Now that your blog is all set-up, it’s time to write your first blog post. This is typically the point where most new bloggers get really nervous. Don’t. Writing articles (or posts) really isn’t that hard and each of your articles will follow a standard format, making it easier. The hardest part is coming up with a suitable topic to write on, especially after you’ve been blogging for a while.
What to write on
The first question you’ll need to answer is: What to write on? As I said, this can actually be the most difficult part of the whole writing process. I would strongly recommend keeping a list of article topics somewhere. You can of course do this in many different ways, but the important thing is to keep your ideas in a way that works for you. Personally, I primarily us Evernote, but I also create posts with my article ideas, and save them as drafts. I prefer to use Evernote as it allows me to keep all of my article ideas in one place, and if I want to start writing, I can do so on my computer or iPad. Evernote also allows me to jot down my article ideas whenever I want. You’ll find article ideas pop into your head at the craziest times.
Many new bloggers think the very first article on their site should be some type of introductory post. While you can certainly do this, I don’t recommend it. One of the key aspects of being a successful blogger and starting a blog that earns a side income is to provide value. An introduction article really doesn’t provide the reader any significant value, other than telling them what your blog is about. You’ve most likely already done this on your about page, so why state it again?
Instead, think of an article idea that will really help your readers, and write about that. Think of possible questions they may have and answer them. Maybe begin with a series. A series can be used to answer really big questions where one article just isn’t going to be enough. This is of course what I’m doing with the Start a Money Making Blog series that you’re reading right now. The side benefit of a series is that it keeps your readers coming back too.
Don’t over think it your idea though. Choose a topic that will provide value and that you can easily write on and then start writing! Given your blog is new, many people aren’t going to find your first article until later anyway. The important thing is to start building content one article at a time. This will give your site credibility and start getting your site indexed by Google and other search engines.
Basic article writing
There are two key aspects to successful article writing:
- Format – This is how your article looks to the reader, and also makes up the underlying HTML structure. Format is important to both your readers and the search engines.
- Flow – Flow is for your readers. Flow involves how to craft your article to make it interesting and provide value.
If you spend a few minutes looking at some of my articles here on Side Income Blogging, you’ll note that I break my articles up into sections. This is critically important as most internet readers will not read your entire article. Most will skim it. They’ll use section headings to determine the parts they want to read, and only read those sections. Failing to put section headings will often result in people not reading your article at all, as it just seems too long.
Blog articles should be broken up into sections using H2 heading tags. You select heading tags from the WordPress toolbar using the drop-down that by default says “Paragraph” while editing a post (or article as I call them).
One of the first steps I take when writing an article is to layout the basic format using H3 tags. I then come back and fill in each of these sections until the article is complete. For those that recall your high school English classes, this is called outlining. I know, I didn’t like it either, but it does work.
Google like websites that are hierarchical. In general, on a blog, the site name is an H1, the article name or title is an H2, and sub-headings or article sections should be H3s. I seldom ever use anything deeper than an H3, although I have had a few occurrences where I used H4s. Too much nesting just makes your article hard to read.
Like any good book or movie, your article should tell a story. The first paragraph or two should set the context and draw the reader in. The opening should make it very clear what the rest of the article is going to tell the reader.
The next few sections will be the core of your article. These will be used to teach the reader or tell them what you want to tell them. Most of your time will be spent here.
The final section will wrap up and summarize what you’ve told them. I’ve found that this final section doesn’t always make sense, and I don’t consistently have one. It really varies. I’ll often add a wrap up section or even remove it while I’m proofreading. I just go with what feels right.
Proofreading blog articles
Proofreading is one of the most boring an tedious things you’ll have to do on your blog, but probably one of the most important. Nothing says unprofessional like an article full of typos and spelling errors. I’m a horrible speller, and my first draft of an article is generally full of typos. After blogging for more than 4 years I’ve learned to follow this very simple process:
- Write the article, save it, walk away.
- After a few minutes proof read it and correct any mistakes you find. Save it again.
- The next day, proof read it again and fix any issues.
I typically write my articles at least one day in advance. After the first proof read, I save and schedule the article for publishing the next morning around 7am. I’m up every weekday morning at 5am, and the first thing I do, well after coffee, is proof read my pending article for the day. You’ll be amazed an how many issues you find waiting a day to proof read. If I proof my articles the same day I write them, I seldom ever find all of issues (of course now that I’ve said that, some of you will find issues in this one…).
Your first article
So now is your big moment. Your blog is all set-up, I’ve told you how to write and format your first article, and now it’s up to you. Don’t hesitate, don’t wait, don’t over think it. Press that new post button and start writing. I’m often amazed at how after you get the first couple of sentences written the rest of the article just flows. I struggled starting this particular article. In fact, I wrote the opening paragraph about 5 times, but once I was happy with it, it just flowed. Article writing happens like that to me often.
I’d love to read your first article and welcome you to post links to them in the comments below. Now go get writing!
photo by: JoshSemans