Writing great content isn’t easy. Anyone who has ever tried knows this. Thankfully, however, there are techniques designed to make writing a great blog post easier. One of those this is to create a process for how you’ll do it.
As a writer in the search marketing space, much of my time is spent crafting content designed to educate and (sometimes) entertain my audience. As the VP of Strategy at Overit, I’m also responsible for helping our team to write content to be published on various platforms.
As such, I’ve had to develop a clear and effective process to keep myself and my team on task with the content we have to write. In doing that it’s not only helped us to get content out in a timely manner, but to create content people actually want to read and share with their communities.
Turns out, the more you enjoy sharing your words, the better those words tend to be.
My process for content writing looks like this:
1. Decide On Your Topic
Start by creating a list of everything you’re passionate about or that you feel like you can write on authoritatively. As a freelancer or small business owner, your list will undoubtedly be a mix of not only your subject-matter excellence, but also topics related to business, productively tools, work/life balance, and how you manage your day.
Also think about the questions that you’re constantly answering. What are the common problems/concerns your customers come to you about? What information are you often seeking? If you can pinpoint areas related to your business where many face difficulties, you can create a great benefit to your reader by solving their problems.
Start keeping a list of potential topics to write about. My team uses Google Docs to suggest blog topic ideas, both for themselves and for other departments.
2. Outline The Post
There are two great ways to work out an outline for your blog post.
The first way is that traditional outline our teachers taught us in grade school. It involves breaking out the main points of our post and creating a list of everything you want to include, in the order you will address it. By creating a traditional outline, it helps you work out the flow of your post and organizes thoughts in a logical manner so you’re better prepared when you start writing.
The second way to outline your post is verbally. Grab a friend or a voice recorder and talk out your post and main points instead of trying to write them. Talk about your topic like you’re explaining it to a friend or a customer. For many, talking through your post is a lot more effective than trying to write about it from a blank slate. Once you record yourself, you can take the transcript and use it to build an outline.
3. Fill In The Blanks
With a workable outline for your post created, start filling in the blanks. Add supporting evidence, show research, cite sources, give examples, tell stories, and just write. Don’t worry yet about how it sounds, just get the words out and work on building your story. Focus on the ideas you want to convey, not your ability to say them intelligently. Because writing and editing are very different skills, trying to do both at the same time will hinder your process and cause you to get “stuck” rewriting and editing the same three lines.
In step 3, just focus on getting your ideas out and saying what it is you want to say.
With a first draft down, read your post out loud to help you spot any writing awkwardness, typos, wrong words, sentence fragments, and anything else that may be hindering the flow of your post. If you have a difficult time being able to read it, that’s a good indication a reader will have a hard time getting through it, as well. If you’re not currently in the process of reading your writing out loud, I’d encourage you to start. You’ll spot a lot more typos and awkward writing that way.
5. Work On Your Title
Writing effective blog titles is hard. You need to not only describe your post and set your reader up for what you’re about to show them, but you need to engage them and be descriptive for the search engines as you do it. To become better at writing blog titles (and writing, in general) I’d recommend following blogs like Copyblogger, which truly make crafting blog titles an art.
6. Add Images
Adding compelling images to your content will help tell your story and affect how users perceive it. If you’re going to use stock photography, you may want to re-read our post on things to avoid when using stock photography to help you focus in on the photos that will add the most to your content. Concentrate on images that will set the tone for your post and draw people in. Images of people or that use warm colors often work best.
If you don’t already have a preferred site for purchasing images, TJ McCue’s post on 50 places to find images can help you get started.
7. Share Your Post!
Now that you’ve done the work, make sure to share your post via all of your social media networks, including Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and wherever else you participate. While you don’t want to overload or spam people, sharing your post multiple times can help account for different time zones or preferred reading times.
Above is my process for writing blog posts that people want to read. What do you find works best for you? How have you handled the content writing process? More in: Content Marketing