How to Start Writing Awesome Blog Posts?

writing-cycleWriting is fun! Writing blog posts is even more fun! Why? Because it challenges you to really grasp the topic you’re writing about. The feedback and conversations you have regarding the articles are even more valuable. They are a great starting point for a conversation and can result in some nice opportunities, insights and lessons learned.

Most people I speak are also interested to start writing, but the same reasons are often stopping them:

  • I don’t know what to write about
  • I don’t have time to write
  • I don’t know how to write engaging articles
  • I don’t know how to create a clear structure

Writing a blog post doesn’t have to be a dreadful struggle. Most of my blog posts take 2 – 4 hours to write. Sometimes I need to do some research, but this only influences the lead-time, not the actual time to write. Nowadays I write at least one blog post every week. This used to be one blog post per quarter…

So what did I chance? What made it possible to increase my writing frequency?

Well, I simply stopped using the mentioned excuses… In this blog posts I’ll share some of my lessons learned, hopefully they will be valuable for you as well.

I Don’t Know What to Write About

This is a problem I’ve never had. From the moment I decided to start writing blog posts the ideas kept coming. Basically anything can result in a blog post:

  • Problems I solve at customers.
  • Articles I stumble upon during my quest to learn.
  • Books that inspire me.
  • Lessons learned, insights, reflections.
  • Models, frameworks, methodologies.
  • Sessions I facilitate at customers.

Most of the articles I write are based on other peoples articles, books, video’s. I read something, consider it interesting, give it some time for reflection and than share the idea combined with my own experiences and insights. What worked well for me (in the beginning) was keeping a list of all the possible topics to write about. I simply gathered all the ideas I had and used this as my writing backlog. Recently I deleted this backlog because it contained more than 60 ideas. This resulted in some inconvenient tension… but it might help you getting started.

I Don’t Have Time to Write

Yes, I recognise this problem. I decided to give writing blog posts top priority and make a habit out of it. The advice I can give you is:

  • Explore at what time the writer in you flourishes. For me this is early in the morning. Somehow at 5 or 6 AM my mind is clear of any distracting thoughts and I’m able to concentrate myself fully on writing.
  • Fit writing into your schedule. My policy is not to have any meetings/appointments before 9 AM. I want to spend the first hour of every day with some writing. This rhythm ensured writing became a habit.
  • Create a schedule. Nowadays writing is part of my system, therefore the need for a clear schedule has become less necessary. But in the beginning I used the same writing schedule every week. On Sunday I decided what to write about, on Monday I created the draft version, until Friday I refined the article which resulted in the final version. And on Saturday I studied the article once more and published it in the afternoon.
  • Give it priority. It will only become a habit when you do it regularly. Every day I can think of multiple reasons not to write, sometimes very valid reasons. But still I try not to give in easily. Once you’ve managed to create a habit, not writing will feel uncomfortable and you’ll fight distractions even stronger.

I Don’t Know How to Write Engaging Articles

The easy answer is just start writing, publish your articles, ask feedback and try to improve the next article. What helped me was:

  • Read engaging articles. Study these articles, why are these articles engaging to you? What can you learn from the style of writing?
  • Study some books about writing. Books I found very helpful were ‘Steal Like an Artist‘, ‘Write Blog Posts Readers Love‘, ‘How to Write Seductive Web Copy‘.
  • It’s a blog post, not a book. Keep it simple. Keep it short, 500 – 1000 words might be more than enough. Writing a short blog post with a clear message is far more powerful than 10 comprehensive pages with a fuzzy message.
  • Only write what you are passionate about. The earlier mentioned ‘writing backlog’ didn’t work for me because I felt the pressure to write about the oldest ideas. But these weren’t the articles I felt most passionate about at that moment. My best articles are the ones that I wrote the same week I thought of them.

I Don’t Know How to Create a Clear Structure

Giving a blog post a clear structure is important for two reasons:

  1. It helps you by writing the blog post
  2. It ensures the readability of the blog post

Without a clear structure you won’t deliver the message to your reader but you’ll leave them behind frustrated and puzzled.

What helped me was using the ‘Minto Pyramid Principle‘, also known as the SCQA technique. Almost all my blog posts are based on this technique and it really helped tremendously.

The Minto Pyramid Principle

  • Situation. Where are we now? “For a long time we have been…”
  • Complexity. “Recently the situation has changed…”
  • Question. “So what should we do?”
  • Answer. “We need to…”

If you read any of my previous articles you’ll see most of them have this kind of structure.

Wrap Up

My intention was to only share the Minto Pyramid Principle but it resulted in a more comprehensive post… If you have the urge to write but recognise the issues I’ve described earlier, I hope this articles provides you with some tips & tricks. If you want to know more, feel free to contact me!

Write on!