Your plan is to write a blog post.
After hours of keyword research and studying your audience, you’ve got a content writing idea.
Great! What next?
Now the ultimate question is, how do you kill it?
Or, a subtle one: what’s the first thing to do before writing a blog post?
As a business person, you want to take this content writing seriously because many blogs waste people’s time.
And when that happens, such a business gets hurt.
So, back to your question, in my humble opinion, these are the questions you should ask before you start writing any content.
10 Questions You Should Ask Before You Write A Blog Post
I have said before that people go online to solve problems.
Yes, they could be watching kids doing what kids do on Youtube. They could read how to start a business.
Each person chooses what they need at that time, either a distraction or a blog post that teaches them something.
So as a business owner, you must present yourself as the best place or person to provide what they want, whether that’s education, entertainment, information, or product.
In other words, your fundamental goal is to be the best place or person to give people what they want.
I think these 10 questions can help you get better at creating great content every time. You can use it to develop your blog post outline.
#1. What is the takeaway in one sentence?
You need to get clear about what you are writing.
Create a specific topic. Then write about things that add value to the central idea of your post.
When you define the key takeaway, it becomes the center of discussion, your guardian, the north star. It becomes easier to focus your post on the important topic.
I like how an editor at The Hustle.co describes this step:
Once you know what you want to accomplish with your writing, the quickest way to make it happen is to appeal to something your reader already wants or believes (which means, yet again, you better know your audience.
If you have read my former post on his use of storytelling in marketing, the takeaway is that storytelling can help you connect with your ideal readers on a deeper and emotional level, and you have to learn to do it.
What is your blog post about? In one sentence?
#2. Who is it for?
As sad as this might seem, your post isn’t for everyone.
You’re a business owner, and your product is for certain people. Not everyone. Your specific audience is your target either during content creation or writing a blog post.
As a content writer myself, I usually imagine myself in an office. My ideal reader comes inside and tells me a question. We’re having a conversation.
Using this post as an example, the reader is asking, what’s the first thing to do before writing a blog post?
Then I start talking. This post is our conversation written in words.
In content writing, you need to define who you’re writing to and be specific in your description.
#3. What has been written about this?
This is an important step except you’re writing a personal story.
It’s an exercise you must perform in SEO content writing.
You should know what people really want to read.
You do that by browsing what they’re already reading or what’s ranking in search engines. This step is called understanding search intent in SEO writing. (It is the reason someone searches for a term using a search engine).
With that understanding, you can write a better blog post than what already exists. Find the weakness of what has been written, and let it inspire you to be different.
I don’t know about you, but I create something more unique when I do enough research about a topic.
So, right now, ask yourself, what are the best posts on this topic? What’s missing?
#4. What are the best places to find resources for this topic?
There’s a common saying among editors of large publications. They always want something credible, valuable, and new.
Which is right… Why will you write a blog post that scraps or spins other people’s content? Just link to them and call it a day.
Look at these excerpts from the submission requirements of 3 popular publications:
Trustworthy resources: Embed links to original sources of information (studies, stats, etc.). Ask your editor if you are unsure how to hyperlink text in our CMS
Write from an objective viewpoint and convey valuable how-to information to the reader. Focus on practical advice, actionable tips, and useful know-how about a specific marketing topic…
IF YOUR POST IS NOT WELL-RESEARCHED, we won’t publish it.
In short, you must understand the topic well before writing and publishing a blog post.
So, how do you get the best resources to use in a post?
Unless you want to rewrite what’s already ranked for that keyword, you need to find other ways to get valuable and credible sources of information.
- Read. Read everyday
- Subscribe to sources of valuable articles like email lists, Pocket, Flipboard, and Buzzsumo.
- Join communities of other writers. They will likely talk about how and where they get their resources. You can follow experts on social media.
- Know the names of places to get valuable statistics or case studies. Check out these 7 places.
By the way, I just suggest what I do as a content writer. I usually read everywhere, and I have favorite email lists to which I’ve subscribed. I read on Medium a lot, and you can do the same.
#5. What will be different about my content?
Writing is hard. It is even a lot harder for beginners because there are pros who have been writing for 20, 30, or 40 years on big platforms.
So if you are not writing something different, unique, and helpful, you will be forgotten easily.
Sometimes, a unique idea will just drop on your lap. You can’t explain it, but it’s because you have been reading consistently, doing keyword research, and talking to your audience.
In addition to that, try these things:
- Every evening, scroll through a news curation app or website. See what comes out at you, especially on topics related to your niche. Then try to use a similar one for your next blog post. Of course, you don’t have to read the posts at all.
- Read your competitors
- Read. And read a little more
- Keep a book or app for collecting ideas
- Write something different from what you normally do. For example, I wrote How to Build A Team: Lessons from Squid Game, Tug of War. It’s a post about a scene from a popular Netflix series. By writing that, I remind myself that there are ideas everywhere if you’re looking or paying attention.
Yes, many businesses want to write a blog post that ranks. SEO is important. I agree. Once you have the idea, don’t forget the other questions in this post and keyword research.
6. How will I create awareness about it?
People need to find you if you’re a new business.
So, how will you create awareness after you publish?
Start thinking about sharing your content on social media. Include feature images that can invite readers, and use intro or metatags that make people continue reading.
You can ignore this question when writing, but don’t forget to ask when you’re ready to publish. It can remind you where you need to tidy things up or what you need to include.
If you have answered the question, who is this for and write for them, it is easier for these people to become your advocates. But first, you have to find them.
7. What are the three major external things I should pay attention to when writing?
Think “SEO, grammar, & returning audience.
They are usually out of your control because you can try as hard as possible, but these things are hard to achieve.
For instance, I have control over what I write and the ideas, but I can’t rank my website if Google doesn’t look at my website. (And the sad thing is I don’t know anyone in Google’s office.)
So before I hit publish, I try to think of the hard things about content writing that have proven difficult for me.
They are SEO, grammar, and returning audience.
THEN I try to check again to see if I have done my best. For instance, I upload a draft into Grammarly and check if I have applied the best practices for SEO content writing.
So, what do you struggle with? What tools, activities, or tips will help you manage those?
8. What tools will help me?
Yeah, we’re almost done.
Once you develop the ideas or write an outline, you naturally start thinking about tools to help you.
The next step is to find the right tools to achieve your writing goals.
Don’t know what tools to use?
Check these 21 blogging tools for content writing and SEO.
#9. What personal touch, experience, quotes, anecdotes, or anything will bring trust?
This question somehow ties with question 5: how to be different
But you need to build trust, something more personal. Instead of just writing something longer and more detailed, write something only you can write.
Put something unique about you or your experience into the post:
- Personal experience
- Analogies, metaphors, similes
Your focus here is trust and honesty (that comes from within).
In this post, I told you I wrote about the Squid Game, Tug of War. That’s one example.
Here’s another anecdote:
When doing keyword research for this post, the first title I came up with was “how to write a blog post.” I tried to use it but changed my mind at the end of the day.
I want to experiment. I want to see what happens when the title is readers or idea-oriented instead of search engine oriented.
But that’s the thing. It’s the truth, my experience. It makes this post a little more personal.
10. Remember your copywriting tips…
Before the end of the month, you will see a new blog post on Copywriting Tips New Business Owners Should Keep On the Table When Writing Content.
Copywriting will teach you how to convert readers to buyers.
It will teach how to write a blog post that gets thousands of reads (just like Jon Morrow’s posts). You need to learn copywriting if you want to sell products or anything.
Yes, you want to learn how to write a good blog post. But then you run a business and you need to understand how to make people pay for something.
You know why?
Because back in the day, copywriters were hired to sell things with written content. These smart guys learn, through hard knocks and rejections, to master how to do that.
These guys are David Ogilvy, Joe Sugarman, Barbara Collyer, and John Caples. You can search for these guys and read their books if you haven’t.
Then collect like 10 of their advice that you can use in your blog posts. These are your tools now. Use them religiously.
I will be posting 10 of such tips very soon.
If you have never read a book about copywriting, go online and pick one. It’s important if you want people to buy your product or services after they read your stuff.
Write A Blog Post for Your
Bloggers, content writers, or business writers — we’re building a community. Our job is to make people trust and come back because they feel a sense of belonging.
You need to write a blog post that does more than scratch the surface. Give us more than regular. Connect to your readers in a way they will love, remember and tell the world about you. The 10 questions in this post will help you.
If you need a content writing service, check here or use the contact form.