A long time ago, I came across a post by Mark Schaefer titled “An inside view of the blogging process.” It stands out to me because every writer’s process is different. One blogger writes a post in10 minutes, and another writes one in three hours or more. Yet, we all go through similar steps.
I thought it would be useful to other bloggers for me to discuss my writing process. Here are my 12 steps:
1. Find a keyword: The important thing is not just to find a good key phrase, but one that matches your intent. Run the word or phrase through multiple search engines for context. Nothing will anger a searcher more than content that isn’t relevant.
2. Get creative: This is the fun part! I do this second because it makes it easier to focus my attention. With a keyword in mind, I can think about my personal take on the topic.
3. Write a draft: You have to get over your fears and write the darn thing. There is a lot of great information about how to overcome writers block. Here are my tips.
4. Refine and edit: I call this step “unthink editing.” This is when I look for keyword stuffing and other digital writing faux pas. They say it is best to keep your writing at the eighth grade level.
5. Grab a picture: Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest all use rich media. You should have at least one featured in any piece. Apply the rule of thirds to ensure you pick a stunning image.
6. Add other media: Not every article will have video, audio or other media. I tend to embed everything near the end of my process. This is because embedding involves code, which can screw up the format of your post. So embed media last in case something goes wrong.
7. Add external and internal links: I save this for the end of the writing process because things can change during rewrites. Do this last to reduce the workload. Measure twice, cut once.
8. Check for attribution: Before you publish a post, double-check that you have proper attribution. Make sure you properly reference every external link to give due credit. Let people know you are building upon other works.
9. Preview: It is very worthwhile to preview your finished work as it will appear to your audience. Read it aloud to help you catch grammatical errors. If things look good, you can move on to the next step.
10. Publish or schedule: I schedule my posts to go live at 3 a.m. so they arrive in RSS readers early in the morning—about 6 a.m. EST. This is about the time people go through their morning routines before work.
11. Syndicate: Publish to Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and other appropriate networks. Think of this step as content discovery, not an alert. Your loyal readers already subscribe to your feed; these updates will reach new eyes. I maximize these status updates with BufferApp, and only send them out when I have the greatest potential reach.
12. Follow up: Following up is crucial because people will remember it. Respond to comments and any shares you find. Sometimes when I talk about a person or product in a post, I notify them via email. I consider this a courtesy since we don’t always know who is talking about us online. Make it easy for your subjects to find you, but don’t expect a reply.
When you begin to examine your writing process, you will see just how much work it is. We don’t always give ourselves credit because so much of the process is invisible to readers. Be proud of what you do and honor that hard work.
Tell me about your process. How does it differ from mine?
Susan Silver is a contract copywriter. A version of this article originally appeared on 12 Most.