It takes time to learn how to write a good blog post…
It appears that content writers are magicians at times because we can create great business blogging from nothing.
But there is one thing to keep in mind about magicians:
They don’t perform magic.
Instead, they study and practice specific behaviors until they can create the illusion of creating something from nothing.
Of course, all creative people do the same thing. We study and practice our craft, constantly improving our blog ideas and (hopefully) developing habits that lead to a more consistent output.
Today’s post will assist with the “consistent output” component.
What is the most difficult aspect of writing a good blog post?
I don’t think I’m alone in thinking that the hardest part of writing is getting started.
We don’t know what we’ll be working on. We don’t know what the structure will be. We don’t yet have the first sentence. The thoughts are bouncing around in our heads like ADD kittens, and we have no idea how to keep them in check.
It’s a lifesaver to have a familiar, repeatable process you use every time you do creative work, such as blog posts or podcast episodes.
Then you don’t put things on your calendar like “finish the blog post.” You set aside 20 minutes to draft subheads.
7 steps to writing the best blog post on your subject
Here are the steps I take to write an excellent blog post.
You can use this simple process to learn how to write a good blog post — as many blog posts as you need, in fact, without crying or becoming frustrated.
Think like a gardener instead of a magician pulling a rabbit out of a hat.
1. Come up with clever topic ideas
Plant a lot of seedlings…
When you sit down to write without knowing what you’re going to write about, you’re setting yourself up for frustration and wasting time.
You’d be better off taking a short walk with a pencil and an index card. While out walking, jot down any article ideas that come to mind. (It doesn’t have to be the one you’re working on.)
Productive writers understand the importance of capturing as many of their ideas as possible, both good and bad.
An “idea seedling” can be a topic for a post, but it can also be a theme for:
- A series of content
- An example of a customer you’d like to speak with
- An actual-life example
- A declaration of your values
- A humorous story
Capture them all. Make it a habit to carry something with you that can be used to take notes. Most of us are capable of using our phones and an app. However, use whatever works for you. Victoria, a friend of mine, makes an excellent case for 3″ index cards.
Increase the frequency with which you practice this habit if you find yourself constantly running out of ideas. Commit to capturing at least five content ideas per day, even if they are stupid or boring. The more content ideas you collect, the more will come your way.
2. Plan ahead of time for quality writing time
Make sure you have soil, water, and sunlight…
Gardens, of course, require those items for plants to grow.
As a writer, you have certain circumstances that allow you to do your best work while earning a living online.
To write a good blog post, you probably need to get away from distractions or interruptions. (At least during your work blocks, turn off electronic notifications.) You most likely have preferred equipment. You might have a routine that gets your creative juices flowing.
Cal Newport refers to quality writing as “deep work.”
You need time, space, and privacy to hear yourself think.
3. Create a content outline
Set the stakes…
What happens after you have all of these seedlings?
When creating blog content, I like to start with some subheadings. They form an inherent structure (similar to the framework on which a tomato plant would grow) that you can quickly eyeball to determine whether the final version will be relevant and useful.
They are also useful for writing scannable content that can quickly capture a reader’s attention and entice her to take the time for a more in-depth read.
At this point, other writers find a mind map to be extremely useful. Mind maps don’t work well for me, but if they’re your thing, go ahead and use them.
Once your framework is in place, you can begin wherever you want. To write a good blog post, you don’t have to start from the beginning; simply jump in where you feel moved and draft a paragraph or two.
You probably won’t be ready to finish the draft just yet. (If you are, proceed to the next step.) However, write down any words or phrases that come to mind. Expand on any points, make a few notes of stories or examples, and locate any links you’ll need to refer to.
4. Create a good blog post to begin
Write without restraint…
When you’re ready to write some draft copy, do it quickly.
Don’t worry too much about grammar, usage, spelling, word choice, or even logical flow unless you’re a very experienced writer.
It’s not uncommon for those ADD-kitten ideas to dart off in all kinds of crazy directions at this point. That’s all right. Get your thoughts on this subject out of your head and onto paper, and we’ll figure out what to do with them.
If you end up with some tangents that don’t fit into this piece of content, those become the seeds of new ideas. When it won’t disrupt your writing flow, move them to your idea seedling system.
5. Dig a little deeper
Speak to yourself…
Try talking to yourself if your fingers won’t move on the keyboard. What would you say if you were discussing this topic with a friend, client, or colleague?
(Privacy comes in handy here.) Not everyone has the social confidence to speak to themselves aloud in a coffee shop.)
What irritates you about this subject? (This always results in interesting work.) Is there anything bothersome about it? What would you like to see people do differently? What did you use to do wrong? How have you progressed?
As quickly as you can, transcribe your mutterings. Don’t be concerned if they appear silly on the page. We have plenty of time to correct that.
6. Turn your good first draft into a fantastic blog post
Pruning and thinning…
You’re ready to prune your framework once you’ve typed a bunch of words into it. Anyone who can write a good blog post is also a great content editor.
What is the main point of this article? (It is frequently different from what you expected when you started.)
Which parts of this post are particularly energetic? Could you move them to the beginning to make a more powerful first impression?
Which parts of this post should be moved elsewhere? Remember, they’re idea seedlings, so cutting them out of this piece won’t kill them.
Read what you’ve written aloud. The strange stuff, odd word choices, and random tangents will start to jump out at you as you learn how to write a good blog post.
My pruning time takes two to three times as long as the time I spend writing the first draft.
Put it through as many pruning sessions as you can. It’s usually better to do a pruning pass, then let the post rest for a few minutes before returning to it with fresh eyes.
When I prune, I look for the following:
- Words that can be omitted without losing their meaning
- Ideas for additional work that can be cut and developed
- Words that have been misused or could be replaced with something more precise
- Complex sentence structures that can be simplified
- Fancy language that can be deciphered
You’ll have your list that you’ll build over time.
7. Position yourself for future success
Plant some more seedlings…
A thorough edit is necessary for producing high-quality work, but there comes a point when you must say “enough,” click Publish and move on to the next idea.
That is why you should combine your creative routines with a content calendar. Ship it, learn from it, and move on to the next piece.
Writing and gardening follow a cyclical pattern. There’s always something new to look forward to.
If you’re stressed about a writing piece that didn’t turn out the way you wanted it to, it’s a sure sign you need to write more to figure out how to write a good blog post.
Worrying about your writing is not the same as writing. Kicking yourself for all the ways you fall short isn’t writing. Even endless edits aren’t the same as writing.
And now and then, a piece that you weren’t overly excited about turns out to be a fan favorite. We aren’t always great judges of how well a particular piece of writing will work for us.
Take some more notes. Begin working on the next one. Write until you’re finished. Prune it until it’s in good shape.