If you blog for your website or business, it can often feel like an arduous task. Writing aside, there’s the images, formatting, promoting, and planning to think about, so a good blog post requires good investment of time. But if you only have a finite amount of time to spend on your blog, how can you make the process more streamlined? How can you eliminate writer’s block once and for all?
Today we’re focusing on how streamlining your blogging planning can make you a better, more efficient writer and save you time and stress in the process.
Sound good? Read on…
Creating blog post cheatsheets
I’ve been blogging for nearly fifteen years now, and I’ve written for all kinds of companies and websites, from niche Adsense blogs to Apple. One of the things I use time and again is my own range of cheatsheets, so here’s how to develop yours.
1. Identify the types of posts you use regularly
Most blogs are pretty formulaic and consistent in nature, so start by figuring out what types of posts you publish on a regular basis. These might be lists, news articles, how tos, roundups, weekly/monthly series on a given topic, and so on. It doesn’t matter if you end up with a list of 2 or a list of 20; this works with any number of blog post types.
2. Create a document for each type of post
I use Word, but any text editor will do.
Firstly, break down a typical blog post of your chosen type into sections. For example, if I’m writing a list post, my basic blog post outline plan may look like this:
- List items
- Call to action
Then break down each section. What might you typically use or expect to see in each section? What templates or formulaic aspects can you use to make writing faster? What questions can you include in your cheatsheet that you (or another blogger) can answer?
This will help you reduce the amount of thinking you need to do per post, reduce the amount of browsing and procrastinating you do to see what you put last time or how someone thought of something to write. It will also help you hit that all-important minimum word count and help you stay focused on your information and/or argument.
Don’t worry about making every question and sentence potentially relevant to every blog post you might ever write. The whole idea is that you can pick out which questions/elements to answer so you don’t end up with blog posts that are too long or too cookie-cutter.
For my list article example, my cheatsheet might look a little something like this:
List article cheatsheet
What is this list about? Who is it for? Why are they likely to find it interesting/useful? What problems does this list solve? What can the reader expect to see/gain from this list?
Each item to have a subtitle, screenshot, and a 3 sentence summary. This could be a direct quote from the article linked to, or a brief outline of what the link is about, why it’s interesting/the benefits, and/or why it’s included in the list.
Summarise any common themes throughout the list, outline what makes this collection better than other lists, describe the potential future of the theme, link to any other internal, relevant blog posts.
Call to action
Tell the reader to do something (share their thoughts, their own links, read another post, go to a sales page, subscribe for more, etc.). If you’re asking for comments, explain how the reader can do this (Twitter, comment below, etc.) and give them a question as a starting point for their own opinions.
Pretty simple, huh? You can then go on and create similar cheatsheets for news articles, press releases, guest posts and so on. Start with the structure, then the questions, and the rest will follow. Just make sure the writing is natural and you aren’t writing posts that look like a bunch of disjointed answers to invisible questions!
This cheatsheet strategy works really well for both individual bloggers and content teams, particularly if you have a new website or new hire and want to introduce a particular style of post from the beginning.
How do you speed up your blog post planning? Drop us a tweet and tell us!