If you are one of those who keep staring at your desktop and flipping through the tabs for hours, even days, wondering how to write your next blog post, you are not alone! The web is full of tips and advice for bloggers like you on how to write smashing posts that will go viral, bringing you zillions of hits and thousands of dollars in your account.
If you are not an expert blogger who blogs for a living, on your own expertise, have tried out all of the advice and still wonder how some people like Andrew Sullivan consistently post pieces the rest of the world go gaga about, this may be for you.
The truth is, writing a good and interesting post is not all that difficult, if you don't worry too much about it.
Chances are you may be already doing most of the work as a matter of routine.
Unlike all those numbered instructions and steps from the tipsters and experts, which sound like a chore and a pain in the butt you would rather put off, writing good blog posts can be real fun. You may think this is a The Onion post, but it isn't.
The trick is to keep constructing your article or blog post as you keep spending your time browsing. Unless you are an expert on something you blog about, that is when you really get the seeds of your post.
You are likely to spend most of your browsing time on topics, events, people, objects, places and sites of interest to you, on things closer to your heart or something you are passionate about. You may even be a practitioner or dream to achieve great things in whatever that may be. So there you are, you already have the most important ingredient for a great post -- your own emotional involvement and commitment!
No doubt, you get hooked on to the screen when you feel very strongly about something, most probably something just happening and catching big headlines. You may be subjected to a strong positive emotion, like joy, like when your favorite team won a game or negative one like in the aftermath of a tragic event. You want to shout out and get it out of your chest. Your headline!
Now is the time to open your favorite word processor, unless it is already open, and just type in what you wanted to get out of your chest and save the document. You see, your blog post is nearly ready because all gurus on blogging will tell you that the headline is the most important part of your post.
If you are really perturbed by the subject matter, you are likely to persist and read more either immediately or over a period of a few days and follow up on the event to satisfy your own information crunch and driven by your own emotion. You may even save an article or picture or video for a future look if you don't have time. Actually you are unknowingly preparing great content for your blog post.
All you have to do is to keep adding all that on the document you have saved, under the headline you just typed in. The best thing is to copy and paste the URLs from the address bar under your headline so that you can reopen the page at a later time with all its content. It will be a good idea to copy any vital quotes, opinions or tweets that you agree with or that upset you, as you continue to read so you don't have to go all over again.
Of course you can keep adding on bits and pieces you feel like blurting out from time to time to all those stuff you are adding while browsing. Very soon, you will see you have already a great part of it your post.
If you are someone who likes to dig deeper, you are likely to do some search as you go along. Those might exactly be the stuff anyone who reads your articles may be searching for. So you have also your keywords for your SEO. Just keep adding all those links to the bottom of your post.
So you see, you now have not only the skeleton but also some body for a emotionally driven, compelling content you want to share with your readers. The best thing to do now is put it away and forget it till you are ready to spend that one hour adding more and refining what you have to say, annotating and referencing with the links you have collected and embellishing with the quotes and tweets you have copied.
Now that you have your post in front of you, it is time to apply all those check lists the experts have recommended, to refine and fine tune your article. Almost certainly you will find that your post already takes care of most of them and "improving" further might destroy the natural flow and readability of your content.
If you are looking to get your post published elsewhere, chances are your post will be accepted by any sensible editor, as it will have great content supported by relevant references as well as interesting and current information everyone is talking about.
If you are aiming to get your post go viral, a check with the following checklist and guidelines of Carson Ward from SEOMOZ, detailed in his brilliant article can help.
A viral checklist
Two months from now it's going to be easy to sit down and create content in the same habits we always have. Not all content needs to be viral, but when that's the goal, make sure that you accomplish all of the following.
Did you sufficiently cover the topic? Is it long enough? (24)
Does the content inspire a high-energy emotion like awe (16), anger(18), or anxiety (18)?
Did your tone convey emotion? (12)
Is it practically useful? (16)
Is it interesting? (14)
Is it surprising? (8)
Does the author have fame/credibility? (8)
If it's supposed to be funny, is it actually funny? Are you sure your friends aren't just being nice? (∞)
You can't always have all of these factors, so I've added a maximum score in parenthesis to help prioritize those factors that research has shown to be most important to sharing. If you rate your content at or near 100, it's likely that it has a far greater chance of going viral.
You will be surprised to see that the post you just put together has a lot of the essential ingredients listed above as it will have an emotionally charged Headline with relevant key words and content which your readers will find interesting.
What you need to remember is that you can always go back to the post and fine tune it in most cases even after you post it, before it goes live. But what is important is that you are able to write your post without putting it off and carrying an unpleasant burden of an undone job.
As an example of putting all these in practice, you can check out this post which started as a bit of scrap like the picture of the draft above and the post published by HuffPost.