Blogging is heaps of fun, but it’s hard work sometimes. Can we make it easier?
Last time, I introduced Do It Badly, a strategy for curbing perfectionism and getting ideas on the page. That’s a great start, but it can leave you with a mess of ideas to sort through.
As I was writing that post, I realised that if you’re going to Do It Badly, it helps to have a process or template to follow. That way, when you’re Doing It Badly, you’re moving towards your goal and not in a random direction. Call it Directed Do It Badly, if you will.
So to that end, here’s a guide to writing a blog post. I’ll be using this very post as a worked example. M E T A .
Choose a topic
Find a subject that fits the theme of your blog and that you feel you can write a few hundred words about. If you find yourself thinking a lot about something, or you get a trigger that brings back a flood of memories, it’s a good candidate for a post. Being in theme comes easy for me – my theme is life experience, so anything goes – but depending on your niche you may have to do some actual research beyond just living your life.
As a blog writer, how to write is obviously something I think about a lot, so that’s the topic for this post!
Write a list of points on the topic
List 3-10 ideas you want to talk about. If you can’t think of three, go more specific and split up the points you have, or choose another topic. If you have more than ten, either combine points or turn them into multiple posts. This is just a rule of thumb, but I find less than three points feels incomplete, and more than ten is unwieldy.
Expand on the points
Write each point as a heading and write your ideas below it. Sentences are ideal here, but bullet points are good too. Don’t worry about how it reads; stream-of-consciousness is fine. The main thing is to get your ideas on the page. You’ll organise them later. Keep going as long as you’ve got something to say – that’s why you picked this topic, right?
Ideally you want at least a few sentences under each point. Don’t worry if you come up short though – just move on to the next. You can always cut and combine points later.
Organise and revise
Now that you’ve got all your ideas on the page, it’s time to shape them up. Go through your notes and choose which ideas to keep, and roughly in what order. Arrange them into a coherent story, or whatever format you want your post to take.
Once you’ve filtered your content, rewrite it into proper sentences and paragraphs (or questions and answers, or lines and verses, or whatever). Add in other content like quotes, images, and videos, if you have them. Congratulations, you’ve now got a first draft!
Give it a read through with an eye for readability. Add, delete, and rearrange until it flows well. Read it through again and repeat if necessary.
Add an intro and conclusion
The intro gives the motivation for the post, states the point, and provides an overview of the contents. The conclusion restates the point and (ideally) ends with a call to action or a question for the reader. These depend on the main body of the post, so do them after you’ve finalised the content (or near enough). As with the main sections, it’s nice to have these flow into the adjacent sections.
If you’re doing a recurring segment, like a theme song for each post, now’s the time to add this.
Proofread and edit
Read the post over again, this time looking at the finer details: spelling, grammar, spacing, formatting. Use the Preview tool to show the post as the world will see it – it can be quite different to the editor! As with the Organise and Revise step, this can take a few iterations.
Add tags, categories, and a feature image
Tags gets views. If someone searches a term that matches one of your tags, your post could come up. Enter any keyword or popular phrase you can think of that’s in any way related to your post. Be honest though – don’t be like those Instagrammers who put obscene amounts of tags on everything! #instagood
Categories sort your content. Write lots of posts about blogging? Put them in a “meta” category. Then when someone asks you how you blog, you can just link them there! Once you have (or intend to have) three or more posts on a broad topic, it’s a good idea to categorise them.
The feature image gives your post a visual identity. You don’t have to use them, but I find it much easier to spot a familiar picture than a string of text when I’m scrolling through posts. Note that your picture can get cropped severely, and by different amounts on different devices, so find something that works in all the previews.
We’re nearly there! Do one last proofread and edit over the post and check your tags are in place. Once you’re happy with your creation, it’s time to publish! You do have the option to schedule your post, but I prefer to unleash it on the world straight away.
Spread the word!
Your followers and random searches will find your post now, but you want to grow your audience (right?). If you have an audience outside your blogging platform, write them a little plug and link to your post. Work that social media! I personally use Facebook and Reddit for this purpose. (Tip: Use the Sharing Debugger to put a preview in your Facebook posts!)
If you’re fortunate enough to get some comments, be a good blogger and reply, even if it’s just a simple “Thank you!”, and answer any questions they have. The post is just the start of a conversation – the comments are where the real magic happens. Who knows – they just might inspire your next post!
And there you have it – a blog post!
Published, shared, and (nudge, nudge) engaged with. Thanks to this guide, I Did It Badly in a few hours of (actual working) time, and got a how-to guide out of it too.
Whoa, this is too meta for me… I need to go lie down for a bit. After that though, I’m ready to take your comments! 🙂
How do you write your blog posts, or produce your other creative works? How can you Do It Badly, better? How can we make this even more meta? Let me know!
Summer Sounds: Fort Minor – Remember The Name
Ridiculous, without even trying, how do they do it?
The answer is, they are trying and you just don’t see it. At least I think that’s what’s happening.
Songwriting, as with blogging, is (I assume) much more than just writing some words on a page. Remember The Name spells this out, and does so in a curiously modest-but-not-really-modest kind of way.
As a statistician, what I really love about this song is the percentage breakdown. I’m not sure if these numbers still hold up in today’s viral internet culture (I’d give more weight to luck), but still, it gives me a bit of nerdy pleasure every time I hear it!
This is ten percent luck
Twenty percent skill
Fifteen percent concentrated power of will
Five percent pleasure
Fifty percent pain
And a hundred percent reason to remember the name