5 Steps to Brilliant Blog Writing for Solo Entrepreneurs
Writing a blog post each week can be a tremendous challenge for founders. Even more so when you are time-poor, inexperienced and have to do it yourself. Here’s the simple process I use to overcome these obstacles and create blog posts.
It’s tough to start a blog and keep it going.
I started out super keen to create awesome content for fellow founders and marketers. I wanted to build an audience and community around my startup journey, and ultimately grow my business and make money from my list.
But somewhere along the line, my motivation faded and my desire to get through that next post was gone. The deadline came and went with nothing published.
This became a cycle. Weeks turned into months without new content and my blog was officially dead.
I felt like a failure. And I was.
Has this sort of this happened to you?
As the guy in charge, I looked at the situation logically: I can kill off the blog altogether and move my focus elsewhere, or persevere with it.
Obviously, I decided to persevere.
After all, it’s a brilliant content marketing strategy and it’s never been easier to succeed.
So I needed to figure out a way to nail down a writing process and pump out content consistently.
After a lot of tinkering, I found what works for me. It’s breaking down the process into bite-sized chunks – or daily sessions.
You’ll want these tools
Before jumping in, let’s look at the tools you’ll want to use to get going:
Just like Word, but a simpler interface with an online editor which auto-saves as you work (no losing work because you forgot to hit save). You have the ability to share it with your family, friends or team to get feedback and any other collaborative advantages.
Trello is my choice of project management tool because it’s free and flexible. Create a card for the blog post in a To Do list. Drag it to the In progress list when you are working on it, and create a checklist to check off each step as you complete it. The goal is to get it to the Ready list so it’s not forever stuck in your To Do list.
For when you have your head down and need to find a writing zone, rainymood.com will help settle a wondering mind. Close all those other tabs and distracting programs. Throw your phone across the other side of the room for a while. This is the time when you write and write only.
The Hemingway editor is designed to make your writing more concise and powerful by reformatting long sentences to boost readability. If you write a sentence and it doesn’t feel right, don’t fret too much. Finish the draft and when you run the post in Hemingway, it will suggest ways to improve the structure.
Coschedule Headline Analyzer
Headlines can be tricky. There’s so many factors to cram in to so few words. The Coschedule Headline Analyzer will help you improve your title.
Set up your Trello board like this.
Here is a link for you to view and copy the board, if you want.
There are heaps of great ways on how to come up with ideas. For this post. I outline how to write your blog post, once you know what you are writing about.
I have broken it down into steps, but these could be days, sessions, hours or whatever works best for you.
Set aside 30 minutes for step 1.
This is where you’ll:
Write the headline
Write the excerpt
and introduce the problem in story format
Open Google Docs. If you use Google Apps for your business and have a structured file system in Google Drive, navigate to the folder to create the doc in the right place.
Write the headline.
Easy, right? Once you know what to do yes, but it takes time.
Start with a basic idea and once you have written the post, return to it if you think it needs improvement.
Write the excerpt.
This is the small 1 or 2 sentence paragraph that introduces the problem and how reading it will solve the problem. When the post is seen in search results, that’s the piece of text the search engines and social media sites will pull. So it needs to be short but enticing.
Although it’s going to summarize the post, I like to write something first and return to it at the end to improve it. Having that summary in mind keeps me from going off track when writing the post.
Write the intro story.
Stories are what compel people to keep reading the rest of the post. They want to find out how it ends.
Introduce the problem and show how you will solve it for them.
It doesn’t even have to be your story. You could interview people in your network and write about how they solved their problem.
Remember this is only step 1, you are just spending 20-25 minutes to introduce the problem you are solving.
Once you have that written you can move on to something else.
Set aside 1 hour for step 2.
This is where you deliver on the promise to solve the problem.
Start by structuring / outlining your main ideas. Once you start writing, it will come together slowly.
But this is also the part where you are most likely to get writer’s block and feel stuck.
Here are some tips to overcome writer’s block:
Use rainymood.com to prevent aural distractions. This is especially useful if you are in a coworking space or have a noisy family around.
Turn your phone off, or move it somewhere so that it won’t distract you. This is when you are most prone to looking for excuses to do something else.
Just write. Leave sentences incomplete. Use dot points to start things off. Don’t give in to the need for it to be perfect as you write.
Don’t worry about punctuation, spelling or grammar at this point.
Keep in mind that you can – and will – come back to it later.
The goal of step 2 is to get the bulk of your content written down in some form and underway, knowing that imperfection is perfectly fine.
This is where you continue your work from step 2. Set aside 30-60 minutes for this session.
By breaking it down into two sessions, this allows you to come back to what you have written later and look at it with a fresh perspective. Then you can make any changes, add any missing details and finishing touches.
Bring it together to finish the draft and you can now get the next step underway.
Step 4 is where the extra work you put in here makes all the difference.
Instead of just having a blog post, you also want to:
- add visuals to increase engagement
- take advantage of the opportunity within your post to try and get your reader to take an action (i.e. download a lead magnet)
A blog should include a feature image at the bare minimum. This is what shows up on social media pages when it gets shared. Seeing a bare text field is not going to make you want to click on it, is it?
You can DIY to start out with, using Canva or other tools.
Ideally, use a designer to craft unique graphics for each post will add significant value to the post. This is where the Unlimitly service comes in handy.
It will also save you the time and likely frustration of doing it yourself.
Include a Content Upgrade
You don’t want to ask for a sale right away (well not unless it’s a BOFU post). But you do want to at least ask for an email address to build your list.
To get that, you have to provide something that they want. If you are writing an article on healthy eating, an example of a content upgrade could be “7 healthy recipes for busy Moms”.
Creating a content upgrade doesn’t have to be a mammoth task. Follow this guide I put together recently on lead magnets and content upgrades.
The last step is editing and publication. Allow 30 minutes for this step.
Do a spell-check. Go to Tools > Spelling to check the post.
The copy your post from Google Docs into the Hemingway editor.
Doing this will show the sentences that you may not realise are difficult to interpret. Often it is simply a matter of breaking up a long paragraph or restructuring a sentence for improved clarity.
If you don’t do this step, you risk annoying and losing your readers because of a handful of poorly written paragraphs.
Aim to eliminate all the red sentences. These are the “very hard to read” ones.
Once you have it at a Grade 4 level or above, that is a good sign that the post is ready.
Then it’s time to publish.
You did it.
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You need to find what works for you. Tinker with the structure of how you complete each part, or the timeframes that you give yourself.
The main thing is to persevere.
What do you think? Post your methods in the comments below. I would love to hear your thoughts.