I did it for years, and I know how hard it is. You can’t quit your job to pursue blogging because of your finances, living situation, whatever it is, BUT you don’t want to give up on blogging completely (because you love it!)
So you make it work.
When I was working a 9-5 desk job, I used to wait anxiously for the minute my boss would leave our office. As soon as he was gone, I would open up my blog and start typing away as fast as I could, listening intently for the footsteps that signalled he was coming back.
Even in the evenings, when I was supposed to be spending time with Scott, I had my blogging notebook open in my lap. If we were watching a movie, I was also scratching out a blog post (and bothering him with questions when I couldn’t figure out what was going on in the movie plot!)
I had such a hard time “turning off”, even after a full 8 hours of work. But I loved blogging and writing SO much, that I couldn’t imagine stopping.
If you’re in the same boat – struggling to make it work but not ready to give up yet – this post is for you! I know you only have a few precious hours each week to spend on your blog, so working fast is a must.
Over the years, I’ve developed a simple yet effective strategy that allows me to write blog posts in 30 minutes or less — without cutting corners and sacrificing on quality. I call it “The 5 Question Method”, because that’s really all there is to it!
The 5 Question Method
After writing down your answers to the 5 questions below, you’ll be left with a crystal clear outline for your blog post, with an introduction, body, and conclusion, all packaged in a way that makes sense and is engaging for your readers. Before you jump into the questions, the only thing you need to do is decide on the main topic of your post. Then you’re set!
I’ve also put together a cute little workbook you can use to work through these five questions (and write your rough draft in too, if you like!) Click the image below to download the free workbook:
Q1. What questions does my audience have about this topic?
I know I ALWAYS bring this up, but I’m going to say it again:
Successful bloggers blog for their audience. Not for themselves!
The first step in writing a helpful blog post is to come up with 3-5 questions your readers have about the topic you want to focus on. Stick to more general questions as opposed to the nitty gritty stuff (which you can get into in your actual draft later on).
Not sure what your readers want to know? Ask them! Use Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, or your email list to figure out exactly what they want to learn next. Get out your workbook and use the first section to write down a few main questions your readers have about your topic.
Once you’ve decided on the questions you’re going to answer, jot down a few notes about how you’ll answer them. A good blogger writes about what she knows, so if you’re struggling to come up with answers, it might be a sign that you should pick a different topic you’re more comfortable with.
These questions and answers are what will form the “meat” of your post. You can even use them as the headings in your post if you like – either leaving them in question format, sharing them as steps to a process, or transforming them into a list (like this post!)
Q2. What’s the easiest way to digest this information?
Now that you know what you’ll be sharing, you need to figure out the best way to share it. Different content is better suited to different formats, so you want to choose the format that makes the most sense. Here are a few formats you might choose:
It’s important to keep your audience in mind when deciding on a format. Chances are, they’re busy people, so you want to make it easy for them to absorb what you’re sharing by putting your content in the format that makes the most sense.
For example, a “how-to” guide with lots of steps might work best as a numbered list. An update on your home renovations might work better with less text and lots of pictures. Get creative with it, but always make sure that the format matches the content!
Q3. How can I draw people in?
The worst mistake you can make is starting off your blog post on a SUPER boring note. An engaging introduction is crucial for getting people to stick around and read the whole post.
Use section 3 in your workbook to brainstorm ways you can make your first few paragraphs stand out. Here are a few ideas to get you started:
Think about what makes you want to keep reading a blog post. In fact, check out some of your favorite bloggers to see how they start off their posts. How do they inject life into their writing? What kind of imagery and wording do they use in their introductions?
Take some inspiration from what others bloggers are doing successfully, and then put your own twist on it!
Q4. What’s the take-away message?
What’s the main, overarching message you want people to remember once they’ve finished reading your blog post?
Deciding what your message is before you start writing will give your content a greater sense of purpose and cohesion. If you know what your end goal is before you begin, it’s a lot easier to get there – trust me!
Your take-away message should be something simple, easy to remember, and hard-hitting. In the conclusion of your post, your only mission is to drive this message home. This usually works best as a brief summary where you re-state the main point(s) in your blog post.
Q5. How can I provide extra value?
Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, what can you do to make your content unforgettable? Yep, I’m talking freebies here! Epic content is all about helping people, and there’s nothing people love more than free stuff.
Before you sign off on on your post, come up with a way to increase the value of your content. This could be by adding:
Not only will people LOVE you for giving them free stuff, but offering those extras as opt-in freebies is a great way to build up your email list. Not sure why you need an email list? This post explains why building up your email list early on is a MUST!
Once you’ve written down your answers to the 5 questions above, writing your actual blog post will be a breeze! Take this post for an example; I created an outline in less than 5 minutes using these questions as a guide, and it only took another 20 minutes to actually type this all out.
Once you factor in proofreading, creating images, and designing the perfect opt-in freebie to go along with it, this whole post took me about an hour to put together. Not too shabby, if I do say so myself!
To sum it up, here are the main points I want you babes to take home with you today:
The basic format of a killer blog post is as follows…
1. Draw readers in with your introduction
2. Answer their most pressing questions
3. Choose a format that suits the content
4. Re-state and emphasize your message at the end
5. Provide extra value with bonus freebies
And of course, I haven’t left you guys empty-handed! I’ve designed a workbook version of these 5 questions, along with some extra tips to keep in mind as you create your outline and write your blog post. Print off a few copies and keep them on hand for the next time you need to spin out a post in 30 minutes or less!