Anyone who practices content marketing knows that most of the time, it requires pumping out a lot of content. And while content curation is great way to subsidize your original masterpieces (not to mention a welcome change that audiences crave), there’s no getting around it — you’re going to be whipping up a blog post or two, or five, or fifty, of your own.
We’d all love the luxury of having ample time to dedicate to crafting the perfect blog post, but that’s not always the case. Chances are, at some point you’ll be working with tight deadlines or have to write on the fly (without turning in something that screams, “I wrote this baby in 15 minutes.”). So, we’re going to try and make that as easy as possible for you!
Here are some tips for everything from ideation to editing that will hopefully help you turn a last-minute blog post into a thing of beauty.
Finding topic ideas
Recycle what you’ve got
Take a look at which blog posts have performed well and see if you can tweak them into something new. There’s no shame in approaching the same topic from different angles, especially if you’re giving your audience more of what they like! We use our Content Hub metrics to see how each piece of content is doing, but you can also just do a quick search in Google Analytics to compare post performance. Don’t limit yourself to blog posts, either. Summarize your latest webinar or retool a section out of your most popular eBook. Where there’s content, there’s a way.
Steal other people's ideas
I use Feedly on the regular for curated content to share with our social media followers, but it's also a great source of topic inspiration. BuzzSumo has a nifty little “Most Shared” feature as well,\ that shows you what’s trending so you can get in on the action. Beware the rabbit hole with this method though, especially if you’re in a time crunch. It’s easy to get overwhelmed when you’re sifting through a lot of content at once, so jot down whatever catches your eye in the first 5 minutes — most likely, what gets your attention will get your audience’s too.
Keep an idea bucket
This falls more under advanced planning than oh-man-I-need-an-idea-like-right-now, but it will save you in the long run. Keep a spreadsheet, Google doc, email draft, iPhone note, or whatever your heart desires to throw ideas into as they come to you. It’s an unwritten and borderline cruel rule of the universe that our best ideas come to us when we’re not searching for them anyway, so having a virtual idea bucket handy is a great way to make sure no moment of creative genius goes to waste.
Actually writing the post
Pick a style, any style
Ok, you’ve got your topic on lock. Now it’s time to get writing.
Instead of staring at that blank, white screen, willing your fingertips to start typing already, decide on the style of the of the post first. Structure makes it easier for our brains to get in gear — if you know you’re doing a listicle, for instance, you can outline your points before moving onto the “meat” of the post. In any case, it’s an easy way to get rolling and helps you feel like you’re getting somewhere right off the bat.
You can find 5 (and ½!) blog post styles here (like the how-to article and “potato chip list”) to help get your creative juices flowing.
Get in the zone
Now is the time to block out any distractions and get focused. Close all irrelevant browser tabs, turn your phone off, and log out of any chats that are stealing your attention with notifications. If you can, play soft music or ambient noise, and dim the lights — these have been proven to spark creativity and create a work-friendly atmosphere that our brains like. And give yourself a non-negotiable time limit. If you have an hour to write a blog post, you’ll take an hour. If you have 3, you’ll take 3 (or is that just me?).
It’s also important to remember not to be precious with what you’re writing (this can be tough if you’re not used to it — stay strong!). Don’t worry about it sounding amazing or editing as you go. Just get some words down. It’s a lot faster and easier to go back and fix what you’ve already written (even if it’s an incoherent wall of text) than to strive for perfection word by word. Bonus: this allows you to mentally purge any bad ideas to make way for the good ones.
Polishing for public consumption
Obviously, if you’re pressed for time, you don’t want to spend a ton of it poring over and editing your writing. But there are quick ways to make sure your post is the best it can be.
Atomic Reach is a nifty tool that will score your content before you publish and give you suggestions for optimizing it based on the type of audience you’re trying to reach. You can also pop your copy into SpellCheckPlus or Grammarly, which will automatically highlight any typos or grammar issues in your writing and suggest replacements. Also, consider bookmarking our grammar cheat sheet, which was created just for this purpose! Or rather, for when you don’t have the time (or the desire) to Google those little grammar quandaries.
It may take longer than 60 seconds to get that blog post up and ready (perhaps we were a little ambitious with that title), but hopefully this helps speed things up!