Transform Your Ideas Into a Blog in Just 30 Minutes
Writing a blog should be fun. So why do so many people freeze up at the sight of the blank page and blinking cursor? How do the minutes keep turning to hours with nothing to show for it but but a sore “delete” finger?
As is so often the case with writing, it comes down to process. Blogs don’t spring fully grown onto the page like Athena from the forehead of Zeus; expecting to simply sit down and start stringing words together is a recipe for frustration. But if you work step-by-step to define your topic, flesh it out, and structure its flow, half an hour can be plenty of time to outline a sure-fire blog. Once you’ve done that, the copy will write itself.
Over the years, I’ve created hundreds of blogs for dozens of companies. While each nominal author has their own preferred way of working, the process generally follows the steps below. I’ll be using a thought leadership topic for illustrative purposes since those can be the hardest to get started, but you can apply similar strategies to other types of blogs as well. Because it’s all about artificial intelligence these days, I’ll also offer a few AI cheat codes along the way.
Part 1 – Ideation
At this stage, you’re not even thinking about an outline yet. Your notes might end up resembling one—lots of short phrases followed by bullets and sub-bullets—but the goal here is just to start organizing your thoughts.
Identifying a promising topic area
If you woke up thinking, “I want to write a blog about X,” you might be able to skip this step—but if all you’ve got so far is “I want to write a blog,” read on.
The premise of a thought leadership blog is simple: I have something non-obvious and highly relevant to say. Maybe there’s something you’ve seen in your market space or the verticals you serve that you think warrants attention. Maybe you’re growing aware of a herd mentality that’s leading your industry in the wrong direction, or you’ve discovered a way that it can reach new heights. Maybe you’ve read somebody else’s blog and come away thinking, “That guy is so wrong.”
If nothing is coming to mind, try asking yourself a few questions:
- Is there an under-the-radar industry trend people have been missing?
- Is there a customer need that isn’t being addressed by the current generation of solutions?
- What technology or market innovations am I most excited about these days?
- What kinds of competitive shifts do I foresee in the coming years, and what’s driving them?
- Is there trouble on the horizon for people who aren’t paying attention to the right thing?
If you’re in an AI state of mind, there are many tools available that can offer up potential angles. Try asking ChatGPT to “Generate six new topic ideas and titles for a thought leadership blog in [YOUR MARKET].” Idea generators like BuzzSumo, StoryLab.ai, and NeuralText can offer suggestions, too.
Of course, any generative AI tool will, by definition, provide ideas based on blogs that other people have already written. Using one of them as-is can be a quick way to fill a gap in your blog cadence, but it won’t do much for your reputation as a source of fresh takes. Instead, try using these topics as starting point for riffing, and as a way to gauge the scope of your own blog. Which of them seem too broad to be useful to readers? Which are too narrowly defined to attract a large audience? This can help you find the sweet spot for your topic.
Embedding your messaging
There’s nothing wrong with sharing your smarts for purely humanitarian reasons. Many compelling and worthwhile blogs have been written without a trace of self-serving motives. But just in case you wanted to give your business a little boost along the way, make sure your topic is aligned with your product strategy. How does it tie into your competitive differentiators? Is there a way it can help foreshadow your roadmap?
You can also use your product messaging as a starting point to reverse-engineer a topic from scratch. What is your most important differentiator? Why isn’t everyone doing it that way? Is there some key aspect of technology or strategy or customer need that they’re overlooking? Has something happened recently in your market or the world in general that highlights the superiority of your approach?
AI isn’t particularly useful for this step (unless your messaging is so basic that it’s been captured in model training data that’s at least 18 months out of date).
Narrowing down and digging in
Once you’ve got your topic nailed down, it’s time to put some meat on its bones. This doesn’t mean expanding it laterally—it’s key to stay focused on a single organizing idea rather than turning it into a white paper. Instead, you want to bring in a few supporting themes, illustrations, and proof points.
Does the trend you’re talking about recall other key inflection points in the past— e.g., “this will do for our sector what the cloud did for IT”? Have you seen evidence that customers are rebelling against incumbent solutions or outdated thinking, e.g. industry surveys or purchasing patterns? Is there a customer out there who gets it and has already embraced the new thinking you’re proposing?
This can also be a good time to think about metaphors or analogies. They’re not essential, but the right one can jazz up an opening and get readers past the first paragraph. Don’t overthink it or get carried away, though. Better to play it straight than to strain for something that doesn’t quite work.
There can also be a role for ChatGPT here. Try asking a few questions related to your topic and see what it comes up with. The responses might not be entirely on-target but they can bring new nuances to mind. The source links listed under the response (if they’re genuine) can be worth exploring for relevant material as well.
As a thought leader, you’re not just describing what’s happening now. You’re also pointing forward to what’s coming next. Give readers a few developments to watch to see your prognostication becoming a reality. Predict the impact of these changes for customers, vendors, and the market as a whole. Leave your audience excited about the new world you’ve revealed, grateful for your heads-up about a potential bump in the road, or intrigued about the industry shakeup you’ve predicted.
As you’re doing this, make sure you’re also:
Continuing the conversation
A great blog should spark a reaction by the reader. Think of a few leading questions to include at the end: What do you think? Am I seeing this right, or am I way off base? What would this mean for your own business or customers? Is there more to it that I’m missing?
If the platform where your blog is published doesn’t allow comments, you can still share it on LinkedIn and host the discussion there. Interaction equals engagement in every sense—that back-and-forth will boost the visibility of the site as well as turning passive readers into ongoing correspondents. You might even make some valuable connections that way.
Part 2 – Outlining
Good news: You’ve already done most of the work for your blog. The next step is to
turn your notes into a ready-to-write outline.
First tip: Do not skip the outline. In my experience, blogging is 50 percent ideation, 15 percent outlining, and 15 percent writing. Wait, you say—what about the other 20 percent? Exactly. If you go step by step, that other 20 percent of the work just disappears into the ether. Maybe it becomes dark matter or dark energy or something.
So, what does a good outline look like? You can ask ChatGPT to figure one out for you, but if your topic is novel and interesting enough, you might spend the rest of the afternoon trying to come up with a prompt that gets a usable result. And there’s really no need. As I said above, your notes probably look pretty outline-y already. Now just put them in a natural sequence.
Try doing something like this:
Catchy introduction. In two or three sentences, tell people in clear, concise terms what you’ll be telling them about. If a good metaphor analogy comes to mind, go with it. Otherwise, remember to keep it simple and leave the details for the paragraphs to follow. For now: What’s going to happen and what will it mean to your readers?
Context. What’s the current state of play? What’s missing/overlooked? What’s the question readers should be asking of the smart people they know? Got any stats or quotes to help set it up?
The heart of the matter. Deliver your wisdom: This is what will/should/mustn’t happen. Explain the better world we need to evolve to, the worse world we need to avoid, or the strange new world that’s about to emerge.
Evidence. It’s not just you saying this—here are some of the great proof points you’ve gathered (don’t overload it; choose your three favorites).
Implications. This is where you put the forward-looking stuff you came up with.
Call to action/invitation to engage. Wrap it up with a pithy summary of what the reader should do next and your conversation-continuing questions.
Part 3 – Writing it out
Okay, I’ll admit it: The 30 minutes I promised in the headline didn’t include writing. That’s probably going to take another hour or two. But thanks to the great thinking and outlining you’ve already done, your draft will flow effortlessly to the page. If you’re inclined to go the AI route here, there are ways these tools can be helpful—as long as you don’t expect them to do the whole thing for you.
Beyond ChatGPT, tools like Jasper.ai, RYTR, Frase, CopyAI, and Writesonic promise to be able to write complete blog posts. You’ll need to write pretty specific prompts, including word count, tone, and detailed guidance on the substance you want covered. Rather than trying to get the whole blog all at once, it might be best to go section by section, spelling out all the key points you want made, or even pasting chunks of your outline directly into the prompt box.
AI can also be helpful for SEO. Twinword and ContextMinds can offer competitive keywords based on your topic and audience, though actually implementing them into your copy remains a human task for now.
As always, human review is critical. Make sure to revise, fact-check, and proofread the output for accuracy, messaging, brand voice, and general readability. AI-powered proofreading tools like Grammarly, Wordvice, and Hemingway can flag possible errors and give suggestions for readability, but take a wary eye to these; they’re not always correct, and they can have the effect of flattening style to meet the strictures of arbitrary syntax rules.
Of course, you can also bring in a professional writer. In that case, a 30-minute call should be more than enough to cover ideation; outlining and writing happen offline, and the draft appears in your email as if by magic.
Learn how Aventi Group can help you produce the kind of blogs people look forward to reading. Contact us today for a free consultation!