It’s no secret I’m a big fan of blogging. Not just blogging for blogging’s sake, but blogging for the sake of your business. Like Mitch Joel, I believe that blogs are among the most important marketing tools we have at our disposal. When I meet with a client or potential client, invariably the conversation turns to blogging. You see, I believe that a blog can be one of the most powerful tools for a small business or non-profit. I’ve enumerated the reasons for this in the past, and I’m sure I’ll write about them again. But blogging…the consistent creation of great content, will drive traffic to your site. What you do with that traffic is up to you.
And I’ve also discovered that those businesses that blog regularly seem to “get it”, when it comes to the whole social media, marketing, customer service equation. And it could be one of those chicken and egg deals: do they blog because they “get it”? Or does blogging help them get that mindset? Or perhaps, it is both.
Anyway, a few weeks back I emailed a number of my blogging friends and asked them about the writing process. I wasn’t going to get into the process of idea generation, or any of the nuts and bolts. I just wanted to know how they wrote, because it’s a question I get from a lot of my clients. And my most basic response to them is:
Do whatever works for you!
Everyone writes differently. But just to show you how that works itself out, here are some of the responses I got from people I know and respect and who have been successful at blogging:
For me, I tend to use the notebook app in my iPhone to quickly capture sentences, websites with news articles, thoughts and ideas just as they come to me. When it comes time to putting pen to paper or fingers to keys (my preference), I will just let it rip. I look at my notepad and pick an idea and I just start typing. I don’t think of format or grammar or spelling – I just keep typing. When I have nothing left, I do a re-read, edit as necessary and add some headlines or bold text within the copy. I have heard from a lot of bloggers that they start with the title of the post. I never do this. The title is always last for me.
I sit down in the morning and look at my blank post screen. I ask myself what’s been on my mind, and then I write the post from beginning to end. Then, I re-read it and edit as necessary. No planning ahead. No notes. Just straight-forward.
Inspiration comes from reading hard-copy ‘zines, and then I tear. Tear sheets pile up all over the office with notes about the idea for the post. The thoughts gel in the brain cells sometimes awhile, depending on time to write. As I take my iPad everywhere, I start a post when I can. Sitting at kid’s practice, I dashed off two posts in one hour. I never use an outline, never jot thoughts first – I just write. If it’s a more in-depth piece, I’ll wait a day and re-edit when fresh. If it’s simple, stream of conscience, I’ll post right away as that’s the tone of the blog – friendly and inviting with business speak sprinkled in.
I write posts as I’m able to squeeze them into my schedule. I don’t usually write at night because I’m psychologically drained from the day, so if I don’t get to it in the morning or afternoon it just doesn’t get done. I love WordPress and the many plug-ins available. I never write longhand and I never make notes beforehand. I am a spontaneous, tech girl.
I blog when I can, which seems like less and less frequently unfortunately. I usually draft in MS Word for the benefit of the grammar/spell check. Then Copy and paste into the html tab (not visual) in WordPress. I then go and make my formatting changes using <h> tags, etc. I very rarely hand write anything, the ideas form in my head then get transposed in Word.
I handle all my blog post writing directly within a new post in my blog. I’ve written many a blog post in my head while in the shower or on a run, so I try to get back in front of my computer as soon as possible to type out a few phrases to help me remember. Then when I have a longer stretch of time, I’ll sit down and write the whole post in one sitting. I find that sometimes I just can’t get started with the post I need to write. In those cases, I move on to write about something else and come back to that original idea at another time.
My process is simple, I start with either notes in my Moleskine notebook or Evernote on the computer (usually a few stats, a phrase or story I remember, or a title) and from those sparse notes I sit at my computer and begin writing. I have never sat down longhand and written and entire post out, I prefer to work in the moment, bringing ideas together in free form. If I need particular stats or remember something that would be useful, I search them out on the spot and then spend most of my time editing down and cleaning up what I’ve written. I’ve always pertained to the Mark Twain and Hemingway approach to writing, basically writing all your thoughts in order and form and them editing them down into coherent thought.
I wish I had some brilliant answer to this, but I really just sit down and write. I keep a ton of draft blog posts, with links included in them, of stuff I’d like to write about. So, if I have writer’s block or don’t have a topic for the day, I visit those. But unfortunately I have plenty of fodder in the fight against destructive spin.
I always want my posts to tell a story. Sometimes the story is right there. At other times I have an idea I want to convey, so I have to think up a story that revolves around that idea. But they’re not usually planned out.
For the most part, I do write on my computer. Sometimes I type directly into WordPress, and sometimes I write in Word and then paste the draft into WordPress… I don’t have a hard and fast rule about it, but I’ve found that writing in Word makes me focus more quickly(perhaps because I’m not being distracted by a bunch of tabs open).
One of the things that helps me most is having an editorial calendar process, particularly since I have a team of volunteer bloggers who regularly post to Waxing UnLyrical. At one point I tried creating a collaborative EdCal via Google Docs for the team, but that didn’t work for us. I’ve been using the Editorial Calendar plugin for a while, which is terrific since it presents your publishing content in calendar format; this helps me to see where the holes are, and so on. And though I haven’t been very successful at doing this recently, I try to get at least two-to-three posts scheduled at a time, because I find that gives me peace of mind and some time to comment on other blogs as well.
Since my posts are a summary of the podcasts we do – they are first based off of my notes on the conversation itself. I loosely type in some thoughts (yes all on laptop), then continue to refine and perfect a title. I refine a lot because usually the podcast is great, but I have to think about what title and 2-3 points will most resonate with our listeners.
- Blog consistently and regularly
- Have a plan
- Have goals
- And just do it!
- Creating a Corporate Blog People Want to Read (dannybrown.me)
- Blogging Voice, Topics, Gifts (soulati.com)
- 10 Content Ideas that Generate Comments and Shares (spinsucks.com)
- My five biggest blogging mistakes (businessesgrow.com)
- 5 Ways to Be a Better Business Blogger (marijeanjaggers.com)
- 25 Non-Financial Benefits of Business Blogging (businessesgrow.com)