Planning a blog post
You may come up with an idea…you may know you want to write a blog post…but how do you go about getting a page filled with text? And not only ‘filled’ but ensure it’s interesting, easy-to-read and flows.
Below, find eight steps that you can follow to help you go from just a title or an idea to a full and comprehensive post.
8 steps to planning and writing a blog post
Step 1 – Choose a topic
The first thing to consider is what are you actually going to write about? You may have already planned your monthly blog topic or you may be trying to make something up on the spot.
Planning in advance is definitely the best idea – that’s what The Content Club from The Content Consultancy is all about, so do join us if you want help with content planning, writing a strategy and keeping your content interconnected.
To choose a topic, consider what your business goals are – could a blog help? Is there a frequently asked question that you could answer? Are you trying to capture some organic traffic for a certain keyword relevant for your business and could this inspire a post? Is there a past blog post that needs expanding upon, a bit like adding a part two? Or going in to more detail? Are there areas of your business or expertise that you haven’t covered in your blog yet?
If you are planning your first ever blog, it’s a great to idea to do some preparation of a number of topics before you launch. To learn about this, check out my upcoming online Blog Starter Training:
Step 2 – Plan and create a framework
Once you have chosen your topic, then you need to ‘flesh out’ the idea and see if there is enough for you to cover. Ideally a blog post needs to be at least 500-1000 words, and up to 1500-2000, depending on your audience and the role of the blog.
By doing an initial plan, you can quickly see if there is enough content to reach these types of figures.
There are a number of ways to plan. Personally, I like to write out 5-8 bullet posts summarising what the content of the blog post would be. This acts as a useful summary, especially if there is significant time between coming up with the blog topic idea and actually writing it. It also helps me to consider the order of the information I want to convey as I can re-order the bullets to ensure there is a natural flow.
When I come to writing up the blog post, often each bullet becomes its own section with a strong keyword-rich heading. Of course, some sections may be split into two or three, in the final version, or even conflated, but short bullet points are a great starting point for me.
If you are struggling to come up with more than two or three bullets points, then you can also think of questions, rather than just using statements. Use open questions, so questions that start with what, where, when, why and how can be helpful. In your blog post, you can use the questions as headings and the paragraphs are then the answers.
My final suggestion for fleshing out a topic is to get pen to paper and do a brain storm around the topic. Simply write down words and statements as they come to you. Once you have a number of ideas, you can draw lines to link ideas together and also number items to help you structure your thoughts and give yourself an initial framework for the blog post.
Step 3 – Do research
You may not always need to do this step, in the traditional sense, if you are writing from your own experience or expertise. However, research can also include simply identifying which of your past blog posts could be good to link out to, and also if there is anything you have to hand that might help with your writing.
However, one of the reasons I love writing a blog, is because when I know little about a topic, but want to learn more about it, I choose to blog about it. It makes me not only do research on the topic, but also ensure I digest what I have learnt…as I then need to write it up for my blog.
Don’t get bogged down in research and remember to use your bullet points or framework notes from above to keep you from straying in to depths you don’t need to go to. Be specific about what you need to find out. Don’t forget to reference any articles you use and do not plagiarise content.
Step 4 – Write up your first draft
Now comes the ‘big step’ ….you have to get on and write. Make sure you leave yourself time to do this, especially if blog writing isn’t something that comes easily. Remember there can be months between writing and publishing, if needs be.
Finding your blog writing style can take a while, so be gentle with yourself! Think about when writing comes more naturally. I love nothing more that writing a first draft with a glass of wine in the evening.
Don’t try to get it perfect the first time. You also don’t have to write the blog post in order.
Personally, I often write up the content for each of my bullet points – and even then not in the order I’ve put them, but ones I feel are easiest to populate. I then ‘top and tail’ my posts at the end with an introductory paragraph or two, and a closing paragraph, as these summarise the blog so it’s easier to write them at the end when I am confident about the content of the main body of the content.
Step 5 – Edit your post
I very rarely write something perfectly the first time. I love to just let a post flow and I often end up with too much waffle or disconnected paragraphs and even sentences that just don’t make sense when I go back and check them.
Editing is a great process to go through. It’s about refining your post and making sure that every paragraph counts and that your plan works for you.
I often write my blog in Word first and then I cut and paste the content into my website editor and this can be a really good time for checking headings, subheadings, flow and order. I also consider my keywords and ensure they are well placed.
You may also want to give a final check of your title, opening paragraph and summary to ensure they are truly representative of the final version of your blog post. …it is natural for posts to ‘evolve’ from your original plans.
Step 6 – Add finishing touches and extra assets
This may be part of your editing stage, but I like to make sure that editing is just about focussing on the written content and then use a separate stage for ‘everything else’.
With creating blog posts, it is good practise to have a heading, at least every three paragraphs (even every 1-2 is fine). Reading on a screen is tough and headings help to break up the text as well as giving the reader a great guide (a bit like a contents list) if they just scan the headings first. Remember that you can use different levels of heading. Your title should be a <H1> tag, your main headings (possibly based on the your initial bullet points) should be <H2> and then additional subheadings to help break up your text can be <H3> and <H4>. This tags are useful for highlighting ‘importance’ to Google for SEO and, from a formatting point of view, they will give your headings a visual hierarchy.
It is also good practice to have some additional content, as well as text. This could include buttons (linked to other pages on your website, other blog posts, or possibly external sites); imagery, videos or pull-out quotes. You may have functionality to allow you to buy products or take bookings, for example, directly within a post too.
You can also take this opportunity to check your meta data – ensure your meta title reflects your final blog title too and your meta description is a good summary or excerpt of the content.
Step 7 – Proofread and finalise
Now that you have everything in place, leave time for one final proofread. My top tip is always to read your blog post out loud to help you identify any errors or problems with flow. Take a read here – proofreading tips – for more suggestions.
Remember to check how your blog looks on different devices too and also that any links and buttons all work correctly.
Step 8 – Schedule, publish and advertise
The last step can be to simply hit publish, although most platforms will allow you to schedule so that you can prepare blog posts in advance.
As well as scheduling or publishing, remember that part of step 8 is also to advertise your blog. If no one knows it’s there, then they won’t read it! I firmly believe in COPE – create once, promote everywhere. Here are some ideas:
- You can advertise your latest blog post on social media – again, social media posts can be scheduled well in advance to coincide with your chosen publication date.
- You can add a link to your email signature.
- You can send out a short summary and notification to your mailing list or as part of an upcoming email or newsletter.
- Depending on your website design, you can also add your latest post to your home page or another relevant page on your website …many can do this automatically.
Finally, if you are feeling really organised, you could create another social media post (or even 2, 3, 4…!) and schedule it to publish and re-advertise this same blog post again. It ca be in a month’s time, 6 month’s time or beyond. There’s no reason why not. Most blog post types have great longevity and are worth sharing again and again.
Blog writing support
I hope this step-by-step guide is useful to helping you plan your blog posts and get writing with confidence.
If you want more support with your blog writing, do get in touch.
If you are keen to start a blog, but you are not sure where to start, then take a look at my upcoming Blog Starter Training.