“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.
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.
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 content creation process, a blog 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 content creation process and blog workflow/ formula is how you can be 50% finished—before you even start.
Some of you have asked to see my YouTube creation process, but surprise, YouTube is part of the blog process—they really go in tandem. There’s always a blog that connects to the YouTube. 🙂
I’ll walk you through how they’re different, but if you were wondering about my YouTube creation process, it’s one in the same. That’s why today I want to talk to walk you through how you can cultivate a go-to blog writing workflow, too.
Let’s jump in.
Why Come Up with a Content Creation Process?
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.
No. 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!
Now I go into content planning and your overall marketing plan ad nauseum inside my Primed to Launch Playbook, but essentially the content has to correlate to your overall sales goals, to your revenue goals that you’re going to chase after. Otherwise, there’s no point.
I’m coming to these ideas and this research knowing ~exactly~ what I’m going to be talking about any given week in the year. First, create that content plan, and make sure that you know what you’re hitting each week, or each month.
Step one technically looks a little more like this:
(This specific spreadsheet is a riff off of something that Sunny Lenarduzzi has in one of her programs. I’ma give credit where it’s due.)
Want to hear more details about how I set up my ideas in Google Drive? I’m walking you through all the details in this week’s episode on my YouTube channel. 👉Click here to watch!
No. 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.
- How does this fit into my overall strategy?
- What’s the key takeaway action?
- What questions do I get asked about this?
- 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.)
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.
No. 3| Sketch and fill in your go-to outline.
*Clearly* I like to have a template in place, and run the template.😜😜
Here I’m going to use a basic outline that I use for any conversion-focused, or goal-oriented piece of content in my business. When I’m on a podcast, I have a specific little workflow that I use to promote that podcast on the blog, or back when I did weddings, I had a specific workflow that I used to push out and promote that wedding.
I’m coming back here to what is more of a foundational pillar piece of content in my business.
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:
- Intro story/anecdote/fact/etc.:
- Core Message—what is it that I’m telling them? Say it clearly! In this blog, I’m explaining XYZ.
- Sections/miniblogs (4-5):
- Tell ‘em again:
- Call To Action—this follows that art of tell ’em what you’re gonna say, tell ’em, tell ’em what you told ’em.
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.
I’m not full writing at this point yet, I’m just getting my thoughts on paper and arranging them in some sort of outline. Remember: 🚨I still have not really started the actual writing part—this is all pre-writing.🚨
No. 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)
5-10 links (try to make half of these link within your website)
Imagery elements: photos, infographics, GIFs, etc.
Embedded tutorial or demo
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
No. 5 | Writing
Once I’ve got all my ideas, all the research there, writing takes a fraction of the time it used to. I have my outline, I have ideas to back up what I wanna say. Now, I’m just kind of assembling this.
I’ve talked before about how content writing is different from copywriting, but there is a copywriting axiom that says: “great copy isn’t written, it’s assembled”—this is THAT concept in action.
Having a system and a workflow in place to pound out your blog posts is gonna make things a lot easier, especially if you want to add in a layer of the YouTube element. If you wanna flip this into a video or a live, really what I’m taking is that bones of what I just wrote and making it a script.
Two bonus tips for you:
➡️I would highly recommend seeing if you can get somebody in your business, whether you’re outsourcing, or it is a team member that’s coming alongside and helping with this process. It takes a lot of the work off your plate, and you’re pushing the key driver forward. Like the brush strokes, all of that needs to be you—the fine-tuning can be somebody else.
Obviously being a copywriter, I’m a huge proponent and tell everybody you’ve gotta have a brand voice guide in your business. Anna, on my team, she’s so familiar in our brand voice guide, she knows exactly what I sound like, “Ashlynisms”, how I talk, and what our brand voice and tone is. She takes the script and turns it into a specific blog post. She’s the editor so to speak, going through and ironing out all the kinks, and making it flow, and installing it to actually be a blog on the website.
➡️Whatever your workflow, make sure that you hammer it out step by step in a tool like Asana or Trello. Asana is what my integrator Kristen has gotten us trained on, so every step of this is housed inside Asana, and assigned to the person that’s going to be working on it. That again, even when it was just me, I had this all built out, I was just assigning myself to every piece.
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
Now that you know all about how to build a blog or content workflow that will get you leads for your business, then you need to be able to close them on the call, right? Check out this video on my YouTube channel where I’m taking you through my entire workflow for hopping on a call with a potential client.
P.S—Don’t forget to grab your “How to Day-Batch Your Work” freebie below!!
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Reading Time: 8 Minutes Reading time: 8 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. I’m a blog grandmother. A young grandmother, […]
Ashlyn, this is a great article, thank you!
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
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!
My client asked me if they should tip their vendors – DUH! Thanks, AW.
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
Thanks so much! Glad you found it helpful! xo.Ash
I really appreciate the details of this post! I love to write and taking my writing from personal to public has been very enjoyable. Keep up the amazing work!
Thank you, Aisha! Right back at ya buddy! 🙂
As a marketing analys and wannabe copywriter this is exactly the sort of information i needed. Great piece.
Well, I’m so glad it made its way to you Shayur!