Blogging can be a pain in the ass. .
There. I said it!
This is one sentence that every blogger in the world thinks but never dares to say out loud. You know how we writers are. We care about the sanctity of the written word. Nonetheless, it is true.
Why is blogging so friggin’ hard?
- Writing in itself isn’t an easy task. But doing that in a calculated manner, day after day makes it a million times tougher.
- The amount of data you have to start with is so damn overwhelming. There’s your research, your opinion, someone else’s opinion, statistics, facts, jokes. Just.So.Many.Words.
- While sometimes, there’s just no data at all. Anywhere in the world. It’s like a black hole of information. You literally have to produce words out of thin air.
Why the need for a process?
I have been interning at Appointy for about a year and a half now. Even after all this time, I still face all the above problems. I was struggling my way in and out of these issues every day. Then one day I was given the responsibility of mentoring two interns in Content Marketing who had joined Appointy recently.
I was screwed.
Working alone and applying self-created tricks was one thing. Now I was supposed to extend these tips and tricks to other people. I mean, I did have a hypothetical system in mind to write a blog post but there was no order and the system changed as per my will with every other post. If I were to explain all this to other people, I needed to come up with a well-defined structure.
Then it struck me!
In all my time at Appointy, I had read thousands of content-related blog posts and sat with Sarang almost every day for a year only to learn something new and correct my mistakes. I had all the information in the world. All I needed was to sit down, brainstorm, organise my thoughts and put it on paper on what exactly I do to pull off a blog post that can surpass both Sarang and Nemesh’s threshold of a good post.
And I did exactly that.
Once I did this exercise, I came up with a 6-step process which would enable you to:
- Write even when you have a writer’s block.
- Overpower the enormity of initial content.
- Work your way through multiple blog posts at a time without getting confused.
- Create a practical content calendar that you can stick to easily.
How do you know it’ll work?
Because I saw it work. Just yesterday. I saw the blog that was written by one of the interns I was talking about before. And it was very high-quality and professional-looking. It’s not finalised yet, so I can’t post the link here to prove it to you. But I’m going to, as soon as it is published on our official blog, which it’ll be soon.
In all honesty, there might be a chance that this process doesn’t work for every person in the world. But, I’m pretty sure it’ll work for most people.
So, what’s the process?
Here are the six basic steps that encompass the entire content marketing process. Right from finding what to write about to basic promotion of your content on some social channels, these will get you covered.
Step 1: Topic brainstorming
Most of the blog posts don’t perform well because they might not be what the audience is looking for. That’s why this is the most important step. If you pick the wrong topic, no matter how great the post is, your audience won’t read it.
Where do you find the right topics?
One tip: Look where your audience is voicing their problems.
A very easy medium is Facebook. I do this. I go and join a handful of Facebook groups that my audience is a part of and go through them daily to analyse what their problems are. Once I find enough people asking the same question, I research about it, brainstorm, take expert tips and write a blog about it. There are multiple other channels like Reddit, Twitter, Tumblr, Stumbleupon, Instagram, from where you can collect valuable insights about your audience and decide on what to write about.
Step 2: Research
Do your research for the blog post in two parts:
This is the step where you find the solution to the problem you identified in the previous step. Here are some channels where you can begin your research with:
- Google search a various combination of the keywords.
- Find presentations on Slideshare.
- Search Twitter for popular hashtags and news.
- Read comments of other people on an FB post in relevant groups.
- Email/Text/Call some people from your audience you have a good relationship with.
- Send an email some industry expert and request them for their opinion.
- And anything else that you can come up for research. It’s an evolving process.
Supplementing with actionable points:
A blog post is worthy of a reader’s attention if it has value. And more often than not, a value is delivered when there is a set of actionable steps that the reader can follow to solve his/her problem. You don’t just tell the reader what is the solution to their problem. You also tell them how to implement the solution.
For instance, if you need to ideas to increase views on your blog, I won’t just say that publishing it on social media will do the trick. I’ll be able to add value only if I tell you exactly how to use social media to promote a blog post. By making a page, or joining a group, or by texting people the link to your post. I won’t stop there. I’ll go a step further and give you tips on how to convince group admins to add you to their groups. I might even add a few templates of the message. Then it becomes a value-packed post.
Make sure you think of everything your audience will need and include it in your post. Also, include all of that in bullet points. It’s much easier to read.
Do your research well. Let it go on for pages. It is the backbone for your entire blog. Here’s a sample of my research for the first serious blog I wrote after we reinvented our Content Strategy.
Step 3: Content Outline
This is the solution to Problem no. 2, aka, ‘what do I do with all this data’. This helps reduce the enormity of data and gives you a clear outline to work upon. Also, a lot of people think outlines are boring, but believe me, they’re worth the effort.
What to do?
Just think about 5-6 bullet points in which you can divide your blog post. Note them down in bullets in a document. Once you’re done, divide each bullet into 3-5 further points in order to describe it. This will give you a clear structure of how your blog post will look like. I like to call these structures synopsises.
Here’s an example of one of my own synopsises for a blog post:
I started by dividing the above blog post in 4 points:
- How to do it?
- Getting your salon and staff ready
- Marketing and Promotinal tactics
That’s it. No complcations. Just 4 points. Then I further brainstormed each point individually, based on my research to come up with the final synopsis.
Here’s the link to the post that it was for:
If you work in an environment where you need to get your post approved by your senior, this can save a lot of time.
Step 4: Content Creation
Finally. The writing part.
This is the step why all of us are in this business. I can’t really put an algorithm to it, because honestly, I don’t follow one. I write different posts differently. For some, I start with writing the perfect introduction and keep editing the paragraphs to finesse as I move forward with the post. While with others, I throw everything I have in mind in a raw form on the paper and then make coherent sentences lateer on.
I can’t bet which technique will suit you better. So here I’m just going to share some generic advice from my personal experience:
- As much as the tone of your blog post requires you to be formal [read boring] and instructive [read monotonous], please don’t be. Express yourself, make jokes, tell stories. A blog post is supposed to be informal. Keep it that way. Mix it up a little bit. Believe me, you’ll love it in the end.
- Try going at it during different times of the day. What may seem perfect at one point might not seem so great at the other. Re-visiting your blog post again and again until you don’t feel there’s a need to make changes is crucial to give your best.
- Proofreading is important. And you shouldn’t be the one doing the final proofreading. Writing a blog requires looking at the same set of words over and over again. After a certain point, it becomes impossible to find out mistakes. Hence, ask a colleague/friend of yours to be the Grammar Nazi for you.
- As much as you need a Grammar Nazi, you also need someone who can give you valuable suggestions on readability, creativity, and value. Find someone to always show your post to before hitting publish. This person will give you an entirely fresh outlook on your post.
Step 5: Content repurposing
This is more of a hack than it is a step. A blog post is, at the end of the day, content. Use this and convert into any form that seems feasible to you. Slideshare Presentations, Infographics for Pinterest, Facebook posts, Quora answers, etc. To sum up my point, anything works as long as you know how to bend your content into any form that you wish to.
Step 6: Content Promotion
This is one step where I’m still testing the waters. But I do know it’s the most important one. You know how? Because I’ve been there. For a better half of the month- after I published my first post, I had 3 views on it. Mine, my mother’s, and my BFF’s.
My point is, don’t let your blog posts sit in the dust once you publish them. Make a strategy prior to writing them and stick to it.
For the last two months, I’ve been trying to get more views on my posts. In fact, I’ve a bet going on with Sarang that I’ll beat the number of views on his star post. Well, the thing is, the number of views on his one post is equal to the combines number of views on all my post. So yeah, I’ve a long way to go. But I’ll win. If not, I’ll learn something. Either ways, I’m going to write a blog about it. So wait for it. 😉
I mapped this process to a timeline and created a content calendar that was easy to stick to and usally works. You can download a template of the same from the link below:
So this is my freshly baked process that allows me to write 6 blog post a week whenever I want to. It’s definitely not perfect at this stage but the more that people try it, the more it’ll improve. So try it and let me know if it works for you in the comments below.
Or maybe show me some love and share this post? ☺️