There are multiple ways to apply, dot, the line, the cross, spreading it first, even multiple dots, etc. Personally I tried multiple ways and set the heat sink multiple times until I find the best spread that covers most of the CPU, just try and see what works better for you, there is no ideal or error proff way.
But I guess this means you take off the heatsink once you've applied. Isn't that a super air-bubbly thing to do? I've never taken the heatsink off once I've applied the paste, I've always just rotated it to press all bubbles out.