Article first published as 10 Steps for Writing a New Blog Post on Technorati.
Recently I was at a get-together with a group of writers. It was a beautiful June day and the conversation took a sudden, unexpected turned to the topic of gardens. It seemed that everyone except me was an experienced gardener and not only that, they all had a great love for gardening. When it became apparent that I wasn’t joining in the conversation, a friend suggested that I tended to my blog and writing the same way others tended to their garden. Hmm, I thought. Interesting. What is the connection between planting a garden and writing a blog post?
I did what I often do in situations like this and turned to Google where I discovered this post by Marie Iannotti,with ten steps for how to start a new garden— and discovered much to my surprise—there are great similarities. So, with that in mind, I offer you gardening as an analogy for how to write a new blog post:
1. Start Small: Like the backyard gardener your post doesn’t have to be that big (or long, in this case). A blog post isn’t a white paper, a research report or a treatise. It can be a few lines and possibly a few paragraphs. Some suggest keeping the word count from 250-500. If you decide to write a longer post you can always format so the post will be more readable e.g. chunked content in lists, shorter sentences, utilizing “read more” to move the content to a second page.
2. Evaluate and Choose a Site: This step is akin to choosing your topic. This can be influenced by questions your customers have asked you, conversations you’ve heard discussed in the blogosphere, something you’ve been thinking about writing, a response to another post which inspired your thinking.
3. Check the Soil: I think of this step as being similar to searching the internet to see what else has been written about the topic and coming to the topic with knowledge and your fresh perspective.
4. Prepare the Bed: Not too dissimilar from taking the time to read the posts and giving yourself ample time to incorporate and synthesize what you’ve read.
5. Choosing What You’d Like to Grow: After reading posts on the topic now comes time to narrow down what you’d like to write on the subject, what points you’d like to make.
6. Planting: This step is really a lot like the actual act of writing. It’s the time you spend composing the post, tending to the words, asking yourself if the words are optimized for search engines. Paying attention to grammar, punctuation and how well the sentences read.
7. Mulching: Ah, this sounds a lot like editing to me. What can you pull? What’s not necessary to be there in the post. Even though it started out as a healthy line it may ultimately crowd the post. When it doubt, take it out. This step also includes checking your links and spell checking.
8. Label your Plants and Keep Garden Records: This gardening step makes sense to the writer in me since blog posts require tags and assigning categories. It’s also similar to keep records or in mind what posts did better than others. That’s where looking over your analytics on a regular basis will pay off.
9. Garden Maintenance: A blog post does require some work after it has been written and published. The maintenance assures that people will find the post which requires tweeting it out, updating your facebook page, submitting to directories. In other words helping to promote your piece as best you can.
10. Enjoy: My gardener friends like to think of this as “stopping to smell the roses.” Hopefully bloggers take the time to kick back and enjoy reading and responding to comments, and seeing the viral nature of their posts.