I firmly believe in establishing positive habits at the start of a new routine, and in this case putting to practice some best practices when starting a blog.
Of course, these best practices also apply if you already are running a blog 🙂
Wherever you are on your blogging journey, you may have experienced moments that got you thinking, “Surely this could be simpler”, or “What steps do I have to go through again?”.
In today’s post, I share 6 best practices and habits that can help address those niggling questions that arise as you grow your blog.
1. Establish standard guidelines
Once you have your blog up and running, it’s really easy to get swept up with the energy of excitement that comes with it – which isn’t a bad thing. However, one of the most important things you can do and invest your time in at the start is to establish standard guidelines when it comes to creating content.
Having these guidelines will be handy, especially when your blog and business starts to take off and you may start considering hiring virtual assistants to help with some tasks like writing and creating blog and social media content.
What should be in your guidelines?
Creating your guidelines does not need to be an onerous task. It can be as simple as a few headers, and sentences or some bullet points. To get you started, here are some ideas:
Style, tone and voice
What does your brand sound like if it were a person? And how would they speak? Is it conversational and friendly? Or authoritative and matter-of-fact?
The tone and voice of your blog should be aligned with your brand. If you have a brand guide, or brand book, you most likely would have this component setup already.
Date and time
The consistency of date and time formats are one of the most overlooked aspects of web writing. Having a set way to write date and time on your blog is important especially for accessibility purposes, particularly for customers using a screen narrator (or screen reader) to access the website.
Some things to consider:
- Would you include ‘th’ or ‘nd’ after days? For example June 8th, 2020
- How would financial years be expressed? With a dash ‘-’ or slash ‘/’?
- How would you express time? 9:00 am to 5:00 pm (not 9–5) and Monday to Friday (not Monday– Friday)?
Page titles/ names
When it comes to page or post titles, always make them simple and descriptive for Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) purposes. Apply all your SEO techniques and practices – Consider keywords your customer would search for to locate the page, keep it simple, and practical.
Some things to consider:
- Will you use title case or sentence case for page and post titles?
- Will you use an ampersand (&) or ‘and’ for page and post titles?
- Will headings within the page or post content use title or sentence case?
Tip: Your guidelines should be a live document – where you are able to update as your blog and business starts to evolve and grow.
2. Use standard naming conventions
As your blog starts to grow in content, so will its assets like images, and document files. Just like how your blog standard guidelines will come in handy when the time comes to expand your team, having standard naming conventions on how you name your file names will be handy too.
There are several reasons why this would be useful, namely:
- It saves time, particularly with a team of content contributors
- Maintains a neat and tidy library of your blog images and documents
- Makes identifying files upfront easy and straightforward
- Supporting SEO practices with your files
To come up with a naming convention that works for you and your blog, consider the below:
- What would make the files you are uploading easily identifiable?
- Will the file names be easily searchable online or in your file library?
- How will you separate keywords in your filenames – with hyphens or underscores?
Once you have these worked out, go ahead and add them to your blog’s standard guidelines.
3. Document your process (all the steps)
Running a blog and business is not easy, especially when you are just starting out and are basically every role in a small business. You’re the CEO, COO, CFO, content creator, graphic designer, UX designer, sales and marketing specialist, web developer, quality assurance person… and that’s on top of the multi-faceted person you already are.
That is a lot of roles to play.
It’s important to start documenting your process, and all the steps that are taken to get something done. This exercise in itself can help you identify ways to streamline – showing you areas that can be automated, refined, or removed for further efficiencies.
4. Create a centralised repository
Gone should be the days where you store everything on your computer or external hard drive. While there are some things that can be stored on your computer or external hard drive, the documents that relate to the running of your business should be stored where it will be easily accessible wherever you are.
Think Google Drive, Box, or Dropbox.
The reason for this is, shit happens.
Our computers crash, external hard drive files get corrupted, or items get stolen. Having all your hard work gone in a blink can be disheartening – remember the days of needing to save your school work on Microsoft Word before it crashes?
That was not a good time.
5. Template-tify where possible
No matter the niche your blog and business are in, there will be things that you will do over and over again. This is great because this means you can create a template for future work that will help make you get the work done more quickly.
Here are some ideas on what you can template-tify:
Blog post creation
Setup a template in Google Docs with sections using headers to outline your blog post. You could include:
- Post title
- Meta title
- Meta description
- Social media headlines and post
… and any other sections you currently use for your blog post creation. Then every time you create a blog post, make a copy of this template and start writing!
To use the template I have created, click on the Blog post – template link here, then go to File > Download > Select the file type you’d like to download it in.
Then, sign in to your Google Drive account, click on +New on the left hand navigation, select File Upload, then select the Blog post – template you just downloaded. This will save it to your Google Drive.
Regular newsletter broadcast outline
Use Google Sheets or Google Docs to plan your regular newsletter broadcast outlines! Once you have created or published a new blog post, include it in your newsletter outline for any upcoming broadcasts.
Planning ahead this way will save you heaps of time when it comes to the actual creation of your newsletters. No more hunting or remembering which content should be sent out. Instead, you can now refer to your template!
Here is an example of a newsletter planning template that you can use.
6. Plan ahead – work for the future, now
Dale Carnegie was not wrong when he said, “An hour of planning can save you 10 hours of doing”.
Plan for the future and you will find that this will be of great help when it comes to the doing stage. One way to do this is to start working with an editorial content library.
Working with a tool like this can help with several things:
- Being a place for ideas or brainstorm dumping
- Keeping track of your blog content statuses
- As a reminder for progress check-ins for content that may need following up or updates.
Planning and working ahead will not only help ensure that you won’t miss a blog publishing deadline, but will also help with streamlining your content ideation and creation process.