Yesterday I shared some thoughts from quite a few friends about how they go about writing their blog posts. This is part of a larger conversation taking place across the web about our individual blogging philosophies. Everyone who blogs has one, whether they know it or not. Even if you blog randomly without even thinking much about the process, that is a big part of your philosophy.
I find it is often helpful to sit down and put your thoughts down in words, to better understand what you are doing, why you are doing it, how you are doing it, and perhaps what you might want to adjust or do differently. The other day Gini Dietrich posted her thoughts on the Spin Sucks blogging process, in response to Mitch Joel’s post on his blogging process. Others are doing the same, so I thought it might be helpful to both me and my clients (small businesses and non-profits) if I did the same here.
Philosophy of Blogging
My most important marketing tool – I believe that in terms of creating a strong online presence, the most important thing you can do is create content. Blogging can do more for you and your business than just about anything else. Period. End of story. No matter your business, a blog is something you definitely need to consider.
Consistent and regular – I would never tell anyone else to do this, but when I started blogging for my business I made the commitment to blog every day. Regardless of how often you blog, just make sure you are consistent. If I miss a day of publishing, I’m sure the only one it bothers is me, but that can still be a strong motivation to remain consistent.
Scheduled and regimented – While I don’t write at the same time every day, I want my post to go out at the same time every day. Every once and awhile I’ll write a “bonus” post if something comes to mind and I want to get it out there sooner.
Free, relevant information – My primary audience consists of those in small business and non-profits. I write for them and provide free information. Sure there are others in my audience, but they are secondary. For me, blogging is about helping others by providing good, relevant information.
No sell zone -I’m not here to sell a product or service. Sure, if someone wants to hire me, great, but that’s not a part of my call to action on my posts. I just don’t sell. Now that may change a little bit when I publish some books or e-books, but it will be very subtle. Definitely no hard sell.
Be positive – I try to promote good things. This doesn’t mean I won’t point out things I see that are wrong, but in general, I believe we are too negative of a society. We need more positivity. I would much rather be positive and promote a positive mindset in my readers.
No real editorial calendar – Some people swear by having an editorial calendar, and I would even suggest this for some of my clients, but I don’t have one. I very rarely know what I’m going to write about more than a day or two in advance. Some people need the structure that a calendar provides, but I know myself well enough to know that if I had a calendar, I’d be constantly scheduling and rescheduling posts so I could publish the newer content that comes to mind.
Ideas come from everywhere – I read a lot, watch sports, take walks with my dog, and so on. Invariably, most of my ideas come to me at inopportune moments. I might see something that sparks an idea while I’m driving or doing something where I can’t just stop and write. I now have an android with a voice recorder and I try to get my ideas down there if possible. But everything in my life is fair game for blog fodder.
Jot ideas down in WordPress – While I don’t have an editorial calendar, I do write a lot of ideas down in blank post drafts on my blog. Right now there are 135 different posts started in my drafts folder. Most of those are merely a preliminary title and a sentence or two to help jog my memory if I decide to flesh them out into full posts. Some of those might also include a link to an article or other blog post that was the impetus for the idea. And truthfully, I know that most of those 135 posts will never see the light of day. I often go back and delete some that no longer interest me, but they are there in case I need them. For me, the WordPress drafts folder is a lot like a notebook or journal where I store ideas.
Regular Features – While I’m not overly structured on the content of the posts, I do have a few regular features. While most of my posts are applicable to small businesses, I use the Tuesday post specifically as a “Small Business Tip Tuesday“. Other than that, I try to cover a variety of topics that would be helpful to small business and non-profits, and related to marketing, social media, communications, customer service, PR, and the like. I’ve noticed that my traffic really drops off on the weekends, so rather than create too much new content, I try to feature a fun or interesting video on Saturdays. Then on Sunday, I do really well with an original comic called The Social Life of Frank & Linh created for me by my friend Jeff Burkholder.
Writing the posts
When I write – I don’t have a set time of day, just because that’s not the way I’m wired, and every day is different for me. Some people like to schedule their writing for a certain time and be a bit more regimented. You need to find what works for you. I’m sure I could benefit from being a bit more organized in this area, but if an idea hits me, I often want to get it written before I forget.
Where I write – I write right in WordPress. Sometimes I write straight through, other times I start with a bit of an outline, then flesh it out. I prefer to write most of a post in one sitting, but that’s not always possible. This particular post is being written in segments over the period of two days. Go figure. But it’s always right in WordPress rather than using Word or some other blogging or word processing program. Oh, and I hit “Save Draft” quite a bit…
Final prep – When I’m done writing, I go back and insert links, both internal and external. Some I know beforehand, others I see what fits. I also insert images and create or refine the title and edit, and also take care of the meta description, tags, and meta keywords, as well as any other SEO tasks.
Publishing – I schedule each post to publish before I’m awake in the morning. It automatically gets pushed out to a wide variety of social channels. When I get up I push it out a bit further manually. I then republicize it throughout the day.On any given day, my posts hit Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn (including various groups), Google +, Pinterest, Reddit, StumbleUpon, Technorati, and more. Depending on the topic, I might target it toward some more niche networks.
Comments – One thing that I’ve learned from others in my blogging community is the importance of comments. Writing and publishing a post is only part of the equation. I try to encourage others to offer input by commenting on my posts, and I try to respond to every comment in some way, to keep the conversation going. I know I appreciate it when a blogger responds to my comment, so I try to do the same. It’s what helps to build community and I get to know those folks. I also try to engage and thank the folks who share my posts on Twitter and other outlets.
Further sharing – The most important part of the life cycle of my posts is the day of publication. By the next day I’ve moved on to the next post, but at the end of each week or month, I look at my analytics and will often re-share some of my more popular posts of that time period. If I notice that certain posts perform better in terms of ongoing traffic and sharing, I might keep that in mind for future posts.
That’s the way I do it, how about you? What do you do that’s similar to what I do, or not? Any tips you might have to help me along?