You made it! We’re at the final step of this series, How to Write a Blog that gets results. To recap the journey:
- How To Write A Blog That Gets Results, Part 1 laid the foundation with the process I use, whether writing for my own blog or for clients.
- How To Write A Blog, Part 2: Plan For Strong Results explained why the planning step is so important and showed you how to blog successfully with a thoughtful plan.
- How To Write A Blog, Part 3: Why Care About SEO? laid out the pros and cons of SEO and laid out steps for doing your own SEO research.
- Part 4: How To Research Content For Your Blog explained how to add credibility and boost your authority and expertise with research.
- Part 5: Get Awesome Results With Headlines And Calls To Action tackled one of the toughest parts of writing any content: getting your reader’s attention.
And here we are, the culmination of all your hard work: writing and publishing.
Let the Fun Begin
Even with all the preparations you’ve made, writing can still seem daunting. Here’s a pro writer’s tip: just get words down. Follow the outline you created. Your goal is to complete the first draft of your blog not write The Great American Novel.
Pro Writer’s Tip
Do. Not. Edit.
Let me repeat: Do. Not. Edit.
Too many writers spend so much time polishing their first paragraph that they never get the rest of the blog written.
So, again: Do. Not. Edit. That’s the next step. First things first: complete your draft, no matter how rough.
Walk away. Take a break. Do something else. Editing requires a very different mindset. I know few people (OK, nobody. Certainly not me.) who can easily shift from writing to effective quickly.
A Process for Editing
Editing is the hardest part of writing. Here’s the process I follow. Editing takes me several passes; please don’t feel you have to tackle everything in one go.
- Structure. Are the paragraphs in the right order? Do your thoughts flow logically from beginning to end? Are you taking any detours that might confuse your target audience?
- Paragraphs. Does each paragraph capture a discrete thought? Have you opened each paragraph with an interesting sentence? Does the last sentence and lead the reader on to the next paragraph?
- Sentences. Unless you’re writing for academia, tighten up your sentences. Ruthlessly remove extraneous words. Make your point in as few words as you can. Vary sentence lengths for interest. Use active voice. Edit like a surgeon with a finely honed scalpel.
- Words. Find the best word possible. Add color and pop. Are you using jargon? If so, will your readers understand it? If not, find a better way to say it. Make friends with the thesaurus.
- SEO. Have you used your keywords effectively? Expert opinions vary, but I recommend using your main or focus keyword in:
- The title of your blog
- In at least one subheading
- At least twice in the body of your text
I don’t usually do all my editing in one sitting. Very often I’ll tackle the overall structure and paragraphs, but will come back at least once more for the rest. I love wrangling the words, getting just the right phrase, but I need to police myself to be sure I don’t get lost in the dictionary. There is such a thing as good enough.
What’s the difference between editing and proofreading? Editing starts with a first draft and polishes content until it sparkles. Proofreading follows editing. It eliminates misspellings, grammatical and punctuation errors, inconsistencies, formatting errors, and other basic mistakes .
Always. Proofread. Your. Copy.
If you’re not good at catching your own errors (I’m not), get a friend or colleague to proofread for you. At this point, after all this work, it would be embarrassing to undermine yourself with small errors that detract from your expertise and authority.
Some things to look for:
- Correct spelling for names.
- Correct titles, organization names, addresses, phone numbers, and URLs.
- All quotes have attributions. (You’ve given the source where you found the quote.)
- All images have captions and are attributed to their sources including yourself, if you are using one of your own pictures. (Note on the uncaptioned photo above: I used a free stock photo site and they did not give attribution to this picture.)
- Punctuation is correct.
- Spelling and grammar are correct.
Publishing is the easy part. Copy your blog into your website blog posting tool or content manager. Format headers, add images, insert relevant links, and be sure to proofread here, too. Save your work, set a publication date, and pat yourself on the back.
One more thing: let the world know you’ve just written something.
Scheduling Social Media Posts
If SEO is important, then this is your chance to let the interwebs know you’ve written something. Digital marketer Riley Haas says there are three steps to posting something on social media:
- Tell the internet.
- Tell the internet you’ve told the internet.
- Remind the internet that you told the internet you told the internet.
Here’s a schedule you can follow:
- Within 1-2 days of posting your blog, post to whatever social media media accounts you use for your business. Include a link to your blog. Use an image that you use in your blog, too.
- Two to three days later, tell the internet you’ve told the internet.
- About five days after your first social post, remind the internet. (“In case you missed it, here’s a link to my latest blog post on….”)
- If you actively use LinkedIn, don’t forget to post your blog there as an article. Do this about two weeks after you’ve posted it to your blog for maximum effectiveness. And don’t forget to let LinkedIn know you’ve published the article.
Tools I Use
When it comes to proofreading, ’m in love with the AP Style Guide. The online version is kept up-to-the-minute current; useful when you’re writing about the topic du jour.
Grammar checkers have come a long way from the clunker built into Microsoft Word years ago. Google Docs has a pretty good built-in spelling-and-grammar checker, and there’s always Grammarly.
For more tools writers can use, see my blog post, The Writer’s Tookit.
My Humble Opinion about Writing Tools and Apps
No tool will catch everything, and they all miss the finer nuances of writing. Don’t let an app be the boss of you. Sometimes writers break the rules. Just break the rules with purpose, not because of a lack of attention to detail.
Tips for Success
When editing, you’ll reach the point of diminishing returns and spend a lot of time on something that isn’t going to get much better. It’s a fine line, but pay attention to where your time is going. Get the problems fixed, yes, but don’t spin your wheels.
If you plan to do a lot of writing, you may want to create a content tracker so you know what was published where, and how you got the word out. Blog posts can become longer articles, or topics for speeches or white papers. Tracking how your content evolved can save a lot of time and confusion later on.
When you’re editing, read out loud to yourself. A paragraph that seems fine on the screen may sound awkward or senseless when spoken.
If remembering to post to social media seems as daunting to you as it does to me, use a social media publisher like Edgar, Hootsuite, or Buffer. You can create all your posts at the same time, schedule them, and forget about it.
Still Need Help?
Thanks for sticking with me. It’s been a long ride. If you’re still feeling stuck, don’t panic. If you need some inspiration and maybe a little help getting unstuck, schedule some time to talk with me. If nothing else, we can commiserate.