Steps To Take Before Writing a Blog Post

chrislandman - Sun, March 23, 2014

Stop worrying, here's how to plan out your blog strategy. Credit Lord Jim via Flickr Creative Commons.
Stop worrying, here’s how to plan out your blog strategy. Credit Lord Jim via Flickr Creative Commons.

Blogging can be a crux for any content marketing strategy.

A poorly thought out blog post can turn away potential leads, but that should not deter you from blogging.

You simply need to have a plan in place. Knowing that you need to blog is a good start.

Having a comprehensive blog strategy before you put pen to pad, will allow you to hit the ground running once you finally start writing.

Here are the five steps you should take before writing a single word in the body of the blog post

 Decide how many times you will write daily

The first thing you should know before writing is how many times you’re going to post per day. In order to have any kind of relevance, your website needs to have at least one post up every day.

 Brainstorm

Before you start writing blog entries, brainstorm potential content ideas. The internet and the rise of social media makes this easier than ever. Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Reddit and Instagram are all great ways of discovering content ideas.

When you read an article that contains a good content idea, open up a Word document, write out a description of the article and create a link to the document (Example below).

The length of the list will change depending on the number of posts you plan on writing daily.

Example of Effective Brainstorming
Example of Effective Brainstorming

Using another writer’s work for inspiration

Do not copy the writer’s work. You’re simply looking for ideas that will spark your own creative ignition.

This blog post is an example of using an article as inspiration.

Here is a link to the article that led me to the idea of writing a blog post about proper preparation for blogging.

 

Notice, that nowhere in the post does it say anything about the preparation process regarding blogging.

So, what did I see in the article that led me to this idea?

I saw the stat that said “only 44 percent of B2B marketers have a documented content strategy.”

Immediately after reading the stat, I began thinking of different reasons why so many marketers don’t have a strategy. I finally decided that a good blog

 

post topic would be a post on how to prepare blog post before you write.

Get Organized

You’ve made your list, now you need to organize that list in a manner that can be useful for when you start blogging.

The main method of organization that you should use is a content calendar. Plan out the next 30 days worth of content.

The calendar should serve as a template for your writing.

 

Editorial Calendar Example
Editorial Calendar Example

 

 

Find your other media sources

Once you have your subject, find the other media elements to include in your story.

Locate your media elements before you begin writing. This will allow you to build the copy around the media elements.

Here is a good template to follow when trying to decide where to put media elements:

  • You need to include at least one photo at the top of your blog post.
  • Most videos that you embed from YouTube should appear at the bottom of your post. Unless the video encapsulates a certain point you’re trying to make.
  • An embedded tweet should be treated like a direct quote.

Embedding a video from YouTube is very easy. Here is how to find the embed code on YouTube:

1. Go to the video on YouTube.

2. Click on the share button.

3. You should see an “Embed” tab. Click on the tab

4. A white box with code will appear. Simply copy the code and place it in the HTML part of your Content Management System (A subsequent blog post will show you how to do this).

How to Embed a YouTube Video
How to Embed a YouTube Video

Embedding a tweet uses a similar process. Here’s how to embed a tweet.

1. Locate the tweet you want to use. A good way to keep tabs of a tweet you may want to use later is to simply retweet it. It will appear when you click on the tweets tab underneath your profile picture.

2. Click on the “More” option underneath the tweet.

3. A menu should appear. Click on “Embed Tweet” and copy the code. Just like the YouTube video, you will need to paste the code into the HTML part of your CMS.

 

 

Find the embed tweet option
Find the embed tweet option

Twitter embed code
Twitter embed code

 

Setup SEO

The final step before writing the post is setting up the Search Engine Optimization functions.

Depending on the CMS you’re using, the setup itself might be different.

The first thing you want to do is come up with a headline or title. It should be clear to the reader what the article is about before they even click on the link.

The next element is the Focus Keyword, which is essentially the subject of your post.

Some CMS’s have a designated box, which allows you to type in the focus keyword. If you don’t have a box, you can still identify the focus keyword by including it in the title section of your post.

For example, Email Marketing: Three Mistakes That Should Be Avoided. Email Marketing is the focus keyword.

The keyword should only be one or two words.

The next part in the SEO process is the Meta Description. One word of note, the meta description is not a part of Google’s metrics, but it’s essential for getting people to click on your link.

The meta description is the text that is located below the title on a Google search

Google will only show 150 characters of the meta description. So the description needs to be brief and to the point. If you’re using a CMS, most likely you will have a box that you can write the meta description in. Some of these systems will cut you off at 150 characters and others will not. HTML users need to be aware of the number of characters. If you go beyond 150 characters, the description will be cutoff and replaced with an ellipses.

Meta Description Example
Meta Description Example

 

As you can see from the example above, the text cuts out after “The Bulls had seen their five-game…”

If I hadn’t seen the game, I wouldn’t know whether the Magic or the Bulls had won the game.

The meta description needs to tell you what the story is about.

So my meta description would be, “The Chicago Bulls defeated the Orlando Magic 128-125 in 3 OTs. Here’s a closer look at one of the best games of the season.”

That description tells you the outcome and let’s you know that there are more details if you continue reading.

From the screenshot, if I hadn’t seen the game, I would never have known what a great game I missed.

 

You can decide not to include a meta description. In that case, Google will then use the first 150 characters of your blog post. This is why so many opening sentences in online articles can be bland.

By adding a meta description, you can include a colorful lede that can really draw in your audience, while using the meta description to make it completely clear what your potential visitor is about to click on.

The other part of SEO is the aspect of tags. Tags are important pieces of information that Google uses when people are searching for a blog post. There should be no more than six tags in a given story. Google will not look at stories that have a bunch of links in them. However, having one or two is fine. For example, if I’m writing about email marketing, my tags would probably be marketing, content marketing, email and email marketing. The tags should have been used in the blog post itself.

The focus keyword should match a portion of the title of the post and a part of your meta description.