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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5 Common Grammar Mistakes (and How Bloggers Can Avoid Them)

Consider how much of your writing goes out into the world each day. You could be working on a client project, tweeting, emailing, or updating your blog. We put a lot of words out there every single day.

But here’s the thing: Our fingers fly faster than our brains, and sometimes we end up sending an email or document that contains grammar errors. Now, if that email is going to your mom, it’s not a big deal. (Unless your mom is a former English teacher who loves nothing more than to point out your errors. Hi, Mom!) But what if that typo goes out to a potential client? Or goes live on your blog, which is tweeted and Facebooked to a slew of potential clients?

5 common grammar errors

While not everyone likes to sit around diagramming sentences for the fun of it (though it is fun!), there are simple rules that will help you avoid five of the most common grammar mistakes.

That vs. which

On the surface, this one’s a toughie. One simple rule will help you decide whether to use that or which: If the information is nonessential to convey the meaning of the sentence, use which. If the information is required to make the sentence complete, use that. Consider:

The sweaters that have red tags are on sale.

In a store full of sweaters, it’s essential to define exactly which sweaters (those with red tags) are on sale.

The sweater, which my sister bought on sale, is ugly.

In this case, which is appropriate because you can remove that clause and the meaning of the sentence (the sweater is ugly) remains the same.

Its vs. it’s

This is a common blunder, probably because we’re typing too quickly to think it through. It’s means “it is.” Its indicates possessive. The simple rule here is to ask yourself whether you could replace what you wrote with “it is.” For example:

It’s snowing again.

Test the sentence by replacing the contraction with “it is.” It is snowing again. It works, so it’s is correct.

This shovel is useless; its handle broke.

In this case, you can’t replace the its with “it is” (it is handle broke), so its is correct.

Your vs. you’re

I shudder every time I see the phrase “your welcome.” (Or, better yet, “your an idiot!”) This is another one of those cases where our speedy typing gets the best of us. Your indicates possessive, whereas you’re is the contraction of you are. Just like the previous rule, this one can be avoided by mentally replacing the contraction with the full two words.

You’re going to be so excited when you get your birthday present.

You’re is correct because you are going to be excited, and your birthday present belongs to you.

Their, there, they’re

There’s no trick for this one. The only way to differentiate between these three is to think about each definition. Their is possessive (their car). There indicates location (over there) or functions as a pronoun (there are three cars). They’re is the contraction of they are. So:

There are two seats that they’re saving over there for their friends.

Me, myself, and I

The most common error with these guys is replacing me with myself or I. While myself or I may sound like the “smarter” options, me is often the correct choice. Remember: I is the subject of a sentence (I walked the dog. I ski. I hate bananas.), and me is the object of a sentence (She tricked me. He gave me his ticket.). Use myself reflexively, that is when you’ve already referred to yourself at the beginning of the sentence (I wanted to kick myself) or for emphasis (I myself love filing taxes).

It gets trickier with compound nouns; however, there’s one simple step to straightening these out. Remove the additional parties. For example:

Me and Dave went roller skating.

Remove the additional party: Me went roller skating. So, obviously in this case, it should be I.

My sister took my cousin and I out for brunch.

Remove the additional party: My sister took I out for brunch. In this case, it should be: My sister took my cousin and me out for brunch.

Avoid these 5 grammar mistakes

The trick with grammar is that if you’re doing it right, no one will notice. But that’s the goal, right? By taking a few extra seconds to apply these rules to your writing, your dazzling content will shine far brighter than any grammar errors.

Maggie Marton serves as the BlogPaws senior editor. When not hiking with her two pit mixes, Emmett and Cooper, or playing with Newt the Cat, Maggie writes about them (and the pet industry) at ohmydogblog.com and maggiemarton.com

Images: Piotr Marcinski/Shutterstock.com and BONNINSTUDIO/Shutterstock.com

The post 5 Common Grammar Mistakes (and How Bloggers Can Avoid Them) appeared first on BlogPaws.

5 Common Grammar Mistakes (and How Bloggers Can Avoid Them)

Consider how much of your writing goes out into the world each day. You could be working on a client project, tweeting, emailing, or updating your blog. We put a lot of words out there every single day.

But here’s the thing: Our fingers fly faster than our brains, and sometimes we end up sending an email or document that contains grammar errors. Now, if that email is going to your mom, it’s not a big deal. (Unless your mom is a former English teacher who loves nothing more than to point out your errors. Hi, Mom!) But what if that typo goes out to a potential client? Or goes live on your blog, which is tweeted and Facebooked to a slew of potential clients?

5 common grammar errors

While not everyone likes to sit around diagramming sentences for the fun of it (though it is fun!), there are simple rules that will help you avoid five of the most common grammar mistakes.

That vs. which

On the surface, this one’s a toughie. One simple rule will help you decide whether to use that or which: If the information is nonessential to convey the meaning of the sentence, use which. If the information is required to make the sentence complete, use that. Consider:

The sweaters that have red tags are on sale.

In a store full of sweaters, it’s essential to define exactly which sweaters (those with red tags) are on sale.

The sweater, which my sister bought on sale, is ugly.

In this case, which is appropriate because you can remove that clause and the meaning of the sentence (the sweater is ugly) remains the same.

Its vs. it’s

This is a common blunder, probably because we’re typing too quickly to think it through. It’s means “it is.” Its indicates possessive. The simple rule here is to ask yourself whether you could replace what you wrote with “it is.” For example:

It’s snowing again.

Test the sentence by replacing the contraction with “it is.” It is snowing again. It works, so it’s is correct.

This shovel is useless; its handle broke.

In this case, you can’t replace the its with “it is” (it is handle broke), so its is correct.

Your vs. you’re

I shudder every time I see the phrase “your welcome.” (Or, better yet, “your an idiot!”) This is another one of those cases where our speedy typing gets the best of us. Your indicates possessive, whereas you’re is the contraction of you are. Just like the previous rule, this one can be avoided by mentally replacing the contraction with the full two words.

You’re going to be so excited when you get your birthday present.

You’re is correct because you are going to be excited, and your birthday present belongs to you.

Their, there, they’re

There’s no trick for this one. The only way to differentiate between these three is to think about each definition. Their is possessive (their car). There indicates location (over there) or functions as a pronoun (there are three cars). They’re is the contraction of they are. So:

There are two seats that they’re saving over there for their friends.

Me, myself, and I

The most common error with these guys is replacing me with myself or I. While myself or I may sound like the “smarter” options, me is often the correct choice. Remember: I is the subject of a sentence (I walked the dog. I ski. I hate bananas.), and me is the object of a sentence (She tricked me. He gave me his ticket.). Use myself reflexively, that is when you’ve already referred to yourself at the beginning of the sentence (I wanted to kick myself) or for emphasis (I myself love filing taxes).

It gets trickier with compound nouns; however, there’s one simple step to straightening these out. Remove the additional parties. For example:

Me and Dave went roller skating.

Remove the additional party: Me went roller skating. So, obviously in this case, it should be I.

My sister took my cousin and I out for brunch.

Remove the additional party: My sister took I out for brunch. In this case, it should be: My sister took my cousin and me out for brunch.

Avoid these 5 grammar mistakes

The trick with grammar is that if you’re doing it right, no one will notice. But that’s the goal, right? By taking a few extra seconds to apply these rules to your writing, your dazzling content will shine far brighter than any grammar errors.

Maggie Marton serves as the BlogPaws senior editor. When not hiking with her two pit mixes, Emmett and Cooper, or playing with Newt the Cat, Maggie writes about them (and the pet industry) at ohmydogblog.com and maggiemarton.com

Images: Piotr Marcinski/Shutterstock.com and BONNINSTUDIO/Shutterstock.com

The post 5 Common Grammar Mistakes (and How Bloggers Can Avoid Them) appeared first on BlogPaws.

The Ultimate List of Pet Blog Content Ideas

As April winds down and we head full-steam into late spring and early summer, all those brilliant ideas and goals from the first quarter of the year sometimes start to dissipate. This is the time of year when motivation wanes. If you find yourself in that position and your idea well is starting to run dry, don’t worry! We’ve got you–well, your blog anyway–covered!

Here are four posts that, when combined, deliver 53 fresh pet blog content ideas. How much content is that? Well, if you post on your blog three times each week, this list gives you ideas for the next 17.5 weeks. To put it another way: By the time you finish blogging all these topics, we’ll be talking fall and back-to-school.

The Ultimate List of Pet Blog Content Ideas

Hint: Before you click the first post, grab a notebook, open Evernote, or launch your favorite idea-capturing program. You’re going to be full of ideas that you don’t want to forget!

Overcoming Blogger’s Brain: 20 Blog Topics To Write About

If you’re feeling that brain fuzz that precedes a wicked case of writer’s block, these 20 blog topics will spark something creative. The best part of this roundup post is that many of the suggestions can be re-imagined and reinterpreted into dozens of posts, giving you way more than 20 individual ideas!

Blogging 101: How To Find Blog Post Ideas

These 12 ideas don’t just stop at a single blog post suggestion; instead, they provide the source to find new ideas. If you’re feeling devoid of inspiration, start with this post to work through the 12. Each one may spark more than one idea, too! 

10 Ways to Generate Blog Post Ideas

Whenever I search Google or Pinterest for blog post content ideas, I find myself clicking away quickly because so many of those lists seem to me “been there, done that.” This list of 10 gives off-the-beaten-path suggestions for coming up with blog post ideas. My absolute favorite from that list: Draw inspiration from print magazines. It gives me the perfect excuse to curl up with a pile of mags, my pets, and a steaming mug of tea.

Quick And Useful List Of Pet Blog Idea Starters

Need inspiration in a hurry? This list of 11 fast-start ideas will get you writing. Pick one, complete a post, then work through the rest of the fast ideas to build up a database of evergreen posts ready to go.

With these 53 ways to come up with new content ideas, you’ll have more to blog about than time to blog! (Wait… isn’t that almost always the case?)

How do you come up with blog post ideas? Any tips or tricks for brainstorming or content generation? What helps you get your creative spark re-lit when you’re feeling uninspired? 

Maggie Marton serves as the BlogPaws senior editor. When not hiking with her two pit mixes, Emmett and Cooper, or playing with Newt the Cat, Maggie writes about them (and the pet industry) at ohmydogblog.com and maggiemarton.com

The post The Ultimate List of Pet Blog Content Ideas appeared first on BlogPaws.

10 Predictions For 2016 | Be Prepared!

10 Predictions for 2016

Post by BlogPaws Co-founder Yvonne DiVita

I’m starting early. Getting my 10 Predictions for 2016 in front of folks. And yes, you need to BE PREPARED!

Business needs and plans aside, it’s time to think about tomorrow, and the next day and the day after that. I know the saying, “Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, today is a gift,” used to inspire us to live in the moment. But, that doesn’t account for the need to look forward, not backward. Oh yes, there’s that saying also, “Don’t look back, you’re not going that way.” So, if you begin today, to look forward, to plan forward, to anticipate fantastic results in the coming year, I predict, you will achieve the ultimate success you wish for!

10 Predictions for 2016

  1. Business conferences, social media conferences, offline events will become more powerful and more necessary than ever before.
    We need to step away from the Internet. We need to get in front of our colleagues, our friends, our prospects, our brands, whomever it is that can help us move our businesses forward. You do that by being present at conferences like our own BlogPaws conference. It’s more than a place to network. It’s a place to purposely take your new, small business two steps forward. See you there!
  2. Communities online will spill into the offline world. We’ve had folks write to us asking if we’d consider starting regional “packs” for BlogPaws. The answer is: yes.
    Regional packs could bring more camaraderie to the BlogPaws community online and off. It could extend our educational reach. It could help us learn even more from our community. Regardless of how WE, at BlogPaws, bring regional packs together, I predict the people who are passionate about pets (who among us isn’t? I ask you), will find more and better ways to build relationships that serve to promote the power of the human-animal bond.
  3. The value of the human-animal bond is my next prediction. The power and necessity of understanding it. The very impact it has on all life, everywhere!
    We are making progress. We, the people who know the power of unconditional love and healing from our pets, are moving the needle. In 2016, stories about the importance of animals in our lives, education about how animals provide more than just companionship but actually improve our being, and louder voices saying these creatures count, and should be treated with the same respect and care we humans give all parts of the planet Earth, will be more apparent. Let the shouting begin!
  4. The business of blogging will grow and earn the respect it deserves.
    Brands will recognize the time, energy and learning we put into our work, as bloggers. Bloggers will recognize the necessity of that time, energy and learning and up the game to build solid content they and the brands they may engage with, will be proud of. We do it now. I know that. We learn. We teach each other. We strive to be a little better, day by day. My prediction for 2016 is to say that finally, at last, both brands and bloggers will take the act of blogging seriously. It’s a communication tool with such great power – each of us must accept the responsibility of using the power to the best of our ability. We must adapt and adopt journalistic integrity in our work. The world is watching. It’s time to still the shrugs of people who say, “Oh, that’s just a blogger.”
  5. Following #4, we in the PET BLOGGER world will gain more respect! Our blogs serve up valuable insight and education, to any and all pet parents out there. We write to share and teach. We write to amuse. We write to support efforts of brands that care about pets, as much as we do. We are a force to be reckoned with. The world will begin to take more notice in 2016. The other blog networks will look at us and say, “They’re doing amazing things…we should join them.”
  6. Social media will grow; the influence of online writers will grow; the world of authenticity will become a major player in advertising and marketing. 
    We think this is already true. We each of us grow our numbers monthly, to the best of our ability. We join influencer groups and never sell our opinion – we only sell our time and talent. But, the truth of the matter is, too many brands still think paying for bloggers means buying their voice. In 2016, authenticity, OUR TRUTHS, will finally be accepted as what we do, and social media, online advertising, marketing, anything a brand wants to achieve online, will filter through the voices of bloggers who care about the product and how it works, and who will be proud to accept payment for their time and energy and yes, their TALENT! (Oh My Golly, some of you are SO amazingly talented!)
  7. Focused online education will give smart business people more support in 2016. No one has all the answers, no matter how long we have been in business.Make your content sticky
    Learning should be a lifelong endeavor. Smart people work everyday to learn something new that will help enhance or promote their business. Webinars and online training abounds, but I predict that in 2016, smart people will select the content that is necessary to them, and will insist on content designed to move their business forward, with immediate action (something they can begin doing today!).
  8. From our own Aimee Beltran, of Irresistible Pets, who joined the BlogPaws team just recently to help take us to the next level, great advice on “sticky content.” She predicts sticky content will dominate 2016.
    I think it’s pretty simple. Creating good content will never go out of style. Creating content in 2016 is going to be a lot like cinnamon buns at the mall. Imagine the mall: it’s full of people, stores, noise, music, and food. Then in the middle of all that noise and chaos you smell cinnamon buns.  Next thing you know you’re biting down into the fluffy goodness of an ooey gooey cinnamon roll. That’s what you need to do with your content – make that content sticky! Link your posts together and show your readers how to find what they need. It’s not a “new” innovation but it’s how I see bloggers standing out from the noise in 2016.
  9. Speaking of sticky content, Pamela Wilson, Executive VP of Educational Content for Rainmaker Digital (formerly Copyblogger Media) shares her prediction for 2016: People are picky, aren’t they?When a new technology comes out, we’re so excited about it that we don’t even mind when it doesn’t work that well.When people first started blogging, we’d read almost anything. It was free, after all! What could be better?Not anymore. Now there’s so much free information out there that readers have become particular about what they’ll spend time reading.If your blog post headline doesn’t catch their attention, they won’t click on it. If you don’t engage them within the first few sentences, they’re gone.But when you do? Well, your content will stand out (in the best of ways). You see, not enough people spend the extra time and attention needed to make their content truly remarkable. That’s why when readers find a reliable source of information that’s engaging and easy to read, they’ll stick around.My prediction for 2016? Great content will rise to the top like cream. Like it always has! (oh, did I forget to say Pamela is KEYNOTING at BlogPaws 2016???)
  10. What else can I say? The world is getting more selective in what it wants to see online. It’s not hard to predict that online will continue to dominate, that it will grow as the content grows, and it will demand excellence. I predict, for my last prediction, that a major part of our ‘content’ in 2016 will rely on images and video that is captivating, educating, and crystal clear. Those of you who are letting your training in image creation or video languish in ’round-to-it-land, will need to up your game. (she said to herself…sigh)

Let’s all be conscious of the power of tomorrow. It doesn’t rule our world today, because today’s eight hours are a chance to plan and prepare for tomorrow. Be that blogger – the one who invests in herself; who is aware of what she needs to learn; who goes out and gets the education; who embraces the talent she has and who doesn’t stop until she’s done.

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