From The Vault: 10 Steps to Creating a Blog Post
10 Steps to Creating a Blog Post
Creating a blog post is difficult. Yes, it can be fun. It can be rewarding. It can be frustrating. It can be quite a few more things, I am sure, for different people. What it is not is sitting down and writing the perfect first draft. Creating a blog post takes practice and it takes time to find what works for you. The information that follows is my 10 Steps to Creating a Blog Post.
Writing V. Creating
I chose to use the word creating in this post rather than using the word writing for a very important reason. I do not write a blog post – I create a blog post. And, as you will see in the following steps, writing is an important part but it is only one part.
Writing is personal.
I write a private journal entry. I write a letter to a friend. I write a story. Have you ever said to anyone, “I created in my journal?” No, you would have said, “I wrote in my journal.”
Google Dictionary gives the following definition for the word write:
compose, write, and send (a letter) to someone.: “I wrote a letter to Alison” “I wrote him a short letter” “he wrote almost every day”.
Google Dictionary gives the following definition for the word create:
bring (something) into existence.: “he created a thirty-acre lake” “over 170 jobs were created”.
I’m not comparing apples-to-apples. No, this is very much apples-to-oranges.
We are authors of what we write; however, we are producers of what we create. You will be referred to as a producer in the steps that follow.
Step One: Choose Topic
Something must happen before the first word is typed or written. You, The Producer, must choose your topic. This topic can be anything but you will choose the topic carefully based upon:
the post’s audience.
the platform where the post will be published.
the purpose of the post.
There will be times when you create a post based off a topic of your choice but, many times, that topic may be assigned to you. If I worked at a magazine I may be assigned a topic by an editor. If I worked for an online newspaper the same could be said. These 10 Steps work regardless of the chosen or assigned topic.
Step Two: Write the First Draft
Before you think I have contradicted myself by using write in Step Two, let me explain. I said that writing is an important part and it occurs in Step Two. This step is where the producer writes the first draft focusing on the words and the thoughts behind those. This is the step when words should flow freely and the producer weaves the story.
Does X paragraph need to be before N? It doesn’t matter in this step. This is writing – not editing. It is not proofing. It is simply writing.
REMINDER: Don’t get bogged down by the editing process in Step Two. You might think that this would save time but it does not. You risk losing creativty when you edit too early. Let the spell check go unnoticed. Don’t worry if you used the right punctuation. Worry, instead, about what you want to write.
Step Three: Find Appropriate Images/Pictures to Use
Your first draft is complete and you’ll be tempted to begin the edit.
Don’t do it!
Step away from the content and change gears. You will continue to create but your focus will change as you search to find appropriate image and/or pictures to use for your post.
Copying an image from the web and using it can present you with both ethical and legal consequences. I’m not attempting to scare anyone but simply stating that you should be aware of image copyrights.
I recently read a post by Roni Loren entitled Blogger Beware: You CAN Get Sued For Using Photos You Don’t Own On Your Blog. Roni tells about her experience of what many may thing would be a “worst case scenario” involving using pictures. She tells the tale of an innocent use of a picture meeting the, apparent, uber strict owner of said picture.
Roni also provides examples of photos that are approved to be used on blogs. A link to the post will be provided in the resources section.
My advice, and one that Roni mentions, is to take your own photos. Want to create your own? There are many services out there that can create free graphics. I use a combination of Pixelmator, PicMonkey and Art Text 2 on my Mac. These programs allow me to create items ranging from blog headings to simple picture enhancements.
As an example, I have included two images. The original was taken with an iPhone 5 and synced to my Photostream. I took the image and used PicMonkey to reduce the image size and add a few enhancements. The total editing time = less than 10 minutes. (Note: There is a free and paid version of PicMonkey. I chose to use the free version as it is very useful and economical.)
A free alternative for image editing and creation – for both Mac and PC – is Gimp.
REMINDER: Make sure to use proper attribution when posting pictures that you do not own and/or have permission to use.
Step Four: Review the Draft
You’ve chosen your pictures. You’ve created, bought and/or received permission to use selected graphics/images and have made notes of the proper attributes. It is time to go back to the first draft and review it. Don’t check spelling and grammar – just review it.
Questions to ask in Step Four:
- Did I tell the story I wanted to tell?
- Does it make sense?
- Do I make credible statements that can be backed up with facts?
- How can I change this post and make it better?
- What can I omit from this post that is either redundant or not relevant?
Step away and, deadline permitting, wait a day before continuing. Do not answer the questions – only ask them. I suggest waiting an hour if you cannot wait an entire day.
Step Five: Re-Review The Draft
You’ve returned from the time away with a cleared mind. It is now time to answer the questions asked in Step Four.
Step Six: Check Spelling/Grammar & Format for Post
With red pen in hand (or in mind), begin the editing process. Copy/Paste/Import the content into your blog platform unless you’re already using it. Now, you should correct spelling and punctuation errors. Also, make certain to check for grammatical errors. Eliminate slang unless it is needed as part of the post’s tone.
- Format the post with the necessary H1, H2, H3, etc. headings.
- Check for keywords.
- Add ALT tags to images.
- Make sure links (internal and external) work.
REMINDER: No spell check program/service is without fault and not all programs use spell check based upon the user selected mode. Take a look at the image 10 Steps to Creating A Blog Post. Look at Step Six.
Do you see the error?
Step Seven: Add Acknowledgements & References / Read Final Draft
The first part of Step Seven is simple: Give credit where credit is due.
The second part, equally simple: Read your final work.
Step Eight: Post
Ring the bells. Sound the alarms.
Your creation has left the draft stage!!!
Yes, producer, you have created a blog post!
Step Nine: Take It Social
You’ve worked hard. Take your work social by adding the social media layer. In Step One you chose an audience for your post. Now, share your work on the appropriate networks that will maximize exposure to your audience.
REMINDER: Not all works are appropriate for all networks. A blog post about a night of drinking and partying might not be what’s best for posting to LinkedIn on Monday morning – especially if you decided to call in sick due to the weekend’s resulting hangover.
Step Ten: Repurpose Content for Later Use
Can you use the post later? Can it be used differently for a different audience? If so, repurpose for later use.
NOTE: Remember spell check (even on images)? Replirpose isn’t a word.