Blogging can be really exciting, but also overwhelming. I often find myself in the trap of dreaming up tons of ideas, but falling short in executing them because I’m never sure what I need to do next. There are a lot of steps to make a successful blog entry, and it’s easy to get so caught up in the next steps that you stop moving forward.
I created a workflow for blogging that helps keep me on track, and improves consistency, writing tactics and better promotion strategies. Below is my high-level blogging workflow to help you publish your blog content and drive traffic to your site. I also included some of the (free) tools that I use to help me develop my blog content.
There is a lot of information that is NOT covered in this post. If you are interested in any of the topics below, I would recommend a deep dive into the topic to fully understand the intricacies! Just make sure the content you are reading is current, as practices from 2-3 years ago are probably already outdated.
Determine Your Blog Article Content
This step requires you to have a published, functioning blog and clear goals. The first step is the idea – what will the article be about? How does it fit into your goals? Are there any special considerations for the article, like videos, specific photos and/or affiliate links you need to secure? How much research will you need to complete? Are you posting a time sensitive article that needs to be published by a certain date?
For me, article creation has a long lead-time. I need to determine a project, purchase the materials, complete the project, and *try* to remember to take photos as I make the item (I’m really bad at that part!). This requires me to take mental notes on tips/tricks or sticky parts of the project so I can call them out in my article, and setting up stylized photo shoots along the way.
Taking photos is a whole other subject, but a few tips include:
- Consider using stock photography. It’s not appropriate for every topic, but it could save you a lot of time. For example, this article used some great, free stock photography that would have taken me hours to execute at home.
- If you do take your own photos and use your smartphone, wipe off the camera lens! This is easy to forget, but even a speck of dust on your camera lens can ruin your whole shoot.
- Take multiple photos to make sure you have plenty of options. Take the photos in several orientations and set-ups. If you decide to change your blog layout later, this will save you some headache. For example, my blog template now uses square images, but if I change to a horizontal layout, I’ll have to retrace my steps and retake all of the photos. By taking horizontal, vertical and square photos now, I’m prepping for potential future changes.
- Try and be consistent. I try to photograph the majority of my projects on a white background to show off the project and to keep the visuals of my site simple and consistent. A lot of my photos were from projects I completed before I started blogging, so I know this is an area where I have a lot of room for improvement!
- Don’t worry if you don’t have a fancy lightroom setup. I received a small lightbox and work lights for Christmas one year, and when set up properly, it makes a great backdrop. For messy photos, I use two pieces of $.50 posterboard from the dollar store so I don’t have to worry about messing anything up. For different backgrounds textures and prints, I’ve used everything from tea towels to marble printed vinyl.
To date, I’ve been writing about my projects as they’ve been completed, but that means I’m missing out on potential traffic. For example, I plan to post about this year’s Halloween DIY costume, but it’s already October. Using Google Trends, I can see traffic for DIY Halloween Costumes started in SEPTEMBER. Yikes! Google Trends is a really awesome tool if you want to tap into any topic that is time-sensitive (holidays, elections, events, etc.), or if you want to pick up traffic for topics that are trending today.
Organize Your Photos for Optimal Blog Use
You might be wondering what I’m talking about with this one. One of the areas that I find myself spending the most time, and completing the workflow tasks the most inefficiently and sporadically, is organizing photos.
When I launched my blog, I was so excited, and just wrote a TON of content. I posted photos, and about two weeks in, realized I had gotten ahead of myself. I had to START OVER. It was time-consuming, tedious and really slowed down my energy. I wouldn’t recommend it.
The first mistake I made was not organizing the photos on my hard drive. This meant when I started over, I had to find the photos again. Now, I organize my blog photos using the same structure as my blog. For example, the photos utilized in this post are in a folder called Blog->Photos->Blogging->Workflow for Bloggers. Simple, right?
The second mistake was not changing the filename of the photos. For SEO purposes, the photos should have the same name, or a variation of the same name, as your blog post. My photos for this post are named WorkflowforBlogging(1), WorkflowforBlogging(2), etc. Changing the filenames before you upload the images to your site will save you a lot of time.
The third mistake was not decreasing the file size of my images. Most people will wait seven seconds or less for a page to load before they leave your site. The more images, and the more high-resolution images, used on your site, the longer it will take to load. Google’s PageSpeed Insights is a tool that crawls your site and provides feedback on optimizations, including photo size.
Write Your Article
The next step in your blog content workflow is to start the actual article! I like to type directly into WordPress, but bloggers use a variety of programs, including programs that focus on grammar and spelling. Make sure to link to other articles on your site, your social media or other sites (opening in a new tab) you work with to help readers find more content.
It’s a great idea to research related SEO keywords before you start your article so that you can make sure you are incorporating them into your content. There are many resources available for keywords, but I like LSIGraph‘s tools. This is not a free service, but they do offer a limited-time free trial.
A note on writing: try to be consistent. Yes, the “c” word is back. I’m a big fan of consistency.
Remember when I mentioned I wrote a ton of content, and then started over? A HUGE part of my problem was photos, but another issue was my lack of consistency. For example, some posts listed the items used to make a project as “MATERIALS” or “Materials”, some listed the items as “Supplies” and some listed the items as “WHAT YOU WILL NEED.” Some of material lists used bullets, and others did not. Some had images that were square and left aligned and some had images that were rectangular and centered. My titles were sometimes Heading 4 and sometimes Header 2. Although all of these differences seem minor, I was lacking consistency in my branding. Items that you are repeating again and again throughout your content should have some consistency to help build your brand. Branding is another big topic that I’m not covering in any real detail, but is incredibly important to growing your blog!
Upload Your Photos
Back to the photos! Your next step is to upload them to your site. So far, you’ve saved the photos in a place that is easy to find, changed the file names to be SEO friendly and compressed the file size to increase your site speed. Once they are uploaded, make sure to fill out the ALT TEXT and DESCRIPTION fields for each photo. This is time consuming, but can make a difference for SEO. A great description of why and how to use ALT TEXT is here. Image descriptions also pull through for Google image searches, so make sure you don’t skip this step!
Prepare Your Photos for Promotional Use
We are still talking about photos. Depending on what types of social media or other promotion outlets you use, you might need to edit your photos some more. I utilize Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest for my site promotion, which means I need to create specialized images for both Pinterest and Instagram. I use Canva for this process, but there are a variety of other free and paid sites available.
When creating images for Pinterest, I try to create multiple options. Utilizing 3-5 different designs or different photos with 2 headline variations each will quickly help you create 6-10 (or more) pins for each article! I don’t find this step as important for Instagram. Once you’ve created all of your art, make sure to save it in the filepath we’ve already discussed.
You should also consider uploading all these pins as hidden images on your blog. This way, if someone tries to pin the blog, the proper images automatically appear. To hide the pins, use this code before the image in your HTML code (note – add before/after the bold text) div style=”display: none;” and this code after (note – add before/after the bled text) /div.
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention consistency; consistently (see what I did there?). Promotional images and materials should follow your branding. One easy way to jump-start your branding is to create a Brand Style Guide.
Brand Style Guides help you, and the partners you work with, to utilize your brand within your vision. It includes information such as your logo and any logo variations, brand primary and secondary colors, fonts and verbiage associated with the brand. I found that having a Brand Style Guide made it easier for me to work with my photos as I could easily find the hex codes for my brand colors, the font name I prefer and quick reference guides for social media image sizing. If you work with influences, ambassadors or other brands, providing them with your Brand Style Guide is a great way to help ensure your brand is represented consistently and within your vision.
Promote Your Article
You’ve written SEO optimized content, organized and optimized your photos and published your blog! Whew. You’re still not done.
Now it’s time to promote your article. Each niche is different and the promotion tactics should vary based on those differences. I’m not going to go into any detail on this subject, but just know, there’s more work to come.
If you are just getting started with blogging, this workflow will help you keep focused to publish your blog posts. What about if you’ve already written some articles, and want to implement these practices?
There are a few options. Depending on how much content you’ve already published, and how strongly you feel about making the changes, you could revise all of your previously posted blog posts. Going back and changing all of my content was almost as time consuming as writing it in the first place, but I felt strongly that I needed to correct (most) of my mistakes. If you don’t feel strongly, you could always start better practices with your next post. You’re always going to learn new tactics, and it’s important that you don’t bog yourself down trying to implement ALL OF THEM and stop publishing your content.
What Do You Think?
How do you like my workflow for blogging? I’d love to hear your feedback – what I missed, what I should consider or what you were surprised to learn!