It’s easy to justify skipping writing your blog post because everything else seems so much more urgent — serving your customers, getting your quarterly taxes done, putting out the latest fire. But what if you could write a great post in just an hour? Wouldn’t that cut down on your dread of starting that task?
You can do it if you get organized and focused. Here’s how:
1) First, you’ve got to get organized. Plan your topics ahead of time. That means spending time at least a month in advance and building out a content calendar. Hubspot offers a free template, or you can create your own. That way, you’ll have topics ready at a moment’s notice that you can grab when you have a slot in your calendar and start writing.
2) Choose a topic that does not require you to do a lot of research. You should choose a topic that you are very familiar with, one that allows you to tell a personal story, or one in which you take a stand on a subject. This is not the time to write a post that requires five links to cite original sources. Save that for another time.
3) Speaking of slots, use scraps of time in your calendar. You may not have an entire hour all at one sitting, but you can find 15 minutes here and 15 minutes there when you’re waiting for your next appointment. We can waste an incredible amount of time during a workday just waiting for the next thing to happen. Use those scraps of time to your best advantage. If you don’t have your computer or iPad with you, dictate your blog post into your iPhone and transcribe it later. Or, there are transcription services associated with Evernote that will allow you to turn lengthy voice notes into text.
4) If your laptop is available, write your blog post directly into the blog software rather that into a word processing software program. This will save you the extra step of having to transfer it into the blog.
5) Write a trial title at the top of your blog post. It doesn’t have to be perfect — you may change it later. Then write a trial lead for your post. This is the “who-what-when-where-why” of your article. It not only tells your reader what to expect, it is also helpful from an SEO perspective because Google places a lot of importance on the first paragraph. Make sure it includes your keyword(s) and accurately reflects the contents.
6) Before diving into the meat of the article, think about the main points you want to make and sketch them out first by typing them into the page. You should have at least three points in addition to an introduction and conclusion. Once you have your main ideas, then go back and fill in the details. Aim for a total post length of at least 500-600 words.
6) Consider a list post, such as “10 ways to improve your blog post headlines,” or “5 things to do today to grow your social media audience.” List headlines are intriguing to readers, and list posts organize themselves naturally as you write them. Hubspot offers a free template that provides help writing blogs of various formats.
7) Once you’ve written the main content, read over your article quickly and develop a short summary paragraph of a sentence or two, including the keyword. Then look at the lead again. Is it clear and compelling? Can you improve it? Now is the time to tweak it. Add one or two H1 tags, or subheads, in your post at logical points. Include keywords where appropriate. Go back and look at your title — is it the best it can be? Your title should be no longer than 70 characters, include spaces, and your keyword should be as close to the beginning of the title as possible for SEO benefits.
8) Find a photo to illustrate your post in stock photography or through Creative Commons. Hubspot offers a free library of stock photography. Be sure to provide the required licensing if you use a copyrighted photo.
9) You can skip the meta tags — they don’t help your SEO — but don’t skip your meta description. Write a summary sentence about your post, keeping it under 150 characters, including spaces.
10) Congratulations! You’ve done it! Hit publish! The more you practice, the better you’ll get. In fact, it really helps to set a deadline and push yourself to make it. If you’ve ever worked as a newspaper reporter as I have, it should be a familiar feeling!
11) If you have the time now, promote your post on social media and social bookmarks such as Stumbleupon. Or, you can always come back later and do that — but be sure to do it. There’s no point in writing that brilliant blog post in an hour and nobody reading it, now, is there?
12) Don’t forget to exercise and floss today!