So, how do you write a blog post?
We’ve talked about making sure you blog from your innate strength but what are the mechanics of writing or creating content for your blog?
I’ve spent years studying content creation and have created a system that is focused on:
1. Quality: Every post offers a unique perspective even the post focuses on popular topics
2. Quantity: Blogs need traffic. Google sends traffic. Google and other traffic sources work best when you publish a lot of content
3. Strategy: Every piece of content plays a role in building an audience, product, and credibility.
My system isn’t for everyone. Specifically, it doesn’t work well for personal blogs or hobby blogs where audience feedback isn’t needed or where building an audience or sales isn’t a priority. But it’s perfect for businesses who need to see results from all of their marketing efforts.
Still with me?
The rest of this post will walk you through the highlights of my system. I recommend you print out this post so you can make notes in the margin as your read. My method may spark ideas that can improve your process.
The first step I take is reminding myself why I’m blogging in the first place.
Why Every Business Should Consider Adding a Blog to Their Marketing Strategy
Blogs aren’t magical. They are useful because they are the most practical way to force you to clearly explain why your product or service exists. Writing brings structure and clarity to ideas. Publishing a post inspires you to to persuade your audience with clear communication and logic.
I’ve found that consistent bloggers develop powerful storytelling, teaching, persuasion, curation, and motivational skills as a result of constantly exploring and presenting their thinking. These bloggers speak with the authority earned from mastery of their topic.
There are few marketing mediums that build competence better than blogging.
Before I write anything I make sure I know that blogging isn’t a simple to-do instead it’s critical for my business and my growth as a professional.
Next, start a 3-Day process that almost always delivers a great blog post.
The 3-Day Blog Writing Process
I spread my blog post writing over three days. While the entire the process only takes 3 hours of actual writing, editing, and formatting time, I spend 72 hours carefully considering and refining what I publish.
I call it my Prep – Outline – Write (P.O.W) system. Here’s how it works:
Finding new topic ideas is the biggest challenge for most blog writers. I know it stressed me out when I first started. Over time I realized that “winging it” and trying to come up with new topics on the spot was making the process more difficult. It’s tough to be creative when you have the stress of starting from scratch hanging over your head.
That’s why I always start with a 52 week editorial calendar. Every year, usually in July during my annual camping trip, I brainstorm 52 topics. This process takes about 2 hours. I use a template that organizes my thoughts and helps me create topics that are consistent with my strategy.
I rarely change my editorial calendar after writing it. It helps to know that I always have at least one post idea I can use.
Every week, I refer to the calendar, find my topic and start gathering any research, quotes, and graphics for the post. That’s all I do on Day 1. For me, I like to do the Prep phase on Saturday when I’m relaxed and have a little time to burn.
On Sunday, I complete the next phase of P.O.W.
I outline every post I write without exception.
Outlining organizes my thoughts and places them in a structure. Reviewing the outline helps identify holes in my logic and areas where I may need to add more information. The outline also prevents “rambling” which often occurs when I don’t have a clear beginning, middle, and end to my thoughts.
On day 2 I choose from 5 pre-crafted outlines for each post. The outlines are simple and proven to work for my style and purpose. They are:
1. Problem – Solution – Application
2. Why, What, How, What If
3. The Villain
4. Pop Culture Mashup
5. and the List Post
I pick the outline, list each subject heading and start filling in each section with my thoughts.
Having a ready-to-use outline saves me time and stress since I already know how to effectively structure each blog post.
I often will outline 4-5 blog posts at a time to get ahead of the game for subsequent weeks.
After writing the outline, I move on to something else. I rarely write a post on the same day that I outline it. For me, outlining and writing are different processes that require different creative muscles.
After 24 hours of letting the outline marinate in my mind, I return to the post to start writing.
Day 3 is writing day. I set my online time for 33 minutes and start writing based on my outline.
I prefer to write in “one take” only slowing to correct typos or grammar hiccups.
I keep writing until my time is up. I stop immediately, even in the middle of typing a word, get up, and take a break for 5 minutes. Without fail, my forced break gets me so hyped up to finish the word or sentence that I can’t wait to get back to writing the post.
The post is finished when the outline is finished.
I then set aside the post for several hours.
I then edit the post. My editing includes proofreading (which I’m still horrible at) and a draconian process I call “Kill the 10%”.
Most posts would be more effective if authors deleted 10% of the total word count. A 1,000 word post would lose 100 words. Most of those works could come from the introduction where many writers stuff with warm-up sentences that offer zero value to the rest of the post. Or 10% could come from that extra paragraph you put in, even thought it wasn’t part of the outline.
Cutting words makes the post efficient and powerful.
After editing, I select three headlines to test with my Kingsumo plugin, add a photo, and format the post to include sub-headlines, block quotes, and other embellishments that make the post easier to read.
Last, I schedule the post to publish.
Copy My Process Not My Style
I teach this process to my blog writing students and businesses via workshops. I love teaching it because I’m able to test my approach with different writers and topics.
The system always works if the writer understands that the process is effective when you do the steps and inject your own style and perspective. The process is meant to boost your creativity not limit it with rules. It’s a great place to start but feel free to experiment with it.
You know you’ve mastered P.O.W when you are frequently publishing useful and interesting posts.
Give P.O.W a try. Feel free to come to Google+ to ask questions and share your experience. See you there!