Blog Writing Process

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This page is useful to those Writing Blog Posts at the McNair Center.

McNair Staff are expected to follow the Blog Writing Process. Amendments to the process should be done only in consultation with the Blog Team. This process ensures that everyone creates a page for their blog post using Form:BlogPost so that everything can be efficiently tracked and stored. See the detailed instructions for creating a wiki page for your blog post.

Step by Step

Follow these steps as you write your post. Remember to set your content status on your post's wiki page as your enter each stage:

  1. Idea: Before beginning a blog post, blog writers must get preliminary approval from Anne or Ed. To propose an idea, set up a wiki page. Include (Blog Post) in the title and make the wiki page using Form:BlogPost. Describe your idea in 2-4 sentences. Include 3-4 proposed references. Alert Anne and Ed to your proposal once your Idea page is complete.
  2. Outline: Once your post idea is approved. Conduct further research and outline your proposed post on your wiki page. Include your proposed argument or thesis statement, 5-6 supporting points and references. Each supporting point must be back by evidence. References should be included for all of the supporting points. Let Anne know when you have finished your outline.
  3. Draft: Once your outline is approved, draft your post. Include a link to the google doc on your blog post's wiki page. Make sure that this link can be viewed by all email addresses and can be edited by Anne. Use the Writing and Style Rules to make sure your writing is consistent with other McNair Center posts.
  4. Peer edit: This step is skipped during the summer. Once the draft is ready for review, tell Anne. She will assign you a peer editor. Make sure that your peer reviewer's name is in the Notes field in Form:BlogPost and he or she has permission to edit your google doc.
  5. Revision: Revise your draft based on the peer editor's suggestions. Give the revised draft to Anne, who may require further revisions. If substantial revisions are required at this stage, the post may go through another round of peer review. completing the same process of suggestion and revision as with the peer editor in Step 1. If any large changes are made in this process, the writer will give the new draft to another available peer editor to check for grammar/content one last time before giving it to Ed. Put whether your post is waiting for or approved by Anne and Ed in the Notes field. This process may have to be repeated more than once if the blog needs further development. Give the final draft Anne for approval.
  6. In Wordpress: Once Anne’s approval is given, the piece can be posted in the blog using Steps 5-6. See Working with Wordpress for detailed instructions.
  7. Simultaneously with Steps 1-3: Select two or more graphics for the blog post (one as featured image, one for within the post itself), making sure that we are authorized to use the image and that we have the proper citations. Write a caption for the graphic.
  8. Once the graphics and content have been approved, the writer can post it all into WordPress. The writer needs to make the page visually appealing and set up the WordPress features- Use our Working with WordPress page for help (SEO, Readability, Tags, Hyperlinks). At this point, the blog post will be ready for publication, but should be labeled as a Visibility: "Private" within WordPress (not public yet).
  9. During the academic year, notify the Online Editor (see our Blog Team page for details) that the post is completely ready to be published. The Online Editor checks that the post is at the quality we expect for publishing, looking at graphics, plugins, content, title, etc. The Online Editor can then publish it to the public in WordPress and set the status to Published.

Due Dates and Expectations

During the academic year, a draft of a post will be expected for peer editing no later than one week after the idea is approved. Peer editors must complete their editing within one shift of being assigned to a post. Then the post should go to Anne. After Anne’s edits are received, a new draft is expected one shift later. Tighter timelines may be specified depending on circumstances.

Assorted Things to Remember

  • Be sure to link your blog post to your personal page
  • Before you officially draft your post, put your notes, ideas, thoughts, and data you have gathered onto your wiki page
  • Images for your post: all images must be creative commons licensed. Include the caption and any attribution for the photos and other illustrations in the caption area of the media file
  • Note: please make sure you present a balanced view (nothing which heavily leans to one side of the political aisle or the other). The McNair Center is a part of the Baker Institute, which is a non-partisan think tank.

Creating a wiki page for your blog post

Use this page in conjunction with the Form:BlogPost to create your blog post's wiki page. This is mandatory. Using the form will create a template and make sure that your blog post is tracked on the Writing Blog Posts page, as well as the All McNair blog posts page.

Structuring your Wiki Page

Create your wiki page using Form:BlogPost:

  • Title - Give your post a punchy title. Use this title followed by " (Blog Post)" as the name of your wiki page and enter exactly the same title, complete with " (Blog Post)", into the box on Form:BlogPost.
  • Fill out other fields in the form carefully:
    • Author - Your name is it appears on your wiki page
    • Series - As applicable. Reuse existing series names when possible.
    • Content status - set to idea to start with and adjust accordingly.
    • Graphic status - set to none to start with and adjust accordingly.
    • Blog image - only include this when your graphics have been approved.
    • Publication date - leave blank until your post is published.

Then in the main (free text) section input the following:

  • Abstract: 2-3 sentences
  • Link to Google Doc
  • Link to published blog post (as applicable)
  • List of references with links

Editing your blog post page

When you need to edit your blog post's wiki page, you should generally edit it using "Edit with Form" to make sure your data stays consistent.

Check your page shows up in the search results

Check you page shows up by going to All McNair blog posts. If you can't see it there, do a NULL EDIT (i.e., edit and save the page without doing anything), and check again.

Converting an existing wiki page to a blog post page

If you have a pre-existing wiki page that you need to convert to a blog post page you need to do the following:

Remove an category tags, etc

Remove any category assignments. They look like [[category:some category]]<nowiki>. Links to categories, which do not assign a page to a category, can stay. Category link tags look like <nowiki>[[:category: some category]].

Also remove any old code that is no longer needed. Examples include:

 <!-- flush -->

Add and complete the blog post template

Add a copy of Template:BlogPost manually to the top of your page. The resulting code should look like:

|Has title=
|Has author=
|Part of series=
|Has content status=
|Has graphics status=
|Blog image=
|Had publication date=
|Has processing notes=

...but with each of the values filled out, as described in the section above.