The Ultimate Blog Process: How to Create Consistent Quality Content that Converts [Free Checklist]
Blogs can go a long way to establishing authority and a loyal following for a brand. They can also be a highly effective way to drive targeted traffic to a business’ site and boost conversions.
Creating great blog posts that your target audience wants to read, share and follow, however, can be a big challenge.
After all, you can spend a lot of time (and money) writing and publishing really good blogs that readers may only look at for a few seconds – if they even find or see the blog post in the first place.
If you have a process or a checklist to guide you through all necessary steps – from pre-writing to post-publishing, you can create a quantity of content AND ensure the quality of your blog efforts. It’s not enough to put out a blog post every now and then.
In order to position your company as a leading expert in your industry you need to consistently publish quality content.
To help you start getting better results from your blogging, here’s our blog process we use at Digital Authority, covering everything from blog creation and publishing to promotion and beyond.
We’ve also included a FREE Blog Checklist that can help you leverage your content efforts to develop an audience and get the maximum results from your blog.
Blog Creation: Getting Started
The effort you put into the front-end of the blogging process can be key to setting each post up for success. Here are the steps to take whenever you start developing a new blog.
1. Find the Right Content Ideas
A blog will never get traction (in search or with an audience) if you choose the wrong topic. So, do some research before you put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) to find out what your target audience is actually interested in reading.
There’s a number of ways you can go about this, including:
• Checking out comments on previous blogs (your blogs, popular industry blogs, competitor’s blogs, etc.)
• Looking at your followers’ social posts, comments and questions
• Using online tools to see what topics are popular in search (and how people are searching for these topics).
The real key here is to pinpoint blog topics that will provide value to your target audience in some way – whether that’s via educating them about something, sharing industry news, etc. Here are some invaluable tips for finding the right content ideas (no matter what industry you’re in).
2. Brainstorm the Topic
Once you’ve dialed into a good topic for your blog, take notes about the subtopics or points you want to discuss or include in your blog.
Don’t overthink the writing here or worry about refining the language just yet. Think of the brainstorming phase as more of a stream of consciousness, the step during which you can just get your thoughts down.
When brainstorming, it can be helpful to try out these tactics:
• Speak and record your brainstorming (rather than writing down your ideas).
• Use online tools – like Workflowy – so you can easily access your brainstorming notes anywhere you can get online.
• Get a few people involved in the brainstorming session (especially if you’re running into blocks or dead-ends in the idea development phase).
3. Develop the Outline
When you’ve pinned down your ideas for a given blog topic, it’s time to organize (and/or refine) them by creating an outline for the blog.
Prioritize the subtopics, headings or ideas you want to include. Omit any outlying ideas (reserving those for a future blog).
Having a solid outline before you start writing the first draft of the blog can be incredibly helpful both during the research phase and when you dive into the writing.
4. Do Your Research
Check out what’s already been published online about the topic you’ve chosen for your blog using a tool like BuzzSumo.
Knowing what’s already available to your target audience can help you uncover new facets of the topic that have not already been discussed by someone else. It can also help you figure out what format and/or tone to use in your blog.
Make note of reputable statistics, graphics and articles to potentially include in your article.
Consider using a tool like Evernote to keep a ‘stash’ file that you can tag with certain topics. You can revisit these articles or resources when you are ready to write a post on that topic.
5. Create a First Draft
Now that the initial legwork has been done, it’s time to start fleshing out the first version of the blog content. As you create the first draft:
• Don’t get too hung up on word choice or grammar, which can be refined or fixed later.
• Stay focused on what will provide the most value to your target audience, whether that be tips, checklists, case studies, statistics, etc.
• Be open to doing more research during the first draft phase, as you may start coming up with new ideas to include in your blog as you’re writing and thinking more deeply about the main topic.
6. Find or Develop Relevant, Compelling Images
After you’ve finished writing the first draft of your blog, take a step back from it, and start pulling together another important component – the visual content for your blog.
Complementing written blog content with visual content can be helpful to getting your audience to:
• Notice your blog
• Click on links to your blog
• Read the words you’ve written (because most people will see and interpret the visuals before reading the content).
This visual content can include anything from relevant stock photos or custom images to infographics and video content. Ideally, try to incorporate a few different types of visuals in your blog. This can ensure that more of your target audience is engaging with your blogs (because, now, you’ve given them multiple ways to take in the topic/content, allowing them to choose their preferred mode).
For further proof, just take a look at this great infographic from MDG Advertising that explains it thoroughly.
7. Review & Edit
With fresh eyes, go back to your first draft. Carefully reread it once, all the way through. Then, go back and start refining the language and grammar. As you edit the blog, keep the following in mind:
• The title has to be interesting and catchy − Make sure the title has a clear hook. Think about whether you would click on a link to your title (and, if not, keep reworking it until you have a compelling title). Remember, the title may be the only change you have to convince your audience to read your blog.
• The formatting matters – Format the piece to be as easy to read and scan as possible. There should be a new heading for each new subtopic or idea you discuss. This can help clarify the overall structure of the piece and allow your audience to navigate to the exact area or subtopic they’re interested in.
Use bullets for lists (like we did here!). The goal is to make sure that piece is inviting to read. A big block of text on a page won’t be inviting or well received by search engines or readers.
• Don’t forget to add in relevant links – If you mention ideas that you’ve discussed in other content (including other blogs, videos, podcasts, etc.), make sure you link those mentions up to your other content. This makes it as easy as possible for your audience to explore more of your content (or website) when they want to.
Additionally, the right linking can boost SEO and promote better rankings for a blog, as well as the site it’s published on.
8. Finalize the Draft
Rewriting, moving sections of the blog around, etc. can be involved in the draft review and editing process.
So, after you’ve finished editing the blog, do (at least) one more final read through to make sure it reads well and there no longer any mistakes or typos. As you finalize the draft and get it publish-ready, ask yourself (and answer) the following questions:
• Does the blog flow nicely from start to finish?
• Is the tone appropriate and consistent throughout the blog?
• Has the blog delivered value and/or new insight to the reader?
• Is the call-to-action clear and compelling?
• Would I share or comment this blog if I were reading it for the first time?
• Would an influencer take notice of this blog (in positive way)?
• If you’re answers to these questions are “no,” do some more research, writing and/or editing until you can confidently answer “yes” to all of these questions.
You’ve written a good blog (well done!). Now, it’s time to take the next steps to get it online so your target audience can start reading it.
9. Optimize the Blog
When your blog content is finalized and ready to publish, write the metadata for the piece. This will include the SEO/optimized title, which has to be within 60 to 70 characters (including spaces), as well as:
• The meta description – This description will appear on search engine results pages (SERPs). So, make it as compelling as possible. Think of it as a teaser or a longer hook for your piece that complements and enhances the title. These descriptions are limited to about 160 characters (including spaces), and they should include keywords.
• The meta data for all visual content included in the piece – This data tells search engines what the visual content is about. Keep the image tags concise and relevant to both the image and the piece. Try to include keywords here when possible.
Not optimizing your blog at all (or properly) can set it up for failure – because it can mean search engines rank it poorly and, consequently, your audience never finds it.
10. Post the Blog
Now, it’s time to publish! As you add your blog content to the publishing platform, don’t forget to:
• Add the appropriate heading tags to each of your headings and subheadings
• Choose the right categories for your blog (In other words, don’t leave it tagged as “uncategorized.”)
• Format any external links you’ve included to open in a new window (so that your audience doesn’t completely leave your site if they choose to find out more about an external link).
11. Review the Published Blog
Once you click “publish” (or “schedule” if you’re setting the blog up to post at some point in the future), look at the post (or a preview of the post). Double check the spacing, the headings, the bullets, the images and the overall look of the blog. Also, test the links (to make sure they work).
This review can be essential to catching any formatting – or other – errors that may have been missed in previous reviews (or that may have arisen during the publishing process).
After Publishing the Blog
Your blog is live! Now, it’s time to take some post-publishing steps to make sure that you and your audience is getting the most value from your great blog material.
12. Promote, Promote, Promote
Put your blog through as many of your online pages or venues as possible. For instance, you can:
• Go social – Post one (or a few) teasers for your blog (with a link) on all of your social media pages. Space these postings out over different days (and times) to try to reach and connect with as much of your target audience as possible.
• Use email – Create an email campaign the delivers your blog (or key snippets of it) right to your audience’s inbox.
13. Distribute & Syndicate the Blog
Beyond promoting your blog through channels you own, you can also expand the reach of your blogs by distributing and syndicating your blog content across pages or platforms you don’t own. There are various tactics for distributing and syndicating blogs, with both free and paid options available. For example, you can:
• Ask your audience or influencers whom you have relationships with to distribute your blog
• Pay for ads (like Facebook ads) that push your blogs out to a wider audience
• Post clips of your blogs on forums (or other platforms).
14. Evaluate the Performance of the Blog
After your blog has had a chance to live online and be seen (and circulated), check out the analytics for the blog to evaluate factors like:
• Traffic to the blog
• Bounce rates
• Click-through and conversion rates.
It’s a good idea to check these metrics each time your blog gets newly distributed or syndicated to a new platform or space. Taking this step can reveal:
• What types of topics and formats your audience is engaging with (versus what they’re overlooking or disinterested in)
• Where and how your audience is finding your blog
• When and where your audience is commenting on or sharing your blog
• When (or whether) your audience is responding to your call-to-action.
These insights can help you improve your blogs, as well as the processes related to creating, publishing and distributing your blogs.
15. Repurpose the Blog Content
When you know what blogs are performing best, earmark those for repurposing (or content atomization).
In other words, a great blog can be a springboard for creating other great types of content – like Podcasts, videos, infographics, webinars, etc. – that can continue to build your audience and authority online.
The Bottom Line
Using this Digital Authority Blog Checklist to guide your blogging can be integral to developing blog content that will:
• Rank well in search and get found online
• Be interesting and enticing to your target audience
• Resonate with and convert your audience to loyal brand enthusiasts (and new clients)!
We encourage you to download our ultimate blog checklist, use it and make it yours. And we invite you to share your experiences with blogging (or any aspect of content marketing) – and keep the conversation going – in the comments below and/or on social media.