I thought it might be useful to outline how I write a blog. This is about the process not the content. I will take you through the steps from idea to publish and the tools I use and why I use them.
Stage 1 – The List
It all starts with an idea and in line with best GTD (Getting Things Done) practice, this idea needs a home – or it will be forgotten. I use Evernote as my main note taking / clipping application and I have a “Blog Post” notebook in Evernote with a post called “Ideas and Schedule”.
So I add the idea to the ongoing list (currently I have 58 on this list) which gives it a number and puts it in sequence.
An idea may sit there for days or months before it gets picked and taken to the next stage – Outlining.
Stage 2 – Outlining
I outline in Evernote and outlining means taking the idea and augmenting it with words, phrases and ideas that I want to incorporate. So for example for this post the outline might include the words : process not content, list management, outline, draft, edit, schedule, publish.
These are just words that help me define the scope of the blog post and from it I sometimes rework the idea into two separate blog post ideas or I take it to the next stage.
Stage 3- 1st Draft
For the first draft I now use Google Docs. I used to do the 1st draft in Evernote as well but I think Google Docs makes me feel it is proper writing not just notes.
An alternative would be Microsoft Word – but i don’t have that installed on my laptop at home although i do have access to Word 365 from there I do not want to use work software for my own projects.
I could use Libre Writer (an open source word processor) or my Scrivener software but all of these are too big and ‘full featured’ for a simple blog post.
Google Docs does the job perfectly and has the added attraction that I can access and edit docs online from other computers and on my Android phone.
So the First Draft is where I look at the notes I have made and then start writing. I don’t have a magic formula to writing posts but do try to stick to the following order:
- What is this blog about
- What will it cover
- Then the main narrative or theory or description
- Why I think this or use this software or method
- Call To Action to the reader.
If I cover all of this and keep the length of the post somewhere between 300 and 1000 words, depending on the subject, then I will have a useful post.
For the first draft I write without thinking too much about length, i just want to cover all of the points in my notes and keep it in the order above. I try to eliminate spelling mistakes but I do not worry too much about overlong sentences. They can be fixed in the next pass through.
Stage 4- Final Draft
Leaving the First Draft for a couple of days allows me to read it objectively and ask myself the questions:
- Is there a good reason for publishing this?
- Have I been clear in my writing?
- Did I miss anything?
- Should I add more or take out something?
- What is my message to the reader?
- What should they do now?
….and finally :
- Is there another blog post idea that has come from this one?
The Final Draft clears up any of the above points, checks grammar and spelling, sorts out overlong sentences, formats paragraphs and subheadings properly and adds keywords. Oh, and I usually change the title at this point as I now know what the post is REALLY about… this one was originally called “Using Google Docs To Write Blog Posts”.
Stage 5 – Publishing
From there I publish it….I think maybe that should be the subject of another blog post, so off I go to the ideas list.
What is your process when you write blog posts?
Are you planning on changing the process now that you have read this?
Do you have a process that you would like to share? Please use the comments below to let us know what you do.