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My Blog Posting Workflow


You get an idea for a post – it might start out as just a few words, a title, a point or two – but how do you take the idea and mould it into a full post?

In he above video (see a full sized version of it here) I take you through a series of screenshots of a post that I wrote a few days ago on how to be a ruthless blogger and tell you about my posting workflow.

The workflow that I describe isn’t the same for every post that I write (some are obviously a lot less involved – but it does describe the way that I work on most of my feature length posts that you see here on ProBlogger.

I’d love to hear about your own blog posting workflow in comments below.

About Darren Rowse

Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.

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Comments

  1. esvl says:

    Really great video. You should do more videos.

    Thanks for sharing.

  2. Onenote is defintely for you!!!

  3. Robin says:

    What a great video Darren! My workflow is about the same as yours – so maybe I’ll be as successful as you! (he he) My posts are mainly still in the “potential” folder, as my blog is still very new.

    Thanks for pointing out Image Well… I’ve got it sitting in the middle of my dock doing nothing – I’ve been using photoshop – I’ll give it a try. Cheers.

  4. Siddharth says:

    I first research for more info as possible for that title on the internet and then make my mind on that post. Now after reading enough about the title I write as my mind guides me about that specific post.

  5. Great video! Well, I am relatively new to the blogging world, so I am still working out my process for posting. This has helped me tremendously! Your video has given me some great and simple steps to work through and organize (key word!) my posts both current and future. It’s no wonder you have got to where you are now. Thank you so much.

  6. Cool, Darren, I love these visual ways of sharing how we do things. I’m putting together a series of shots of my journals and my “organizing tools,” (very loose use of THAT term), to share with my readers. I try to have a set of “triggers” that help me stay on track with my topics and the rhythms I’m planning for my blog, and I base this on sort of rotating through my reader demographics. It’s probably way too complicated. But, as we say around here, “to the lumberyard!!!”
    You’re great!
    Suzanna

  7. I find writing down notes as inspiration hits is a must, how often have you thought of something, not written it down and then later desperately wrack your brains for that elusive thought…

    Hacking out text, then leaving it for a while is a writing method I’ve always utilised, and would guess works well for most people, apart from the uber journalists who can get it all out in one go without sounding like a rambling bafoon.

  8. SpaceAgeSage says:

    Thanks for the inside view, Darren!

    When I first starting writing seriously, I would write down a topic or idea in the center of a piece of paper and make a circle around it. As I let my mind go into a free flow of thoughts, I started writing those thoughts in smaller circles all around the central topic and drawing lines from them to the center. If two thoughts meshed, I would keep them on the same area of the page.

    For example, if the center circle is “Starting a Blog on Self Defense,” I might flow into such thoughts as:
    *Audience needs: Kids, at college, singles, dating, workplace, bullies, etc.
    *Keeping it real and easy for non-martial artists
    *(Listing the resources and books I know that would add to this)
    *My experiences in the martial arts
    *My experiences in training and learning
    *Areas of specific insight I know I can write about well, such as using intuition
    *(Listing the aspects of physical, mental, and emotional self defense)
    *What is a predator
    *Expedient weapons
    *Why most are in denial about the possibility of being attacked …

    I really have to just let go and let the thoughts flow, but at some point the brain wants to focus on one idea as right brain activity shifts to left. When that happens, something jumps out at me that starts to solidify as a more complete idea. When I first learned this technique, it was called Clustering, but I believe it has another name now.

    Anyhow, after years of journalism, I can do this on the fly without the paper. I come up with a title that acts as the center of the cluster, and I let my thoughts flow about ways I can approach the idea, which resource to quote from, and any personal experiences that can add insight. At some point the flow turns into one specific way of writing about whatever I have as the title. From there, it is a matter of asking myself, “What can I cut or add to make it read better?” and “Will the audience understand or do I need to change something?”

    For example, today my post is entitled, “Is your ‘can’t’ mindset creating failure?” I have taught that lesson in martial arts classes dozens of times, but my current blog is not about karate, so I had to come up with other ways to help the audience understand what I am writing about. When I write, I try to choose words that make my feelings on the subject reach the reader. I quoted Dr. Wayne Dyer, I answered a question I knew would pop up in readers’ minds, and I tried to engage them with an ending question.

    After the first full draft is written, I go back to edit and to more fully put myself in the reader’s shoes to make sure it is all understandable. I see in my mind different people and family members reading it and what they might say. If both the CEO of a company and the company janitor can enjoy and gain something from it, I have succeeded.

  9. Matt Radel says:

    Great post Darren! It’s very interesting to hear such a successful blogger talk about taking so much time with every post. I think the nature of blogging has created this sense of urgency that looms over everything and pushes us to post content too quickly. I’ll definately be trying to take things a shade slower now. :)

    My process is similar to yours, but I usually write directly in WordPress and I start drafts instead of creating text files on my computer. The only thing that really gets in the way is formatting as I write. I’m a designer, so I’m constantly thinking about how the post will look as well as what it says. I need to adopt your approach of formatting at the end.

    Thanks and keep up the great work!

  10. I seem to do the opposite to most people, i get an idea then I will think about it for a while and come up with different angles, then write it in word. I will not so any research unless i need some facts as i like to have a unique spin on things.

    Once It’s in word i’ll leave it for a few hous then come back and re read it. make any additions i think appropriate and then post it.

  11. Its interesting to see that you use local text files for development – is that folder somehow available over the internet if you are away from your computer?

    I am starting to move to MS Word for developing articles rather then writing in wordpress, which is a habit I’m desperately trying to get rid of.

    Even with the latest WP release it should be much more usable at this point in its development.

    Anyone know of a Windows substitute for Ecto?

  12. Emmitt Linn says:

    Darren:

    Great post, and I really like the video.

    This is extremely similar to the approach I use in writing almost anything for public consumption, to the point that my todo list for an article/post/talk/whatever always looks like:

    a. brainstorm
    b. write points
    c. script points (this is where it actually becomes prose)
    d. polish
    e. publish (or whatever)

    I like to read it over out loud also. (Sound of my own voice or something – I don’t know…)

    Anyway, thanks for the post.

  13. Harmony says:

    Darren,
    I appreciate your tutorial.
    I concur with the flow style and follow quite a similar idea.
    Funny, sometimes after I wait on an article for 24 hours and come back to read it…I ask myself what planet I was on when I wrote it.
    I am planning to add video and audio components to my site shortly and enjoy learning these techniques from you also.

    One question – to ask from you and fellow bloggers:
    With this kind of production model, do you feel you are only as good as the last blog?

    Thanks again!

  14. I do many of the same things, however I just write mine directly into the WP drafts. No need for a txt doc really, but thats just me :D

  15. mr.eims says:

    @infecter by bugs
    txt file or ecto or rtf file is better since it loads faster than WP draft…

  16. Good stuff.

    Usually my posts start with a bang, an idea that pops into my head, and then I just drop a title either on WP as a draft or on my whiteboard.

    After some days I will start writing it, and most of the times I do it linearly. The longer posts take as much as 2 weeks to get completed, but I always write them in advance so time is not a problem.

  17. ecohuman says:

    Darren,

    unbelievably helpful, thanks. similar to mine, but you’re more structured about it. and, you’ve turned me on to Ecto!

    ***speaking of process***: what process (and specific tools) do you use to create and post your videos? I’m a Mac user too.

    Cheers,

    -james
    http://www.ecohuman.com
    a blog about human ecology

  18. Missy says:

    SpaceAgeSage: I appreciate your journalist perspective on writing, as this is an area i am looking to improve on.

    As bloggers, there is ALOT of emphasis on marketing, technicalities, rank, social media, etc. But not so much emphasis on the actual writing.

    I sometimes struggle with formulating my thoughts and ideas into a concrete, interesting, fun and readable article.

    Your example was helpful to me. Thanxs!

    Missy.

    P.S. Darren: thanks for letting us into your process.

  19. Missy says:

    I also like the idea of letting someone read over your posts, BEFORE they are published, to get feedback.

  20. Awesome advice. I have a few wordpress blogs that i was wondering how to get started and this video really jump started my ideas into action.

    Content is King as many people do say so definitely keep up the good working and look forward to reading more or rather watching.

  21. Mary Corbet says:

    Like you, I “jot” my ideas down as text documents or as a draft in my blogging platform (blogger). I think it’s best to use a text document for this, because if I don’t get back to a draft for some time, it gets lost down my list of posts. I save my text docs in a folder titled “Blog About.”

    When an idea hits me – or when I think of something I want to write about in the future but don’t have time now – I start with a sketchy title or the idea, like you do, and then I list the main points or gather relevant information – especially if the article is going to be built around outside links. I include those links right away in the draft, with a couple words of description, so that I can build the post around them.

    Wherever I know I’ll insert a photo, I just skip a line or two and type [photo of ...] or [close up of...]

    I fill these beginnings out, developing them into a post, and polish them up right before I post them, without belaboring the writing process. I find that I have a less formal style if I add all the “fill” off the top of my head when I’m ready to use the post. Otherwise, I get too pedantic, which doesn’t really “go” with hobby blogging.

    Unfortunately, right now, my “Blog About” folder is practically empty. This makes me nervous, since I think of it as a buffer. I need to generate some new ideas, and to do that, I’ll take a look at some new aspect of my hobby, or I’ll squizz around to see what other people in my niche are up to, or I’ll see if there’s anything new or exciting going on in the industry.

    Thanks for the video post – really good stuff, and of course, it’s always fun to hear an Australian accent!

  22. SpaceAgeSage says:

    Missy — you’re welcome!

    And if I may add about writing, Darren:

    Shortest writing advice I received was: Write catchy opening, develop three points, close with thoughts that meaningfully tie up everything.

    Best writing advice: When you have two or more conflicting ideas you are struggling to present at the same time, start the first sentence with a dependent clause: “Although I love blogging, it eats up a lot of time,” or “Despite the movie’s lame ending, I found the rest of it an enjoyable romp.”

  23. Thank-you so much for this video Darren. I find it really useful to see how the thought process of a top tier blogger such as yourself. Very informative. I was also impressed with how clean your desktop was. Perhaps this is indicative of your clear thought process. My desktop is a mess at the moment, lol.

    Thanks again,

    - Dave

  24. richard says:

    You can find the Windows version of Ecto here

    http://infinite-sushi.com/software/ecto/download/

    cheers Richard

  25. This post has been featured in FullTiltBlogging.com’s Daily Blog Summary today. Great post!

  26. Ryan Mac says:

    Great video post darren
    I love your video posts
    The writing down ideas in a text document is a great idea thanks
    Because of your blogging I am thinking about getting a mac in future. Currently I am a pc man, but a mac could be cool

  27. Thanks a lot Darren. I’ve just started blogging recently and I found your idea of keeping text folders for ideas helpful. Instead of ecto I use Live Writer and the draft column is getting way too long and too disorganised.

    @StationStops.com Windows Live Writer is a free version of ecto. Even though it’s from the behemoth Microsoft it works welll enough for me.

    On another note Darren I’d like to thank you for all your good advice on this site. It has really opened my eyes to the world of blogging.

  28. Thanks for the walk-through Darren!

    I actually wrote a little plugin for wordpress to help manage post ideas. Oddly enough it’s called post-ideas. You can find it on my site

  29. Bruce says:

    Darren,

    Once again great stuff.

    Thank you, Thank you, Thank you!

    I’ve been struggling lately with how to post more frequently, as well as with the quality of my posts.

    I’ve purchased a notebook to write ideas and begin posts, but I like your idea of the folders on the pc, and will consider incorporating it as well.

    I also like the idea of letting posts “marinate” for a while and not writing them “on the fly,” as I am wont to do.

    Thanks again, and Thanks for being so unselfish as to share these things with us. It’s an inspiration to me and, I’m sure, to many of us.

  30. Thanks for posting that Darren, can never refine your processess too much :)

    I’ve just started using text files to keep things like blog posts etc. in too and finding that great… I also have MS OneNote, which is fantastic for really researching a subject deeply, but I’m finding the text files to actuall be a simpler solution for most of the things I need to do.

    I had been using Ecto, although now WordPress 2.5 has come out, I’ve found myself back to entering posts directly into there (now that it can handle uploading images etc. although slower than ecto)… I usually do things like change the post slug, preview my post etc. before I publish, so when I was using ecto, I’d still have to bring it up in wordpress and make a few changes before publishing… not 100% happy with the current way I’m doing it, but is ok for now.

  31. AhTim says:

    I always ask myself these question before write a post: what? why? how? when?

    –blog for dream–

  32. You are scaring me Darren. That is exactly the same way I come up with my blog posts. At first I thought it wasn’t normal but now you make me feel more comfartable with using this method.

    failureblogger-16 year old blogger

  33. Robin says:

    Hi Darren, as always, this is awesome. However, do you have any thoughts on how to manage blog post work flow for like, football blog? It is somehow irrelevant to post a match review 24-48 hours after a game. There must be quicker methods or shorter work flow to finish the post without sacrificing quality. I know this might be different with ProBlogger style of posting, but any help or tips will be highly appreciated. Cheers.

  34. Farfield says:

    Till now I just posted my articles right after I wrote them, mainly because I didn’t have any posts lined up to be publised. I think it might be a good idea though to stop posting for a few days and then start again when I have some more articles waiting to be posted for the reasons you describe in this video!

  35. Ling says:

    Tks Darren, Another awesome video.

    I learnt that

    +there is such thing such writing on desktop then publishing on blog
    +there are so many behind the scenes things to be done before the blogpost is up for viewing (i simply type it directly into WP)
    +being organized is cool

    Thank you once again

    Ai Ling / Singapore

  36. Mary H. Ruth says:

    Darren – Inspired by your use of video, I posted today about the bugeoning ascendency of video over writing. Would love to hear/read your thoughts on the issue!

  37. Sophie says:

    Interesting video – it’s great to see someone else’s take on that early stage of catching an idea and then working on it. I always work on posts really slowly as I want to make sure that the science behind what I write is absolutely correct.

    I’m a bit disorganised when it comes to keeping track of ideas and embryonic posts but at the moment most of them are tucked away in my backpack account

  38. rekindled says:

    This is a really useful post, thank you Darren. I have been blogging for a couple of months now, and have just started to organise myself with a blog posts folders a bit like yours. But I have been looking for a way to refine the process. I’ve also found it quite difficult to keep up the pace, as I try to post a new article 6 days a week, and some days I just don’t have time to write. I have to admit, this does result in a few hastily written and unpolished posts.

    Hearing about how you organise yourself has spurred me on to be much more organised. I have moved my blog posts folder onto my desktop so I can get to it much more quickly when an idea hits me. I am also starting to jot down a few bullet points to build the structure of the post before I start to write it out in full. This is a technique that always served me well when I was studying. I think the biggest change that I will make is to allow more time for re-reading and editing posts, instead of hitting that publish button straight away.

  39. richard says:

    “an unpolished post or no post, that is the question”!!

    Perhaps something that you could talk about as it I would like to know your thoughts about it

    Richard

  40. I pretty much go through the same exact process only without the software and text documents, I do it directly in WP and just save as draft and build and edit from there. Great post Darren, that was a good look into how a real Problogger does it, I think this should help us all. Thanks!

  41. Michael says:

    Looks like you have a pretty polished workflow Darren, but I guess that’s why you’re the ProBlogger huh?

    Mine isn’t quite as elegant, I usually get an idea for a post and start writing almost immediately. I usually write in TextEdit while whatever web pages I’m using for reference are still in view on the rest of my screen. I’ll write the whole post, copy and paste it into the WordPress write panel, then I’ll usually take a short break (10 minutes or so). The last things that I do before a post goes live is link to other pages within the post (if I use an image from another site or if I get info from them) and then insert pictures into the post.

    It isn’t what I’d like it to be, I wish it was a little bit easier but it’s what I do and as long as I enjoy it, it’s fine for me.

  42. tony dee says:

    I’ve been using the recently updated Scribefire after really getting perturbed at Flock. I like the Fire’s easy interface and having window cut in half as i work.

  43. Lee says:

    Thats an excellent workflow idea, I think I may adopt a similar process. I have never blogged before and I’m currently in the early stages of setting myself up, I struggle to get a very well structure post that would generate viewers and discussion however this video may change that

    Thanks for the advise Darren

  44. This is one of your best and most helpful posts. It actually makes blogger easier and more fun for lazy people with writer’s block like me. I use a system called mind mapping. It is similar to yours. I will combine the two from now on. Here is a tutorial on mind mapping I found on youtube:

    http://youtube.com/watch?v=MlabrWv25qQ

  45. mayjah says:

    Great video Darren, you are such a charming speaker. I am a new blogger and I have been just dashing down ideas on whatever is handy so I don’t forget them, then gathering up the scraps to take the laptop. Quite a hodgepodge. I am totally stealing this idea of creating a text document folder to store all my ideas for later use.

    I also find myself thinking about a picture or video I want to use and a thread comes from that, or a funny turn of phrase that gets me going. Thanks again for being such an inspiration.

  46. Rob Brydon says:

    Thank you for this post. I have been a follower for some time and have really enjoyed you video casts.

    It was nice to see a blogger of your caliber give up some thought process inside information.

    Vey insightful.

  47. I use red wine.

    Lots and lots of red wine.

    Catherine, the redhead blogger

  48. Thank you, Darren! I have been trying to get going with blogging for … I’d be embarrassed to tell you how long, but I can’t even remember myself! It’s been a while. I needed this process laid out for me to organize my scattered thoughts. You’ve given me a way to pin down those thoughts in a way that’s more organized than I’ve managed so far and is is going to help me so much. Thank you!

  49. Great post, Darren! I have to remind myself sometimes just how much the quality improves the longer I wait between when I’m supposedly finished and when I actually publish a post. Thanks for sharing!

  50. Alli says:

    Hi Darren,
    I’ve just discovered your blog, and have found the information so useful! I enjoyed your workflow video (and all the comments!), mainly because it’s good to know how others get to the ‘publish’ stage.
    We use Backpack (http://www.backpackit.com/)for our upcoming story ideas (and all other ideas we have); we can dump images and url’s into it, and make comments, so there’s always a post idea there. We receive emails with new collections and designers, so most of the time we are ‘given’ ideas. I know need to start writing more in depth posts, so your video will help a lot!
    What I like about your advice is to make bullet points about what you’re going to write about and, titles. This is what I have a bit of difficulty with: to think of a ‘punchy’ title that encompasses what the following post will be about.
    I’m relatively new to the blogging world, and it’s great to read your blogs, and not feel quite so lost!