Why create in-depth blog posts?
The answer is simple. Google loves them! The average length of a piece of content ranking on page 1 of Google, is 1700 words. And why is it important to strive for page 1 rankings for some of your posts?
Because that's where 90% of the highly targeted, free search traffic comes from.
Of course, not every post you write is going to be 1700 words long, but it makes sense to have some of these longer posts on your blog.
How do you go about writing 1700+ word blog posts that that give real value to your readers - readers who come back, again and again, because they want more?
Glad you asked
Because this guide was written to answer those questions.
The one (main) purpose of this guide is to give you the steps that you can take away today and write your first in-depth post or your next one (with confidence) by focusing on these two thoughts:
1-Every great blog post starts with an end in mind.
2-Writing blog posts like a pro is a skill that you can learn.
Ready? Let’s dive in.
What is an In-Depth Blog Post?
Firstly (for those of you who are not sure), you need to know what defines a blog post, any blog post.
A blog post is a piece of content you publish on a blog. It can inform, build community, inspire, teach, etc. -- and , blog posts are written in short paragraphs and a casual writing style.
Blog posts allow you to showcase your thoughts, stories, and insights about any topic. Your posts could elevate your credibility and authority with your audience. They could also boost traffic, conversions, and revenue.
How to Come Up with Ideas For Your Posts
How do you come up with ideas to write your blog posts?
Imagine sitting at your computer ready to write -- but there’s just nothing to write about.
You get stuck because you think everything has been written under the sun.
But first things first.
Get Familiar with the Common Types of Blog Posts
- 10 Ways to Clean Your House in 15 Minutes
- The 9 Things I Need to Learn Before 90
- 5 Ways to Show Your Spouse That You Care
List-Based Posts simplify the content into a digestible format that can easily be shared, making them great traffic builders
How-To’s and Tutorials
- How to Build a Glamping Pod Step-by-Step
- How to Start a Non-Profit from Scratch
- How to Connect with Friends During Covid 19
For variety, think about using video for some of your posts.
Don't just embed the video, but add the transcript as well. Even better, re-write the transcript to make it easier to read. And better still, add some of your own thoughts before and/or after the transcript.
If you're not ready to create your own videos, use other people's. Head over to YouTube, find a relevant video that you like and grab the embed code. That's the beauty of YouTube, millions of videos that anyone can share on their website, social media, etc.
You come up with a topic, let’s say ‘Creating a Nature-Friendly Back Yard.’ You could write about many different sub-topics—for example, designing the space, making a mini-pond, which plants to grow, etc.
The most significant benefit of a blog series is that you can come up with a chest full of ideas that could keep you going for a long time.
Leverage the Brain of Amazon
A great way of coming up with ideas for your blog post is to check out the books section of Amazon. The strategy here is to discover what others have written about your topic, and to find out what people are interested in reading.
Here’s what you do:
Let’s say your topic is Digital Marketing.
Go to www.amazon.com and in the drop-down search menu, choose ‘books’.
Next, type in the search bar;
‘Best sellers digital marketing’
Then, look at the tables of contents of five to ten of those best-selling books. Take note of what you see in those tables of contents. It will give you a huge reservoir of ideas for subheadings that can be broken into smaller topics to write about. The goal here is to get ideas for writing your blog post, not to copy and paste.
Your Ongoing Story
Life evolves and you must adapt.
As you adapt to the changes, you are given the opportunity of an ongoing story with some twists and turns -- and perhaps with some laughter and tears.
“Be human. Tell your ongoing story as you reach out to your audience. Remember that you serve other humans who are impacting you as you impact them. Your ongoing story can be a bridge to help you and your customers connect in the calm or the storm.” - Maima Jones
Get into the habit of reading magazines, print or digital, in your niche. Magazines can be a source of useful and thought-provoking articles, news, and even letters from readers (these are gold because they represent reader's views and opinions!)
Now that you know what an in-depth blog post is, what the different types of posts are, and how to develop ideas for your posts...
How to Research the Subject
The chances are that you'll need to do some research before writing an in-depth post.
The purpose of research;
This is the obvious place to source and gather information for your post. Google is very good at filtering out bad and misleading information from the search results, but it still pays to be on the safe side and use credible sources only.
Examples of credible sources;
The World Factbook
Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, can all be valuable sources of information for your research. Use them to help get a better picture of how people might think and feel about the subject. What sort of questions and concerns might they have? What aspects of the subject most interest them?
You can find these things out by following pages, joining groups, subscribing to YouTube channels, etc.
The Open Library
Libraries are great sources of information and if you can't physically get to a library, try the online Open Library
Check out Amazon's eBook department and do a search for publications on your subject. Kindle books are usually cheaper than the print versions. If you purchase a Kindle eBook, check out the reviews first and if relevant, the publication date. Some books may be very outdated.
Okay, so you've done your research, you've gathered information from quality sources.
The headline or title. These terms are interchangeable and for the purpose of creating a blog post, they mean the same thing.
How to Write Your Headline/Title to Capture the Reader’s Interest
All headlines are not born equal, and the headline can make or break your post.
Your headline is a roadmap to help you navigate where you want to take the reader. And it is that which moves the reader to pay attention to you in the first place.
Have an End or End-Goal in Mind (before writing the headline)
Engage the Reader
How do you take this end-goal and then create a headline that will engage your reader from the beginning?
You do it by relating to the readers. By putting yourself in their shoes.
Going back to the example of creating a post that teaches readers how to grow an email list of 200 subscribers a month, what are readers likely to be thinking and feeling?
Engage with your reader and ‘meet’ them where they are right now. Don't just focus on getting their attention. Focus also on letting them know you’re aware of what they’re going through, and that you will work hard to help them.
Keep it Short and to the Point
So, the headline should meet your reader where they are (if relevant) ― and communicate the end-goal of the post.
6 Steps to Getting 200 Engaged Subscribers Per Month (Even When Starting from Scratch)
The above headline has 14 words. Could it be shorter?
But, it made a point by meeting the reader where they are right now, i.e., starting from scratch.
How could it be made shorter while still communicating the end goal and still engaging with the reader?
The word 'Getting' doesn't need to be there. The words 'Even When' don't need to be there either. Cutting out those three words creates a shorter and more 'to the point' headline, without impacting what the headline is saying.
6 Steps to 200 Engaged Subscribers Per Month (Starting from Scratch)
Copy the Formulas from the Pros
Repeatedly coming up with great headlines is not easy!
But, it gets a lot easier when you ‘borrow’ formulas from the copywriting greats, like David Ogilvy and Robert Bly. Don’t confuse ‘borrowing formulas’ with copying 🙂
Here’s a headline formula
The Top (X) Things You Never Knew About (something).
And an example of a headline using the formula:
‘The Top 10 Things You Never Knew About Costa Rica’
Want more fill-in-the-blank headline formulas? Download the Headlines Cheat Sheet
Show the Benefit
Imagine being sent an invitation.
And all you are told is, “come and see.”
You may go because of the intrigue, but this tactic is unlikely to work as a headline for a blog post.
The headline is the reader’s first encounter with your blog post, so let it communicate the benefit.
The benefit could be being entertained, learning something new, questions answered, problem solved, or curiosity satisfied.
Always remember to ask: “Does my headline show a benefit to my reader?”
If you’re not sure, ask someone to read your headline and tell you what they think the benefit is. If they find no benefit, work on it a little more.
What’s next?The outline
How to Create the Blog Post Outline
Why an outline? To help you save on time, effort -- and maybe money (because time is money, right?).
Let’s say you were taking a trip to five countries. You’ve got everything including your visa, passport, and (maybe) even your reading glasses. But you left out a map or a layout of where you were heading.Maybe having a layout could have given you the advantage of connecting the dots between countries to maximize time and minimize travel expenses
There is no one formula for creating an outline, but having an outline is critical to staying on track as you write. At the end of this guide you can download an example outline template.
How to Hook the Reader with Your Opening
Now you have the outline created and the headline written, you're ready to begin writing your post, starting with the opening.
Pull the Reader In
Want to pull the reader into your post? Picture yourself where they are now.
Looking again at the topic about how to build an email list -- you could begin your first opening sentence like this:
'Why waste your time building an email list?'
Starting with a contradictory question could pull the reader in -- making them wonder why this contradicts your headline: 6 Steps to Getting 200 Engaged Subscribers Per Month (Even When Starting from Scratch)
Second, this question may come from some of the challenges you’ve encountered.
Stand in Their Shoes
Think about what the reader's objections might be.
'I mean, it takes time and effort to put a list building strategy in place, so is it worth it?'
Tell the Benefit
'You bet it is!
Did you know that having a list of subscribers can more than double the revenue generated through your blog? And, once you do the initial work, list building can virtually run on auto-pilot.'
Make a Promise
It’s critical to make a promise that you can deliver on:
'This post will show you six steps you can take beginning today to start building your list of 200 engaged subscribers per month -- even if you’re starting from scratch.'
So, here's the opening:
How to Take the Reader from the Beginning to the End of Your Post
Okay, so you've created the headline/title, and you've written the opening for the post.
But then what?
Write Short Paragraphs
Short paragraphs are more inviting and easier to read. Blog content must be easy to read. If it’s not, readers are more likely to click away and go somewhere else.
Paragraphs can be as short as just one sentence.
Talking about lessons learned ― life will always give us a second chance - no matter what.
You can even have a one or two-word paragraph.
The easiest way to approach writing the post's body is to divide it into sections using sub-headings.
Sub-headings continue to pull the reader deeper into the post. They also sell each section as you weave a flow by connecting the dots. It's like fitting all the puzzle pieces together to get the complete picture.
Take a look at this screenshot of a section of a post. The subheadings are highlighted in yellow.
Don't assume that your readers already have a reasonable understanding of the concept you are writing about in the post.
Let's use the example headline: 6 Steps to Getting 200 Engaged Subscribers Per Month (Even When Starting from Scratch.)
The very first sub-heading could be;
What Does it Mean to 'Build a List'?
Address their concerns
Knowing that lack of time is a common obstacle, another sub-heading could be;
20 Minutes a Day is All You Need
How List Building Changed My Life Forever
Give Actionable Advice
Getting Started – What You Need to Know
Free Tools You Will Need
Deliver on the Promise
Your reader is still with you.
The promise has not yet been fulfilled. Up until now you’ve merely laid the groundwork for fulfilling the promise made in the headline (6 Steps to Getting 200 Engaged Subscribers Per Month (Even When Starting from Scratch).
[You might be wondering why not just fulfil the promise at the beginning of the post?
Because, if you do that, you deny yourself the opportunity of engaging with your readers, of overcoming their objections and building anticipation. Most importantly of all, the more interest you build before the promise is delivered, the more of your readers will stay with the post right to the end.]
Sticking with the example of the post about building a list, at this point you have five sub-headings
What Does it Mean to 'Build a List'?
20 Minutes a Day is All You Need
How List Building Changed My Life Forever
Getting Started – What You Need to Know
Free Tools You Will Need
it’s time to start delivering on the promise. In this example, there are six steps (to building an email list), therefore it makes sense to have six sub-headings, for example;
Step 1 - Set up a Free List Building Program
Step 2 - Make Your ‘Lead Magnet’
Step 3 – Write Your First Email
Step 4 – Write Emails 2-7
Step 5 – Write Emails 8-15
Step 6 – Implement Opt-in Forms on Your Website
Conclude the Post
Now that you’ve delivered on the promise made in the headline, it’s time to conclude the post. The conclusion is used to summarize and tie up any loose ends.
The conclusion can also motivate the reader and lead them into taking action on what they've just learned.
This can be done by reminding them of the key benefits and calling them out with phrases like 'how about you?' or 'are you ready?'
Are you ready to double the income generated through your blog by building a list of engaged subscribers?
Begin today with Step 1, setting up a free list-building program.
The longer the post, the more important it is to use images. As a general rule, use one image for every 200-300 words of text. Make sure the images are relevant and interesting.
Here's why it's important to use images
- They support the text in showcasing what the post is about.
- They help you paint a story. There’s an old saying, ‘a picture paints 1000 words’.
- They give life to written content, which can otherwise look uninviting.
- They create breaks and pauses – an important feature for ease of reading.
Types of images...
These are photos, video clips, soundtracks, and illustrations already edited and ready to be used. Stock photos are royalty-free, meaning they are available for licensing without any copyright implications.
You can download 1000's of free stock photos from websites such as Pixabay or Unsplash.
An example of a stock photo;
A simple way of creating visuals for your blog posts using your computer or laptop.
An example of a screenshot;
Turn some of your text into a graphic. Websites like Canva allow you create your own infographics using ready-made templates.
An example of an infographic
Graphs and Charts
If you have some hard-to-understand concepts, graphs and charts may be the way to go. Graphs and charts help you display or demonstrate an idea for better clarification and understanding.
An example of a graph;
Use quotes from relevant influencers or industry leaders in your posts to make them more informative and exciting. Create your own image quotes using Canva!
An example of a quote as an image;
Your own photos
This is the obvious one, and providing your phone can take decent photos, that's all you need. Sometimes the best image of all is the one you take yourself 🙂
Let's recap what you've learned from this guide;
- How to come up with ideas for in-depth blog posts.
- How to research the subject.
- How to create the blog post outline.
- How to write headlines that capture the reader’s interest.
- How to hook the reader with your opening.
- how to take the reader from the beginning to the end of your post.
Getting started is always the hardest part. Start out by creating the outline. Things become a lot easier when you've got a road map to work with.
Create a Blog Post Calendar
A calendar helps you stay on track, stay organized, and saves you time. It can be as straightforward or as complex as you want it to be. One of the easiest ways to create a calendar is by using a spreadsheet program, such as Google Sheets, or Microsoft Excel.
How Often to Post?
There are no hard and fast rules about this. It's all about what suits your schedule.
It's better to set goals that you can keep, than to set goals that push you beyond the limits of the time you have available.
Create a schedule that you can stick to most of the time. Set deadlines, but make sure those deadlines are realistic.
The title of this guide is; 'How to Write In-Depth Posts Like a Pro...
But nobody becomes a pro overnight.
If you're feeling stuck, come back to this guide and refresh your knowledge.