My Blog Post Workflow: Planning, Writing, Optimizing for Search Engines + Promoting on Social Media
You know what? Blogging requires a lot these days! There are just so many of us out there - and how exactly are you supposed to stand out in this huge blogging crowd?
Not sure what your solution is, but my answer definitely lies in producing killer content and having a repeatable strategy - which is exactly what I'm sharing with you today. I've broken my entire blogging workflow down into 6 digestible steps. These steps will help you with tasks both big and small, like mapping out your big ideas for the entire month, simple SEO tricks and blasting your posts on social media with an approachable strategy. Ready to dive in?
Step #1 is jotting down your broad views for the month. I'm a big picture thinker and during this stage I honestly get so excited and ambitious that I tend to map out 3+ months at a time (face palm). I don't necessarily recommend that you do that for yourself, but if you tend to think in broader terms then go right ahead!
I have three main themes that I blog about (small business, Squarespace and branding/design) so I make sure to balance out my posts between those three topics. You may already have a blog post idea list to reference (raises hand), past content that you could relate new posts to, or you could just have a bunch of cool ideas swimming around in your head. This step is where you lay it all out and get organized for the month ahead.
Sometimes I come up with my post title first, but sometimes I do it after I flesh out my full outline. For me, I think it's important to stay flexible and let the two feed off of each other. Sometimes I have a strong concept but haven't really thought through the idea, and other times I know what I want to talk about but don't have a strong headline until after I get it all outlined. Regardless of what you do first, having a solid structure outlined before writing your full post helps you stay organized and can ultimately help your audience digest what you're trying to get across to them.
Another note when creating your outline: sometimes I create subpoints to help me stay organized - plus I can use them as starter points when I'm writing my full post. Experiment with how in-depth you want your outline to be and you'll really be able to come up with a method that works best for you!
Logical next step, but once you have your post title and outline it's time to start filling in the gaps. This post is a perfect example. I took a look at my editorial calendar, picked a topic idea, came up with the title and outline, and now I'm going into further detail with each point. Each numbered item that you see came straight from that initial outline I created.
As a graphic designer and visual person in general, this step is definitely my favorite part of writing blog posts! For each and every post I write I like to create a graphic to go at the top of the post (an intro graphic, if you will) that includes the title and anything else I think is relevant. Your intro graphic could be 100% graphic (shapes, lines, text, etc), a photo, or even a mix of the two.
Sometimes I create visuals to break my post up too, especially if it's a longer post. Compelling imagery in a blog post does two things:
1) It provides breaks or relief points in a text-heavy post
2) It provides opportunity for your audience to digest information in a more efficient way (since we process visuals like a million times faster than text)
Depending on the post I might create an infographic-style image to go at the end or, if i have a content upgrade, an image that shows what that upgrade is (a printable, photoshop freebie, e-book, etc).
So people, I really recommend being thoughtful and intentional with your blog visuals, and taking full advantage of all they can add to your posts. Know that there's high value in quality photography, unique graphic images and well thought out visuals!
SEO tip: use the filename feature on Squarespace (or alt tags for any non-Squarespace users) to rename your graphics and photos. Since search engines can't see imagery, you can use the filename/alt tags of those images to give context to what the visual is about, and ultimately help your search engine rankings. Use keywords from your post and think about phrases that would be used when searching for articles about your topic.
I know that tags are standard for basically any blogging platform, but Squarespace lets you add tags to your post AND pick a category (or more than one) AND customize your blog post's URL! Super cool, Squarespace.
If tags and categories seem confusing to you, just think of a category as an umbrella that the tags sit under. Your category is your overarching theme, and the tags are things associated with that theme. For example, I categorized this post as both Business and Squarespace (since I'm discussing blogging as part of my business workflow and also featuring some advice that's specific to Squarespace), but I'm also tagging it as blogging advice, SEO tips, blog post graphics, blog post visuals, blogging workflow, etc. Again, you want to think about what words people would be using in search engines when researching your topic.
After I pick a category and tags I customize the post URL, and I use the same thought process as I do when coming up with filename titles for my photos and tags for my posts: what are people searching for in relation to my topic? If you need help with this, Squarespace lets users see what search engine phrases led visitors to their site, but there's also this really cool article that can help you hone in on good keywords to use.
When you're done, hit publish and let a sense of accomplishment set in. You did it!
The hard part is over but now you've got to make sure people know about your new post! The main platforms I use for blasting my posts are Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest, and I have a different strategy for each (I'll be telling you more about that soon!).
For Pinterest you'll want to make sure the image is longer than it is wide, so I just recycle my blog post intro graphic. For Facebook and Twitter I open my main blog image in InDesign and resize the canvas so that the image is wider than it is long. Easy!
If I'm being honest, writing just isn't my strongest point - so having a process that helps me along has been VERY important in getting this essential business task done. Every blog post I publish is a true labor of love, and I know that you put a lot into each of your posts too! If you're not already doing it, I definitely urge you to implement an easy and repeatable blogging system, and make sure to follow it up with a strategy that gets your content in front of the right people!