How do you put together a blog post? I had no clue how to answer that question when I first started blogging. I just started writing without much thought to methodology. After several frustrating months, I realized the need to come up with a procedure for writing a blog post.
I needed to be able to see an idea through from inception to publish date. So today I’m going to outline the process I developed for writing a blog post that has helped me avoid some frustration along the way.
8 Steps to Writing a Blog Post
From start to finish this is what I do:
Step 1: The Listing of Ideas
All blog posts start with an idea. Funny thing is that they often come at the strangest of times. I’ve had great ideas hit me in the shower, while jogging, in the middle of teaching my students and even while listening to the preacher at church.
Whenever the idea comes, I find a way to write it down (or at least remember it until I can). Most of the time I simply use a notepad app in my smartphone. Then I transfer that idea to a Word document on my computer. It’s in that file that I keep my running list of ideas.
Step 2: Schedule the Idea on a Calendar
As I work through my list of ideas, I schedule them on a monthly calendar, usually two weeks in advance. Obviously this helps keep me organized. But I’ve found this to be extremely valuable for another reason – it lets the idea begin to percolate and take shape in my head.
As I anticipate writing a blog post, new thoughts about the topic begin to emerge. When that happens, I go back to my Word document and make further notations about the main idea.
Step 3: Construct an Outline
Before I begin writing a blog post, I construct an outline of my thoughts. I didn’t do this when I first started and suffered for it. I would often find myself getting stuck in the middle of writing an article not really knowing where to go next. Forming an outline helps keep my focus and allows my thoughts to progress coherently through the entire article.
In essence, an outline stops me from rambling on and straying from my original point.
Step 4: Focus on the Title
The title is critical in getting people to read your post. Most readers decide within seconds of reading your title whether or not they are going to give your first paragraphs a look. Since that’s so, it’s imperative to spend some time on this step and get some help doing it in order to make the title a good one.
There are varying perspectives on this but I think of my post title before I begin to write. Again, I’ve found this helps keep my writing focused. However, don’t feel as though you have to be stuck on your original title. It can easily be changed as your post begins to take shape.
A word of caution on post titles is needed here…don’t trick your readers with a provocative title just to get them to your site. There is nothing wrong with a catchy or seductive title but you had better be able to back up the reasoning for that title with your content. Don’t have a title that says “Why I Think Budgets Suck” then have an opening line that reads “Well, I really don’t believe that” and then talk about why budgets are awesome.
(This sounds silly that someone would do this but I see it often. It’s a big turnoff because what you’ve really done is waste my time. I end up feeling duped for clicking through to your article because I thought you had something intriguing to say or were offering a contrarian viewpoint.)
Step 5: Write an Attention Grabbing Opening Paragraph
Finally it’s time to write. The title has attracted the reader’s attention – now don’t bore them to death with sloppy, boring opening paragraphs.
The opening paragraphs consist of everything you write before the post break (the link readers click on the home page that opens the entire post in a different page). These paragraphs should include and begin to develop the main idea readers will get from the post. You’ll frustrate readers if you wait until the middle of the post to unveil the main point.
In the opening paragraphs I attempt to build a sense of anticipation. You want the reader to be excited or have their curiosity sparked enough that they click through to read the rest of the post. They won’t do that if the opening paragraphs don’t catch their attention.
Step 6: Paragraph Writing
The most important thing I try to do here when writing a blog post is keep my paragraphs relevant and engaging. Many readers just scan paragraphs, looking only for the main headlines or bullet points that interest them. Knowing that, it’s easy as a writer to neglect the quality of the main body writing. “After all,” you may say, “if the readers are not going to really read it, why work so hard at it, right?”
Wrong. It’s in the paragraphs that you develop your skills as a writer and continue to create great content. And every blogger knows great writing and great content will keep readers coming back to your blog.
As I write my paragraphs here are some things I keep in mind:
1. Every paragraph should contain one main thought. Lumping multiple points into a paragraph creates too much work for the reader as they try to process where you are headed.
2. Each sentence should build on the one previous to it. Think of a paragraph as a chain of thought with one sentence seamlessly leading to the next.
3. Don’t have any throw away sentences. They all matter and should serve a purpose. If a sentence doesn’t move the post forward, remove it.
4. My paragraphs consist of 3-5 sentences. Any more and the reader gets lost in the length of the paragraph.
Step 7: Proofread and Edit
Ever read a post that was so grammatically incorrect you couldn’t get through it? I’ve quit following some blogs because of the continued use of improper grammar, syntax or punctuation. That’s why this step is so important.
However, this step is more than just about correcting spelling errors or rewording sentences. I often have new ideas that come to mind either for the current post I’m working on or that I could develop into a new post at some point in the future.
For example, as I began to proofread and edit this post I thought to include the point in Step 4 about trick titles. I also had neglected to include this very Step 7. When I did my outline for the post, I forgot to write it in there. It didn’t come back to me until I started proofreading.
Step 8: Ask an Ending Question
Interacting with readers and hearing their thoughts is one of the things I enjoy most about blogging. One of the best ways to engage readers and get them moving to the comment section is to ask a question at the end of the post.
But it can’t be any old question like “How did you like my post?” Ask thought provoking questions. Ask readers if they agree with your position. Ask for their experiences (readers love sharing those). Ask if they have any further thoughts that might expand on your main point.
A post that abruptly ends with no questions leaves me staggering at times trying to figure out what to say in the comments. Many times I just leave the page without commenting if I can’t think of anything quickly.
What’s Your Process for Writing a Blog Post?
Those are the eight steps I routinely progress through as I bring an idea through to completion. I would encourage you to develop your own method to streamline your writing process.
In the end, it will reduce the amount of time you spend writing a blog post and enhance the quality of your content – which readers will love you for.
Questions: What steps do you take when writing a blog post? Do you schedule your posts in advance by using some form of a blog calendar? Do you write an outline? What’s the most frustrating part of bringing an idea to a completed product?
Here are some recent blog carnivals and weekly roundups that Luke1428 posts were mentioned in:
Be Intentional: How to Develop a Giving Plan at The Wealth Gospel , The Heavy Purse, The Yakezie Carnival at Fat Guy Skinny Wallet, The Financial Carnival For Young Adults at Fitnancials, the Carnival for Financial Planning at Kids Ain’t Cheap and the Carnival of MoneyPros at Bite the Bullet Investing
Revisiting Why I’m Here at the 200th Post: The Luke1428 Value Proposition and My A – Z List of Blog Related Things I’m Thankful For in the How to Blog Carnival at Bloggers Classified
Thank you to these blogs for including my posts!