I’m working on a digital strategy project and was asked (told) by the client: “We need more content on the blog. How do we get the team to write more?”
My first suggestion — draconian punishments and extravagant rewards — was rejected, but I remembered a wonderful piece by Pamela Wilson of Copyblogger that laid out an easy schedule to get your team writing more.
Here is a quick summary, with my own tips thrown in.
Keep a running list of ideas. Write them down as they occur to you throughout the week. Relaxation spurs creative thinking, so be ready to capture ideas as they pop up. If you are stuck, read a little (online or offline), listen to some music, or go for a walk. If you are inspired by something you’ve read, think about how you could expand or improve on the subject. Not sure if your idea is any good? Send it out into the world as a tweet or Facebook post and gauge the response. Are people interested? Then write it up.
Day 1 — Create a Simple Outline and Draft a Headline
Creating an outline
You aren’t going to stick to your outline when you write, so don’t worry that if isn’t complete or perfectly clear. Here’s some basic info on writing an outline. (For more, look here.)
- Write a one-sentence summary of the post’s main idea
- Jot down the points you want to cover
- Assemble them into a rough order
Your outline will differ based on the kind of post you want to write. Here are 52 examples of post types.
Next: Write the Headline
Now that you have a sense of what you are going to cover, write the headline.
The headline is the most important part of any post. Readers are overwhelmed with choices and make snap decisions based on the headline alone. For help creating headlines, check out Copyblogger’s How to Write Magnetic Headlines ebook or Jon Morrow’s 52 Headline Hacks.
Nail the headline and you are done for the morning.
Pro Tip: Think about your idea when you go to bed.
Let your creative subconscious kick the idea around when you are asleep.
Day 2 — Write it out
Mull over your headline before you start writing. Will it grab your readers’ attention? Does it capture the central idea of the post?
Now take the points you jotted down and turn them into solid sub-section headlines. These subheads should keep your reader’s attention as they skim down the page.
Ready? Now comes the tough part: Write the post as quickly as you can.
Write as much as you can about each of your subheads. This isn’t the time to spell-check or tweak. We are shooting for quantity, not quality.
Just write down everything as it comes to you.
- Put on music
- Set a timer for 60 minutes
- Turn off the Internet (Almost— you can look things up, but don’t get distracted)
Now the other tough part: quit for the day.
Once you’ve dumped out everything that pops into your head, stop. Writing and editing use different muscles, so schedule them for separate times.
Day 3 — Edit and Fact-Check
Play with the copy
- Move things around
- Fix your grammar
- Remove sentences that don’t fit
- Shorten everything
- Tighten up your subheads
- Add block quotes
- Add bulleted lists and links
- Highlight key concepts in bold
- Check spelling and grammar (yes, again)
- Add attribution to your original sources.
- Check your facts.
Day 4 — Schedule the Post
- Find a great image — Here are some good places to look.
- Add all your metadata — tags, categories, SEO description, keywords, etc.
- Schedule your post to publish at the optimum time.
Don’t just hit publish and forget about it
Day 5 — Publish and Promote
- Send out your site newsletter
- Email friends and people mentioned in the post
- Send it to a handful of people who might otherwise miss it
- Promote on social media — Not just once or just one place
- Share on Linkedin, Digg, Reddit, Medium, etc. when possible
- Respond to comments