I’ve been thinking about why I chose freelance writing (blogging, in particular) as my career, and among the reasons that come to mind I can say that I love to teach as much as I love to learn.
When I blog, I’m learning more about the subject I’ve been researching, testing and writing about, but mainly I’m writing for other people who need an answer to their questions and a solution to their problems.
I blog for myself but I also blog to communicate, and I do that simultaneously.
That’s why I thought it was time for me to write a blog post that is both helpful and personal on this blog, telling you more about the writing process for a blog entry that I honed over the decade that I’ve been blogging for clients.
I hope that it’s going to help you get some stress out of the process, and all the same, enjoy it more as something that you do for both yourself and others.
My 5 Steps to Writing a Blog Entry
1. Understand who you’re writing for and start with a brainstorming map
If you are writing a personal blog entry, your first audience is you.
But if you want your blog post to be helpful for others, you’ll need to get into the mindset of the teacher or the helper: “How can this entry help my reader? What do I have to give?”
The other thing to keep in mind is that writing for the Web is conversational, whether you’re writing a personal blog entry or a niche blog post. So approach your writing using a conversational tone (the “write like you talk” type of advice, I know, but it’s a real thing!)
When you have it clear in your mind who you’re writing for, it’s time to do a brainstorming map.
I found it useful to write down the topic I want to write about, circle it with my pen, and then scribble down related subtopics all around it.
Below is an example brainstorming map for a blog post I had to write for a client:
2. Outline your entry before you start writing
That can be a list of bullet points, or structured outline with headings and a summary of what you want to say.
Outlining your blog entry ensures that you know exactly what you’re going to cover in your post and in what order, because you already decided it before hand.
3. You don’t have to start from the beginning
Unless you’re telling a story or an anecdote, you don’t have to start from the beginning.
Actually, I’ve found it helpful to start from whatever point you feel a greater connection with. For example, I started writing my five steps here from the point you’re currently reading, not from the brainstorming map one.
That happened because I felt an immediate connection with this topic, so I dove right in with the writing.
I did the same for my post on the charm of a minimalist workspace in a maximalist lifestyle.
Try it. Start from the subtopic you itch to write about. You’ll be amazed by how faster you’re going to get the whole entry written!
4. Write your draft and then add your research
If you need to research something that you’re writing about (e.g. mental health, SEO, political elections, etc.), add a placeholder (e.g. TK, “to research”, etc.) in your text to remind yourself that you need to research those facts.
But write your draft first. From the heart. Edit it with research, links and images only after you’ve written your blog entry. That way you won’t have to jump between research and writing and you use your own ideas and knowledge first.
Try it. It makes writing easier.
5. Make at least two rounds of editing
One round — the first — is for syntax and improving your text, its flow and style. This is the most important type of editing you can do on your blog entry. It’s necessary to make it smooth to read and cohesive internally.
The second round of editing is proofreading to catch any typos and misspellings in your text. For this round, I use Grammarly to speed up the job.
If you are unsure that you’ve done a good job at this point, you may want to do another round of editing to catch even more errors, but I think two rounds is the minimum you’ll need if you have written your blog entry with care from the start.
Writing a blog entry is not difficult when you have a plan or a formula in place. Overall, I do almost always the same steps when writing a blog post for my blog(s) or for a freelance writing client.
Sometimes I alter the routine and swap steps, or do research while I’m writing, but that usually happens when I’m really stressed and I’m trying to do things quickly. All the other times, I stick to plan.
And you: what’s your writing process for blog posts?
Let’s talk in the comments. 🙂