Last Updated on March 18, 2021 by Kelly Thoreson
No clue how to write your first blog post or how to make it so delicious that it goes crazy-stupid-massively viral?
You’re not alone!
Writing your first post can be exciting and intimidating all at once, but it doesn’t have to be scary.
Take a chill pill…
In through the nose …
Out through the mouth …
…and use the 7 tips below that I wish I had known when I was writing my first blog post so you can rock it!
First Blog Post? You’ll Need a Roadmap 🗺️
#1: Traditional English Will Hurt You
Blogging is like the Wild West of grammar, sentence structure, and proper English.
Blogging is the Wild West of writing
FORGET writing 5 sentence long paragraphs. Write 1 -3 sentences, max.
In fact, forget everything Mrs. Martin taught you in high school. We’re throwing out the rule book.
If every fiber of your grammar school being is shrieking in terror right now, I hear you.
It was hard for me to adjust at first too.
Writing 1 sentences paragraphs may seem counter-intuitive to writing a quality post, but it’s all about human psychology.
How so, you ask?
Well, let me tell you …
Readers Are Overwhelmed
Firstly, as a society we are constantly consuming online content, which is visually and mentally overwhelming.
How do we combat this overwhelm as bloggers?
We make sure there is plenty of whitespace on our pages (more on this in a second).
Audiences Want a Chat, Not a Lecture
Secondly, audiences crave conversational text.
Do you want to spend time on a blog that reads like a freaking textbook?
Yup, no one else does either.
This is why, “writing like you talk” (which is called conversational tone) is more important than ever.
We will cover how to toe the line between writing conversationally and illegible-text-message-esque-writing below (hint, you want the first one, not the second).
Now, let’s take a look at how to add ample whitespace into your first blog post.
To compensate for the mass amounts of online information we take in daily, we need whitespace that can’t be found in traditional English.
Readers want shorter paragraphs because otherwise, they’re overwhelmed by a wall of text.
Observe, a post written using traditional sentence structure:
That’s a whole lotta text!
Kind of makes your head spin, doesn’t it?
Now let’s look at the same post broken up:
Let’s look at one more example.
Take Google vs. Yahoo …
Which one do you prefer? Me too, Google for the win!
There’s ample whitespace on Google’s homepage page so your mind knows exactly what it should be looking at.
No confusion = more comprehension = better user experience.
Don’t drive readers away with an overwhelming mess of visual stimuli before they get the chance to read your amazing content.
Write Like You Talk
Writing conversationally with words like LOL and amiright would get you an F in English, but it gets you an A+++ in blogging!
Hell no I can’t and that is part of why I love blogging so much.
In blogging, relaxed, conversational writing is encouraged while traditional, super-rigid-with-lots-of-rules writing is frowned upon.
Amen to that!
Yes, it’s safe to say that in blogging I have found my place in the world. Anywhere that I am praised for being breaking the rules is exactly where I belong.
A blog post should read more like a conversation with a friend than a book report.
Think of your favorite online content creators … are they talking at you or are they talking to you?
I will caution, however, don’t get too relaxed.
I have seen entire blog posts written like a text message and they were unreadable.
Throwing in a well-placed emoticon, “lol” or “jk” here and there is 100% acceptable. Composing a 1,000-word post in text-message-shorthand is not.
It doesn’t have to be complicated, just listen to your writer’s intuition and let it flow.
Related Reading: 7 Ways to Write Fast Blog Posts (that don’t suck)
#2: Keep a First Blog Post Goal in Mind
Staying focused and on topic will make your writing life easier and your reader’s experience better.
I am prone to bird-walking both in conversation and my writing. That means I often have another thought pop into my head and go off on a tangent about it instead of sticking to the main topic.
In some ways this is a benefit to me because I have constant fodder for the blog post fire, I never run out of post ideas.
But in the beginning, it was a hindrance for two reasons: 1. I would stray so far off topic that the post no longer flowed; 2. It would take me forever to finish one post (many were never finished at all!).
If this sounds like you, ask yourself these questions before you sit down to write your first post:
- What do I want to accomplish with my first blog post?
- Introduce myself to the world?
- Jump right into helping my audience?
- Write about a topic I can’t stop thinking about?
Clearly define what your first blog post will be about and why.
Whatever your reason is for writing your first blog post, it helps to keep that reason in mind while you are brainstorming, outlining, and ultimately creating your post.
This practice will help you stay on topic and keep your momentum going.
#3: Photos Matter More Than You Think
We talked earlier about the importance of whitespace and breaking up your paragraphs. Equally important to whitespace is adding variety to your post by including photos and illustrations.
Thanks to cell phones, we now live in a visual society. Everyone has a high-resolution camera in their pocket 24/7.
In today’s culture, we don’t tell each other about our experiences, we show them.
94%! At that rate you’d be crazy to leave them out of any article.
If you’re not going to be taking your own photos or need to supplement your photos with others, there are a plethora of free stock photo banks out there.
These are my favorite sites for free stock photos:
Releated Reading: 17 Unusual Sites for Free Photos to Use on Your Blog
With unlimited resources at our fingertips and the ability to easily insert photos into a blog post, there’s really no reason to not include images in your articles.
Make it a must in your blog post writing routine.
But Don’t Get Too Hung Up on the Images
When I first started blogging I wasted a lot of time agonizing over the photos.
Yes, images are important, but if getting your photos just right is going to hinder your publication rate – it’s not worth it.
Keep it simple, chose the photo that jumps out at you and keep writing.
At the beginning stage of blogging, your priority should be content creation and publication.
Agonizing over finding the ideal image is a rabbit hole time-suck that you can’t afford to go down.
Remember that our pictures do not have to be flawless, just pick one that relates to the text and move on.
#4: Include Other Forms of Media
Images are not the only form of media out there!
You can (and statistics say you should) include videos, GIFs, and bulleted lists.
Lists? But Kelly, lists aren’t media … right?
Yes, technically lists are text, but our brain processes them more like media. Just like videos, they can be a handy tool for adding variety to your posts.
- Posts with bulleted lists get 2x more links than those with just images
- Adding video to your post results in an average of 3x more links than those with just images
- A post with lists, video AND images gets 4x more links than those with just images
I’ll show you where to find each of these elements and how to insert them into your post below (it’s easy).
You may not know how to add videos into your blog posts, after all … this is your first one!
Watch my step by step tutorial below that covers two different ways you can add video to your posts, which method I prefer and why:
I’m sure you have noticed that I love incorporating GIFs into my posts. If you don’t know what a GIF is, they look like this (give or take the dancing grannies):
You can find GIFs for free here:
Adding GIFs into your first blog post is simple, watch my short tutorial on how to get it done:
Lists should not be overlooked as a valuable way to convey information to your readers while still incorporating the whitespace needed to keep them engaged with your site.
Adding a list in WordPress is as simple as adding a new paragraph. Just press the, “+” sign, then select list!
Now, on to tip #5, answering one of the most common blogger questions: how long should a blog post be?
#5: Post Length = 1,000 Words Minimum
Preferably closer to 2,000. There are two, very broad, blog post word count forms:
- Short-Form = Under 1,000 words
- Long-Form = Over 1,000 words
For reference, this post is 3,010 words.
Statistics show that audiences have been consistently favoring long-form content over short-form and this trend is on the rise. Meaning that what is considered long form today, may be leaning toward short-form within a couple years.
There are a lot of factors that go into deciding on your perfect blog post length word count such as:
- Targeted Keyword
- Your writing style
Some niches, like fashion, are built for short form content because they are so media-centric.
You can get an idea for how long blog posts typically are in your niche by identifying your niche’s lead bloggers and surveying their posts.
If you use Chrome, you’re in luck, there is a word count extension you can use! It is free and you can download it here.
I use this extension and haven’t had any trouble with it. You simply select the text you want to count on a page, right-click, and choose Word Counter Plus, then a handy window pops up with the word count!
If you do not use chrome, the easiest way to get a competitor’s word count is to go to their website, copy their top posts and paste them into a word processor.
All word processors have a word count feature. In MS Word, it’s in the lower, left-hand corner:
Since these are top bloggers who know what they’re doing, their most popular posts will likely be readily available for you on their blog.
Usually they’re pinned to the top of their home or posts page. Sometimes they even have a, “Popular Posts” page.
Even if you end up using posts that don’t drive as much traffic for them as others, you should be a able to get an idea of how long you need your posts to be in your niche.
Another factor to consider when examining how long your post should be is your targeted keyword.
Yeah, I know this is all like a different language right now. Pretty soon, you will get used to all the blogger jargon, I promise!
What is a Targeted Keyword?
A targeted keyword is a phrase that you think your audience is going to be searching for (usually in Google or on Pinterest) that you write your blog post around. This is part of a process you will come to know very well called SEO, Search Engine Optimization.
Right now you’re probably thinking, “Great, one more foreign concept I have to learn before I can even start!”.
Take a deep breath. You can do this.
Ranking in the top search results in Google doesn’t just happen, you have to use SEO to make it happen, and part of that SEO is targeting keywords.
Strap yourself in for the ride because SEO is a long, calculated process.
I was completely overwhelmed by SEO until I found a book called 3 Months to No.1 by Will Coombe.
Do yourself a favor, skip the deluge of information on the web written in Silicon Valley jargon and go straight to this book, which was written in plain English for people like you and I that aren’t coders. Get yours here:
Keywords and Post Length
Let’s say you wanted to rank for the keyword, “low energy dog breeds”. You would head over to Google, type in that keyphrase, and start accessing the top posts for word count.
Using the same method we used to identify how long the blog posts are from the top bloggers in our niche, identify how long the content is for the high ranking search results for your targeted keyword.
Take the top three results and copy and paste them into your word processor to get the word count.
Do they average 1,800 words between the three of them? Then you’re going to have to write at least that many words to have a chance at ranking (in addition to applying the other SEO strategies you learn about in 3 Months to no. 1).
Writing Style Caveat
If writing long-form is going to stop you from writing at all – screw it.
Meet yourself where you are. If the place you’re at right now is a 500 word post or no post at all – publish those 500 words, baby!
As you practice, your word count will grow naturally. Don’t sweat it.
#6: It Doesn’t Have to Be Perfect
Every blog post doesn’t have to be your life’s masterpiece, it just needs to be sincere and thoughtfully written.
If I had realized in the beginning what a blog post doesn’t need to be, I would have saved myself a lot of time and heartache.
Here are all the things your blog post doesn’t have to be:
In the beginning, I wrote at a snail’s pace.
I would get so hung up on including everything that was known ever about my post topic that it would take me an entire month to write one blog post.
Your post should be long enough to include your thoughts on the topic, and for most posts – that is enough!
If the subject calls for it, yes, do some research. But don’t get hung up on thinking that each post has to include every known fact: it doesn’t.
Your post will still be thorough, beautifully written, and add value to your reader’s lives. I am sure of it!
The founder of LinkedIn, Reid Hoffman, is obviously a really smart dude. This is what he had to say about publishing and perfection:
What Hoffman is getting at here is that nothing in the history of anything ever will be 100% perfect.
If you waste all your time trying to get to perfection, you will either never publish or publish too late.
Write your first draft, spell/grammar check, read it aloud for good measure and publish.
If you have someone you trust and that is willing to look it over for you – utilize them! My underpaid (… ok, let’s call it what it is – unpaid) editor is my mother and she does a bang up job – thanks, mom!
Don’t let the pursuit of perfection stifle your progress. Publish, publish, publish!
#7: Blog Post Writing Gets Easier
You will hear me say this all the freaking time: I do NOT believe that people are either born writers or not.
Writers are made through sheer unstoppable will and copious practice.
Sure, there are some that writing comes easier to, just like any other skill. But even with an excess of god-given talent, if you don’t practice, you wont go anywhere.
If you write every day, you will get better at writing.
Those words and ideas will come easier.
Just. Keep. Swimming.
Like I said above, despite my love of writing, I found writing blog posts extremely tough in the beginning.
If that’s where you’re at right now, it’s okay. Trust that you are exactly where you are supposed to be for your journey.
All growth is a bit like puberty: uncomfortable and hairy.
There is a lot to know about how to write your first blog post and it can feel like drinking from the fire hose.
With these 7 tips, you now know what to concentrate on for a viral first blog post!
Don’t forget to grab your free blog post checklist to guide you and, whatever you do, remember that as long as you are showing up you are doing it right!