Write better blog posts with these seven steps

Writing! Now writing is something I like to write about. Words matter. Writing is important. And being that I used to work in the corporate world as a copywriter and a communications manager, I’ve always been into the written word. (A dork? Perhaps so.)

That’s why I knew that writing was a great topic for me to talk about a few weeks ago when I was invited to speak at IDEA BlogFest with Sweat Pink in LA. Today, I’m going to give you a brief overview of that presentation. And hey, even if you don’t have a blog, you just may learn something about how to craft the messages that you do have to write in your daily life.

Speaking at the IDEA BlogFest in front of a room of bloggers

I was asked to speak as part of the “Lightning Round,” in which I had about five minutes to teach the audience of nearly 200 healthy-living bloggers something they need to know. I had pre-created and submitted 20 slides ahead of time, which automatically moved forward every 15 seconds, as I stood on the stage and shared my thoughts. I did a few run-throughs of the presentation leading up to the event, to make sure I knew what I was saying would match up with the slides, and it went off without a hitch. I actually really enjoyed it and would love to do more presentations like that in the future. (I guess all that teaching group fitness on the stage has helped me to be confident on a microphone in front of a bunch of eyes!)

How to write a better healthy-living blog in seven steps via A Lady Goes WestScenes from the Lightning Round at IDEA BlogFest 2015, in which I was sporting an awesome prAna outfit provided to me by the Sweat Pink team.

Here’s what I presented in that very short amount of time …

How to write a better healthy-living blog in just seven steps

When it comes to blogging, yes you can write whatever you want, however you want to write it, because your blog is your blog. But as bloggers, if we take some cues from the marketing world to sell ourselves with our writing, we can give our readers what they want, and they’ll keep coming back for more.

While you can still have an informal and conversational style in your writing on your blog, using the following tips will help you to increase your following by consistently delivering excellent posts … 

1. Write a headline that draws people in.

Give your readers a hint at what they will find in the post. And give them a reason to click through to your actual blog post if they follow you by scrolling their Bloglovin’ accounts, emails or even their Facebook feeds. Your headline should …

  • Ask a question.
  • Pose a need.
  • Create urgency and a time-sensitive nature.
  • Be short and on one line. Strive for five to seven words total.

For example, instead of using “Hydration tips” as a headline, how about “Five hydration tips you need this summer,” which is much more enticing.

2. Make your posts scannable.

Although we’d love to think that people read every word we write, that’s not always true. Therefore, as smart bloggers, it’s our duty to write our posts so that people can skim through them. We want people to be able to hit the highlights with some leading narration, so that they leave satisfied at the end. 

  • Add subheads, which are bolded and in a larger typeface than the body font, and which guide people along the content. (Like I’m doing in this post.)
  • Use bulleted lists. (Like this one you’re reading now.)
  • Make lists with numbers. (Again, like this post.)
  • Separate your thoughts into short paragraphs. (Yup.)

3. Make a point with every post.

Give your readers what they came for. If you’re trying to teach them, make sure you actually give helpful information in your post. If you’re just telling a story about your weekend, make it clear whether it was a good one or not and have a beginning, a middle and an end. 

  • Have a goal in mind for each post as to what you want readers to come away with.
  • Tell your readers what you plan to tell them in the beginning, then tell them, then tell them what you told them at the end. (See what I did there?)
  • Write a good concluding statement with a call-to-action, if there is one. 
  • Tell a narrative, by giving insight into your experiences.

4. Revise, read aloud and revise again.

There’s nothing worse than visiting a blog (or reading anything at all) and seeing a major typo in the headline or first sentence. While mistakes happen all the time, you can eliminate many of them with just a few extra minutes in the editing process. It’s just so important.

  • Read your posts out loud before hitting publish. 
  • Cut out unnecessary words and phrases that don’t make sense or are cumbersome.
  • Find a fellow blogger who is willing to do a peer-review arrangement and agree to read each other’s posts before they go live.
  • Ask a family member or a friend to read your drafts before you finalize them. (True story: My Mom reads almost all of my posts before they are sent out!)

5. Create a blog style guide and be consistent.

Your blog is your brand, so you have to show that there are a few standards for the things you commonly write about. Readers love to see consistency, and you can make sure you’re doing that by keeping your commonly used terms in one place, called your “style guide.”

  • Create a Google Doc to store your style guide and build it as you learn and grow.
  • Write out the acronyms you use on the first appearance in each post. (For instance, “WIAW.” You may have a new reader who does not know what this term is without the full words written out at least once in the post. That one stands for “What I Ate Wednesday,” by the way.)
  • Capitalize proper terms and titles, hyperlink to branded workout classes, and give people a place to find more information on anything that you’re talking about.
  • Use the same name for regular weekly or daily features that you post and keep that term on your style guide. (For instance, my “Friday Favorites” and “Weekly Workouts.”)

6. Write with your readers in mind.

Even though your blog is about you and your life, you should always think about what the reader is going to get from each post. How can you more efficiently get your message to each person who reads your blog?

  • Be entertaining.
  • Develop a unique voice and stick with it.
  • Tell them what’s in it for them.
  • Stress your strengths. If you’re great at photography, use a lot of photos to support your writing as well.

7. Write a blog that you’d want to read.

As a blogger, you have a platform to share a message far and wide. You may never know who you’re touching with your posts, so write something that you’d like to read. You can inspire and motivate people just by being your authentic self. And if you write something that you truly enjoy, the readers will follow.

We’re all learning as we go, so just continue to write daily and practice, practice, practice!

And that’s most of what I got out in about five minutes on stage — a mouthful for sure. I hope you enjoyed seeing it in print (or onscreen) and picked up a tip or two.

More about IDEA BlogFest, IDEA World Fitness Convention and writing

If you want to know more about my time at IDEA BlogFest with Sweat Pink and IDEA World Fitness Convention, the biggest fitness industry event of the year, check out the following posts:

And you can also find more tips on writing and grammar here:

Win a year of free at-home workouts and cooking tips

Don’t forget to enter to win my giveaway running now for a full year of the Grokker premium streaming service, in which you can access thousands of yoga, workout and cooking videos from the privacy of your own home, or anywhere else you have an Internet connection. This giveaway is open to all and will end Monday.

I’ll see you back here tomorrow for “Friday Favorites.” Have a great day!

*Please note: I was given a complimentary ticket to IDEA BlogFest with Sweat Pink and the IDEA World Fitness Convention in exchange for speaking at the event and posting about it. I covered my travel and accommodations. Fair trade? I think so!

Questions of the day

What’s something you like to see when reading blogs?

Who are some of your favorite bloggers and why?

What’s going on in your day?

Ashley signature

 

 

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60 Comments

  1. I loved your lightning round session! I thought that you did a fabulous job! I’m glad that you carried it over to the blog, so now I can be lazy and not look at my notes πŸ˜€

  2. These types are so great! I like the one about reading it aloud before publishing, Ill have to try this one! Well besides your blog :), another daily read is SweetTooth Sweet Life…she has a great blend of exercise, day in the life, recipes and personal stuff on her blog and just seems very relatable!

      1. Hi Marielle! Yes, I like Courtney’s blog too. I recently found out she is related to one of my old friends from Florida … how funny! And I know autocorrect can be so annoying!! πŸ™‚ Have an awesome day, lady!

  3. Look at how cute you are up on that stage! I bet you did so great!

    This post was super interesting, even for a non-blogger like me. And a lot of your tips are similar to what we learned in law school actually! Especially the part about telling them in the beginning, then tell them, then tell them what you told them. That is TOTAL law school writing 101.

    Happy Thursday to you!

    1. Hi Courtney! So good to know that the law schools are teaching the RIGHT writing tips:) Thanks for telling me that. Happy Thursday to you too!

  4. Woop! Thanks for sharing more great info Ashley! I find that over time, a lot of these things become innate (which I am sure they are for you as an ex-PR gal!) but you ALWAYS need to stay on top of these pointers to keep your writing at it’s best. I book marked this post and am looking forward to referring back!

    xx

    1. Thanks, Jill! And yes, having always been a writer, these things are second nature to me, but not to everyone. Just like I don’t have the “numbers” skills that other people have hehehe I have to be reminded and work at them! πŸ™‚

  5. Thank you for these tips! I’m so sad to have missed Blog Fest. I love when blog posts are scanable. It makes for an easy read and easy to go back and find things. Have a fabulous day!

    1. Ditto, Amanda! I’m always a fan of the posts with separate thoughts and subjects. Wish you could have been at BlogFest too! Maybe next year?

  6. This is such a great and helpful post! I think that the most important one for me is writing something that I would want to read. When ever I’m working on a post, I’ll ask myself if I would come back to this blog if it was someone else’s. Usually that helps me out! I’ll definitely work on creating a style sheet..that’s a great idea! I just wish I got to see you talk πŸ™‚

  7. I love strong content. It doesn’t need to be long, but just be worthwhile to read. Nothing too crazy today, just some dinner with friends tonight πŸ™‚ Hope you have a fabulous day! Thanks for sharing the tips!!

    1. You’re welcome, Jamie! And I like good content too, no matter the length. I tend to go overboard with length. Oh well. πŸ™‚ Enjoy your dinner tonight!

  8. Thank you for these tips! I am a pretty new blogger, so I need all the help I can get πŸ™‚ I love blogs that show a lot about the blogger, and have lots of pictures. I also like seeing what people eat and how they stay healthy!

  9. Wow, yes you have been an example to me with your excellence in blogging and helping me define my voice with excellence. Thanks Ashley! How do you think I should find a fellow blogger to do a peer review?

    1. Hi Emily! Thank you for the kind words. I would suggest that you find someone who blogs the same amount as you (every day or three times a week) and start to read their blog and comment on it, getting to know them — maybe you live in the same area or have a common interest, so that will tie you together. Then send them an email about what you plan to do. Of course, you could blog about totally different things, but it’s best to open the door with someone who shares your same likes. Go for it!

  10. I think it’s so funny (and awesome) that your mom reads all of your posts before they go live! I used to have Scott read mine, but it became a little too much… especially when I started posting twice a day. These days, I’m happily surprised if he checks in and mentions something to me that he could have only picked up from the blog. πŸ˜‰ Great tips Ashley!

    1. Hi Heather! ahahah! Yes, my Mom is great about it, but sometimes it’s hard when I get done with my posts late at night and she has gone to bed because of the time difference, so not EVERY post gets read. πŸ™‚ And I’m sure Scott knows better than to miss reading a post …

  11. You were amazing during the lightning round Ashley! And I love all of your tips — I just started my blog and definitely need all of the advice I can get. So thanks for sharing your tips from your presentation again!!

  12. These tips were honestly super helpful and made a lot of sense. Too many of these ‘helpful’ posts are just so vague and I never leave with anything useful but yours actually brought up points that I can use!
    I do love consistency when it comes to blogs. Having certain weekly posts does really motivate you to check blogs and contribute your own renditions.
    I also love blogs that take nice pictures and not just blurry iPhone shots.
    My fave bloggers all incorporate these things, and most of all, are always genuine and posting from their heart <3.

    1. Hi Niki! I agree, I prefer to read genuine blogs too. I like be able to feel like I know the person reading, that’s for sure. Glad you enjoyed this one, lady! πŸ™‚

  13. Thanks, some really good advice here. I’m always trying to improve my blog, so I’ll be taking these tips on board. Number 7 is a great step, as you have to think about the reader, but it’s really important to be yourself. There’s no point pretending to be someone you think people want to hear about, just be yourself and people will like your honesty.. πŸ™‚

  14. I love words too. They can be so powerful! Thank you for sharing these writing tips. I often have to remind myself that simple is often better when it comes to blogging. I find myself wanting to delve into topics, but then not being able to keep the focus where I want it. Hopefully, this will get easier with time.
    I love your tip about finding your voice and keeping it.
    Thanks for sharing!

    1. Hi Heather! I’m late to reply to this comment, so sorry about that. But yes, once you find your voice – it’s easy to write just about anything on your blog! You’re doing an awesome job! πŸ™‚ Hope you’re having a good weekend!

  15. These are great tips, Ashley! You always do such a great job with writing on your blog. Sometimes I am so tired from everything else that I rush through the writing part. It is so important though! I especially love your tip to write a blog that you would want to read. I try to remind myself of that when I get exclusively post recipes and leave out the personal side. The personal touches are what keep me coming back to other blogs!

    1. Hi Sarah! The personal touches mean so much to most readers, and I love your stories accompanying your great recipes. Happy Friday! πŸ™‚

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