You may be like some executives that I know who are interested in writing a blog to build their brand and to display their experience, knowledge and capabilities. But, I often hear that they are reluctant to do this as the process feels overwhelming. The following steps that are used by experienced blog writers will provide you with a process of writing your blog post so that you can quickly feel successful and you will receive the attention from readers that your post deserves. Each post can usually be written in under six hours.
1. Decide on Your Topic and Research It (1 Hour)
Decide what you want to write about. For example, if you want to write about “senior executive turnover” do about an hour of research regarding what has recently been written on that topic to further your thinking, consider new or counter ideas and to find external sources for linking. (You might want to conduct a keyword search on that topic to use words that will increase your opportunities to get noticed. You can use the Google Keyword Tool by typing in the topic into the keyword fields to see what terms have “low competition” rating and a “high search” score so that when people search for information on this topic your post will have a higher probability of being seen.)
2. Outline Your Thoughts (30 minutes)
Most of us were taught in grade school that a good paper develops from a good outline. As you may remember, this means structuring your thoughts into headers and sub-headers. Since your post will usually not be longer than 250 words, which will result in three or four paragraphs, you will have four headers and a few sub-headers for each.
Identify your main points (headers) of your post in the order you want. Then, add your ideas (sub-headers) under each main point. Include first level and second level sub-headers depending on how much depth you want to have in the post. Using a traditional outline will help you develop your thinking and bring a logical process to your writing.The header structure will look something like this:
- Introduction – hook the reader with an introduction that includes a story, quote or a visual idea. If you do a good job of capturing their attention in the introduction and emphasizing the importance of reading the post, they’ll keep reading.
- Main Point – both the 2nd and 3rd paragraphs provide the primary content of your blog that will inform the reader of your thinking (the sub-headers).
- Main Point
3. Writing (2 hours)
Once you have an outline for your post you can begin to start adding your sentences. At this stage, just focus on your ideas and not if it reads perfectly. Writing and editing are very different skills, so trying to do both at the same time will hinder getting your thoughts out and cause you to get stuck in a closed loop of writing and editing the same few sentences.
Filling in the sub-headers – since you have identified your sub-headers in the preceding step, you will now start to fill in the information under each item. Along the way, add supporting information, such as research, examples and interesting stories to make the post more readable and interesting.
Write your concluding paragraph with two main purposes in mind:
- To re-emphasize the main points of the post and tie the reader back to the introduction. If you mentioned an interesting story or used a quote in the introduction, you might want to mention that again.
- To get the reader to take action. Ask yourself, “What do you want them to do with your information? What do you want them to think?”
4. Edit (1 ½ hours)
With a first draft completed, read your post out loud to help you hear if it flows. Also, look for grammatical or sentence construction problems, typos, wrong words, and sentence fragments.
Make sure you use the “key words” in your post to improve the searchability of your blog. There is one main difference between writing a blog post and, say, writing an essay or short story for a class. In each case, you need to write something that will engage the reader, but with a blog post you are also writing for the search engines. In the current case you want the GoogleBots to find your post, so that potential readers know that you have written something interesting for them to find.
5. Add Your Title (15 minutes)
Using your keywords write a headline that will catch the reader’s attention and will frame your blog content.
6. Add Images and External Content (30 minutes)
Pick out accompanying pictures, videos and links to other articles on the subject. Use Compfight.com to search through the Creative Commons section of Flickr or add one of your own images. Make sure you’re not violating any of its copyright rules for any image file.
7. Identify Metadata and Category Information (15 minutes)
Metadata and Category information are used by search engines or individuals searching your page to find relevant content. Your metadata information will be the keywords and a one or two sentence description of your post. Choose a category for your post, i.e. leadership, jobs, outplacement, executive, career transition, etc. Put this information at the bottom of your post.
8. Print and Upload the Blog Post (15 minutes)
Once you are satisfied with your post and placed the pictures and/or external links in the post where you want them, you are ready to upload to your blog site (Blogger or WordPress are good free sites) or email the written content and any image files to your webmaster so everything can be uploaded to your blog site.
To help you learn more about blog posting and to get ideas for your posts, it will be useful for you to read other blogs. The following are a few suggestions, but you will also want to look for blogs from companies and industries of interest to you.
- Copyblogger is an excellent resource for writing your blog.
- Ron Culp’s Blog focuses on PR, but he is an avid blogger with many ideas
- LinkedIn’s Blog
By following this process, you will quickly become comfortable writing your blog posts and receive the reward of someone mentioning that they liked one of your posts. I wish you much success with your blog!