Designing the Perfect Blog Post

Blogging Best Practices: Designing the Perfect Blog Post
Posted on 03/12/2018

Having a blog for your municipality is a great idea. Though it might feel time-consuming at first, maintaining a blog is a great way to highlight your city or county and communicate with your residents by providing them with timely, informative articles about their home and government.


Blogging does require time, but, there are some easy, simple ways to reduce just how much time it takes. Follow these simple steps and you'll end up designing the perfect blog post quickly and efficiently.


Decide on Your Topic

Before you can write a blog post you need to have a topic. As a civic blog your focus will be on your constituents and municipality, meaning the topics at hand are endless. Writing about administrative changes, city events, "how tos" for citizens looking for information on how to apply for permits or pay their bills online, discussing upcoming or recent town halls, etc. Regardless of what topic you pick be sure:


  • It's relevant—what purpose does the content serve? Is it of a high quality? Is it applicable to your residents?
  • There's actionable insight (if the topic calls for it). Meaning, does the information provided offer a plan or insight into what your audience can do going forward?

Not every post you create will require actionable insight, but every post must be relevant.


Plan it Out

Once you've decided on your topic it's time to plan out your post. Writing out a brief, or detailed outline will help keep you focused on the topic, prevent you from going off course and ensure you hit all the right markers—leading you to create a post that will provide the most benefit to your readers. Use your outline to highlight key takeaways you want to emphasize. Once you've listed those main points you can move forward with fleshing them out.


Research the Topic

As a municipal blog, it's absolutely necessary that any and all information included in a post is factually correct. Prior to writing your post, you should research your chosen topic. Always provide links to sources you've quoted and additional articles readers can follow-up with for more information. Link back to information on your website that's relevant or that can provide clearer insight. Only use information or data from reliable sources and always attribute information to the correct sources.


Any posts that are strictly opinion based should be identified as such from the beginning. A disclaimer that ensures readers know the thoughts/opinions being expressed in the article are those of the writer provides a safety net for your government.

Don't Over-Write

The ideal blog post length differs depending on who you ask, but generally falls somewhere around 1600 words.


Some posts will be shorter, and some longer. If you have a topic that requires a lot of discussion, consider splitting it into multiple posts, creating an ongoing series (which is also a great way to encourage repeat visits to your blog).


Spelling, Grammar and Clear Communication

You would think it goes without saying, but after you write a blog post it's important to check it for spelling and grammar as these types of errors can shake readers confidence in your authority and professionalism.


While you probably already knew that good spelling and grammar matter, you may not be aware of the importance of clear communication. When we say clear communication what we mean is writing in a simple, concise and easy-to-understand way. Steering clear of jargon, limiting the use of technical terms, and keeping sentences short and to the point.


Don't Forget the Visuals

A blog post needs some visual stimulation. Every post you create should at least be equipped with one main image that connects to the topic. Choosing a great image that works to enhance your content only elevates the quality of your post. Using stock photos may be the easiest way to add a photo in your post. The problem with stock photos is that it's difficult to find images that will match your content. If you have an in-house designer, having them create new, original images for your post is ideal. This way you can ensure the image(s) you share reflect the topic you've written about and are of a high quality. Using city photography is also an option.


It's also important to remember that visuals go beyond photographs. Embedding video in a post is another way to add visual stimulation. If you do add a video, be sure it comes with closed captioning or that you provide a full, readable transcript along with it to ensure your post remains accessible. You can use infographics, GIFs and charts. But, avoid scanned documents as these are incompatible with online reading tools that help with accessibility.


Use H1 headings to help highlight the flow and ebb of your article. Using headings also offers readers a cursory glance at what information is available in the article, saving them time if they're looking for a particular piece of information.


Edit, Edit, Edit

So you've finished writing your perfect blog post, filled it with researched, high-quality content, great visuals, and a highly relevant topic. It's perfect. Or, is it? Once you've written your post, it's time to edit. Editing is important because it ensures we keep our post on track, find glaring (and minor) spelling and grammatical issues we may have missed, and identify any understated or overstated points. Editing tightens up our articles, making them more succinct and easier to understand.


Conclusion

Writing a great blog post takes time, but if you plan it out, do the research, and edit, you can create content that benefits your varied and unique audience. Civic blogging is a way to foster engagement with your constituents and set your government up as a reliable, main source for city news.


Contact us today to learn more about how a government CMS can help you build a successful blog.

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