7. Creating and Publishing Articles
When you have everything in place, when the blog is all set up, and you can access your blog dashboard, it is time for creating and publishing articles. This is the moment when you start populating your blog with relevant content. Assuming that you already have setup pages such as about us, contact us, etc. which require a special type of content, this chapter will show you how to create and publish your first blog articles.
To illustrate certain points with screenshots, WordPress platform is used as an example, having in mind that it is the most commonly used blogging platform. Other self-hosted platforms have similar options within their interface, so this chapter would be helpful even if you do not plan on using WordPress for blogging.
Creating an article
First, you start with creating an article. Most bloggers use another app or platform for writing content. Popular choices are Word (offline), Google Docs (online), Apple Dictation (it converts spoken words into text), Bear writer (mobile-friendly writing app), BlankPage (tool to organize and track your writing progress), etc.
Alternatively, you can write an article directly in WordPress, and save it as a draft until it is ready for publishing. To do so, go to WordPress dashboard, look up option Posts in the menu on the left and click on Add New.
When creating content, think about these:
- Type of content – As you explore content types, find the one that is perfect for the topic you are going to deal with.
- Reader-friendliness – At the same time, you should make your article reader-friendly. Instead of a massive chunk of text, use paragraphs, bullets, highlights, visual elements, etc.
- Audience – Thinking about your audience and how they will consume this article helps you define your voice, choose the style and how detailed you want to be with topic analysis.
Writing a blog post
This step is all about turning your creativity and idea into an actual blog post. To help you efficiently organize your ideas, explore these blog post elements. Use the list as a sort of a template when creating a blog post to make sure you do not miss or lose focus when writing.
Some bloggers prefer to write the content and then settle on a topic, while others choose a title and use it as a guideline while writing. Still, there are those who start with one title, and as their writing takes them further, they decide to alter the initial title accordingly. Regardless the way you do it, it is essential that content you create really explains the topic of the article.
General blogging guidelines state that powerful titles:
- Have keywords
- Have numbers
- Have attractive adjectives
- Have call-to-action word
- Stir an emotional response (positive or negative)
Here are a couple of tools to help you with choosing a title:
Create an outline
Brainstorm the ideas regarding the blog topic you want to write about and create an outline you can follow. This outline will help you organize your ideas and make sure you cover all the aspects of the topic. The outline can sometimes consist of possible headings or core ideas that need to be covered in the article.
The outline also depends a lot on the type of content you are going to produce. For example, if you are creating a list, the outline can consist of the list items you will write about in the article. On the other hand, if you are creating a how-to article, the outline can include the course of actions you are going to discuss in order to explain the process of how something works.
The purpose of an introduction is to engage your audience. It should hint what they can find in the article and why they should continue reading. Offer a glimpse of the topic to spark interest. This section is also a part where the readers find out about your writing style, so make sure it is something they would love.
You can write the introduction at this point, but if you are having trouble putting down your ideas, you could leave the introduction for later. Perhaps when you write the rest of the article, you will have a better perspective on how to introduce this topic to the readers. Some of the popular tactics to engage the readers in the introductory section include:
- Presenting a problem (for which you have a solution in the article)
- Sharing a personal story (so your audience can relate to you)
- Expressing strong opinion (your audience might agree or disagree)
- Starting a story (they will have to read to find out how it ends)
- Shocking fact or statistic (one that is relevant to the article content)
- Set expectations (clarify what they can expect to discover in your article)
- Tell a joke (entertain your readers as you set up the casual/relatable tone of your article)
When writing content, you will use the outline you have already created. It will help you write in segments and make sure you cover each of them with relevant content. Use the language that is relatable to your audience. You want to connect with them with a writing style that is fun for them to read and yet provides truly relevant and useful information. Using shorter paragraphs is recommended as they enable readers to follow the content with more success.
You will probably start writing about something you know. Even so, researching a topic online can provide helpful ideas, ones that you might not have thought off. Also, knowing what is out there on the internet regarding the topic might give you an idea regarding what is missing.
Finally, your own perspective on the topic is what makes your content unique. It allows you to structure the topic and present it in a way that is going to be most helpful for your readers. Have in mind that although there is a lot of content online, a large percentage of that content is useless, outdated, incorrect, insufficient, unoriginal, etc. In one word, it is junk. Your content needs to provide value and uniqueness to appeal to your audience.
As you start structuring sentences and paragraphs, you will soon find a flow to transfer your ideas into text. Should you ever come to a stop and think about different (or better) way to express your thoughts, here are a couple of tools that can help you:
- OneLook Thesaurus – If you cannot remember a word, try this tool to describe the concept and see related words. It is a reverse dictionary, where you look up words based on definitions, instead of looking up actual words and their meaning.
- Power Thesaurus – When you notice you are using the same words over and over again, it is time to look up synonyms or related words. Use this tool to do so.
- Twinword Writer – In case you get stuck on a word, this tool will analyze the context to show suggestions or alternatives. You can use it as a writing app. It is even available as a WordPress plugin.
The conclusion should summarize the key points analyzed in the text. It should wrap up everything and provide your final thought on the topic. Here are a couple of suggestions when writing a blog post conclusion:
- Restate your main idea
- Provide a “next step” suggestion
- Encourage the readers to comment
- Include a call-to-action (subscribe to your blog, ask a question, click on the related article, convert into a lead, etc.)
- Keep it short
Proofreading and editing
Writing is the first step. Proofreading and editing are the next one. Some writers do proofreading and editing immediately. It is generally recommended to postpone this for later, as you will allow the impressions to settle, and your view of the article will be more clear. This might be difficult when you are writing on a short deadline, but this would be another reason why content planning and writing in advance should be your top priority.
Proofreading is an excellent opportunity to examine your article and check if you have stayed on track regarding the topic. After you get some rest, you might think of some other ideas to add into content or you might decide that some points are just irrelevant to the article.
To proofread and check your text regarding readability and errors, you can use these tools:
- Hemingway App – The app highlights lengthy sentences, complex constructions and common writing errors.
- Grammarly – This is an automated grammar checker that highlights grammar and spelling mistakes, and shows vocabulary enhancements, plagiarism check, etc.
- Ginger – Ginger is a software that corrects typical grammatical mists, punctuation, sentence structure and style.
Most bloggers proofread more than once. The first time, you could check if there are some significant aspects you would change. The next time, you can consider reader’s point of view, and whether the post is useful, engaging, etc. Of course, scouting for typos and grammar mistakes should be included in the proofreading as well.
Text editing comes after proofreading, and it helps you enhance the appearance of your article. The main goal is to make it more user-friendly.
These are the essential elements to include when editing:
- Highlight (or create) relevant headings
- Use bullets for lists or key points
- Make relevant text (words or phrases) bold or italic
- Keep paragraphs short and focused on a single idea
When editing the article, you should include the visual elements (if you have not done that so far). Visual elements can help you illustrate some crucial concepts and attract the attention of the users, which is why you should consider using them. Ideally, you will upload your visual content, but in case you share someone else’s work, crediting the author might be a requirement. Always make sure you have the permission to share content created by someone else to avoid copyright infringements.
Publishing the article
If you have used WordPress for writing, you are good to go. In case a writing app is your choice, simply go to WordPress dashboard, look up option Posts in the menu on the left and click on Add New. The first two fields you will fill in are Title and Text.
You will then add the text. Here you can see numerous options to format the text, add media, links, forms, etc. There is also an option to see the HTML of the article. The set of options you see here might defer depending on the platform and plugins you use, but essential features are always there.
Before you hit Publish button, there might be other fields you want to fill in. They are not all mandatory, but they offer very helpful options:
- Save draft – Use this option to save the article without publishing it.
- Preview – Use this option to check how an article will look like once published.
- Publish immediately or Edit – Here you will find a calendar allowing you to schedule the post to be published.
- Publicize – Use this feature to connect your social profiles and publish the article on connected profiles automatically.
- AMP – This option enables or disables accelerated mobile pages.
- Format – A couple of commonly used post formats are available to choose from.
- Categories – Sort your blog content by assigning a relevant category to each blog post.
- Tags – This is another option to sort your blog articles.
- Featured image – Use this widget to add a featured image to your blog post.
These publishing options are just the basic settings you will find. Plenty more exist which you can add with plugins and by enabling the right widgets in the blog settings. Use those options that are helpful and enhance the performance of your content.