This is a guest contribution by Belinda Weaver, marketing copywriter behind The Copy Detective.
Are you sure?
Some bloggers think that coming up with ideas is the hardest part of blogging. Maybe you agree. Personally, I think it’s harder to turn an idea into blogging GOLD.
I’m going to let you in on a little secret.
Writing a really great blog post isn’t simply down to your writing. Sure, you need to use language that will appeal to your reader, and all your verbs need to be the right way up but the secret to writing an exceptional blog post, every time, is the planning.
I know what you’re thinking. Planning? How time-consuming and boring!
I know some bloggers sit down and let the words simply pour from their mind. Others will agonise over each word. Whether you find blogging easy or difficult, planning your blog post for as long as it takes to have a cup of tea will bring you that much closer to bloggy GOLD.
Quick–fire planning process
The planning stage of writing a blog post – or any piece for that matter – is all about deciding what you’re going to say.
You might love to start a post and let the keyboard take you where it will. And that’s ok. Your post will be ok, but it won’t be great. If you want your blog posts to stand head and shoulders above the thousands of other blogs in your niche, you have to aim higher.
Step 1: Boil the kettle
My favourite way to procrastinate is to make a cup of tea and that’s the perfect way to start your planning process.
While the kettle is boiling, grab a pen and some paper, or the app and device of your choice, and set a timer for 3 minutes.
Write down the main point you want your readers to walk away with. Just one or two sentences about what you want them to learn or maybe how you want them to feel. That’s your blog theme.
It will depend on what you’re blogging about and your style of blogging, but setting a high-level theme to your post will help you assess whether you’ve nailed it once the writing is done.
Step 2: Dig deeper and explain it.
Your next task is to turn your theme into a more detailed outline.
Set the timer again – this time for 7 minutes.
Create a list of specific points you want to make. It might be the elements of the story you’re telling, or the top takeaways on the topic you’re delving into or even the steps of a process (like this post).
It doesn’t have to be a long list. I recommend having no more than 10 points in your list. Depending on your topic, this might even take you a lot less time than 7 minutes.
Remember, you’re not writing the post during this time. You’re simply creating a list. Just like your blog post theme from step 1, this list will help to guide your ideas and your writing.
Step 3: Plan the introductions
How you open your blog post is pretty important. Actually, it’s very important as it’s in the first few sentences of your blog post that your reader decides whether to stick around, or lend their eyeballs to someone else. Not literally, of course.
Set your timer for another 5 minutes.
Write down the challenges your reader is facing, the ones your blog solves or even just talks about. You should also jot down why they would care about your post. What are you offering them?
These two elements will help you keep your reader in mind while you write. After all, your blog posts aren’t really about you… they’re about your readers.
Then you need to choose your approach. There are lots of different ways you can introduce your reader to your topic. You can ask a question or quote a statistic, make a claim or tell a story. Here are 10 great ideas from Darren or you could startle your reader with something a little more shocking.
Now, let’s see where we are.
You’ve got your theme. You’ve got the guts of your post mapped out and the introduction. And you’ve only spent 15 minutes out of your day!
Step 4: Plan the wrap-up
Now you need to plan the conclusion. Your conclusion is the final impression you’ll leave on your reader’s brain. It’s possibly one of the biggest influences on how much your blog post is shared and how many comments you get. So it’s worth a few more sips of tea, isn’t it?
Get that timer and set it for 3 minutes.
Inspiring your reader to take action is a really popular way to end your post. Think of asking your reader to share their story or their advice, or even setting them some homework. But you don’t have to set an action in your conclusion. Your wrap might simply spell out the main point you wrote down in step 1, leaving your reader feeling inspired.
Here are 7 powerful ways to wrap your post up. Choose one and make a note of it in your plan.
Step 5: Name your baby
The final piece of the puzzle is the blog title. This might just be a working title until your blog post is written but your title is one of the hardest-working parts of your blog post. Before they even get to your introduction, many readers will have decided to read or ignore your post, based on the blog title.
Here are some of Darren’s tips on writing a blog title that gets noticed.
I often write a few working titles during the planning stages then choose one and adjust it once I’ve written the post.
And you’re done!
Sometimes, the best-laid plans will go to waste. In fact, they might just be thrown out the window and driven over a few times. And that’s ok.
Don’t feel that you have to stick to your blog post plan if inspiration pulls you in another direction. Go with it!
But, if you spend a little bit of time, your blog posts will:
- Make the writing stage so much easier.
- Make sure your points are clearly made, without rambling.
- Give you more ideas for follow-up or add-on posts!
Now it’s over to you. I’d love to know how you approach your blog writing now, and whether you plan your posts out. If you don’t spend any time planning right now, can you find the time to have a cup of tea to lift your blogging game?
Belinda is a professional copywriter confidently walking the line between writing effective copy and creating an engaging brand personality. Get your FREE copy of her cheat sheet to incredibly effective copywriting or get Copywrite Matters on the job.