Wednesday, June 3, 2015

How-To Blog Post

A “how to” blog post does exactly what it describes: it teaches the reader how to do something by breaking down a series of steps.

Historically, this type of post performs well for most bloggers, and with good reason.

While we enjoy a good philosophical discussion or a hot debate that puts our cerebral cortex into overdrive, the fact is that we all want to learn how to get stuff done. If you can incorporate images or video to make the process visual, you'll likely see even greater success.

“How-to” type posts draw us like moths to a flame because we assume we’re going to learn how to do something faster, cheaper, or better than other people, or shave some time off a tedious, outdated process that makes us want to stick a fork in our left eye.

What can you teach your audience how to do?

Once you’ve figured that out, the template below can help you break down the process in written form. 

Plan Your How-To Blog Post

Take several minutes to plan out what you want to write about so that you can stay on topic and keep your readers engaged.

Step 1: Identify Your Audience

Which buyer persona are you writing this blog post for? 

Step 2: Identify Your Key Takeaway

What do you want your audience to know how to do after reading your blog post? 

Step 3: Brainstorm a Few Possible Titles

You don’t have to pick the perfect title before your blog post is done, but it definitely helps to jot down a few ideas to help keep you focused during the writing process. 

Step 4: Create an Outline

The typical how-to blog post consists of:
  • An introduction: Sets the stage for what you plan to teach your readers how to do.
  • A body: Explains the every step involved in learning how to do that thing.
  • A conclusion: Wraps up your post with a brief statement that's reflective of what your readers just learned.
What are all the bases you need to cover to introduce your topic, explain it in detail, and remind the reader what they just learned? 

Step 5: Write the Introduction

When writing your introduction, you want to keep one question top of mind: How can I establish credibility and empathize with my audience to introduce my topic? 

Feel free to leave the introduction for last, too. Sometimes it’s easier to introduce your post after you’ve written the real meat of it.

Steps to Writing Your Introduction
Example With Underlined And Italicized Orange Text that Can Be Swapped Out For Your Copy
Write a compelling opening that empathizes with the reader on a problem or difficulty.
Please raise your hand if you've ever felt personally victimized by PowerPoint.
Explain the problem in further detail.
When you open it up, you're hit with stark black Calibri font on a white background, killing any creative inkling you may have felt. It's daunting enough creating a 10-slide deck to report your monthly marketing metrics – never mind putting together a PowerPoint to be seen by the 60 million monthly unique visitors on SlideShare.

Explain how you’ll fix the problem by teaching the reader how to do something.
Well, there's good news: Creating a SlideShare presentation in PowerPoint doesn't have to be that daunting. With the right template and tools at your disposal, you could easily create an engaging, visual presentation -- all without fancy design programs, huge budgets, or hiring contractors.

Transition into the body where you’ll explain the how-to steps in detail.
Download the free PowerPoint template, and we'll walk through how to use it right now in this very blog post. When we're done you'll know exactly how to create a sexy SlideShare that gets features on SlideShare's Top Presentations of the Day in now time. Ready? Let's dive in.

Step 6: Write the Body

Remember, the body follows through on what you promised in the introduction. Your body can be written in paragraphs, with bullets, numbered lists, multiple headings, or a mix of all of these. You can make use of whichever format is easiest for you.
Just be cognizant of this question: What are all the steps I need to explain in order to avoid confusion, and can I add any visuals that will make learning any easier for my readers?

Steps to Writing Your Body
Example With Underlined And Italicized Orange Text that Can Be Swapped Out For Your Copy
Write a header that will indicate to readers you’re getting into the meat of your post.
10 Steps to Creating a Killer SlideShare
List out each step involved in the learning process.
Outline main takeaways and crucial sub-bullets.

Before you start diving into any elements of the design, you need to get your story straight. Just like you would outline a blog post before writing, you want to establish the three or four main takeaways from your presentations, and create a section for each one. Then, you can elaborate on those sections with a few main points -- and create slides for them, too. Also, put slide placeholders for the intro, call-to-action, and conclusion slides (you don't need to elaborate on them just yet).

Keep in mind that these slides should not be complex. 

[screenshot to further illustrate step 1]

See, nothing fancy going on here. By keeping design out of the picture, you can actually focus on the flow of the story. 

Transition from one step to the other by using words like “after,” “next,” and “then.”
2) Decide on fonts and a color scheme. 

After you've established your storyline, figure out which fonts and color scheme you want to use. Think of this step like you did step # -- you're establishing a design outline for the rest of your PowerPoint so that you won't have to figure it out with each additional slide.

Transition into the conclusion.
Last, but certainly not least, you want to export your presentation to PDF. This way, your slides' fonts and design will be preserved when you upload it to SlideShare.


Step 7: Write the Conclusion

Your conclusion is where you’ll paraphrase the key takeaway you outlined earlier in the planning stages and/or prompt your reader with a question. 

Steps to Writing Your Conclusion
Example With Underlined And Italicized Orange Text that Can Be Swapped Out For Your Copy
Let the reader know they’ve arrived at the end of instruction.
Last, but certainly not least, you want to export your presentation to PDF. This way, your slides' fonts and design will be preserved when you upload it to SlideShare.
Summarize what the reader learned or how they benefitted from reading your post.
Then, you're ready to upload your PDF to SlideShare and start raking in the leads and customers. And you know what the best part is? Next time, that blank PowerPoint template won't feel quite as daunting. :)
Ask a question to encourage the reader to leave a comment or react.
Want to create your own SlideShare? Get your own SlideShare template including some of the slides and tips featured above by clicking here.

Step 8: Link to Additional Resources within Your Post

Sometimes it’s hard to say everything you want to say about a single topic in one post, which is why it’s helpful to your readers to identify additional resources you can link to for additional detail or credibility. 

Hyperlinking to other blog posts or pages on your site can result in increased visibility in search engines, page views, and time on site. Hyperlinking to third party content can round out your perspective and help you appear more trustworthy to your readers.

What resources can you reference to strengthen your post? Place those links in this text box. 

When you place your blog post copy into your blogging platform, create hyperlinks for these resources where they fit best.

Step 9: Finalize Your Title

Revisit your working title and see if you can make it more accurate, specific, sexy, concise, and SEO-optimized. 

Step 10: Pick a Call-to-Action

Do you want your readers to sign up for your newsletter? Request more information? Tweet something? Download something? Buy something? 

Step 11: Copy and Paste Your Blog Post Copy into Your Blogging Platform

Now that you’ve gone through the exercise of outlining and writing your blog post, you want to prepare it for publishing.

A simple way to do this is to select and copy your finalized title and all your blog post body copy, and paste it into Microsoft Notepad (or TextEdit on a Mac). Pasting into one of these programs strips your copy of all formatting so that when you copy and paste it from the text editor into your blogging platform of choice, the formatting you apply within your blogging platform will render correctly.

Now’s the time to make your blog post scannable by using headers, bold text for key points, hyperlinks, and images where applicable.

Step 12: Edit, Edit, Edit!

Everyone can use a second set of eyes to look over their post before putting it out into the world, so have a friend or colleague look it over. Another thing that will help? 

Step 13: Choose an Image

Every blog post should have an image. At HubSpot, we include at least one photo or image in every post we write so that when the blog post is shared to social media channels, it’s accompanied by a thumbnail image to entice a clickthrough. 

Take a look at our three, free bundles of downloadable stock photos (general, business, and holiday) to see if any of these royalty-free images will do the trick for you.

Step 14: Optimize Your Post for Search

If you’ve spent all this time writing a great blog post, you’ll want to make sure it can be easily discovered in search engines. Check out our post on Blog SEO for the Modern Marketer: How to Optimize Your Posts for tips on how to do just that.

Step 15: And Finally, Hit Publish! 

Publish your post and start tracking its performance!



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