8 Step Program for More Effective Posts
Whether you’re a “seat of the pants, write as you go” type blogger or a “carefully write by plan” blogger, there’s a lifecycle to every blog post. Here are the main eight steps necessary to produce an engaging and effective blog post.
- Develop blog post idea. Every blog post starts with an inspiration. Basically, this is what the column will be about. It can be a short one or two sentences or a full outline. Even if you’re a “wait until inspiration hits” type blogger, you still start with some germ of an idea. For corporate blogs with a well planned out agenda, this aspect requires more detail so that the writer knows what’s expected. (Need some inspiration? Here are 125 blog titles and another 99 blog titles to help you.) If another person is assigned to do the writing, it can often be useful to include related links with the basic concept.
- Do your research. Check for related information to ground your post in the ongoing digital conversation. Collect relevant facts and links to use in your post. This shows that you’re interacting with others in the social media ecosystem. This step is particularly helpful when creating an outline from which to write.
- Write the blog post. This is the heart of your blog’s content and is often the hardest part of blogging. Here’s where your creative juices are needed to develop your idea so it will reach out and engage your potential readers.
- Post title. Blog titles are too important to leave until the end when they may be an afterthought. Instead, start with at least a working title that can guide the post and be improved later during your editing process.
- Develop content for body of post. Write the main content for your post. Remember that your readers are time pressed and looking for reasons to move onto the next item. Therefore, get to your main points quickly and use short, punchy phrases and lists.
- Write a short description (aka excerpt). To help readers scanning for information, create a short description. Don’t forget to include relevant keywords.
- Optimize your blog post for search. Once you’ve done the hard work of getting your words down, go through your blog post to ensure that you’re maximizing its ability to reach the largest possible audience over time. Remember one of the strengths of using a blog is to support your search optimization efforts.
- Incorporate search terms. Go through your post to check that it’s focused on the appropriate search keywords. These terms should be determined as part of your overall search strategy. Be careful not to overstuff your post with too many keywords. This will just confuse search engines.
- Include appropriate categories and tags. Provide other ways to classify your content.
- Add graphics (and other media formats). At a minimum, include a photograph or other graphic as an attention grabber to drive readership. Don’t forget to include relevant keywords and captions with your graphic to support your point. Bear in mind that adding other content formats such as photographs, charts, tables, video, audio and presentations helps keep your blog interesting and will attract a broader audience.
- Integrate blog links. Part of the strength of blogs is their interactions with other content sites and past posts. To this end, have at least one link to a third party resource or blog and one link to one of your past posts. Don’t forget to link to definitions of appropriate keywords!
- Edit the blog post. Underestimate the importance of this step at your own peril! A post full of poor grammar and misspellings detracts from your authority and your brand. While readers may excuse an occasional error in grammar or spelling, if your writing is unreadable, you’re going to turn readers off. Realize that good editing requires some distance to be able to take an outsider’s point of view. Therefore, to ensure that you put your best foot forward, let your blog post rest overnight to get a fresh perspective or, alternatively, have someone else read the article to ensure that it makes sense. If you’re writing for a business or media blog, consider using a professional copy editor. The exception to the need for editing is when you are live blogging (where you’re writing as people are presenting or as events are happening).
- Publish your blog post. This step makes your post public for the world to see and search. Consider the timing of your post. I recommend publishing at the same time every day or week so that you subconsciously train readers to look for your fresh content. The exception is timely, breaking news or “special” events of interest to your audience. These blog posts should be made public as they occur, especially if you want to position yourself as a “breaking news” source or expert with your target audience.
- Promote your blog post. Some bloggers consider that they’re finished once they publish their post. Yet the opposite is true. You can’t assume that people will find your content just because you’ve put your heart and soul into it. At a minimum, allow readers to be notified of your content via a number of convenient channels. Here are some ideas to maximize your content reach.
- Offer RSS feeds. This option is popular with blog readers.
- Distribute your content via email. Give readers the ability to read your post in an email.
- Share your content on relevant social media sites. At a minimum, consider Google plus, Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.
- Enable readers to share your posts. Incorporate social sharing buttons at the top and bottom of your blog posts.
- Measure blog post results. As with any marketing initiative, it’s critical to measure the results of your blog post. While post performance will vary based on the day of the week and timing, it’s important to monitor results to determine what format and topics work best. Remember to track the appropriate metrics related to your blog goals.
While good bloggers make it look easy, the reality is that each blog post represents an investment in time, expertise and inspiration. You need to work to ensure that each post reaches the its maximum audience. As you gain experience as a blogger, these steps should just become ingrained into your blogging process.
Are there any other important facets of developing a blog post that you’d include? If so, what are they?
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