Blogging. It is no longer an option for your business, but a must-have and must-do. A blog has become the pillar of a business’s brand and a communication tool published through an effective technology – the internet.
For B2B marketers, those that use blogs receive 67% more leads than those who do not. When blogging is prioritized these B2B marketers are 13x more likely to enjoy positive ROI. And, by 2020, we can expect customers to manage 85% their relationships without contacting a human. Your blog is a great source of research about your company for these customers, building trust and authenticity.
What blogging really costs you is time. And, it’s a concern I often hear. There just isn’t enough time to write! I’d like to challenge this and share with you how you can write a blog in under 3 hours.
A Guide for Tech Companies Crunched for Time
Free Fall – 10 minutes
Free fall is a technique I use and encourage other writers to use to jumpstart the writing process. It’s a great place to start for idea generation and involves simply, just writing. Don’t think or worry about sentence structure, just write and see where it takes you. This type of exercise will reveal your thoughts on a topic and provides great content for your blog post.
Research – 45 minutes
A well-researched topic makes the writing process so much faster. You won’t find yourself jumping back and forth in the writing process to fill the gaps.
The internet is flooded with information, so how can you find the best?
Go beyond a quick Google search and tailor your results with ‘Search Tools.’ You can choose the year to find the most recent and relevant topics. If you want well-researched, scientifically-backed sources trying using Google Scholar to connect you to the resources you want.
There are a number of industry-specific sites you can visit to find information. These are some of my favourites, which I rely on when writing for my tech clients:
- Harvard Business Review
Save for Later
During the research process you may come across some great information that would work for other blogs as well. I always bookmark these articles to folders based on their category. Taking this approach lets you build a collection of research, reducing the amount of time you need to spend researching each post. For example – if you find some great articles on Cloud computing, save them to a folder. You’ll very likely be needing them in the future.
Outline – 5 minutes
The purpose of an outline is to focus your thoughts and build a structure for your blog so you can communicate exactly what you want to.
When creating an outline, I like to divide my blogs into sections and fill in the research I’ve found and parts of my free fall exercise. It’s a great way to ensure you get your point across and cover everything you want to.
Writing – 1 hour
If you have researched your topic well, developed an outline and completed a free fall exercise, the writing process should be smooth sailing! Most of your work is already done.
We want our writing to be perfect in the first draft – but unfortunately this ideal of perfection will lead to poor productivity. You’ll find yourself getting stuck on one sentence without the ability to move on and easily succumb to distraction.
Loose Edit & Review Your Free Fall
I love this quote from Andrew Sullivan, British author, editor and top blogger, as it sums the approach I like to take towards writing blogs:
“Blogging is to writing what extreme sports are to athletics: more free-form, more accident-prone, less formal, more alive. It is, in many ways, writing out loud.”
Don’t stress about perfection, but experiment and have fun with the writing process. You may feel that your thoughts made little sense or were poorly communicated during your free fall session, but more often than not, there is great content to work with. Editing will take care of the rest!
I consider the bulk of the writing process to be loosely editing your initial free fall. Further develop your thoughts and intersect them with your research. You’ll soon seen your 10-minute exercise become a blog post.
Other Tips for Writing Success:
- Consider writing your introduction last. Once the body is complete it may be easier to go back and write the introduction.
- Turn off the Wi-Fi for an hour. This can help you focus on writing instead of following where the internet takes you.
Headlines – 10 minutes
The headline is the first impression you get to make. If you are unable to get the attention of the reader the following words won’t matter. According to Moz, 80% of readers don’t make it past the headline. So, it’s important to spend some time crafting an eye-catching, click-worthy headline.
Things to consider in your headline:
- Make a promise for the reader (and deliver)
- Leave no ambiguity
- Numbers and Reader-addressing headlines perform well
- Test your headlines in search engines
SEO – 5 minutes
My inspiration for this blog came from one I read on Buffer, by Kevin Lee. He shared his blogging process and broke it down to the minutes. I thought, what a fantastic idea. I also learned something from this blog, which I am going to share with you. It makes testing keywords a breeze!
I had always tested my keywords in Google search (which you can still do), but if you’d like to compare keywords check out Google Trends. This feature allows you to easily compare keyword performance across time, regions, and related searches. Here is what it looked like for my keywords “write a blog”.
Final Edit – 20 minutes
Using the freefall method allows you do write down all your thoughts – your final edit is where you can make it into a cohesive piece and deal with the nitty-gritty of writing.
Start with the big picture – look for proper structure and content. Move things around and cut out sections where there is too much repetition. Then ease your way into looking at sentence structure, grammar and spelling. Cut out unnecessary words. Read it backwards and read it aloud. It’s ok to leave it for a day and come back with a set of fresh eyes.
Pictures & Images – 15 minutes
The inclusion of images and graphics in blog posts increases engagement and total views. Articles containing relevant images have 94% more total views than those without images, on average.
Use high-resolution stock images to compliment your posts. I love using iStock photos for my blog posts. Subscribing for a paid membership makes thousands of images accessible for commercial use.
If you don’t have access to a paid stock photo source you can find free stock images on a variety of sites. These are some great ones I have come across:
- Negative Space
- Death to Stock Photo
By following this process, you commit 2 hours 50 minutes of your time to write a blog post.