that you want your audience to do? Write them all down into a list without worrying about prioritization or organization.
3. Group those takeaways into larger sections
Take your takeaways and group ones with common themes together under that overarching theme. These themes will ultimately be the subsections of your blogpost, if applicable—subsections aren’t necessary for simpler blogposts with only one takeaway or ask.
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.
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.
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?
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.