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The Anatomy of a Successful WordPress Blog Post

My formula for writing a successful blog post, along with some writing advice and tips on how to choose an effective theme for your WordPress blog.

Laptop camera cup of coffee

Recently, a friend asked me about my blog writing process. She wanted to know how I come up with ideas, plan posts, structure content and actually get on with the task of writing. Essentially, she wanted to know my secret formula.

I do, in fact, have a formula. I would describe it as more of a blog post template that I’ve developed over the years as a professional writer, both online and offline. Whenever I start a new post (much like this one), it helps me write faster because I’m not flailing about in the dark when I’m getting started. I can dive straight into a topic and just write.

So here is my formula for writing a successful blog post, along with some writing advice and tips on how to choose an effective theme for your WordPress blog.

Newspaper Article Update Checking Publication Department
Image: Newspaper Article Update Checking Publication Department

The Essential Elements of Any Blog Post

My blog post template includes these seven elements:

  1. Headline. Every great post starts with a catchy headline that grabs the reader’s attention and draws them in to start reading. Online readers have a very short attention span – around 8 seconds – so your headline is one of the first elements that will help them decide whether your post is worth clicking through to read. WordStream and Neil Patel both other some great in-depth data on how to write effective headlines.
  2. Introduction. After the headline, this is the second more important component of any post. Your introduction needs to quickly convince the reader that your post is worth reading through to the end. It should provide a summary of what the reader can expect in the rest of the article. There are different ways you can approach writing an introduction, whether through storytelling, humor, asking a question or stating a fact. Whatever approach you decide to go with, it must be attention-grabbing. If you struggle to write an intro, I suggest going with the most interesting or surprising information you learned while researching your topic and starting with that.
  3. Main content. This is the bulk of your article. Always include things like lists – bullets and/or numbers – and blockquotes to help break up the text to make it easier to scan and read.
  4. Sub-headings. Sub-headings helps make your content easier to digest for readers who scan through your content, but also just in general as it helps provide structure for your content.
  5. Images. Have you ever picked up a magazine that is just all text? Exactly. Relevant images help pull readers into your content and provide quick context for your words. Always include captions – like headlines and sub-headings, they provide another element that readers can quickly scan.
  6. Featured image. Choose a feature image that reflects what your article is about and provides a point of intrigue for readers.
  7. Conclusion. Sum up your blog post with a brief conclusion that recaps what you covered in the content. You might also want to include resources or links for further reading.

Tips for Writing Great Blog Posts:

There are also some general writing tips that I follow when writing posts:

  1. Research. No matter what you’re writing about, always research your topic inside-out. I usually start by googling my chosen topic and reading as much as I can about it, and then compiling my research into a list I can refer back to as I write.
  2. Plan out the structure of your post. I don’t really get those people who “just start writing.” Just thinking about it stresses me out. I find that planning out how I want to structure my post, including writing a brief summary to get me started on the introduction and titles for each sub-heading, helps me fill in the blanks so I know exactly what I need to write for each part of the part. For example, I’m halfway through writing the post you’re reading now and I’ve already set it out into four sections (introduction, essential elements, writing tips, and choosing a theme). All I need to do is fill out each section.
  3. Short paragraphs. There’s a reason why newspapers paragraphs are only 2-3 sentences – they’re easier to read and digest. Likewise, stick with short sentences online, otherwise, the content will look too heavy and readers will give up.
  4. Aim for 2,000-2,400 words. A Hubspot analysis found the ideal blog post length is roughly 2,100 words. Medium found that posts that took seven minutes to read earned the most engagement and attention, and serpIQ found that most of the top 10 Google results are between 2,032 and 2,416 words.
  5. Include statistics and numbers. Whenever possible, use data and numbers in your writing. Nielsen Norman Group has found numbers written as numerals instead of words attract reader attention when they quickly scan online content. Also, using facts and figure in your articles provide credible information and add authority to your work. Just remember to include links to stats you provide – you don’t want people thinking you made them up!
  6. Provide internal links. Where possible, link to other posts and further reading on your site. Not only will this encourage readers to explore your content, but it means you don’t have to explain a topic in full each time you write about it.

Choosing the Right Blogging Theme

Whether you have a personal blog, work for an agency or write long-form, storytelling content, there are different layout elements you should keep in mind when selecting a WordPress theme for your blog.

Typography

Your words should be as easy to read as possible, so stick with a simple, classic font that matches the look and feel of your site.

Waves – Personal and Community Blogging Theme uses different variations of the Soleil sans-serif font for its titles, sub-headings and body content. The typography looks clean and is incredibly easy to scan through and read thanks to the line-height and simple layout.

Waves WordPress theme
Waves features simple typography that is highly readable.

Social media share buttons

You want your posts to be shared so make it as easy as possible for readers to share your posts. You can do this by including social share buttons in the header, footer or sidebar of your content.

Higo – A Responsive WordPress Blog Theme features share buttons just below blog post headlines, but above the content. While the buttons are displayed in a prominent location, they also match the look and feel of the site.

Higo WordPress theme
The Higo theme is classy yet functional – perfect for lifestyle bloggers.

Sidebars

Sidebars are a great place to display useful information for readers, like popular posts, categories, archives, and your author bio.

My favorite example is Flexblog – A WordPress Blog Theme. This theme features a thoughtful design that includes all the elements you’d want in a sidebar without feeling cluttered. Plus, this theme is fully customizable so you can pick and choose what you want in your sidebar.

Flexblog WordPress theme
The Flexblog theme features a well-crafted sidebar design.

Related Posts

Displaying related posts on your blog posts encourages users to stick around and continue reading our content, which also helps to reduce your bounce rate – great for SEO.

Monica – Personal & Shop WordPress Blog Theme features two related posts at the bottom of each post as well as arrows to navigate chronologically through your content. Not only does this give readers the option of choosing from four different posts to move on to reading, it also helps give readers a sense of where they are on your blog and how your content fits together.

Monica WordPress theme
The Monica Theme’s related post section is easy to scan but also functional.

Author bio

Providing a well-crafted author bio to go with your posts helps readers get to know who has written the content, and see that a real person is behind the words. Always include a photo with your bio. Don’t hide behind your words! Seeing your face will help readers quickly recognize your work.

Hemlock – A Responsive WordPress Blog Theme features a clean and contemporary design for its bios, complete with all the most popular social share buttons. The author photo is round – very trendy – and there’s space for a three-line bio, which is not too short and not too long, just right.

Hemlock WordPress theme
The Hemlock theme’s author bios are simple and elegant.

Conclusion

As I mentioned above, the conclusion of a post is where you sum up everything above. So here goes:

There’s a lot to remember when crafting a blog post, which means there’s also a lot to forget. Hopefully, this guide has given you a solid understanding of the essential elements that should be included in any successful blog post, and tips to keep in mind once you start writing.

I encourage you to check out the themes I’ve mentioned in this post if you’re looking for a new blog design. And if none of the above designs caught your eye, there are many more designs for blogs to explore in our theme marketplace.


Jenni McKinnon

About the Author Jenni McKinnon

A long-time web developer, writer, consultant and WordPress instructor, Jenni McKinnon is a Co-Founder at Words By Birds, a copywriting agency for busy web businesses. A WordPress nerd, she names her test sites after references from The Simpsons.