Typically only a small team – sometimes just one person – is responsible for creating an organisation's digital content.
That's no small amount of pressure to come up with great ideas, and do the research, and gather all the relevant information, and make sure you've got your facts straight. And then tell those stories in a way that's both interesting to audiences, and helps you to achieve business goals. Phew – that's a lot.
And to do all that takes time – which we know there isn't enough of. So, why not share the load?
Sharing is … scary
We understand that getting help with content creation from people across your organisation can feel daunting – it's a big ask. Even if colleagues feel they have some great stories to tell, they may not be confident in their writing abilities. Perhaps they've never done this before, so don't know the ins-and-outs of writing great web copy? They may not know where to even begin with something like this …
Which is why we’re sharing this helpful blog post writing template.
Based on the template we use for our own posts, it includes helpful step-by-step prompts and an example style guide. Feel free to adapt this template to suit your own team and organisation.
Hope it's helpful!
Blog post starter kit
1/ Do the research – beginning, middle, and end
👉 What’s the post about?
Summarise the main gist – this will form the beginning of your post. Keep this bit short and simple, so it's easy for people to understand what the post is about without having to browse the whole thing.
👉 What’s the hook?
What one thing makes this post particularly shareable/useful/interesting? There may not always be a clear hook – that's fine. But if there is, it can be used to attract people when promoting your post.
👉 Who are you talking to?
New audiences? Loyal fans? Lapsed attenders? People with kids? Keep that audience in mind when deciding what sorts of things you'll write about – what's going to be interesting to them?
👉 What are your main points?
Bullet-point out everything you want to say in your post. Include any links you want to share – whether to other pages on your website, or to external websites. Once you've done that, shuffle your bullet-points into the order that best tells your story – if they're not already in that order. (Tip: it doesn't have to be chronological!) These notes will form the 'chunky middle' of your post.
👉 Do you need any imagery, video etc.?
If yes, will you reuse existing imagery? Do you need to source some from elsewhere? Will something need to be commissioned? If so, do you have the time and budget for that?
Accessibility tip: If you're including imagery, remember to add alt text, and make sure that video includes captions or subtitles.
Sustainability tip: Don't feel that you have to add visuals – they will add to your website's carbon footprint.
👉 What's the call-to-action?
What do you want people to do once they've finished reading? Sign-up to your mailing list? Make a donation? Book tickets? Visit another page on your website? Knowing how you’re going to end the post before you start writing it into prose will help you to structure content in a way that helps the reader understand, and keeps them engaged.
2/ Check your facts
Once you've done your research – but before writing the post-proper – share your notes with someone else. Ask them to check that:
👍 They understand the story you're telling
👍 All relevant information is included
(i.e. You've not made assumptions about what the reader already knows or understands)
👍 Any facts are accurate
👍 Links are working – and going to the correct places
👍 Visuals are relevant and add something useful
👍 They can tell you what the call-to-action is!
If you're not able to get someone else to check your notes, do it yourself. But give your notes the overnight test. That is, leave a decent chunk of time – preferably overnight – between finishing your notes, and checking them.
3/ Write it up
You already have all your content, and a rough structure, thanks to the way you've put together your research notes. Nice! Now it's time to flesh-out those notes into prose.
This can be done either by the person who compiled the research – or someone else. At this point, the research could be handed over to your usual content creator for them to write-up. (A good approach if the researcher isn't confident in their writing abilities, or is short on time themselves.)
These general rules of thumb should be helpful, but you may want to add to / adapt this next bit to suit your organisation's tone of voice:
✍️ Be succinct
Make your points clearly and quickly.
✍️ Be conversational
Write the way you speak; including use of contractions and colloquial language. This helps to add personality, and keeps it easy to read.
✍️ Think about your audience
Writing as if you’re talking to one specific person can be helpful. It makes it easier to pitch your writing at the right level, and cover what’s important/interesting to that person.
✍️ Keep a logical structure
Make sure there’s a clear, easy-to-follow narrative running through the whole post; a beginning, a middle, and an end. Having those research notes should help a lot with this! Be sure to add things like paragraph breaks, sub-headings, and bullet-points. Breaking text into bitesize chunks makes it more digestible. (Find more helpful hints about writing for the web here: How to write great web copy.)
Once your post’s written up, check all those facts and links again. Then read it all the way through (fixing typos and grammatical errors as you go). I find reading it out loud can be helpful, but you will need some space to yourself! Ask yourself – what could be simplified? How could I make this clearer? What can I get rid of? Then read through, and edit, again. And again. Be brutal!
✍️ Get someone else to proof-read
Your organisation may already have a proofing process in place for publishing website content. If not though, it's a good idea to get someone else to read through your post before it's published if you can. Once they've checked it and any tweaks are made – it's time to read through it one last time and …
🚀 Yay! Remember to promote and share your post with audiences and colleagues.
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