While brainstorming ideas for content in 2018, a reader wrote in with a great post idea. What goes into that one blog post you do? I think on the surface blogging is easily mistaken as an easy job that’s just pretty photos and vacations all the time. Sure it seems that way on social media and on the blog, but that takes WORK to create. I thought I’d share what all goes into a single blog post and the supporting social media from start to finish. Because I promise, there’s a lot to it and it can be a ton of work. Let’s get started on how to write a blog post and what all goes into one.
WHAT GOES INTO MAKING A BLOG POST
Coming Up With The Post Idea
This can come to fruition in a few ways. Whether I want to share an outfit I recently picked up, was sent by a brand to consider, or hired by a brand to work on a sponsored post, there’s many different ways this can come about. Outfits are usually the easiest as they’re whatever is new or relevant to the season.
The other way may be from reader feedback like today’s post, or someone asking how to style those jeans with a different shoe. Whenever I travel I find myself coming up with new ideas as well. From travel tips I discover to getting inspired for a new cocktail or recipe (this cocktail was inspired by my trip to Thailand). There’s so many ways to get inspiration for a post and the list of ideas is never ending.
Securing Product Or Sponsorship
Let’s say I come up with an idea to do a post on how to wear boyfriend jeans. I may reach out to a few companies and see if they’re interested in working on something focused on their product that may be a good fit. This is a great way to reduce costs on my end and also build and maintain relationships with brands I love and wear. However, a lot of the times, my looks are not sponsored and it’s solely pieces I love to wear and want to share with you all.
Typically I shop my own closet and try to find new ways to wear something, new items I may not have shot yet, or finding items that are still in stock to share. Bloggers do receive quite a few gifts and products to try out for potential consideration, so I’ll check those items I have to see if there’s a good fit for one of them. This also gets applied all the way down to the hair, makeup, nails and shoes. Yup, every little detail counts!
Hiring A Photographer & Finding A Location
Once I have a few things I want to shoot, typically 4-6 looks or post ideas depending on what I’m working on, it’s time to schedule a photographer. On average I book a one hour shoot 3-4 times a month depending on content needs. I work with a few photographers in the Atlanta area and each of them has their unique look and strengths. For example, I like to work with Jess of Lady Flashback for any recipe posts. She has an incredible eye for styling and adds a really special touch to these posts. Sydney captures my home the best so I like to bring her in anytime I have home decor or beauty to shoot. And then I’ve got a short list of those I like to work with for outfits like Janelle who has helped me shoot my blog for YEARS.
Once I’ve figured out who I want to work with I send them an email and find a time to schedule with them. I sometimes ask them for assistance in thinking of a great location depending on what I’m shooting if I haven’t already thought of it. Then I plan my looks based on the location (or vice versa). I’ll be honest, this is something I struggle with and don’t put enough focus on. Sometimes once the photographer sees the look I’m about to shoot, they’ll have some guidance there. But I’d like to start being more proactive about this in 2018.
The prep that goes into a shoot ranges from completing each look all the way down to the lipstick, nail polish and accessories, to deciding where you want to shoot each look at. As I mentioned earlier, I sometimes rely on a photographer to help with that, but there’s plenty of times that I knew I wanted this particular outfit at this location, and this look at this coffee shop. I usually try to make a shot list (especially when shooting non outfit posts) to make sure I get all the things I need. This is more common for me for lifestyle content as outfits are a little more straight forward.
Planning a lifestyle shoot like a recipe post can be time consuming. From gathering ingredients, props and recipe testing, to prepping all the items before the photographer arrives. This sometimes means many trips to the grocery store and stores to find the right items.
No matter if it’s an outfit shoot, or lifestyle with recipes or beauty, there’s always a schedule and shot list I plan on ahead of time to make sure I don’t miss a thing. I often search for inspiration online to help show the photographer what I’m looking to capture so we can get on the same page. This helps to ensure you get the photos you want and won’t need a reshoot. Between a shot list, and inspiration photos, this helps to not only get the photos you want, but also maximize your time with the photographer and makes the overall shoot run smoothly.
Fun fact, I spend the least amount of time on shooting for the blog than I do for any part of my business. I think that’s a tidbit of information that surprises most people when I tell them because they just see photos when they think of bloggers. Sure I wish I had a photographer to follow me around anywhere and everywhere I go to create a ton of content. But the reality is, I pay by the hour and I don’t need my entire life documented. On average, I shoot about 3-4 times a month, depending on my content needs. This changes during busy seasons like the holidays when content is more demanding, versus January where I probably won’t shoot at all.
Before I head out I pack my car up with my outfits, jewelry bags attached to hangers, shoes laid out and so on. I head to our shoot location which can be anywhere from a 5 minute drive to thirty minutes depending on what we decided on for that day. I like to drive around the location before parking to get a good look at everything. Sometimes there’s a cute store front, or maybe construction at a spot I was planning to shoot in front of and need to readjust. I park, then we get ready to shoot!
You’re probably wondering where bloggers change. Well, let’s just say there’s been several major cities that I’ve gotten down into my undies pretty much. At this point I have no shame and just need to get changed quickly and easily. From the car, to a coffee shop bathroom, to just well, standing next to my car and getting those damn jeans on. We get our several looks in, hug my photographer goodbye and send them their payment as soon as I get home. Then all of those looks get put away and I begin to plan my content out.
Write The Blog Post
Once I get home from a shoot, I like to plan out the content I’m about to receive from my photographer so it goes up in a timely manner. I use the editorial calendar plugin to visually see where my posts go in the coming weeks. Sometimes I use place holders knowing I’ll post “Madewell Skirt” on Tuesday, and “cocktail” on Friday. Things get moved around often, so knowing I have a cocktail post I shot or am about to, helps to make sure it gets scheduled.
Writing a blog posts takes TIME you guys. I know it’s just about 300 words, some photos and a couple of links to shop, but my word there’s so much more that goes on. Here’s what goes into it before the post ever gets published.
I use this headline analyzer to make sure my titles are interesting and strong.
My photographers will send me my images at high resolution. I save all these images to my external drive and also to Dropbox. I use the Dropbox app on my phone so I can easily access content while on the go. Next, photos get uploaded to Lightroom. I edit anything I need to (cropping, remove a zit) and then export them out at the right size with a descriptive file name.
Then these images get uploaded to the post. A featured image gets selected which gets used on the blog preview and in my daily newsletter. All images get ALT tags for SEO purposes and then I arrange them in the post how I want. I go back and forth trying to edit photos down and aim for 8-12 images. I’m guilty of keeping too many photos in my posts so this is always important for me to remember to do this step.
Write the blog post. Sometimes this flows easily and sometimes it’s a total block. When writing I try to include relevant keywords for SEO, link back to old content and link any items within the copy. Always remember to credit the photographer and provide a link to their site. Lastly, I add category and tags in WordPress and update the SEO Yoast plugin with a focus keyword, meta description and so on.
ADD SHOPPING WIDGETS
At the bottom of most of my posts you’ll see a shopping widget. They’re usually similar items to what I’m wearing, or more of something that I’m discussing. It’s part of how I monetize my blog so it’s essential for me to add these in when I can. These can take a TON of time to create depending on the post. It usually involves heading to specific retailers, finding product and saving those items via the rewardStyle bookmarklet. Next I create the widget shortcode on their platform and insert it into my post.
PROMOTE ON SOCIAL
Before the blog post goes live I typically schedule Twitter and Facebook posts for it. I ordinarily have around one week of content already scheduled on these platforms (that’s the goal at least). When writing these social posts, I make sure to do a few things. Tagging relevant brands, using hashtags, adding different images and make sure I’m posting at peak times.
If this post is sponsored, typically there’s one more step involved in this process. Reviews and edits. A lot of the time brands like to do a once over on your post to make sure that everything looks good. If edits need to be made, I’ll do that before anything goes live.
Okay, I don’t physically hit publish, I schedule it to go live in the morning before I’m even awake. But once a post is officially live, here’s what I do next!
Check that everything has published correctly and that social is good to go for the day. Add any adjustments or fix anything that needs to be.
PROMOTE ON SOCIAL
Yup, there’s still more social to do once that post has gone live. I pin all the images to Pinterest and add it to my Tailwind app as well and tribes (more on that here). For Pinterest, depending on the type of post, I may create a unique pin in addition to the images (like this) to generate more repins and traffic to my blog. I also share the blog post on Instagram and Stories. Typically I add in a few additional posts in the following weeks to help fill up my social media schedule.
FOLLOW UP WITH BRANDS
If the post is sponsored, I always send the brand an email with all relevant links. If they asked for just one blog post, I typically share it to social and send them ALL the links. It’s always better to under promise and over deliver in my opinion. If it’s not sponsored, I occasionally email any brands that are included in the post. This is a great way to keep up your networking and stay front of mind to my favorite brands that I wear. It’s just also common courtesy to let brands know that you featured that product they sent a few weeks back. I believe it’s a nice gesture and helps to make their job a little easier. Brands may not always catch what you’re sharing.
Schedule Social Media
And you thought we were done with social media. I know I said this in the writing AND after the post goes live, but scheduling social is ongoing. To be honest, it never really stops. Since I post to each social platform multiple times a day, I am constantly looking at possible content to share. For that one blog post, I may come back to it several times over the course of a year. I’ll think of new ways to reshare it that feels fresh.
Down The Road
The ongoing maintenance of a blog and that one post are also part of my everyday. It includes a mix of the below.
That one blog post may get updated down the road with new links and updated shopping widgets. Or maybe I changed the layout on something and that may mean I need to make some changes.
From creating new pins with text on top posts (like these), to sharing old content that’s relevant again (like old holiday posts around Christmas, or healthy recipes in the new year, or summer outfits in the warmer months) I am constantly looking at old content and seeing how I can repurpose it again across all platforms.
This has been an ongoing effort for me this past year. While going through old content, I typically update as needed for SEO as well if it wasn’t already done. Updating posts with better SEO is insanely time consuming and I’m slowly chipping away at the list. From adding additional focus keyword to including internal links to posts within my blog.
I like to always respond back to any comments on my posts on the blog and social platforms.
And that my friends is how I deal with a single post on My Style Vita. Lots to do, right? This doesn’t even include all the other things I do on a day to day basis. Occasionally I analyze my social media platforms to figure out peak times to post. The day to day emailing back and forth with brands to maintaining relationships with said brands. I’m also creating content and engaging on social media and sending out newsletters constantly. Plus, handling the bookkeeping of my business from invoicing to recording expenses and paying quarterly taxes. Oh and don’t forget, I also co-founded The Blog Societies which is a job on it’s own!
Now if someone ever asks you what does a blogger do? Maybe send them a link to this post. I think they’ll realize there’s a lot more to it than just snapping a pic for Instagram.
Did you think there was this much that went into a post? I’d love to know what you found most surprising about the process below in the comments.
Photo by Andrew Neel