How to Blog Consistently for the Stressed Out Solopreneur
Writing a weekly blog post can be a taxing process. And if you’re anything like I was, banging it out the day it’s meant to be published just brings up all kinds of anxiety.
Telling my impatient fingertips to “shut up” so my disorganized brain could think, often left me questioning my sanity. But strangely, this is how I continued to work for the better part of 4 years! **facepalm**
In all seriousness though, blogging consistently has been one of the most challenging tasks for me – but I guess if it was easy, every man + his dog would be doing it right?!
So take heart friend, you’re not the only one who doesn’t find blogging much fun. The good news is, there are certainly things you can do to improve your relationship with blogging which is exactly what I’m sharing today.
I’ve also created The Weekly Blog Post Writing Checklist to help you get focused, organized and consistent in one foul swoop.
DOWNLOAD THE CHECKLIST
Writing a weekly blog post is a necessary evil if you want to book clients + sell your stuff.
If you just sit in your tiny little corner of the internet saying nothing, people won’t even know you exist let alone visit your website!
To book clients + sell your stuff, you’ve got to get eyeballs on your website and not just any eyeballs. You need the eyeballs of folks who need your service or product.
This means you need targeted traffic. And to get targeted traffic, you need to be writing targeted content that’s relevant to your audience. And you need to be sharing it – A LOT – in multiple places online!
Behold: The Weekly Blog Post Writing Process
So, I was every blogger’s nightmare – all kinds of disorganized AND inconsistent. That was until earlier this year, when I decided to streamline my processes.
Through doing that work, I’ve managed to make writing my weekly blog post a lot less stressful while also finding ways to work smarter and focus on the task at hand – writing my weekly blog post.
Now, a quick word before I share the process with you: You’ll have to adjust the process to suit the way YOU work and that will come with time.
The most important thing here is that you follow a process – then with practice, you’ll be able to tweak it to suit the way you work.
Your ready? Let’s do it!
Step 1: Choose a topic.
Figuring out what to write about is often the hardest part, but that’s because we’re trying to make it perfect from the get go. Your blog topic should be general rather than absolute. For example, the topic for this blog post was “blogging”.
And my previous post: How to reclaim your time and sanity with an Operations Manual was “productivity”.
Need some inspiration? Take a look at these useful + share worthy blog post ideas and choose just one to use for this exercise.
Step 2: Write a “Workable” title
This isn’t your final title. It’s just there to help you focus on a specific area of your topic.
For example, my working title for this post was, “How to make writing a weekly blog post easier”. How ironic?
Step 3: Brainstorm ideas
Brainstorm any important points you want to cover in the post. Anything and everything is on the table at this stage. Don’t filter yourself and don’t limit yourself to lists either. Go wild!
Mind map if that’s your thing. Talk it out with a friend – or your cat, it really doesn’t matter. Just find what works for you. I’m a list girl but I often use full sentences so I don’t lose a thought. The following image is what I started with for this post…On the rare occasion I come up blank at this stage, I revert back to the “simple thinking” strategy I learnt back in primary school (I still remember Mrs Staneland!):
Step 4: Group ideas
Take your list items and remove all the “not so good” ideas and group the remaining items by related ideas.
At this stage, you might start seeing some themes that would work well for subheadings. If so, go with flow and jot these down.
There’s no magic number of groups here but if you feel your post is quickly turning into a novel or it’s getting difficult to manage, you might want to think about creating a website series instead.
If that’s the case, now would be a good time to separate ideas and narrow the focus for each post in the series.
Here’s a good example of this: A little while back I created a post about sourcing images. There were a lot of links to manage but by grouping the information I realised I had two distinct groups: Standard Stock Photos + Styled Stock Photos.
So instead of just lumping them all into one post, I created 2 posts instead:
- 50 Places to Find Free + Attractive Images for Your Website
- 36 Places to Get affordable Styled Stock Photos
Step 5: Write your content
Now that you have an outline for your post, it’s time to write it.
This is usually a case of filling in the blanks and gathering supporting information however it’s still possible to get stuck here.
And in that case, here are my go-to writer’s block tips:
- Read other posts for sentence starters. Never heard of a sentence starter before? Well that’s probably because I’ve just made it up! Smart cookie **wink wink**I’ve found the hardest part is starting a sentence. But once I have a few sentence starters, I’m more likely to find my flow.Find an article. Any article will do (it doesn’t have to be related to your topic), and literally look at the way each sentence is started. Then go back to your post and see if any of those sentence starters will help jump start your own.
- Open up your Swype File and get inspired. You don’t have one? Get on it girl!This is a whole other topic but basically, a swipe file is a document or folder (or Secret Pinterest board!) full of inspiration from around the web! The inspiration can be anything from images, headlines, phrases, emails, salespages or just a single word.Now the point here is not to copy from your swype file but to analyze why the piece caught your attention. What was it about that email that is so captivating? Obviously it’s better to analyze your inspiration as you’re saving them so you get inspired and back to writing ASAP!
- Take a break. Seriously, get as far away from your computer as possible! It never ceases to amaze me how words seem to string themselves into sentences when I come back to a post with a fresh pair of eyes!
Step 6: Finalize the Title of your post
I find it’s far easier to write the Final Title after I’ve written my content because by this stage, I can clearly articulate what benefits my readers will get. And with the help of CoSchedule’s Headline Analyzer, I can optimize it for better engagement by aiming for a score of 72 or more.
Step 7: Organize your content
Organizing your content not only makes it easier for you to write but also makes it easier for your readers to digest.
Make sure your post includes:
- Title (see previous step)
- Intro (opening) – This is a great place to acknowledge the challenges your audience have in relation to this topic so they know, this post is for them.
- Subheadings – From the groups you created in Step 4
- Bullet points – to break up text
- Conclusion (closing) – Reiterate main points for the skimmers.
Step 8: Call to Action | Opt In | Content Upgrade
Each post needs a call to action whether that be to sign up for a general lead magnet or a content upgrade which is more specific to the post you’ve written.
If you choose the later, be sure to mention it at the beginning of your post so folks know about it.
Need a framework to create your opt in/content upgrade? This post + it’s accompanying worksheet will help you create an opt in in 5 easy steps.
Step 9: Create Images for the blog post
Back in the day when chaos reigned, I was creating 6 images per post for different social platforms. What a chore!! And then I came across this post that literally changed my life!
Besides learning that my approach was (slightly) OTT, I also found out that I only needed to create ONE image that would look great on 4 different platforms (Facebook, Twitter, G+ and LinkedIn) AND be used as my featured image for the blog post!
Did you get that? ONE image for 5 purposes!
These day’s I only create 2: One for the featured image and the other for Pinterest.
You can read about this game changing idea here and get the One Image to Rule Them All template while you’re there: simply plugin your image, add your text and you’re ready to go!
Step 10: Proofread your blog post.
I leave proofreading my blog post until after I’ve created my images. I find a creative break allows me to come back with a fresh pair of eyes and a clear mind.
You’ll be surprised what you pick up when re-reading your work after a short, creative break. Sometimes it’s small grammatical errors like commas and spelling mistakes or a misuse of words (your vs you’re). And other times, you’ll find unnecessary words, sentences and paragraphs or find easier ways to explain complex ideas.
Step 11: Write Alt tags for your images
As you might be starting to notice, I write “everything” related to my post in my draft and that includes alt tags for my images.
Alt tags are required for “ALL” images and if you’re using Pinterest, you should pay special attention to what I’m about to share next.
When someone pins an image from your site, the alt tag is what’s used by Pinterest as the description. To ensure your image has a good chance of being found in the search results, you must make sure that your keywords for this post and a call to action feature in the alt tag.
Step 12: Write at least one Tweet
People find it easier to share something when they don’t have to think about it. You can encourage quick sharing by pre-writing tweets and sprinkling them through your post.
Bonus tip: Install the Click to Tweet plugin and make sure you have share buttons available on your post.
Step 13: Create and format your blog post in WordPress
Now that you have all your content written and images created, it’s time to finalize your copy ready for publishing!
If you’ve been keeping tabs, I haven’t actually mentioned anything about WordPress yet? That’s because I don’t actually touch it until I’ve got my blog post to a publishing standard and all my bits and pieces from the previous steps completed.
It really keeps me zoned in and focused on getting my work done without being tempted by everything else in my dashboard (like checking analytics.)
And to save even more time, I use these seriously good WordPress hacks for blogging.
Step 14: Optimize your blog post for search engines.
If you don’t have the Yoast SEO plugin yet, get to it! It’s a great little plugin that uses gamification to make sure you’ve dotted all your I’s and crossed your T’s in relation to SEO.
Once you’ve installed and set it up, all the pages and posts of your website will get an SEO score which is based on a color system:
- Red = Stop being lazy!
- Amber = Ok, but I know you can do better.
- Green = Fantastic job! Go you!
Inside the SEO module for the blog post, you’ll find pointers for optimizing your blog post. Your aim is score the green light for both the Readability + SEO scores.
Writing your weekly blog post is easier when you follow a process.
Take the hassle out of writing your next blog post by downloading The Weekly Blog Post Writing Checklist below (it’s fillable!)
DOWNLOAD THE CHECKLIST
Have you downloaded The Essential Website Planning Checklist yet?
I invite you to go ahead and do that now. Anyone with a little know how can build a website but few people are aware of the planning and strategy involved in building a website that actually works to meet your goals.
GET THE CHECKLIST!