You saw it coming.
You wanted to hide.
But you can’t get around it.
It’s your turn to contribute to the company blog: you need to share your expertise, share a story, come up with something that doesn’t sound inane.
And it’s probably due tomorrow, isn’t it?
A process to make writing blog posts easy
Writing a single blog post is easier when you follow a process. It may seem simple: what’s the big deal? Just write a blog post, already. But a process will ensure that you do your best work. Most professional writers follow a process.
It can be ntimidating to write a blog post when it’s not something you do regularly. But — just like any task or skill you’ve learned to do easily — it can be broken down into steps. Then you tackle the steps one at a time.
Step 1: Decide what to write about
There’s no single correct way to choose what you want to write about.
Here are a few ideas:
Ask the person who manages or edits the blog for topic ideas
There may be a post they’d really love to publish. This can be the simplest and fastest way to get a great topic that will do well on the blog.
Review the last post on the blog for follow-up ideas
You can’t cover everything about a complex topic in one go; are there points that were left out, points that could be expanded, or next steps you could talk about?
Think about the work you do every day
Choose one task or part of your process. Sure, your work is common knowledge to you. But it isn’t to everyone else. How (other) people work is, apparently, an endless source of fascination. You can describe one of your key tasks or process phases. Talk about why it’s important, the purpose, tools, and steps you follow.
Expand on one of your company’s FAQ
Check out the FAQ page and find questions that could be answered more thoroughly.
Ask for suggestions from your customer service team
They answer customer questions all day long. They have ideas and suggestions. They know how the customers think and what the customers don’t understand.
Remember that your experience and your perspective are worthwhile.
As Maya Szydlowski Luke of Influence & Co says, “Encouraging employees from every department to contribute extracts unique insights that your one writer or marketer doesn’t have. Former jobs, past experiences, lifestyles, and every other aspect of someone’s life give him a unique perspective, and that’s what makes content great.”
Your daily work, your motivations, your understanding, and your process are interesting and full of potential insights and stories worth telling.
Step 2: Write an outline
This is the step that most people skip. Don’t skip it. It will make everything so much easier.
“It may seem like extra work on the front end, but you’ll find it’s faster and more efficient once you start writing,” Jennifer Geer explains. “You’ve already taken the time to think about what you want to write about, now you get to concentrate on your writing.”
Here’s a process for writing a detailed, focused outline:
- Write a very short (2 sentence) summary of the main idea. This forces you to be precise about what you want to say. It doesn’t need to sound polished. It does need to be clear and focused.
- Write what you want the reader to know when they finish reading your post. What will someone learn, know, or be able to do after they read what you’ve written?
- Write the 3–5 main points you’ll have to cover in order to make sure your reader knows what you want them to know by the end of the post.
- For each main point, write what you need to cover (the sub-points) and any evidence, questions, resources, or important ideas or keys you need to include.
- Write 1–2 sentences stating what the reader can do, what they’ve learned, or how they can benefit now that they have read your post.
Now you have a detailed, focused outline to use. It’s time to write the blog post.
Step 3: Write the post
It’s going to be easier if you schedule time for writing.
So, start there: when can you block an hour or so for writing?
With an outline, you won’t be starting from a blank page. Instead, follow your outline. Start with your first point. Don’t worry about an introduction yet. You may not need one; if you do, it will be easier to write after you’ve written the rest of the post.
Go point by point
Explain the first point like you would if you were talking to a friend. Try to be relaxed and conversational. Don’t worry about using polished words or making it sound a certain way. Don’t worry about mistakes, either: you’re going to edit it later, and you can fix mistakes then.
Aim to write around 1 paragraph for each sub-point. If you can’t explain a sub-point main point in 1–2 paragraphs, it’s probably too complex. Go back to your outline and break the points down into smaller pieces.
Move from one point to the next, writing about 1 paragraph for each sub-point. When you’ve done that, read it from beginning to end. Is anything missing? Add it.
Write the intro and close
Now tackle your introduction and conclusion.
Go back to your outline. Use the first two points in your outline — the summary, and what the reader will know after reading — as your introduction. Combine them and improve the wording so you have a 3–4 sentence introduction.
Now, use the last point in your outline — the reader benefit — to write the conclusion.
You want to end with the reader feeling positive that they made a good choice spending their time to read what you wrote. So tell them what they can do, how they can use their knowledge, and provide a brief action point or an additional resource.
Step 4: Edit the post
If you have time, put your first draft away for a day before you start editing. If you don’t have that much time, at least take a break of 20 minutes or more.
Editing is a necessary part of the writing process. Don’t skip it. Your writing will improve when you edit it.
Here’s how to edit your blog post:
- Read it from beginning to end, out loud. Notice anything that doesn’t flow, doesn’t make sense, sounds confusing or jarring, is repetitive, or just doesn’t work. Fix those spots.
- Now use an editing app like Hemingway App, Grammarly, Typely, or Slick Write. Copy your draft and plug it in. Make sure you deal with any spelling or grammar errors. Then you can review the style suggestions. Don’t think you need to make all the suggested changes, though. Sometime they’re stupid, honestly. Use your judgement.
- Proofread your edited draft from beginning to end. Go slowly. Do any final correcting or polishing.
Here’s a more detailed look at the editing process:
Step 5: Make it 10% better
You’ve written a complete, edited blog post. You can send it in and be done. But that’s the common way.
You’re going to take an extra 10 minutes and make your blog post 10% better.
Here are a few ideas:
- Add subheadings to make the post easy to scan and follow.
- Find and link to a few excellent resources or related articles.
- Think of an experience of yours, related to the topic, and tell a little story about it in the introduction. Then reference back to your story in the conclusion.
- Add a funny quote or anecdote. Just make sure it’s work appropriate.
- For each main point, add an “action point” or “insider tip.”
- Quote an industry expert. Look up what known and respected experts have to say on your topic, select a quote or two, and include it in your post. Be sure to give credit and include a link to your source.
- Find or create an image that demonstrates or relates to your topic. Make sure you use one with appropriate permissions and link to the source.
- Add a bullet point summary at the top of the post. Under your introduction, add bullets for each main point so readers get a preview of what’s coming.
That’s it. You’ve now written a blog post for work, and it’s a good one. In fact, it’s a great one.
In fact… it’s the best one anyone has ever written for the company blog.
They love it. Everyone’s raving. Forbes probably wants to syndicate it. TechCrunch is asking for a quote. Your boss is ecstatic. Linkedin is blowing up.
Too bad for you.
Now that they know you can write, they’ll be asking for a blog post every week.