Blogging requires skill, which as a small business owner or writer you have lots of– and time, which you likely don’t. Because of these, and that the impact from blogging is less directly measurable than most everything else you do, when the going gets rough, your instinct may be to relegate blogging to the bottom of the pile. But before you do, consider this: Blogs in fact play a critical long game in helping your business grow by engaging new clients and nurturing the existing ones, translating to more revenue. Fortunately, you can easily publish a blog using this 4-step process. (Only 4 steps? Piece of cake!) What now may feel like a chore or is something you ignore will soon become a task you not only like doing but one you can do quickly and well. Soon you’ll enjoy your elevated standing amongst your clients and customers– and your substantially increased bottom line.
If you are a small business owner or writer who relies on Internet traffic to bring in new clients and customers, you need to continuously post valuable content on your site. A wide range of blog content that provides tips, helpful insights, and deeper information about your field does two important things:
- It warms your readers toward your business and books (a key way to increase your sales)
- It gives Google more content to crawl through when people are searching for topics you’ve written about. When it finds those keywords on your site, your blog is then offered to them.
Blogging regularly is one of the best ways to scale your business.
I call it the “blog boost cycle”:
–> New customers read your blogs and come to trust you and buy from you.
–> That trust inspires them to also share your content with others
–> Those new people then read your content and become new customers.
Using this easy 4-step process to prep & publish your blog will grow your circle and your reward.
How to Use Our Easy 4-Step Process to Prep & Publish Your Blog
1) Write the first “pour it all out” draft
2) Revise the draft: rewrite and refine
3) Implement SEO tactics
4) Format it for web reading and maximum engagement
1. Write the first "pour it all out" draft
Mentally and Physically Prepare Yourself to Write:
To write a first draft, in order to get to your best, most interesting thoughts, you have to pour it all out without trying to make the writing behave itself, look tidy, or even make sense.
For a writer or business owner accustomed to operating at a high level of competency, being confronted with a mess of ideas, bad grammar, and sentences that don’t look like sentences can hurt, sometimes enough to make a person seize up or stop writing altogether.
But if you follow the tips below to mentally and physically prepare yourself before you begin writing, you will be in a stronger position to get through this ungainly first step, as it is necessary for you to ascend the staircase to a published blog.
A happy first draft is a first draft that’s on the page.
- Jot down the bones of the blog:
- The topic (using long tail keywords, which are the phrases a person would enter into the Google search bar, such as “adopt rescue dog in San Jose, California” or “how to make fried chicken without deep fryer”)
- A working title
- Your excerpt (the short summary/introductory paragraph you include at the top of the blog that a reader will skim to see if they’d like to keep reading, and that Google will crawl as it looks for your keywords)
Note: if you’re not sure what the blog will be about, only write down the rough topic and skip the rest. Or write down the “working bones” but understand that if you off-roading during the writing, that’s perfectly fine.
- Pause to give yourself a pep talk. You are smart, you know your field, and you know what your clients and customers care about, what bothers them, and how to help them. What a super power!
- Visualize yourself as the successful smart person you are. You are a powerhouse. Do you think you’d have come this far if you were weak or a quitter?
- Get physical. Do deep breathing, stretch, and strike a power pose. [If you have not seen Amy Cuddy’s TED talk on power posing, take the time to enjoy this wonderful lecture.]
- Use these two “tricks” to fool yourself into feeling great about writing:
Begin the Writing
- Write forward only. You have to be stern with yourself about this. If you look back at your early material and judge it, edit it, or try to wrestle it into a shape too soon, you’re basically inviting big-picture goulies such as impostor syndrome, performance anxiety, and writer’s block in for tea—or to stay for a lot longer.
It is impossible to write your final draft first.
In “The Art of Not Thinking; a Counter-Intuitive Approach to Writing a First Draft” I explore the reasons you don’t want to edit while writing and makes a compelling argument for why you have to keep moving forward!
If you find your natural perfectionist tendencies or desire to edit as you write are too strong, watch this video to learn 3 helpful tips for mind-tricking yourself to get through the first draft:
It may also help to know that most of the time, we have to write our way into what we want to say. The real issue or topic may not even reveal itself until mid-way down page 3. The only way to get to that point is to let ‘er rip!
- When you feel you’ve naturally reached an end (and, great news; blogs aren’t long, so you can write them in one sitting!), get up and walk away from the draft for at least one day, which will serve as a mental palate cleanser
You may have broken a sweat, but you did it!
2) Revise the blog draft: rewrite and refine
a. Rewrite the blog
- Rewrite the blog from scratch. After at least a day has passed since you wrote the rough draft, reread it quickly (not to judge it but to see what you were driving at). Then, as you would do as if your computer had crashed and your document were swallowed whole, with all the requisite cursing and sweating, rewrite the blog from scratch.
(Yes, the whole thing. Copying and pasting will cost you more time and feel choppy)
- Curse how easygoing I make that last point sound.
- Have fun! Enjoy using your authentic business/brand voice as you share your wisdom and authority. No need to be stodgy or formal; a blog is an extension of your business, which is an extension of you.
It can be interesting, funny, warm, generous, charming- all the things you are with your clients or as your public persona.
The more “you” you are, the more you will distinguish yourself and ensure you sound human and real (further establishing the benefit of a person-written blog as opposed to a Chat GPT blog).
Recognize that rewriting the blog is in its best interests—and yours. Once you’re done, you’ll see how much leaner, cleaner, and more en pointe it is.
b. Refine, tidy, and make it interesting
- Look at the length. A longer blog is better for SEO:
- a) there are more keywords for Google to crawl
- b) if the blog is engaging and well-written, your reader will spend more time reading it, which Google tracks
Aim for a minimum 750 words, but a blog that’s over 1000 words is best.
- Enhance your ideas with others’ ideas. Add quotes, research, facts and stats, and link to those articles or where you found the info
c. Confirm the blog is tailored to your audience in content and voice
Your audience has specific concerns that you’re in a position to help solve in a way no one else can. Know your audience, and you’ll be able to tap into their “pain points” enough to gain their trust over anyone else.
(Note this street crossing in a neighborhood zoned for horses- now that’s knowing your audience!)
d. Do a last cross-check on the blog’s structural integrity before smoothing it out
- Double check the structure. Ensure the blog develops logically based on your chosen structure (“problem-solution-call to action,” list structure, informational, etc.)
- Rewrite the first paragraph. You want your first paragraph to summarize the blog’s purpose and use the long-tail keyword, which should also be echoed in the title
- Check the overall info flow. Look at each section to make sure it flows logically. *If any content deviates, cut it and save it for another blog
- Clear up each sentence. Look at each sentence to make sure it’s clear, easy to read, and dynamic:
- Use interesting verbs
- Maintain an educated/user-friendly level of language (no jargon unless your audience is industry insiders)
- Keep your word use fresh; no idioms or tired phrases (ex: think outside of the box, tried and true)
- Cut all fill words (adverbs): just, actually, literally
- Maintain an authoritative, professional, and warm tone
- Vary sentence lengths (long sentences mixed with short sentences)
- Check for plagiarism. Confirm your content is entirely yours (never copied or borrowed from another site without attribution)
- Check for duplicate content. Confirm you haven’t duplicated any content from your own website (duplicate content is considered bad, and Google penalizes your site for it)
- Proofread. Ensure the copy is error free
Read the blog aloud. The number one way to lose your credibility, even if you have 3 PhDs and are the dean of a university is typos.
- Share the blog with a fellow reader or editor for a quick proofread and to catch any mistakes or omissions.
3. Adjust for SEO (Search Engine Optimization)
Refine your long-tail keyword, and make sure you’ve used it in all the right places:
- Your title
- Excerpt and/or first paragraph
- 1-3 other spots in the body of the blog including a header or sub-header.
- Add a Call to Action (CTA)
- Include a subscribe link to your newsletter link about 1/3 of the way down the blog
- Add a second call to action relating to the blog’s content at the bottom: what action do you want your reader to take?
- something special or time-sensitive you’re offering
- a good or service
- another of your related blogs
- your booking link for a free consultation
- Links & Backlinks
- Link to other websites. When you use others’ information as sources, quotes, or stats, you must link to those pages to ensure your reader knows where you got that information. Besides giving credit where credit is due, linking is a wonderful tool for 3 reasons:
- You’re creating a fuller informational experience for your reader
- You’re bolstering your blog’s credibility
- Google tracks the links, identifies that you’re a community player and have authority in your field, and ranks your site higher in searches.
The links must be to reputable sites with updated content; you do not want to associate with out-of-date or unkempt sites that could lower your ranking by association.
The links should also be spread organically throughout your copy; listing them in bulk is a no-no (Google penalizes this as “link stuffing”).
- Keep readers on your site. Link to your other blogs or website pages, which is great for keeping people on your site!
- Get backlinks. Ask people in your field or associated fields to link back to your site in their blogs. You can also offer to write guest posts for others’ websites, which is a great way to get backlinks
- NOTE: unfortunately, you can’t do tradesies with other businesses as the links will cancel each other out.
- SEO the images you use in your blog. Add Alt data for your images and include your business name and website in the image title and description (example: journal writing for wellness at One Lit Place for onelitplace.com).
- Install an SEO Plugin. Use a plugin to help you get the best SEO rating on your title, metadata, and in the blog itself. Many websites come with an SEO plugin or you can install Yoast and All-In-One SEO for WordPress, which are both very good free plugins.
4) Format the blog for web reading and maximum engagement
- Make your blog easy to scan. Web reading is hard on the eyes. Format your blog to make it easy to “scan” and to keep your readers’ eyes engaged:
- Use headers and sub-headers
- Bulleted lists
- Short paragraphs
- Different font weights, italics, bold, colors
- Off-set quotes
Here is some additional insight on formatting your content.
And that’s it. You did it!
Like with any new skill, at first it may feel a bit cumbersome to begin a blog-writing practice, but the more you use this easy 4-step process to prep and publish your blogs (and have fun with it!), the easier it gets.
In time, you will find that frequent blogging will help you get to know your clients and customers’ needs more intimately, further hone your business persona and brand, bring about new readers and clients, and strengthen your writing skills, which you can enjoy across everything you write.
The additional benefit to all your blogging is it’s a short hop from writing a series of blogs to writing a book. And that’s when the real magic for your business begins!
If you know you’d benefit from further information, learning, practice, and the chance to generate up to 12 blogs, check out: The Blogshop: a Self-Guided Course for Small Business Owners and Writers
Or go big or go home with our Write Your Business or Self-Development Book in 4 Months program!