I just finished a 9-week contract with a major healthcare organization.
During that time, I wrote about newsworthy healthcare issues of the day, covering everything from Zika virus to MS, migraines to Celiac disease, "superbugs" to breast cancer, plus 34 other topics.
Clearly, my client and her team recognized that blogging frequency ups SEO and positions an organization as a thought leader. But frequency means tight timeframes.
I had a strict 3-hour window each business day to create a solid draft.
So how did I do it?
After receiving a trending topic (and keyword list) by 11 a.m. from my client team, I would go about my work in an organized, methodical manner to make sure an engaging 600-750 word post landed in my client's inbox by 2 p.m. The operative word is organized. Here was my 7-step process:
Read the abstract or press release so I understood the medical study. Sometimes this was not as easy as it reads. These studies were written, for the most part, by lead authors sporting a PhD after their names. In some cases, I had to read through some "mind-bending" study notes. Most of the time I needed to go to other health authority sites such as the National Institutes of Health or the Centers for Disease Control to further enlighten me.
Create a simple outline. After grasping the general concept of the study, I put together a simple outline. It started with 4 to 5 title options with the keyword(s) in it. To measure the titles, I made sure they fit under one of the 4 "U's":
- Is it Unique?
- Is it Ultra-Specific?
- Is it Useful?
- Is it Urgent?
Then I would use a classic copywriting structure to develop the content:
- Opening Sentence (the summary statement and hook)
- The Problem (study specifics including "the why")
- The Solution (study findings)
- Call-To-Action (what the reader can do)
Write the initial draft. I would then "fill in the blanks" of the outline. The opening sentence usually created the greatest challenge as finding the right hook to draw the reader in took some serious skull sweat.
To make the content visually appealing, I was judicious in my use of sub-heads and bullets to make the reading easy, scannable and bite-sized.
Edit the initial draft. Here it was all about clarity of the content. Did it make sense to our target audience? Did I overpromise on any of the content as opposed to "suggesting" further research needs to be done (as usually is the case with medical research).
I got rid of all the flab, tightened up the sentences and paragraphs, added "active" voice and generally smoothed out the bumps.
Select an appropriate image. I would then search through the client's stock image library and choose 4 - 6 images that "told a story." Finding real people, not glamour shots, was the directive. This took a bit of time because of the subject matter and so many stock images are "posed."
Read the draft out loud. This has always been my "secret sauce." Remember: people read with their ears. While reading, they want to see and hear a certain rhythm. If the content is too static, the mind quickly disconnects.
- Push send. After I was satisfied with that final reading, I would send my draft and image options to my client team. They, in turn, took the content up another notch or two before posting it the following day.
My client informed me that SEO increased during those 9 weeks. Which, of course, made me happy.
So to create engaging content under a tight deadline, you certainly need writing talent. But you can't do it without being organized.
As A.A. Milne, author of several "Winnie-the-Pooh" books reminds us, "Organizing is what you do before you do something, so that when you do it, it is not all mixed up."
To that I say, "amen."