The Art and Science of Creating a Successful Blog Post

The creative geek has never had it so good.The Art and Science of Creating a Successful Blog Post

They have the web tools, apps and the social networks that keep poking them with global gems of content inspiration and ideas. It is a revealed universe of possibilities.

What we are seeing in this century is the synergy between the art of creation and science of technology.

Gutenberg would be turning in his grave if he saw what is happening in the new world of publishing.

So we now have the online tools to publish your inspirations. Google has freed us from the tyranny of remembering and finding facts. This is leading to an explosion of  prolific and innovative ideas and expression. It could be music created with an app, a photo that is captured on a smart phone and filtered or it could be creating an article for a blog.

It is the synthesis of art and science.

Creating a successful blog post is creativity enabled by technology both in production, delivery and marketing.

The Art

This starts with an idea for your article. It might appear while driving, talking with a friend or during a wakeful moment at 2am (that is when this idea turned up). It may be inspired by a book, a passing tweet or a brainstorming session at a workshop.

Whenever the idea strikes, grab a pen, your phone or that napkin at the coffee shop. Writing in blood is always an option…because failing to capture an idea due to forgetfulness can sometimes feel like losing one of your children.

The writing for me can start three ways.

  1. The headline idea (maybe optimal)
  2. Creating the introduction (that’s how this one started)
  3. Mapping out the structure and framework for the post (that often happens)

Neither is right or wrong but the creation has to start. Sitting down at the computer laden desk with my two screens, keyboard and my mouse and starting the mundane action is next.

As the words arrive the next phase is the wrangling and wrestling with the text, phrases and even the sub-titles. Many a blog post has an ugly face but as you massage it and apply the makeup it can turn into a thing of beauty.

That is certainly the intent.

Next is the internal discussion with myself as to whether I need to illustrate and elaborate my ideas with a screen shot, an image, add a video or even plonk in a Slideshare presentation.

Sometimes it goes beyond the words.

The Science

WordPress is the technology and foundation tool of choice for this blog.

The science support crew includes the following:

1. Snagit

This is the screen capture tool I use for screen shots, inserting call out text boxes and arrows and even shadow and torn edge effects. I couldn’t do without it.

2. WordPress Plugins

You cannot do without these to enhance your productivity and marketing effectiveness.

This includes.

  • SEO Plugins (such as WordPress SEO or Yoast)
  • Akismet (this software stops the spammers)
  • BackWPup (this backs up my blog),
  • Facebook like box (you can like my Facebook page without leaving my blog)
  • GetSocial (my floating social media sharing buttons)

This is not an exhaustive list but all of these I couldn’t do without.

3. Google Analytics

This allows me to monitor my blog traffic, check to see if my organic search traffic is rising or falling and seeing which countires are enjoying reading the article in real time (that is a very cool feature of this tool).

4. Marketing tools and networks

Some of these include the following to ensure that the content starts to flow across the web.

a. Social media networks

After publishing the post it then needs some help to attain some online attention and sharing.

  • Tweeted with hashtags and the link to the post
  • Shared on LinkedIn
  • Manually published to Facebook with a large image (not a thumbnail) with hashtags
  • Images or infographics contained within the post are pinned to the appropriate board on my Pinterest account
  • Manually posted to Google+ with the shortened link, a  large high definition image with a bolded headline (this done by using this symbol * at the beginning and end of the headline)  and yes also include the now ubiquitous hashtags

b. Email

The software I use is Aweber which is used by many top bloggers but is being challenged by some emerging and disruptive email platforms such as MailChimp that have made the process of email marketing simple.

c. Other tools

I use some other software to assist me in keeping the content flowing.

One of those is SocialOomph which allows me to send recurring tweets on a regular basis. I can load it up and the blog post can be sent out again and again. As this blog has over 800 articles which are mostly evergreen in nature it means that you can keep tweeting your best content on auto-pilot.

The wrap

So we have moved from inspiration to creation with all its nuance and editing. We have optimised the blog for search engines until we feel comfortable enough to hit the “Publish” button. Then it’s the process of marketing the blog with your 1,000 best friends on Facebook.

If you get it right then the crowd turns up and cheers and claps. That is called retweets, comments and shares in this virtual world.

What about you?

Is blogging an art and a science for you? What is your creative process and what science helps you to be more effective?

Look forward to hearing your stories and insights in the comments below.

Image by Shutterstock

 

 

 

 

Comments

  • http://jeffbullas.com Jeff Bullas

    One default I use is to load 500 of my evergreen articles and recycle them every 6 days. This is about a 15 minute tweet cycle.

    • http://www.praverb.net/ Praverb

      Awesome strategy Jeff, I love your use of hashtags. I study your timeline.

    • http://www.qliqsoft.com/ Krishna Kurapati

      Good to know. We just tweet it once and then forget about it. I think RT your ever green content can bring in more traffics. BTW is SocialOomph free ?

      • http://jeffbullas.com Jeff Bullas

        For recurring tweets you need the professional edition and it is about $25 per month

  • http://jeffbullas.com Jeff Bullas

    I would write something on the topic of gamification of content but I would need to research that before hitting the publish button!

  • Sofie Couwenbergh

    I was wondering if your facebook like box is actually the facebook social plugin? When I search for the facebook like plugin I see that it hasn’t been updated in almost a year.

  • http://www.qliqsoft.com/ Krishna Kurapati

    I have started using JING for images and annotations. Do you know if there is a tool that can help me record videos ? e.g if I have a youtube video, I would like to record few min. of it and then share on social channels.

    Chris

    • http://practiceparadox.com.au/ Michael ‘MC’ Carter

      Hi Chris. The SnagIt tool that Jeff mentioned also records screencasts (Techsmith, the company behind Jing, Snagit, Camtasia and other tools) discontinued Jing and added the video/screencast recording function to SnagIt. A great tool. If you need to later edit, add music, titles/text etc. then you’ll need SnagIt’s big brother, Camtasia, though if you are on Mac, we recommend ScreenFlow over Camtasia. Simpler to use, yet it allows you to achieve a lot with a video.

      By the way, in terms of recording “talking head” videos (pieces to camera), ScreenFlow/Camtasia can record your webcam’s view as well as (or instead of) your screen.

  • http://jeffbullas.com Jeff Bullas

    Art is what inspires me but the Science (technology) is the engine

  • Ryan

    Absolutely agree with you Jeff, I’ve been following you for awhile, and someone who is new to the field – you’re a great aspiration.

    I feel the art and science go hand in hand, like a composer who writes a song, without the orchestra (engine) to bring the music to life, the song is just notes on a page.

    Ryan

  • http://www.hughosmith.com/ hughosmith

    It used to be more art but it’s fast becoming science as I try hard to get more serious about it. Finding the right image, fine tuning SEO, and most of all making sure the content is ready and worthy of publishing is more science than anything else. I thought it would be less fun as time went on but I am enjoying the challenge of putting out content that’s worth reading and having a site that provides readers with a worthwhile experience. Thanks a lot for all your good advice Jeff.

  • http://www.socialsearchmarketinggroup.com/ SocialChirps

    Awesome list of tools, thank you! And to answer your question, it is both. The same thing goes for social media. ~ RR

  • http://kameelvohra.com/ Kameel Vohra

    The art is the fun part, the inspired joy of writing, and the science is the work. The graphics, the marketing, and everything around making your blog just a little better.

  • http://www.kathrynclang.com/ Kathryn C Lang

    Okay – as a writer the “art” portion of this post made me laugh. We are in the middle of National Novel Writing Month and some days it feels like all I’m doing is writing in blood. :)

    The Science portion was helpful as well. I know that this is the area where I struggle the most.

  • http://jeffbullas.com Jeff Bullas

    Thanks for the question and comments Sebastian. I treat Twitter like a stream instead of an inbox. I have done it this way for about 4 years and I believe that it is the number one reason that the blog has grown to the level it has.
    I send one email a day but I do keep tossing tweets with evergreen content into the Twitter torrent every fifteen minutes. Tweets are not repeated for 6 days. You have to work out what you are comfortable with and yes you still need to listen.
    Sometimes social media purists will see it as spam. Often you have to ignore what is sometimes seen as popular advice.
    Up to you! :)

  • BradleyJobling

    Distribution with Facebook and Twitter are very important. I run a Twitter account for a healthcare division with 10K followers and limit myself to 15 tweets a day, More than that and I get the feeling that people unsubscribe. I recently wrote and article about the shock value or hook needed to make something viral. This included a mention of Miley Cyrus. That post received more than my usual amount of traffic. You cannot guarantee viral. You just need to do the right things consistently. Some take off and others don’t.

  • Harold Compton

    All good tools but I find too many people overlook the importance of good grammar and spelling. I just finished trying to read an article that had a total of 12 grammar errors. The author may not be a native English speaker but for goodness sake use the spelling and grammar check tools. About 3/4 of the way through the article I just gave up.

  • Jaszy McAllister

    Links to your recommendations would be helpful. Just sayin’.