How to write a great blog post in one evening

How to write a great blog post 1

In this post, I’m going to give you my personal recipe for writing great blog posts in a matter of hours. In theory, you could use my technique every day, for example between dinner and bedtime – you’d be ready to launch your restaurant or local business’ blog in a week!

I know what you’re thinking – quantity over quality. But consider this: when I worked in an online newsroom, every single one of us journalists was knocking out five to ten articles a day. And while we weren’t shooting for perfection, I’d say we were hovering around four out of five stars. So really, one solid blog post in an evening – say, three hours? – is totally doable.

We’ll start by brainstorming ideas with a common UX research technique and then move on to the 5 Ws journalists use to guarantee a complete and coherent story. Next, we’ll write a rough draft, all in one go. We’ll wrap up with three rounds of edits, each with a different focus. Et voilà, your first great blog post is ready to be published!

1 Start with great sticky notes

Card sorting is a research method commonly used in UX. It involves asking study participants to organize website elements into categories that make sense to them.

We’re going to use this technique to organize our thoughts. Simply write down each and every thing you could blog about. One idea per card or Post-It – no matter how small or insignificant it may seem right now.

Let’s take a look at a concrete example. Assuming you run an Italian restaurant chain and you want to generate some buzz for your pizzas, your sticky notes might read:

  • How to make dough from scratch.
  • Traditional pizza toppings.
  • The difference between a pizza and a calzone.
  • Pairing wine and pizza.
  • The dos and don’ts of reheating leftover pizza.

If you’re having trouble getting started, simply ask yourself: what’s been on my mind lately? What was the most memorable thing that happened to me this week? What are some questions that our customers frequently ask?

Once you’ve written down absolutely everything (pizza-related) you can think of, it’s time to group – or sort – your cards by topic. For example, the first and second ideas listed above could be subheadings of a great blog post entitled: “How to make real Italian pizza at home.”

2 Don’t leave them wanting more

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Writing is not a performing art. So don’t bring down the curtain on your story until it’s actually finished. Make sure your article – or your collection of sticky notes, at this point – answers the 5 Ws of journalism: who, what, when, where, and why. I’ll return to the previous example here to give you an idea of what this looks like in practice.

Assuming we opted to start with “How to make real Italian pizza at home,” we now have to look at the sticky notes in that category and double-check whether all of the information is there.

  • WHO? our customers
  • WHAT? make real Italian pizza
  • WHEN? for lunch/dinner/special occasions/etc.
  • WHERE? at home
  • WHY? cheaper/more intimate/more convenient/healthier/etc. than eating out

Once you’ve got answers to all of the 5 Ws, sort your cards again – but this time, just the ones in the category you selected. Think of your ideas as subheadings and try laying them out in different orders until you find the one that makes the most sense. In the case of the “How to make real Italian pizza at home” post, that order might be something like:

  1. Essential ingredients
  2. Making dough from scratch
  3. Perfect marinara sauce
  4. Traditional pizza toppings
  5. Turning any oven into a pizza oven

3 Pour your heart out

This is the fun part. Just write as if you were filling out a survey in which each of your subheadings was a question. Write as if you were explaining your business to your customers. You’ve obviously got the expertise. After all, you’re blogging about what people pay you to do every day.

Because you’re writing about something so close to your heart, you may well trail off and lose yourself in the many examples and anecdotes that start popping into your head. But that’s totally fine. Let the words flow. Anything superfluous will be stripped in the next step anyway.

4 Separate the wheat from the chaff

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This is the first of three editing rounds. All you have to do is skim your article. Is there anything in there that doesn’t add value? For example, did you write five paragraphs about how Marco Polo returned to Italy from China, bringing the concept of pizza with him? Fascinating as that story may be, it’s a story for another time. You know why? Because it doesn’t answer any of the 5 Ws pertaining to making real Italian pizza at home. So save those paragraphs in a separate document – and boom! You’ve got tomorrow’s great blog post in the pipeline: “Why pizza is actually Chinese.”

5 Choose your words carefully

The second round of edits is when it’s time to be picky. Did you use the same word twice in one sentence? Did you start three sentences in a row the same way? Read your blog post out loud. If something doesn’t sound right, if something doesn’t sound like you, change it around until you’re happy.

For SEO purposes, make sure to sprinkle your keywords throughout your post. For instance, if you were that Italian restaurant chain, you would want to mention “real Italian pizza” a couple of times. But never to the point where it sounds unnatural. Again, reading out loud will help you determine whether you overshot your target.

6 Channel your inner English teacher

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Remember back in high school when you would ask ‘Can I go to the bathroom?’ and your English teacher would reply ‘You mean, may I go to the bathroom?’ Now is the time to channel that teacher. Scrutinize your blog post through her thick glasses and destroy evildoers such as the comma splice!

I’m kidding, of course. But definitely install Grammarly! Even if you only go with the free version, you’ll catch so many mistakes you didn’t even know you were making. You can also try this great trick I learned from a colleague: go get a coffee, come back, and reread your text in an unusual font like Pacifico. Sounds weird, I know. But it works because you have to concentrate on actually reading, you can’t just skim.

What do you think of my recipe for writing a great blog post in one evening? Do you do something similar? Or do you have another technique for knocking out high-speed, high-quality articles? Let me know in the comments.

Cool restaurant names – why and how to (re)name your eatery

feature lox stock bagels cool restaurant names

In this post, I will explain how having a cool name will benefit your restaurant. I will also give you some tips on how to come up with your own cool restaurant name and show you some examples of restaurants that absolutely killed it.

Why a cool restaurant name matters

The name you choose will have an impact on how your restaurant is perceived. So if you want people to think you’re cool, you have to call yourself something cool. James Currier of NFX, a venture firm for entrepreneurs, recently wrote an entire article on the importance of getting your company name right. He explains:

“It’s psychological. People often aren’t aware of the impact your name is having on them. … It sets expectations of your company in the blink of an eye. And first impressions are hard to change.”

Talk about pressure! But not to worry: you can test different cool names to make sure you find the right one. As Fiona McSwein at Simply Business recommends:

“Involve potential customers and other stakeholders. … They are the the targets for your new name, so it pays to have them involved.”

Putting that advice into action can mean several things. Does your cool restaurant have a yoga theme for example? Reach out to local studios and ask for permission to send their members a questionnaire via email. Is your restaurant aimed at families? Set up a Facebook ad and target parents. You can even choose to target people with kids in a specific age range.

How to come up with cool restaurant names in the first place

According to the Webstaurant Store blog, puns and other types of wordplay are the way to go:

“Fun names, like Thai Tanic and Mrs Sippy, will put a smile on your customers’ faces and put them at ease, adding to the relaxed tone of your business.”

If you’re having a hard time thinking of food-related puns, you can also try one of the many free name generators out there. Simply enter some information about your restaurant, click “generate,” and get inspired.

5 cool restaurant names you wish you’d thought of first

Finally, it’s time to learn from the pros. These restaurants put a lot of thought into naming their businesses. The plays on words reference books, events, or phrases that nearly everyone is familiar with – and they all make a clear connection to the types of foods the restaurants offer. Clever (gets people’s attention) + informative (tells people what to expect) = cool.

Cool restaurant name 1: Tequila Mockingbird in Ocean City MD

tequila mockingbird cool restaurant names

This name is cool because not only is tequila a popular Mexican spirit (and this restaurant serves Mexican food), it really does sound a lot like ‘to kill a.’ Additionally, almost everybody in America has read the novel ‘To kill a mockingbird.’ And even if they haven’t, they’ve likely seen the movie and they’re bound to get the reference.

Cool restaurant name 2: Lord of the Fries in Melbourne (Australia)

lord of the fries cool restaurant names

This is another cool name based on literature: ‘Lord of the flies’ by Nobel Prize-winning British Author William Golding is one of those books everybody has at least heard of. The name gets people’s attention. And so does the restaurant’s extraordinary menu: Lord of the fries specializes in vegan, kosher and halal fries, burgers, onion rings, nuggets, and hot dogs.  

Cool restaurant name 3: Lox Stock & Bagels in Connecticut

 lox cool restaurant names

This one is a little more complicated than the first two – but no less cool. The phrase ‘lock, stock, and barrel’ is used to mean ‘the whole thing.’ The three words refer to the three parts of a musket: the lock is the firing mechanism, the stock is the wooden butt, and the barrel is the tube of the firearm. Lox Stock & Bagels took each of these words and cleverly turned them into food-related terms. Unsurprisingly, the cafe’s menu includes bagels with lox spread (brined salmon) and several different soups. Oh, and speaking of ‘the whole thing’ – they cater, too.

Cool restaurant name 4: Mustard’s Last Stand in Colorado

mustard cool restaurant names

Cool restaurant name number four has to do with weaponry, too: Mustard’s Last Stand references Custer’s Last Stand, the 1876 battle during which Chief Sitting Bull defeated Lieutenant Colonel George Custer within an hour. Mustard’s Last Stand specializes in Chicago-style hot dogs which are topped with mustard instead of ketchup. It was founded by Dan Polovin when he realized that he wasn’t the only Chicago native who missed the hot dog stands of his hometown.

Cool restaurant name 5: WisePies in Albuquerque

cool restaurant names WisePies

And we’re back to pop culture: WisePies sounds a lot like ‘Wise Guy,’ the 1985 non-fiction book detailing an Italian-American mobster’s life of crime. ‘Wise Guy’ may not be as big as ‘To kill a mockingbird’ or ‘Lord of the flies,’ but the subsequent Martin Scorsese movie ‘Goodfellas’ won 44 awards, including an Oscar. By the way, the pies truly are wise at this build-your-own pizza restaurant: choose from several healthy options like whole-wheat crust and low-fat toppings.

What are some other cool restaurant names? Let me know in the comments!