An instructional blog post is one of the most straightforward blog posts to master. And that is because it is your chance to write about something you know how to do well; it’s an opportunity to flex your expertise and build your authority in your chosen niche. But even if you know what to say, not knowing how to say it can sometimes let you down. This blog will show you how to write an effective and engaging instructional how to blog post. (And yes, we are aware of the irony; this is an instructional blog post on how to write an instructional blog post).
The different types of blog posts
There are multiple formats to use when writing a blog post, and choosing the right one for you will depend on two things: the goal of your article and the type of content your audience is looking for. There are nine popular formats, according to Ahrefs, that you should know:
- Listicles: useful for capturing non-chronological information quickly.
- News Blogs: a blog that offers time-sensitive information relevant to your niche.
- Data Studies: doing what it says on the tin, a data study presents and explores data.
- Case Studies: a blog that looks at real-life examples, experiments and tactics for success.
- Cheat Sheet Blogs: A step-by-step guide on how to achieve a specific goal.
- Content Hubs: an interlinked collection of content about a topic.
- Expanded Definition Posts: a breakdown of the ‘what’ on a particular topic.
- Templates: a blog that provides a template on how to do something.
- And last but not least, Instructional Blog Posts.
What is an instructional ‘how to’ blog post?
The instructional blog post, or how-to blog post, is a step-by-step guide that walks your readers through how to do something. These posts are educational, offering advice and tips to help you tackle common complaints or slightly more niche problems. They should be simple, straightforward and easy to navigate. And if our advice is worth its weight in salt, then by the end of this blog, you’ll be able to write one well.
Why should you write these types of posts?
Any well-written blog post can draw in visitors and provide value to potential customers. But instructional blog posts tend to be more successful in increasing landing page visits over time than others. When users head to google, they do so with a particular search intent. And if they’re not searching for a restaurant recommendation or looking for a new outfit to buy, the chances are they need information.
Informational search queries are the most common type of search intent, making up almost 80% of all Google traffic. That’s a whopping 80% of search engine traffic that is likely to start with ‘how to’. With that in mind, we can confidently conclude that instructional blog posts are the strongest type of blog post. And that’s no surprise. We all search the internet for solutions – trying to find out how to do things, looking for quick hacks, or wanting to learn something new – so it’s not surprising that Google is likely to prioritise showing solution-based, instructive content to users too.
They’re also really important for your audience. Consumers want self-service options that are easy to navigate when searching for advice, and a well-written post can offer just that; engaging readers and anticipating user needs, these posts support your customers. Not only is this type of blog post going to do wonders for new audiences who discover your brand through search, but they are going to continue to help and keep the customers you already have in your community.
Before you write your instructional how to blog post
You can write a thoughtful and in-depth instructional blog post in five steps. But it’s not a simple or quick process, and a good blog post will require a lot of time and attention. To ensure your writing is supported, there are a few things to consider first. And remember – you’re writing for your audience as much as you are writing for Google; keep that in mind, and you’ll be off to a good start. So, without further ado, here’s what to do before you write your how-to blog post.
1. Identifying needs, problems and frequently asked questions
But what do you write about? Your niche may have a wide variety of topics to cover, and the ones you address first will be determined by your target customer. Ideally, you’ll have buyer personas that easily pinpoint the types of search queries that they are likely to head to Google to answer. But if not, here are a few questions to ask yourself to point you in the right direction.
- What are your customer’s pain points?
- How can you help them overcome these common problems?
- What are your customers’ frequently asked questions?
- What are your competitors talking or writing about?
- What topics are trending in your niche right now?
- What does Google say? What topics and keywords are trending right now?
- What are people talking about on social media?
You can also use tools such as Google Trends and Answer the Public to generate the most searched-for phrases and keywords by users in your niche. Record your results in a spreadsheet and update them regularly to stay on top of trends and current affairs. You also want to make sure you keep a note of those frequently searched keywords for best-practice SEO copywriting when it comes to actually writing your blog. We wrote this guide on writing for SEO a little while ago.
2. Choosing your topic
Keyword search volume will probably dictate the topics you discuss first. Your instructional how to blog post needs to resonate with your audience and to get the best traffic results, you’ll need to pick something that relates to quite a specific problem or task but one that is likely to be quite widespread. Check for competing titles that rank high in the SERPs and see if there is extra value you can provide or a different viewpoint you can highlight. Don’t prepare yourself to write a carbon copy of something that has been written a million times before. You need to find a USP to help you cut through the noise.
3. Research your topic thoroughly
Your how-to guide needs to be comprehensive – no stone should be left unturned. You can’t claim to be an expert on your topic and miss important information out. Turn to online resources, published books and studies, new data, ongoing conversations on social media and up-to-date industry news to load your arsenal with accurate and current information on the topic you are going to write about. But your research needs to be specific; don’t overwhelm your customers with information that isn’t directly related to the task they are trying to complete. You can use links to additional resources written by you or other industry professionals to provide further information and ideas instead.
How to write an instructional blog post
So the search engines like how-to posts, and so do users. But they need to be written well. An instructional how to blog post should be more than a bulleted list, says WordPress; if you’re not crafting a compelling narrative, you’re missing an opportunity to connect with people. With that in mind, we’d like to provide some tips on how to create a how-to post.
1. Mention your credentials (briefly) and tell us why you’re sharing your knowledge
Let your audience know if you’re a specialist in the subject in question, have x years of experience, or are otherwise qualified to provide guidance. This will help set you up as an authoritative source and allow you to build trust. Don’t go on about it, though – people are here to find out how not to hear your life story. You’ll also want to introduce the importance of knowing how to complete the task or action that the blog is about. Share why it’s important to you and tell your reader why it should be important to them as well. They won’t want to miss out.
2. Start with a broad overview of the topic
Including a few basic details and things that might seem obvious will make it more accessible to absolute beginners and thus widen your potential audience. You could also dive into the history of the topic here for extra insight. But make sure you keep it light and easy to read – people want answers to their original search query quickly.
3. Break down the problem into manageable steps
Take a logical and conversational approach and talk the audience through what they need to do in a straightforward manner, with clear and manageable steps. Don’t assume they know anything and only use jargon where it is required to communicate what needs to be done. It may help to imagine that a layperson has walked into your office and asked you to explain the process to them. Go through things step-by-step and make it easy to understand, even for absolute beginners. And you need to be your own critic whilst writing. Follow your own steps and see how successful your instructions are. You can even give your step-by-step guide to a friend and see if they can follow along easily too.
4. Pay attention to your writing style
Your tone and structure matter when it comes to writing an instructional blog post. You want your readers to be able to quickly read and understand your guide so they can start to follow your steps immediately. You should write concisely to make your writing skimmable and consider using verbs to help your readers visualise the steps in motion. Writing with empathy will help attract readers of all levels of expertise, and examples should also be used to help your readers see a good example of what they should be working towards.
5. Offer them further guidance
Provide contact details at the end if appropriate or offer further links to useful resources on the topic. This is a prime opportunity to offer your services if the problem you’re writing about is something you can do for them. After reading your blog, they should be able to conquer the task themselves, but ultimately you want to show them that it’s easier with a bit of help from an expert like you.
Examples of good instructional blog posts
Here are three good examples of well-written blog posts. Use these examples as inspiration for your own structure and writing style.
1. Once Upon a Chef: How to get good baking results every time
What this blog does well: Once Upon a Chef offers a great introduction and over ten clear, concise, actionable steps to help their readers get good baking results every time. The introduction contains a broad overview of the baking skill and what users can expect from the blog post. Furthermore, each step goes into detail, breaking down the problem into manageable chunks of insight.
2. Upwork: How to become a freelancer – The Complete Guide
What this blog does well: Upwork have produced an in-depth guide to becoming a freelancer that suits multiple niches and industries. Before it dives into its step-by-step guide, it provides an insightful overview of popular freelancing occupations with handy links to further niche-specific resources. The seven easy steps that follow are in great depth, covering great resources for secondary reading and including quotes from thought leaders offering advice.
3. The Word Man: How to write copy that is unignorable
What this blog does well: The Word Man, Dave Harland, uses a really great conversational and accessible tone to draw his readers in. It’s lighthearted yet compelling, and his advice is actionable and easy to understand. The blog also includes multiple examples and tips on changing your copy from bland and ignorable to fun and a bit risky. Ending with a strong call to action, this blog post is well-written, entertaining and – most importantly – useful.
Recap: how to write an instructional how to blog post
If you take anything away from this blog post, let it be these three things:
- Put in the effort before you start writing: This is crucial. Good research into the topic and your audience will create the foundations for a strong blog post.
- Provide manageable steps with lots of detail: Break down the steps into easy-to-consume chunks of insight. Link to secondary resources and show proof with examples and data to support your claims.
- Watch your tone: Pay attention to your writing style. Write clearly, concisely and with your audience in mind. Offer guidance and show them how to do the task – don’t just tell them what to do.
Need a helping hand?
If you want more advice on creating blog posts that will engage web users and boost your traffic, feel free to contact us. Our blog writing service provides regular, optimised content that increases social media engagement improves search engine ranking and drives sales. We hope this blog has shown you the ropes to successful instructional blog post writing, but for an even easier win, hand the reigns to us, and we’ll do all the heavy lifting.