If you are looking for a way to speed up the creation of quality blog posts, consider writing in layers. The idea is to first get the framework of your post together. Then you write it, shape it, color it, polish it, and finally dress it up for the audience you are targeting.
I was first introduced to the concept of writing in layers by Dianna Booher when I attended her presentation at the 2008 Fall Conference of the National Speakers Association. Her methods are geared for writing books, and she has written many. So, if that is one of your aspirations, you can click on her name to learn more.
Here is the method I have developed that allows me to lay down a nice blog post in less than 10 minutes, and to refine it in less than 35.
1. Lay Out the Framework – Your Idea Points
Be clear about the purpose of your post. Know where you are taking the reader. This is usually 3 – 5 points, with three being the number that is easily digestible by most readers. I'm a visual person, so I'll often graphically represent this on paper by three rectangles with my three points written within them. Maybe the post will be three paragraphs, but I won't know that until I start writing. But seeing the shape of the post helps me a great deal.
When you have this set, write out a Title that captures this in as few words as possible. I find a title with a subtitle often works best for me. Also, if you can use tangible, benefit oriented, action words, that is better yet. Important: Use common language if you want these keywords to be findable in a Google search.
2. Write It
It is well known that the best way to get better at writing is to write. Whether you think of this as stream of consciousness writing or not, the approach is to start at the beginning and go where it takes you. Your framework is those idea points; but don't let that stop you from developing better ideas as you move along. Write more than you think you will need, as you can edit the fluff out later.
3. Shape It – Edit for Content
Here we go! I often find that the good stuff comes to mind after I get into the flow of writing. For this reason, do not be afraid to take paragraph 2 or 3 or 4 and move it up to the beginning. After you do that, you will likely find some of the other paragraphs were unnecessary. Ruthlessly cut them out! In my previous post, I talked about speakers "starting in the middle." That same concept applies here.
4. Color It – Edit for Speed
I believe the style for blog posts should be SPEED! This means taking your paragraphs and breaking them up into no more than a few sentences. Big fat paragraphs are not appealing to the eye, regardless of how well they are written. There is even a name for this: AP Style. Most news outlets and PR firms know to write for a fast read. And guess what, the faster your content is read the more easily it is consumed by the reader. They will love you for it.
5. Polish It – Edit for Grammar and Punctuation
This is the aspect of writing that discourages most of us; but you still have to do it if your content is to be well received. The method I use is to have a scratch pad handy and just write a few words and maybe a paragraph number to locate the errors so I can go back and do all of the editing at once. As you edit, cross the notes off of your scratch pad. You'll feel great about your progress. This approach is especially helpful when you are working online.
6. Dress It Up – Insert Images, Video, and Links
Your choice of images, links, and multi-media content will depend upon your message and your audience. I'm a big proponent of video because it enhances the message, and video gives you an additional presence on other sites, such as YouTube. Of course, this also helps your SEO. However, only do this when you have a solid, contextual message. Don't do a video just to read us your top ten list.
That's it. As I said, the more you write, the better you get at it. I wrote a post on How to Write for Blogs and Social Media last year that was very well received. That information is still valid, however, I've learned a few things since then and this post is a result of that learning. The final word is to make sure you are still comfortable with your title. You will usually want to make it better, and then light up your post to the Web and move on to the next one!
What are your favorite tips for sharing your message with your community?
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Photo Credit: Bekah Stargazing