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How to Plan Your Blog Post from Start to Finish

Posted By Ali Luke 4th of October 2017 Writing Content 0 Comments

Plan your blog postsThis is a post by ProBlogger expert Ali Luke

Do you plan your blog posts? Or do you dive straight into the writing?

A lot of bloggers barely plan their posts (if they plan them at all). They’re either too eager to get started, or feel rushed and see planning as a waste of time.

But taking just five minutes to plan your posts can make a huge difference to your blogging.

Here’s why.

Five Great Reasons to Plan Your Posts Before You Start Writing

#1: More Planning = Less Editing

By spending five minutes planning, you can often save yourself 15 or 30 minutes of editing. If it’s clear at the planning stage that a post isn’t quite going to work, you can easily change it before you start writing, which will save a lot of time and effort.

#2: A Good Plan Makes it Easier to Write

While some bloggers feel that planning kills their spontaneity, I find a plan liberating. It’s much easier to write when you’re not trying to keep everything in your head and constantly worrying you’ll forget the next three points you want to make.

#3: Well-Planned Posts are More Engaging for Your Readers

If your post wanders off the point and doesn’t deliver on what you promised in the headline or introduction, readers will understandably get fed up. They may not finish reading it. And they certainly won’t be eagerly subscribing to your blog for more.

#4: Planning Can Help You Come Up with More Ideas

The process of writing down your ideas and getting them into a structure can often spark off new ideas. Some may help you deepen the post you’re planning, while others may give you the seed for a whole new post. If you find it hard to come up with new post ideas, plan more.

#5: You May Have to Plan if You’re Working With an Editor

Chances are that at some point in your blogging career you’ll have to write a plan. If you pitch a guest post or a freelance piece, you’ll often be asked for an outline. If you’ve never planned your own posts, writing a plan for someone else to read may feel very daunting. So get some practice in now.

Before I run through how to create a plan for your next blog post, let’s take a quick look at what a plan might actually look like.

The Plan for One of My ProBlogger Posts

Initial idea: “Should You Stop Taking Comments on Your Blog?”

I’ve been blogging for so long my ideas often take the form of potential titles, as this one did. In the end the title became “Should You Disable Comments on Your Blog?” (which is far more succinct), but it was good enough for the planning phase.

The Plan

This is the brief version of my plan for the post:

Introduction – why close comments?

Prominent bloggers who removed comments – Steve Pavlina, Seth Godin, Copyblogger (brought them back), Michael Hyatt (brought them back).

Carol Tice (Make a Living Writing) – always answered comments but clearly not sustainable.

Deciding what to do about comments

Close them or not? Link to Charlie Gilkey’s post

Other options:

– Anti-spam plugin

– Close comments on old posts

– Use Disqus / FB comments

Conclusion – comments are valuable but you don’t NEED to have them on your blog

Now this is a very bare-bones plan. This might be enough for some bloggers, but I tend to flesh out each section with a few more notes before I start writing. (I’ll be recommending it as part of your own planning system in a moment.)

You may also have noticed that my plan has “Introduction” at the start and “Conclusion” at the end. Every plan I write includes these sections, and making sure I have those in place helps to give my posts a solid structure.

Using a Standard Template for Your Blog Posts

At its most basic, a good blog post template looks like this:

  • Introduction
  • Main body
  • Conclusion

If you want, you can use that template for your posts. However, some bloggers like to go further and create a more detailed template to make their blogging easier. A great example is Michael Hyatt’s blog post template, which he details in Anatomy of an Effective Blog Post.

You may want to develop your own template, or even a template with variations for different types of post, to help you create plans quickly and easily.

How to Plan Your Next Blog Post

Of course, this isn’t the only way to plan a blog post. But hopefully  it’s a useful starting point for you. Once you’ve tried it out, you can tweak and adapt it to suit your workflow.

Step #1: Write Down Your Topic or Idea

Write  down the idea/topic for your blog post. Turn it into a working title, which often helps pin down the format of the post. For  instance, “7 Ways to…” is clearly going to be a list post.

Step #2: Create a Mindmap

On paper, or using an app, create a mindmap for your post. Write your title (or a short version of it) in the centre of the page, then jot down your key points around it. You may find that you start coming up with more details – perhaps an idea relating to one of these points, or a link to include. Write those down too. If your mindmap starts getting unclear, circle or highlight your key points in a different colour.

Step #3: Type an Outline

Type your key points into an outline, with any sub-points or extra details beneath each point, as in this example (from my plan for the post you’re currently reading):

Using a Standard Template for Your Blog Posts

– Introduction, main body, conclusion
– Michael Hyatt’s template

How to Plan Your Next Blog Post

– Write down your topic or idea
– Create a mindmap
– Type an outline

At the start of your outline, add “Introduction”. And at the end, add “Conclusion”. Even if you don’t include any further details, it will remind you to write those sections.

Write down the topic, and come up with a working title to help you pin down the format.

Step #4 (optional): Flesh Out Your Outline

For a very short post, or one where you know the material well, you may want to omit this step. But again, I believe that every minute you spend planning will save you several minutes of editing.

Go through your outline, and write a few notes for each key point. What will that section of your post cover? Are there any resources (yours or other people’s) that you want to mention and link to?

Now, it’s finally time to write. Hopefully you’ll find drafting your post easy, as you’ve got the whole structure laid out for you. And at a glance you can see where you’re up to and how far you’ve got to go, which can help you pace your post appropriately.

For your next blog post, challenge yourself to spend at least five minutes planning and see what a difference it makes. 

And feel free to share your plans with us in the comments.

About Ali Luke
Ali Luke blogs about the art, craft and business of writing at Aliventures. She has two free ebooks on blogging, Ten Powerful Ways to Make Your Blog Posts Stronger and Ten Easy Ways to Attract Readers to Your Blog … And Keep Them There. To get your copies of those, just sign up for her weekly e-newsletter (also free!) here.
  • Planning my blog post or article is an automatic for me – I have a white board hanging in my office that I use for the purpose – every time something strikes me that I want to include I jot it on the white board like a shopping list of things I don’t want to forget once I get to the actual first draft. Once it’s in the draft I erase the board and start a new list of the order I want to mention those items – it’s ongoing but I find the white board the most useful for this purpose rather than paper. :)

    • What a great way to keep all your ideas easily visible (and editable). I like it! :-)

  • PBJ

    Very detailed article!! This can be such a challenge, especially for new bloggers without a solid posting schedule.

    • Indeed its very difficult for new comers in the blogging field without any plan.

    • Thanks! There’s so much to get to grips with when you’re a new blogger — I hope this helps at least a few people get their heads around planning. :-)

  • Hi Ali,

    Super advice here.

    By planning my posts and building an outline for writing the posts everything flows smoothly. Meaning, the time I take to write and publish the post is quite minimal. Quick process for me. At least these days.

    Back in the day though I had no such success, or, no way could I write and publish a helpful post fast. I was so in a hurry that I neglected the planning necessary to set everything up effectively.

    So much comes down to choosing a title that solves your reader’s specific problems then instantly creating an outline that fleshes out the promise made in the title.

    Example: 10 Tips for Driving Blog Traffic….easy one, because the outline has 10 points, plus a few other points for a lead in and maybe a wrap up asking readers for their thoughts.

    If you pick a different title “Should You Make Income Claims on Your Blog?” (yes my latest blog post) you can build an outline based on those core concepts of whether or not you should take that route.

    Same deal; think of a handful of bullet points,and flesh out from there.

    Thanks for the helpful post Ali.

    Ryan

    • Saf Tutorials

      very nice

    • Thanks, Ryan! I completely agree with you about titles — a good title almost does the planning for you!

  • Hello Ali,

    crafting a informative post is really a daunting task for newbies. You have to research about the topics and have to cover every aspect of it. These tips are so helpful to crafting a good blog post. Thanks for sharing this beautiful post.

    Have a great day :)
    Vishwajeet

    • Thanks! Really glad it was helpful. :-)

  • Sharp Blogger

    Hi Ali,

    Nice advice to plan a blog post.

    Before start to write my post, I just write the headline of the post at the top of my draft. I then think about the introduction of the post and write some point in my draft.

    Then I think about the main body of the post and write some points which come to mind at that moment.

    At last, I just write a short conclusion based on how I want to conclude the post.

    This is the planning phase of my post writing.

    After planing phase, I just start writing the post.

    Once I start to write the post, I come up with many great points to add to the post.

    • Thanks! That sounds like a great way to kickstart your posts. I sometimes find that points come to me as I’m writing, too — though I do have to be careful that they’re a good fit for the post (I’ve ended up splitting some posts into two parts before now, if they’ve ended up being massive).

  • Hi Ali,

    I always plan my content in advance. As a matter of fact, I’ve been fortunate enough to get ahead on my content creation written a month in advance. This makes it easy for me to keep providing fresh content on my blog.

    I don’t personally write outlines for my blog post. However, these tips look like it might help me blog writing improve.

    Thanks for sharing these tips, I have no doubt that they will help bloggers improve their writing.

    Have a great day :)

    Susan

    • Oh my goodness, Susan, I wish I was as organised as you! It’s brilliant that you’re working well ahead so you can keep up the stream of content. :-) I hope you find outlining useful, if you do give it a go.

  • I often plan posts while walking into town to use the computer…and then end up posting something else, or nothing at all, because it’s the clients’ call.

    • That must be a bit frustrating. With most of my clients, I send them a list of ideas first (sometimes with a VERY brief plan for each idea, just a few words normally) and they tell me which ones they want me to write — that way I don’t waste my time planning posts that aren’t going to get written.

  • Hi Luke,
    It is an excellent post. When I was a newbie I use ti suffer while making post and think a lot about the finishing and the ending.
    But thanks to you for sharing such an amazing post.
    keep up the good work.

    • Glad to help, thanks Robin. :-)

  • Thats for the super article. I dont plan but i just type what ever i feel at the time and then revisit it over a few days…okay weeks….okay sometimes months lol

    • That can be a great way to get your fingers moving on the keyboard! If you want to get blog posts written more quickly, though, then you might find planning is the key. :-)

      • Yes it is – but i have about 6/8 articles that i have not finished. But i did get approached by someone and they said they enjoyed the article. So am chuffed about that.

  • Lucas Smith

    Hi Ali,
    Thank you for this awesome tip. I’ll try this next time.
    Previously, the way I write is basically a “write now-edit later” process. I would just let every idea flow and write them. Editing comes later. It helps me take down all the ideas I want to include in the article before I completely forget about them. Sound messy right? lol
    Really appreciate this, cheers!
    Lucas

    • That’s certainly one way to do it…! I’d be interested to hear if you find it easier to get the ideas down first — you might find mindmapping / brainstorming is a good fit for you.

  • Stitching Mall

    I liked mind mapping idea:) Thanx

  • Hi, Ali!

    Great post.

    I don’t sit down to write the blog post titles. In fact, I used to do that almost four years ago.

    What happens now is that I keep it simple, meaning, I let the ideas come naturally. For instance, the other day, I was writing a client’s blog post, and after finishing off a sentence, I realized that I could write a whole blog post on that.

    I follow my instincts and don’t look at the keyword softwares for perfect keywords in the titles. If I feel that a blog post on this topic could reduce the readers’ pain, I try to come up with a blog post.

    Although, your suggestions are fantastic.

  • saurabh

    nice article with good detailing very helpful

  • volrum services

    blogging can be a pain for beginners this article is so helpful for every one not just a new blogger but for the experienced one too thanx Ali Luke

  • it very detailed good blog nice to read