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July 24, 2018

How to Cultivate a Go-to Blog Writing Workflow

Business Tips

Reading time: 6 min.

“I would love to see a post about your blog post writing process. It is such speed bump for me!” Anyone else? Bueller?

Your wish, my command—today, I’m talking alll about my blog writing process, so you can cultivate a blog writing workflow too.

Cultivate a Blogging Workflow - Ashlyn Writes

I’m a blog grandmother. A young grandmother, but definitely in grandmother territory.

Interning at Time Inc.’s Southern Living magazine in 2009, I whirled a story together for the magazine and hit publish on the Travel department’s blog, Tales from the Road.

I sashayed down the hall in my J. Crew espadrilles and told my editor Tanner the story was live.

“Nice work,” he said.

I beamed, and was about to spin around when he dropped a statement I didn’t see coming: “Now, can you go publish a link from your Twitter account, and personal blog if you have one?”

The word “absolutely” tumbled out of my mouth, and next thing I knew, I was sitting in my cubicle creating an account on Twitter.com and Blogger. I slapped up the name “Miss Magnolia” in the header space, paying homage to the song that’d played in my car—via iPod, duh—while I’d driven to my internship.

Tanner got his wish. That little blog became my new pet project. And two years later, I was still writing Miss Magnolia about traveling around the United States with a Southern accent, 2 bags, 1 carry-on, and what my post-college life was like as a traveling leadership consultant.

I LOVED the blogging world of the early 2010s so much but pulled the plug on it once my day-job working in corporate marketing took up the lion’s share of my time.

Much has changed in the blog world since I first started rapping my fingers against a keyboard. But one thing hasn’t: I still have a workflow when I write, because—you know me and how obsessed with time I am—I’m usually not going to sit down and stare at a blinking cursor. It stresses me out, and I hate it. I’m always going to sit down with some of the work done for me! Having a workflow and formula is how you can be 50% finished—before you even start.

That’s why today I want to talk to you about how you can cultivate a go-to blog writing workflow, too.

You’ll learn:

  • 6 questions to ask yourself before writing a blog post
  • The 5-point outline I use for most blogs
  • How to bake in blogpost content gold into your post

 

Let’s go.



Why Come Up with a Blog Workflow

Every creative goes through moments of *not feeling* the blog thing, and that’s ok. But, for the sake of our brands, we owe it to push through. That’s why I believe in having a workflow.

In fact, marketers who use blogs generate 67% more leads than those who don’t. Not only that, blog posts cost 62% less per lead than outbound marketing, according to marketing expert and SEO strategist Neil Patel (subscribe to his YouTube, it’s fab).

I will also say part of what makes a blog workflow better is batching your writing process. I’ve created a whole 12-page freebie workbook on that, so look below and you can download that and organize your work—from writing to admin—a little better.


Blog Workflow Strategy #1: Build an idea bank

I HATE having to think about what to blog about, so my first tip for a better blog post is to keep a batch list of ideas on file. We have an entire email folder of questions we’ve gotten asked, and dive into it. I feel like my personal goal is to have a blog post or free resource to answer any question we’ve been asked!

Just starting out? I used to look through Facebook groups and see what questions were being asked that I could answer, and write a blog on that.

Also, think through what people need to know before they buy or work with you … flip through Pinterest and see if you see a post headline that you think I could write something about that!

Ashlyn Carter Ashlyn Writes by Abby Grace Photography Creative Copywriter


Blog Workflow Strategy #2: Pre-Writing Question List

A rule of writing any copy in your business: start with the end in mind. I do this with 6 questions that I write at the top of EVERY single blog I write.

Maybe you want to build your authority on a subject, show off client work, announce a new product, or share a personal passion project. Whatever the purpose of your blog, I’d still center on the why behind this post.

Ask yourself:

  1. How does this fit into my overall strategy?
  2. What’s the key takeaway action?
  3. What questions do I get asked about this?
  4. What’s my point of view on this? (ex. Do I get feisty, do I have a background in this, do I want to expand on an old idea, etc.)
  5. Problem:
  6. Solution:

 

I’m sure you could ask yourself 50 questions before you start writing. I don’t have time for that. I need to quickly just jot 6 things at the top of my document.

Here’s an example of what that would look like.

Blog post writing tips


Blog Workflow Strategy #3: Sketch and fill in your go-to outline.

When I blog one of our weddings, the format is different, and when I blog a personal story, it’s usually different, too.

But, for a more conversion-driven post where I’m really trying to build my authority on a subject, I have a go-to outline. These are the blogs I’m hoping drive traffic, build trust with an audience, get them interested in your offerings, and hopefully get them on your email newsletter list.—would be different from the ones above.

I’m going to use a simple, easy go-to outline to hammer it out.

For example, here’s a brief 5-point outline sketch I used for years:

  1. Intro story/anecdote/fact/etc.:
  2. Core Message—what is it that I’m telling them? Say it clearly! In this blog, I’m explaining XYZ.
  3. Sections/miniblogs (4-5):
  4. Tell ‘em again:
  5. CTA:

 

Again, I need show-and-tell (visual learner over here!), so this is what that would look like for this What is Copywriting and Why Does it Matter for My Creative Small Business? blog.

Ashlyn writes copywriting tips how to write a better blog


Blog Workflow Strategy #4: Decide your non-negotiable “blogpost gold” content.

Have you ever been on Pinterest before, clicked on an article, and hated what you read? Me too.

Make it worth people’s time to read. How? By collecting as much good, supporting material as you can. Then, you use that to write really solid blog posts.

I have a specific list including many of the things above that I add to every in-depth blog post. Here are a few ideas of things you could research before you write:

1-2 studies or data points

Personal story or illustration

Examples (ex. Have you done clients work about this)

Screenshots

5-10 links (try to make half of these link within your website)

Quotes

Imagery elements: photos, infographics, GIFs, etc.

Embedded tutorial or demo

Video

Real-life application

So again, before I start writing, I gather all my materials. Just like a chef gets her mis-en-place together, I get my goods before I write a post.

For research, I honestly use Google and my trusted resources for quotes and this information.

Related: Elevate Your Content’s Quality: The Ultimate Guide to Self-Editing Your Copy 101

Ashlyn Writes creative copywriting and calligraphy


And that is it. So, to recap, as you cultivate a blog workflow, include these 4 strategies:

  1. Have a bank of all your ideas on hand so you don’t wonder WHAT you’ll blog
  2. Write those 6 questions I gave you at the top of your document
  3. Flesh out that 5 point outline I gave you
  4. Set a timer, and decide your blog post gold that is going to help you write the content

 

Great copy isn’t written, it’s assembled, Ray Edwards said. Agree. Having a system and workflow can help you pound out your blog posts a WHOLE lot faster. I hope these tips for a better blog post help!

“Great copy isn’t written, it’s assembled.” -Ray Edwards Click To Tweet

So, your turn: I want you to drop to the comments section and tell me: what’s ONE question you’ve been asked this week that you could write a blog on?

5

comments

  1. savannahgilbo

    July 27th, 2018 at 8:46 pm

    Ashlyn, this is a great article, thank you!

  2. Ashlyn Carter

    August 9th, 2018 at 3:08 pm

    Hey Savannah! Thanks for your kind words. As you may know, Ashlyn’s on sabbattical, so we’re popping in here to keep in touch with everyone while she’s away. Xo. Team Ashlyn Writes

  3. Chelsea White

    September 5th, 2018 at 7:55 pm

    AS ALWAYS, this was suuuuuuper helpful!! Thank you, Ashlyn! Already I feel less aimless in my blog writing 🙂

    I’d love to see a post about how you (systematically) write your lead magnets/free downloads. I’ve downloaded enough (er, all of them!) to see you have a template but would love a little more insight into how to make that work for my business!

  4. Michelle

    November 15th, 2018 at 8:06 pm

    My client asked me if they should tip their vendors – DUH! Thanks, AW.

  5. Ashlyn Carter

    November 19th, 2018 at 12:55 pm

    Hey Michelle! Of course we have those moments where we get asked something and the answer feels like a “Duh!” — but even more reason to go ahead and write the blog post that answers it! Then, you know you’ve got a resource (fo free!) out there that will connect with and serve people well. Glad you enjoyed the post! xo. Ash

What do you think?

Hey, y'all! I'm Ashlyn.

Freshly sharpened pencil bouquet ready, I'm here to make sure you stand out as a copywriter and calligraphy. I help women like you steward your story well, so you can work from a place of rest—not hustle.

free mentoring? yes, please

Welcome to the AW blog! I hook up women with words. Grab a cup of coffee or glass of wine, and enjoy a peek behind-the-scenes of my ink stained life. 

LET'S PARTY:

I'M ASHLYN

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