If you are anything like I used to be, you just sat down and wrote a blog post with no planning. It took me a long while to realise this was an ineffective way of doing things. It wastes a load of time as you lose direction, you lose your message and you end up having to do a tonne of editing. Planning cuts out a bunch of this wasted time, so let’s have a look at how to plan your blog post.
First things first, you need to have your idea ready. As funny as this may sound, so many people start off writing a blog post without really knowing what they’re writing about. To combat this, I like to keep a list of ideas for blog posts. I couldn’t count how many times I have come up with a great idea and forgotten it before I’ve written it down. I now keep a list of ideas in a note on my phone; I always have it with me and you can’t lose it in the bottom of your bag or throw it away like you can a piece of paper!
But, what to write down in your note?! Sometimes just a title idea isn’t enough. They won’t all apply all of the time, but here’s what I try to write down when I come up with an idea:
• The idea
• Where I was when I came up with the idea
• Any words or phrases which come to mind (I find this particularly helpful and I might keep adding throughout the day)
• A story or anecdote which fits with your idea
• A link to a source; you may have seen something on social media which jogged the idea, or an article on a news site
• The issue you are addressing or the reason you want to write about it
Now you’ve got your idea, you are well on your way to writing your post. But, before you start writing, answer the following questions:
• How long should it be?
• What is your target audience?
• What are the main themes of your post?
• Why are you writing it?
When you are writing your post, you can refer to these to help keep you on task. It’s easy to forget the reason you are writing the post and drift off course. Having the answers to these questions visible will help keep you focused.
Before I start writing, I sketch out my plan on a piece of paper (I have a scruffy notepad I use for this). I basically create a mind map – more than anything, this helps me visualise my post in my mind, as well as having something to refer to as I go through. I include the answers to my questions, I add in any keywords or phrases I want to use and any graphic that will help jog my memory. I note down what I want to include in the introduction, the main body and the conclusion. Sometimes I colour code it and sometimes I keep it plain and simple – it depends what is working best for me that day.
With a plan, it’s whatever works best for you, so don’t be afraid to switch it up.