I’ve found myself in a number of conversations recently, both at work (where we’re looking to present more of a public face to our work), and from people I coach and mentor asking for help with blogging and storytelling. There are many guides out there on the internet, but I’ve tried to distil my own process, and pull in relevant content from others to make this useful.

Aside from the process I outline, see the end of the post for some general things that I think are super important as you consider writing, and that often prevent people from publishing.

All the steps in one picture

They say a picture paints a thousand words, and in this case, I’ve tried to distil each of the steps into a single graphic.

Infographic on How to Blog

Blogging - Step by Step

  1. Preparation - it doesn’t have to take a huge amount of time, but being clear on your idea up front is critical. Try to also consider what you want the reader to take away. I typically start a miro board/mind map at this stage (see an example below in general tips), and try to capture everything I’m thinking on that board as I go through the steps below. A virtual scrapbook can help you get to structure and form really quickly.
  2. Research - this could be as little as an hour of googling around the topic, but try to be clear what others are saying about the subject, perhaps bring in references, try to understand your audience and what they may be looking for. Again, you don’t need to overthink this stage, key is to get enough information to help you get to a first draft.
  3. Outlines - the aims of this step are to get to a skeleton of your article. You should be looking to have a rough idea of ‘start’, ‘middle’ and ‘end’ to the post. At this stage, you likely won’t have sentence structures in place, but the flow and outline of the post should start to be coming together. I find even just simple bullet points, indented for sub-areas, works well here.
  4. Draft - you'll aim to hit a "first draft". It’ll be far from perfect, but you should be getting to a bit of a flow, have some headings, and perhaps have some richer content that supports your story (e.g. images, quotes, etc.). Don’t labour this section too long - you are looking to expand on your core ideas, and have that start, middle and end fleshed out, but remember you will be going through feedback loops, so remember your pareto principle - 20% of your effort here will get you enough reward to continue this process.
  5. Get Feedback - I find this to be one of the most useful value adds when I blog. Get one or two people who you trust to read through and review the content. You may have some specific concerns around the post - tell them. Let them be an unfiltered audience, reading it for the first time, and soak up any feedback they give you.
  6. Revise - take every idea, every nugget of feedback given, and consider expanding or editing your post to reflect that feedback. It is, of course, optional to take on feedback, though I’ve found typically it can make a post significantly more impactful.
  7. Publish - you made it! Get it published to your blogging platform of choice. If you really want to ensure you are maximising it, consider things like search engine optimisation (SEO), but early in your blogging journey this is likely to be less important than just getting content that you care about ‘out there’. Consider how you will amplify the post - either sharing on social media (twitter, linkedin, reddit, etc.) or having people share on your behalf. Your motivations may well be the catharsis of writing, though it’s never bad to have people arrive at your content and reading!

General Tips - Getting the most out of blogging

These follow in no particular order, but have been useful to me over the years as I’ve written posts.

Structure your ideas, preparation wins the day

It’s the first step above for a reason. Below is an example of some of the more extensive preparation I’ve done around Psychological Safety and Management (I’ve written on both topics). You will see links to resources I’ve read, mindmaps, ideas (the bottom right has the beginnings of the radar chart that now exists on https://brilliantmanagers.info ) - and I’ve managed to generate so much thought (and content) from this preparation. This links closely also to the point below around keeping ideas banked.

Mindmap on How to Blog

It doesn’t have to be perfect, don’t overthink it!

I struggled a lot (and perhaps at times, still do) with trying to ensure my post was perfect. If you are writing more formally, or your readership has grown, consider better referencing and evidence, but in your earlier journey with blogging, the important thing is delivering content you care about in a way that resonates for you. Most of my early posts were catharsis - if I could explain a technical challenge I was having, I grew to understand it more, and in doing so, became more aware of the subject. Although we talk about identifying your audience above, writing for you and stopping at ‘good enough’ is absolutely fine!

Write like you talk. Make it your voice

So many people struggle with the written word, and trying to get perfect sentence structure and grammatical correctness. This is your blog, and your story - tell it in your voice. Pick people who are close to you who you trust to review, and they can highlight anything that is hard to parse, but outside of that, don’t stress getting to perfection in language. Consider using plain english too, especially if you are writing about complex ideas - keeping the language as easy to understand as possible.

You aren’t comparing yourself to others who’ve written similar things

There are very few new ideas on the internet. I’ve written on subjects that others have written on before me, and it’s easy to dissuade yourself from creating that content because someone has already ‘done it better’ (your inner critic is good at saying this). What those other people haven’t done is tell it from your perspective, and with your style. Different people resonate with different versions of content on the internet, and if YOU find the content interesting, it’s guaranteed at least someone will appreciate your take on a subject.

Don’t start your journey with a marathon, go with small steps

In the same way you wouldn’t start a new hobby by going out and trying to do the hardest thing in that hobby, don’t tie yourself to a laptop until your first post is finished. Timebox it to set yourself a little urgency, but you are far better trying to set aside some time each day (10-15mins) to write than you are to try to just cram everything in at the weekend. Getting into your flow with writing is lovely when it happens, but build up that practice with small and steady steps.

Consider the type of post you want to deliver

It can help as you write it and you consider your audience to consider the type of post you are writing. Is this a ‘how to’, a ‘news article’, a ‘personal story’, a case study, a review - each of these have a particular style and approach, and it may help you structure your article to decide up ahead the type of article you are aiming for.

Keep ideas banked

Ideas for blog posts come to me through a number of mediums - be it conversations, reflection, work I’m doing. Whenever I think ‘there might be a blog post in this’ it goes into my ‘Blog post ideas’ space, and I periodically look into there, expand existing ideas, and add new - it’s a useful thing to do if you want to do more than just create a one off post.

Is being found by Google important? Consider SEO

I won’t give any tips on this, there are far better posts out there, but there are many techniques and approaches to help you rank, but if you are early in your blogging journey, I would recommend putting this on a back burner.

And that’s it!

Hopefully there are some useful thoughts and tips in here that help you create your own content. I'd love to hear if they were useful, or if there are any approaches you take that aren't covered above.