How to Create a Killer Blog Post in 4 hours flat! (The 9 Step Formula)

If you want to create killer content that’s going to be shared like crazy, this article is one you won’t want to miss!

Creating a killer blog post isn’t an easy task. There’s lots of moving parts involved in writing one. Let me show you my formula for creating high quality blog posts. You can follow this to guarantee the success of your content.

I’ll break each step down to make it easier for you to see and understand how I craft my posts.

Let’s get started, shall we?

Step 1. Topic (Meaningful Brainstorming)

Before you can write anything, you must brainstorm some ideas that you would like to write about.

This step takes only a few minutes at most. (There are times when I am brainstorming that I can come up with multiple ideas that give me many topics to write about in the future.)

Starting with a topic that you would like to blog about is the first step.

It’s also the easiest step in this process.

For example, this post is about “The Process of Creating a Blog Post.” The idea (and content) will later be refined, but the first step is to get an idea for a topic that you would like to write about.

brainstorming-img

After you have some topic ideas going through your mind, think of what’s your overall goal for this post (which will help you later in the process of creation). I ask myself these questions:

  • Why am I writing this?
  • What am I trying to achieve?

Everything you create in your business should be aligned with a bigger purpose.

Some blog posts I create are thousands of words (sometimes 10,000 or more) and I want them to have a purpose and a goal. You should do the same when you create your own posts (or anything else, for that matter).

Always have a bigger goal in mind!

An example of a goal for a post can be a lot of page views because it talks about a product you’re promoting. Your post can also be of a YouTube video you want to promote to drive up the video plays.

The point is to first find a topic and then have a goal for the content you’re creating.

When you know its purpose, it makes the process of creating it so much faster and more meaningful.

Step 2. Research (Knowledge is Power!)
The research step involves a few things.

I like to spend some time on research, so I can share the science and some hard facts and data in the post. The next step is performing keyword search to make sure it gets found online.

So to be clear there’s two underlying steps in the research step:

  1. The actual research,
  2. And the keyword research.

People love research-backed, scientific, data-oriented articles with very specific, actionable takeaways and advice that they can use in their life and business.

Anyone can create a post about their own point of view on something.

But …

… when you create posts that are scientific and data-oriented, it becomes much more powerful for the reader.

You should always have the reader in mind.

When you put the reader first, it’s crucial that you spend as much time as possible to come up with the research, science, and data to share in your posts.

You can use this post as an example. It has many links that gives my readers more information. Helpful and related links can really take your content to a whole new level.

I’ve included tools, data, and real research within this post that backs all my claims.

Listen … there are times when we want to write about subjects that we’re not an expert in. What do we do then? Don’t write?

That’s where the research and discovery process comes into play.

Research and discovery is almost as important as the writing of the blog post.

Anyone can write, but it’s not going to be very useful if all you are writing is opinion and not backed with real data and real research that can take the reader to the next level.

When you’re writing, you need to show, not tell, the reader.

Real good content doesn’t trick the reader into thinking that it is good content. It doesn’t have to do any tricking, because it’s actually good writing.

It is how all writing should be created; however, the truth is that most writing isn’t created equal.

Make your words and posts shine with VALUE! ?

Show how your post matters by telling the reader about real world examples. Explain how they can apply what you’re writing in real world situations, how it adds value to people’s lives with data-backed research, and show them how it has changed lives.

Here are things to ask yourself when you’re in the research phase:

  1. What can this post do for my audience that no one else is doing?
  2. Why does it matter?
  3. How can I make it better?
  4. What research or data can I include to back my claims?

In other words, how can you make your post better than anything else out there?

Writing a post takes time, effort, and resources.

If your ultimate goal isn’t to create the most amazing blog post you can muster up …

… then why are you creating it in the first place?

Research … and find the details that will make your words and story come alive.

Create a bigger overall strategy for every post you create. The key to writing is making your words come to life by adding emotion, data, and making it compelling with storytelling.

knowledge-img

A killer post can only happen when you know your stuff, and research plays a huge part in that. Knowledge is power and you should show them that; don’t just merely tell the reader.

Fishing for keywords for better understanding and discoverability.

Step two of the research is finding the right keywords to create your post around. Keywords are words or phrases that people type in a search bar.

keywords-img

Performing keyword research is where you look for information on a topic to create your post around so that you have a better chance of more people finding your post through search engines like Google.

Keyword research gives you the monthly search volume of each word or phrase. It also gives you factors on the decision about which form of keywords to use within your content. It might sound confusing, but trust me, this stuff is easy.

By performing keyword research, you can determine your market’s keyword demand. You can also learn which terms and phrases to target with SEO or Search Engine Optimization (I’ll cover SEO later in this post).

With keyword research, you also learn more about your customers as a whole.

Keyword research in a nutshell:

  1. Create a comprehensive list of words that are relevant to your post idea. This is where you use your intuition. All you can do before you jump into a keyword tool is come up with some things you think someone would search for. Then plug those terms into your keyword tool and discover what people really search for.
  2. Expand your keyword list. Use Keyword discovery tools (along with tools like Wordtracker and BuzzSumo) to expand the seed keyword list and to understand relative search volumes of all your keywords, their competition, and value.
  3. Trim down your keyword list. Once you find the best keyword opportunities, prioritize your keywords and choose the most important ones that you will be targeting within your post.
  4. Once you have prioritized your keywords, categorize them into segments specific to your goals and post ideas.

All of this knowledge about keyword demand and keyword ideas can start to come together when you perform keyword research. Like I said, this stuff isn’t rocket science.

Keyword research is about going out and finding keywords that people search for that have good search volume but low competition.

keywords-traffic-comp

The higher the search and the lower the competition, the better off you are on adding the keywords into your post. Try not to spend too much time on performing keyword research, though.

10-15 minutes should do just fine.

I can write about keyword research for days and days, so if you don’t know much about keyword research, here are three articles I highly recommend you check out on the subject:

Wordstream: Ultimate Guide to Keyword Competition
Viperchill: Ultimate Guide to Keyword Competition
Guide to Keyword Research: Guide to Keyword Research

Here are some tools you can use to find keywords and popular content:

Google keyword planner (Helps you find keyword ideas and how they may perform)
LongTail Pro (An easy way to find long tail keywords)
BuzzSumo (Find the most shared content and key influencers online)
Wordtracker (Reveal high-performing keywords in minutes)

At the end of the day, it’s best to get your hands dirty and perform keyword research before you start any of the steps below.

It’s not only going to help people find your content, it’s also going to give your site a better overall strategy for getting more visitors and voicing exactly what people are looking for when they use search engines to find relevant content.

Search engines have many factors for ranking a site, and keyword research is just one of them. However, this post isn’t about ranking your site. It’s about writing killer blog posts.

Keyword research is vital so spend time on it when you’re creating posts, whether for SEO or content creation. Remember to spend only 10-15 minutes performing keyword research, though.

You would want to spend most of your time in the research phase (research, science, and data to share within the post), not the keyword phase.

Step 3. Outline (Creating a Loose Flow)

I like to outline my posts because it makes the writing step go faster.

After I come up with my ideas, research, data, and insights on the topic at hand, I can jot down the flow of the post. Now this loose flow isn’t something that’s set in stone.

It’s more or less a guideline that I have jotted down so that I can start writing it with meaningful words and content. This outline can be moved around and parts might get pushed out when I move onto the editing phase.

outline-img

Here are some benefits of outlining your projects when writing:

  • You reduce the amount of work you’ll need during the writing process.
  • You give yourself a chance to spot potential roadblocks.
  • You can save yourself some frustration because you can move from one part of the outline to another and then back again.
  • You will get your creative juices flowing by having an outline of topics to start with.
  • You get the chance to connect the dots (your ideas) through your outline.

No one (that I know of) writes from start to finish the best laid-out blog post, book, or any other piece of content. If any details or ideas pop into your head, write them down and add them into the outline so that you don’t forget them later.

Pro Tip: Throughout the process of creating a killer blog post, you will have other ideas about other topics that may come into your head, so always have a place to write them down. When your creative juices start flowing, you will be flooded with ideas and topics that are sometimes not going to work with the post you’re working on at that moment. Don’t just ignore those ideas; write them down somewhere so you have them to pull from in the future.

Don’t over think the outline too much. Just outline your ideas about the post; don’t worry about writing in complete sentences, even keywords and key-phrases will do. The outline should only take up 10 minutes, tops.

After all, it is just getting ideas out of your head, and the meat of the post onto your computer (or paper).

Here are some things you can throw into the outline:

  • Possible headlines.
  • Problems it solves or addresses.
  • Important aspects of the content.
  • Post points.
  • Stories that may fit with it.
  • Inspiration.
  • Image ideas.
  • Data and research that may back up the claims of the post.

You can also jot down in your outline the key message(s) you want to communicate with your readers. There are no real hard or fast rules when you’re in the outline stage.

I am the type of person who writes a thousand times better when I outline stuff. So, the more I jot down my ideas and notes, the easier it gets for me to write later on.

Sometimes, I will write down as much as possible because there are times when I come back to the post days later and the more info I have outlined, the better off I will be later when I come back to write.

You can also jot down the post conclusion or call to action in the outline step as well. Outlining is indeed an amazing way to hammer through the writing phase (which is next).

Step 4. Write (Embrace the Ugly First Draft)

The best advice I can give to you as a content creator is to love the struggle.

Ann Handley wrote in her book (Everybody Writes): “Writing is a habit, not an art.”

I couldn’t agree more with Ann. It’s not easy to write. It’s not easy to force yourself to write, either.

At times it seems we have to force ourselves to write, but once we’re in the act of writing, our creative side starts to take over. It’s easy to get ideas for topics and it’s also pretty straightforward to get in research, the outline, brainstorming, and structure for our posts.

However, after that stuff is out of the way, we need to turn off distractions and get down to work because writing is where our full attention needs to be (which is where we want it to be).

Create a place and time where you can sit down and write.

desk-img

Write, write, and write some more. Close your Facebook, turn off your TV, go to a place where you can be distraction-free.

Once you start writing, don’t stop. Ignore grammatical errors; you can edit it later. The first draft doesn’t have to be perfect with the best grammar and punctuation.

You just need to write.

Once you start going, ideas and words will just pour out of you and become sentences; sentences will become paragraphs, and in no time at all, you will have your word count stacking up.

Now I must say this before I go any further: don’t write crap just to have a high word count! Write meaningful stuff because there’s enough crap out there.

Also, in the next step, we will be trimming your words down to make things shine. No one likes reading an article of ten thousand words full of fluff.

At the end of the day, your job as a writer is to create meaningful articles that your audience will like and share. It is not to have as your word count as high possible.

Like I said there’s enough crap out there so don’t add to the crap. Not that you know not to write crap let’s move on …

When I am in the writing mode, I will get ideas to perhaps place an image here or there and I will insert “[Pic]” to remind me where I should stick an image (I also make the color red and I bold it to further remind me).

Like this: [Pic]

Often, I will also leave a note of the type of image to be inserted so I will place something like this “[Pic insert screen shot of cat meme]”.

When I am writing and I get images in my mind, I will jot down the idea I had for the image I would like to insert.

Since I am a very visual type of person, a simple note to myself will trigger my memory of the image I had in mind.

And once I get to the images part (step 6), I will be able to create the images fast by leaving a little note to myself.

Some other things I like to do when I’m writing:
1) Write the most important words at the beginning of each sentence.

There’s nothing to like about sentences that begin with a boring choice of words. For example, look at the following sentence:

We drove over 1,000 miles and we were only feet from the finish line when our tire suddenly popped.

Did you like it? How about if we rewrite it this way?

Suddenly, our tire popped, only feet from the finish line and after driving 1,000 miles.

Do you see how much more bang the second sentence has compared to the other one? The tire popping is the most important part and it’s better to have it in the sentences first words rather than the last words.

Think of sentences as like fireworks. Fireworks go BOOM first and then slowly fade away and end. When you approach writing this way, it’s going to be much more enjoyable for the reader.

2) Hook ‘em and loop ‘em! When browsing online, most readers have an attention span of a 2-year-old.

That’s why you have to hook ‘em in and add in some open and nested loops. It’s the secret to building suspense, drama, tension, and owning the full attention of a reader.

Let me explain.

Hooks and loops are a classic in TV shows and soap operas. At times, it seems like when an episode ends you’re going to die because you need to know what the hell is going to happen next.

Shows like the following are really great at hooking the audience in:

Lost
24
The Sopranos
Supernatural
Heroes
Fringe
Keeping Up with the Kardashians
Mad Men
E! News
Kourtney and Khloe Take Miami
Persons Unknown
Day Break
Falling Skies
Alcatraz
Homeland
Touch
Game of Thrones
Spartacus
True Blood
Nikita
Suits
White Collar
Scandal
The Strain
Breaking Bad (I watched all seasons in only days!)
House of Cards
The Walking Dead
Believe
The Fall
Revenge

… and the list goes on and on.

The first season of “Lost” had me on the edge of my seat, then I hated the other seasons. And the ending! What the hell?

I FREAKING LOVE “Breaking Bad.” I watched all the seasons in just 2 days! The above shows have great loops and hooks none the less.

Open and nested loops are classic storytelling techniques. The open and nested loops technique is a writing trick where you open a story in beginning of your copy, but only close it the very end with a satisfactory ending.

You can even tell readers to subscribe to something to figure out what you mentioned or even a bonus that will make the outcome 10x more satisfactory.

For example, you can start out an amazing post about some topic that tells the reader to read all the way to the end because it will give them the secret sauce.

Once they get to the end, you give them what you promised. The reader will leave feeling satisfied. No one created anything that tells you everything within the first paragraphs.

They stretch it out. Introduce hooks and loops. Sometimes in writing, you can have an open loop and never close it which will make the reader go mad and scramble to stay tuned till next time.

For example:

Here’s my biggest secret that made me 1 million last month …

… TO BE CONTINUED ?

Hooks and loops are the king in keeping attention!

Pro Tip: Hooks and loops don’t just work well for blog posts, they work well in emails, videos, social messages, and any other form of content, too. Use them strategically and you will get raving fans!

3) Keep paragraph length short, just 3-4 lines, maximum. However, you can have just one-line paragraphs because white space is good! What you DON’T want to do is have huge paragraphs.

Long paragraphs are hard for readers to read. Not to mention it makes your post look like corporate jargon at a glance.

long-paragraphs-img

No one likes reading corporate CRAP! Have lots of white space.

Like this.

And …

… this.

White space is your friend. Use it.

4) I add little reminders to myself in my post to come back and add more (e.g., stats or more specific details). I place this “[Talk about x, y, and z]” whenever I want to come back or when I’ve left something out.

Sometimes I get on a writing frenzy!

When this happens, I sometimes skip over things and I will just insert notes to remind me to go back to them later. The notes and reminders are for parts that are not relevant to what I am flowing with creativity at that moment.

For example, I can be writing about something and BOOM! I just start writing like a madman.

When this happens, I will insert those little notes and reminders. That way, I can keep writing without turning off the creative energy that’s flowing in me at that moment.

5) Make writing a habit because even the best writers don’t create a masterpiece every time they sit down to write. What good writers do is show up. Simple as that.

Just show up and write. Who would have thought, right?

Step 5. Make it Shine (Edit, Revise, and Proofread)

This is one of the most important parts of your writing process.

After you outline, write, and create your post, there can be a lot of fluff. That’s okay because you should always put your ideas and thoughts first.

The editing stage is where it’s going to make your work shine. ?

In the process of editing and proofreading your post, you should do the following:

  • Make the first paragraph have an amazing hook.
  • Input anything that’s missing (e.g., stats, source attribution, links, etc…).
  • Add in relevant links to past articles throughout the blog post where appropriate.
  • Trim down super long sections and delete parts that don’t add value to the post.
  • Move around sections for better flow and readability.
  • Add in formatting (bold, italics, block-quote, indent, bullet lists, numbered lists, and underline).
  • Set up the heading (H2, H3, etc…).
  • Add in a conclusion or call to action.

After you’ve gone through all of the above, send it off to a professional copy editor.

Why?

Because it’s always nice to have a second pair of eyes on your content before you hit the publish button. Not to mention it will give you peace of mind.

After the editor goes through the blog post, you can perform a final proof review to make sure everything is ready. If you don’t have an editor, I would recommend you check out UpWork as you can find some amazing editors in no time at all.

You can download the template that I use for finding a Copyeditor Editor.

The day I brought an editor onboard is the day I will never forget. If you’ve never made the leap to having one, I highly recommend you give it a shot.

You will thank me later. 😉

Step 6. Images (Show the Data, Story, and Humor)

If you’re in the business of creating content, do write, but also show it. If you want to show data, research, or humor, don’t just write it, create an image to display it as well.

funny-meme-img

Everyone learns and consumes information differently. Images get consumed not only faster, but much more when compared to just text.

This is true not only for blog posts. Look at social networks. The most shared and viewed content are pictures.

social-sharing-img

Insert pictures when it’s relevant and always try to use pictures for social updates as you can clearly see they get the most shares across the board.

Here are some handy websites and tools I use to create my images for posts:

Adobe Photoshop, the best solution for creating any kind of image.
Canva, a great place for miscellaneous graphics and Pinterest-sized photos.
Skitch, a very useful tool for annotated screenshots.
Pablo, a place where you can create images for your social media posts.
Compressor.io, for compressing large images into smaller file sizes.
Small PDF, a place for you to compress stuff.
IconFinder and The Noun Project, for icons.
UnSplash, and Death to the Stock Photo, for free images (there are tons of other great sites that offer free images aside from these two).
Shutterstock, a premium stock site filled with millions of images, vectors, and graphics.

Images play a huge part in the overall success of creating a killer blog post. Use the right ones and your post will shine.

Step 7. SEO (Free Traffic)

This step is related to the keyword research step, but this step can’t happen unless you’ve done your keyword research first. If you haven’t done any keyword research first, you’d only be guessing at best with SEO.

The last thing you should do is try to fake your content for search engines and SEO efforts. Just look at these two examples:

sample-seo-keywords

You can clearly see that the one on the left is not too easy on the eyes. It is trying to use a lot of keywords to try and boost its SEO power. That isn’t going to work.

To my knowledge, it’s been stated that the best keyword density should be from 2% to 5%.

To be honest though, the keyword density isn’t something you need to spend hours on. What you should focus on is creating content that people will like to read and share. Put people first, not search engines. ?

Where do you put your keywords for the best SEO ranking?

Besides the main content of your post, there are plenty of places where you can put your keywords to tell search engines like Google what your content is all about.

Those are your title, meta description, heading and subheading, alt tags for images, and so on. What about Meta keywords? Well, Meta keywords are no longer in Google’s web search ranking so you can skip those as they’re not important anymore.

Pro Tip: If you want to play the SEO game, hire a professional because it will save you time and frustration. SEO takes a lot of work and there are many moving parts involved (e.g., backlinks, content, images, keywords, niche selection, etc…). It also changes often so you want someone on top of it.

Settling on the right keywords is you telling Google that you matter. Google loves quality content more than ever.

For this site, I like to use the plugin known as Yoast SEO Plugin.

Whichever keywords you come up with, use them wisely within your content. Creating relevant content won’t ever be enough for search engines like Google.

For this site, I like to use the plugin known as Yoast SEO Plugin.

yoast-download-img

The Yoast plugin will help you with Yoastn your site, so I highly recommend you install it ASAP. It’s free.

With the Yoast plugin, you will enter your focus Keyword, Title, and meta description.

yoast-img

Within the article, make sure the content is focused on that keyword or phrase. I use Command+F (CTRL+F on a PC) to search how many times the keyword or phrase shows up in the main body of the post. If it’s not in there much, I will switch out things to make sure it’s sprinkled in there enough.

Remember, 2% to 5% keyword density is what you’re aiming for. You can also rewrite any keywords or phrases that are perhaps similar to aim for that 2% to 5% keyword density.

The next import aspect not only for SEO efforts but also for readability with your post headlines. Your post headlines are crucial!

Your best approach is to implement one of the following types:

  • The Surprise headline – “How I Lost 1 Million in Ten Minutes”
  • The How-to headline – “How to Live without Debt”
  • The Number headline – “10 Ways to Make a Million Next Month”
  • The Question headline – “Do you Know How to Make 10 Million by New Year’s Day?”
  • The Curiosity headline – “11 Steps to Lose Weight. Number 9 is Pure Gold!”
  • The Direct Benefit headline – “How You Can Turn your Love Life Around”
  • The Social Proof headline – “0 to 100,000 Twitter Followers in 90 days”
  • The Audience Referencing headline – “1 Million Subscribers Nets Millions”
  • The Story headline – “Born Broke, Now a Multi Billionaire!”
  • The Negative headline – “Stop Living the 9-5 Grind”
  • The Specificity headline – “The 9 Steps to Losing 30 Pounds in Half the Time”
  • The Facts, Figures, and Statistics headline – “101 Awesome Money Facts, Figures, and Statistics for 2015”
  • The Get-What-You-Want headline – “7 Ways to Make Twitter Earn you 10k Next Month”

The above headline types are my all-time favorites and the most popular among the internet.

They simply work. Period.

However, there are many other ways to craft an amazing headline. Some may work better than others for you.

Always test out ideas and different headlines within your content, social media, and everything in your content strategy.

Over at blog.bufferapp.com, they say that the Numbers + Adjective + Target Keyword + Rationale + Promise formula works best. Take your time to come up with an amazing headline. It’ll be worth it.

Here are some great tools you can use for your headline efforts:

CoSchedule – Headline Analyzer
WP Experiments – Title Experiments

All of the SEO should take up about 20 minutes of your time.

Step 8. Post (Transplant Time)

This is where all your hard work starts to come together. I like to write all of my projects in Scrivener and then once everything is compiled and ready to go, I start transplanting it over to WordPress.

I use a WordPress plugin known as Visual Composer (page builder for WordPress) in my site. If you remember, we’ve gone through our post and added some zazz.

Zazz is what you want, and the more of it, the better your content will be (by the way, I love the show “Metalocalypse”). ?

The only thing left to is transplant everything over from your editor to your site, making sure you style everything accordingly. Style the layout with bold, italics, block-quote, indent, bullet lists, numbered lists, and underline. (Zazz it up!)

Input the featured image, excerpt, date, and time. Also don’t forget to select the categories, tags, and create the URL (permalink) for your blog post (if you’re using WordPress).

Step 9. Promotion (Time to Tell the World!)

At this point, you should have everything scheduled and ready to go live. You’ve done it! Pat yourself on the back.

There’s one last thing you should start creating, and that’s the promotional material that’s going to go out to social networks and your newsletter. Look … at the end of the day you want as many eyes on your content as possible.

Promotion plays a huge part and what better way to do it than to use free sources? There’s Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, Pinterest, YouTube, Instagram, and all the others.

Social platforms are a great place to send off your worthy content to.

If you’ve done everything I have outlined in this post, you will kill it every time you sit down to work on your next blog post.

Every time I create a new post, I send it out to all my social platforms.

social-media-img

I also send out the new post to my email list the same day the post goes live on my site.

There you have it—my 9-step plan to creating a killer blog post:

  1. Topic (5 mins)
  2. Research (50 mins)
  3. Outline (10 mins)
  4. Write (1 hour)
  5. Edit (55 mins)
  6. Images (25 mins)
  7. SEO (20 mins)
  8. Post (5 mins)
  9. Promotion (10 mins)

Total time = 4 hours. ?

The best advice I can give to any writer or content creator is to write and read as much as you can.

Why?

Because writing/reading as often as you can makes you better as a writer. That’s a known fact. I try to write 1,000 words a day and I often read about ten books a month, if not more (I’m a book whore!).

Conclusion

There’s no easy way around creating killer posts.

Take the time and put forth some real effort towards your content creation and it will come back to you tenfold. Please share your thoughts below on what’s working for you with your content creation.

What’s your strategy? What do you like/hate most about creating content for the web? Let me know and I will talk to you soon.

Scott “knowledge is power” Hurtado