Starting a blog is exciting and fun until it isn’t. With all the hurdles of selecting your niche, coming up with a great first blog post idea, choosing a design, and setting up WordPress behind you –writing your first blog post is the final Herculean effort you need to pull off before things simmer down and start to get easier.
But how do you write a good first article when you don’t really know who your readers are yet? And then there’s the nagging question of whether you even want to put your real name on it –is your blog good enough? What will your coworkers think?
Let’s face it, you’ve got a lot riding on your first blog post. And in this article I’ll do my best to help you write a first blog post that’s good enough to put your name under.
First Rule of Blogging: Put Readers First
Within 3 months of starting Hobo with a Laptop we were making enough to cover our monthly grocery bill. There’s ebbs and flows, but today we’re pulling in somewhere in the neighborhood of 80% of our income passively from blogging.
Starting a blog didn’t come without its battle scars though; going all in and quitting my “real job” to make a solid go of it meant a lot of uncertainty, plain rice bowls and peso counting, making myself vulnerable to faceless critics, and waiting –lots of waiting– for Google to deem us worthy of their traffic.
The payoff? Quality of life, countless new relationships, a pinch of authority, and enough scratch in my pocket to live within my means sustainably.
That’s the picture. But let me make one thing clear; it’s window dressing.
The real reason we’re in this position isn’t because we started a blog –lots of people do that. A blog is just a vehicle for a driver. Our success comes from our why. And no, that’s not a bunch of bollocks, it’s a true story.
For me, it was my goal of making it easier for people to pick up a passport, turn over a new leaf, make money online, and travel. I made it work for five years before I started Hobo with a Laptop and I wanted to journal what I did to help others.
The world is getting weirder by the hour, and my primary goal has always been to help people get unstuck. Travel used to be considered “an education”. I wanted to make that a thing again.
And for now, it seems to be working. I’ve reached more than half a million people with our message.
When I wrote the first edition of Digital Nomad Escape Plan in early 2015 I was petrified to put my real name on it. I thought it was career suicide. Putting my real name on it was a last minute decision before I published it and it went on to be a best seller on Amazon in the self publishing category. Today I give it away for free.
By 2019 I’d helped dozens of old coworkers back home adopt a location independent lifestyle. Yeah! Coworkers. The people I thought would judge me the harshest.
And I couldn’t have done that without writing my first blog post on a now defunct blog, which later became a book, and grew into what you’re looking at right now.
So before we get into the meat and potatoes of writing your first blog post, my first two takeaways are this; put your real name on it, and have a very clear why. The rest will follow.
If you’re genuine in your intentions your audience will forgive your grammar mistakes, poorly taken photos, and you know, your flawed humanity. They’ll share your posts in spite of you, and they’ll buy things they know support you in some small way.
Now let’s look at a number of important considerations for writing your first blog post. We’ll look at “blog style” writing, blog post structure, writing for a specific audience, and the general process for writing your first blog post.
Blog Writing Tips
Before we get into our formula for writing your first blog post, here are a handful of blogging tips:
- Always plan your blog entries in advance, sort of like a table of contents for a book –you can turn it into a book later
- Write every blog entry with repurposing your content in mind
- Examine popular blog entries on other websites with tools like Ninja Outreach to see what’s popular –what has the most backlinks and social shares? When you’re starting out, you won’t have your own Google Analytics data to go on
- Always have an audience in mind before you write a blog entry –treat your blog like a business, and always listen for problems that need solving
- Solve larger problems in the beginning –those will help you gain your first followers, then expand outward from there solving related problems for your existing audience
- Don’t write for the sake of keywords, but learn how to use keywords naturally throughout your blog entry
Now that we’ve provided you some context and a few blog writing tips, let’s talk about writing your first blog post.
Writing Your First Blog Post
Here is the makeshift check list we know by heart for occasional freelance writing projects we get on FlexJobs now and again. It will help you stay focused on what really matters when you’re writing your first blog post.
At the beginning of my digital nomad journey I decided to become a full-time SEO copywriter. I’ve written thousands of articles for SEO companies.
Back then, I didn’t always write about marketing, technology, health, cryptocurrency, travel, off-grid survival, or tiny houses (things I find interesting).
Quite often I had to write about niches I had little or no interest in –like prom dresses, antique jewelry, or room heaters.
Yup. I wrote about prom dresses –me, almost 40 years old, I have a penis, writing as a teenaged girl telling other teenage girls what prom dress will look great on their body type.
For that reason, SEO companies are kinda’ creeper. But me telling you that will give you some context to the examples I use to explain things later on in this article.
This blog writing check list saved me from doing my head in. Starting is always the hardest part –if you follow this guide you can get over the anxiety that comes with writing your first blog post.
1. Think of the Humans Reading Your Blog Post
In marketing speak we refer to this as your “buyer persona” and where they’re at in their “buyer’s journey”.
Identifying the persona of your reader will help you empathize with them, and their place in their buyer’s journey will help you better understand the challenges they face and how close they are to taking action (read: how close they are to buying or renting something you can generate a profit on –something even travel bloggers care about).
It’s not all moneh, moneh, moneh –but you gotta’ eat.
If you understand who you are writing your first blog post for, you can better understand their needs, wants, and desires, and speak to them in a way they feel comfortable with.
For example, if you’re talking about a prom dress to a high school student, there’s a good chance she’s awkward about her body type, has a specific budget, needs a little fashion guidance, and needs to consider what her parents think.
If you’re selling a dress to a 30-something-year-old woman, she’s probably more confident about her body, is willing to spend more, and is more interested in how she’ll feel wearing it than what other people think.
Understanding where someone is in their buyer’s journey will help you identify verbiage you should use.
Informational statements like “these are the best dresses for a pear body type” will help readers long before they’re ready to buy. And that’s great, if that’s where you want them. That would give you the opportunity to influence a decision early on and build rapport.
However, if you have an affiliate link on your website for a Sherri Hill strapless sweetheart multi-print cocktail dress –you’ll probably want to be that specific, and throw in the word “buy” or “review” a few times throughout your article.
And that my friends, is the difference between informational keywords and those with buyer’s intent. And that’s how people make money blogging in a nutshell. Thank you, “buyer’s journey”.
2. What Are Your Writing Your First Blog Post About?
This is the most important step to working out how to write your first blog entry –and something that will help you make money blogging down the line. For inspiration, we wrote about “first blog post ideas” to help you out.
What is your website about and what are the best ways to approach it? It’s time to choose a topic. The trick is to start with broad strokes and then refine it with a little research.
You do not want to write the longest blog entry on a dead topic that will bore your readers (and be painful to write).
For the sake of universal understanding, let’s say your blog is about dating. You might want to write about “how to pick up a date this Friday night”.
You could tackle this in a number of ways, from “how to optimize your Tinder profile” to “how to start a conversation with someone you are sexually interested in”. The sky is the limit. But which topic variation for the same goal (getting laid this Friday) will get you the most traffic? Mind blown.
That’s where research comes in. Software like Ninja Outreach will help you figure out how to write a blog entry people want to read by helping you search and sort blogs and blog entries based on their niche, as well as how many backlinks and social shares they have. It’s one great way to qualify an idea.
When you want to know, for certain, what approach to take with your topic and test out a few ideas, use the content prospector and see what existing audiences are already looking for and sharing –and then add your own unique spin to it.
Ninja Outreach will save you time –not just hours, but maybe months or years of doing the wrong thing repeatedly. We used to rely on BuzzSumo to help us with our blog topics, but Ninja Outreach just does more for the lowly blogger, especially when it comes to building links down the road. It’s cheaper than BuzzSumo, and it has a 2-week free trial period.
Research will also help you make content people absolutely adore, over and over and over and over and over and over again, for years to come.
3. Get Organized
400 – 600 word articles are the hallmark of bad “SEO copywriters” and lazy bloggers that aren’t worth reading, and Google knows it. Hell, you know it. Your readers know it.
If you’re going to stand out, you need to own the dancefloor –get out there and write a big ass, thorough, well-organized blog entry. Block off a full week on your calendar if you have to. I usually won’t write anything on Hobo with a Laptop that doesn’t.
The biggest complaint about bloggers –and I’ll rip on travel bloggers here—is that they often barely scrape the surface of what they’re talking about. Don’t believe me? Ask Reddit blog readers. They’ve got all sorts of anonymous things to say –and they’re great because they’ll lay it out for you in detail.
“We went to Madrid on a 4-hour layover, here’s our top 25 things to do in 450 words in one giant block of text with photos from Pixabay”. I just pulled that out of my ass, but you get the idea.
Sometimes it’s good to be short and sweet –but that depends on your buyer persona, not your feelings. Explore the topic, let it ruminate awhile, and organize the information as best you can using header tags. You’re competing with almost 8 billion humans –I bet 1/5 of them have a blog.
When I write a blog post outline, I usually break it down into nested point form lists, like this:
That was complete and utter bullshit, but you get the idea. Half the time I make so many points they later become full paragraphs and I feel like I’m editing more than I am writing when I get to the next step.
And I think it was Steinbeck who once said it’s easier to write about a place after you’ve left it in the dust, nostalgia has a way of bubbling up the most important aspects of it to the top of your memory.
Taking a lot of photos in one place but writing about it after you’ve left it might help you maintain blog style writing and highlight aspects of your travel your readers will enjoy.
4. Write Your Blog Entry
The point form notes above are the spine, now it’s time to flesh it out.
You’re filling in the blanks at this point, and because you took little bites out of writing your first blog post it won’t be the big anxious emotional heap on you thought it was going to be.
And this is how the joy of writing begins.
5. Quote Leading Bloggers in Your Niche
Nothing will get your blog post retweeted by a heavyweight blogger faster than quoting them in your article, linking to their site with said quote (they usually see the pingback in their WordPress dashboard), and then mentioning them in your tweets.
Bloggers are key, not journalists or major publications so much, as they often won’t collude with a newbie blogger. (Ninja Outreach for the win, once again).
When an influential blogger sees your mention of them in their feed, they’ll probably retweet it for you. Just don’t hit the same influencer with too many articles this way, or you’ll look like an ubercreeper (guilty! Hi Mark, Hi Matt!).
Side note: Don’t be cringe-worthy when you dance with influencers. You’re playing with matches beside bridges you haven’t even finished forging yet. You might look like that wild Crazy Eyes person you knew in high school that was just a little off.
The original cut of this article from 2017 was written like the Matt Damon / Jimmy Kimmel crossover except I’m not a celebrity. Not every influencer will have a stomach for it. I was banking on a slow clap, and sure I got testimonials for the home page of this site but –way too much cringe. I was lucky, I’d never do that again.
For the sake of a less stupid example:
“101 Ways to bathe your dog featuring advice from @fakedogownerguybloggerperson http://dogsite.com/our-amazing-article #dogs #petowners”
You don’t have to stroke their ego, they’re already an authority. And it’s a great way to make new friends in the industry you serve. But again, do not be too much of a creeper, don’t over-reach to an influencer if you haven’t even said hello before.
Bonus points if you make a tweet like the example above available at the click of a mouse for readers, using Click to Tweet –just set up the tweet as you see fit and create a link with Click to Tweet that opens in a new tab.
Here’s an example –go on, try it out!
6. Edit Your Blog Entry
And this is where the joy of writing quickly dissipates –but don’t worry, it gets worse in Step 7.
After all of this hard work, you’re going to need to re-read it a few times. Don’t rush this part; put on a cup of coffee, and clear your brain before you sit back down. You really want to avoid what I do –I update blog posts a few times within a week of publishing, and I always feel stupid doing it. If I had just given it more thought, I wouldn’t have to.
But I still take a break before I edit. I’ll go pick up a takeout coffee, eat lunch, have a chat with a friend, or watch cat videos on YouTube for 20 minutes to clear my mental palette.
Or I’ll buy a beer or two for a dollar and get a brainiac idea to pull a David Wood (from the Empower Network) and mention my two favorite bloggers repeatedly throughout my post like a drugged out maniac. But don’t do that last one. Risky business (see above side note).
When I’m on a writing spree, I’ll often write a bunch of drafts and leave all the editing for Thursday, and then do Step 7 on Friday, publish between Tuesday – Thursday because those are my highest traffic days.
7. Format Your Blog Entry
The most diabolical step on this entire “how to write your first blog post” checklist: Formatting your blog post.
I hate battling with WordPress. The editor annoys me with all the little weird markup it adds to my text (I’m a perfectionist and I do this stage in the text editor most of the time).
I imagine this is how Hemingway felt using a typewriter with a tangled ink ribbon. The WordPress editor is the equivalent of getting ink all over your fingers battling a shoddy typewriter and a lit cigarette. (Yes, my typing classes in early high school involved typewriters, because #1981).
My Generation X and Boomer peers will know this line; “Quiet Aunt Zelda, Willy Sits eXams..”.
However –read this post about keyword placement, and then make sure you use H2, H3, and H4 tags, add images every few paragraphs (another thing I am bad at), make sure all images have proper alt text, don’t go too heavy on your keywords, and make sure you link to articles within your website appropriately.
And then decide if the title you chose in the beginning is still 100% the right choice, ensure your keywords are properly sorted, and verify with the Yoast SEO plugin.
8. Add a Call to Action (CTA)
This is the crowning moment of writing your first blog post that will help you make money blogging. It’s so important, I thought it needed a step all its own.
- If you talk about a product, suggest people go check it out on their own –use a picture, or a nice big button that visually stands out and is big enough for mobile users
- If you want people to subscribe to your email list, ask them to; this is where you add the code for your form —we use Aweber at the time of writing
- Share a related article that will further help them and turn them into an apostle of your brand –fans hit like buttons, apostles hit the buy button, wear your t-shirt, and tell all their friends
In the very least, ask your reader a question –even if it’s as simple as “have anything to add? Let us know in the comments”. But if making money blogging is where your intentions lay, that’s a pretty sorry way to end a blog post.
9. Now Get Support from Rock Stars in Your Niche
In this article I talk about how you can get influencers to link to your blog. And in this one I talk about blogging tools for content distribution. Between those two posts, I’m sure you can bake up a fancy way to get others –influential people— to help you on your mission.
10. I Made a Numbering Glitch and My Wife Already Made the Pins
Yeah, Oshin is pretty amazing. We met on the road, have you read our about page?
But seriously. I don’t have a number 10 and the Pinterest pins are already made.
Ahhhh, wait. That was intentional. What a segway, eh?
After writing your first blog post, don’t forget about social media design. When you’re starting out you’ll be in the Google sandbox for what, 9 months? How old is your blog?
Pinterest is a search engine, too. I say beginners sorta’ take the “Fuck Google” mantra, because Google is like that friend that only comes around when you have money, a popular sex tape, or a nice car. They don’t care about you otherwise.
And if you dig our social media design, you can hire Oshin, too.
Learning how to write your first blog post isn’t rocket science, but it can take a little while to find your rhythm. And that’s ok –experiment away, because when that one or two big blogging breakthroughs happen and you start to make real money blogging –it will all be worth it. You did that.
We know you could be reading some other blog, but you chose us, and you read this far. How amazing is that? You have no idea how good that feels when we take a look at our analytics.
So this last word is to say thanks. You’ll know what I mean when you get your first blog post readers.
The feeling can breathe new life into the shittiest of weeks.
Thanks for reading, and break a leg writing your first blog post. And hey, if you throw us a backlink to some random post on our blog as you write it, we’d be grateful.
If you want more Hobo, sign up to our mailing list on the right, check out our guides, or leave a comment!