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You've chosen a kick-ass blog article topic.
And maybe you've even written a draft of your article!
But something's holding you back from hitting "publish" on the thing.
Basically, you're wondering if you're missing something.
Because aren't there specific things that you're supposed to include in blog articles? Things that make blog articles different from email newsletters or long social media posts?
Yes, there are.
Here's a list of 10 crucial ingredients you need in your blog posts (in addition to the actual words of your article!) so you know what to do before pressing "publish", moving forward.
1. A Clickable Headline
Let me say it LOUD AND CLEAR -- the headlines of your blog articles are incredibly important.
For them to be clickable and appealing, they need to be attention-grabbing and enticing -- ideally arousing curiosity and/or promising the solution to a clear problem.
Popular types of headlines include:
- List headlines (such as the one for this article!)
- Question headlines (e.g. "Do you *actually* need an email newsletter?" or "Are these four copywriting mistakes killing your sales?")
- Educational "how" or "why" headlines (e.g. "Why understanding your target audience is so important" or "How to craft your brand voice as a coach or consultant (even if you have no idea where to start!))"
- Headlines with the words "this", "these" or "here's how" (e.g. "Use this SEO hack to write more powerful blog posts")
You can also use this free headline analyzer by CoSchedule for a helping hand with your blog post titles (although bear in mind that it is, at the end of the day, NOT a human being and may not respond as well as your target audience to some of your headlines!)
Even when your blog post is fairly short, you should aim to include one or two sub-headings in it.
These will make your blog post easier to skim, more pleasant for your audience to read, and -- if you include keywords in your sub-headings -- it will help improve your article's SEO (search engine optimization).
Plus, if you structure your blog post around a handful of well-defined sub-headings, you'll be more likely to stay on-topic as you write.
If you approach your article as a long-form essay, on the other hand, you may find yourself drifting off-topic from time to time!
(Check out my article on 7 simple ways to write a memorable blog post, fast for more info on how to use subheadings to organize and speed up your blog-writing process!)
Ideally, you should always use the following basic formatting principles in your marketing and blog copy:
- Use bold, italics, bullet points etc. to give your copy a more varied appearance and for emphasis
- Try not to write paragraphs longer than 4-5 lines
- Keep your sentences fairly short and your language clear and uncomplicated (you can use the free online Hemingway editor app to help you with this!)
Another handy formatting tip is to weave in some colored summary boxes for key tips or takeaways, which will break up your content visually and make it more easily digestible.
(I do this in this blog post on Three Templates For About Page Openers To Grab Readers' Attention, if you'd like an example!)
Images are a great way to break up the text of your blog post and make it more appealing to your target audience!
(And unlike when you try to use images in email newsletters, there's no issue of deliverability to worry about...)
If your blog post shows people how to do something, I recommend including screenshots or even videos to illustrate your points and make it easier for readers to understand what you're saying.
(See this post for an example of screenshots in action!)
I also always add "pinnable" images (long images optimized for sharing my post on Pinterest) to my blog articles, either via my social sharing plug-in or just at the top of my blog article.
When it comes to sourcing these images, Unsplash is definitely my favourite site for free stock photos.
I'm additionally a member of Alicia Powell's Pixistock membership site, which has a large library of beautiful photographs designed to suit different website color schemes and businesses.
(I joined the Pixistock site a few months ago, because as much as I love Unsplash, everybody knows about it, and sometimes you see the same images reused again and again from there on social media and blogs! Plus, membership of Alicia's site includes a premium graphics library which you can use to create slide decks, blog headers, workbooks, eBooks, pins, downloadable PDFs and more!)
5. OPENING HOOK
If you use the same content in your email newsletters as in your blog posts, this is one area where your content will likely be slightly different across the two platforms.
For example, at the start of an email to your mailing list, you might want to open with something personal or timely -- about something that's happened to you recently, for example.
This strategy works well for emails, because your mailing list is where you build a relationship with your subscribers.
So you want to open up to them, and make them feel as if they're genuinely getting to know you.
Your blog can also be used for this.
BUT don't forget that one of the most important purposes of your blog is also to ATTRACT subscribers to your mailing list.
Your blog should help you turn casual website visitors who are on the lookout for some free advice into enthusiastic members of your tribe.
This means that you also want (and need!) your blog article openings to be appealing to a cold audience, who are unfamiliar with your work and looking for solutions to their problem FAST.
6. call(s) to action
Likewise, when it comes to your call(s)-to-action, things should work a bit differently for your blog versus your email newsletters.
Ideally, your email newsletter should have only ONE call-to-action or goal, to maximize the chances of your audience actually performing the action you want them to take.
Maybe you want to have them click on a link or book a call with you. In that case, be very clear about what they should do, and make it super easy for them to accomplish!
On your blog, on the other hand, you can have multiple calls-to-action.
These could be things like: leave a comment, download a lead magnet or content upgrade, or book a consultation call with you.
Unlike your emails, the endings of your blog articles should be tailored to account for readers who have different levels of familiarity with you and your work, and who are at different stages in your marketing funnel.
Some readers might already be seasoned mailing list subscribers of yours, whereas others might be reading your work for the very first time.
So write your blog's calls-to-action accordingly!
You can also have multiple calls-to-action AROUND your blog post -- maybe a sidebar sign up, a pop-up, and a bottom-of-post newsletter sign up, to capture as many potential leads as possible.
(Look at the calls-to-action around this post to get some ideas for what you can do!)
7. External links
Links to other websites aren't especially important to have in email newsletters, and can even be counter-intuitive, as they'll cause readers to click away from your content.
In blog posts, however, they're a very good thing to include.
There are multiple reasons for this:
- External links to other websites or resources relevant to your topic will help Google and other search engines to identify the subject of your blog article. Because of its number of links to other sources, they will perceive it to be more authoritative and well-researched, which will help your post rank higher in search engine results.
- On your blog, you can easily choose to have your external links to other websites open in a new tab. This means that when your readers click on the link, they won't be taken away from your website forever!
8. internal links
Internal links are also excellent additions to your article.
This is when you include links to other relevant blog posts of your own within your content.
These links help your readers engage with your blog more, demonstrate your authority within your niche, and enable you to offer more valuable help to your readers.
(Another tactic is to create a piece of "pillar content" -- a longer, more in-depth blog post that's relevant to many people in your target audience, and which you link back to from multiple blog articles. This strategy is especially good for -- you guessed it! -- SEO!)
9. Keyword optimization and SEO
I talk about how you can quickly optimize your blog posts to show up in Google and other search engine results in Use this SEO hack to write more powerful blog posts.
So I won't go into the issue in too much detail here.
But basically, you want to align the language that you use in your blog posts with the words that your target audience is using when they search for information on whatever you're writing about.
For instance, if heaps of people are searching for "flourless chocolate brownie recipes", but basically nobody is searching for "celiac-friendly chocolate brownie recipes", you don't want to write a blog post on this topic that only uses the phrase "celiac-friendly"!
10. social sharing
After all the hard work of getting your blog post up and into the world, you want to make sure people actually see it!
This means making it as easy as possible for both yourself and others to share your article on social media.
You have tons of different options for how you do this, but personally, I use and love the Social Warfare plug-in.
It has both a free version and a paid version, so you can use it no matter what your budget!
I started out with the free version, and after using that for quite a while, I ultimately upgraded to the paid version.
That's because the paid version lets you choose different images to accompany your post when you share it on various social media channels. So you can use a vertical image for Pinterest, for instance, and a horizontal image for Facebook and other platforms.
The paid version also allows you to write and save a special description that will accompany your post whenever someone shares it on social media. And it lets you share your articles via email too.
But one thing I love about both the free AND paid versions of Social Warfare is that you can choose to have the sharing buttons hover at the bottom of your web page and be visible the entire time that someone is scrolling through your post.
That way, readers can easily share your post whenever it's convenient for them - rather than having to scroll to the very beginning or end of your article to click on the relevant sharing button.
Are you including all of these ingredients in your blog posts already?
And if not, which ones do you plan on adding in?
Tell me in the comments below!
Plus, if you want to use the power of your personality to make your blog posts 10X more engaging, download my free cheat sheet on the 4 P's of Personality-Packed Copy to write content that reels in your readers!