Writing a blog post could be an easy and delightful experience. But most of the time, it becomes a torture worse than going to the gym on a cold and rainy day — you know what I mean.
The thing is, most people write a blog post without a clear idea of what they are going to say and, more importantly, without a process to follow.
Let me show you what works for me, a Spaniard, who spoke no English 4 years ago. If I can do it, you can do it. Just follow these 9 steps.
#1 What do I want to achieve writing a blog post?
Can you reach a goal if you don’t know what the goal is?
The answer is no, you cannot. To achieve something specific, you need to define what that something is. I’m sorry for being stupidly obvious, but it’s worth saying.
Next time you are investing a lot of effort in creating a piece of content, ask yourself this question: What do I want to achieve with this piece?
Maybe your purpose is to promote a service you are launching with a new partner, or maybe you want to offer your new eBook and increase your email list, or you want to promote a new affiliate product. You should have different business goals and different strategies, so your content marketing must be aligned with this, and every piece of content should help to achieve these goals.
You should have different business goals and different strategies, so your content marketing must be aligned with this, and every piece of content should help to achieve these goals.
#2 Put yourself in your reader’s shoes
The most important mistake people make when creating content is focusing on their own interest. You need to escape from this framework immediately.
Your client — or reader — should be the centre of any piece of content you create, satisfying their desire to solve a problem, a curiosity, or somehow improving their life. Figure out their pain and why they should invest their precious time consuming your content.
You should answer these questions before writing a single word.
- Why should my reader read this content?
- How are they going to improve their life with this?
Having your readers in the centre of your content strategy will dramatically improve the way they interact with your content. They don’t care about your company, your products, or you. Create content that resonates and connects with your audience.
#3 Develop your unique angle
Could your readers identify your content from an anonymous website?
The answer should be yes.
There is massive content creation every day. Your content must stand out from all that noise or it will be lost in a vast ocean of content. Basically, you have two options to achieve this:
- Creating high-quality, useful, and actionable content that helps.
- Providing a unique and valuable new angle to your reader to solve a problem or improve their life.
Find your personal touch, your personal story and experience, and treat each piece of content as a private dialogue between you and your reader. Talk from your experience and personal knowledge, talk about your personal story, because this makes you unique.
If you can establish that bridge between you and your readers, you are creating unique and irreplaceable content.
Show your point of view on the subject you are writing about. Don’t be scared; develop your unique angle.
They can find loads of impersonal and standard content out there. Anyone can research good posts from the top blogs, put it all together, and create a new piece of content. The result is a massive amount of content, which is a copy of a copy of a copy…
#4 Don’t do “blind dating” with your readers
Have you ever been on a blind date?
If you have been, I am sure you know how stressing that experience can be. Basically, you are trying to do your best to impress somebody you don’t know. In “blind dating” the best option, or my option when I did it, is just to be yourself and see what happens.
But things work a little differently with content marketing.
Before publishing your content, you need to know who your date is. We call this your Audience Persona. The better you know your date — audience persona, reader, client, potential client, user, or whatever you want to call it — the better your date will be.
You are probably writing for different types of audience personas; this is normal. I write for Solopreneurs building a lifestyle business, but I also write for small companies who want to build a profitable audience using content marketing.
It is convenient, though, to focus in just one audience persona in each piece of content — even if, indirectly, it could be interesting for other audience personas.
Remember, you are on a date. It’s not cool having a date with two people at the same time, right?
#5 Building the content foundations
You know what you want to say, the unique angle to say it, and what your reader wants to read.
You need to build your content like a builder builds a house, with the foundations and structure. Exactly like the foundations are the strongest part of the building, you need to jot down your content foundations with the main ideas.
Write the main ideas and the different parts of your content, every point you need to talk about to achieve the purpose you defined in the questions from step #1: Why should my reader read this content? How are they going to improve their life with this?
I start writing main ideas that will become the different subheadings (H2, H3,…); after that, I just jot down any comments or guidelines about what I want to say.
The idea is to have a clear structure about the most important subjects you will need to write later.
#6 Fill the gaps
Now, it is time to write, filling the gaps between the main ideas and the main sentences you wrote in step #5. Don’t worry about grammar; here, you have the license to write like a 12-year-old school child — in my case, probably worse.
What you want is to extract from your mind the “raw content” you know about the subject with no limitations. These are any ideas, thoughts, experiences, quotes, references… related with the different parts of your post structure.
Don’t do anything more than write. If you get distracted checking or thinking about your grammar, spelling, or your punctuation, you will break the process of “content extraction” from your head.
On step # 8, you will have plenty of time to review all that; at the moment, you have a dirty draft. It’s ok; nobody will ever read that.
#7 Let it cool down for a while
I strongly recommend you don’t skip this step. It could be annoying, I know, and at that point, you want to publish the post as soon as possible and move on.
I started changing my point of view on this when I realised every piece of content I create is a tiny legacy I spread to the world. From this angle, remove any rush from the equation. If you create great content today, you will own a great piece of content forever. Be patient.
From a distance, you will see mistakes and bad sentence structure, which is difficult to see if you do all the process at once.
This is why it is so important to get some distance before to jump to step #8.
#8 Fixing the mess
If your content is a complete mess, don’t worry; you just generated the raw content. A dirty draft, remember?
Taking the license to write without thinking about grammar, spelling, or punctuation will give you the freedom to take out all your valuable ideas you need to be included in your content.
Writing a blog post should be a pleasant experience, not torture, trying to write, edit, and correct all at the same time. Because if you do this, you are breaking the process, and then you are breaking the creativity.
This step is where anybody can be a decent writer, and this is why it is the favourite step for many people. You can be creative here, changing sentences that don’t make sense and saying it again in a different way.
It is time to review grammar and punctuation (but don’t worry too much; we have an extra step for this later).
The idea here is to rewrite your content and make it shiny. Shiny!
Obviously, if you did a great job in step #6, you will enjoy this step and the result will be great. Imagine yourself like a painter apprentice, finishing your master’s picture. If you have to finish a great picture that is 80% done, you will enjoy the task a lot.
Add, rewrite, correct, change, reorganise. Work with and enjoy your dirty draft, because there is all you need to craft a great piece of content.
#9 Grammar revision and Proofreading
You cannot do everything. This is an entrepreneur’s golden rule.
When creating a piece of written content, you will need to send it to an editor — with solid grammar, punctuation, and writing knowledge — to review and edit your piece.
I know what you are thinking, “I have to pay to somebody for this every single time I publish a new post?”
The answer is yes, you should. Basically, for one reason:
If you are creating amazing content, think long-term. You want to publish and share your content for a long time — especially if you are generating evergreen content — and you will repurpose it as many times as you can.
Think about your content as a legacy and ask yourself a question: “Would I be proud of this post if I read it in 5 years?”
The answer is simple. It has to be a resounding yes.
English is not my first language; 4 years ago, I couldn’t speak a single sentence in English. A year ago, I was not conscious enough to write this blog about content marketing in English. It’s been an amazing challenge.
Before you read this, I previously sent it to Daniel, my editor and proofreader. And you, even if you are native English, should do the same.
Why do you need an editor?
Let me tell you a real story here.
I wrote a post about LinkedIn content marketing strategies that became popular on LinkedIn. People liked it 168 times and left 31 comments. All of them talked great about the tips I was sharing, except one.
The truth is, I didn’t review the grammar, and I didn’t send it to any editor to review because I was thinking I couldn’t afford to pay somebody to review every single post.
This happened next…
She could have been more polite and chosen a better way to say that, but she was right. And that was real torture for me for the next few days. To be honest, I was close to stopping blogging.
Lesson learned. You are not a bad writer for having somebody review and correct your content. You become a much better and committed writer.
#10 Publish and promotion
We need a strategic plan of promotion after publishing every post.
Your content must be promoted, especially at the beginning of your content marketing adventure. This is why you should have a promotion strategy for your whole content creation, attending to the best channels and platforms to reach your audience persona.
But also, I recommend a promotion plan for every piece of content. Remember, you have a purpose (step #1) and a defined audience persona (step #3), and now you need to find the best way to promote the content according to those two factors.