If you’re getting into blogging for the first time or are an experienced blogger, you know that blogging isn’t easy. Its rules and conventions are often different than in other forms of writing.
In fact, a lot of what you learned in school should be unlearned. Academic writing and blog writing are very different— even if they are both professional and informative.
So how do you write a blog post? How do you format it? Every freelance writer who wants to make money needs to know this!
The answers to these questions can be complex and difficult to understand. So let’s look first at how to format a blog post, and then how to use that knowledge to write one.
How to write and format a blog post
To understand how to format a blog post, you need to understand how people read blog posts. The way in which we read blogs is much different than other types of reading.
In fact, the majority of readers don’t even read an entire blog post. They skim through it to find the most important information.
Readers who do read the whole thing are still looking for a fast read, so you want your text to flow nicely, and be easy to read quickly— even if it’s really long.
Once you understand these two things, you can start figuring out how to properly format a blog post.
Keep things short
No, shorter than that. Go so short that your English professor would fail you— then you’ve probably got the right length.
This means keeping sentences as short as you can. It also means keeping paragraphs short— typically 1-3 sentences, with 5 as your maximum.
Keeping text short like this makes it easier to read because you don’t have to parse through large blocks of text. It also makes it easier to skim.
Sometimes, you have to have longer sentences or paragraphs. That’s ok. Just try to avoid them whenever possible.
Break it up
Another way to make text seem shorter is to break it up. This means using headings and subheadings to break content into smaller sections.
This also provides another benefit: the option of a table of contents. With headings and subheadings breaking up the writing, you can create a list of where all these sections are.
Then, readers can simply jump to the section/s they feel are most important for them. Breaking up your text is vital to keeping a reader’s attention.
Another way to break up text is through lists. Lists, especially bulleted lists, are much easier to read.
They also make content appear much shorter, so again can keep a reader’s attention better. You can use lists to convey important information, or even just to put the same information you would put in a paragraph.
Some of the ways to use lists include:
- Comparing different features/plans of something to each other
- Describing the step in a process
- Listing pros and cons
- Recapping key ideas
- Listing what something can be used for
Change it up
Another important part of blog formatting is variation. If every sentence and paragraph looks the same, your text is going to be boring to read.
Instead, change things up. Have a short sentence followed by a longer one. Then maybe a medium one.
Have some paragraphs that are only one sentence.
But then have some that have multiple sentences. You can even throw in a really long paragraph every now and then if you want to. It’s really up to you how you break things up.
Just remember that variation helps keep your text less boring and easier to read. Don’t use the exact same format all the time. Mix it up every now and then.
And of course, throwing in lists always helps.
You may feel like every word in your blog post is vital. That there is no “most important” information because it’s all important.
But that’s not true.
Throughout your piece, there will be snippets of information that are very important for readers to know. To help people, especially skimmers, find this information, emphasize it properly.
Italics are great. But a whole paragraph of italics? Suddenly it seems like nothing’s important, and the text is just tilted now.
So use italics to emphasize only 1 or 2 important words. These will draw readers’ eyes to the most important parts of a sentence.
Inversely, bolding text might seem like a good way to emphasize keywords. But bolded text draws the eye very strongly, because it’s so… well, bold. So it’s best to use to emphasize entire sentences that are important.
So to recap: italics are for important words, and bold is for important sections or sentences.
Use relevant images
Humans love pictures. As the saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words. And for a blog post, a picture is worth every word on the page.
While people may not look at every paragraph you’ve written, they will almost definitely look at the images you choose, and their captions.
So make sure you choose images or graphics that are relevant to what you’re talking about. And make sure they’re interesting.
When captioning your images, put in double the effort as you would with your blog text. People are likely to read an image’s caption to see what it’s about. A good caption can tell a reader what’s happening in a picture, and hopefully, invite them to learn more in the post itself.
Choose a good font
Many fantastic blog posts have been killed by the fact that they’re simply not readable. Even if you really like Comic Sans, it’s likely going to make many readers turn away.
Sans-serif fonts are great for blogs. They are designed to be easy to read and still engaging.
Serif fonts are alright, but they’re often associated with academic writing, so unless that’s your thing, they’re probably not the best bet.
If you don’t know what serif and sans-serif mean, give them a quick Google. They’re just a way of categorizing fonts depending on their style.
Any fonts outside of those two categories probably won’t be good. But whatever you choose, remember to keep it consistent. And consider picking something that goes with your brand and personality— while still being readable.
And of course, be mindful of font size. While a small size might make it easy to fit a lot of text in one area, it won’t be easy to read. Keep your readers in mind, especially those who may be vision-impaired, and make your font big enough to be easily read, without being obnoxious.
These are some of the most important elements of formatting a blog post. Keep them in mind while writing, and your posts should turn out much better.
How to write a blog post
Once you know how to format a blog post, you can know how to start writing one. Let’s assume you already know how to set up a blog— we don’t need to get into hosting and domains right now. We’ll jump right into the act of creating a post.
Know your audience
The target audience for your post is crucial. Absolutely.
Knowing your intended audience informs your writing tone, style, and organization. You wouldn’t want to write something fun and silly for serious technical experts.
Make sure you know who you’re writing for before you begin. Other people might read the post, and that’s fine, but write it for your intended audience.
Start with an outline
Any good blog post starts with an outline. Once you have your topic and have done research if necessary, you need to organize your thoughts before you can start writing.
Simply listing out each section with some brief notes is enough. Of course, you can go into more detail if that will help you.
Then, when writing, follow this framework. It will keep you on topic and help your post flow better.
Lastly, having an outline makes creating a table of contents easier, because your headings and subheadings may already be on your outline.
Write a good intro
This is one place where English class comes in handy: you need a phenomenal intro to start your post with.
You have 30 seconds to draw in a reader. That’s your first paragraph. Use it wisely.
How you write your intro will depend on your intended audience, type of blog, and style. Just make it something that will draw in a reader’s attention and make them want to learn more.
Write your post
With an outline to follow and an eye-catching intro, your audience in mind, and your knowledge of formatting, there’s only one thing left to do: write!
Don’t be afraid to have fun with this, and never let the ideas stop flowing. You can always come back and edit, so mulling over one sentence for 10 minutes will simply waste your time.
When writing, try to stick to your desired tone and style. If you want a professional post, make sure your tone matches.
And remember to break up your content as much as possible. Use headings, subheadings, lists, short paragraphs, and short sentences.
And of course, mix it up a bit.
Don’t worry too much about grammar or spelling at this stage. You can always fix that later. Just focus on getting your first draft done.
Edit and proofread
Once you’ve written your draft, you need to proofread and edit. If you can, it can be helpful to give yourself some time before doing this. Take an hour or even a day away from the piece before you come back to edit.
Think about large edits, like if sections need rearranging. Think about your tone, and if any parts don’t match it well enough. Consider whether or not you are conveying all the information you want to.
Once those are done, move to the smaller things. Proofreading and fixing small grammatical errors are essential to creating a good blog post.
Of course, you’re human, and humans make mistakes. Using a grammar checker like Grammarly can really help you sharpen up your blog posts.
And there you have it. Nearly all the knowledge you need to properly format and write a blog post. Keep all this in mind, and you’ll be writing killer blog posts in no time!