The secret to blogging success is ... well ... that there is no one secret to blogging success. It takes a considerable amount of hard work, dedication, resources, and creativity to develop high-quality posts.
But that doesn't mean you can't try to accumulate a nice backlog of blog posts to make your life a little easier (and more efficient). And if you don't think you're capable of this kind of planning, think again. It just takes a little grit, hard work, and maybe a penchant for hackathon-type activities -- let's call it a blog-hackathon.
This post will outline one way to condense a lot of hard work into one day -- with the help of the rest of your team, of course -- to create an entire month of blog content.
Step 1: Figure out how much content you need, and what resources you have to help.
First up is figuring out exactly how much content you need to produce in a month -- and how many people you have on hand to help you create that content. If you're a marketing team of one, for example, but you need 12 posts in a month, it might be a little difficult to get all of that content created in one day -- so you might look for help in Sales, Services, or Product to round out your team.
For the purposes of this post, let's assume you're looking to publish 4 blog posts a week and you've got a marketing team of, say, 5 people. That means you've got to determine how you can get your team members to produce 20 articles for the whole month in a single day.
To come up with a solution, we move on to the next step: creating and brainstorming topics (something we can help you out with, if needed.)
Step 2: Come up with some working titles for your blog posts.
Now that you know how many posts you need to write, come up with some working titles so you have a backlog of ideas to work from. To come up with those titles, you'll need to figure out what those posts should be about -- and what they definitely shouldn't be about. Here's what I mean.
If you only have a certain amount of posts you can publish in one month, you've got to be choosey with what you spend your time on. That means some ideas will have to get the axe. Perhaps you're launching a new product soon, and you want to improve your SEO ranking for terms associated with that product -- that might give you a few terms to guide your brainstorm. Or maybe you're looking to generate a lot of new leads this month, and you know that there's a few subject matters that really bring in the visitors and conversions -- great, that means you'd focus your working titles on those subject matters.
Try to keep your eye on the topics that'll help you meet your monthly goals, and generate working titles from there. If you need help going from topic to working title, this post will help you with that brainstorm process. But for the sake of demonstration and continuing on with our sample scenario, let's say one important topic for you to cover is Google algorithm changes. If that's the case, some working titles might include:
- "What to Expect for Google Algorithm Changes in 2014"
- "How Far Will Google Go With Algorithm Changes in the Future?"
- "5 of the Biggest Google Algorithm Changes From Last Year"
- "Is Google's Algorithm Changing Too Frequently?"
- "What It Would Take for Bing to Surpass Google in Search Sophistication"
If you're trying to reach a list of 20 working titles, you could brainstorm another 15 working titles on Google's algorithm changes -- but if your goals are more varied, you'll want to balance that list with some other subject matters.
Step 3: Assign writers to specific titles.
Now that you have your list of 20 (or however many) working titles, you may be wondering how you're going to get all this stuff written in a day.
With the power of teamwork, my friend.
Instead of just handing out blog posts willy-nilly, it's smart to take a couple things into account:
- Subject Matter Expertise: Let team members choose the topics they're most comfortable writing about. This will cut down on total production time because the writer doesn't need to do as much (or any) research to write the post, nor do you need to worry about in-depth edits.
- Content Format: Some posts are more difficult to write than others. For instance, a newsjack is inherently quick, whereas a thought leadership piece takes time, research, and reflection. Balance the posts that get doled out to each team member based on anticipated completion time for that format. That means one person shouldn't get 4 thought leadership pieces, when another person gets 4 quick how-to posts.
In this sample scenario we've been working with -- 20 posts for 5 people -- each participant would have to write 4 posts. That's not a walk in the park, but it's not impossible to do, either. It allots you about 2 hours per post, and requires you to think about what types of content you can write, repurpose, or curate in that time span.
Step 4: Consider external resources, if needed.
While you could definitely create a blog post in 2 hours, life isn't always perfect. Maybe one of your team members is sick that day. Maybe a meeting comes up. Stuff happens. With this hack-a-thon-like blogging tactic, there may simply not be enough resources on your team that day to produce all the content you want.
Luckily, you can take advantage of not only your in-house team, but also well-reviewed/proven freelancers who are very familiar with the subject matter(s) covered on your blog. If you decide to work with a freelancer or two, provide them with specific guidance and resources so they can be successful. This post gives you instructions that'll help ensure you have the best working relationship possible with freelancers.
Step 5: Review and schedule out your posts.
Congratulations! You're done! You and your team have written a month of blog content in a day with your very own blog hackathon.
Once you've completed your day of writing, you'll probably be feeling a mix of satisfaction and exhaustion. Enjoy that satisfaction, but give yourself a day or two to regroup before you revisit the content you've created. With a good night sleep behind you, review your arsenal of content (a second review is always a good idea) and schedule your posts out for the month.
What are some of the strategies you use to develop blog content more efficiently?