When I was new to creating blog posts, I wanted someone to tell me what to do. Tell me what the content creation process should be. Teach me how to go from a blank page to a published post.
I worked so long in an environment that had processes and procedures in place. Heck, the days of rigid formats from school even conditioned me for looking to templates to write.
I forgot how different a creative process could be. Each person finds strength in their own unique journey.
6 years later, I have my own process in place. I’ll share mine with you until you find your own. I know it’s overwhelming and sometimes seems like there’s 1 right answer. There’s not. You have to find what works for you.
Here’s a starting point to help you take action.
The hardest part is getting started. If you can sit down in that chair, open that laptop, navigate to that website, and get started, then everything else seems to fall into place.
It may take a routine to get started but the key is simply to do it.
Schedule Coworking Sessions to Avoid Procrastination
If you need accountability, a coworking session may be just the solution to creating content routinely. When you know someone is waiting for you to show up to work at the same time, that can be the kick in the booty that you need.
When you need quick feedback when you’re stuck, then a co-working session is a wonderful mastermind group to work through it.
Co-working sessions typically have a routine schedule. They meet every week, more or less, and work at the same time, on individual projects.
Sometimes it’s not the other people that are needed. Perhaps the routine schedule is the key. A routine schedule can help you make dedicated time to create content, at a minimum.
I’d hope you find inspiration outside of a single weekly scheduled time. Otherwise, content creation becomes a long, slow, painful process. If so, other marketing strategies can be more enjoyable. It’s okay to not create content, I promise.
Once started, here’s the overall process I use to create my 2-4 blog posts at a time. I aim for new blog posts published every 2 weeks.
Batch Work Sessions:
I keep a journal, a bullet journal to track everything on my mind. It’s got shopping lists, bills, weekly to-do lists, reflective journaling. If it’s on my mind, it goes in that journal.
Same goes for any content ideas. I’ll pull from anything, anywhere. I have competitive content headlines, client questions, related keywords from past keyword research results, and more always being added. Always kept track.
I rarely sit down and brainstorm, but if you haven’t started a habit of tracking content ideas as they come up, then a sit-down session with idea prompts will get you started.
2. Idea Validation
While content ideas may come from anywhere, you need to verify that 1) your ideal client wants to see that content, and 2) your audience is already looking for that content.
You’ll know your ideal client wants to see that content idea if they’ve asked you directly. Sometimes they asked the question so well, you have the exact words you’ll need to use to get the blog post started.
Sometimes, it took a few minutes and a few rambling statements to get to the point of their question. Or what if you saw something someone else created and thought you should talk about that topic too. How do you validate that content idea?
You use keyword research to find if your audience is already looking for that content. There’s a lot of tools and a lot of data that can help you, or overwhelm you, with what you need to know.
I plan my content each quarter. At the pace of 2 new blog posts per month and 3 months of planning, I want to validate 6 blog post ideas. This can be fairly quick to accomplish now that I know what I’m looking at.
Trust me, before learning SEO myself, I took much longer and was way less confident.
I note-taking, bullet list style, cover the topics you want to cover in your content. I use these as headlines in my blog posts and talking points in my videos.
Make sure each piece of content you create can come back to answer one specific question. If it’s not relevant, leave it out. Pillar posts are the only real exception to this concept for website structure purposes.
Pillar posts will answer highly relevant questions quickly with links to other content that explores the answer more in depth in another blog post.
Since I have 6 blog posts I plan per session, I could outline all 6 in a session. However, I usually have mixed lengths and depths to the different blog posts I write. So I split my own content into 2 to 3 sessions outlining 3 to 2 blog posts each time, respectively.
4. Content Creation
Whether you write or record your content, this is the next step. If you have multiple platforms, this can be the start of your process for repurposing your content across different platforms.
Outlining is generally the hardest part of content creation. At this stage, it’s filling in the blanks with information you already know.
The key is writing content without editing yourself as you go. Let the words flow out and worry about how much sense any of it makes later. Like a day later. A week later. Not after-writing later.
For the love of fudge, can we please get rid of that stupid red/green squiggly line!? So distracting…
This is a case of “do as I say, not as I do.” #hypocrite
I write 2-3 new blog posts in a session.
5. Editing and Proofreading
As an editor, these are very different things. It pains me to lump these steps together. But you don’t care and see this as close enough to do at the same time. I’ll move on.
After writing plus break, editing and proofreading are the next 2 steps on content creation. Make sure everything makes sense, is correct, and flows in a logical order.
The title should promise something for the reader. The opening should hook the reader in. Then the closing should tell the reader what to do next.
I do have checklists that cover each detailed thing I look at in my clients’ and my own content.
6. Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
This is contradictory to a few SEO experts, but SEO occurs much later in my work flow process than other people who include it. Why?
When creating content, I focus on the reader. The value-packed post should be able to stand alone as a powerfully insightful, informative, entertaining, and engaging piece of content. No amount of SEO hacking will create content that shines like this.
SEO is added in where it makes sense and doesn’t detract from the value of the content’s message. By approaching SEO in this way, each content will stand up to the Google algorithm changes.
See Google wants to connect their users to amazingly valuable content. Each update to the algorithim will improve the odds of the value-first blog posts written.
I use the same set of checklists again and often do this step immediately after proofreading the blog post.
This stage of the content creation process involves reviewing and fixing stuff to look pretty to the reader visiting your website. Done is better than perfect, progress over perfection.
I wrap up with scheduling my blog posts then circle back up to the outlining and writing stage of batched work.
But there’s one more step that I should mention. It’s vitally important, especially if you aren’t sure about your SEO strategy.
Getting the word out about another piece of content published isn’t automatic without some effort or tools in place. IFTTT and Zapier are both great tools to start looking for automation, but WordPress has some native options too.
I schedule email newsletters, social media posts, syndication, and pins to occur shortly after a blog post is published and again shortly afterwards, periodically sharing every 3-ish months.
I presume readers will judge my skills and hirability based on my own blog writing. But the thing I had to accept was that some people just won’t get that editing for yourself is 100% harder than editing for someone else.
Unfortunately, I have other tasks I’d much rather hire out first than to hire an editor. For now, I enjoy the full content creation process for my own work.
I take frequent breaks. Every 25-ish minutes, I move for 5 minutes. This is known as the Pomodoro Method. I don’t follow it to an exact measure, but I make sure my body doesn’t stiffen, I stay hydrated, and I have time to pee.
I highly encourage you to adopt my methods until you find what works best for you. This may be the thing that works best or you may find you need tweak it to suit your needs. I suspect you’ll find a way to make this process your own.