Perpetually writing and publishing content is harder than it sounds. There’s a lot that goes into the blogging process, and it never stops. Every content creator works differently. But I thought I’d walk you through the steps I take for crafting new posts, as well as the tools I use at each stage.
Step #1 – ideas and inspiration
This part is pretty simple. I have a collection of my favourite blogs set up in an app called Feedly.
Feedly is basically an RSS reader, which pulls all the latest posts from the content sources you’ve subscribed to. It means you can quickly scan through articles from multiple sources rather than having to visit all these websites separately. It strips out the clutter, which makes for a better reading experience. It’s also super easy to share things.
When I find an article that gives me a good idea, I’ll share it with my content planning board on Trello.
Once I have a few things on my ideas list in Trello, I’ll open each card and jot down a brief description on the angle for the blog post. I’ll also add a working title so I know what it’s about at a glance. I assign the relevant labels, which correspond to the topic area I’m writing about. For example, marketing, tech etc.
Step #2 – start drafting
I use Google Docs for writing my drafts. It’s super easy on both desktop and mobile.
I won’t typically write an entire post in one go. I often work on stuff when I’m on the train or walking the dog. I work full time and have a family, so I blog in between.
I’ve also found that I don’t tend to try and rush through it if I do it in chunks.
Step #3 – proofing and editing
Aside from the standard spelling and grammar check, I use two other nifty tools that pick up on errors and suggest improvements.
Grammarly offers a free plan with limited features and a paid plan that costs $29 per month. The free tier is probably sufficient for most.
Grammarly scans your content and will make suggestions. It’s pretty spot on most of the time. There’s a Chrome extension available, as well as an MS Office plugin.
Unfortunately, there’s no Google Drive integration at this stage. As such, I just copy and paste from my Google Doc into the Grammarly web app.
Hemingway App is another freebie that does a pretty good job of helping you make your writing bold and clear. The app highlights lengthy, complex sentences and common errors. It points out adverbs and weakening phrases, as well as passive voice. Again, it’s not perfect. But it’s mostly pretty good.
Once I’ve run my draft through both of these tools, I’ll make the necessary changes and then let it percolate for a day or so. This means I can come back to it with fresh eyes, and am more likely to pick up on things I’ve missed or can improve.
Step #4 – gathering the visuals
I mainly use Pixabay for finding images. Pixabay is free, and it currently has around one million images available across a huge range of categories. The best thing is that most of these (if not all) are under a Creative Commons licence. Generally, the images require no attribution. Many can be used by individuals however they please. Some may have commercial restrictions.
If I’m embedding a video, it’s most often from YouTube.
Sometimes I’ll include GIFs, which I’ll get from Giphy. Giphy is a website with a massive collection of GIFs. There’s also a mobile app and WordPress plugin available.
Step #5 – composing in WordPress
First, I copy and paste the text from my Google Doc into WordPress. Then I’ll format it, and add links and images. I’ll insert the headline, and make sure the permalink is clean and SEO friendly. I’ll add the featured image, as well as the appropriate categories and tags.
Now it’s time to do a quick final read and hit the publish button.
But we’re not quite finished yet…
Step #6 – submit to Google Search Console
Formerly known as Google Webmaster Tools, Google Search Console is packed with features that help you optimise both your website and your content for Google. By having the right configurations, you will be more likely to have favourable indexing and rankings.
You can also submit the URL for your new blog post, and request Google to fetch and index it sooner rather than later. Instead of waiting weeks or possibly months for those Google Bots to crawl your posts, you can ask for it to be done quicker.
Step #7 – share on social channels
Now I start posting on my social networks – Twitter, LinkedIn, the Facebook page for my blog, and Google+. I realise Google+ is all but dead, but it’s still worth posting on for SEO purposes.
Once I’ve shared my new post directly on social, I’ll then queue it up again in Buffer using a different intro.
Step #8 – send published article to Trello
I’ll add the final post to my ‘Published’ list on Trello. This helps me keep stock of everything I’ve produced.
Step #9 – clip to Evernote
I use the Evernote Web Clipper to save my post as a ‘Simple Article’, which clears away the formatting and layouts so you can focus on the content, with less distraction.
I save the clips into my dedicated notebook, aptly titled ‘Blog’. I do this because it’s easier to look back at my content in Evernote as opposed to clicking on each post on my website (it’s faster too).
Step #10 – measure performance
I’ll regularly check Google Analytics to see what’s performing well and what isn’t. If something’s not working, I’ll tweak the headline, change the images, and try again.
So you’ve now learned about the 10 steps I take for each piece of content I create. It might sound like a lot, but I’m just a one-man blog. There are publishing powerhouses that have much more rigour and resources. But this is working for me.
Remember, creating a content destination takes time and consistency. We’re living in a world where there’s no shortage of digital noise, and everyone – individuals and brands – is competing for attention and engagement.
There’s no magic formula or silver bullet for creating content that resonates. There will always be strategies and tactics that have worked for others, but this doesn’t mean they’ll work for you.Content marketing is a long-term game. Click To Tweet
While some will strike it lucky with quick wins, this isn’t the norm. For the majority, we have to slug it out.
I’d love to hear about how you approach content creation. Please share your comments below.
Content marketer, blogger, author and tech geek.