My Blogging Process Start to Finish
Blogging for your small business website is a commitment, I won’t sugar-coat it.
But, the commitment is well worth it when you consider that blogging is: 1) free, and 2) one of the best ways to generate traffic to your website.
Sure, you could argue that you’re paying for your website, so it’s not technically free. You’re doing that anyway, though. There’s no added expense for blogging, like if you were to pay for ads online or elsewhere. The only way you’re going to pay for blogging is with your time.
Side note: don’t try to cut corners and pay for content. Content generators create posts that are used by a lot of different websites. Google sees those posts as plagiarism, and it is detrimental to your SEO. See this post for more ways to help your SEO instead.
If you commit to blogging the right way on a regular basis long-term, you will see results.
A lot of people hesitate to even start blogging because they’re “not writers”. Let me tell you, I was an accounting major in college. The closest I’ve come in my working life to being a writer is creating audit reports. Blogging is different. Anyone can write when it’s something they know about and want to share with their audience.
Getting started blogging can be intimidating, though. If you’re like me, having a step-by-step plan makes it seem more manageable. I’m one of those people that gets overwhelmed because I need to do “all the the things right now and I’m not sure how to do that one thing, so I just put off doing them all”. Can you relate?
I’ve been blogging consistently for about 4 months now, and I’m really starting to see an increase in my traffic. So, I can tell you that the hard work pays off, you just have to suck it up and do it.
Before I get into my regular process, I want to point out two things that have really helped me get off on the right foot:
I created my blog on Squarespace. I’ve had blogs on Wordpress, and it makes me crazy. I know the go-to recommendation from all of the blogging pros is to build a free site on Wordpress, but you’ll save yourself time and headaches if you don’t. I personally love and use Squarespace, which is why I build all of my clients’ sites on it, too.
I committed to blogging twice a week, Tuesdays and Thursdays, indefinitely. When you’re getting started, the thought of creating that many blog posts seems impossible. Who can come up with that many ideas? Trust me, I get stuck some days, but you’ll figure it out. The point is, you need to choose a schedule and stick to it. More often is going to be more helpful, but if you can only generate one post per week or per month, do that. Just make sure that whatever schedule you choose, you keep doing it.
In an effort to help my fellow procrastinators, here is a breakdown of my blogging process on a regular basis:
Choose a topic - Easier said than done, right? Sometimes it really is simple, if you just pay attention to your audience. If you have past blog posts that have done well, maybe do a follow-up or something related. If you’re asked a question on a regular basis, do a blog post around the solution. Listen to your ideal customers, and you’re sure to find something to write about that will benefit them. That is the point, after all.
Create a working title - In an effort not to get hung up and keep you from moving forward, just write a basic title. You’ll perfect your title later for SEO purposes, you just want something to get your wheels turning.
Write an outline - I find it easier to write a rough outline of bullet points I’d like to cover, then fill in the blanks. This will help your writing to be more organized, and help you come up with content to fill the page.
Note: I write in Google Docs because it has a word count tool that Squarespace doesn’t, and it saves automatically. I just copy and paste into Squarespace when I’m done.
Fill in the content - I try to be as thorough as I can, without adding fluff for the sake of length. You want your readers to be able to easily follow what you’re saying without feeling the need to scroll past (like food bloggers that give their life story along with a recipe). Add in keywords where it makes sense, but don’t go overboard, or your writing will be unnatural. At this point, I check the word count, shooting for at least 1000 words. Sometimes my posts are shorter, if it makes sense, sometimes in-depth posts are much longer. There are no hard and fast rules as to exactly how long a blog post should be.
Perfect the title - Do some research on what makes a great blog title. Lists, how-tos, guides, etc are usually winning headlines. I like to use the AMI Headline Analyzer to see how good my title is. You simply type the title into the box, choose your category from the dropdown menu, and hit “submit for analysis”. You want your title to score over 30%, so keep adjusting until you reach that magic number.
Create the blog image for Pinterest - I use Canva to do all of my graphic designs, and I recommend any beginner designer do the same. Even if you don’t intend on using Pinterest, you still want to have good-quality pinnable images, so taking the time to create them for each post is a must. Canva offers Pinterest templates, so I just change the image, fonts, and color palette to suit my website and add my perfected title. I then download the image and run it through tinyjpg to reduce the file size so it doesn’t slow down my site. Save the image with the title of your blog post.
Create the thumbnail image - Still in Canva, I create a thumbnail image that will accompany my blog post on the main blog page. I’ve chosen to do a uniform design where I change the text from post to post, and the background image stays the same. I feel like this creates a uniform look and reinforces the branding. Once the design is complete, I run it to through tinyjpg as well. I save this image with the title of my blog post and -thumb.
Add the content to Squarespace - At this point, I copy and paste my blog post from Google Docs to a new Squarespace post. I add my title, and edit the format to adjust headers, bold, italic, spacing, etc. I make sure to add any links (good for SEO), then add in my (tinified) Pinterest image. I add the thumbnail image to the options tab, as well as an excerpt that will show on the primary blog page.
Add a call-to-action - The end of each blog post should include a call-to-action, such as read the next post, book an appointment, or purchase an item. You should always guide your readers to what you want them to do next.
Schedule the post - Ideally, I’m writing my posts in advance. Let’s be honest, that doesn’t always happen, but it’s better to get ahead in case something happens the day they’re due. So, I schedule my posts for early morning on the day I want them to be published. Because Facebook and LinkedIn are connected social accounts, I push the post to those two places when it’s published.
Pin to Pinterest - On the day my posts go live, I pin them to Pinterest, and submit them to Tailwind Tribes. I’ve chosen Pinterest as my primary social media marketing tool, so I put more time here than to FB and LinkedIn. Blogging and sharing with Pinterest have been my two primary traffic sources since I got started.
Bonus: create additional Pinterest images - If I’m feeling extra productive and have the spare time, I’ll create two more images for Pinterest. I’ll hide these images in my blog posts, and share them through Pinterest and Tailwind as well.
That’s all there is for one blog post! It’s really not that bad, and when you get into the groove of doing it on a regular basis, it becomes a pretty streamlined process. My next goal is to commit to the writing on certain days, but I’m just not that organized yet. I love spending my time designing, so the blogging part is more of an “oh yeah, I need to do that” for me.