The Best Blog Writing Process Template for Creating Killer Content

If you’re reading a post about the blog writing process, I’m assuming you already know blogging is a must-have piece of any serious marketing strategy.

The 2017 B2B Benchmarking Report from CMI showed more than half of marketers believe blogging will have the biggest impact on their content marketing success in 2017.

52% of marketers say blogs are most critical to content marketing success in 2017

And that’s because blogs help generate more leads, increase brand visibility, and position your company as thought leaders in your industry.

But, many marketers fail to realize the role quality content plays in that success.

You could write ten blog posts a week, but without the kind of content that truly speaks to your audience and helps solves the key problems they face, chances are your blog performance will look something like this:

man falling in pool

And so, that’s why I put together this post:

To share with you my 10-step blog writing process template geared toward creating quality content for your target audience.

Whether you’re already blogging or just getting started, this template gives you a step-by-step guide to boosting results through your blog content.

Ready? Let’s get started.

Step #1: Research Content Ideas Through Competitor Blogs

You want to create quality content for your audience…

And at the same time, drive traffic away from your competitor’s blog toward your own…

So what better way to start the blog writing process than tapping into the quality content created by your competitors and making it better?

Here’s an example for you:

Greenhouse and Lever sell competing recruitment software in the ever-evolving talent acquisition market.

Both companies have well-maintained blogs to build brand awareness and demonstrate value to prospective customers (check them out here and here).

Here’s a post from 2016 on Lever’s blog about the power of social media in recruiting top talent…

lever.co blog post on social recruiting

(image source)

…and here’s a similar (but expanded) post on the same idea from Greenhouse:

greenhouse.co post on social recruiting

(image source)

Of course, I have no way of knowing if one company borrowed from the other. But both posts offer similar ideas for the same audience, with the Greenhouse post offering a few extra ideas not covered by Lever.

The point here is this:

Your competitors can be a great resource for generating content ideas that speak directly to your target audience.

And once you have those ideas, it’s time to figure out the right keywords to use:

Step #2: Do Your Keyword Research

Fact: as much as 80 percent of users ignore paid ads and focus exclusively on organic search results.

And here’s another one for you: SEO leads have a 14.6 percent close rate.

Compare that to the 1.7 percent rate for traditional outbound strategies like direct mail or display advertising and you can see why SEO is the #1 priority for marketers in 2017.

61% of marketers are prioritizing organic presence

(image source)

Luckily for you, the Zapty team recently created a keyword research template based on guidelines from marketing expert Adam Sherk’s personal blog.

Adam’s step-by-step process takes you from initial blog concept all the way to selecting the right keywords that give your content a competitive edge.

(You can start using Adam’s keyword research workflow for free in Zapty by following the link below.)

Adam Sherk's keyword research template

And once you have those keywords, you’re ready for the next step:

Step #3: Plan Out Your Content Pipeline to Optimize Keyword Ranking

I know what you’re probably thinking:

I’ve done the keyword research…now can’t I just plug those keywords into my blog posts and be done with it?

Well, I’m sorry to tell you – that just isn’t how it works.

SEO strategies constantly change to meet the demands of Google’s ever-evolving search algorithms. And as a result, simple keyword research is really just the first step in driving traffic to your blog posts.

To really see an impact on your search ranking, you’ll need to build out a content pipeline with topic clusters: groups of closely-related content centered around a single piece of high-converting content.

I’ll admit, all this gets a bit complicated (especially if you’ve never done it before).

But, once again, the Zapty team already has a template in place to walk you through the entire process of creating topic clusters and mapping your content plan.

<<Link to Template>>

And with those topic clusters complete, you can now start to map your content to the different stages of the customer journey:

Step #4: Determine Where the Content Belongs in the Sales Funnel

I’m sure you know that not every content type makes sense for each stage of the sales funnel.

For example:

You wouldn’t want to send an in-depth case study to a top-of-the-funnel lead, nor would you send introductory product videos to someone on the cusp of making a buying decision.

sales funnel

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But here’s the beautiful thing about blog content: it fits into each stage of the sales funnel.

You just need to figure out which of your content ideas make the most sense for each stage.

Alexa Lopresti does a great job explaining why this is so important over on the SmartBug blog:

“Moving visitors to your site through the sales funnel is the ultimate goal of inbound marketing. Making sure that those who visit your site can find useful blogs no matter where they are in the buyer’s journey is important because not only will it help move them along the sales funnel but if they can’t find what they are looking for quickly they will leave and find it somewhere else.”

So how exactly do you know which stage the content belongs in?

  • Posts that raise awareness about a specific problem and offer genuine solutions (and don’t necessarily pitch your product) would fit best at the top of the funnel.
  • At the same time, if you’re trying to position your product or service as a go-to solution, that content likely makes more sense in the middle of the funnel.
  • Bottom of the funnel content focuses on new product updates and creative use cases.

Once you know the stage you want to gear content toward, it’s time to start piecing together an outline:

Step #5: Write a Thorough Content Outline

Many content marketers choose to skip creating an outline in the blog writing process and in my opinion, that’s a huge mistake.

Why?

Because a content outline helps speed up the blog writing process in a few key ways:

  1. Outlines cut down on edits.

    Get key stakeholders to sign-off on your outline before starting to write. That way, you don’t spend hours working on a piece that misses some of the key points your boss wanted to include in the post.

  2. Outlines help you know where to source data and research.

    With an outline in place, it’s easy to see exactly where supporting data would drive home your point and make your content stronger.

  3. Outlines provide a framework for your writing.

    Without an outline, it takes more time for a blog post to take shape. Outlines help you connect points throughout your post, and help stay you on track to the desired word count, too.

Here’s an example of an outline I created for my blog post on project post-mortem meetings:

blog writing process outline

Step #6: Collect Data Points and Quotes from Influencers

With the outline complete, you can now start researching the topic of your blog post.

And while you certainly want hard data to back up any assertions in your content, it’s also a good idea to source quotes from key industry influencers, too.

That’s because quoting an influencer (and then following up with a personal email) is a great way to potentially expand the reach of your content.

If that influencer shares the content through social channels or links to your post in content they create, you may find a significant jump in traffic to that post.

Step #7: Write the Post (and Gather Images)

You’ve done your keyword research…

Have sign-offs on your outline from key stakeholders…

And have collected all the data and quotes you need…

There’s just one thing left to do: write the darn thing.

fallon writing gif

It takes the average blogger 3 hours, 16 minutes to write a post:

how long does it take to write a post in the blog writing process

(image source)

And while everyone has their own style, there’s one thing that’s consistent across nearly all blog posts:

Nearly 80 percent of blog posts contain at least one image.

80% of posts contain images

(image source)

With 65 percent of the population consisting of visual learners, text-only blog posts just don’t do the trick for most readers.

Tom Ewer explains why over on the ManageWP blog:

“Given the enormous amount of information available to us we are incredibly selective about what information we choose to digest. If we come across a large expanse of text that isn’t broken up by interesting and/or eye-catching graphical elements we are far more likely to move on than stick around — regardless of how good the content is.”

In short: don’t skimp on the visuals – the keep readers engaged in your posts and help convey key points to the 43 percent of people who just skim blog content.

Step #8: Create a Catchy Headline

I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but the blog writing process doesn’t stop with…well…writing the blog post.

There are still several steps you need to take to make sure your content gets views from your target audience.

And the first of those steps is to create a great headline using CoSchedule’s completely free headline analyzer tool.

Use coschedule to create a good headline

(image source)

Aim for a score of 70 or higher to make sure your headline is set up for success.

Step #9: Run the Post Through HemingwayApp

HemingwayApp is a completely free platform that describes themselves as “like a spellchecker, but for style.”

hemingwayapp edits your work

(image source)

HemingwayApp scores your content for readability (aim for a grade level between 6-8) and also helps you identify hard-to-read sentences and any uses of the passive voice.

It’s a great way to know whether the content you’ve created will be readable by your audience.

Step #10: Load the Post into WordPress

While there are plenty of great content management systems on the market today, WordPress is by far the most dominant.  

And I love it both for its ease of use and because the platform itself helps you make sure your SEO is optimized for maximum reach:

wordpress yoast SEO

(image source)

Following the SEO analysis and making changes on the fly ensures your post is set up for Google’s search rankings (and that people actually see it).

And while SEO definitely should be your primary focus, don’t forget about this next critical step in growing your content reach:

Step #11: Promote, Promote, Promote

I’m sure you know that you absolutely need a social media strategy.

And that creating your own content should be a big part of what you share through social channels.

But, piecing together a quality social media strategy isn’t easy.

Luckily, we’ve already built a great social media strategy template based on a guide by Kimberly Ann Jimenez that you can start using today in Zapty:

Kimberly Ann Jimenez social media marketing template

This template gives you everything you need to promote your content on a regular schedule that keeps your audience informed about new thought leadership from your brand.

And that’s it…

Developing quality content can be tough, but if you follow these 10 steps, you’ll be in a great position to create great blog posts that your audience will love.

And the best part is, you can start using this template for free right now in Zapty.

We’ve already built the template into our platform, which you and up to five members of your team can start using for free by clicking the link below:

<<Link to Template>>