Secrets in My Blogging Process
I've written blogs for years, covering topics like marketing banking, telecomm, startups, productivity, and (now, well) blogging. I've written some wonderful long-tail content, and I've written some absolutely embarrassing drivel. On one particular project, where I wrote a blog post every week for a year, I found my groove. I developed a framework that worked well for me, one that removed the deadline pressure and gave me room to write well. I'll share the secrets to my blogging process in hopes that you can try some of these ideas yourself, or at least riff on them. By the way, I'm pretty sure my way is different than Linsin's, so when he reads this, he'll probably make fun of me.
My life is pretty ADHD. I have too many interests, too much work, and not enough time. SQUIRREL! Because of that, I keep an editor open with random ideas that I can pull from when it's time to write. I'm not talking planned editorial calendar. I'm talking junk drawer. I'm talking "hey, this is a cool thought about cloud computing" adjacent to "ideas about segmenting your email list" to "10 things I hate about Netflix". At some point, I'll decide, yeah, it's time to tell everyone what I hate about Netflix, starting with that awful dubbing of English over that Polish crime drama... Call this list inspo. It's where the magic starts - a list of ideas that are ready to be dissected.
Many of the topics I write about require research. So I'll hit The Google and look deeper at the idea. It's a combination of inspiration, data gathering, and keyword research. Sometimes my original idea will pivot into something else. Many times I'll see how awful the other writers are. Occasionally I'll find a treasure trove of data. But most often, I waste 10 minutes looking at some other website I found en route. Sorry, just being honest. The goal, though, is to bookmark useful things and catalog freeform thoughts.
My high school English teacher would be stunned to learn that I actually write an outline (I never did then). I like to have a layout for my story, primarily because I'm an SEO fiend and it helps make the content search-engine friendly. It starts as a rough outline, looking for ways to include keywords in headings (SEO 101). Is it problem/solution? Is it a listicle? It is advantages/disadvantages? Is it how-to (always good, like this one, right?). Having a good framework makes it easier for me to drop the knowledge in the next phase.
Dumping the Brain
Outline, meet words. Lots of words. Lists, links, words, more words. I tend to erupt on my text editor. For the record, I write with NO formatting until it's almost time to publish. Text only. So the brain dump is capturing everything I thought of and trying to spin something out of it, with little worry that it's perfect.
With a massive brain dump of clay, I look for how to make it into a proper story. If there's a through-line for examples (e.g., writing about marketing and using a past case study to illustrate each point), it makes the article better. Examples and data nearly always make a post better, and weaving it into a cohesive story is off the chain better.
Editing, Part I
Sometimes you have to polish the...silver. Yes, that wonderful bit of storied brain dump needs to be edited. I don't just mean spell-checked. I mean edited. If the word very appears anywhere - delete. If I spot spelling errors, yes, I fix them. I read the potential drivel and see if it makes sense. Cut, paste, delete as needed. Since I'm an SEO fiend, I'm thinking SEO again too. Can I sprinkle a keyword in somewhere in the copy? Are paragraphs too long? Am I using good transition words and active voice? Check. Alright, looking better...
Posting & Formatting the Draft
First, I copy my text from the standalone editor and paste into the blogging platform (e.g., WordPress or Wix). Second, I format the text. I use headlines where appropriate, bold/italics in moderation where helpful, indentation as needed, images if suitable. Add links to relevant sites. Preview and edit some more. When it looks solid, I can add some more polish.
I have a checklist for things I do in every post. In WordPress, I use tools like Yoast SEO that reinforce the rules. In Wix, I use the built-in tools and my mental checklist. Focus keyphrase, title, headline(s), image ALT tags, keyword density -- several things we'll discuss separately. Free traffic is the best, so learning SEO is wise. Doing SEO is not hard if you know how it works...
Editing, Part II
I can be my own worst editor. It's wise to have a colleague, friend or the spouse take a gander. If I want to torture myself, I read it aloud. The finished product needs to make sense, top to bottom and left to right. Spell check, grammar check, link check, browser check. Look good? YES!
When the...silver...is fully polished, I'm ready to publish. I often schedule content, giving me "reflection time" in case I want to edit some more. Regular intervals and schedules become more important later, but it's a good habit. I am committed to one blog a week here at Renegade. I write one blog a week somewhere else. I use this list of secrets for both.
If a blog post is published in the forest, does anyone hear it? After the post is up, I share it socially. ANY eyes on the post is good. MANY eyes on the post is better. I love emailing, as discussed earlier, on a regular basis - either weekly, monthly, or quarterly, depending on the readership.
A blog post isn't carved in stone. Over time, I may add a link, update the text, add an image, fix a problem. Many posts end up needing to be cross-linked, which is good for readers and SEO, so that's always a consideration. Tracking the success of a post helps determine where I spend time. Sometimes mediocre content can be improved. Occasionally, great content can be enhanced even further. Water the garden. Help winners grow. Prune losers.
Develop Your Own Blogging Process Secrets
Writing has been like my cooking experience. I always start with a basic recipe and later adapt to my preferences. I made lasagne for dinner last night, which combines a recipe I learned in college with one I got from a pasta box with one from a celebrity chef. That lasagne combo of secrets makes a fantastic meal. And hopefully you can start from my blogging process secrets to make your own recipe for success.
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