Monday, September 15, 2014

How to write a blog post

Writing blog posts used to be one of my most dreaded tasks, but recently I am dreading it less, sometimes I actually like it! Ever since I spelled out the steps I need to go through, the job is a lot more fun. The formula I follow ensures that I am putting out the best content that I can. So, I decided to share it with you (with breaks for coffee, included!). Here is my very basic primer on how to write a blog post. Let me know if you find it helpful.
Who knows? You may even end up enjoying the process, too.
(Note: If you need help coming up with topics, writing headlines, or even finding great photos, check out the links at the end of this post.)
Choose your Topic
Brainstorm your way to an editorial calendar, so you have multiple ideas readily available, and schedule a date for each idea. This calendar not only helps to keep you accountable, but it provides a place for you to brain dump ideas. If you are like most people, you probably struggle to come up with compelling topics.
Once you have set a schedule, do not be afraid to change your mind. If something comes up that, you just are dying to write about, and if it makes sense for your audience, do it! You can always move the post you had scheduled to another time.
Decide the purpose
Why are you writing it? Is it helpful? Informative? Controversial? Entertaining? Are you trying to prove a point or share some thoughts?
Determine the tone
How do you want to engage your audience? With humour? Straightforward facts? A nuanced discourse? Always keep your audience in mind. What approach will best reach most of them?
Let your thoughts flow
At this stage, just let your thoughts flow and get them down on “paper.” I actually use a notebook and a pencil and some writers suggest that you do not even lift the pencil (or pen) from the paper. Do not worry about grammar, spelling, or even the form of your post (i.e. a list, an infographic, a straight essay, etc.). Just write.
Do your research
Some blog topics require a bit (or a lot) of research. It is helpful to read what other writers have to say about your topic, or you may need stats to prove your point. Google puts the world at your fingertips, so use it! If you end up quoting another writer or if you use stats from a different website, give credit where credit is due with a link either in the body of your post or at the end.
Write your first draft
If you are lucky, you will be able to use a lot of what is in your free writing. But at this stage, pretend you are working on your final draft. Use the active, not the passive, voice; keep your sentences clear, avoid run-ons, and break new thoughts into paragraphs.
(Tip: Do not type directly into your blog software. Use a Word document or something similar. It is much harder to correct mistakes in your blog than on a document.)
Decide on form
Read your first draft and decide which format your blog will be in. Is it appropriate for a list? Does it lend itself or an inforgraphic? Do you need more charts or other graphics to prove your point? I have discovered that when I make this decision at this stage, my blog posts make more sense.
Create your headline
It is the subject line when your blog is emailed, it is the text in tweets, it appears on Facebook posts, etc. Developing a great headline is as important as creating the content.
Find the perfect image
The human brain processes pictures much faster than it processes text. So an image will help your readers more quickly understand what your post is about. Choose one that is completely relevant to your content and if you do not want to pay for usage, make sure it is licensed for free commercial use.
OK, now’s the time to for your final draft. You have decided on your format, your headline, and you have a good working draft that you can now polish.
Many bloggers live in fear of publishing typos and incorrect information, so you should tend to proof-read.

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