Write Wildly Successful Posts: Your 12-Step Blogging Guide
When I’m reading a hastily written blog post, I can immediately tell that the author wasn’t following a blogging guide or framework. Their post is typically littered with grammar errors, has no clear structure, and often adds little to no value.
They simply started writing without an overall purpose or intention.
And those posts won’t be successful. No matter how much you promote it. No matter how many shares you get. If it doesn’t add value and if it doesn’t serve a purpose, it will likely fail.
In this post, I’m sharing the exact 12-step process I use to create consistent and valuable posts.
Yes, this blogging guide will take time to complete. Yes, it will require more attention. But it will also perform better, engage your audience, and ensure your posts are consistent AND cohesive.
So buckle up, because we’re about to explore some pretty amazing parts of creating a successful blog post!
1) Create a List of Blog Post Ideas for Your Blogging Guide
Inspiration rarely strikes exactly when we want it to. It often comes in random spurts — mostly during those wee hours of the night or during random moments of thought. Or it could come while listening to a podcast or reading a different article.
Either way, inspiration isn’t usually planned.
That’s why it’s important to keep an on-going list of content ideas. I have a few separate lists: one for blog posts, one for social media and marketing content, and another dedicated solely for client work. Each time inspiration strikes, I write it down immediately.
Whether you keep a list on your notes app, in your journal, or in a Google Doc file, it’s important to keep adding to it whenever you get a new idea.
Another important place of inspiration comes directly from your audience. Keep track of the questions they ask or the inquiries they make, and form content around those needs. For instance, we’re often asked what’s the difference between web designer and web developers or why email marketing is a critical part of any business.
In turn, I created posts directly addressing those questions, because I knew my audience would find immediate value in them.
In addition to creating a list of post ideas, think about 5 topics that you have expert knowledge in and that serves your ideal customer. This is a strategy that Jenna Kutcher — the queen of content creation — teaches in both her podcast and online courses. Not only will this topic list keep your blog focused and niched, it will also help curb writer’s block.
For our blog, our topics include: copywriting, design, digital marketing, content/blogging strategy, productivity, and photography. What topics does your blog encompass? Take a quick moment to scribble them down in your journal or type them into your notes app.
Now that you have a clear list of topics and a growing list of post ideas, you’ll have fresh ideas for your content and the beginnings of a solid blogging guide or framework.
2) Complete Research for Each Post
Research is the cornerstone for any successful project, and it should be a routine part of your blogging guide or framework. You may be a genius in your field with valuable knowledge that the world absolutely needs to hear. But that doesn’t mean your post doesn’t require a healthy amount of research.
Because research increases the value of your article, while also reinforcing your argument or perspective with supporting evidence. For instance, if you provide a current statistic after making a strong statement, your argument is solidified. Once measurable data is included, it’s much more difficult to repudiate an opinion.
In addition, you can also provide insights from known experts. Not only does citing an authority show that your argument is fully validated, it also gives your audience a point of reference. And, better yet, if you link to this source, it can give your reader a place to find more valuable information.
Lastly, conducting research will offer you new insights, improve your knowledge, and give you fresh ideas. Just remember to always give credit where credit is due. If it wasn’t your idea, reference it.
And one more quick thing: when you find a good post or article that supports your argument, actually read the post. Skimming is great for getting a quick overview. However, if you’re planning on using the information, make sure you complete an attentive read.
3) Form an Outline for Every Post
Outlining is a crucial part of any writing process. Whether you’re a NYT Bestseller, a pro blogger, or a new writer, outlining is essential. This process organizes your thoughts and structures your post.
Think about this for a quick sec: how many times have you started writing and went far off course? You started with one point, then somehow ended up at a totally different destination than you were intending.
This typically happens when you don’t have a clear outline. If you take nothing from this blogging guide, please, PLEASE follow this process before you start writing.
Your outline doesn’t have to be complex or complicated. It doesn’t have to layout every single detail that you will include. But it should contain the overall structure and encompassing purpose of your post. My advice is to start with your main headings and work your way down. That way, you won’t deviate from your main points and get lost in your own work.
Coschedule even claims that outlining can help prevent that pesky writer’s block from creeping in. And they’re not wrong. Have you ever sat at your computer, watching your screen as that blank page taunted you? Yeah, if you’re a writer, you’ve likely been there.
Outlining helps keep your flow aligned and alive. When you hit a wall, return to your outline, and, chances are, you can redirect yourself.
Are you still unconvinced that outlining is an essential part of creating a successful blog post? Check out this direct quote from Coschedule: “The practicing of outlining is beyond mere planning. It’s a conscious devotion to developing an idea, logically and persuasively.”
I mean, you can’t get any better than that.
4) Choose Keywords for Your Blog Post & Make a Title List
Keywords are a critical part of organic traffic and cold discovery. And, to be perfectly honest, SEO is a marketing strategy every online business needs.
Once I have a clear outline for my post, I complete some keyword research. Primarily, I use Google Keyword Planner and Ubersuggest. When researching, I look for three main criteria:
- Search volume (how many times each month are people searching for this keyword?)
- Competition (who else is posting with this keyword?)
- Other Suggestions (what other variations can I use?)
After I have a clear idea of what keywords and variations I want to use, I add them to my outline or notes. That way, I can keep them at the top of my mind as I start to write.
Some bloggers suggest optimizing your post after you write it. But I find that including your keywords directly into your draft in real time maintains a better flow. I’m sure you can recall a time when you read a post that had keywords ‘dumped’ at random stages throughout their post. When you include your keywords as you write, you help alleviate the awkward phrasing and choppy sentences.
If you’d like more information on SEO, check out this past post.
Now, when it comes to titles, you have to be very intentional. In most cases, I brainstorm a list of 15-20 titles (all with my keywords!) before I settle on one. This process may seem strenuous, but it’s 100% necessary.
Unless you have a sudden and rare streak of brilliance, you typically won’t land on a click-worthy title on first thought. It takes a bit of tweaking before you find one that (1) clearly conveys your post and (2) sparks immediate action and stops the scroll.
So, if you don’t already have keyword research and title planning in your blogging guide or framework, I highly suggest you make room for it.
For more information on how to write titles that standout, check out this post.
5) Find Photos for Your Post
Once my outline is complete and I have a set title and keywords, I’ll find photos that are directly relevant to my post and have a similar aesthetic.
Why do I find photos before I start writing?
Because I don’t want to interrupt my writing process. As many of you can likely relate, once I’m in the zone, it’s hard for me to pull myself out. So, if I already have my photos preselected and tested in my outline, I can focus solely on getting my words on the page.
When selecting your images, make sure you choose enough to break up your text and provide visual appeal. But not too much that it overwhelms your post. My blog posts tend to lean on the longer side, so I like to make sure I have an image for every two sections. This guideline provides a smooth flow and a welcome break from an otherwise text-dense post.
One more tip before we move on: before you upload and insert your photos, make sure you optimize them for speed. Spend a couple minutes condensing the photos through your own computer, then, for the full effect, run them through Tiny PNG. This quick step will help your blog post load faster.
Here’s a list of the top three places we find our photos:
Please note that Envato and Twenty20 are both paid subscriptions. However, I highly recommend buying a subscription. They’re definitely worth it!
6) Write Your First Draft — A Crucial Element of Your Blogging Guide
Your first draft should never be your last draft. Like any other creative project, writing requires polishing.
When I’m reading a post, I can always tell when the author published their first draft. And, unless I really need the info, I’ll quickly bounce.
*** Just a quick FYI, if you have a high bounce rate on your blog, it can negatively affect your SEO. So you want to keep people engaged on your post. And to do that, it needs to be thoughtful, intentional, and free from blatant errors.
I’m going to give you a few tips for writing a strong first draft. These are practices I include in my blogging guide or framework every time I write. So I can personally attest that they work.
1) Have a dedicated writing place. I find that inspiration and creativity flow better when I work in the same location. For me, my most productive space is my office. When I’m at my desk, I have both focus and clarity — which are 2 important aspects of writing.
For you, this may differ. Your writing place might be your patio or a nearby coffee shop. Wherever it is, try to do the bulk of your writing in the same place.
2) Choose your best writing method. As this Medium article stresses, your writing can significantly benefit from choosing a consistent practice, such as typing or pen and paper.
In the past, I’d write all my first drafts by hand. I know I probably just caused a few shudders, put physical writing was a huge part of my creative process. Even now, when I’m stuck on a certain phrase, I’ll return to my trusty pen. There’s something about the physical movement of writing that brings inspired flow.
3) Don’t penalize yourself for imperfection. It’s not unusual for a first draft to suck. Seriously, a good portion of my first drafts make me cringe. But it’s important to remember that your initial draft is not your final piece.
Before greatness can shine, you first have to get the words on the page. Think about your favorite novel. Now consider how many drafts that novel went through before it landed in your hands. Chances are the first draft of your favorite book wasn’t very great. So don’t get discouraged if your’s isn’t instantly incredible. Once you perform your edits, it will get there.
Lastly, you’ll want to make sure you include a direct and strong Call to Action (CTA) at the end of the post. What primary action do you want your reader to take. Do you want them to comment? Do you want them to share your post? Or do you want them to make a purchase? Whatever it is, tell them precisely what they should do.
I want to stress one more point before we move on to editing. Don’t be afraid to enforce your opinion. I see so many writers who are afraid to say the wrong thing, so they constantly offer alternatives for their main argument or perspective. Be confident in your voice, and don’t shy away from your opinion.
7) Edit Your First Draft
Editing is one of the most important parts of writing and is one of the foundations of a successful blogging guide or framework. It requires strict attention, an open mind, and — most importantly — time.
I never edit my post immediately after I write it. And this is coming from someone who can write for hours.
I always step away from my desk. I go for a walk or make myself a quick bite to eat. Whatever activity I choose, I physically separate myself from my writing space. Once my mind is clear, I’ll return to my post with a fresh pair of eyes.
In addition, when editing, I never make live changes. I always, always make highlights or comments.
. . . because I’m viewing my post through an editor’s eyes. And, if you’ve ever professionally edited any type of writing, you’ll know that live changes are often prohibited. So when editing your first draft make comments through your Word or Google Doc. Then, as you’re writing your final draft, you can implement the changes.
*** Another quick tip: try to do the bulk of your writing on an external word processor. Not only will this protect your work in the event your wifi disconnects or your computer crashes, but it will also be easier to edit.
If you’re not confident with grammar rules, then I highly suggest using an editing tool, like Grammarly. Not every blogger or online writer is an English major. In fact, a large majority of writers have little to no formal writing training.
So if you don’t feel comfortable with all the confusing rules, then definitely take advantage of helpful resources. Although, don’t rely solely on these tools. Make sure you edit your post properly before relying on an algorithm.
When editing your first draft, watch out for these things, and try to comment or make note whenever you find one of these issues:
- Grammar and spelling errors
- Awkward phrasing
- Unclear assertions
- Areas that need supporting evidence
- Holes in your argument
- Areas that can be condensed
- The overall strength of your argument
This list may seem a tad long, but once you get the hang of editing through this lens, it won’t seem so off-putting.
And keep in mind, the quality of your post can determine your credibility. If you’re looking for a sponsor or an affiliate – especially something that’s higher ticket — you’ll need to make a strong impression. You’ll have to display that you have a strong command of your voice and that the content you publish is both professional and intentional.
So make sure you publish work you’re proud to stand behind AND that offers value for your reader.
8) Writing the Final Draft of Your Blog Post
Now it’s time to switch from your editor’s eye back to your writer’s mind. It may help to take a quick five minute break from your writing space to help switch between these two roles.
When you return, you can implement all the changes you suggested while editing.
After I finish my final draft, I will upload my post into my CMS — in our case, that’s WordPress. And, once it’s uploaded, I’ll style it, making sure there’s consistent spacing and a proper flow of information.
9) Completing Your Final Edit
I swear; this is it. Once you’ve made all your edits, complete another overall edit of the post. I find that reading the entire post out loud can help catch any lingering errors. Plus, reading out loud forces you to slow down, so you’ll likely find errors that you may have overlooked the first time around.
When I go through my edits, I make sure each and every sentence is necessary for supporting my encompassing claim. If it’s not, I get rid of it.
Afterwards, you’ll have a final piece of writing that’s strong, condensed, and free of errors.
10) Create Promo Graphics
At this point, you’re likely celebrating. You’ve finished writing, editing, and polishing your post. And now it’s time to switch roles once again.
At this stage of the blogging guide or framework, you’ll create your promotional graphics. For almost all of my graphic designs, I use Photoshop. You have limitless control, and you can build stunning, fully customized graphics.
However, if you’re not overly confident in your tech skills or if you don’t want to learn a new software, you can try using Canva. There’s a free and a premium version. I suggest you start with the free version, and, if you need to unlock more features, you can upgrade later.
If you’d like some custom graphics made, head over to our contact page and request a free consultation! Also, check out Creative Market if you’d like to purchase some templates and simplify your work flow.
11) Promote Your Post
If nobody knows your posts exists, nobody will read it. So promoting is one of the most important aspects of creating a successful blog post. Typically, we promote on 5 platforms:
1) Pinterest: if you’re a blogger, Pinterest is a MUST. Seriously, so much of our blog traffic comes solely from Pinterest. This platform is a search engine, though. So make sure you add your keywords to your post.
2) Facebook: Your Facebook page is a great place to promote your post. Just keep in mind the organic reach for business pages is very low. So, if it’s in your budget, you can always promote your post or create a traffic ad through Ads Manager if you’d like to increase your reach.
3) Instagram Stories: We promote all of our blog posts on IG stories. Make sure you create a branded graphic that corresponds with your feed, and add a hashtag that will reach your target audience.
4) Blogger Groups: If you want unfailing support, I highly recommend joining a few blogger groups. It’s a great way to receive organic traffic, to create connections, and to discover other professionals in your niche.
5) Email: If you have an email list, this is a prime spot to promote your new post. Not only are you offering value straight to your subscribers’ inboxes, but you’re also organically increasing your traffic. And, when it comes to SEO, more engaged traffic is always a good thing.
12) Track Your Results
If you don’t know your numbers, you don’t know your business. And this is the same for blogging. Tracking your data should be part of every blogging guide or framework, because it gives you measurable data that you can use to grow your blog or business.
I recommend using Google Analytics for your site and analyzing these three areas with special attention:
- Your bounce rate
- Your number of views
- The time spent on your post and your scroll depth
- Your attributions
This data will clearly show you how your post is performing. Is it holding people’s attention? How did they discover your post? And are they clicking to other pages on your website?
Once your traffic rates increase, you can use this data to create intentional retargeting campaigns for people who have already shown interest in your content.
If you’re struggling with setting up Google Analytics on your site, we offer affordable rates to help with this process! Just head on over to our contact page, and fill out our quick form.
Whew! That was a lot of important information. But now you have all the insight you need to create your own blogging guide or framework.
If you know that blogging is important for your business, but you just can’t seem to get the hang of it, you’re in the right spot. We offer content writing and marketing services to get your brand in front of the right people and drastically increase your visibility.
If you’d like to book a free consultation, head over to our contact page and send us a note. Our consultations are jam-packed with valuable insights and advice. You can think of it as a cross between a one-on-one coaching call and info session. And — even better — there’s zero obligation to book a service. So, really, you can’t lose.
Also, don’t forget to follow along on Instagram, so you can stay updated on all things CS!