William Shakespeare is reported to have taken two years to write ‘Romeo & Juliet‘.
JK Rowling worked on ‘Harry Potter and The Philosopher’s Stone‘ for over six years before it was published.
It’s no surprise that even the finest writers take their time when crafting masterpieces, but most of us who enter into blogging to grow our businesses can’t spare a day, let alone a week, to pen a post.
If you would like to incorporate more content marketing into your business, but aren’t sure you can fit it in alongside book-keeping, replying to emails, calling customers, and sourcing suppliers, then this post is for you. In it, we’ll offer a step-by-step guide to blogging that should take you no more than 60 minutes from start to finish.
First of all you must remove all distractions – close down your email, put your phone out of reach and switch off the TV. Are you ready? Go!
Step 1: Choose your subject (5 minutes)
What are the interests of your target audience? Gardening, baking, playing golf, parenting, art…. list three topics that you think your customer base care about.
Step 2: Do your homework (10 minutes)
I just love the ‘On My! Handmade Goodness‘ website – it is packed with resources, advice, tips and ideas on how to market a creative business.
If I’m looking for images to use on a website, it can provide an article linking to free graphics; if I’m working on a rebrand with a client, there are some great case studies from real life businesses to relate to; whatever challenges faced by creative businesses, they are probably addressed on OMHG, which is why it’s one of the most successful sites out there.
It has a huge following because it knows what its readers want to read about.
What questions do your customers ask you most often? What queries crop up again and again? Try and anticipate their problems and use them as inspiration for writing your post.
Write a clear sentence describing what you want your reader to be able to do once they have read your post – this is your focus.
Step 3: Make a plan (10 minutes)
Now you know what topic and what problem you’ll be writing about, you’re ready to draft an outline.
- idea 1
- idea 2
- idea 3
- call to action
The purpose of your blog post might be to connect with your reader, build your reputation as an expert in your field, increase your website traffic, build a database of potential clients, or perhaps make a sale.
Remind yourself of this main goal as you draft your outline, and make sure you ask your readers to do something that helps you achieve this goal at the end (eg. please add your ideas in the comments, please share this post on your social networks, please book a place on a blogging course, etc.).
Step 4: Fill in the gaps (20 minutes)
Now to flesh out your post with stellar content.
The first step is the opening paragraph – the main job of each paragraph is to get the reader to move on to the next one, so the opening and closing lines of each are critical. Grab their interest, capture their imagination, and make them want to read more.
Copyblogger writes a brilliant post on how to open your blog post with a bang.
Make it easy for the reader to take in what you’re saying by keeping your paragraphs (and your sentences) short,with a maximum of one idea per paragraph (this also helps you stay focused).
Step 5: The finishing touches (5 minutes)
Pore grammer, spelling mistake’s and other silly errers* don’t do a lot for that reputation, so check (and double check) your spelling, grammar & punctuation thoroughly.
* Yes, I know they’re all wrong – I did that on purpose to illustrate the point – irritating, isn’t it?
Step 6: Do nothing (24 hours – this doesn’t count in the 60 minutes…)
Now for the best bit – step away from the keyboard. Check your phone for missed calls (it’s been 50 minutes!), put the kettle on, open today’s post, return some calls.
Do anything that will take you away from what you’ve been doing and thinking about for the last 50 minutes and then return to your blog post tomorrow morning (if you can wait that long).
Step 7: Fresh eyes (5 minutes)
How did you sleep? (Well, I hope, after getting so much done yesterday) .
While you were counting sheep and dreaming of winning Entrepreneur of the Year 2012, your brain was busy processing the content you drafted yesterday. Smart, huh?
So now is the time to re-read what you wrote – check it’s in a logical order. Does it flow well from one idea to the next? Does it prepare the reader so they know what to expect from the start? Add a summary of the main points at the end to round it off.
Step 8: I officially name this blog post….. (5 minutes)
You didn’t think I’d forgotten the title, did you? The heading of your blog post is the single most important part, as it is the first part the reader sees, so it is the one factor that determines whether they bother to read the rest.
There are a few great blog titles you can tailor for yourself, which I have found work very well.
Some things to consider when writing your title include length, making it intriguing, referencing a celebrity or current news story and being clear on what the reader can expect.
Just one more read through – happy? Now is your moment of truth – hit publish and you’re done.
So for now, I’ll say:
Good night, good night. Parting is such sweet sorrow,
That I shall say good night till it be morrow.
Romeo & Juliet, Shakespeare
Then I’ll probably do it all again tomorrow.
(Now for the call to action bit)
PS Just to follow my own advice, if you’d like to find out more about the power of blogging, what it can do for your business, and how to do it right, book onto our next Blogging for Business Course on 4 December. And if you’ve got any top tips to share on increasing productivity, share in the comments below.