On November 9, 2011, an Indian client hired me on Elance—now Upwork—to write five articles for him at 500 words each.
The articles were in the niches of business and finance, my favorites. So I accepted the offer, and the client immediately escrowed $17.50 to my account. I was a new freelancer at the time, so I was thrilled with the offer—and the pay.
The deadline was in 48 hours. The client made it clear that he needed the articles written “as fast as you can.” In fact, five hours later, he e-mailed me saying, “Send the ones you’ve written.”I did some snappy research. I wrote my first draft. I edited the blog posts as fast as I could. But… I didn’t proofread the articles, and the content was not thoroughly researched, because I was under pressure to write, submit the articles, and get paid.
After I submitted all five, the client emailed me.“The articles are low quality,” he said. “I can’t use them. I needed high-quality articles that’ll promote my business.”
That was the first time I heard the term high-quality article. I thought article writing was all about getting words on paper. Though the client didn’t leave negative feedback, I felt very bad because I knew he’d never hire me again.
Immediately, I began to search Google for the meaning of the term high-quality article to avoid another flop.
The results of my searches were sketchy. There was not much information in the search engine results. Six years later, there’s still not much in-depth information available about the term. When I re-typed the term just days before I wrote this post, I got the following results:
If you go through most of these pages, you’ll find scanty discussions on the topic. In fact, some of the pages are asking the same question:
Here’s the content of the marked website in the screenshot below:
This is the reason I want to write on the topic.
Because, let’s face it, quality content is the foundation of content marketing. And quality blog posts are what run the Internet show.
Not only do they glue a visitor to the last word of your page, but they also entice the reader, pushing them to share your post, subscribe to your newsletter, buy your products, write a review, and become part and parcel of your sales team, without even noticing.
Before I explain how to write a compelling blog post that will promote your online brand, I want to define the key term: high-quality blog post.
What is a high-quality blog post?
It’s definitely not the common articles published every second on the World Wide Web.
Quality blog posts are above-average content. They’re rarely seen on websites and blogs. By definition, a high-quality blog post is tailored specifically to a certain group of readers with the sole aim of informing, educating, or improving their lives.
Every blog post must have these three qualities. But what usually happens is that a blogger wakes up in the morning, grabs a cup of coffee, and starts researching… After 10 or 20 minutes, they hit the keyboard and write a 500-word basic article like everyone else has written.
Then the blogger gets a refill of coffee, checks e-mail, or goes on a 5-minute walk before returning to their seat to edit, proofread, and publish the post. The problem is, it’s almost impossible to write a high-quality post in such a short period of time.
While it’s true that some veteran content creators can pull that off because they’re highly experienced, it’s challenging for the rest of us. Any qualitative form of art, such as music, dancing, or painting, requires the artist’s time, resources, and energy. Writing is also an art form, and it takes time, resources, and energy to craft a high-quality blog post.
It’s not easy, sure, but it gets results. Visitors want content that is specifically written for them, that is chock-full of information relevant to their needs, and that adds value to their life.
Let’s discuss more about the features of quality blog content.
Features of a high-quality blog post
For a blog post to be high quality, it must be:
Let’s talk about each point in detail.
Quality blog posts are written with a reader in mind. As writers and content creators, our readers are the most important personalities in our business. We work for them. We long for their attention. We write to serve them, to appeal to their interest.
These readers are our prospects, and the only way we can get them to read our content is by writing what matters to them. Every content marketer knows that when they write a post that answers a prospect’s questions, the prospect will read and share the content.
In fact, they could hire the content creator to write a similar post for them or to help build their brand.
The goal of every quality post is to inform the reader. Before typing anything, the writer must engage in comprehensive research to uncover new ideas that will benefit the reader. Then he must organize the points ina coherent manner.
If your posts are informative enough, your readers or prospects will give you their attention. They’ll start consuming your content and using your advice in their business. They will see you as an expert, an authority in the industry.
Quality articles transform a reader’s life. When you provide your audience with solid information that answers their questions, it will improve their business. It will change their lives. To write a valuable blog post, look for ways to inform your readers with new ideas or to solve their pain points. Is it hard to do? Yes! But it’s possible.
Here is a step-by-step guide to help you.
How to build your brand with compelling posts:
Do you know your customer’s end goal?
An entrepreneur just like you, with a big vision and a tiny budget, dreamed of an idea as she was showering one day.
She had the passion.
She was full of energy.
She was ready to go.
And above all, she was not afraid of failure.
A couple of months later, she has launched her idea off the ground, aiming to make it not only a big brand but also a profitable company that changes lives. But the problem is, the Internet is crowded with content and all the hassles that minimize a user’s attention span.
The entrepreneur knows that, to succeed, she needs quality blog posts that educate her prospects and convert them into informed buyers. She needs you, the online writer. She wants you to build her brand.
How do you do that? Here are seven steps to build your brand with compelling posts:
1. Start with thorough research.
The process of writing a top-notch blog post begins with the boring activity of research.
Not just five or fifteen minutes of online searching, but a thorough research that uncovers many areas of the topic. I’m talking about anin-depth investigation into the online world, digging, searching, excavating for untold stories that your prospective customers long to hear and apply in their lives.
It doesn’t matter how long it will take you. Maybe an hour. Maybe a day. What matters is to get into the grind to find the necessary ingredients that will add credibility to your blog post.
Sound difficult? Yes! And if you read online articles a lot, then you know what I mean.
Very rarely will you read content that presents new ideas or unique points and perspectives. Because most freelancers and content creators, though they want great results, don’t want to shed their blood, sweat, and tears to achieve those results.
Among the 126 B2B marketing and sales professionals surveyed by TechValidate, 43 percent of the respondents say that getting the time to produce great content is their biggest problem, and 33.3 percent say it’s difficult to create.
But it has to be created for brands to be promoted.
So how do you create a quality post?
You start with the basics. Search Google for more information on the topic you’re writing to get detailed explanations about it. Understand the meaning of the basic terms to widen your knowledge of the topic.
Assuming you want to write about “selling services online,” you may start by typing the keyword in Google.
Next, go in-depth, checking for more research, studies, and authoritative views on the subject. Going by our earlier example, you can type “selling services online” (with quotation marks) in the Google search bar. That’ll give you the following results:
The third article in the list is a very good one.
Clicking on it, you’ll see that the article covers the subject in detail. It has a section that answers the question of who should sell online. See the screenshot of the article below:
The article also lists more than ten services you can sell online:
Remember, this research exercise is all part of the writing process. You haven’t started writing yet. You’re pre-writing, gathering facts and expanding your knowledge of the topic.
It’s like clearing the land for farming, which is important for the quality of your harvest (the content). When you’re done, the next step is crafting an irresistible, magnetic headline.
2. Craft a thought-provoking headline.
Your headline is the most important aspect of your article.
It’s the first thing that your reader sees, and the only thing that they use to decide whether to click to read your article or to run the other way Think of it as a book cover… If it’s ugly, your readers will ignore it. If it’s impressive, they’ll buy it.
One of the core features of a headline is its promise. Every headline offers a promise to its reader. Your headline is the first impression.
It’s communicating a message to your readers, telling them, “Hey, here’s a valuable tip that will help transform your life. Get it in the content of this article.”
To get readership, you must make your headline catchy, magnetic, and irresistible. Why? According to Copyblogger, “On average, 8 out of 10 people will read headline copy, but only 2 out of 10 will read the rest.”
So you have to spend a lot of time on your headline, crafting, tweaking, re-writing… until you’re confident that it will appeal to your readers, grab their attention, and resonate with them, as Ben Settle did it here on Copyblogger:
“How To Sell Without Selling.” Isn’t that creative, magnetic, and catchy?
The good news is, you too can write something like this. You just need to understand the 4 U’s of creative headlines:
Let’s talk about them one by one.
Like I said, your headline needs to be useful. In other words, it has to offer a valuable promise to your reader. The promise has to be based on something that will appeal to your readers’ goals and desires or solves their pain points and frustrations. Your reader must find a reason to keep reading your blog post.
Here are some examples of useful headlines:
- How to Save $500 From Your Salary Every Month
- 10 Proven Ways to Get a Repeat Customer
- Here’s Why You Should Sleep for 7 Hours A Day
They all feature benefit/promise:
- “Save $500 Every Month From Your Salary”
- “Get a Repeat Customer”
- “Why You Should Sleep for 7 Hours A Day”
And they all answer the question: What’s in it for me?
Your headline needs to be very specific. Don’t attempt to answer multiple questions or solve many problems with a single headline. Be ultra-specific. Answer one issue.
Here are some examples of ultra-specific headlines:
- How Spending $2,500 on a Mac Made Me $5,200 in 2 Months
- Why a 22-Year-Old College Kid Needs to Read a Book Every Week
- The 7 Things Developers Need to Make a Living
Notice how they are all specific? How they promise a benefit to a specific audience?
- “Spending $2,500 on a Mac” (not on just any model of laptop)
- “22-Year-Old College Kid” (specific demographic)
- “Developers” (not web-designers or plumbers)
That’s how to write specific titles that get reads.
Another great way to write headlines that get reads is to be unique. In other words, your headline has to be fresh, must stand out, and needs to be creative. It shouldn’t be common. It should be different.
Here are some examples of unique headlines:
- How To Turn Your Failure Into a Proven Strategy for Success
- You’re Probably Raising Your Teenager Wrong
- Obsess Over Your Work, Not Your ROI
They’re all unique, and they get your readers’ attention.
The sense of urgency is very crucial when it comes to writing great headlines.
Urgency motivates your reader and pushes them to click your article fast. They don’t know it, though. It’s subconscious. To write a powerful headline that invokes a sense of urgency, include a timeline or words such as now, instantly, or right now.
When you write an urgent title, you’re invoking your readers to click through and read. The sense of urgency motivates them to take the action of reading without their knowing it.
Here are some examples of urgent headlines:
- Hot Burgers for $1 Each: Offer Ends Tomorrow
- How to Give a Sense of Urgency to Your Headline Right Now
- 3 Ways to Block Ads on Your WordPress Site Instantly
Notice the urgent words and timeline.
- Hot Burgers for $1 Each: Offer Ends Tomorrow (Timeline)
- How to Give a Sense Urgency to Your Headline Right Now (Right now)
- 3 Ways to Block Ads on Your Word Press Site Instantly (Instantly)
These are all easy to write. You just need to put in some practice, so the exercise can seep into your subconscious and become second nature.
3. Write long posts.
I’m currently writing a blog for a client.
The blog owner wants “only 500-word articles. Internet readers have a low attention span, they tell me. They love content that is short and straight to the point.”
That’s what a lot of bloggers think. It’s true that Internet users love short and straight to the point articles, but that doesn’t mean that if you churn a quality long-form post—around 2,000–3,000 words—they won’t read it.
The truth is, if your long-form content is chock-full of information, examples, and visual images that add clarity to your points, they’ll read it to the end, share it with their friends, and even bookmark it in their browser.
Just look at popular blogs and websites.
Buffer publishes long-form content with data, charts, and images. Yet they’ve massive traffic, social media shares, and sales.
Moz publishes long-form content with data, charts, and images. Yet they’ve massive traffic, social media shares, and sales.
KissMetrics publishes long-form content with data, charts, and images. Yet they’ve massive traffic, social media shares, and sales.
So, if you’re serious about building your brand online, write that long post. They’re proven to do well for you in terms of traffic.
HubSpot studied 6,192 posts from its marketing blog and found out that “articles with a word count between 2,250 and 2,500 earn the most organic traffic.”
See the chart below:
Besides organic traffic, long posts get the most shares. Research by Okdork reveals that long-form posts around 3,000 words and above get the most shares.
Another benefit of long-form content has to do with SEO. If you want to rank your brand higher on Search Engine Result Pages (SERPs), publish long posts on your blog.
SerpIQ conducted research on the average length of top-ranking posts. They found out that long-form content does better on search engines than short content:
Of course, it’s not easy to create. It takes time and energy to produce a 2,000-word blog post that makes sense, but if you’re serious about promoting your brand identity, exposing your product to your prospects, and improving your sales, you’ve got to write long content.
And don’t forget to inject fresh ideas into it.
4. Present fresh ideas.
The reason a lot of blogs fail to appeal to readers and generate traffic or leads is that their posts are too common. They keep repeating the same old ideas that thousands of other bloggers wrote about years ago.
To create blog posts that generate buzz for your business and expose your brand to the world, you must breathe fresh ideas into your posts.
In other words, you must write new ideas, help your readers with your tips, create a how-to guide, or approach a topic from a completely different angle.
How do you do that?
Critically analyze other posts (and fill in the gaps).
If you want to come up with fresh ideas for your upcoming post, start by analyzing other posts relevant to your topic.
Look for what top influencers in your industry have written. Examine what they left out, and fill in the gaps with fresh ideas.
Write your personal case study.
Case studies are fresh revelations. Luckily for us, we all have our own personal experiences—experiences in our life, business, and other endeavors. Write your own personal case study. It’ll promote your brand, and your readers will love it.
Answer questions on Quora.
One of the best ways to write new blog content is to answer questions on Quora. Quora is a question-and-answer website where people ask questions and get answers from other community members on the platform. It was launched in 2009 and today has more than 100 million unique monthly visitors.
This infographic explains in detail how the platform works:
Because most of the questions asked are personal, answering them in the form of a blog post can make your blog fresh and a joy to read.
5. Provide evidence for your claims.
Whatever assertions you make in your blog post, if you don’t back them with evidence, they won’t be convincing.
Your readers will view it as just another vague old claim that doesn’t carry much weight. That’s why providing enough evidence to support your claims is so important.
The way to do it is simple:
- Use relevant quotes from industry experts in your niche.
- Cite relevant data and statistics to back up your arguments.
- Use case studies to prove your points.
These are all examples of evidence. They build up your claims and make your article more credible.
6. Tell great stories.
Great storytelling does more than build or promote your brand. Incredible storytelling packed into a well-written blog post can turn your cold prospect into your sales rep.
Stories resonate with us. Good stories make our eyes dilate because they inspire us, make us react in ways we could never imagine. The best way to tell amazing, inspiring stories is to use emotions.
You do this by first understanding your reader’s pain points or desires. Then craft words that will make them feel something.
John Morrow, the former Associate Editor of Copyblogger and the founder and CEO of SmartBlogger, is an expert in using emotions to inspire his readers.
In one of his awe-inspiring posts on Copyblogger titled “On Dying, Mothers, and Fighting for Your Ideas,” Jon tells a great story that makes a lot of his readers—me included—cry, while also being motivated and inspired.
The post not only generates shares and traffic to the Copyblogger blog, but it also promotes Jon’s personal brand.
But it doesn’t stop there.
Jon did it again on Problogger. In a post titled “How to Quit Your Job, Move to Paradise and Get Paid to Change the World,” the professional blogger tells an amazing story.
The result? The post:
- Garnered more than 1 million shares,
- Attracted massive traffic to the Problogger site, and
- Earned Jon about $100,000 in sales.
The secret to all of these successes? Emotional storytelling. If you appeal to your readers on an emotional level, they’ll react to your post—every time.
7. Use visuals.
Gone are the days when content sans images produced results on the web.
If you want to stand out in today’s cluttered World Wide Web, you have to write visual blog content. Several types of research have supported this claim. Nearly two-thirds of social media updates are visual content, according to a Citrix report.
Content with relevant images gets 94 percent more views than content without images, and 94 percent of articles that contain images get more views, reports Skyword.
More importantly, when it comes to optimal social media content, images are a major important factor for success, according to an ongoing research survey conducted by Software Advice and Adobe. The survey reveals that more than 80 percent of respondents say that images are “Very Important” or “Important” for their marketing optimization on social media:
In short, visual content is what promotes brands online.
So how do you write a visual blog post to promote your brand? Master these two things:
- The art of sourcing relevant images, and
- The ethics of citing original sources.
You must research your topic thoroughly to get the right images, charts, and other relevant visuals for your post. And you must respect other content creators by crediting their work, not falsely claiming that it’s yours.
Do these, and your content will get even more shares, be more credible, and rank atop all of the search engines.
Getting all forms of rejection from low-quality articles—whether from a client or a publisher—was a sad, difficult experience. After the Indian client rejected my articles six years ago, I was disappointed. But my nightmare turned out to be my blessing in disguise.
My experience led me to educate myself on what makes an article qualitative, and, with years of practice and reading, the quality of my blog posts has improved. Experience, practice, and reading top blogs helped to improve my writing, but knowing the proven formula for consistently crafting high-quality blog content matters.
And it will help you, too, to keep crafting quality content that promotes your brand.
It’s all about:
- Knowing the features of a high-quality blog post (specificity, information, and value),
- Knowing how to conduct thorough research,
- Understanding how to write emotionally charged stories,
- Mastering the art of writing compelling titles, and
- Mastering the art of writing in-depth, long, visual content.
If you master these, you’ll get massive traffic, generate more leads, and make your brand more popular in your industry than you’ve ever imagined.
You have your guide. Now get to work.
Your dream of building a successful business awaits.