As soon as you start reading about blogging you start hearing, “a blog post should only address one topic or answer one question.” And this is a pretty good writing tip. After all, search engines are in the business of answering questions, and they want to display the best answers to a given, or implied, question in search results.
The same is true for your readers – when they click on a post, they’re hoping to read about one thing in particular, not be led on a meandering journey through your mind.
But, adhering to this advice is easier said than done. Writing is much like thinking, and as the mind wanders, so does the pen (or keyboard). One minute you’re writing about the benefits of getting an oil change before winter snows hit and four sentences later you realize you’ve managed to transition to explaining why snickerdoodles are the best cookie to have around during the holidays (they are, by the way). Or worse, you look at your screen and realize you’ve written 800 words on an obscure technical detail related to your service, but not relevant to your customers.
Another related challenge is remaining on topic without a fully-baked headline. And good headlines often come last in the writing process! As I’ve written about before, superb headline writing is one of the most important things you can do to ensure blog post success.
How to stay on track, enter the question headline placeholder
So, how can we remain focused on our true north? The answer I propose is simple: use the question you want to answer with your blog post as your placeholder headline. Do that and it’ll be staring you in the face as you write, an ever-present digital reminder to stay on track.
So, when writing blog posts, stay on track. To stay on track, find a place you’ll see the one question you will answer for your readers – set it as a placeholder headline when composing, stick a post-it on the edge of your computer screen, or even write it across your knuckles with a felt tip. Do this and you’ll be on your way to smart, focused blog posts.
Want a second useful use for your question-as-headline-placeholder? Look no further than your editorial calendar. Using question headline placeholders here is a great way to help map your strategy and enable a quick audit of your editorial calendar to make sure it answers the questions most important to your customers and prospects.
Want more about editorial calendars, you say? Head over to our free, just published, 2017 editorial calendar template to make 2017 a year of organized, thoughtful content production (or just download it below, either way).