How to Write a Knockout Blog Post

Having an idea for a killer blog post is the easy part. Writing a knockout blog post that touches on all the key elements from content to photography, promotion and inbound/outbound links is the more involved process. It sounds like a no brainer, the process for writing a knockout blog post, right? Even long-time blogging veterans may be surprised to find some tips and pointers to apply to future blog posts or updating older blog content.

How to write a knockout blog post

Pre-Requisite: Know Your Blog Audience

Something that we see time and again in the BlogPaws offices is a well-done post, but it is written to an audience that may not be the one best served by said content. Define your why and know your purpose.

No matter how long you have been blogging, each blog post should be geared to your target audience. If you are a cat blogger who writes about health and wellness, then articles about kitten training, cat litterbox issues, and senior cats and kidney disease are the types of content your audience wants. You know they want this content because you did your research prior to creating the blog.

Sometimes a blog post is geared for a specific portion of your blog’s audience. One of my consistently popular blog posts deals with torn anterior cruciate ligagments in dogs. That post is geared to a dog parent who either thinks their dog ruptured the ligament, indeed the dog is injured, or they want more information and options. Write to THAT audience for THAT post.

LEARN MORE: How to Serve Your Blog Audience

Develop the Content Idea

Our Director of Community Education, Aimee Beltran, suggests this system when developing content for a blog post:

  • Who is the audience?
  • What do they need to know?
  • What do I want them to do with the content? (Subscribe, share, etc)
  • How will the content be delivered? Blog post, social media post, video, ebook, etc?

Outline the Blog Post

As a second phase to developing the content idea, next you write an outline. This need not be a laborious process, but I could never do a blog post without some sort of outline.

Outlining helps hone your craft, tightens the focus, and like a map, it guides you to your destination. Some of the sections in my outline for a blog post include:

  • My topic or idea
  • A working headline, which I refine later
  • The problem it solves or addresses.
  • Why my reader should care. I ask myself “who cares” and until I can answer that, I won’t blog.
  • Sources and quotes/experts
  • Outbound and inbound links to include
  • Terms to rank for SEO-wise
  • Images I want to take and/or already have in my files

Your outline can be as simple as a one-page sheet of paper with subheadings on it or as intricate as desired; we all have different learning and planning styles.

Visual Asset Planning

A picture says a thousand words and a video says even more! Know what shots you want before you get the post started so that you can capture exactly the visual message you want to complement your prose. I take close to 2,000 photos a month on my iPhone, no kidding. I take candids of my dog, things we do together, places we visit (from PetSmart to the park, visiting friends), and I dump them onto my computer once a month. From there, I categorize and separate the images into files. I actually have files the likes of:

  • Body shots
  • Face close ups
  • Park
  • Dog with people
  • Sleeping

…and many more.

I do this so that whenever I am writing a blog post, I have an arsenal of photos from which to choose. Quite honestly, I have my own stock photos that I took! I edit the photos I love the most and might use, ditch the blurred ones, and then I clean my phone up, back up my files onto a hard drive and an online photo storage service, and I am good to go.

Videos I plan to embed into a blog post or those in support of my blog post I will use on social are a part of the visual asset planning process. It’s never one and done: If you blog it, use it over and over in a variety of ways. The same holds true for visual and video assets. More about that later.

Keyword Research

This is oh-so-important to your knockout blog post process. Keyword research does NOT mean keyword stuffing. The traditional definition of a “good” keyword is one that has low competition from other sites attempting to rank with traffic from the keyword along with a high number of monthly searches. Finding that balance is the sweet spot for bloggers.

Your goal with a blog post is to create an ultimate resource with both short and longtail keywords. Long tail keywords have long staying power if properly executed in blog post. Why long tail? Longtail keywords are more closely related to the questions your readers are asking/searching for; they are actually easier to rank for; and since they target your specific audience, more relevant traffic is directed to your blog.

Here are three steps for finding juicy keyword nuggets.

Write a blog post

Determine Headline and Subheads: Brainstorm and Then Brainstorm Again

Work primary and secondary keywords into your headline if possible, and apply some time in determining your headline. Our Director of Content, Maggie Marton, says, “No matter how brilliant your writing, or how gorgeous your photography, unless you grab a reader’s attention with a catchy, click-worthy headline, you won’t capture new readers.”

An eye-catching title can make or break a post. Personally, I tend to spend more time developing a worthwhile title than many other things.Regardless of how your post is discovered: From a search engine to a tweet, the first thing a reader will see is that all important “headline” aka the title. Is your title worthy of the content within the post? Does it give the reader a full, enticing glance at what’s to come?

Think about those catchy headlines on glossy magazines as you stand in the supermarket check out line. The titles are designed to lure you in to buy the magazine or tabloid.

Here’s a 3-Step Process to Write Click-Worthy Headlines.

Subheadings break up a post and divide it into sections as this blog post illustrates.

It makes it easier for the reader to use and is another way to hold one’s attention span.

Similarly, bullet points and numbered lists are helpful. Bullet points are useful for stats, benefits, product features, short bits of info, and other data that you want to stand out.

Write

Blogging is not sheer opinion if you want to be considered an expert. I am not an expert in many of the topics on which I blog. I am, however, pretty darned good at finding folks who are experts in their respective fields. I utilize places like HARO (Help a Reporter Out), message boards, groups on Facebook, in-person networking to exchange business cards, industry-oriented mixers, Twitter, and so on.

Experts are out there. You need to find them to add credibility to a blog post. I suggest doing a blog post with opposing views and let your readers decide. Whichever route you take, do your research.

Please please and please check your grammar and spelling: It matters. Read it out loud to make sure that everything makes sense.

A stellar blog post instantly loses its appeal when a run on sentence comes into play and it never stops and the person writing it thinks that I want to stick around because I have nothing better to do than to hear about a great product and how super it is. See how annoying long that was? Don’t do it.

Bring it Home

An abrupt ending leaves the reader scratching their head, so summarize in a nice neat package for them. Re-emphasize your main points, perhaps circle back to your introduction, and give the reader the all-important call to action. A call to action is important at the end of a blog post but also in your social media promotions. A Call to Action is a statement that encourages your readers to take some sort of action.

For example:

  • Subscribe to my newsletter for posts just like this!
  • Add a comment to the bottom of this list and tell me what you think.
  • Follow me on Facebook.

Learn More: Discover how to successfully use a call to action.

Social Media Plan and Promotion

Our own Aimee Beltran says, “Writing blog posts takes a lot of time and hard work. The last thing you want is for nobody to read your posts. That is why you must have a solid promotional plan in place to grow your pageviews and audience. An effective social media marketing plan will help with this.”

Knowing how to promote a blog post and making the time to do so are pivotal to blog post success.

You don’t need to be on every single social media platform, and you don’t have to post everywhere at one time. In fact, the latter is highly frowned upon so as to avoid content saturation. Tools like Hootsuite, Buffer, Sprout Social, and Co-Schedule allow for timed social media content.

Here are quick ways to promote blog posts (note: It isn’t one and done; be sure to recycle your posts and share social media content throughout the year).

Don’t Stop Now

If you want to start a pet blog and have no idea how to get going so you can use the tactics above, here’s a good place: How to Start a Pet Blog.

Learn how to do keyword research for your next blog post.

If you write it, readers will come, right? Not always, so if you want the readers, then identify them, determine how you will find them , and deliver with a knockout blog post and social sharing plan to enhance its longevity.

Connect Face to Face

Register for the BlogPaws 2018 Conference and invest in you. The BlogPaws 2018 Conference takes place in Kansas City, Missouri, April 18-20.  Join us and get your social media and blogging plans in order!

Bloggers at conference

Your Turn

What’s your process for writing a blog post? Do you have one? Does it resemble the above? Let us know in the comments below. We respond to all comments.

Carol Bryant is the Marketing and Social Media Manager for BlogPaws and runs her own blog, Fidose of Reality and its fundraising arm, Wigglebutt Warriors. When not busy playing with her Cocker Spaniel, Dexter, she stays far away from cooking. Her trademark is her mantra and is tattooed on her arm: My Heart Beats Dog.®

Images:  Floral Deco/  GaudiLab /Shutterstock.com

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How to Write a Pet Friendly Thanksgiving Blog Post

I am often considered to be “that lady who takes her dog everywhere” in some circles, and nothing could make me more proud.  Having pet friendly holiday traditions is something we look forward to in our family every year. Holiday traditions are meant for the whole family to enjoy, and that family includes your pets, right? As we approach the Thanksgiving holiday with all of its trimmings, do you have a timely blog post planned for your readers?

Here are some ideas to help write a pet friendly Thanksgiving holiday post that will leave your readers wanting a second helping:

How to Write a Pet Friendly Thanksgiving Blog Post

The Give Back

“I want to help but I just don’t know where to start. So many animals need homes.” How often do you hear or see that on social media or IRL (in real life)?! There are things your readers can do. Teach them and better yet, show them.  One person can and does make a difference. Talk about cyber fostering a pet, giving to a favorite charity with food or monetary donations, getting involved with a favorite blog who is hosting a shelter drive, etc. Make an actionable list for your readers.

Pets Over the Rainbow Bridge

Surviving the holiday season after pet loss is indescribable. I know this because I am a member of this group. That first holiday season after a pet dies is very, very raw and emotional, and chances are someone reading your blog feels the same way. If you are grieving a pet, there are things you can do during this holiday season (and year round) to bring a sense of peace to your life. Write a post about the ways to honor a pet who has crossed to the Rainbow Bridge. Provide readers with ways to memorialize their pet no matter how long ago that pet passed on.

Get Involved With The National Dog Show

In true time-honored tradition, NBC will present the popular holiday special, “The National Dog Show Presented by Purina®” on Thanksgiving Day (noon-2 p.m. in all time zones), Nov. 23, following the telecast of NBC’s “Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

Yours truly represented BlogPaws during an exclusive in-person interview with Mr. David Frei, who co-hosts the annual event with John O’Hurley. You are welcome to embed the video in a blog post about pet friendly things to do on Thanksgiving Day.

You may recall David Frei as emcee of a BlogPaws Conference and now he makes a grand return to the community who embraces him with open arms and paws.

New York Magazine once called David Frei “probably the most famous human in the world of canines.” He is well-known to millions of television viewers as the “Voice of the Westminster Kennel Club” as co-host of USA Network’s annual telecast of the world’s most famous dog show for the past 26 years (since 1990) and as co-host on NBC of The National Dog Show presented by Purina on Thanksgiving Day since its inception in 2002.

A re-airing of the broadcast takes place on Saturday night, November 25th. Check local listings.

For more information, visit: http://www.nationaldogshow.com

Host a Thanksgiving Weekend Casual Meetup

Move over Black Friday, start a new tradition involving your pets. This will take some pre-planning, but perhaps you and a group of your pet-loving friends can come together at a different house each year and spread the cheer, get the pets together, and enjoy some indoor Thanksgiving fun. Show your readers some ideas for pet games and even better, how to be a good canine or feline guest at someone else’s house.

How to Write a Pet Friendly Thanksgiving Blog Post

Retail Therapy

As you peruse the online sales for Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, and Cyber Monday, don’t forget the pets. Write a blog post about pet-friendly businesses. Did you know there are a bevy of malls across America that allows dogs (and other well-behaved pets, so call ahead) in many of their stores? Indeed. What yours truly did is plan ahead, found out when Santa was going to have pet-photo night and then did a “three-fer”: We visited the mall, walked in and out of stores together, had Santa photos taken, and then had a wonderful evening driving through lights in the Allentown, Pennsylvania area for Lights in the Parkway.

Arts and Crafts

Are you a blogger who likes to do DIY posts? For those who aren’t out shopping or are trying to escape family squabbles, the Internet is the best place to find pet-friendly projects. Do a Facebook Live and show your followers how to make something and then embed that Facebook Live video into a blog post for more traffic. Wait, there’s more: Include Amazon affiliate links in that blog post to drive traffic to the items needed. This time of year, folks head over to Amazon for small purchases but are likely to buy more things as gifts. It’s a win-win!

People and Pets to Visit

Millions of people and pets are alone this time of year. For those in your area who may not have anyone stopping by, why not take your well-behaved pet to visit? Sometimes visiting a local shelter and asking if you can volunteer is a great way to beat the doldrums. Why keep this idea to yourself? Write a blog post of ways to pay and paw it forward during the holiday season.

Launch Your Holiday Gift Guide(s)

People are shopping now and they will continue shopping in the days and weeks after Christmas to use gift cards they receive as presents. Gift Guides done right are a great way to connect with your readers to help determine content for the coming year. Gift Guides do not have to be products or services; they can be a list of outstanding charities that make an impact. Scroll back through the #BlogPawsChat hashtag from our 11/14/17 chat and learn more about gift guides and how to make them shine. 

Don’t Stop Now

Fall Blog Post Ideas

25 Holiday Blog Post Ideas

Amazon Affiliate How To’s 

Your Turn

It’s your turn. What are you doing with your pets this holiday season? Are you planning any Thanksgiving weekend blog posts? Let us know in the comments below.

Carol Bryant is the Marketing and Social Media Manager for BlogPaws and runs her own dog blog, Fidose of Reality and its fundraising arm, Wigglebutt Warriors. When not busy playing with her Cocker Spaniel, Dexter, she stays far away from cooking. Her trademark is her mantra and is tattooed on her arm: My Heart Beats Dog.®

Image: By Lia KoltyrinaSjale / Shutterstock

 

 

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How Many Words Should a Blog Post Be?

Blog post word counts matter, but exactly how much?

The folks at Medium say that a seven-minute post captures the most total reading time on average. What does that mean for you, the blogger, and just how many words should a blog post be? It depends, but sometimes size does matter. Keep reading.

How many words should a blog post be

Blog Post Word Count Facts

Between 2,032 words and 2,416 words: This is the range of most top-10 Google results according to serpIQ.

Over at HubSpot, about 2,100 words is the ideal blog post length. That number does not apply to every post nor to every niche, but it’s a pretty darned good benchmark from a highly-respected online thought leader.

For Yoast, 300 words minimum is the bottom line in order to rank well in search engines. Posts that are longer generally rank more easily than shorter posts, they say. Long posts mean more time and strong writing skills, right? Yes, but there are exceptions and rules to everything.

Ranking for SEO or Ranking for the Reader? Or both?

Of course, we all want our posts to be found by Google’s algorithm. Some of us may dream of that coveted first page on Google, and when we succeed, oh, how we celebrate.

When you blog, do you write for the SEO rank or your reader? The answer is you need to be ranking and writing for both, and this has a direct impact on the length of a blog post.

At HubSpot, their research shows the ideal blog title length to be 60 characters. If you use the Yoast SEO plug-in, you will get an alert if the title is too long or contains unnecessary words. Sometimes less is more.

The reader ultimately decides whether your post ranks well or not. Being hyper-focused on the length of a post that is less than stellar, poorly written, or isn’t something that your reader is interested in will defeat your purpose.

To rank for SEO and for the reader, there are two core things to keep in mind:

  • How well is my content targeted (does it solve a problem, answer a question, help the reader)
  • Who is reading the content (who is the audience)

Learn more about how this relates to the images in your post: Optimizing Blog Images for SEO

Anatomy of 2,500 Word Blog Post

When a reader sticks around on your blog post and does so with quality images, video, bulleted information, solid research, and an article that is well constructed and written, Google smiles. SNAP.com says, “You get a lower bounce rate with higher engagement.”

Should each blog post you write be a 2,500 word count or so masterpiece? Not necessarily.

How Many Words Should a Blog Post Be?

Frequency of Blog Posts

Ah, the second most asked question: How often should I post? Do you have a blogging editorial calendar? Is that blog editorial calendar set up weeks or months in advance? Some bloggers set their content calendars up a year in advance. It’s that whole “at a glance” and “plan ahead” mentality that works for you if you work it.

Example: In the time it takes to post every single day of the workweek (Monday – Friday), are your numbers where you want them? Do your Google Analytics justify the time spent and the expectations you have in place?

What can you do to get the same results, or even better, more traffic, with less work?  The answer is strategy and experimentation.

Ninja Tips for Blog Word Count

No blog post on proper word counts should be published without sharing some hidden Easter eggs, aka ninja tips.

Meta Description Matters: That short description that you see under a link when you search is the Meta Description. It tells the reader what the page is about in a preview form, like this:

Meta description example

According to HubSpot, the ideal meta description length is less than 155 characters. Again, the SEO by Yoast plug in analyzes your meta description and provides feedback.

Hook Them on the Way in and Out: You need an enticing start to a blog post but also a strong finish. The Call to Action matters big time! People need to be told what you want them to do. With the average attention span of a reader about 3 seconds (oh, and a goldfish is 9 seconds), a solid, actionable step is needed after the stellar blog post.

Learn how to write a better CTA: How to Successfully Use a Call to Action

Types of Blog Posts

The type of blog post will also help determine its word count. Some examples of blog posts include:

  • Checklists
  • Infographics
  • Interview
  • Controversial Topics
  • Reviews
  • Inspirational Stories
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Time Saving Hacks
  • Reviews and How To’s

Each type of post merits its own quantity of words. Personally, I rarely blog with a word count in mind. I do outline and set up my blog post in advance.

It takes the average reader about seven minutes to read 1,600 words. If you want to keep the attention span of someone for seven minutes, you must have quality content broken up into digestible sections with standout images or video.

Find some fresh ideas for quality content: How to Find Blog Post Ideas

Recap Time

Lengthy Posts Need a Recap: That 3-second attention span requires it or you risk losing a reader. I am a scanner in blog posts, are you? Some things that break up text include sub-headers and bullet points. A recap at the end of a post is great for us speed readers and skimmers.

For this post, I would blog something like this:

Blog Word Count Recap

Size does matter, and if you plan to write a 2,500-word blog post, keep in mind:

How Often You Publish: If you publish twice a day and have no staff to help, a 5,000 word daily average might become tedious really fast. Have a blog publishing schedule.

Know Your Reader: You must swoon for a topic, but is it what your readers want? Do keyword research, determine what topics your readers want to learn more about, and then write to that audience and with those subjects in mind. After all, 2,500 words of blah blah blah won’t rank very high anyways.

Question: Does word count matter to you? Do you plan ahead for how many words a blog post will contain? Let us know in the comments below.

Carol Bryant is the Marketing and Social Media Manager for BlogPaws and runs her own dog blog, Fidose of Reality and its fundraising arm, Wigglebutt Warriors. When not busy playing with her Cocker Spaniel, Dexter, she stays far away from cooking. Her trademark is her mantra and is tattooed on her arm: My Heart Beats Dog.®

Images:  Floral Deco / GaudiLab /Shutterstock.com

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Blog Post Writing 101

pet bloggers use their voice in service to pets the world over

Blog posts are, in essence, articles or stories written to educate, entertain, inform, or sometimes accuse. The content in them is most often the voice of one person – the blog owner.

I have spent more than 10 years defending bloggers as writers. I have always had a sincere respect for the men and women who put themselves out there on almost a daily basis to share their thoughts and influence. No one gets into blogging because they want to be famous, at least, no one I know. Blogging is a tool and as such, it has become a resource to be both respected and accepted. The content in blogs matters. Let’s put that out there. WE matter.

As we grow, and I mean ‘we bloggers’… so, whether you identify yourself as a pet blogger or a lifestyle blogger, a food blogger or a humor blogger, whatever title you give your work counts. So, as we grow in both number and stature, it’s incumbent upon us to always strive for professionalism. Our voices bring a collective message to thousands of ears across the country and the world. To continue being heard, we need to continue our education on writing and social sharing. There is no “I’m done. I don’t need to learn anymore.”

Learning is necessary on a daily basis.

Therefore, I am going to share a few of my pet peeves around writing. I see these issues popping up more and more, of late. It saddens me because I’ve been working extremely hard to show how professional our writing is, on blogs. When we fall down, and do not even know it, I feel as if I have failed. I have not put the message out loud enough: writing on a blog is and should always be on a professional level that meets journalistic standards.

Sidebar: for those who write in the voice of their pet, even you should pay attention to grammar and punctuation but I realize you are not striving to be journalists, so you get a pass. Everyone else, you are required to write proper English. Even if you’re not writing to influence. Words matter.

Here are my Top 10 Pet Peeves about Blog Post writing:

  1. It’s or its ? The word “it” does not take a possessive apostrophe. When you add the apostrophe, you have written: it is. So, it’s means “it is.” Its means, “I could not believe how small its paws were!”
  2. Very. Mark Twain said it better than I; “Substitute ‘damn’ every time you’re inclined to write ‘very;’ your editor will delete it and the writing will be just as it should be.” Today, the editor might not delete the word damn, but you get the message.
  3. Dense paragraphs. In the world of web writing, shorter is better. It’s a challenge sometimes to get the message across in 140 characters, but we all use Twitter and we all learn how to compromise. On a blog, shorter paragraphs is the way to post. People will move from paragraph to paragraph easier, when you separate them. Follow the lead of the experts in this case – Copyblogger (you know Pamela Wilson from Copyblogger is a keynote at BlogPaws, correct?), Social Media Examiner, and Content Marketing Institute. (you’ll want to click that last link – there is an amazing cheat sheet there for social shares)
  4. Failure to proofread. I will sigh here. My team knows that when I sigh, it means I’m either angry, frustrated, or both. Not a good way to be. Yes, I understand we live in a fast-paced world that demands “now” “now” “now”. However, when you write your blog post, a commentary that is important to you, else why did you write it? And you do not re-read it to check for errors, you do a disservice to both yourself and your readers. Perhaps you will not catch all errors, sometimes the eye fools us, but I do believe you will catch most. Reread your post before clicking the publish button, please.
  5. Broken sentences. This is inexcusable. If you add a photo and it breaks the text, you need to fix that. Don’t make me search for the end of your sentence. Also, if a photo is relevant to the sentence, don’t put it at the bottom of the post. Add the photo adjacent to the sentence it references, without breaking the sentence.
  6. Just. “It’s just my opinion…” Sigh. “It’s just sad.” Sigh louder. “This is my opinion.” Yes! “This is sad.” Yes! Just is a crutch word. Be specific. Just leave that word out.
  7. Also, “I think…” Either you know or you don’t know. Saying, “I think” is wishy-washy. Yes, there may be times you want to note that you think, but when you’re stating an opinion, make it strong and purposeful! Tell me what you think, don’t tell me you think. I assume you are thinking as you are writing.
  8. Irregardless. No explanation necessary for this one, I hope.
  9. Firstly, secondly, thirdly… no. First. Second. Third. Thank you.
  10. Each and every. Use each. Or use every. Each and every is redundant and unnecessary.

There are other pet peeves I could share. However, I will save them for a later post.

My point is – you are a writer. When you write in your blog, you establish yourself as someone who is serious about what s/he shares with the world. I implore you to (a) always be in learning more, take creative writing classes, refer to your Strunk and White from time to time and (b) if you find errors in others’ writings, don’t announce to the world. Share what you found in a private note or email, respectfully.

We’re here to make the world a better place. Every word, every sentence, every image we share is part of a bigger whole. The bigger whole is how we can use our voices to help animals the world over. I am in awe of your blogs. When I encounter these issues, I cringe a little. I do know that all of our bloggers are working hard to be heard and it’s my strongest desire to help you make that happen.

I hope to see you at this year’s event in Phoenix. We have limited tickets available. Register today and say hello as I scurry past you on my way to this or that. Or, if you see me at a meal, stop and chat.

Pet Peeves from Yvonne at BlogPaws

Yvonne DiVita is a Co-Founder of BlogPaws. She is dedicated to storytelling and the human-animal bond. When not working on BlogPaws, she writes at Scratchings and Sniffings and The Lipsticking Society. You may contact her at Yvonne@blogpaws.com .

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