Here’s the thing about writing a blog that gets results: most people know what they want to write. What they’re missing is a process to guide them in creating a blog that people will read. So I’ve created a series of posts that lay out the process I use.
This post covers the preliminaries: whether you should write a blog (even if you’re not a writer), an overview of my approach, and a couple of my favorite writers on the subject. Future posts will cover:
- Do some planning so you get results
- Research and search engine optimization (SEO)
- How to create a strong headline, an outline, and a call to action
- Writing, editing, and publishing
- Saving your sanity with a content calendar
Should I Blog?
Content is king, or so the pros tell us. We need, we must have, our business will die without blogs, videos, and social media posts. Lots of them, frequently posted, and all with fresh content. It can be overwhelming. Who needs something else to make them crazy right now?
For many of us, the easiest place to start with content is a blog. After all, how hard can it be? We write all the time: emails, presentations, reports–each of us generates a ton of content. Pick a topic and have at it, right?
As it turns out, blogging is a bit of work. But here’s the thing: the more effort you put into the upfront work, the easier it will be to write the blog and the likelier you are to be successful.
But I’m Not a Writer!
You don’t have to be a great writer to author a successful blog. You just need some expertise or a point of view about something in your field. Most of us have at least one of these qualifications, usually in aces.
You also need a process to guide you on how to write a blog. There are some basic things you can do to produce excellent content that your audience will appreciate. They aren’t complicated and, even better, most of it doesn’t involve writing.
How To Write a Blog: A Process
Here’s the process I follow when writing a blog for myself or my clients. I’ve adapted this from several sources and added some bits that I think are important. I’d particularly like to acknowledge Anne Janzer’s “The Writer’s Process” and, “Everybody Writes” by Anne Handley. (Both authors publish excellent newsletters, too, if you’re interested.)
Before you ever put pen to paper, answer these simple questions.
- Who are you trying to reach?
- What do they want to know?
- What do you want them to do once they’ve read your blog?
Only after you’ve completed this step should you proceed. Because if you can’t answer these questions, the content you’re so proud of will fall on deaf ears.
In fact, I think this topic is so important that I’m going to address it in its own post instead of combining it with the next step, research.
There are two parts to this step: keyword research (for SEO) and research to confirm facts, gather quotes from experts, and find appropriate images.
Yes, you should do this before you start writing. You may uncover something that changes what you want to say or how you want to approach the subject. To improve your SEO rankings and build credibility, you’ll want quotes, experts to cite, and websites you can link to.
SEO research doesn’t have to take a lot of time or involve the use of arcane technology (though it can). I’m going to recommend some simple tools and a basic approach that will get you started. Where you go after that is up to you.
Draft a strong headline and a call to action (CTA), and identify the major points you want to make. Take it from an experienced writer: headlines are often the hardest part of the entire process.
I know you’re itching to write, but Google and humans both pay a lot of attention to headlines. You want something crisp, concise, and compelling that will draw people in. And if you don’t bring them in, all this work is for naught.
As for a call to action: you don’t always need (or want) one, but make that a conscious decision. Don’t waste this opportunity to let people know what you offer and how they can reach you.
Once you’ve got your opening headline and closing CTA, the rest should fall into place–another reason why you want to do this before you start writing.
This is the easy part because of all the work you’ve done to get this far. Have at it. Write to your heart’s content. You’ll worry about cleaning it up in the next step. Don’t edit yourself, and don’t worry about length right now; focus on getting your message across.
Polish and Publish
Editing your work can be a painful experience. Frankly, it’s challenging. I’ve just told you to pour your heart out, and now I’m saying, “wait a minute here.” The thing is, it’s essential to get your ideas out of your head so you can share them. In this step, you’ll polish those gems until they shine like the diamonds they are.
Never fear, I’ll be giving you some suggestions for how to edit your writing in a future post, along with a few things to know to prepare your blog for publishing. There are some excellent automated tools to help, and I’ll tell you what they are, too
Tools to Help You Write a Blog
As part of this series, I’ll be recommending tools to help you be a better writer. Tools won’t fix everything, but they can help you avoid basic mistakes. (See my blogs, “The Writer’s Toolkit” and “More Writing Tools That Will Help You Now” for a sneak peek at some of them.)
Need Help with Writing a Blog?
Are you stuck right now? Do you want to brainstorm? Schedule some time to talk with me. I may be able to help you get unstuck and give you ideas on how to make progress.