When I first started writing blogs, I really didn’t follow any set formula. I would just think up a topic and tap away at my computer.
Now with a client workload and keeping up with my own blog, I use a tried and tested formula for each blog post. This has streamlined my processes and I have practically halved the time it takes me to write a 1000 word blog post. HALVED!
So, along with the super amazing time management tool of batching tasks, this formula means I can work faster whilst still producing high quality, well researched and edited blog posts. I know I do harp on about batching. But seriously, it is one of the BEST tools I have come across for productivity. As a work-at-home-mum, my time is very valuable. Any tool that helps me save time and boost productivity is a huge winner in my books.
Now paired with this quick and easy blog post formula I am set to dominate! And you can too.
Why am I talking about batching when this post is meant to be on writing blogs?
Batching is where you group the same or similar tasks together for multiple projects before moving onto the next stage. For example, you would outline all your blog posts for a month before moving onto the writing stage.
As you read this post and see the 9 steps to creating blog posts you can use each step for a “task window” when batching tasks.
Step 1 is planning. So, plan all your November blog posts at the same time.
Step 2 is research, so you would than research all of your November blog posts before moving on.
By using batching and this blog post formula I have improved my productivity and halved my writing time.
THE NINE STEPS TO WRITING A BLOG POST
STEP ONE: PLAN
I love planning! It may make me a geek, but I love sitting down and organising content for the months ahead.
I look at blog posts that have been popular on my website, other blogs in my niche or ask my audience what they want to read. This is all part of the planning process. You need to come up with content ideas that your audience WANTS or NEEDS to see.
If you are writing blog posts for a client they may have already come up with a content calendar for you. Bonus!
Strictly speaking, this step is not part of blog post writing, but it does save time if you have a content calendar. So when you do sit down to research, outline and write you know exactly what topics you will be covering.
STEP TWO: RESEARCH
At the risk of sounding even more of a geek….I love research too!
I love it so much that I sometimes forget I am actually meant to be writing my own blog posts as I am so enthralled reading others!
Part of crafting a great blog post is finding out what your readers want.
What are they reading?
What questions do they have around that topic? What question can you answer?
What burning need do they have?
What gap can you fill by writing this blog post?
Researching for blog posts is not just a simple matter of finding facts and ideas for the guts of your post. You need to conduct keyword and headline research too.
I put all my research notes into a document so they all stay together.
I usually use headings such as:
- What question/s am I answering?
- Heading ideas
- Relevant articles/blogs and links.
STEP THREE: OUTLINE
I used to outline my posts before I would research. However, I found that as I researched facts or other blogs posts on the same topic my outline would change. So now I tend to research first, and outline during or after.
The way I do it is I have 2 documents open as I am researching. One document is to save research notes into, keywords, heading ideas, or just simply article links to refer back to. The other document is for my outline and where eventually my blog post will take shape.
You don’t need to have a lengthy outline, just a rough sketch of your ideas.
For example, this is the outline I developed for this post before I fleshed it out:
Sometimes I don’t write an outline at all. But usually I rough out something like the above before I move onto writing it. It keeps me on track and avoids tangents. Or rambling. Both habits I am trying to avoid when it comes to blog writing!
STEP FOUR: WRITE
I find that if I followed the first 3 steps writing the actual guts of my blog post doesn’t take that long. Sometimes I can knock it out in 20 minutes (if I am uninterrupted, of course).
Your intro is key. This is where you draw your readers in. You need to give them something that makes them want to keep on reading.
There are two different ways to approach this. You can write your intro first, or you can hash out the rest of your blog post and come back to your intro last.
I tend to mix it up. If I am feeling it, I will write the intro first. If I am struggling, I will come back to it later. You don’t want to be stuck on the intro for ages and sacrifice that time when you could have been writing the body of your blog post. As a work-at-home-mum (as I am sure I have mentioned a time or two!) my time is limited. I don’t have the luxury of spending 2 hours trying to think of how to start my blog post. If I come up blank I just start writing the body and come back to it when I am in the flow.
Like most skills, writing will become easier the more you practice. When you first start out it may take you ages to write a blog post. But the more you do it, the more you practice, the quicker you will get.
When I first started blogging it could take me hours and hours. Now from planning to scheduling it in I could do it in 2 hours (if I had uninterrupted time). And also depending on the subject. If it is something I am not as knowledgeable on than it may take me longer.
STEP FIVE: GRAPHICS/PHOTOS/PICTURES
A great way to break up long posts is through graphics and images.
You can use GIFS, photos, diagrams and infographics throughout your blog to create a more visually appealing piece.
They can also help explain a complex or abstract topic better than words.
I use Canva to create all of my graphics for blog posts. It is simple to use, and has hundreds of templates to choose from.
If you want to use photos in your blog posts, but like me struggle to take a photo that isn’t blurry, try sites that offer free stock photos. Here are a few to get you started:
STEP SIX: EDIT
Dan Shewan says it best: “Actually writing a blog post is hard. Editing a blog post is harder” (How to write an awesome blog post in 5 steps.)
Many of your readers will simply scan through your post, rather then poring over every word. So make it easy for them! Edit your blog so that it flows smoothly. Make sure your grammar and sentence structure is correct and easy to read.
I love YOAST and GRAMMARLY to help with this!
If you are not using either of these, I highly suggest you do!
YOAST is a great plug in. It has a readability score for each blog post and great tips to help improve your blog post.
Grammarly is another favourite of mine. You can use it as an Internet extension and it checks anything you are writing on there. Blog posts, emails, Facebook posts etcetera. No excuse for poor writing now! You can even download the FREE Grammarly app to your desktop.
Another part of editing is cutting out words.
Yes. You need to cull! Sometimes you might find you have gone off on a tangent. Or maybe a particular subheading has taken over your whole post. Either way, you need to cut those out to pull your blog post back into line.
But don’t just delete those sections. Save them into another document and use them for a blog post of their own!
Quick editing tips:
- Read your work aloud. This helps check the flow and readability of it.
- Keep your paragraphs short.
- Avoid repetition.
- CULL anything that doesn’t align with your topic.
STEP SEVEN: FORMATTING
One quick thing before formatting that I always do is to run my post through Copyscape. It is an online plagiarism checker.
If you are writing on a topic that is highly saturated, it is worth popping your post through a plagiarism checker. Just to be sure.
Once I have done that, I format my blog post in WordPress:
- Headings and subheadings are H1 and H2 style.
- Check all paragraphs for length and readability.
- Bold certain parts to make them stand out and improve scanability.
- Add in any of the graphics I have created.
STEP EIGHT: FINAL CHECK
Once you have your blog post edited and formatted in your website, it is time for a final check.
Read it aloud. Again.
Make sure all your media is where you want it to be.
Check that all your links work.
Finally, check the published mode to ensure that your post looks how you want it to. DON’T MISS THIS STEP! Sometimes wordpress does funny things and when you publish your post it looks different to what you thought.
STEP NINE: SCHEDULE IT IN
Time for the final step! Schedule it in.
Your hard work is done. The research, outline, writing and editing! Now you can press schedule and forget about it. Right?
Once you have scheduled it in, go to your handy social media scheduling tool and make sure you schedule your post to share it around!
And then you are done. Phew.
There you have it, 9 simple and easy steps to writing a great blog post.
- STEP ONE: Plan
- STEP TWO: Research
- STEP THREE: Outline
- STEP FOUR: Write
- STEP FIVE: Media
- STEP SIX: Edit
- STEP SEVEN: Format
- STEP EIGHT: Final Check
- STEP NINE: Schedule it in.
The more you do it, the better you will become! Blogging will become quicker and easier with time and practice. Which will benefit you and your clients!
This 9-step formula is a great place to start. You will develop your own style and processes, but if you are just starting out or are a busy work-at-home-mum these steps are the best at streamlining your time.
I would love to hear if you have a formula for writing blog posts, or other ways you use to save time!