Step-by-step process for publishing a blog post (to steal and use)
So you’ve set your business goals, you’ve drafted your marketing plan, and you’re ready to give this blogging caper a good Aussie go. Good for you, and welcome to the land of inbound marketing – where it’s about delicately pulling the right clients toward you, rather than pushing your message to the masses.
But it probably won’t take you long to realise that if there’s more than one person responsible for making blog posts happen, you’ll need a bit more of a process than just blocking out an hour every Tuesday morning “to write”.
To help you get that smooth process up and running as quickly as possible, here’s an adapted version of the process I use – for myself and clients – for writing and publishing a blog post.
You can take the steps and use them as the basis of a templated workflow in your task management system (e.g. a thread in Xplan; or I use Basecamp), so none of the steps get missed and there's visibility of progress right across your team.
NOTE: ‘T = 0’ is blog publishing day. ‘T’ stands for ‘time’.
1. Decide the topic [5 mins] T-5
You might be very structured and have a planned content calendar, but if not, it's time to choose a topic to write about. There will be times when you can be quite general (e.g. what is superannuation), and there will be times when you need to be highly specific (e.g. what are the annual costs of running an SMSF).
It’s a good idea to keep a list of blog post ideas and add to it as things come to mind. If you're anything like me, this often happens when you're cleaning the house or in the shower. So keep a pen and paper handy.
2. Note key points and examples [15 mins] T-5
Spend a few moments to jot down the key points you want to cover in your blog post. Get specific about the one key thing you want readers to take away from the post. And don’t forget to include examples or perhaps a story which can help enhance readers' understanding and make your post more interesting.
3. Write the draft blog post [30+ mins] T-5
Based on your outline, write a draft of your blog post. Resist the urge to edit as you go. Just get it down on paper. Brain dump!
If writing isn’t your thing or you're short on time, you might find it easier to talk out the blog post and record it using the voice memo functionality on your phone. If you do this, you’ll need to add another step to your process to have someone on your team or a service such as SpeechPad to transcribe it.
When I work with clients to ghost write blog posts (i.e. in their "voice"), I have a 10-15 minute conversation with them over the phone, while recording the call. I then use that information, and many of the exact words and phrases they use, to craft a blog post that sounds like the adviser wrote it themselves. It’s a great option if you’re more of a talker than a writer, and having a scheduled “blog post content call” is also a great way to stay consistent in your publishing efforts.
4. Edit the blog post [20+ mins] T-4
Editing is where you can turn an ordinary blog post into an extraordinary one. It is worth spending the time adding, deleting and enhancing your writing to ensure it resonates with the people you are trying to reach.
This step isn’t about your spelling and punctuation. It’s about nailing your message.
Try reading out loud as you edit. Some of the best posts are those that simply read like you’re talking directly to the reader.
Personally, I find it useful not to edit immediately after writing the draft, but to sleep on it or at least step away for a little while to refresh my mind.
5. Proof-read the blog post [10 mins] T-4
Now it's time to go over your post with a fine-tooth comb.
Don’t worry if you don’t remember all those grammar rules from school. A blog post is a different beast to an essay or report, and one that offers you flexibility to do your own thing.
I do suggest you perform a spell check, give it to someone else to have a read through, and ensure you keep your style and format consistent.
And don't forget, it’s not the end of the world if you publish a post with a mistake. Last year I published and emailed a blog post where I spelled the word “inhaled” as “enhaled”. I realised. I face palmed. I fixed it. And the sky didn't fall down.
6. Write the headline [10 mins] T-4
Headlines are important. They can help entice people into reading a post. And many online publishers spend oodles of time and money testing them.
But unless you're seeking world blog domination and actually have large enough reader numbers to be testing for any type of statistical significance, there’s no point losing sleep over it.
Simply write a headline that is going to appeal to your target audience. Forget “keywords”, and forget being clever. Think about the primary value in the post, and use that.
I often use the phrase “financial planners” in my blog post titles, because while some of my content has broader appeal, I want advisers to see the title and go, “hey, that’s for me”, and click through to read it.
7. Create an image for the post [15 mins] T-3
Including visual content in your blog posts can add visual interest and often enhance understanding (e.g. where you include a diagram). It can also make your blog post more appealing when sharing it on platforms such as LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook.
Try using a service such as Canva, which has design templates ready to use for each social media platform. This will help you get your sizing right (e.g. the ratio of an image displayed on Twitter is 2:1, so using a square image isn't very effective), and will also guide you if you're design-challenged.
8. Upload the post to your blog or website [10 mins] T-3
If you've written your blog post in Word, rather than directly onto your website, you’ll need to upload your content. This is normally as simple as cutting and pasting your text, and perhaps formatting a few headings and adding your headline.
9. Update the ‘meta description’ and check the small details on your blog [10 mins] T-3
Depending on the platform you use, there will be a few different areas you need to add information in the back-end of your website, for each blog post. Some of these areas will help Google understand the content of your blog post and also define the little two line snippet you see in search results.
Here are some things to check/add:
meta description (the two line description you’ll see in search results)
title tag (the title shown in search results and in your browser window)
10. Preview your blog post and make any adjustments [T-3] 5 min
Before you hit "publish", your website should allow you to see what your blog post will look like when it is live. Use this to double-check that everything is complete and looking how you expect.
11. Schedule the blog post for publishing [T-3] 1 min
Unless you like doing things at the last minute, it’s a good idea to have your blog posts ready at least a few days in advance.
On most website and blogging platforms, you can schedule the date and time you want your blog post to be automatically published.
12. Check your blog post is published [T-0] 1 min
Visit your blog or website and check that your post is live.
13. Share your post [T-0] 15 min
Unfortunately, people won’t magically visit your website as soon as you’ve published a new blog post.
Visit each of your social media platforms and share the post. Maybe it’s Twitter, your Facebook page, LinkedIn (personal and company page, and perhaps some groups), and maybe even Instagram or Google+.
Take the time to visit each platform and craft a message that’s appropriate to the different audiences you'll find on each. For example, Twitter and LinkedIn are very different places, and I think it's important to respect those differences and use them to your advantage.
You could also share your post with industry and niche publications, referral partners or networking groups. Think about where your audience is and go there to share.
And if appropriate, don't forget to email your list. If you include other content in your marketing emails, you may like to set this up as a separate task or workflow.
14. Republish your post [T+5] 10 min (optional)
This step is optional, but it's worth considering republishing your post on other platforms. Many people republish their posts on LinkedIn using the relatively new publishing functionality.
15. Set up a new workflow [T+5] 2 min
Set up your new workflow for next week's or month's blog post. Play the long game.
So you can see there's more to publishing a blog than may first meet the eye. Use your team where they can help and spend your time where you can add most value.