You've got your blog set up, and now is the time to fill it with all your glorious client attracting content. But how do write your first blog post? What does it need to include? What if you don't know what to say? This article will help you create your all-important first post, and then add it to your blog. There's also a downloadable worksheet at the end of the post. You'll love it. It will help you make every post a perfect blog post.
The Perfect Workspace For Writing
Write where you'll find it easiest to write. If you write at your desk, then clear your desk and have a clean and clutter-free area. This is to eliminate the distractions that you'll find when writing your first blog post. Trust me when I say that cleaning the oven has never been more tempting! Anything but sitting down to write your first blog post will seem more important.
Personally, I can write through a hurricane because I'm disciplined, but many people can't. Clear your workspace and eliminate your distractions.
Collate Your Blog Post Writing Tools
Every blog post I write starts with a glass of lime water and a blank Word document. For Kevin, it's a protein shake and a blank Word document. I also have my nail file to hand, and a notebook or 27. Why the notebooks? When I'm writing one post it's easy to go off on a tangent. Those lovely ideas go into my notebooks so they're never wasted. There's also a pot of gel pens in silver and blue nearby.
Close the internet for a moment, you'll put it back later, but for now, close it. Turn off your email and put your phone on silent.
Take note of Parkinson's Law:
Parkinson's law is where work expands to fill the time allocated for its completion. So allocate yourself 60 minutes for writing your first blog, and for the next 10 posts. Subsequent posts aim for 45 mins. This post took me 45 minutes to type (not including the worksheet).
Let's go through the timings:
- 5 minutes on the purpose of your post whilst turning off distractions and tidying your workspace
- 10 minutes keyword research
- 5 minutes outlining the post
- 20 Minutes = 600 words x 30 Words Per Minute
- 10 minutes image and research
- 5 minutes pasting it into your site
- 4.90 minutes to panic that you're doing all wrong
- 10 seconds to press publish
Total time to write your blog post = 60 minutes. It gets faster and easier with practice.
If you tell yourself it will take 3 hours… It will take 3 hours.
Filling Your Blank Document
To put together a post that really speaks to your audience and achieves what you need it to, you have to take a few things into consideration before you put your fingers to the keyboard.
Start by asking yourself a few questions:
- Who are you writing for?
- What kind of information are they hoping to see?
- What do you want them to do with that information?
Once you have an idea of exactly why you’re writing a post, you can then begin to plan all of the elements required to pull it together. Don't spend longer than 5 minutes on this. Set a timer. If you spend more than 5 minutes on this task, then you're doing it wrong.
Doing Keyphrase Research
The first writing task is to make sure that your audience is interested in what you're writing about. There's nothing more soul-destroying than writing a post, spending 3 hours on Deposit Photos looking for the perfect image, only to find that 3 people a month are looking for it. That's not a good use of your time and energy.
Use a keyword research tool
- Answer the Public
Now, I don't want to hear any nonsense about not using keyphrases. Anywhere there is a search box, a keyword is being typed. It doesn't matter whether it's LinkedIn, Facebook, YouTube or a search engine. If there's a search box, a keyword or keyphrase will be typed in. You want to be what they see when they type in the key phrase.
I recommend using a Keyword research tool simply because life is too short to waste hours doing what a program can do in 5 minutes. If you value your time and your sanity, then use a tool. Many come with free trials, and all of them will train you how to use their program.
Got some key phrases? Superb, the next step is to create an outline.
Outlining Your First Blog Post
Outlining is a powerful writing technique that you learnt in English at school and have probably never used since.
Here's my outline for this post, it's more of a checklist than an outline….
As you can see from the photo, it's not perfect and I crossed something out. This is perfectly normal and should contain plenty of crossing out, doodles and arrows re-ordering things.
A simple outline is simply an outline. It's not a work of art. You can read more on outlining here. This might seem like “extra” work, it actually speeds up your writing process, and using outlines will enable you to create more content, faster.
Write Your Post
Write your post and don't edit as you go along. This is your first draft. It will have errors, typos and grammos as well as missing punctuation. The reason why some people find that blog posts take a long time to write is they're picking apart their words as fast as they type them. Don't. Get into the writing then editing habit.
Add in your keyphrases but remember the golden keyword rule – if they don't sound right, don't say it. Read this image about black cats…
Now, not only is that paragraph about black cats, it's complete and utter nonsense. It doesn't read well. This is why we have the golden keyword rule. Remember, although we may call the people who visit our website “traffic”, they're also human beings. Write for human beings. So few people do this, so when your audience find you they'll read what you have to say and love you. Write for people, because people matter.
Researching Your First Blog Post
Quality content isn't a neverending stream of your conscious thoughts. After you've written your post (and I'll explain why not before) do your research. What comes up when you type in the keywords that you've used?
If you research before you write, you will unconsciously absorb the concepts and ideas from someone else. You'll think they're your own.
Every day I see content where people are not crediting their sources. This tells me they're ignorant (in which case I don't want to work with them) or plagiarists (and I don't want to work with them either). When you research after creating your post, you can add in excerpts and quotes from other people who think like you, or validate your advice. You will, of course, link to the articles that you've shared extracts from.
Citing your sources is a powerful thing you can do in your content. Remember when you sat an exam and you were asked to include the “working out”. Citing your expert sources is the working out. You can still have the wrong answer, but be correct as you know the formula. This not only shows that you know how to play nicely online, but also that you're a decent human being.
Add your research to the post. Copy and Paste your words into your blog post editor on your site.
Add Your Images To The Post
I recommend that you go and set up an account on Canva.com
- Add your brand colours, logos and fonts.
- Then choose your images.
- Upload your images to Canva
- Add branding
Add the image to your post. Then go off and do something else. Come back to your post in 24 hours' time. It will still be there.
Edit your blog post
Yup, edit your post after you've slept on it.
Start by reading it aloud. Every time you hesitate or stumble, you edit.
Conversational content isn't grammatically correct, but it's eminently more readable. You'll find that you will benefit from running Grammar.ly in your browser to catch any stray errors.
Do not fixate on grammar or you will never publish a thing. Grammar, like writing, blogging, and riding a bike, is a learned skill.
Do not compare yourself. Comparisons will knock your confidence and remember it's easy to criticise, less easy to create. You're doing something worthy, you're doing the best you can right now. You will get better. In a year's time, you'll look at this post and smile when you realise how far you've come.
Now press publish.
Hurrah! Your first blog post is done and dusted. How easy was the writing process?
Here's the thing – it gets easier. It's only hard to write a blog post right now as you're not sure what you're doing. As you develop a routine it will become easier. You'll create a content style guide, use content upgrades and experiment with all kinds of things, but right now?
Right now, all of that can wait until you've built your writing muscle.
Here's your worksheet – print and complete for your first few blog posts so that it all becomes easy and natural to you.