Have you ever sat down to write a blog post and 20 minutes later found yourself staring at a blank screen, your mind doing perfect circles around the topic you now regret choosing?
But I’ve discovered it doesn’t have to be that way. It’s much easier for our mind to fill in the blanks instead of starting from scratch.
That’s what I created a twelve-step process for writing the perfect blog post you can use and never have to stare at a blank page again! These are the exact same steps we use to publish all our blog posts and the template I’m using to write this post.
(Don’t forget to grab our FREE 13-step PDF Checklist for How To Upload a Blog Post In WordPress! No email required. Just click the image below!)
1. Decide On The Goal for Your Post
Every time you publish a blog post, you should have a goal for the content. What do you want your content to accomplish? Do you want to attract new readers? Are you hoping to engage existing readers? Do you want to educate beginners or start a conversation with peers?
If you don’t have a goal in mind before you choose your topic, you’ll have a much harder time choosing and sticking with a topic because there’s no way to qualify it.
2. Choose The Specific Audience You’ll Speak To
This is the difference between writing a post for beginners or advanced readers, or writing something broad instead of very specific. If you are always talking to the same audience, great. If you are zeroing in on one niche within your audience, clarify exactly who it is.
I’ve found the best way to do this is by choosing one person who sums up your target audience and writing the post as if you are talking to them directly.
3. Choose Your Blog Post’s Main Point
Before you even choose your blog post title, think through what the topic will be. If you already have a blog schedule or a list of ideas, that’s great. If not, it’s time to generate some topics you can write about that accomplish the goal you set in step one. Focus on helping, not selling. People buy from others they know, like, and trust.
Make sure to choose one big point per post. If you find yourself skipping around to different topics, break them into smaller posts and keep each one focused on one major point. Think snack size content. I like to write a one sentence goal for the post before I start, and that helps me stay on track.
4. Outline Your Supporting Ideas
It’s helpful to set the direction of the post by outlining the primary points you want to cover. This allows you to fill in the info below each point, which also turns into a sub-heading for your post. Keep in mind the different sections of a post (intro, conclusion, call to action, etc.) to help guide your content.
If you need to do any research, this is also the time to do it. Collect any resources or information you are going to cite and add them under your supporting ideas. Be careful not to get bogged down by this! It’s easy for self-doubt to start creeping in when you find yourself comparing your outline to someone’s published post.
5. Write the First (Ugly) Draft
Now that you have your outline, it’s time to add information about each of the points. Don’t worry about making it look good, just get your ideas down. You should have already done your research so don’t get distracted by doing more, just get the information you have into your outline. And don’t be afraid to show a little personality!
6. Brainstorm Headline Ideas
I’ve saved the headline until now, because you never know what shape your post as you begin writing. Spending a lot of time on your headline can be a waste if you end up going a different direction later on. I like to save a space at the top of the page for headlines and if I think of ideas while I’m writing I just add them to the list.
After I finish the first or second draft and know the direction of the post, I come up with a few more possibilities. Aim for at least 5 or 10 possible headlines because, believe it or not, your best ones will come after 10 tries. It’s not a stretch to say you should spend almost as much time creating your headlines as you do your content.
7. Edit and Proofread
Now it’s time to get picky. Sometimes it’s good to add some distance between writing your first draft and the proofreading phase so you may want to do this a day later with a fresh pair of eyes.
Look for grammar mistakes, incorrect word tenses, and phrases using passive voice. After you’ve made revisions, do a final read through to be sure everything flows. I use a free tool called Hemingway App that you can copy and paste your blog draft. The app tells you if your sentences are too complex and highlights errors in your writing. I try to never publish a post before running it through Hemingway.
8. Select the Picture(s)
Now it’s time to add the finishing touches to your post. Find a featured image and any other images or graphics that you would like to use in addition to your content.
A great strategy for finding pictures is to use the keywords in your post that best describe what you are talking about. Analogies work well, too. For example, the obvious words I would search for in this post are publishing, steps, blog, content, writing, etc.
John, my partner in crime on Twenty Labs, compiled a massive list of the best free photo sites you can use for your blog photos here.
9. Upload to Your Blog & Optimize the Post.
Up until this point, I assume you’re using a word processor (probably Microsoft Word or Google Docs) to edit your post. Now it’s time to copy your post and paste it into your WordPress blog. Take advantage of the preview option. Make sure your headings and subheadings look correct, the spacing between paragraphs is the way it should be, and overall, everything looks just right.
You’ll also want to optimize your post with tags, select categories, name your image and upload it, use your SEO plug-ins, and interlink to other content inside your post.
The entire uploading and optimizing process takes much more space to cover, so if you want our full 13-point checklist for exactly how we upload posts you can download it here:
10. Publish or Schedule
You’re almost there! Once you have finished optimizing and everything looks great, it’s either time to publish the post or schedule it for the optimal publishing time.
It doesn’t matter how much time you spent on a post if no one reads it when it’s published. Promotion is a critical part of the process that can’t be overlooked. Send your blog post out to each of your social networks and to your email list, if applicable. And don’t forget to reply to any comments on your blog to engage with your audience. (There are several other steps for promoting your content, but our main focus in this post is just getting the content published!)
12. Reuse and Repurpose
Just because you’ve written the post and promoted it once doesn’t mean you’re finished!. There are a dozen other ways you can leverage your existing content and reuse it to accomplish your content goals. Check out my post on all the different ways you can reuse your content.
Which step do you get hung up on the most? Let us know in the comments!