It might seem like writing a blog post or creating a freelance writing piece is easy. You just type up the content on your computer, hit publish and you’re done, right?
For the past week or so, I’ve been taking you through my creative process step-by-step. This has shown you what blogging looks like behind-the-scenes for me.
The first thing I do is discover the idea. This involves going through different methods to make sure I come up with an idea that directly speaks to my audience.
Before I get started on writing the content, I do some research around the topic and create a full outline for my post. This is a hugely important part of my process. Without research, your content will never deliver as much as you want it to, which is why I never skip this step.
Then it’s time for the words, which is always the step of my creative process that takes the longest, and takes most of my energy. I write the content and in a perfect world, it should be good to go, right?
Unfortunately, no. And this leads us to the last step of my creative process: editing, delivery and promotion.
So like I said, in a perfect world, a blog post would be good to go when you’ve finished writing it. But that isn’t usually the case for writers. Many people find the editing stage quite tedious - and some skip it altogether. Let me tell you. Whenever I see an error on a blog post, I leave straight away.
Editing and evaluating allows me to review my work, challenges me to become more intentional with my words and results in even better content for my audience. Here’s what the first half of step four looks like in my creative process.
Before I format a blog post in Squarespace, I always edit the content I’ve written first. It’s important for me to go back and make sure it makes sense and flows properly, so I’m giving my readers the best experience possible.
I check for errors in spelling and grammar, I double check it makes sense by cross-referencing with my outline, and make sure all my facts are correct. If this step is missed and errors are pointed out, or readers feel it doesn’t make sense, it can make you look really unprofessional as a blogger. Good editing is a strong trait of any good writer and blogger.
P.S If you want to take a look at my editing services, just head over here.
use a plugin
Don’t trust a general spell checker - that’s one thing I’ve learnt from spending years in education!
I use Grammarly. This is a plugin that you install into your web browser, so if you’re writing a tweet, an email or a blog post, it highlights any grammar or spelling mistakes for you. Plus, you also get email updates telling you how many words you’ve written in a week which is pretty fascinating!
separate yourself from what you've written
My family always say that I take things to heart. So when I was younger, I dreaded getting feedback on things, even though it might’ve been “constructive criticism”. I would come home after college or university and stare at the work in my hands, or go bright red if I received any feedback in class.
I used to get embarrassed very easily, which explains why I struggled so badly with this - but I think every person has their own individual fears with criticism.
When you’ve created something - whether it’s a blog post, an eBook or a website for your client - it’s easy to become very attached to it. Especially when you’ve poured your time, energy and heart into it.
But I believe that in order to deliver your best work, there’s got to be an element of separation between you and what you’ve created. So if you do receive any sort of criticism, you can accept it without feeling too emotional.
When you ask someone you trust for feedback, that feedback could be a game-changer between a good piece of work and a great piece of work.
After the editing stage, the end is getting even closer! By this point of my creative process, the post is good to go and ready to be formatted and scheduled. So do I just send it out into the world and leave it?
I’ve still got a handful of things to do to make sure my content gets in front of as many eyes as possible. Here’s what the second half of step four looks like for me.
Did you know your blog post images can seriously improve your success as a blogger?
Yep, having attractive, informative, branded blog images can attract more people to your website. Here's how I go about creating mine:
Take an initial image. This is usually a flat lay and I try to include objects the relate to the overall topic of the post that the image is going to be included in.
Edit. My images have quite a soft, airy feel to them so now I always make sure I edit my images in the same way.
Add a text box. First I head to Canva and add a transparent shape.
Then I go into Fotor on my MacBook and add the title of the blog post to that text box. This way it makes my headline pop and also makes it easier to read.
For the text, I always make sure to use my own branded fonts and colours. Usually, the second most important words are in grey, the most important words are in my ABOH turquoise colour, and everything else is in black.
This way, when you look at my Bloglovin, or my blog board on Pinterest, you know you're looking at images from A Branch of Holly.
Once this is done, I add it to the post and it's good to go.
On the day that a new piece of content is published, you want to promote it as much as you can. I usually prepare four tweets to go live:
My usual ‘New on ABOH - and a sentence describing what the post is about, plus the link and an image.
The second is always the title of my post, plus the link and the image.
The third is usually a quote or interesting stat
The last one is always a ‘today #ontheblog’, which tells people what they can expect to read plus the link and an image.
I usually schedule all of these through Buffer in between all my other scheduled tweets. Buffer is great because it automatically pulls the image from your post too, so now you don't even have to create a separate image if you don't want to.
Plan an Instagram post
Not telling your Instagram community about your latest blog post? You're missing a trick!
Whenever I upload a photo to Instagram that's directly promoting my latest blog post, my traffic always spikes. And now when you go into Google Analytics, you can see direct referrals from Instagram.
This is a great way for repurposing your content. Just take one point from your blog post, expand on it a little in your Instagram and then tell people to head to your blog to read more. Simple!
Promoting your content has a wide array of possibilities. With social media, you've not just got Twitter and Instagram - you've also got your Facebook page, Pinterest, LinkedIn and Periscope, something I want to do more of.
You can also share your posts to other websites such as Medium, StumbleUpon, Reddit and many others. To find out more about how I promote my content, read this in depth guide.
Wait for feedback and respond
All that's left to do is be proud that you've put yet another piece of amazing content out there into the world. Then wait for comments and social media shares, and respond. Talk to people. Thank them for sharing your content. Ask them what their favourite part was. Ask them how it's going to help them. Highlight the feedback you get and it will attract even more readers.
HOW YOU CAN MAKE THESE STEPS WORK FOR YOU
Writing is a really important step in your creative process - but it could be argued that editing and promotion are just as close. That's why it's so useful to see how you can make this final step work for you. Could you spend more time in the editing stage? Could you promote your content more?
There you have it! An exclusive insight into the steps that are involved in my creative process. Let me know if you enjoyed the series in the comments.