17 Easy Steps to Brilliant Blog Posts

17 Easy Steps to Brilliant Blog Posts

Reader Comments (106)

  1. Welcome Jill. As a former computer instructor, I know the beginner mindset is essential in teaching people the basics.
    You’re in good hands with the Third Tribe.

  2. Yo Jill! Welcome here!
    Loved what you wrote here. Reading betweent the lines, I got so many ideas for possible products that almost every expert blogger is over looking.

    You have made a well damn point here. Well it’s a tradition at Copyblogger to make a point.

  3. Cool! I trust that writing a draft post first and then proofreading it later helps make the post better, although I myself publish posts at once. 🙁 I shouldn’t be doing so, I know.

  4. Beautiful list.

    I live by the one idea per post rule, but periodically go for the Big Kahuna, where I do a mash up or bird’s-eye view.

    With headlines, I always find myself having 20/20 hindsight.

  5. Hey Jill,

    Thank you for putting this check list together. Anyone getting started with blogging needs to print this baby out!

    Chat with you later…

  6. Brian, Simone and the rest of the copyblogger gang…


    You need to give this style of blogging, great though it is, a NAME, and capture somewhere the idea that it is just ONE effective and proven style among others, and the conditions under which it is the right blogging strategy, for people with specific personalities.

    It significantly affects copyblogger’s credibility when every other post on this site is written with the implicit assumption that this is the one true way to blog, and that it will suit all purposes, for all people, at all times. Sure, you guys occasionally make a concession by qualifying your advice with a “your mileage may vary” and “find your own style” comment, but in general, you leave readers with the impression that this is the One True Style. Seasoned bloggers who’ve figured out a different style won’t be affected, but you could lead newbies seriously astray by getting them hopelessly trying to succeed with a style that isn’t for them.

    I am personally glad I started reading Copyblogger only after a couple of years of blogging, when I had confidence in my own style (very long articles, headlines that break most of your rules, most of the time, and usually _at least_ 47 ideas per post). If I’d started reading this site on Day 1, and taken it seriously, I’d have gotten frustrated, hated blogging, and given up on day 1. Sure, list posts may work, but I’d rather kill myself than make that my staple. By starting late, I had the context to pick and choose what ideas to use from Copyblogger.

    Given the prominence and influence of Copyblogger in the blogosphere, I think the responsible thing to do for you guys is to address this issue head on. Even if you don’t want to diversify your focus and start offering blogging advice on other styles, maybe it is time for a major anchor post on “The 7 Top Blogging Styles” (give ’em nice names… you guys have the authority/credibility to invent names and make ’em stick), and explicitly point out which styles Copyblogger teaches, and where to look for guidance on other styles.

    Glad to offer my input if you take on this challenge of course.


  7. Hi Jill,

    Thanks for sharing your knowledge with us. I’m also a new blogger on the scene and had too many ideas when I started. Now I just split all my interests into categories.

    My favorite one currently is inspireMe which is about my own personal life experience in the business world which I hope will be of use to others. It was also a big chunky story until I broke it down into multiple posts.

    Now I am slowly churning out these posts and sandwiching other content as well.

    Once again thanks for sharing 🙂

  8. What a great resource for beginning bloggers! As a newbie myself, I know how daunting it can be to crank out a steady volume of posts. What’s helped me has been to focus the post on one topic, mind-map to come up with sub-points, and set a timer so the post doesn’t take me all day to write. I tend to do a lot of staring out the window waiting for inspiration to drop from the sky otherwise 🙂

  9. A fine example of brilliant simplexity! THANK-YOU!

    “Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius—and a lot of courage—to move in the opposite direction.”
    E. F. Schumacker

  10. It significantly affects copyblogger’s credibility…

    Given the prominence and influence of Copyblogger in the blogosphere…

    Does Venkat contradict himself? Feel free to discuss amongst yourselves.

    Our prominence and influence are the result of practicing what we preach, Venkat, which is why the first of your statements highlighted above may apply to you and some others, but certainly not all. You’re committing the very offense you accuse us of.

    And the thing we preach over and over beyond the tried and true fundamentals that cause you so much pain is to be unique. So even if you follow the “rules” (i.e. things that work based on human psychology, not mindless rebellion and contrariness for its own sake), it’s still ultimately up to the individual to define her own path.

  11. Thanks for sharing Jill. I often direct new blogging clients to Copyblogger.com and I think some find it daunting because they feel they will never achieve that level.(these are business owners, not writers) I will share your post now as it is inspiring and extremely helpful as a guide. Especially to those that don’t have the time or inclination to do a lot of study on the subject.

  12. I think learning from a newbie is actually a really good way to go. A newbie still remembers all of the things that gave them problems (because it was so recent). So who better than a newbie to help with those daunting problems once they figure them out for themselves!

    This is a great post and an even better guide to newbies! All of those who are just starting out should definitely save this for future reference, it will come in handy!

  13. One of the most useful entries on blogging I’ve read. thank you. good stuff.

    p.s. did you realize between the email and the post that there were 17 points and not 16 as the email states??

  14. What a great list, thanks.

    I’m a new blogger myself – I started in January. I’m slowly learning all the stuff you mentioned. Now, if someone could put together a list like that for navigating the social media world. I’m trying to learn all that to promote my blog and there’s just so much. I feel like I’m getting lost in the minutia and spending way too much time on that, and less on writing.

  15. Venki! Are you kidding me?

    The title says: “17 Easy Steps to Brilliant Blog Posts”

    Not: “The Only Tried and True Way To Blog”

    Even if a newbie does come along, read this and start blogging. Over the course of developing their skills and experience they’ll find other ways to explore their muse.

    And an experienced blogger can read this and think, “Yep, gotta get back to basics. Lately I’ve strayed a bit…”

    Either way it’s a win-win. There is no Lose-Win, Lose-Lose, or Win-Lose at Copyblogger or this post.

    Great post Jill.

  16. @Brian

    I don’t know how I am committing the same offense. The reason I read this site is precisely because my blogging style isn’t the only one, and that I may have things to learn from other styles (especially this one, which is the polar opposite). On my own blog, I find myself getting wary when too many readers enthusiastically support my commitment to the long form with positive comments about the “depth” and “complexity” of what I say.

    When you say that the effect on copyblogger’s credibility is restricted to just me and a few others in the minority, but not all, that’s a very dangerous slippery slope towards an echo chamber.

    Credibility in my mind is NOT a matter of majority/democratic vote, but a kind of audience-independent perception of brand. For example, I don’t know much about finance for example, but I find Paul Krugman as “credible” as finance/economics professionals who read and understand everything he says.

    Or in short: brand, credibility and trust matter both with respect to your users/customers and non-customers. Otherwise you create a mutual-admiration echo chamber where cross-pollination from other worlds is impossible.

    As for that delicate shot about ‘the “rules” (i.e. things that work based on human psychology, not mindless rebellion and contrariness for its own sake)’ … I’ll let that indirect accusation of trolling go.

    I genuinely have no interest in being disruptive, just looking for stimulating conversations about blogging. If my occasional participation in the comments on this blog over the last year or so truly seem like trolling to you, I guess I’ll pipe down and let the harmonious dynamic of positive mutual reinforcement proceed unimpeded.

    For what it’s worth, I do think you guys provide a very valuable voice in the blogosphere, and though it sounds like I should probably stop commenting, I’ll continue to check in to read on occasion. All the best.


  17. Great post! As someone who is in that beginning phase, I find this all very useful.

    And you are right, in order to get that MBA (advanced), you have to become familiar with a few hundred blogs and posts. LOL

  18. @Venkat – it’s Copyblogger style.

    You’re right, there are many others, but “copyblogging” (and publishing on Copyblogger) is going to adhere to a fairly well-defined structure.

    I get your point, and exploring it in-depth would be a great article for ribbonfarm (which is going back into my feed btw).

    But it’s really not an issue here.

  19. Hey Jill,
    These are solid steps. ‘Story of Successful Bloggers’ and ‘Interviews’ are really awesome steps to Brilliant Blog Posts.
    Thanks for sharing this great Post.


  20. Thank you, Jill! Especially the point about including too many topics in your post is something that we, newby bloggers, can be great at! After all, when you’re just starting you easily have years of experience(s) to include in that first post. 😉 When reviewing potential readers’ columns for a magazine I used to run, that would make the difference between an awesome read and a toss-aside. I’ll be happy to read lots more from you!

  21. Perfect timing! Just launched my blog today, so this will help as I fill it up with some great stuff. 🙂


    I really see the point you’re trying to make about “this is THE way to do it” kind of advice, but really, I think there’s another perspective on this. You could look at it as there being three kinds of Newbies:

    a) the Newbie has learned the lesson of “Take Everything In Stride With Your Personal Vision”, aka applying the advice to their personal situation rather than treating it like gospel;

    b) the Newbie has not learned this, but will as they find out some things just don’t work for them as well as others, allowing them to learn and adapt from their mistakes;

    or c) the Newbie hasn’t learned it, and likely won’t ever learn it, and end up leaving to try something new.

    All of those situations really aren’t negative. A is obviously doing just fine, while B is on his or her way. And as for C – well, sometimes people just aren’t cut out for it, which is okay. Means they can move on to something better instead of floundering.

    Not that Copyblogger needs my help or defense of them, but I suppose that as a relative newbie myself, I appreciate the fact that I had to learn these lessons myself. Made me a better blogger, so to speak.

  22. In the end it’s all about grabbing the reader’s attention in about 1.2 nanoseconds. After that, it’s all on your shoulders to keep your writing interesting enough to hold the person until the end of the post.

    Once that’s all said and done, you need to keep them coming back for more. This is a great list and I wish you success in your blogging adventures.

    Make sure that your single idea actually answers the question that you are posing in the headline, as well. I have read way too many blog posts that grab some serious attention, but the writer forgot to fully answer the question down in the text.

  23. Jill, I love hearing from newbies, being one myself. Thanks for this terrific list! Here’s a favorite quote from Suzuki Roishi: “In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities; in the expert’s mind there are few.

  24. Great Article Jill, I am also new to the blogging world and I think you have pretty much nailed the basics (it has taken me a year to get to some of what you have mentioned, long fun road ahead!). Initially, I thought it was so important to be “transparent” and over share about my life and experiences.

    My goal was to help people and to do that, I must make the content clear and valuable for them. Sprinkle a bit of my story in the background to add some personality to the work and make it uniquely me own.

    Thanks for writing this. I will take away and implement 3 points: Write the headline first, Write to a specific person and write on only one idea at a time. Thanks!

  25. Excellent list! It would be helpful to anyone, newbie or otherwise.
    The only thing I would add is Voice. Having a consistent ‘voice’ throughout posts lets readers feel like they are getting to know you. It brings them back. Of course, that could come under the heading “Who Are You Writing To.”

    Thanks for sharing your list.

  26. Fantastic post Jill! Even though you consider yourself a beginner blogger, what already makes you an expert is that you found a hole in the bucket, in the mass of information online and took the opportunity to fill it with everything you’ve learned so far. I enjoyed your step by step guidelines and look forward to implementing them in my future blog posts.


  27. You make one really good point here, although there are many great, popular blogs, it’s still hard to find useful information, like guidelines and summaries about specific topics. And I don’t only mean blogging. It’s hard to believe, and while everyone is saying “know your audience”, not many are realizing that the majority of their audience are actually newbies. So, great job on this article!

  28. This is a really great post that provides a clear structure to approach writing blog posts. I am never one to think I cannot learn from new people. The moment I think I cannot learn from anyone, is the moment I stop learning all together.

  29. @Dave, Paige

    Ah well… was thinking out loud to some extent, and my responses helped me clarify to my own satisfaction why I have such a mixed reaction to most things I read here. So there’s some personal value in that.


  30. Venkat,

    No one is going to miss you if you do no longer comment on CopyBlogger’s post. What you said is not entirely true. It’s just the wrong way you looked into it. So, I think the best for you would be actively join the discussion and share your views with others.

    Shutting up yourself will only limit your thoughts within your own; it’s not worth it.

  31. All the above tips are highly useful! One addition from my side would be, adding pictures to your posts can help make your topic more clear and attractive!

    And for anyone who comments on blogs it depends on their perspectives how they react! So needn’t worry till there is something offensive!

  32. Great article Jill.

    I think someone coming in new sees things in a different light and you’ve managed to bring clarity to a complexed subject. You’ve created a great check list that I anyone and everyone could use to help get the ideas flowing or simply verify our post is fit-for-purpose before publishing.

    I was going to say it was 17 points not 16 but see that’s already been corrected.

    Regarding Venkat’s comments I really think he’s trying to over complicate things. I don’t think anyone has ever stated their way is the ONLY way on copyblogger. There is no one size fits all.

  33. g’day all… this is the first time anything I’ve written has been read and commented on by such a large number of “friends I haven’t met yet”. When I wrote & submitted that post, I had no idea what would happen, and the first hurdle was getting any kind of response from the copyblogger folks. I was amazed to get a personal response from Sonia (amazement represents my view of the world, not hers) and doubly amazed when they agreed to publish my post. To read all these comments turns what was a “static” semi-one-way experience into a very dynamic multi-way experience. I know in the fast paced cyber world, the conversation will move on very quickly (may have already) but for now I feel, for the first time, a part of this community. Every single comment has drawn me closer in. Who knew? Thank you.

  34. Absolutely love the way Jill wrote this post… what style!


    many here are cool with “what” she wrote about [her message], but I’m totally down with the “technique” she used to get my undivided attention.

    Many of you bloggers and posters need to go back and see how Jill brought this entire message “down home” so simple, “regular folk” (like myself) can easily decipher her awesome message.

    I’m gonna have to become a follower of Jill Chivers from here on out…

    Great stuff… great stuff, indeed!

  35. @vencat

    I respect your writing talent. For this reason, I think you should submit a Copyblogger guest post my friend. Show us how it’s done.
    ps. Vigorous debate is awesome, but sometimes you write with an undertone of poor-misunderstood-me-victimhood. Did anybody ever tell you that?

  36. I think this is the only blog I read where the quality of the guest posts is as good, if not sometimes a greater breath of fresh of air, as the key writers.

    Well done Copyblogger and all your guest writers. Win.

  37. This blog post by itself is brilliant. Thank you, Jill. I agree with you about getting the draft headline done first and then come back to it once the content has been written.

    I personally do this for my blog and it really works. To extend it further, I write draft headlines for the whole week and it gets me excited about what I am going to write.

  38. great post jill! and i’m inspired by the courage it took for you to land this guest post.

    as a newbie blogger, soaking in all this great information from so many resources i loved the checklist idea and you hit on key takeaways.

    i especially appreciated the reminder to write to one person! thanks jill:-)

  39. Great tips, already the first one is worth a million on its own! The title is one of the most important things of any article, so reconsidering it after writing the whole post is a good idea.

  40. I have learned so much from your comments. Including: I gotta learn how to get my photo included as part of my commenting profile (or whatever it’s called). Wasn’t kidding about being a newbie.

    If you aren’t sure that commenting on someone else’s post is worth it, pls let me tell you: it makes a big difference to the person on the receiving end.

    And a big bravo! to the copyblogger people, who have created this friendly and stimulating place. It may be virtual, but it feels very real. Bravo. And thank you.

  41. Jill, your post comes at a timely moment. My partner (business, not life) and I have gone through three revisions of a post now, and in so small part because of the “One Idea Principle” you elucidate above. Beginning with the headline, and making sure the post keeps expanding on that one argument, is a difficult but rewarding task indeed. Great job!

  42. Great post with great tips. Especially liked the part where you said I must write with a specific audience in mind. I’ve just started blogging again and I must say I’m pretty rusty. Currently I find that I have a lot of problems ending a post as I do not know whether I should end it business like or having like Jill said a call to action. Guess it’s time for me to learn how to blog again. Haha.

  43. Well done overview of many good ‘how to’ posts that I’ve read. I bookmarked yours because it includes so many good points all in one place and w/ good reference links. As a new blogger (well 7 months into it, but yes I still feel I’m in the ‘much to learn’ phase) it helps to be re-reminded of the basics as I create posts. I’m a physician and scientist and can really enjoy getting caught in the trees, yet I need to write about the forest, or one tree at a time.
    Thanks for content I’ll reread over and over again.
    Cynthia Bailey MD

  44. Judging by the number of views and comments on each of your blogs, you certainly know what you’re talking about! Its obvious I have a lot to learn. I’m terribly excited that I just started my blog on March 30th and already have over 1,000 views. You probably get that DAILY!

  45. Aloha Jill,

    Thanks for such a condensed yet powerful article on blogging. There is always so much to learn and experince. We write about our Family Forest Project®,
    A People-Centered Approach To History®, so we never run out of ideas just the means by which to draw the attention of the crowd!

    Your Future, Your Past http://familyforest.wordpress.com

  46. Ahhh…finally an all-in-one article on how to blog effectively. I’ve been waiting for one! I’m a new blogger myself, and I share your frustration, Jill, with going from site to site looking for information on how to write well. I am going to print this off as a good reference point.

    I appreciate Copyblogger for consistently posting useful information. I have gained a ton of wisdom reading the daily posts. I also applaud you guys for allowing a relatively new blogger, Jill, to post this article. It’s very encouraging 🙂 Thanks to all of you!

  47. @Lady (that’s the convention when writing to a specific individual in the comments, right?) — I’ve tried to hard not to get “numbers envy” when it comes to site/blog statistics. It boggles my brain how many followers some people have and kinda intimidates me. So I do a quiet acknowledgement when I read or hear that someone has, say 50,000 Twitter followers or 108,000 or 24,000 subscribers to their blog or ezine. And then I try to let that info go and just focus on what’s happening in my lane. Kudos to those folks with the big numbers, they no doubt deserve those numbers. Not being anywhere near that, I could find my focus getting wobbling if I do too much comparison. They’re Olympic athletes and I’m just runnin’ ’round the block on the occasional sunny afternoon.

    @Steve – thanks for the gravatar.com suggestion – went straight there and signed up, found most attractive photo of self I could put up, etc. All going well, my photo will appear here (operator error no doubt responsible if it doesn’t). This is a good example of my MO actually – take a suggestion from trusted source and ACTION it fairly quickly.

    @copyblogger (I’m really getting the hang of this “@” thing now) – this has been a path altering experience for me… it’s restored my faith that “people out there” are generous and interested and will ‘give a go’ to someone very green. I’m chartreuse I’m so green. My list now has one-third more people on it than when the week started, and I’m sure that’s due to the traffic generated from being a guest in service to you.

  48. I think I’ve broken every single one of these rules on practically every post. Except that I do come up with a title. Most of the time. But it’s often longer than the entire post.

    It’s probably not supposed to be like that, huh?

  49. I have just started blogging. The two bullets that stood most out to me were having a definite purpose, and writing to an ideal user. I have recently started a self-development blog and wonder about this. I write succinct headlines, keep on one subject, but I do not have an ideal reader. Something in my head tells me my blog is too weird or to obscure for readers and those in the self-development community do not relate.

    Anyways, thanks to Copyblogger for keeping things real. Inspirational post to keep everything well organized.

  50. Hey Jill,
    Iam new to this blogging world and i have over 30 articles written and saved i was looking for some tutorials like this to modify and publish,
    thanx for sharing . .

  51. Great Post…..As a experienced write, many of us will ignore these points until read this post……….
    Same here as used to write and publish directly but will have to spend more time checking post links, and writeup before publishing it.
    This seems good guide for freshers as well as experienced ones can pick some points

  52. Awesome Reminders. I used some of ideas from your check list and my blogs are looking really good. Let me know what you think.

  53. Nice… this has some helpful tips. Thanks. I just started blogging myself a few months ago. One of the most difficult challenges–for me, anyway–has been blogging on a regular basis since it is not a full-time gig for me. (I wrote about it last week in my post “12 Steps to Getting Back on the Blogging Wagon.”) Right now, I am rebelling against the blogging golden rule of posting everyday…who made this rule up, anyway? The online arena is changing so fast–and we are constantly changing the way we communicate and find our information. Rules? Bloggers don’t need no stinkin’ rules.

  54. When I write my blog posts I try and start with the title first. From there, I focus on making one point, sharing a story to emphasize that point and close with a question.

    Sometimes I keep revisiting the post because I’m not quite happy with it. When that’s the case, I save it as a draft and revisit it at a later date until it’s ready to get published.

    Great list of tips to follow by the way!

  55. This is an article that I waited, inspiring way of thinking for us to make every post contains very good and getting a response.

  56. This is a really nice post aimed at blogging newbies who can use some guidance to attract and sustain attention. I would definitely recommend the blog on Skillocracy.com as a perfect example on how to present and elaborate a particular point.

  57. While writing an article and sticking to one basic topic isn’t a problem, blogging about only one topic per post takes some massive concentration! 🙂 I will often go back and read previous posts of mine and see where I dipped off into tangent land on several occasions. I’m going to print this out and keep it beside my computer as a reminder. Thanks for the great tips!

  58. Excellent article, I am surprised you didn’t say “Spell Check”, “Spell Check”, “Spell Check” as one of the last five bullets for last things to check. Too many mistakes, when a post is full of blatant typo’s is shows laziness or that someone may not have a good grasp of the language. It hurts your professionalism and reputation.

    All your tips are dead on and this article was well written and engaging.

  59. Great list Jill. Definitely makes it easier for new and up-coming bloggers to start their own journey in the blogging world with your list. Kudos to you.

  60. Great post Jill. I’m also a newbie blogger and at time I find myself staring at the screen trying to search for things to blog on.

  61. Hi Jill. This is a very useful list that I wish I’d found earlier. I think I’m doing a good chunk of the list – but not all. Printing this out an putting it up on my office wall. Thanks for sharing.

  62. I went to a workshop that a very successful public speaker ran, this was a few years ago. His 60min presentation was all about the Top Ten Secrets to (his) Success. Everyone scribbled notes furiously as he spoke, including me. He finished Secret #9, then for his grand finale said “the 10th secret is to make up your own secrets. I just made these up”. I’d say that something similar must go for blogging. Right?

  63. Great information…really appreciated.

    I am also new at blogging and appreciate the 8 Idea Sparks… (which I will post on my wall).

    Copyblogger has been an excellent source. Thanks much!

  64. It is easy to see why you have a #1 SERP result.

    Great article. Meaningful advice.

    Clearly, you have been writing a long time. Getting good takes time. I humbly suggest that you add another item to the checklist: practice. Most bloggers (sic writers) give up too early. The case the Elizabeth Gilbert proves this point. Her success and your style speak more to the power of learning to be excellent by failing than it does about focus.

    All the best to you!

    Many thanks.

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