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How to Write a Successful Blog Post, the Right Way

Stating the Obvious? Blogging More Isn’t Always Better.

We’ve all heard that we need to blog more, and there’s a lot of advice from respectable online marketing agencies that posting more often will boost your bottom line. But this is a half-truth, not a proven formula for success.

In fact, part of the problem is that everyone is blogging more. If you’re only looking at WordPress, which is one of the most popular platforms for creating new websites, 42.6 million new blog posts are published every month. That’s nearly 17 new blog posts being created per second, just on WordPress. Near the end of 2015, WordPress powered 25% of all sites on the internet, so you can likely quadruple that number (for a total of 68 new blog posts) to approximate how much new content is truly being created every second. If you’d like to be sobered by precisely how much information is added to and consumed by the internet every moment of every day, just watch it unfold in real time.

Another part of the problem is that a great deal of content on the internet is garbage. Approximately 75% of all the sites that exist online are inactive. Furthermore, people just don’t seem to care about anything except what Google serves up to them. Consider these statistics from Moz:

  • 71.33% of organic clicks occur on page 1 of search results pages (SERPs)
  • On page 1, the first 5 search results account for a full 67.60% of clicks
  • Page 2 and 3 of SERPs account for a mere 5.59% of clicks

If you do a Google search for “How to write a blog post,” you’ll get “about 118,000,000” results. Of those millions upon millions of pages, about 77% of people are utilizing the first 30 results in Google. And Moz’s numbers may actually be low. A different study from Chitika in 2013 concluded that 95% of search traffic flows through the first page of Google.

This doesn’t necessarily mean those other 117,999,970 results consist of entirely worthless content, but it should give you pause as you consider the idea that blogging more is better.

The truth is that blogging better is better. Here’s how.

Step 1 for Writing a Blog Post: Start with a Great Idea.

Writing a great blog post the right way begins with a great idea. Developing a great idea is a multifaceted process, and the more effort you put into creating and developing an outstanding idea, the more likely it is that your eventual blog post will be a success. If you write about something just to write something, you’re almost certainly going to end up disappointed in your blog’s performance.

Here are a few tips for finding a good idea for your next blog post:

  1. Tip: Choose a topic that relates to the product or service you provide so your eventual blog article will support the main goal(s) of your site.
    Example: This blog post supports our specific services of blog content development and content marketing, talks back to our core value of transparency, etc.
  2. Tip: Choose a topic you’re uniquely qualified to discuss so you can deliver unique insights.
    Example: I’ve been teaching writing for over a decade, I’ve been writing personally and professionally for even longer, I have piles of data about our own (and our clients’) successful blog posts to review, etc.
  3. Tip: Discover what has already been said about your topic so you can find something new to contribute.
    Example: There are plenty of pages and even websites dedicated to discussing how to write a blog post, but very few of them are written by writing experts who will be flagrantly honest with you about how difficult it is to create a successful blog post (and give you truly rock-solid and comprehensive advice for how to do it).

Those 3 tips will take you a long way toward writing a successful blog post without over-analyzing or missing the forest for the trees. Additional keyword, trend, audience, and competitor research can help clarify your topic and the direction your piece should ultimately take. A close analysis of your blog and site performance may also help as you craft a topic. What brings visitors to your site? What compels them to reach out? What topics do well and what topics are underperforming on your site?

Regardless of how much data and analysis you have at your disposal, the important thing to remember is that a successful blog post begins with a great idea.

Step 2 for Writing a Blog Post: Follow the Writing Process.

I’ve written before about how to manage content development with a team of writers; however, I’d like to share the same writing process I teach to my students and my own team here at LaFleur Legal Marketing. We follow every step of this process to craft successful blog content for ourselves and our clients.

  • Phase 1: Brainstorming and Pre-Drafting

Once you have an idea, it needs further development before you should dive into the actual writing. The most basic form of pre-drafting is to create a scratch outline to plan out the general trajectory of your piece. You may further develop your scratch outline by including facts, sources, and main ideas you want to make sure you include (or avoid).

If you’re having trouble putting together a coherent scratch outline, you likely need to step back a bit and do some more thorough brainstorming. Conducting some more research, freewriting for 5-10 minutes about your topic, and/or creating a freeform concept map may generate enough talking points to then develop a serviceable scratch outline that will serve as your guide as you draft.

  • Phase 2: Drafting

Most people have a good idea of what drafting is. It’s the process by which you take those scrap sheets of paper, files, reports, and online bookmarks you’ve been using to collect ideas and turn them into something that resembles a formal piece of writing.

For online writing in particular, you’ll want to consider utilizing headings, subheadings, bullets, lists, and visuals more so than you would for something in print. Keep in mind that people online have incredibly short attention spans and simply do not read online like they do on paper. Keep your points concise and poignant wherever possible.

Kyle McCarthy, another one of our expert writers, developed a brief series on writing for the web that can assist you as you create your draft:

Drafting is best done in long, focused stretches of time. Silence your phone; close out email, chat, and other distracting programs and windows; and get all of the materials you need in one place. If you think you can multitask, you’re wrong. Any interruptions or distractions will negatively impact your writing; it’s that simple.

  • Phases 3 and 4: Revising and Editing

In a furious dash to get more content on their websites (and with a misinformed attitude about people’s willingness to tolerate writing errors online), content writers and publishers rarely give much thought to revising and editing. But consider the last thing you enjoyed reading online and that you read all the way through: how many mistakes did you find? Chances are good the answer to that question is “surprisingly few, if any.”

As I’m fond of telling my students and writers, errors in grammar, punctuation, and mechanics are like distractions at a theater — the movie you’re seeing may be great, but the experience of watching it is easily ruined by cell phones going off, a creaky seat, talkative moviegoers, and numerous other distractions. No matter how great your topic and ideas are, the experience of reading about them will be ruined by typos, repetitive syntax, nonstandard grammar, and uninspired word choice.

In short, the importance of quality writing online cannot be understated.

The best way to revise and edit is to step away from your piece for a period of time. Any amount of time will do — even 15 minutes in a crunch — but I recommend at least 1 day away from your writing before coming back to it. Read it once through specifically for revising concerns at the section and paragraph level. Are your ideas in the best order possible? Are they fully developed? Have you taken out anything that is not especially relevant to your primary discussion? Are you missing any concepts or details that would defuse objections and cement the internal logic of your piece?

Once you’re done revising, take some more time away from your piece so you can come back with fresh eyes for another read through. This time, focus more narrowly on editing concerns at the sentence and word level. Are you using the most poignant words possible? Can you make your explanations more concise? Have you eliminated redundancies? Did you vary your sentence structure and diction? Did you obliterate needless passive voice?

If you’re going to cut corners, proof while you edit. If you want to be able to sleep at night knowing you did the best possible job you could on your blog post, take some time away after editing and then come back to proof. Make sure everything is spelled correctly. Keep a keen eye out for misplaced modifiers, mixed metaphors, confusing shifts in tense or perspective, and parallelism errors. Be sure you can justify each use of any type of punctuation.

At any point while you revise, edit, and proof, the input of others can be helpful. A second or third set of eyes on a piece will inevitably catch something you missed. Despite my editing prowess, I always have another team member at least proof any piece I write because it’s difficult to get enough distance from your own work to truly be an outstanding self-editor.

  • Phase 5: Publishing

The final phase of the writing process is to publish your work online. When you do, you’ll want to get fundamental search engine optimization (SEO) elements (title tag, meta description, and H1 tag) in place. At a minimum, you’ll want to find a relevant image to include in your post with alt-text. Your formatting online should have a clear hierarchy based on the headings, subheadings, and other structural features in your original document.

Ideally, you will also include a clear call to action. Encourage visitors to fill out a form, call your office, visit other pages, download a resource, or accomplish another action that will further the goal(s) of your website and/or business.

Once those crucial foundational elements are in place, you may then consider adding additional features and implementing complementary strategies to bolster the success of your copy. Featured quotes, graphics, charts, and other visuals or design-based elements can keep finicky online readers engaged. Creating high-quality video content related to the post can also increase engagement across platforms. Promoting your piece via email can give you the best chance of reaching the people who matter the most, and promoting your work on social media can help you reach new audiences.

Step 3 for Writing a Blog Post: Monitor Your Performance

There’s no easy way to say this: not every post you write, even if it is truly outstanding, is going to be a success. Online readers are fickle and highly unpredictable. If you polled our most experienced writers and editors to ask which pieces are the best on our site, their lists would likely share a few blog article titles, but no one’s list would align 100% with the actual performance of our blog pieces.

To provide a little insight here, I’d like to share what our top 5 blog pieces were this past month (from December 15, 2016 to January 15, 2017); I’ve also included when they were published:

  1. Don’t Be a Fool at Your Office Holiday Party (December 2016)
  2. Q&A with Chip LaFleur, President of LaFleur Legal Marketing (December 2016)
  3. Digital Marketing Ethics: Where to Draw the Line (February 2016)
  4. Now and Later: Forecasting Your Law Firm’s 2017 Marketing Budget (October 2016)
  5. Why Write? The Relevance of Good Writing in the Internet Age. (October 2015)

The two at the top of the list come as no surprise to any of us: they were promoted via email and social this past month. However, several other posts were promoted in the exact same way and had more time to acquire unique page views in this past month, but they got beat out by other posts, one of which is well over a year old.

Granted, unique page views are a bit of a vanity metric and don’t say a whole lot about the quality of the content, but it’s a starting point for analysis. If I were to do a deep dive into assessing how our blog content is performing, I’d probably consider unique page views, time on page, and conversion success to get started. After all, a page with 1 view that gets you 1 new client is almost always better than a page with 1,000 views that gets you 0 new clients.

Now let’s take a look at our top 5 posts of all time as far as unique views are concerned:

  1. Digital Marketing Ethics: Where to Draw the Line (February 2016)
  2. Optimizing Your YouTube Videos for Impact: Titles and Descriptions (June 2015)
  3. Twitter Marketing: Best Practices to Make It Work (January 2016)
  4. Why Write? The Relevance of Good Writing in the Internet Age. (October 2015)
  5. The Importance of Trust: An Etymological History of “Legal” and “Loyal” (July 2015)

Again, unique page views are just one way to look at the data, and there plenty of confounding factors here: these posts have been around longer to accumulate more views, they have been promoted more often, etc. However, the key takeaway here is that the most successful pages on our site are, in many ways, an ongoing source of surprise, and yours likely will be too.

What shouldn’t be a surprise is the ROI your successful blog posts bring. While the topics that have done well are delightfully surprising to us, every one of them has brought us success, from likes and shares to form fills and phone calls, and your truly outstanding content, if executed properly, will ultimately do the same. And it’s easy to see from the sampling of successful posts above that your best content will pay dividends for weeks, months, and even years after it is first published.

Blogging more isn’t going to bring you that success on its own. Instead, what succeeds and what fails on your blog needs to be a guide as you strategize and develop ideas for your next post or content marketing initiative. Should you riff off of a successful topic (perhaps with a new approach, another level of depth, or a discussion about a closely related issue) to increase your authority, or should you explore new areas to establish your knowledge and experience? Should you update a post that has failed (or gone stale) or remove it and move forward with something brand new? Should you consolidate several posts on a similar topic or break a large piece up into a series?

These are difficult questions to answer, especially when the only data you have available is your own (if you’re lucky enough to have the time and capability to collect and analyze that data intelligently). And that’s where LaFleur Legal Marketing comes in.

LaFleur Legal Marketing: Blog Writing Experts and Content Marketing Aficionados

At LaFleur Legal Marketing, we not only have a uniquely talented and qualified staff of exceptional writers, but also a wealth of experience specifically in the legal sector. We can use the data from past successes to inform our approach to your unique situation as we customize a blend of the specific tools and tactics that make the most sense for you.

Whether you’re looking to improve and expand your content marketing efforts or you’re exasperated with the mediocre work your current marketing agency keeps delivering (or failing to deliver), you should contact LaFleur Legal Marketing. Call us today at 888-222-1512 or fill out our convenient contact form. We look forward to hearing from you!

Related Posts:


Petrescu, P. (2014, October 1). Google organic click-through rates in 2014. Moz. Retrieved from

The value of Google result positioning. (2013, June 7). Chitika. Retrieved from

Total number of websites. (n.d.). Internet Live Stats. Retrieved from

Why Write? The Relevance of Good Writing in the Internet Age.

As a college professor who regularly teaches (and who prefers to teach) foundational writing courses that every student is required to take, I’m faced with a lot of hostility—usually on the first day of class when I ask each student to explain why he or she is taking my class. While about half of them say, “to get an A” (that’s a criticism of our society for another day), I’m also met with my fair share of shrugs and plenty of students who simply say “because I have to.” Naturally, there are always a few Goody Two-Shoes who try to parade their virtue by saying, “to learn more about writing.” (In a writing class? You don’t say!)

These typical responses are indicative of a few deeply held beliefs. Chief among them is that good writing doesn’t matter anymore. And honestly, I understand this belief on some level.


After all, we live in the Internet Age. It’s an age where writing cover letters and crafting resumes has been replaced with filling out pages upon pages of online forms requesting one-word responses crammed into tiny text-entry fields.

It’s an age where there’s an entire humor industry built around “autocorrect fails”—where people’s phones “correct” messages in humorous ways. (My wife’s phone once autocorrected my name to “Gandalf,” which I’m sort of fine with, namely because it speaks to the frequency with which we exchange Tolkien references via text message.) Of course, the entire premise for this kind of humor is that computers usually correct things correctly and only sometimes make humorous mistakes.

It’s an age where computers can almost describe images better than humans. (And where computers may actually dream of electric sheep.) It’s an age where most word processors have respectable hunches about when you’re using the wrong “two,” “too,” or “to.” And it’s an age where computers can write entire novels and imaginary scientists can even get computer-generated papers published by major academic journals and become cited by real “scientists.”

So, if technology can fix our mistakes or do our writing for us, what’s the incentive to write well?

More Is More

On top of technology becoming better and better at handling the bothersome writing-related tasks of our everyday lives, people are also writing more (and reading more) than they probably ever have in all of history. Many of us remember a time a mere 20 years ago when there was barely such a thing as email and when there was definitely no such thing as texting. While I don’t have any concrete numbers, my intuition is that the average number of words written and read today is orders of magnitude higher than it was 20 years ago.

In fact (you might need a second to process this), humans now create more information every two days than was created from the dawn of civilization to 2003. It’s easy to see how: you can watch the Internet happening in real time.

So, if people are already doing so much writing—what’s the incentive to write well?

If You Catch My Gist

As if to add insult to injury, there’s an ever-growing culture of voracious content consumption, appropriation, and proliferation (rather than appreciation) that pervades the Internet and nearly all other communications outlets, both print and digital. Many sites don’t even bother with paragraphs and instead just throw together 10-15 roughly organized sentences and call it an “article.” Instead of actually telling a story, they list a haphazard series of facts and leave it to readers to fill in the blanks, literally.


Of course, people may not even read those ramshackle lists of factoids anyway. In a hilarious April Fool’s joke, NPR pranked their online readers a few years ago to point out exactly how many people simply read headlines and don’t bother to digest the content of articles online (and then subsequently proceed to aggressively opine in the comments section).

So if no one really cares about the quality of content—or if any content even exists beyond the headline—what’s the incentive to write well?

Pancake People

In what is undoubtedly one of the cornerstone texts on this issue, Nicholas Carr’s “Is Google Making Us Stupid?” delves deeply into how technology has affected our brains and our society throughout history. While it’s tempting to quote his article in its entirety, one of his more salient points is that

The Net isn’t the alphabet, and although it may replace the printing press, it produces something altogether different. The kind of deep reading that a sequence of printed pages promotes is valuable not just for the knowledge we acquire from the author’s words but for the intellectual vibrations those words set off within our own minds. In the quiet spaces opened up by the sustained, undistracted reading… we make our own associations, draw our own inferences and analogies, foster our own ideas. 

He also quotes from the playwright Richard Foreman’s essay “The Pancake People, Or ‘The Gods Are Pounding in My Head’”:

Today, I see within us all (myself included) the replacement of complex inner density with a new kind of self-evolving under the pressure of information overload and the technology of the “instantly available.” A new self that needs to contain less and less of an inner repertory of dense cultural inheritance—as we all become “pancake people”—spread wide and thin as we connect with that vast network of information accessed by the mere touch of a button.

The tacit implication of both authors is that our reading habits and writing habits are inexorably linked. This is something that, as an educator, I’ve known for a long time. Poor readers are poor writers and vice versa. The fragmentary, scattered, and simplistic nature of the vast majority of online content (as well as personal and even professional communication) has only served to make people’s writing increasingly fragmentary, scattered, and simplistic.

I suspect that almost everyone who is still reading has felt the effects of this. For example, if I am sending out questions or requests in an email, I now need to make numbered lists. Writing in complete sentences and paragraphs often results in only partial answers or—worse—radio silence. When I get emails with questions or requests, they almost certainly necessitate follow-up to clarify exactly what was being asked in the first place. Again, numbered lists are often helpful.

More and more, the average person’s ability to focus on a single task and connect the dots is eroding—probably because the most taxing intellectual work the average person does is blitz-scroll through their “news” feeds. We skitter across ideas, sites, and articles at the fastest speed our Internet connections will allow. The information we glean from this behavior never has the chance to solidify. We’re not even fully-formed pancake people—we’re the sloppy batter that’s in the bowl.

While this entropic tendency could be due to a feedback loop of poor writing leading to worse reading and even poorer writing—as Carr and Foreman suggest—it could also be a result of the rapidly shortening attention span of average online users, which is now down to 8 seconds, according to a study by Microsoft. In fact, on average, 55% of visitors to any given web page leave within 15 seconds. And the average visitor to this page who actually sticks around will only read about 18% of the text. So if you’re still with me, you’re among the smallest of minorities. I like to think of us as “the elite,” though.

What Does Your Writing Say About You?

Regardless of the cause, the Internet Age has brought about an explosion—and concurrent dilution—of written content. It has often been said that print is dead, and it may even feel like we’re moving into a place where writing as we classically define it may also be passing away, but there’s more to the story than how many visitors actually read content online. As Benjamin Disraeli purportedly once said, “there are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.” There are times and places where statistical data is important, if not crucial, to a task. But language–particularly the English language–is not easily quantified in any sense. And as much as we’d like to boil writing down to a science (particularly in order to make computers do it for us), it still remains an art. And people are surprisingly good at recognizing good writing and bad writing when they see it.

After all, despite the statistics and seemingly cavalier approach most people take with the conventions of the written word, about 45% of employers in a recent survey were taking steps to implement employee training to improve grammar and other composition skills—a clear sign that professional writing is still important.

And Millennials, for as much grief as we all give them, are also an interesting case study in the importance of writing well. They have grown up in a digital world inundated with lackluster, disjointed content where computers correct their mistakes and they’re rarely asked to articulate themselves beyond 140 characters. Yet they have strong opinions about the importance of good writing: 71% claimed that they often found spelling mistakes in correspondence from others, and 74% said they were bothered by those errors on social media—more than any other age group polled.

There’s even a national celebration of writing every year: October 20 is the National Day on Writing. It’s a time to recognize both the vast amount and variety of writing that we all do, but it’s also a time to recognize how important writing is to our day-to-day lives. Just take a moment to consider: how much time do you spend reading and writing—as opposed to conversing—each day? The modern truth is that we spend a lot (perhaps even the majority) of our interpersonal communication time writing to strangers, to colleagues, and to friends and family. From texting or posting updates about our day on social media to answering work emails to composing angry reviews online, our days are saturated with written communication.

Often, that communication isn’t just seen by one person. From social media posts to emails with a CC list, our writing gets broadcasted to a wide and diverse audience that includes not only family, friends, and acquaintances, but also peers, colleagues, and complete strangers.

And the way we write communicates more than just the words themselves intend.

While the occasional typo may often be forgiven—unless you’re Robert Barker and Martin Lucas—being an effective writer is going to become an increasingly important skill as writing in all its forms continues to grow as a primary vehicle for communication in the digital age.

But Is Good Writing Still Relevant Online?

In the Internet Age, nowhere is good writing more important than in your online presence, whether for yourself or your organization. While the majority of your web page, blog post, or profile visitors will almost certainly leave before they’ve even had a chance to scroll down, the ones that do stay are the ones that you want reading your content. And they’re the ones you want to impress because they have a need and came to you looking for educational, informational, and well-crafted content with real value in a digital landscape littered with disorganized, vacuous, and unoriginal offal that is created and consumed with roughly the same amount of thought we put into whether we should like the latest adorable photos of our best friend’s puppy.

Providing well-crafted, informational, and educational material online is where the future of content marketing is headed. Analysts and ever-more sophisticated search algorithms are beginning to realize that poorly written and terse content is, thankfully, not the kind of content people are actually looking for online anymore. More and more, people are searching for well-developed and thoughtful writing, especially when they have a specific need. In a study of over 20,000 keywords, for example, results showed that the average length for all of the top 10 search engine results was over 2,000 words. Other research indicates that using long-form content increases conversions by 30 to 40 percent. Furthermore, long-form content consistently gets more traction on social media.

Thus, while the short history of the Internet Age has been one of even shorter attention spans, fragmented information, and diffusion, the future looks a bit brighter as we begin to harness the power of the Internet for the creation and promotion of original content that informs and fosters dialogue—content whose creation requires a mastery of the written word.

And that mastery isn’t developed or edified by skimming through and skipping across the types of shallow content that have traditionally been thrown together to gain high (and mostly meaningless) click rates in order to reap advertising dollars. That mastery is derived from deep reading. After all, everyone’s reading and writing skills need to be acquired. They’re not innate like our ability to speak. And just like other acquired skills, deliberate practice is crucial for not only maintenance, but improvement. In one study performed by researchers at Liverpool University, for example, the more difficult and complex a reading task was, the more involved a person’s brain became. And other studies indicate that deep reading makes people smarter: regular readers have larger vocabularies, more world knowledge, and better abstract reasoning skills.

Where does that enriching, multifaceted reading material required for bolstered intelligence come from? It comes from exceptional writers. So, my ultimate hope is that among those who just “want to get an A,” my future students will shrug a little less often when I ask them why they are taking my class and will instead indicate a belief that being able to write better will help them navigate the ever-changing and turbulent waters of an expanding digital world whose uncertain future will certainly depend on prolific writers.

Need Expert Online Writing and Marketing Services?

If you or your organization haven’t gotten your digital marketing oars wet (or it feels like you’re sinking amongst the competition), it’s time to call LaFleur at 888-222-1512. We see what’s on the digital horizon, and we will work with you to develop a holistic and innovative online marketing strategy to improve your bottom line. Contact us today to begin your voyage.

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