So you want to start blogging, but it's been a while since you last sat down and wrote anything other than perhaps an email or proposal. In fact, for many people, their last experience with any kind of substantive writing was most likely in school. And while writing excellent academic essays is a great place to start, it is definitely not the same as determining a fresh topic and writing an engaging piece of content for the web.
How do you bridge the gap between your intro to composition course and your company's blog? By following the writing process, of course!
Only, instead of crafting an essay that will knock your teacher's socks off, you want to create something so interesting it will keep your readers coming back to your website for more.
Before you start cranking out your next piece of content, you want to be sure it fits into your overall marketing strategy. This means crafting a content strategy that will appeal to your buyer persona.
Once you've done that, it is time to really hone in on the piece you want to create and explore some creative ways to go about writing your piece of content.
For some, this type of brainstorming may mean using some listing or word association methods to generate interesting topics and subtopics, for others this may mean creating idea bubbles.
It also helps to do some preliminary research on the topic. What is being said about it? What have others written? What is missing from the conversation? How can you offer a perspective that is fresh and unique?
Finally, you may want to consider creating an outline that provides you with a rough guide for writing your post. This may also be a good time to conduct research and plug it into the relevant portions of your outline.
I always try to impress upon inexperienced writers (and experience ones, too!) the importance of simply letting ideas flow in their first draft. Far too often we place too much stress on the idea that our first or second draft needs to be well-thoughout out, thoroughly researched, and eloquently written. This is simply false.
Writing is a process, and it also serves as a method for generating ideas and building connections. This means that opening yourself up to writing without limitations can allow for a multitude of good - and bad - ideas to flow into those initial drafts. This can ultimately lead you down the road to a great piece of content that you might not otherwise have imagined or created.
The best way I've heard revising described as is a way to "re-envision" your piece. If you followed my advice in the drafting stage, you most likely have a great number of ideas that may not have any real structure or flow to them. Revising means making substantial changes to your initial draft. Ultimately, you want your finished product to read smoothly and follow a logical progression.
Use this step to cut out your bad ideas, rearrange your overall piece, assess the examples you use, and critique how your research informs the piece.
You will most likely find yourself moving back and forth between prewriting, drafting, and revising as your work takes shape. Keep in mind the writing process is not linear; instead, it often moves between steps as you find areas in your revised draft that need more research (prewriting), or determine you need to draft a few more conclusions to tie up loose ends.
This step is a brutal one. If you are lucky enough to have a designated editor, then sending off your draft for review is a simple step. But the reality for many content writers is that they simply must edit themselves, or collaborate with another content writer to edit their draft.
This step requires your undivided attention. You must put on your nit-picky glasses. Editing requires an indepth knowledge of English grammar and syntax. If you're not sure about something you've found in your piece, utilize the vast knowledge at your fingertips provided by the world wide web.
I strongly recommend editing the piece anywhere from 2 to 4 times especially if you are having to edit your own work alone. If you can get an outside set of eyes to review your work, this process can be a whole lot easier. But don't rely entirely on someone else to edit your work (unless, perhaps, you do have an experienced editor).
Don't relax just yet! Now that you've completed the editing process, it is time to get your piece ready for public viewing. This means queuing it up in your content management system.
But digital publishing is not the same as turning a paper into a teacher or publishing something in a hard copy. You want to be sure that your content is going to be easily discovered online. This means following SEO best practices as part of the publishing process. Once that is done, feel free to hit the publish or schedule button.
So now that you've brainstormed, researched, written multiple drafts, edited your piece a million times, SEO'd, and just about memorized your entire post from looking at it so many times, it may seem tempting to just let it loose on the world and try to forget about it. But as a blogger this simply isn't an option.
Instead, now is the time to promote promote promote! There is no teacher forced to read this brilliant piece of content, so you must create your own audience by sharing your post across social media platforms, promoting it in an email, and linking to it in other, related blog posts on your website.
And NOW your done...at least until the next time you need to employ the content writing process!