In order to produce a really top quality blog it is important to put systems in place. The reasons are that having systems helps you:
- Avoid writer’s block
- Be efficient
- Track and analyze your marketing efforts and
- Produce bigger, better and varied projects
Writer’s block, efficiency, return on marketing investment and producing a variety of successful projects are areas of concern for most bloggers, so I will go into a little more detail about each one.
Avoiding Writer’s Block
Part of having a production process is maintaining an editorial calendar. I don’t know about you, but one of the biggest risks for writer’s block I face is not knowing in advance what I’m going to write about. Having a calendar with a list of topics means that, when a deadline looms, I can get right to work. Not having a topic some type can cause my mind to go unexpectedly blank. Not fun.
It’s a huge time waster and a total downer. For me, having a production process really helps keep the awful specter of writer’s block at bay.
As I said, blogging is a lot of work. Having a process not only helps avoid writer’s block, but it also saves you time because you don’t have to remember what to do. You already have your system written up, so you don’t have to reinvent each time.
Tracking and Analyzing Your Marketing Efforts
Blogging is about half writing and half marketing and promotion — unless you really do not care whether anyone reads your work or are not using your blog to promote your products or services.
So. You need to have a little checklist of how you promote your work and, ideally, a way of tracking whether your efforts are paying off.
Producing Bigger, Better and More Varied Projects
What I mean by this is, it is easy to think of your work post by post and forget the bigger picture. The bigger picture is that you are creating a body of work that can be recombined and re-purposed for larger projects such as, my personal favorite, the blog to book, or guest posting or anything else that catches your fancy.
Without a plan that includes a calendar and a way to track the topics you’ve posted on, you might get repetitious (and thus boring) or you might just lose opportunities. Your work, over time, should start working for you in terms of search engine optimization, reputation building, publishing, lead generation and more.
It’s exciting to see your work grow and it really helps when the process is not only exciting, but organized as well. So let’s take a look at the elements of an effective blogging production process.
A Sample Ten Step Blogging Production Process
Every type of work you do, be it the dishes or making cars, involves laying out steps and using appropriate tools. No one wants to reinvent how to make a car each and every time they step on the factory floor.
And so it is with blogging.
Here’s what to do:
- Editorial Calendar. Your editorial calendar is, along with the rest of your productivity tools, something you should have already laid out. The editorial calendar contains weekly topics, but, more importantly, it reflects the thinking you have already done about the goals you have for your work. Plus, as I mentioned, it really helps avoid writer’s block because, as a practiced writer, you know that if your calendar says that today’s topic is How Monkeys Make Better Bloggers, that is what you will write about.
- (Keyword) Research. The next step is researching individual topics. I do this through the Google Keyword Tool. I start by entering my topic into the tool and finding out which variants of my starting term are low competition. Then, I do a Google search on the keywords I find interesting. This is important because you want to make sure that if you optimize your post of the phrase monkey bloggers, that the post matches what people expect to find. Also, using this method, it is easy to find out what others have written about monkey bloggers (which is, at this point, not much).
- Headline. Your headline is the most important part of your article. Why? Because it is the main element in search engine optimization and the main enticement for your readers to take the plunge and click through to your article. Boring headline? Forget about it. No one has time.
- Rough Draft. Headlines also help you focus your writing. So, after you create your headline and you have done some research, it is time to start writing. I don’t write first drafts in my content management system (CMS). For one thing, they can be glitchy. As a blogger, I hate it when WordPress eats my post!
- Edit. After writing, it’s time to go back and edit. Let’s just make sure this thing makes sense, okay people? Or, if it doesn’t make sense, at least there aren’t glaring typos.
- Format, preview, rewrite. Now it’s time to put your article into your CMS and format it using HTML tags. This is also important because people skim. So make sure your posts have white space, subheads and a few links to break things up. Save often and preview. I read my preview out loud and it helps me catch typos, find out if the article flows and, generally, speaking, see that everything is complete, makes sense and looks good.
- Find and optimize a free to use image. No post is complete without an image. Studies, in fact, show that people are more likely to read posts with images. And, you can optimize your image with alt tags that will help people find your article in Google searches.
- Publish. This is the fun part because it only takes a second. Hit publish. Then take a second or two to congratulate yourself because now it’s time to. . .
- Promote. I keep a checklist of everywhere I promote my posts and make sure I hit each one each time. I’m faster now that I use Hootsuite, but Hootsuite doesn’t cover everything, so it’s good to have a checklist. Also, remember that promoting isn’t just a matter of tweeting your own posts (or tooting your own horn). It is also a matter of being active in social media and showing an interest, via your own comments, likes, follows, etc. of other people’s work.
- Respond. People will, over time, begin commenting, retweeting and generally giving your posts they love they deserve. Make it a point to respond to every like, tweet and comment. This will set the stage for guest blogging and other opportunities.
Now you do it!
Do you have a blogging production process? Share it with us in the comments.