My 8 step process for creating and publishing blog posts

8 step process for creating and publishing blog posts | charlotte o'hara | Squarespace blogging

My 8 step process for creating and publishing blog posts

Raise your hand if blogging has ever left you feeling overwhelmed or stressed out!

Oh good, I’m happy to see that I’m not the only one :)

We all know that blogging is a super important part of any website and that is has major benefits for just about every business out there. Blogging drives traffic to our sites, establishes us as experts in our industry/niche, helps us share our point of view with our audience, and grows our brand and visibility online. It’s worth our time and effort, but why does it have to be so friggin' hard?

That’s a question I used to ask myself but I’m happy to report that I don’t feel that way about blogging anymore. In fact, I now find blogging FUN and actually look forward to creating new posts to share with my readers!

All of this changed when I started getting strategic with the content I was creating and established processes and a checklist make sure that I covered every step. And let me tell you, it totally paid off.

I’m sharing my process for creating and publishing blog posts to show you that blogging doesn’t have to be hard or scary. Blogging doesn’t have to take hours of your time, either! Once you have a process in place, it comes together quickly and easily.

I hope this “behind the scenes” walk-through of my own blogging process sheds some light onto how I spend my time creating content for my website, and shows you how you can apply it to your own business! Also, I’ve published quite a few other posts related to blogging so be sure to check those out (I've linked to some in the bullet points below) or click on the links within this blog post for further reading/video tutorials.

Related posts

I also created a FREE CHECKLIST to go along with this post, so that you have everything covered in one easy-to-reference page. To get it, simply enter your email below and it'll be delivered straight to your inbox. Print it out, pin in above your desk and make sure that you never forget a step in the blogging process again!

Alright, let’s get to the goods. 

1. Brainstorm blog post ideas

When I first started blogging, I wanted to create valuable and interesting content for my audience but I didn’t always know what to write about. Coming up with ideas on the fly would stress me out and often held me back from posting regularly. This was no bueno

After a few months, I realized that when I had an idea or topic in mind, I was able to crank out a post pretty quickly so I started keeping track of ideas as they came up. Gamechanger! Total game changer.

Now I keep a running list of blog posts topics and ideas in a Google Doc that I can reference and pull from whenever it comes time to create a blog post or video tutorial. I write down ideas as they come up and jot them down in the Notes app of my iPhone or in my notebook, but I always make a point to add them to the bigger topic list in Google Docs.

Inspiration for blog posts comes from many different places: 

  • Questions I receive from my audience, 
  • Conversations with clients
  • My own business and processes
  • Comments from blog posts or video tutorials 
  • Ideas branching from other popular content 
  • Series I want to write about 
  • Technical how-to's or workarounds, etc. 

I've broken down that Google Doc of blog posts ideas into the four main topics/categories that I cover on my blog : Squarespace, web design & development, business and tech tips. Keeping track of post ideas in this way helps me to create a variety of content and ensures that I’m not writing about the same topic all the time.

2. Create a blogging content calendar

At the start of 2018 I made a goal to publish blog posts at least twice a week and so far I’ve stayed on track! Sticking to a schedule has made a huge difference and this public declaration has helped me to actually publish blog posts on time, even when I don’t feel like it.

Creating and sticking to a content calendar also ensures that I’m putting out blog post content across the four categories (Squarespace, web design & development, business and tech tips). By planning out the posts based on category type, I’m better able to map out my content and have variety in my posts. 

Another reason why I try my best to stick to a blogging content calendar is that I’m less likely to scramble at the last minute to publish a blog post, because I know ahead of time what I’m going to write about. I can choose a topic from the list of blog post ideas based on the category of post I want to publish, and plan it out in advance. I no longer publish a blog post “just because” - instead, I focus on creating quality content that my readers find valuable and relevant. 

Note : I’m not perfect and don’t always follow my content calendar but when I do, the blog posts flow way easier and I’ve noticed that I get higher engagement (read: clicks) on the recent blog posts featured on my Home Page. I think this is because it shows a variety of topics in the three last blog posts so people have a variety of topics to choose from. 

3. Outline the blog post

Now that I have a blog post in mind, it’s time to start planning out the content. This might look a little different depending on the type of post I plan to write, but either way it's where I spend most of my time preparing and writing the post.  

I write the outline by hand (old school, with a pen and paper) and plot out the main ideas and points that I want to cover, along with other content I plan to include in the post. I often add little notes in the margins to go along with the different points I plan to cover. I spend a lot of time on the outline and getting all my ideas, notes and thoughts out of my head so that when it comes time to write the post, I can painlessly crank out the content. 

During the outline phase, I also decide whether or not I'm going to include a content upgrade (which I did for this post, with the free blogging checklist) and what that will look like. 

4. Write the blog post

Since I have already created a really meaty outline, the process of actually writing the blog post usually comes together fairly easily!

I write my draft blog posts in Google Docs because the content is automatically saved in the cloud, meaning I can access it from anywhere on any device, and it’s easy to edit/send off for proofreading, etc. I plan to write another post on how I set up and store my blog posts in Google Drive so check back for that soon!

When it comes to actually writing the blog post, I usually jump right into the main content of the post and write the introduction/final thoughts sections at the end. In the Google Doc, I also make note of any videos or images I plan to include (for example, if the blog post includes a video tutorial) and add in "LINK" plus any URLs for additional or external content (either my own content or from external sites). 

Also, when applicable, I leverage content that I’ve already written to make sure that I’m being consistent with my message and not forgetting anything. This usually happens when I’m writing a post that’s part of a series (e.g., Squarespace SEO Series) or if the post includes a video tutorial.  

Writing blog posts in advance

I normally write blog posts a few days before I intend to publish them so that I can come back to the draft with fresh eyes for a final edit before pushing it live. I read the post aloud which helps me to catch most spelling mistakes or any weird grammar, and also lets me see if the formatting still makes sense. I’m also able to see any holes in the content or add in any additional ideas to round out the post as needed. I don’t have an editor so having this buffer is super helpful!

This is also the stage where I write/create the content upgrade that goes along with the blog post (like the free checklist included with this blog post). 

5. Design a blog post graphic

Every blog post that I publish includes a graphic that I create using a template in Canva, as you can see from the screenshot below. I have two templates in alternating colours that I rotate between so customizing each one for a new post only takes about two minutes from start to finish.

 
Canva screenshot of blog post graphic
 

I also use this image for the blog post thumbnail. Once I’ve saved the design, I name the image file for SEO and it’s good to go.

It is important to include a branded blog post graphic in every post because this image gets shared on social media and is a major driver of traffic back to your website.  

Related : The best places to get social media graphic templates

6. Create the blog post in Squarespace

After the post is written and I've finalized the content, it’s time to move it over from Google Docs to a Squarespace blog post. I paste the content as plain text to remove any styling left over from Google Docs by copying the post and clicking “command + shift + V” in Squarespace OR right clicking and selecting “Paste and Match Style”. 

Once the blog content is in the new Squarespace post, it’s time to tackle formatting. Here’s what that looks like :

When I create the blog post in Squarespace, I also make sure to link to other relevant content so that the reader has the best experience. This could be a simple mention/hyperlink to another blog post, or a summary of where this blog post fits in a larger series. You can see plenty of examples in this blog post.

Also, don't forget to set up the tabs and category section for each post!

I also update the Options tab of the Squarespace blog setup making sure to add a thumbnail, update the post URL, setup the blog post excerpt, etc. 

Finally, if the blog post includes a content upgrade (like the free blogging checklist in this post), I set up that form in my email service provider, MailerLite and add the code to the Squarespace blog post. 

Note : After I publish the new blog post, I will also often go back to other blog posts and link to this new post. For example, if the blog post is part of a series, I'll update the other posts in the series to include the new post. Or, if I talk about the topic in an old blog post but am just publishing a post about it now, I'll go back to the old blog post and add in a link to the new content. I hope this makes sense!

Related : 50 things you need to know about Squarespace SEO

7. Schedule the post

I normally schedule blog posts in advance and set them to go live at 6 am EST. Most of my readers are in North America so this way, the post is ready for them to read when they wake up and hop online. 

8. Promote on social media

After the new blog post is published, it’s time to share the link on social media! The blog post graphic gets Pinned to Pinterest and I add it to my BoardBooster queue. I also share the blog post on Twitter and sometimes I send out an email update to my newsletter as well. 

Final Thoughts

Creating and publishing blog posts doesn’t have to be a scary or enormous undertaking. With a little bit of time and planning, the process comes together pretty quickly and you can feel good knowing that you’re publishing quality content that your audience will enjoy. 

When I stick to this process, I never worry about forgetting any steps or missing out on promotion. I’m able to create a variety of high-quality blog posts for my readers to enjoy across the categories that matter most to them, and this is turn keeps them coming back for more.

Don't forget that I've created a FREE CHECKLIST that you can grab below that shows the exact steps I follow every time I publish a blog post. Simply enter your email address in the form below and you'll get the checklist delivered straight to your inbox.

Now it’s your turn to tell me, what does your blogging process look like? Do you have a step-by-step process that you follow? Do you write and publish when inspiration strikes or do you plan out your posts in advance? I’d love to know so leave me a note in the comments below!


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