By Nancy Cummings

Does the fear of staring at an empty screen with a blinking cursor keep you from writing a regular blog? Never fear: here are 15 easy tips to get you blogging in no time.

Your goal is to attract, engage and educate more readers and customers with a blog. It sounds like a daunting task, but it’s easy when you break it into small steps. Remember: anyone can be a blogger. Any any topic can be blog-worthy.

Step 1: IDENTIFY YOUR AUDIENCE – It helps to have a mental picture of who you are writing for. Are they young marrieds? Retired folks? Homeowners? City-dwellers? Get a feel for who will be reading your blog and personalize it to that reader.

Step 2: IDENTIFY YOUR TAKEAWAY – What do you want your audience to learn from your post? You should be able to sum it up in one sentence.

Step 3: IDENTIFY YOUR CONTENT – You get to decide how your blog will be formatted. It can be list-based (like “Best Ways to Stage Your Home for Summer”), a how-to guide (like “Build a Tool Shed This Weekend”) , curated content from other sources (like “TED Talks That Made a Difference for My Business”) or newsworthy/timely (like “What Joe Maddon of the Chicago Cubs Taught Me About Teamwork”).

Step 4: BRAINSTORM TITLES – Think of this as a working title; you can develop a catchy title later on. A solid working title keeps you focused and prevents your writing from rambling.

Step 5: CREATE AN OUTLINE – Remember high-school English? Nothing has changed. Your outline includes an introduction, a body and a conclusion.

Step 6: WRITE THE INTRO – Start with an opening that empathizes with the reader on a problem or issue. Explain the issue. Explain how you’ll fix it. And then transition to the body of the post.

Step 7: WRITE THE BODY – Be the expert. Use the content that you’ve already decided upon whether it’s list-based, a how-to guide or a compilation of different resources. Find some good statistics, studies or trends to add weight to what you’re talking about.

Step 8: WRAP IT UP – Here’s your chance to summarize what the reader learned from your blog and invite them to interact with you. Ask a question to encourage the reader to comment (like “Which TED Talk is the most inspiring to you?”)

Step 9: LINK TO RESOURCES – Your blog will have more visibility when you link to other resources like Google Trends, PEW Research, government data reports and more.

Step 10: THINK OF A CATCHY TITLE – You’ve done all the hard work and put your thoughts in order. Now’s the time to go back and think of a title to hook the reader.

Step 11: CALL TO ACTION – What do you want your reader to do now? Sign up for your newsletter? Tweet your blog? Buy something? Schedule an appointment? Use the appropriate links on your website to make it simple for the reader to do exactly what you want.

Step 12: EDIT – Nothing makes you lose credibility faster than typos, incorrect grammar and run-on sentences. Read what you wrote, have a colleague read what you wrote, and don’t be shy about making changes.

Step 13: PICK A PIC – According to Forbes, a blog with a good picture gets 94% more views. Find an interesting image to post with your blog. We use to get rights to good images at no cost or istock by Getty Images for great photos at a reasonable price.

Step 14: OPTIMIZE FOR SEARCH ENGINES – What words and phrases would you put in the search bar if you wanted to search for an article like yours? Make sure these words and phrases appear in your content so that readers can find you easily.

Step 15: HIT PUBLISH – Congrats!  Click on the publish button on your website or WordPress site and it’s done. You’re officially a blogger!

Now spread your blog far and wide. Where else besides your company website? Member businesses are invited to post their blogs right here on the LGBA website. Please submit to: Still stuck? Call us for ideas.