If you’ve spent any amount of time online, you’ve undoubtedly come across a blog or two. Blogs can be broadly categorized into personal blogs (which may be monetized with ads) and business blogs. As a freelance writer, you could be hired to produce business blogs. Businesses use blogs to showcase their products and services. In most cases, a business blog post is predominantly informational, with a subtle sales pitch. While the main purpose is to educate readers, it’s ideal for the blog post to tie into a business’ products or services in order to promote brand awareness and sales. Not all blogs will strictly adhere to the following format (some business blog posts are brief announcements about an event, for example); however, you can use this format as a general guide for writing a blog post.
The headline is arguably the most important part of the blog post. An eye-catching headline will attract more readers. It’s good practice to come up with a few possibilities for your topic before choosing the best one. If you get writer’s block, you could also write the blog post first and then come up with a headline to match the content. So, which types of headlines get the most results? Marketers often use the following words or their variations:
Here are some examples:
- The Complete Insider’s Guide to Penny Stocks
- Why Your Cat Bites You
- Best Exotic Vacations on a Shoestring Budget
- What Science Says About Productivity
Numbers are also eye-catching. For example, you might write “Top 4 Ways to Get Better Sleep” or “5 Things Your Doctor Wishes You Knew.”
Think of subheadings as miniature headlines. They organize your information and break up the blog post into logical sections. Your first subheading will be located underneath your introductory paragraph. A typical blog post should have at least two subheadings, but ideally three or more, depending on the total word count and the information available. If you’re writing a list-style blog post, such as “Top 4 Ways to Get Better Sleep,” you should have five subheadings to correspond with those five tips. Here’s an example:
- Cutting Down on Caffeine
- Reducing Late Night Screen Time
- Getting Regular Exercise
- Practicing Better Sleep Hygiene
Notice that all of those subheadings adhered to the principle of parallel construction. Each subheading began with a verb with the “ing” suffix. It’s always best to stick with parallel construction across subheadings whenever possible. Here’s another way to accomplish it, this time using nouns:
- Screen Time
- Sleep Hygiene
Here’s a hint: If you’re having trouble fitting your information into subheadings that follow parallel construction, you might be able to get away with putting them into a question format—but you might need to tweak your headline. Here’s an example:
- How much caffeine do you consume?
- How late do you watch TV?
- Are you getting regular exercise?
- Are you practicing good sleep hygiene?
In order to make the headline fit this new format, we’ll need to adjust it a bit. The new version might be something like, “Why Can’t I Sleep at Night?”
Lots of writers like to hammer out their subheadings first, and then write the introduction. This way, they can avoid repeating information in the introduction that will be discussed at length in the body of the post. This first paragraph should discuss the topic in broad terms. An introduction might explain why the topic is important, and it might use some statistics to back up those claims. Here’s a brief example:
“Did you know that one in three American adults is sleep-deprived? That means millions of people are at a higher risk of high blood pressure, obesity, and dementia simply because they don’t get enough Zzz’s at night. Restorative sleep is one of the most important factors for your health and overall well-being. The following lifestyle habits can help you get the restful sleep you need.”
Notice how the last sentence of the intro leads the reader into the rest of the blog post. You can use this technique now and then, but try not to do it for every post you write, especially if you write many blog posts for one specific client.
The body of the blog post consists of every paragraph underneath your subheadings. The most important rule to follow here is to stick to the subtopic promised by the subheading, and avoid branching out too much. For instance, if you were writing a paragraph for this subheading: “Cutting Down on Caffeine,” you might write about how long caffeine will affect you after consuming it and you might list a few surprising sources of caffeine that people should be aware of. However, you wouldn’t write about how the blue light of computer screens can affect sleep cycles, because that’s another subtopic entirely.
Call to Action (CTA)
Each time you land a new client, you should ask him or her whether the blog posts should feature a CTA. The call to action does double duty as a conclusion for the blog post and a way to tie the client’s products or services into the content of the post. In most cases, a CTA should include the following information:
- The name of the business
- Business location
- Business phone number
- Sales pitch
The sales pitch encourages the reader to take some sort of action. For example, it might encourage the reader to call the business to make an appointment or to stop by the store. Here’s an example of a CTA for a fictitious business:
“Having trouble getting enough sleep at night? Your mattress might be to blame! Swing by XYZ Mattress Store in NYC or give us a call at (xxx) xxx-xxxx. We carry top brands at unbeatable prices so you can get the healthy sleep you need.”
Note that if you really were writing a blog post on sleep deprivation for a mattress store, you could make “Investing in a New Mattress” one of your subheadings. In this section, you would write about how replacing an old, lumpy mattress can help people get better sleep. Here’s another example of a CTA:
Keep practicing your blogging skills and put your best pieces up on your Writers Work portfolio to showcase your talents to clients. Not a Writers Work member yet? Take advantage of our lifetime membership offer today!