We live in a fast paced world with a lot of demands. Creating an article does not have to be a half day event especially when you are in a time crunch. If keeping up with your blogging is crucial to the success of your business, which it is for most of us, then this article is for you.
Follow along with this outline and you’ll be well on your way to writing your next blog post. You will learn how writing an outstanding blog post in under an hour is possible without sacrificing quality.
Put Pen to Paper
Pick a topic
Keep a folder of favorite articles you've read and would like to know more about. Get creative and put your own spin on something you read or watched.
Do you have something to add that others have not thought about concerning a specific subject?
Can you compare and contrast multiple viewpoints that you have found, and add your own view?
Have you experienced something that you know will benefit others?
Did you come across some really interesting statistics on your favorite subject and want to talk more about it?
Keep a list of your ideas handy so you'll have a stash to refer to when you need to write.
Creating a draft
I like to first outline a few main points in the order that I want to write. A quick blog post is much easier with an outline. This sounds elementary, but is it a timesaver to keep you on track. Write your first draft from start to finish and save your real editing for later.
Start with the purpose
Be perfectly clear what the intent is right away. No one wants to read 4 intro paragraphs before you get to your point. Time is precious and people will thank you for keeping it simple. A few cohesive sentences explaining what the reader should expect to get out of reading your article should be clearly stated.
Take a look at the intro paragraph for this article. I split my into paragraph into two very short paragraphs to really highlight the point of what the reader will learn from this article.
Never sacrifice quality over quantity. Regardless if you spend 8 hours or 1 hour on an article, you must maintain your credibility for posting outstanding blog posts worth reading.
How do you know what people want to read about? You can use sources like Moz or programs like Long Tail Pro to see how much people are really searching for key terms that you are interesting in writing about. If you want a free tool, KeyWord Tool is another option but has less features. These sources will also help you focus key words to use throughout your post and increase your SEO rating. Repeat these key words in your title, the first couple of sentences, throughout your post several times, and in the very last paragraph.
The Meat & Potatoes
People love to skim. Break out your post into main sections so the reader can easily see what your post is about and either choose to read it in detail or skip to parts that interest them the most. I realize you want your reader to stay on your page as long as possible and read each and every single word. But look at your post from their point of view. They don't yet know if it is worth reading.
The intent is not to get people to skim as fast as they can and get on the next article, but to rather see that you have a well thought out and organized post. In turn, this is more likely to get people reading!
Subheadings will also help you organize your post into a few main points. This article is separated into three main sections (“Put Pen to Paper", "The Meat & Potatoes", and "Final Touches"). The three main sections are then split into mini sections to help break up all of your text. Some white space is a good thing to have!
Get creative with your subheadings just as you would with the title of your article. I could have used “Introduction”, “Body”, and “Conclusion” for my main three sub-headings, but I personally find that incredibly boring.
Pick 3-5 main points
Talk about the main points to why you are writing this post and stick to them. The WHY, WHEN, and HOW usually cover most topics to support the WHAT.
Need an example?
The WHAT is the overall topic you are writing about. Let's say it's about how to set up a business bank account:
- The WHY would be: Having separate bank accounts for your business will make your life easier when it comes to doing taxes and tracking your expenses.
- The WHEN would be: After you receive your EIN (tax identification number) from the IRS.
- The HOW would be: Getting your supporting documentation you need to bring with you to the bank together and making the trip to your bank.
Support your points with some statistics or great internet finds. These can come from the same folder of goodies we talked about above in "Pick a topic”. Adding statistics or linking in great resources is a way to increase your credibility. Even if you are writing an opinion based article, you can still support your opinion with some facts.
I like to link in resources or articles I find written by other creative entrepreneurs. This helps promote others in this field and connect you with people who are perhaps more of an expert on a specific subset of information. For instance, I’m not an expert on SEO, but I know enough to be considered knowledgable. If I were writing an article on SEO, I would reference in someone like Neil Patel. But I also would reference in someone perhaps not quite as successful and in need of some promoting like Nathalie Lussier who I found on the 4th page of Google when I searched for “SEO basics".
Add a personal story
Readers love to know how to relate what they are reading to the real world. If we didn't, then reading the encyclopedia would be considered entertaining. Was your life greatly improved from learning this one new thing? Let your readers know!
For instance, I created this post because these are the guidelines I try to stick with, or at least to start with. Sometimes my posts get a bit long, but I always try to keep them very focused on the topic and full of relevant and interesting information. My time is extremely limited while I'm working full time, mother of two toddlers, have a hubby and a house, normal life stuff to deal with.... all the while managing Left Side Art. It's a lot, but I have many passions in life and love being busy.
To keep my own blog going here at Left Side Art, I had to find a way to post content that worked for my busy schedule. This outline has helped me streamline my work flow. It even gave me another idea for another outstanding blog post. Light bulb moment.
Read and revise
There are a lot of articles on how long your post should be. The opinions seem to vary from industry to industry. I believe in doing what works for you. If you're comfortable at 5,000 words per post, then go for it. Mine are usually between 1,000-2,000. That's still a big range, but certain topics are just more involved than others. Don't force it if it doesn't fit.
This article is right at 1,500 words and was a quick blog post for me, but I didn’t have too many other sites to link in and did not include any infographics.
Your draft should be ready for a final review. Read through your post from start to finish, spell check, and add any photos or links you want to include.
You need a catchy title
I usually wait until I'm done writing my article before going back and revising my title. There have been studies and many opinions made over how to best utilize the first and last words, keeping the number of words to 6 or 8, and so on. Incorporate an action word, a promise, or a numbered list (18 Chances You Will Not Regret Taking in Life).
Publish and share
You're almost there. Publish your post to your blog, schedule your post to your social media accounts, and you're done!
In under an hour you should be able to create your own outstanding blog post that has the quality your readers expect by following this simple outline.
Preparation is key, so keep a folder with articles that interest you the most or that you will want to link back to once you get to writing and keep a list of topics that you want to write about.