Our Viral Blog Post Formula

Blogging template

Many of you have asked advice about how to write blog posts in the past year.

So we’ve decided to help you. We’re sharing the checklist we use when we are creating blog posts. It’s a secret formula of sorts. If one of the elements was missing, the post just wouldn’t be up to par.

Everything you see in this post is standard operating procedure for us and is taken from an internal document.

This post will help you go from a blank page to tweeting about your latest blog post.

It is important to note that this post assumes a few things:

  1. You have a blog
  2. You have a list of blog post ideas
  3. You have an editorial calendar
  4. You’ve researched the validity of those ideas for SEO purposes

Once those four things are in place, the rest is good to go. Happy blogging!

1. Look up available topics to get you started.

Look at your list of ideas. Choose one you haven’t used yet. Step 1: done!

2. Don’t put people to sleep.

Your blog post title needs to have the internet appeal of Ryan Gosling or kittens. Make sure that it’s punchy, relevant, and keyword rich. It helps to make it clickable. Running in through the American Marketing Institute’s Headline Optimizer is also a great idea.

And by great idea, I mean BEST EVER.

3. Outline your blog post.

Some people start with the title, others with the body of the work. The important thing here is to get the basics done.

  • Where are you going?
  • What are the questions you are answering?
  • What are the subtitles going to be?
  • Why is it important to your readers?
  • How are you going to sell the post in exchange for 5 minutes of their life?

 4. Write one draft at a time.

You probably won’t write a perfect blog post all at once. Good ideas take time to form and there are some words that only come after staring at an idea for days.

For some people, the first draft is where they add the basic ideas. The second draft is where they flesh it out. Do whatever works for you.

Remember that when you write for the internet, short + sweet = successful. Get the full idea out there, but don’t expect people to scroll down the page for five years to read it.

5. Add pretty pictures.

Go through a photo repository (123rf.com or BigStockPhoto.com) and find a photo that encapsulates the essence of your post. It needs to be eye-catching. It doesn’t need to feature people, but it does need to make you want to click through and read the rest of the article.

Try to have a second photo since Facebook does not always grab the featured image. If your post is long, break it up with multiple photos.

6. Think meta…meta data.

Make it easy for your readers and search engines to find your posts. Make sure you put the meta data (or a custom message) in the excerpt box, otherwise the beginning of the blog post will be pulled up.

Don’t forget the other small details that spell out success:

  • Use at least two tags that have been used in other posts so related posts can easily be pulled up.
  • Make sure that the post is attributed to the correct author.
  • Assign the post to the appropriate category.

7. Don’t forget SEO!

How well optimized is your post? Is it easy to read? Does it match the rest of the content on your site?

Run it through Scribe SEO. You need to make sure your post gets at least a passing grade (although A’s are better!). As you grow as a writer, you’ll learn to write with SEO in mind. Using Scribe will help you.

Tweetables –

  • Learn our secret blog post formula. – Click to tweet.
  • Author Media is showing authors how to write a fail-proof blog post. – Click to tweet.
  • Editors are amazing. Don’t forget to run your next blog post by one. – Click to tweet.
  • AuthorMedia gave 14 steps to a great blog post. Do you use any of them? – Click to tweet.
  • Dang. I’m going to try this! // Author Media’s Secret Blog Post Formula. – Click to tweet.

8. Schedule the darn thing.

Make sure you schedule the post on a free day. Consult your editorial calendar before scheduling so you don’t double-book. This is a very important step.

Do. Not. Skip. This. Step.

 9.  Go Back and Create Tweetables

The permalink will have changed once you have scheduled it, so schedule the post before creating the tweetables. Use this new permalink when you create your tweetables.

Note: If you’ve killed off your blog dates, you can create tweetables before you schedule the post. The permalink structure will not be changing.

You will want to use ClickToTweet.com, hashtags, and a dash of creativity. You can also use www.bitly.com to keep everything 140 characters or less. Bitly allows us to track the number of clicks the link gets on Twitter.

Tweetable Guidelines:

  • Start each tweet with “RT @YourHandle” in the tweet (not the post) or end with “via @YourHandle”

  • Make sure every Tweet has a bit.ly link back to the post. The goals is traffic and not just tweets.

  • If room permits, add an appropriate hashtag

Example in action:

On the blog: 

“Writing is hard work, but that is what makes it worth it.” – Click to Tweet!

On Twitter:

RT @AuthorMedia #Writing is hard work, but that is what makes it worth it. http://bit.ly/Y7xTft #WritingTip #WritersLife

Notice how the Twitter version has been “twitterified.” If the reader doesn’t want to use the hashtags or use different ones, that is fine. But they will be more likely to use them if we do the hard thinking for them.

Here’s a tutorial.

10. Let someone else edit.

Never publish a post without getting a second set of eyes on it first.

You’ll miss things 99.99% of the time. Instead, get someone else to take a second look at your post for you.

It always helps.

Have you ever regretted running something by an editor? Probably not. But you’ve probably regretted not running something by an editor. Send it to them.

11. Broken hyperlink = broken hearts.

Broken hyperlinks are bad. It may take you a few minutes, but it’s worth it to make sure that each hyperlink works and opens in a new window.

Remember, you want people to stay on your site.

It’s also important to test the tweetables.

We’ve skipped this step once or twice and always regretted it.

12. Publish the piece.

This is the magic moment you’ve been waiting for. Once it’s up, rejoice!

 13. Spread via Social Media.

Hit all the social media buttons – Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Pinterest, whatever. This gets the social count started. Now start automating your posts for the rest of the day. This should take 5-15 minutes. Have fun.

Also make sure to tweet each of the tweetables throughout the day without the “RT @YourHandle” at the beginning.

 14. Join the conversation.

Check back on your post throughout the day. As people comment, write back! Interact with them. They want to have a conversation!

That’s what we use here at Author Media.

What about you? What’s your formula for creating a great blog post?