We have a little saying in the CommonPlaces office: 'Does it pass the beer truck test?'
If you got hit by a beer truck on your way home, would someone be able to do your job tomorrow? Would the earth, or at least your company, wobble off its axis because you have made yourself utterly irreplaceable?
Granted, this isn't something most people think about, but perhaps you should. Chances are, you are a vital part of your company's success, and your daily tasks probably find you as the office expert on those particular matters. If someone had to replace you, could they? Have you left a checklist of what your job entails, and how you have mastered it? Periodically, this space will document the best practices my colleagues and I here at CommonPlaces suggest for our particular jobs. As Content Creator, let me begin with my suggested checklist for best practices in writing blogs.
1. Compose Editorial Calendar
Based on your buyer personas, establish an editorial calendar by which you can plan out your topics. Prepare in advance certain essential keywords which will appear in your blog. If you can, you may even find one article online with which to begin your research. Post the link to this article in the calendar.
With each topic on the editorial calendar, find no fewer than three sources that comprehensively cover the subject. Write a list of highpoints from each source, and then go to your favorite search engine to look up each of those points, searching for more corroborating material. Copy all material on one document, including the links to the original sources.
Now, assume a journalistic approach to the material that you've compiled. What stands out as the most interesting thing you've learned in the research? This is the focus of your blog. Note that the title of your blog may now differ from the title posted on the editorial calendar, due to the research that you've done.
4. Links and Keywords
Review your draft, inserting the keywords that you have decided are essential to this topic, and links (both internal and external) that enhance the text. Remember that your blog should have a fairly narrow focus to accommodate a 600 word essay, so links that can further illuminate your subject are very useful to the reader.
5. Bullet Points and Highlights
While easily overused, bullet points stop the eye when scanning a page. A small number of bullet points to highlight aspects of the topic are good for grabbing the attention of your reader. Also, you may now highlight your keywords, and long-tail keyword phrases.
Review your draft carefully, putting emphasis on examining the syntax, flow and voice. Basically, now is the time to clean it up, and ensure that the points that you made are clearly expressed, with elegance and simplicity. Obviously, check all grammar and punctuation now. Be sure that the blog follows your company style guide. This is also the place to ascertain all attribution has been made, if necessary.
Your blog needs at least one visual reinforcement to catch the attention and imagination of the reader. Your image should relate to the blog as directly as possible. A phrase in the blog, some colorful analogy perhaps, can lead you to find an appropriate image. If in doubt, use a kitty or a puppy (just kidding '- mostly).
8. Final Review
Read it all one last time, as though you were reading it for the first time. Put yourself in the place of your reader. Click on each link to be sure they work. Scan it to be sure that the keywords and phrases pop out.
Take the time to create a checklist of the minutia involved in your areas of expertise. You know what works best, and have secrets to your trade which could benefit anybody else who had to follow in your shoes. Then, post your checklist where anybody in your company can access it.
Oh, and look both ways before crossing the street.
Gary Locke is a semi-professional hyphenate and the Content Editor for CommonPlaces. He has enjoyed a long career in theater and multimedia, and still hopes to one day drive the Batmobile.