197Reactions
How To Blog

How to Blog (Even if You Can’t Write)

You don’t have to be an amazing writer to be a successful blogger. You just need to learn some simple tricks and dedicate yourself to the process. The difference between every great writer and the mediocre one isn’t grammar or innate talent; it’s hard work.

Here are 5 steps to succeed at blogging, even if you think you can’t write.

1. Play Mad Libs with headlines

This is one of the fastest and easiest things you can do to grab attention and change the way you think about blogging.

If you think that all the headlines you see in Cosmopolitan and Seventeen are new, you’re wrong. All they’re doing is taking headlines that were written in the ‘50s and replacing old subjects with new ones.

If you want to come up with a killer headline idea, just take a trip to the grocery store and look at the headlines. Ignore the headlines that are built around a current piece of news, and you’ll find the gems that make for perfect evergreen content. Here are a few examples of titles you’ve seen dozens of times and probably didn’t even realize it:

  • How Safe is Your [thing/person of value] from [threat]?
  • The Shocking Truth about [blank]
  • Get Rid of [recurring issue] Once and for All
  • How to [blank] (Even if [common obstacle])…This one should look especially familiar *wink*
  • X [blank] Secrets Every [audience member] Should Know

I stole these straight from Jon Morrow’s Headline Hacks, and he should be fine with that, because it’s a book about how you should stop wasting time trying to get creative with headline ideas, and start borrowing headline structures from the masters.

You don’t need to get a copy of Headline Hacks to do this, either (though it’s free, so why not). Here’s a headline from Cracked.com:

20 Terrifying Facts Food Companies Don’t Want You to Know

Go ahead and play Mad Libs with it. I’d be amazed if anybody cared:

X Terrifying Facts [Industry] Companies Don’t Want You to Know

I’m pretty sure I’ve seen titles like that dozens of times before. And they never stop working.

2. Write your subheadings

Step 2 and 3 are interchangeable, just so we’re clear. The more you know about your subject, or the more creative freedom you have with it, the less you need to worry about doing research before writing your subheadings. It all comes down to your subject and type of article you’re trying to write. Sometimes it’s better to start with the facts, sometimes it’s better to start with the opinions. Only you can decide on that.

The point is, write your subheadings before you bother trying to do any actual writing.

Subheadings organize your thought process and let you think about what to write in bite-size chunks. Writing 1000 words is intimidating to people who have never tried to write professionally before. Writing 100 words? That’s a lot easier.

Every subheading should have at least one of the following traits:

  • It’s surprising
  • It’s mysterious/intriguing
  • It’s actionable
  • It’s emotionally intense
  • It’s funny

3. Do your research

Research is what separates the winners from the losers.

The most successful bloggers either write from experience or do a ton of research before (or while) writing a blog post. If you don’t have the first-hand experience, you only have one option: dig up some interesting information from some tough sources.

That means email experts and ask them questions. It means quote experts and organize the quotes into an amazing piece of work. It means perform your own tests so that you can speak from personal experience, and cite your own data to prove it. It means open up a book, magazine, or peer-reviewed journal. It means mining every source you have for the most surprising, counter-intuitive, shocking pieces of information and discarding the rest.

Now take your research, drop quotes into their respective subheadings, and paste a link or a citation so that you know the source.

People wonder how it is I can get content into sites like Moz, Copyblogger, and Venturebeat. The answer is always the same. I write the blog post most people would write, except I add world-class examples, scientific studies, anecdotes, and personal experience. There are a lot of other things I do, but that’s the one that’s responsible for most of the results.

4. Don’t be a try-hard

Besides not doing the research, this is the most common issue I run into.

People who can’t write try way too hard to make their writing sound good. Very few bloggers (or novelists, for that matter) are successful because their language is so amazing that people can’t turn away.

This is nearly every professional writer’s dirty little secret.

Good writers don’t worry about writing well.

Instead, they worry about suspense, research, emotional impact, and the story they’re trying to tell. They worry about having personality and keeping readers entertained.

The secret to good writing is this: be transparent and be yourself.

Use short sentences and short paragraphs. Talk directly to your reader. Use plain language. Yes, I advise spicing things up by replacing boring verbs with colorful ones, and yes, the active voice tends to be better than the passive one. But, in general, you should focus primarily on having personality and having fun.

When all else fails, just read it out loud. Does it sound weird? Change it. That’s it.

5. Promote it

Here’s the big one. I’m seeing more and more inbound marketers advocate a “build it and they will come” approach to blogging. That very rarely works. Content without promotion is worth close to $0.

Don’t get me wrong. If you’ve already built up some powerful domain authority, you’ll be able to earn some decent traffic just by chasing the right keywords. Still, in order to get to that stage, a lot of promotion has to happen beforehand.

It should go without saying in this day and age that guest posts play a big part in that. I advocate going after guest posts on the top blogs in your industry. It’s not that you need those kinds of links in order to see any kind of ranking boost. Instead, I simply don’t believe you’ve reached the quality of content you need in order to be successful until you can win those kinds of guest posts. Listen to feedback and take it seriously whenever you come across it. You’ll need the advice. Don’t allow yourself to get offended. That’s where 99% of your competitors will give up.

Guest posts on top tier blogs are powerful for many reasons. The referral traffic can be a great source of natural links for your site in addition to the primary link. The exposure is a great opportunity to make a branding impression so that audiences will be more comfortable the next time they come across your name. You can also propagate through social networks in a way that isn’t possible when you post on your own site.

In addition to guest posts, I still believe in outreach, building relationships, and even outright asking for inclusion in a list of resources. Paid links, as long as they are no-follow, and advertisements can also be a good way to build up a list of subscribers.

If you’re doing outreach and the like on a large scale, I’d also advise investing in project management software like WorkZone. It’s amazing just how fast projects can spiral out of control without planning.

Conclusion

Being a great blogger doesn’t come down to being a great writer. It’s about research, understanding and entertaining your audience, being yourself, and being transparent. So long as you’re also willing to promote it, it’s hard not to succeed as long as you keep putting in the work.

Pratik Dholakiya is Co-Founder & VP of Marketing of E2M & OnlyDesign. So far he has contributed in Moz, CopyBlogger, Unbounce and ProBlogger to name a few . You can contact him on twitter @DholakiyaPratik or by email.

GET FREE EMAIL UPDATES

Get our latest articles delivered to your email inbox, plus download our FREE 15 minutes later marketing guide.

We respect your privacy!

{ 23 comments… add one }

  • Mark May 17, 2014, 2:42 pm

    Hey Pratik:

    Thanks for writing a very excellent post! And encouraging the average Joe’s (such as myself!) that in spite of the fact even though we may not be as persuasive writer as yourself, that somehow by studying and applying some of your proven copywriting strategies, that over time we can get featured on some really high authority blogs in our niche.

    For sure we might be fortunate enough to be featured in some high authority blogs within our chosen niches, (with a little hard work and luck) but we probably never will scale the heights that experts such as yourself have achieved! But, thanks to your proven tips, when and wherever we happen to get featured, we’ll grab more eyeballs, than we normally would have!

    So thanks for sharing your proven insights!
    Mark recently posted..Who Else Wants To Discover One Of The Most Profitable And Overlooked Marketing Strategies Available?My Profile

  • kuldeep November 13, 2013, 5:42 am

    great post and nice and easy tricks. It is not necessary to be a good writer but you should have something different and new in your article.

  • Robin July 4, 2013, 5:11 am

    simple and very effective :) wonderful article to help newbie bloggers to understand how to write, also to people who miss the grip often :)

    Robin.

  • Ashi July 4, 2013, 1:28 am

    Hi Prateek ,
    Well you have given a method which can be used by the newbie bloggers who face problem during the start up. I think one should read this post before writing anything . Nice share man
    keep up the good work :)
    thanks & regards

  • beli pulsa July 3, 2013, 2:33 pm

    The majority of the time i don’t make comments on web sites, however id intend to claim that this article extremely forced me to try and do thus. Extremely nice post

  • Ajay Sharma July 3, 2013, 7:27 am

    Hii Pratik
    Thanks for this great article.I got to learn some new tips. What if, I am not good in writing, this post has boosted me up and thanks for those tips about how to create headlines. Thanks again :)

  • Hugh Leon July 1, 2013, 11:08 am

    A few years earlier, I sucked at writing, i hadn’t been able to pass my SATs even. Even though, i’ve entered into blogging field and improved my english over the years. However, i haven’t had these awesome ideas back then.

  • Gautham June 29, 2013, 11:51 am

    IF you are a new blogger and don’t have many years of industry experience, then you need to stay updated with the current market trends and updates. After doing research you can produce more effective content and offer your readers some useful and worthy content.

  • Tushar June 29, 2013, 11:50 am

    hiii Really nice article on how to blog for blogger, tips which you have provided will really help a lot to make our blog better in search engine. But need to add one more thing in this you can also add some good image in your post as images always attract people.

  • Alison June 29, 2013, 5:57 am

    Hi Pratik
    hats off to your post. Your post really encouraged.
    keep it up the good work.

    Thanks
    Alison recently posted..Make Maps part of your Web DesignMy Profile

  • Hamza Sheikh June 25, 2013, 2:27 pm

    Hey Pratik,

    After a long time I have found an amazing post online about blogging. It is a serious content for everyone, it will allow newbies to learn more about the Blogging itself before starting blogging. I liked the way you define that how someone can easily step into the blogging business without even being a good writer.

  • Martin June 25, 2013, 9:51 am

    Really amazing stuff! This is one of the best blogging post ever because in this particular blog you cover all the aspects of the blogging.Thank you so much to sharing the great post among the peoples.
    Martin recently posted..The science behind Premium WordPress ThemesMy Profile

  • Lewis LaLanne
    Twitter:
    June 25, 2013, 3:19 am

    Cracked.com DEFINITELY has some AMAZING headline templates! One of the hidden bonuses of them is that they’re easily tweetable which also makes your headlines fit completely in your search engine results as well.

    Now as far as guest posting goes, I agree with you that if you find the right blogs, this can be THE best source of traffic that you can get coming to your site. And I wanted to share something with you here that I learned while taking notes on Derek Halpern’s “A Blog That Converts” course about how he let one MEGA-SOLUTION bring you traffic from several different sites.

    Fast Growth Promotion Strategy #1: Letting Your MEGA-SOLUTION Bring You Traffic

    One of the best ways to get exposure to your site from the sites of people who have traffic you want is to give them KICK ASS CONTENT that they can publish on their site.

    Derek didn’t write a bunch of guest posts for a bunch of different bloggers.

    INSTEAD he used his MEGA-SOLUTION – The Feature Box – his take on the opt in box on your blog – (Google ‘Derek Halpern feature box’ and you’ll find the post on his blog that talks about what this is in detail) and he used it with over 20 of the major internet marketers on the scene with his “Site Review” promotion.

    HE LET ONE PREMISE WORK FOR HIM OVER 20 TIMES.

    And he didn’t even have to change the tips he was giving because everything revolved around the same MEGA-SOLUTION. It was the same advice for every one of the experts he consulted and the only thing that changed was the person whose site he was reviewing.

    This strategy is about doing the work ONCE that people love, that gets the authority person results, and MOST IMPORTANTLY, were easy for the audience to replicate (plug and play) and then . . . letting it serve you OVER AND OVER AND OVER AGAIN.

    And even though this content is the same, you appeal to the part of people that says, “Well, my situation is different…” and by you demonstrating that your MEGA-SOLUTION has carry over to a broad number of situations; you give yourself even MORE credibility.

    These site reviews were guest posts. They were just done as a recorded Skype interview between Derek and the authority.

    The primary issue after you’ve come up with your MEGA-SOLUTION is with scheduling and trying to get your content to be published on all the blogs you want to be on, all within a few weeks of each other.

    THIS STEP IS HUGE.

    Your impact is going to be majorly affected if you’re only on one site with a guest post, once a month. One guest post may not be enough of an encouragement for a person to check you out. But if you’re on 5 different blogs that this person frequents in two weeks, they’re DEFINITELY going to want to see who you are and why everyone is in love with you.

    When you customize your MEGA-SOLUTION to a unique case study, IT WILL ALWAYS BE SEEN AS VALUABLE to both the blogger AND the readers.

    THE ONE THING YOU HAVE TO REMEMBER is that your MEGA-SOLUTION MUST work and it must be easy to implement. Before you ever dream of rolling this out in this promotion, you need to have walked through it one-on-one with at least 10 of your fans or customers and made sure it was producing desirable results.

    These rehearsals and reference experiences will make you a 1,000 TIMES more confident in yourself AND your MEGA-SOLUTION when you do present this to the person you want exposure from.

    Don’t ever be an idiot with this strategy and work without a net – especially on the big stage with A-Listers.

    You want to have actually written up the procedure that walks person through the implementation of your MEGA-SOLUTION – STEP-BY-STEP. And you’ve got to trust that if there’s room for it, everyone will implement this a little bit different and this is what will help make each of your guest posts even more unique. When you write articles about the person who implemented it, you note down each step THEY took to do it.

    A smart thing to do with this strategy from your end is to not think in terms of guest posts, but in terms of case studies (a non-fiction story told via text, voice, or video) even if the bloggers refer to the piece as a ‘guest post’.

    You do this with as many authorities as will have you do it for them. The more, the merrier.

    Two Practical Benefits of Using This Strategy . . .

    First Benefit:

    Writing these case studies up will go a TON faster than trying to write up unique content. Especially after you’ve done 5-10 of them. What will help you is if you start off by writing up the case studies for the people you rehearsed with so that you can get a formula for writing these posts down.

    Second Benefit:

    The content is extremely useful because it’s been applied to multiple real world situations and the readers get to see the results of what happened as the result of this. You’ve moved beyond the realm of spewing theory and warm fuzzy fluff and you’ve walked your talk and this positions you as a person who GETS PEOPLE RESULTS.

    When you get results for readers, you’ve put yourself in an entirely different galaxy than 99% of the bloggers out there who just blab and blab and blab.
    Lewis LaLanne recently posted..The Easiest Way To Craft Case Studies That Convince People You Are The TruthMy Profile

  • Louis
    Twitter:
    June 25, 2013, 12:19 am

    Or you can just pay a good writer. But to recognize a good writer you need to know how to produce good content :)

  • Ankit Bansal June 22, 2013, 1:52 am

    Thanks for some awesome tips. The article’s heading was interesting which made me go through the entire article itself. Great one.

  • Silviu June 21, 2013, 9:32 am

    Hi Pratik,

    The difference between great and mediocre is hard work … ! WOW! Yiu can say this again, and again. Hard work and a little bit of smart work.

    About headlines

    I don’t know why but I think too much attention is given to the quality of headlines. The headlines must be extraordinary otherwise you – the blogger – stand no chance.
    On the one hand it is true that good, attractive headlines help. On the other hand this is a very lucrative business so a lot of people want to play the headline card continuously. They make money from this. Somebody told me that in L.A., for example, a headline course costs around $2000.

    In reality the importance of headlines is exaggerated. Extraordinary headlines (meaning sensational, aggressive headlines) are very good for bored people who are just hiking the net for entertainment.
    What I really think it matters is the huge mass of users, visitors etc who surf the net to find solutions to their problems.
    This kind of visitors may be attracted for a few seconds by an extraordinary headline, sophisticated, extremely crafted by a copywritting master but very soon they will leave that post because IT IS NOT WHAT THEY ARE LOOKING FOR.
    These type of users search for headlines that are targeted to their specific problem. When I find something that is targeted to my specific interests or problems, it doesn’t matter how crafted the headline is. Even when the headline is miserable I still click on it, if it is targeted to my problem.
    Conclusion: Write targeted headlines not extraordinary, crafted, beautiful, attractive headlines.

    Have a nice day
    Silviu recently posted..Blog Commenting Results. Case Study 1My Profile

  • Joe Hart June 21, 2013, 2:09 am

    Hi Pratik,
    Really insightful tips.Experimenting with headlines is a great way to improve your Copywriting skills..A good title always sells the content below.Subheadings and proper formatting just makes it even better.I also agree with the ‘Research’ thing.A lot of content these days is being churned out from already existing articles.No fresh information of any kind.I think it will be refreshing to see articles with a whole new perspective.

  • Charles Crawford June 20, 2013, 6:53 pm

    Hi Pratik,

    Thank you very much for sharing this great post. I also believe that being a great blogger doesn’t mean you need to be a great writer. You just need to be yourself every time you want to write about something, and you just need to entertain your audience. In this way, I am sure that you will gain more audiences. Again, thank you for sharing this.

    Regards,
    Charles
    Charles Crawford recently posted..10 Steps to Syndicate Your Content Across 7 Channels to Drive Traffic & Build LinksMy Profile

  • Ron M June 20, 2013, 3:57 pm

    A lot of people can use these tips. Sometimes bloggers and writers just don’t know how to start. You highlight the best way, which is to write subheadings. By writing subheadings you can get a great head start on how to write your post. Nice article!
    Ron M recently posted..The Benefits of Having an About Me Page on Your BlogMy Profile

  • Phyllis June 20, 2013, 8:19 am

    Sounds like some excellent suggestions. I want to write a blog, however, get all wrapped up in what to write. Also, time is a factor. Some of your ideas written here, take me back to learning English in school years. Ideas, outlines, subheadings, research. All important when writing. Definite ideas to remember when I get started. Thanks!

  • Sarah Napier-Fenning June 20, 2013, 5:18 am

    Great post. I have just started blogging and am definitely not a good writer yet! some good tips thanks.

  • Mitch June 20, 2013, 2:49 am

    yep all true, another way to go is with good photos and an attractive design!
    keep the phrases to minimum, like posting tutorials with screens shots. or demonstrating your view with good photo examples, rather having long boring bad written paragraphs!

  • Pramod June 19, 2013, 3:14 pm

    Am a not a great write and follow some of these tips …Headings and Subheadings and an attractive first few lines would surely do the work for you only if you promote it on the social media and forums ..Thanks for sharing this awesome article .

    Regards,
    Pramod

Leave a Comment

CommentLuv badge

This blog uses premium CommentLuv which allows you to put your keywords with your name if you have had 3 approved comments. Use your real name and then @ your keywords (maximum of 3)