There are plenty of great reasons to write a blog post.
Aside from having something interesting to say (which should be a given), you may want to convince readers to take action. Present your point of view on a current event. Or show off your writing skills. Or …. nevermind. It’s all rubbish anyway.
What you really want is attention.
You want others to notice, discuss, share and remember your ideas. Full stop.
But it takes a remarkable content to achieve this.
Everyday thousands of writers publish their carefully crafted words. All in hope for gaining attention. But the amount of content produced gets to a point where readers can no longer keep up with it. After all, there is only so much information an average reader can absorb.
To combat this, they develop skills to select only the remarkable content and ignore the rest. Your only way to get noticed is to create content that will pass that criteria.
Quality vs. Quantity
There is an ongoing discussion in writing circles. What’s better – posting one killer post a week or three average ones.
It is however pointless as with the flood of content today, it’s almost impossible to keep up the remarkable quality over many posts a week anyway.
Therefore, posting one smashing post a week is a much better strategy long term. This way you will attract attention, establish your authority. Not to mention encourage people to share your information.
And this is what I am going to show you:
Day 1: Find Your Unique Take
Here’s the secret of a remarkable content, it’s unique.
And no, it does not mean that it covers a completely new topic. In fact, it often focuses on well know ideas but presents them in a completely new light.
And finding that unique take is the first step in creating it. Here are some ways you can try to achieve this:
Create a Mind Map
Mind maps are great ways to throw outlines of ideas on the paper. They are also easy to use. You can start by listing the most general aspects of your topic and move deeper into each branch from there. Don’t try to be original, just write down everything you know about the subject. Expand on each section, splitting it into its most generic elements.
Soon you will realize that the deeper into the subject you go, the more new elements of it you discover. What’s more, you may also discover connections between various aspects of it you have never thought of before.
Employ Lateral Thinking Methods to Generate Fresh Ideas
Lateral Thinking by Edward de Bono is, in my humble opinion a book every writer should read and learn by heart. It presents a system of techniques to generate new and unique ideas. Of course, explaining the whole system would take too long. But here are some of the tools de Bono advocates to use to generate ideas:
Random Entry Idea Generating Tool: The premise is simple – choose an object at random, or a noun from a dictionary and associate it with the subject you are thinking about. The idea is that such unthinkable connection might spun a new wave of ideas about your subject.
Provocation Idea Generating Tool: This method involves using techniques such as wishful thinking, exaggeration, reversal, distortion to provocate a completely new way of thinking of a subject.
The key to success in this exercise is to think in general terms. Don’t focus too much on details, rather on the idea you want to explore.
Day 2: Create an Outline
Finding a unique take is an exhaustive exercise, I agree. It is still only the start of the process. Next step is to turn your idea into a roadmap for your post.
Start by opening that mind map or a list of ideas you created. Go through your notes once again. Highlight all elements you think should form individual sections of the article. Next, delete those you think are irrelevant or add nothing new to the topic.
What you should end up with is a list of your all sections in your article.
Write them all down as a list and reorder to form a logical story. Remember, your article should flow from introduction through different aspects of the problem. It should introduce solutions to it and end with a conclusion. It has to read naturally, even if you only skim the headlines.
Day 3: Write an Initial Draft
The last two days were all about slowly analyzing your topic and generating ideas.
Today is quite the opposite. Today I want you to feel as if you were in a race. You need to write, as fast as you can in fact.
Writing a first draft is a tough job. You want your words to make the most impact. But you can’t achieve it with the first version of your article. Trying to do so, might get you to end up like Joseph Grand, a character from Albert Camus’ novel “The Plague”. Although he claims to be writing a book, in reality continuously rewrites the first sentence and can’t go any further.
Don’t be like Joseph Grand. Don’t be obsessed with your first draft. Rememeber, writing a first draft is not about quality. It’s about getting words on a page.
Once your draft is over, leave it. Your work for today is done. Don’t read through it, as tempting it might be to do so. Don’t try to rewrite anything, change order of paragraphs, nothing. You need to clear your mind from those words. Otherwise editing them will be a nightmare.
Day 4: First Revisions
With your first draft done you are ready for the second secret of remarkable content-form.
Your first draft is awful. In fairness, reading it a day after writing can be a painful exercise. Poor structure, grammar, no style, it’s all there. That’s OK though. Your ideas are on a paper, that’s what counts. Now you can turn them into a great copy.
Editing Plan to Follow
- Start off by going through the entire draft. Check if you included everything you wanted. If not, add that stuff in.
- Work on your lead. That’s what you should focus the most. The opening sentence and following 2 paragraphs are what’s going to hook the reader to your copy. There are some things you should rememebr:
- You should open with a bang. Check this article for some proven ways how to do so.
- It should also match the headline. Remember, headline is the first thing your reader is going to see. It is what will make them to start reading the copy. Your first few lines of text should reassure them that they made the right choice.
- Edit one section at a time. Never go through the entire copy at once. Working in small chunks will ensure you won’t get a copy fatigue. Work through each section, edit, re-write and move copy around as needed. Keep tweaking until it’s just right.
- Read each section aloud while editing. Hearing how your words sound makes you see then in a new light. You can also use a dedicated software or if you are on a Mac, the built in text to speech functionality .
- Don’t be afraid to cut out entire paragraphs or even sections. If something doesn’t read right or doesn’t add any value to the story, cut it out. Sometimes it’s easier to do so than to try and fix it.
Editing is a lengthy process. It can take up to few hours to go through the entire copy. On average it takes me few times longer to edit a post than to write its first draft. Block at least couple of hours for editing. Don’t just skim through text looking for typos. Make sure that every sentence pushes your reader to the next one.
Day 5: Final Edits and Headline
Let’s be honest, one day of edits isn’t enough to create a remarkable content. You need to step away from your copy once more and come back with fresh mind to it. That’s the aim of this last day, to go through the copy one last time. You will still find sentences to improve or thoughts that aren’t clearly defined.
Once again, spend a great deal of time working on your copy. Once done, run it through software like Hemingwayapp to see if you haven’t missed anything.
After that, move to the headline.
Many writers prefer to write the headline first. I believe this is counter productive. At this stage your ideas aren’t fully defined and nothing is set on paper. Writing a headline at that point limits your options to pivot with your topic.
Instead, I prefer to write my headlines once all edits are done. Naturally, I have a working title in my head all the time. It is far from the final one anyway.
When doing so, I use the 25 headlines formula I learned from Gareth Moon’s post here. It is based on Tim Hurson’s idea of third thirds. It says that if you are are looking to generate 100 different ideas, they will generally fall into three different groups.
The first third(up to idea 33): a group of most obvious picks. These will be quite typical and not that creative ideas.
The second third (idea 34 to 67): In the second third, your ideas will start to gain some momentum. This is where you start thinking more creatively.
The third third (ideas 68 – 100): Since you have used the most obvious picks and already started thinking more creatively, this approach will flourish in this group. This is where the most unique and innovative ideas happen.
Of course writing 100 headline ideas to a post would be time consuming. That’s why Gareth suggests going for 25. This way you can generate enough ideas to cover all groups and have enough material to choose from.
At the end of this entire process you should have a beautifully crafted post with a unique take on a topic – a truly remarkable content.
There are many reasons to write a blog post. From communicating great ideas to the most important one, gaining readers attention and building an audience. For that however you need nothing less but content that’s truly remarkable. Anything else won’t work.