Guest posting is one of the best ways to increase your blog traffic as you’re essentially borrowing somebody else’s audience for a short amount of time. It’s also the most successful method we use at Process Street – which is state-of-the-art BPM software – to generate backlinks, improve SEO, and our rankings!
Since guest posting isn’t all we do and we’re only a small team, we can’t dedicate a whole week to a post. Instead, we aim to get 2-3 out each every week, making a total of 5.
I’m not going to lie; it is a lot of work. But now I’ll share with you how we store ideas, organize research, and collaborate to write 5 guest posts each and every week.
1. Keep an ideas board in Trello
If you don’t have a list of ideas you can quickly turn to, there’s no way you can work consistently. Writing 5 guest posts a week means having more than 5 ideas, and it’s not always the case that you can come up with ideas that quickly.
With a place to store ideas easily, you’ll not put it off and you’ll end up actually creating a database of viable titles. Additionally, Trello cards are a great place to collaborate with your team. You can add members, comments, due dates, and move cards between lists to mark them as ‘work in progress’, ‘done’, etc.
2. Save relevant resources to Evernote
Once you’ve picked a title from the list, you’re going to need a list of resources to work off of. Content should be well-sourced and contain informative quotes that back up the point you’re making. With Evernote, you can clip sections of text or entire articles to a particular notebook and then easily refer back to it when you need to add a quote or a source.
The tool is also helpful when you’re coming up with a structure. By seeing the structure of other similar articles and extracting the key points, you can create one Evernote note that’s just a bullet-pointed list of sub-headings. It makes it much easier to write an article when you know the subject matter you’re going to cover, so it’s vital you start with:
- A title (or rough idea of the title)
- A list of saved resources: images, articles, quotes, authors
- A structure
It’s worth noting that Evernote — with its tempting functionality to save everything from anywhere — can get very messy very quickly if you don’t organize properly. For that reason, it might be worth considering using OneNote, or if you’re a Mac user, try Alternote and selectively sync only your blogging notebook.
3. Draft posts in Quip, and peer edit
While Evernote is good for storing material, it’s not the greatest writing experience. For that, I use Quip to store first drafts and collaborate with my team over them.
After picking a title from Trello and organizing the material, I’ll draft the outline in Quip. That will notify the rest of the team and they’ll be able to come in to read it, add comments, and make edits.
It might seem strange to die-hard Microsoft Office users, but when you’re blogging you simply don’t need the complexity or rigidity of Word. Quip was made for modern writing in the internet age and even comes with HTML export so you can drop finished drafts straight into WordPress.
When you have all of your team’s previous writing in one place, you’ll be able to easily reference past material and learn from your co-workers’ writing, too. There’s no advantage of writing as a team if the writing ends up saved locally to a computer, and not easily available online. That’s a huge part of why we use Quip.
4. Store interview notes in WorkFlowy
When you’re taking notes, you want to focus on nothing other than writing concisely. You don’t want to mess around with a complex interface, or formatting. That’s why I’ll always turn to WorkFlowy — a zoomable list of bullet points which is much harder to explain than you’d expect for something so simple.
I’ll let a video do the talking first:
The reason why it’s useful for storing notes like this is that you can tag certain lists or items and then click the tag to drag up every related note. After taking notes, you can run through and tag them (maybe with the titles of the different articles), and when you come to write you can just search the tag and see all the different sources in one place.
I also use WorkFlowy to create a template for posts that I know will have the same structure as each other, such as podcast show notes, interviews or announcements. This way, I can duplicate the template and fill it in every time and know I haven’t made a mistake or missed something out.
5. My complete blogging workflow
As useful as these tools are on their own, the best way to make use of them is by combining these workflow apps. Here’s my flow:
- Grab an idea from the board on Trello
- Make a tag in Evernote with the article name
- Search Google for resources, pulling quotes and images into Evernote and tagging them
- If the post draws from interviews, videos or podcasts, find the notes in WorkFlowy and highlight relevant parts
- Draft an outline in Quip, and notify my co-workers via Slack
- Using the comments they leave as a guideline, fill in the draft and run the pre-publish checklist
- Export the HTML, and paste the document into Google Docs to share with the blog I’m appearing on
Not only is this a quick and easy way to write blog posts, but the more you do, the more research you build up to draw on in the future. Using this method means you have an archive of tagged source material at your disposal whenever you need it.
What kind of process do you go through when you’re researching for an article? What components make up your writing workflow? Let me know in the comments below!