I’m not sure when I let it happen, but I did. At some point within the last year, I broke one of the Cardinal Rules for Content Creators:
I let my blog die.
Letting your blog die is really just a modern-day variant of The #1 Rule of Writing, which is:
“Yay, Verily. You Must Sit Down and Write.”
Clients always tell me they don’t maintain their blogs because “they don’t have any time.” But, having let my own blog die this year, I’ve come to realize this isn’t really true.
When we say “I don’t have time to blog”, what we’re really saying is:
“I don’t have the time to conceive, write, edit, and publish a quality blog post in one sitting.”
For most people with jobs and families, this is true. After working and/or chasing after your kids all day, the idea of sitting and writing for several hours (yes, a thoughtful, properly-targeted blog post can take this long) is about as appealing as sitting through a root canal.
This is why it’s crucial to break blogging up into strategic, manageable chunks. If your blogging strategy is nothing more than “I will get everything done tonight or tomorrow” — your blog will die, if it hasn’t already.
So I thought I’d share my own weekly blogging strategy (below). Aside from the Setup Stage , which you do only once, the rest of the schedule follows a very simple Monday-to-Friday routine, with no weekend work.
Because let’s face it, saying “I’ll do it on the weekend” is content-creation suicide.
MONDAY: Pick a Problem to Solve.
Ask any content marketer what makes for good web content, and they’ll probably say that good web content is, above anything else, useful.
So on Monday, spend 30 minutes to an hour listening to the conversations your customers & clients are having online. (If you don't have a list of websites where you'll find your customers talking, take another 30 minutes and work through my previous post on this topic.)
Make a quick list of the kinds of problems people are talking about this week.
Ideally, one of them will be an issue you feel quite strongly about, one you can help with. This will be the premise of your blog post.
TUESDAY: Write a 1-Sentence Solution (or Thesis).
Tuesday is the day you summarize your solution or thoughts with regard to the problem above in 1 sentence. Just one.
This might take longer than you think. It can take quite a bit of time to distill and refine a clear, actionable point to add to the conversation that's genuinely unique, new, and valuable.
WEDNESDAY: Write Your Headline(s) and the Intro.
Any copywriter worth her salt will tell you you should spend 80% of your copywriting time on your headline. For blog posts, you can ease up on this ratio a bit, but the fact remains: headlines are important, as are your section headings and intro paragraphs.
There are a billion resources out there on how to write effective headlines, so I’m not going to get into this here. (That said, if you need help on writing zippy headlines, I personally recommend Copy Hackers Book 3.)
It’s also a good idea to write a few versions of your headline and publish some alternate versions of your post using split-testing software. See which ones convert better. Knowledge is power.
THURSDAY: Write the Body.
It might seem a bit weird that you only get one day to write “most of the blog post”, but if you worked through the steps from Monday to Wednesday, you should be champing at the bit to get it all down by now.
When writing a first draft, try to refrain from editing or rewriting anything. Just get your point down in its entirety, and don’t worry about clarity — yet.
Just sit down with a cup of coffee / glass of wine and write. Give yourself an hour and time it, if that helps.
FRIDAY: Edit, Optimize, and Schedule.
Friday is the last day where you take that first draft, and with a fresh set of eyes, edit & optimize it. Again, there are a billion articles and posts online about how to write and edit great web copy, so I’m not going to get into it here. But here are a few good rules of thumb:
1) Highlight the immediately actionable content in your post (i.e. the content that enables people to carry out a task). This is your priority copy. Try to prune as much of the rest as you can.
2) Get someone else to read your post and tell you what sucks about it. It’s painful but it works.
3) If you can do this without butchering the flow & clarity of your copy, front-load your headlines, subheads, and descriptions with a few relevant SEO phrases. But try not to think about SEO as a way to “game Google”. Try to think about it as adding a few helpful “sign-posts” in the right places for your readers so they can instantly figure out if your content is relevant to them.
Finally, don’t forget to schedule your post to publish at the right time and through all the right channels, depending on where your readers are (i.e. Twitter, Facebook, email campaigns, etc.)
Set it and forget it on Friday, and you’re ahead of the game for next week.
Now ... that wasn’t so hard, was it?