Blog Writing from Dummies – How to Turn Your Idea into Must-Read Content

By Rory Nolan + Shaw Flick

A blog about writing a blog? We know — very meta. It’s like going to a play where the main character is writing a play, or watching a movie set in LA

So, you’ve been tasked with writing a blog. Lucky you! Before you lament about having another thing to work on, think of the positives: You get to add your voice to the hallowed ranks of every other great blog writer; you’re helping your brand form the way you talk to the world; and all your coworkers are going to be like, “oh damn, they’re smart!” Seems like a good deal to us.

To quote everyone’s favorite Oklahoman, Brad Pitt, in the 2004 historical epic, Troy, “Immortality: Take it, it’s yours!”

But now, you may be asking dear reader, how do I write this thing? Well lucky for you, we created this whole blog about writing blogs just for you! Ahead, we’ll walk you through the process of turning your idea into content so good, your grandma is going to hang it on her fridge. You ready? Let’s roll.

What’s the Story?

“But what should my blog be about?”
            – You, right now

Great first question, we love where your head is at. To start, you need to identify a problem, one that your brand can help solve. When explaining how to mitigate the issue, you don’t need to call out a specific product or offering for every point you make, but you should have one in the back of your mind. Lastly, make it fun, make it interesting, add some of your personality into it. We know you have one — that’s why you’re writing this thing.

But you’re not here to simply answer a question. You’re here to tell a story, which can sound trite, but it’s true. And to tell it, you need an arc: a beginning, a middle and an end. The best stories aren’t lists of hard facts. They are journeys that guide the reader through each new idea in a way that will inspire and captivate them. Don’t worry, we’re not looking for Lord of the Rings here. Just try to be empathetic to your audience’s reading experience.

Before you spin your yarn, there are some key steps to take:

  1. Research!
    We’re not saying you’re not a leading expert in your field, but your audience might not be up to speed. To ensure what you write is trusted by your readers, you need to do a bit of googling. A piece with good, well-cited stats and facts gives you authority and credibility. And hey, you might even learn something new.

    But please, and we cannot stress this enough: Save those links! You might find some awesome stats, but if you don’t save those sources, the universe guarantees your boss will want to see where the citations came from. So, save yourself the effort of looking twice.

    Research isn’t just about having foot-long footnotes. It’s also about learning what kind of writer you want to be. So, read works by your favorite journalists, authors, Twitter personalities and whoever else, determine what it is you like about them, and see how you can fold it into your own writing. Good writers start by being good readers.
  2. Build an Outline
    All great treasure hunters know you need a map to find the gold. In this case, the gold is solid content. To tell your story in a coherent way, build an outline that hashes out your intro, the order of your main points and you conclusion — all while threading those sections together, so your piece does not appear as separate ponds, but a stream flowing from the beginning to its nexus.

    Outlines can feel tedious – which, they are – but they are essential to elevating the quality of your writing. We even wrote an outline for this! And look how it turned out.

    Outline: Burritos Are Better than Pizza
    Do we believe this? Not necessarily. But the point is to show, as a writer, you can get excited about and evangelize for any topic.

    Intro: While both pizza and burritos are delicious and hold cult-like followings amongst Americans, burritos are the superior food item.
    ○ From building the dish to eating it to enjoying your accomplishment, burritos are easier and more satisfying than pizza.

    1. Easier to Acquire
    ○ Frozen options – the worst frozen burrito is still much better than the worst frozen pizza
    ○ Smaller price range – price gap is tighter, whether it’s at Taco Bell or a fancy sit-down joint
    ○ It is much easier to acquire a good burrito than a good single slice of pizza
    ○ Versatility of ingredients – can be used to make filling aspects of many other meals
    xxxx• Pizza cheese, sauce, toppings can really only be used on pizza or as an ingredient in a larger meal

    2. Easier to Make Yourself
    ○ Don’t need to let dough rise, time perfectly.
    xxxx• If you burn one burrito, you have supplies to make another quickly. If you burn a pizza, you need to start from scratch.
    ○ More customizable
    xxxx• Get weird – you can add a lot of toppings from other cuisines into a burrito that would not fit on a pizza: Korean-Mexican fusion, Mexican-Mediterranean fusion
    ○ More versatile – options for breakfast, lunch, and dinner

    3. Easier to Enjoy
    ○ Burritos offer both transportable options (wrapped in foil) and plated options, meaning you can enjoy one on-the-go or at a nice dinner
    ○ The filling-ness/transportable ratio is higher with a burrito than pizza
    xxxx• One burrito is very filling and can be easily carried. To get the same level of fullness from a pizza requires carrying several slices — pretty awkward!
    ○ No leftovers, no problem – burrito leftovers don’t keep as well, so you need to finish it in one sitting
    xxxx• No wasting fridge space or worrying about your roommate stealing it

    Outro: Whether you need a quick fill or a lasting meal, whether you have every ingredient you need or are going to wing it, burritos are superior. In fact, I’m going to make myself one right now.
  3. Get Writing!
    Now, for the big event: You’ve got to write this thing. The best stories aren’t lectures. They are journeys. To capture our audience’s attention and walk with them through each topic, you must uncover each new discovery together. Don’t come in as the expert — become the navigator, guiding the reader along the path to knowledge.         

    Think of the podcast Radiolab or the grandfather in The Princess Bride. While you may know how the story ends, tell it as if you too yearn for answers to the same question the reader is asking. The writer and the reader are in this together. Share the journey.

    But even getting started can be intimidating. So, here are some tips we use on the regular:
    Write like you talk – Okay, maybe not like you talk. But write conversationally, like you’re talking to one person.
    Get passionate – Even if you don’t care about supply chain dynamics, trick the reader into thinking you are stoked about them. Figure out how to make it a piece you would want to read. Your enthusiasm is contagious.
    Conjure the voices in your head – Sometimes writing with a specific character’s voice in your head can help you find weak points and elevate the copy. (This also works for editing). Our top choices are John Hamm, Tina Fey and David Sedaris.
    Write for Goldilocks – Not too long, not too short. For a blog, 500 words is a good minimum. However, if you’re on a roll, don’t stop because you hit a character count. Keep going! You can trim the fat later.
    Start with a hook – Catching fish is easiest when you have a hook on the line. Snagging readers is pretty much the same. Set up the problem, add some mystery, make a joke. They’ll eat it up. And as our PR friends know, don’t bury the lede!

    Also, don’t start off with “Webster’s Dictionary defines….” Your piece will be about as exciting as reading the dictionary.

    Break it up – Big walls of copy can be daunting. So, break up your piece with bullets, stat callouts, quotes — all that good stuff. Look, we even did it here! Didn’t it help?
    Concluding your piece – No one likes when a movie ends without tying up loose ends, and folks won’t like it if your blog doesn’t either. Make sure you have an outro that resolves everything nicely (and, if applicable, includes a CTA to reach out to your team).

    Also, pro tip: never title your conclusion “In Conclusion”
  4. Editing
    Now for everyone’s favorite part! It can be hard to edit your own work, and it can hurt to cut a well-crafted sentence when it just doesn’t fit. But this is necessary. Most copy can be cut by 25% (If you think this blog is long, you should have seen the first draft).

    Once you’ve cut your ego the extra fluff, it’s time to proofread. This can be especially difficult – our brains will autocorrect mistakes. But, we’ve got some tips:

    ○ Read it outloud, as your mouth will get snagged on mistakes your brain glosses over.
    ○ If you have to read it twice to understand it, rewrite it.
    ○ Ask for help. It takes a village to write a blog, so ask your peers to give your piece a proof.

    This last tip can be difficult to tackle — we’re all super busy! However, no piece of writing should get posted without two sets of eyes on it. It ensures your brand look good and everyone is happy. So, everybody lend a hand!

    Note: If you are the editor, please be kind. Offer suggestions and point out stuff you like (spoon full of sugar and all). If someone is struggling, be sure to take time to help them get the blog back on track. None of us are Mark Twain, so try to have a little chill.

Be Generous to Yourself

Writing a blog is a skill, and skills take time to master. Just because we share a language with Jane Austin and John Steinbeck doesn’t mean we’ll be writing our Pulitzer acceptance speech anytime soon. Crawl, walk, run — that’s the name of the game here. And as always, English is a stupid language, so there are no stupid questions. If you need help, ask. Helping each other is what makes a team great. It also helps to make for some pretty good writing.

Looking for some help turning your great ideas into must-read content. We’ve got the writers for the job. Reach out below!