This is probably the one thing I get asked about all the time. How on earth do you write such long blog posts? And what’s your process for writing epic blog content? It must take you forever.
The thing is, as a journalist for 16 years, I had to pump out six to 10 stories a day. That also included the time to interview people.
So when I first stepped into the world of blogging back in 2009, it didn’t seem a big deal to start blogging every day as a mum blogger. I remember the mum blogging community I was part of being amazed I could churn out so much content. The content aimed to be entertaining – I liked writing with a slant of humour – educational and topical.
But one blog post a day compared to six newspaper articles a day? It was easy.
As I transitioned into a business owner, that daily blogging began to slide. It was hard to manage client obligations and fit in the time needed to write a blog post as well.
Because, if you’re a blogger, you’ll know it’s about more than simply the writing. There’s:
- SEO keyword research
- Headline writing
- Blog uploading
- Blog formatting to make it scannable
- Image creation
- Social media scheduling of the post
- Sharing the post in your newsletter
And the list goes on.
I ended up consistently writing on this blog once a week when it began.
But since then Google has changed.
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1. The importance of long content for blogs today
It’s not so much about how frequently you write blog posts anymore. There’s a lot of factors, including the length of those blog posts.
Although, I will add here, not all my posts are “mega” or “epic” long posts either. Not everyone wants to spend 5-10 minutes reading a blog post. But there is a way to make it readable for those whose eyes roll at the thought of reading 3000 words. More on that later.
The point is, I do understand the power of longer content, like the fact:
It’s more Google friendly
Google, right now, loves long content. If people end up spending more time on your piece of content, it’s a trigger to Google that the content must be valuable and should be ranked higher.
So I changed up the format of my blogging and moved to writing longer content when a good idea came to me. There’s now no pressure to have a blog post out a week. Or even a fortnight. Although, I do like the idea of at least getting something out once a month. I still want to have content I can share with my readers on a semi-regular basis.
The upside of all this “Google love” is that you generate more organic, automated traffic to your website (ie your online shopfront).
It gets shared more widely
Longer content is noticed by more people. If you take a look at blog posts like Top 3 Traffic-Building Strategies Built Beautifully for Automation and Scale, they have a lot of social media shares. One of the reasons is because of how much value is packed into that blog post
Sharing someone else’s great content makes us look good in front of our followers, hence why you need to make your content truly awesome so people are compelled to want to share it to make THEM look good.
And your content isn’t just noticed by your regular readers either. Because your content has so much value packed into it (well, it should anyway, otherwise cut it so it gets across your message and don’t write one word longer), that it gets on the radar of influencers, who will share it with their larger audiences and open some new doors for your business.
It positions you as an authority and thought leader
When people begin to rely on you for having the most valuable information on a given topic, your website traffic grows due to people seeking you out. Especially when something in your industry changes, people will seek to find out what you think about the topic.
It also puts you on the radar of other influencers who, you can bet, will want to find ways to connect with you on their platforms. Not to mention the media, who are always looking for expert talent to interview.
All this extra attention means not only more traffic, but your email list will grow and, ultimately, your sales will grow.
2. My process for writing long content
So how do I write these insanely long blog posts – and make them readable?
Firstly, I like to outline what it is I’m going to cover. Let’s take this blog post as an example.
What I want to get across is:
- The importance of long content to blogging today
- My process for writing long content
- The power of writing unedited
- How you can adopt this into your own marketing efforts
And there you have the outline for my blog.
Now, all I need to do is write 500 words for each of those topics and I’ve got a 2000-word blog post.
But let’s take it a step further.
If I look at No. 1 – The importance of long content to blogging today, I want to break that down into 3 points. Those points are:
- It’s more Google friendly
- It gets shared more widely
- It positions you as an authority and thought leader
Easy, right? You’ve read that already.
Now, let’s move onto No. 2. My process for writing long content. This is the part you’re reading now.
I’ve broken that down into 3 steps also (it doesn’t always have to be 3, by the way – that’s just the way this blog post is flowing!).
- How to create an overall framework
- How to break each of those steps into its own step
- How to write it
So, you’ll see I’ve mentioned No. 1 and No. 2 on my process for writing long content. Now, No. 3 is, how to write it, which is simply to jot down notes. They may not be full notes, but just get the ideas down while they’re flowing.
Now, at this stage, it’s going to depend on what sort of blog post you’re going to write.
If it’s a highly researched piece, with statistics, interviews and research material, you may want to collate that material before you start writing. You can then fill any holes you see with further research post the “free flow writing” stage.
If, however, it’s a topic you’re familiar with, then just start. As simple as that.
Often we overcomplicate things by trying to write on topics that require hours of research. And some experts may tell you to spend hours finding statistics and facts that haven’t been shared before.
But that sort of blog post isn’t achievable all the time.
The reality is, as far as your knowledge goes, you are a few steps ahead of your ideal client (the person you’re actually writing for). If you can tap into what you knew when you first started out in your niche or things you do regularly as part of your business that come easily to you but are a challenge for your ideal client, then that’s often the information they’re searching for. Start there!
As long as it’s valuable information, as long as you can bring your unique spin to it, and as long as you can back up any claims you make, your ideal client will want to read it. And likely quite a few others in your niche too!
3. The power of writing unedited
During my time as a journalist, I had many different types of editors. One was so laid back and without rules it used to frustrate me. Another was so ridiculously tough and gruff that it used to scare me.
Thankfully, there was one in there that was a happy medium.
During the tough and gruff editor’s time, he had us go through many training days. One was with a top Australian writer, where she put us through our paces. I recall tears from some of our most senior writers.
I remember going home after the weekend-long training feeling completely exhausted. But, interestingly, when I emerged at the computer on Monday morning, my writing had somehow improved. Like magic. Like I had to be completely broken down to have that spark fly out.
Anyway, I’ve got off topic…
The point I wanted to make was that during that weekend, she asked us what our writing process was. I was actually alarmed to learn I wrote vastly different to many others. While they would interview someone and then go back to the office and just pick quotes from their notes to piece together a story, I would type out every note I had in my notepad and then move the sentences around to make the story.
It was a far longer process.
It always ended up creating much longer copy that then required more editing.
But it was the way I wrote. It was the way my copy came out the absolute best.
The next editor in line realised this one day and challenged me to try the other way. I did. It was terrible copy. Well, I thought so, anyway.
What I want you to realise isWe all write differently. And that’s OK. But the real power is in writing unedited.Click To Tweet
Don’t try and edit your work as you write it or you’ll slow yourself down and lose all the good ideas. When you start writing and it’s coming, it will flow.
Even writing this post, I had an outline. Which I’ve already shared with you above.
But do you want to know what? As I started typing, things started coming to me. The words started jumping out of my fingers and I just went with it. There were typos galore and parts where I just put “xxxx” because I didn’t know how yet to finish the sentence or what my “point No. 3” was.
If I’d stuck to a rigid plan, I might not have got across some of the points I now have. I might not have told some of the stories that jumped out at me at the time.
So write without editing. You’ll write far more fluent, easy to read and more interesting copy.
The job of editing then comes once it’s complete. Your job is then to go through and really question what needs to come out. Often what you don’t say is far more powerful than what you do say.
I’m talking about word choice AND sentences AND whole paragraphs.
Let’s start with:
There are things in journalism called “wasted words”. These are words like “that” and “very”. Take them out the next time you catch them in your copy and see if your copy still makes sense. I bet you it does.
Then there are:
Sometimes we write a sentence to explain something further, when we really don’t need to. It’s like the person who tells the joke and then has to go on and explain why the joke is funny. It’s not necessary. So see where can you snip a sentence. Often, this will come higher up in your copy where you may have waffled on a bit to set up the scene. Get to the point. Readers don’t want to be bored to tears.
Then we have:
Do you really need to include that paragraph? Or could you actually take it out and use it to create its (I did have the word “very” here and cut it out. Ha!) own blog post. This is often what happens to me. One paragraph really warrants its own full post.
Or sometimes the paragraph really wasn’t necessary in the first place.
4. How can you implement this strategy in your blogging?
What I want you to do is go to your Google Calendar and mark a morning (that’s usually the best time for writing, you’ll find – although, we are all different). That time will be dedicated blogging time. When it’s in the calendar, the rule is that it can’t be moved. If someone wants to book something in at that time with you, you let them know that “sorry, I’m already booked then. How about…” and invite them to another day/time.
Commit to business blogging like you would working with a client.Commit to business blogging like you would working with a clientClick To Tweet
The next thing you want to do is actually have access to a swipe file of great ideas. These are ideas you’ve stumbled across that you know would make a great blog topic. If you don’t have a swipe file, go research questions your ideal client asks in and on:
- Facebook pages – your page and others’
- Facebook groups – your group and others’
- Facebook messages – see what people regularly ask you about
- Email inbox – similar to the above, but can also extend into newsletters from others as well
- Forums – not used as much in some niches anymore thanks to things like Facebook groups, but still worth seeing what questions people post
- Blog post comments – what questions are people leaving in your blog post comments
- Popular blog posts – what are your most popular blog posts and how can you expand on those topics with new posts
Here is how I collect some of these ideas:
I have a:
- Google folder with Google docs of part started ideas, notes or sentences that popped out at me and I had to write down
- Keywords file – something you’ll want to focus on is what keywords you want your blog posts to rank for. If you’re going to spend 1000-3000 words writing on a given topic, make sure it’s a topic that has a strong keyword you know you can rank for. That’s a whole other topic.
- Emails swipe file folder with the hint of an idea for a blog post. Other people’s newsletters can really inspire great content.
- Pinterest secret content board that has blog posts that have inspired an idea for my own blog post. I use this one a lot.
Take one of these ideas and begin the process.
Write out your framework. If you want to write a “Top 10 tips for writing great blog posts”, then you write that as your headline (you can work on a better blog post headline once you’re done) and write out a list of 10 tips. Just one sentence or thought for each. These are now your subheads. You have 10 things you can write about.
Now I want you to tackle No. 1 on that list. Write 200 words on that first tip.
Then move onto tip No. 2. Write another 200 words explaining that tip.
And so on until you reach No. 10.
Now you have 2000 words written.
How easy was that?
Go back through and edit so that it makes more sense, following the rules above. Look at where you may need to do additional research.
Another thing you’ll want to do is also look for opportunities where you can link to other blog posts you’ve written from within your blog.
Format your post with H2 (Header 2 in WordPress) and H3 (Header 3 in WordPress) so that your blog post is easy for the skim readers. Also look for opportunities where you can bold certain words to either bring attention to them, or highlight them for SEO keyword purposes.
Look at the images that need to be created, especially if you’re trying to illustrate a point that requires a more visual format. Think about the images being shared on different social media platforms, like Facebook to LinkedIn to Pinterest, and think about the shapes that will best suit those platforms. For example, Facebook’s are wide, where Pinterests are long.
5. The secret behind this blog post
Lastly, I want to share the real story behind this particular blog post. This post is nearly 2800 words. And I sat down to a Google doc in a bid to write 2-3 sentences as a prompt to come back and write this post later, because I was midway through reading an ebook at the time. The ebook was what inspired the topic (there’s another clue to finding inspiration).
But I started writing and it started flowing. So I didn’t stop.
That’s the true secret on how you get blog posts written quickly. Write when inspiration strikes. It’s inspired writing.
I’ve often spent hours trying to write something, only to have a small number of people read it. It’s so disheartening. But often, what I’ve found, is if I just write what feels right, what comes easy and what lights me up, often it’s written within 5-10 minutes (rather than days) and gets shared far and wide.
Here’s another blog post on what to do when you don’t have time for blogging.
If you’d like to learn how to Keep Up With Content Creation: How to create quality content quickly that’s highly engaging for the press, blog posts and social media, make sure to watch this free training while you can.
During this free training you’ll learn:
- How to spend less time creating quality content to achieve your email list and sales goals
- The key storytelling styles that cross multiple platforms – press, blogs and social – and leave followers craving more
- How I went from burnt out blogger and PR professional to now creating a consistent flow of highly shared content to attract my ideal client – but without exhaustion or overwhelm.