Regardless of whether you’re an online business owner or solo entrepreneur, one of the best ways of building your personal brand — as well as a rapport with your audience — is to post regular, fresh blog content on your site.
It sounds easy enough to pencil into your day, but when you get down to the actual task, you find it difficult to break that initial barrier and get something, anything, down on the page.
And that’s if you get round to creating a document; many online entrepreneurs struggle to find the time to write their posts. Especially if you want to write a substantial 2,000 word post — which is increasingly becoming the chosen article length of choice for bloggers online for search ranking reasons.
That’s a lot of words to get down, and that’s even before you’ve started looking for the appropriate images to illustrate your points or optimize your post for search.
Below, we’ve come up with some top tips on how to write a blog post when you only have two hours to spare.
Do your research and prep (in advance)
Collate useful information or resources in one place that you are going to use to help you write your post. This could be stats, images, or quotes to back up what you’re saying. You can store and organize these in a note-taking tool like Evernote.
If you want to include any external links in your post to add more value to the reader’s experience, make sure that you stick to trustworthy, well-written sources. Including a few relevant internal links to your site’s other pages or posts (or your products if you’re an ecommerce store owner) will also help to optimize your website internal link structure — though make sure you don’t cram in too many and upset Google.
Write down blog post ideas when inspiration strikes — and if you can, try to brainstorm a month’s worth of topics (or longer, if possible!). It’ll make it much easier when it comes to actually writing a blog post, as you’ll have plenty of ideas to get started on/choose between.
Coming up with fresh blog post ideas can be tricky for people at both ends of the writing spectrum: if you’re a completely new writer, you might not be sure which route is best to go down with new posts. And if you’re a seasoned pro with a 100 posts under your belt, you can be left wondering what there is remaining for you to cover. Remember, there is always something to write about.
Plan out your post
Develop an outline for your post. It’s what we did when we were writing this post, and it’s a huge time-saver. Not to mention that it will make for better reading — your readers want a structured argument or post, rather than just your ramblings on an arbitrary subject.
When it comes to the main body of the post, try to split your article into sections, under subheadings. This will provide you with structure and direction when writing, and will also make your post easier to read. Remember, you’re not writing a novel — you’re writing for the internet, and you need to grab your online reader’s attention quickly with relevant, useful subheadings and digestible information.
Subheadings should be able to give your reader a clear outline of what your article will be covering by summing up what each section contains. In addition, this will also help your post to rank better, if you include the appropriate keywords for your topic.
Write with the end in mind
Take the time to figure out which direction you want your post to go in. What do you want to start with in your introduction? What is your end goal — the point (preferably actionable) that you want your readers to take away from your post?
You may find out as you do more research on a topic that your end point will change by the time your post is finished, and this is alright too — as long as you clean up your article to match this conclusion.
Writing with an end in mind and a clear idea of where you are going with your post will helping you to channel and refine your thoughts more effectively when you are writing. This will allow you to write faster, meaning you’re more likely to fit your post into your designated two hours.
For example, you might be writing a blog post about some useful podcasts you’ve been listening to recently — a perfect piece of curated content to help you build up social credibility and relationships. Tagging people in social promotion and even emailing the podcast owners to let them know about the feature will be just as important as the actual blog post itself, so you want to be strict with yourself when it comes to timeboxing the creation process. Use a tool like Email Hunter or ContactOut to help you track down the correct people to email and spend just as much time promoting as you do writing!
On the other hand, you might be writing a seasonal product recommendation post that’s going to be featured on your online store blog. This time, the blog post will need to make the most of relevant keywords, customer data, and internal linking in order to maximize ROI. it makes sense to spend more time on planning the content and creating the right visuals in order to display your products in the best possible light. Make the most of your online store’s blogging platform, and don’t forget the need for speed. A tool like W3 cache can help you ensure that you have a fast-loading ecommerce website, no matter how many images or videos you include.
Be snappy with your imagery
If you’re a busy business owner, you probably don’t have time to endlessly scroll through Pexels trying to find the best photo of an office worker smiling down at their laptop.
Stock image sites are great to use, particularly if you’re on a budget and can’t afford to high professional photographers or graphic designers to create sparkling images for you. As long as you use high-quality sites and veer away from tacky, cliched photos, there’s no shame in decorating a blog post with these. The trick is to limit your time hunting for images. After all, how are you going to stick to a two-hour blog post window otherwise?
Restrict your time looking for imagery to five minutes — and if you want create some jazzier images using a graphic design platform like Canva, you can dedicate a bit more time and effort to the cause (although try to stick to sub-30 minutes).
If you’re really stuck, cheat
We don’t mean plagiarize — this is absolutely not okay, and you will probably get called out.
What we mean is to take inspiration from existing posts. This could be your own content on your website, or it could be something written by a thought leader or competitor in your niche.
Online content doesn’t always have to be mind-blowingly revolutionary and unique — although of course, it’s great if it is. It’s fine to cover an existing topic (especially if it’s worked well for a competitor), but put your own spin on it.
You can also reuse and recycle previous blog posts that you’ve written. If you found a topic that really struck a chord with your audience, why not revisit that topic in a new post? You can expand oh what you’ve previously written, or go more in-depth with a particular facet. Chances are that you have since gained new readers that haven’t even read the original — and your long-term readers will appreciate a deepdive on an interesting topic.
Following these tips will help you to fit writing a blog post into just two hours. It may seem daunting at first, but it will soon become habit — and one that saves you time and money!
Finally, remember the finishing touches: don’t forget to proofread (preferably the next day with a clearer head), use free online tools like the Hemingway App to check for readability, and complete with a strong, compelling title that will reel the reader in.
There are a range of different strategies you can use to promote your blog and drive traffic towards your site; make sure your hard work doesn’t go to waste because of a lack of promotion. Use a combination — such as social media, email list and outreach — to shout about your new content and attract new prospects to your site.
Patrick Foster is a writer and ecommerce expert from Ecommerce Tips — an industry-leading ecommerce blog offers practical marketing advice for entrepreneurs and online store owners. Check out the latest news on Twitter @myecommercetips.