When I first made the decision to start a lettering blog in 2016, I thought it would be easy. Writing comes pretty natural to me. I just pick a topic every week, write about it, and click publish. Simple!
Boy, was I wrong. Blogging is hard.
I knew I would hit some bumps in the beginning. However, here I am a year out still dealing with some of the struggles.
“There’s a million blogs out there… how could I possibly have anything different to day?”
These words will echo in the back of your mind and if you let them, they can prevent you from starting in the first place.
But the truth is no one can say things like you do. You have the ability to offer a different perspective than literally every single person on earth. 99% of people consume. You have the opportunity to be the 1% of people who create.
I firmly believe content creation to be key part of growing your audience, so this week I want to take you behind the scenes of the process I use to successfully publish regularly.
Blogging Starts Before You Write
Sitting down to write without a plan is the worst thing you can do. You’ll spin your wheels endlessly. What you end up with will simply not be as good as it could have been if you had approached it methodically.
Having a list of topics is a must. Show up regularly and write on a topic you’ve already thought through. And if you can schedule those topics with an editorial calendar, your content creation becomes automatic.
Spend a day each month coming up with topics. For each one of these topics, write a couple of bullet points. And when the time comes to actually write the post, these bullets can be used as an outline.
Finding the Right Topics
If you have a lettering blog, you need to blog about topics that lettering artists can relate to.
What do you know that someone else who is not yet at your level might not? These are things you should be writing about.
There are countless aspects of lettering. Tools, resources, working with clients, process, documenting work, different styles, etc. These are all categories you can create topics around.
Start with creating a topic mind map. Draw a line from the center to each one of these categories and brainstorm potential topics within that category.
You might be able to sit down and immediately think of 100 topics. However, chances are some ideas are going to randomly come to mind when you’re doing other things. Be sure to write all of your ideas down so you have always have a list to draw from.
Validating a Topic
Listening to your audience should be your first priority. If you can address their struggles and teach them what they want to know, they’ll become loyal consumers of your content.
Reach out to one of your followers right now and ask them what they’re struggling with.
If you don’t have an audience yet, seek out someone who does. Look at their their posts and see what kind of questions their audience members are asking.
For example, I follow several brush lettering artists. Every time they post, someone asks what kind of brush pen they’re using. This prompted me to do an extensive post about brush pens. This is quickly becoming one of my more popular posts.
If you publish content with the answers people need, they will find you. When you are developing a topic, ask yourself what someone who clicks on your post is hoping to walk away with. Then deliver that value.
The Writing Process
Writing is much easier when you have a topic! Sitting down without having to do any guesswork allows you to dive right in.
However, it’s important to write with a strategy. If you picked a topic from your editorial calendar that already has some bullet points outlined, getting started is much easier. You should already know what the takeaway of your post is going to be, so make sure the writing is a linear path to that end point.
Write. Then Edit.
Don’t edit as you write. Let me say this again.
Don’t edit as you write.
Give yourself the permission to say things imperfectly. I cannot underscore how much faster your post will come to life if you don’t edit until after you’ve finished writing.
The important part is getting all of your thoughts out. Once you’ve done this, you can go back through your post to fix typos, polish your grammar, and restructure your sentences.
Think of the writing phase as a sketch. You’re laying the structure and foundation of your piece before you’re putting ink to the paper. You’re not going to be able to write the perfect post in one pass.
After you finish writing and have done an initial edit, it’s time to put the finishing layer of polish on it. Here’s how to do so:
- Read the post out loud and fix any unnatural sounding language.
- Do a search for the word “that” and see if you can nix it. Interestingly, this word can be removed in the majority of contexts.
- Do a search for the words “very” and “a lot”. Replace them with something less lazy or remove them altogether.
- Look for opportunities to add images.
- Create the featured image.
- Create a title people will search for and/or click on.
Optimize for Skim-ability.
People skim. There simply isn’t enough time or interest in reading every single word. Therefore, it’s best to break things up visually so people still get the message when they breeze through your post.
Keep your sentences as short as possible. Use simple language.
Break up big blocks of text into individual thoughts.
Be sure to make use of headlines, utilize block quotes, and add emphasis to a thought with bolded words.
If you publish regularly (and you should), the most stressful part of blogging is when you’re behind schedule. Scrambling last minute to get something published isn’t fun — and your quality will suffer. Make sure you have a content buffer to allow yourself some flexibility.
Certain weeks are busier than others. If you have some extra wiggle room one week, try to write an extra blog post or two to expand your buffer.
Schedule your buffer. Most website platforms allow you to input a post and schedule it to be published on a certain day or time.
I schedule out 2-4 weeks at a time. If I was to die right now, you’d still get new posts for the next 3 weeks.
The Rewards of a Lettering Blog…
… can be abysmal. Don’t let this get you down.
If you didn’t receive any feedback on your recent post, rejoice in the fact you were able to publish evergreen content. Your target persona didn’t find it today, but they might find in it in a year from now when they finally discover you.
Don’t get too caught up in your site analytics. However, pay attention to what content resonates most and create complimentary content.
Finally, don’t be afraid to ask your audience members what they want to see more of. If you’re developing content based on their needs instead of your own presumptuous whims, you’re going to have an audience of people hungry for your content.