How do you manage to create content without any time to blog?
Unless your company is in a position to hire a dedicated, full-time content creator, it can be challenging to work blogging into an already busy work schedule.
The benefits of custom article marketing are clear; and recent studies have found that 60% of consumers cite custom content as a key factor for developing an affinity towards companies.
The solution certainly isn’t publishing low-quality content, but developing an arsenal of blogging tips which can help you save time and effort without sacrificing quality. We’ve curated some of the brightest experts’ thoughts on how you can streamline your process and workflow.
1. Outline on the Fly (Lisa Butler - @elembee_)
“Start with something other than a blank post.”
Lean content marketing practices dictate removing as many steps as necessary. If you’re already curating a list of ideas for blog posts in Evernote or on a secret Pinterest board, consider removing unnecessary steps and begin transposing your ideas directly into Wordpress or Blogger drafts.
Graphic designer Lisa Butler enhances her habit of drafting ideas with the Wordpress Editorial Calendar plug-in. Adopting these sharp blogging tips allows her to organize her thoughts and write quick outlines as she comes up with fresh ideas for her content marketing.
2. Timebox (Meaghan Keaney Anderson - @MeghKeaney)
“Timeboxing adds focus and urgency that helps you move more quickly through your work.”
It’s all too easy to confuse the time necessary for quality content creation with daily tasks. Before you know it, you’ve been sucked into your Facebook feed and your word count hasn’t changed in an hour. The need for utter focus is why HubSpot’s Meaghan Keaney Anderson recommends one of the sharpest blogging tips she calls “timeboxing.” Block out two or three hours to put your total focus into creating a single piece of remarkable content.
Resist the urge fully to do anything but blog, including answering your phone and checking your email. Don’t burn yourself out by powering through to the end once you’ve reached the end of your allotted time, even if you aren’t finished. You’ve earned your break by following these blogging tips, and your final product will be far better if you return to it later.
3. Use a Timer (Crystal Paine - @MoneySavingMom)
“Most of my computer time is scheduled in specific time blocks for specific tasks.”
For some busy marketers, taking a rigid approach to scheduling can be critical to actually creating content. Regardless of how many blogging tips you know, if you get caught up in strategic Twitter following or reading blogs, your best laid plans can go completely awry.
Blogger Crystal Paine takes a particularly strict approach to budgeting her time at her computer, even using a timer while on social media networks. While this is among the more extreme blogging tips, it can be a much-needed solution if you find yourself missing blog deadlines in order to finish social media or SEO tasks.
4. Outline Religiously (Denise Wakeman - @DeniseWakeman)
“Half of the writing battle is outlining your posts quickly.”
Skipping the outlining process before you begin isn’t among the sharper blogging tips. It’s actually a time-management trap. Without a clear vision of the points you’ll cover in your article, and an idea of the research necessary, it’s too easy to get sucked into a rabbit hole, or stuck revising a piece of content that lacks a clear direction.
As marketing expert Denise Wakeman points out, a clear overview allows you to “paint by numbers,” and simply fill in the information. While individual patterns can vary, many blogging experts swear by a process of outlining, research, writing, and editing, in that exact order.
5. Try Free Writing (Craig Jarrow - @TMNinja)
“Just let the ideas flow.”
Every content creator encounters creative exhaustion every once in a while. Whether you’re overwhelmed by the prospect of writing a highly technical blog post or struggling to meet your goals for the day, it can be difficult to escape.
Time management expert Craig Jarrow is a strong proponent of free writing, the practice of writing without stopping. Don’t correct typos or poor grammatical structure, and don’t stop to check facts. Simply write with the intention of editing later. While your final product will be far from blog-ready, the exercise can be a powerful tool for surmounting any natural tendencies to self-edit as you go.
6. Batch Fact-Checking (Diana Adams - @AdamsConsulting)
“Don’t stop to look up facts midway.”
There’s a number of blogging tips which can be gleaned from traditional media, and one of these is the concept of fact-checking in a batch. Perhaps you intuitively know that blogging yields 91% more inbound links, but you’re not entirely sure, and you can’t remember who is responsible for the research behind the statistic. Stopping writing to Google that stat can destroy your flow, and lead you down a tunnel of distraction.
Prolific blogger Diana Adams of BitRebels is a proponent of fact-checking in a single batch as part of the editing and revision process, as a tool for creating accurate content more efficient.
7. Optimize Your Environment (David Risley - @DavidRisley)
“Keep your writing space clean…You’ll find your production is higher.”
There’s no blogging tips which are more important to efficient, quality content creation than focus. It’s an art which can take years to hone and perfect. If your focus skills are still a work-in-progress, like many of us, it’s prudent to take control over your environment. Don’t sit down to write on a messy desk, with a blinking voicemail filled to the brim with messages in your direct line of sight.
Blogging coach David Risley, who can create powerful articles in as little as 15 to 20 minutes, is a firm believer that any external distractions can destroy productivity. Optimize your environment, so you can maximize your time and knowledge of blogging tips while focused.
8. Outsource Strategically (Steve Lazuka - @SteveLazuka)
“Invest some of your time in building solid relationships with good writers.”
If you’re truly struggling to find time to create content, the sharpest blogging tip for your company could be outsourcing. There’s a good chance it’s much more common than you realize - 44% of content marketers are currently outsourcing content creation.
There’s an art to training an agency or freelancers to communicate in the right tone, and it requires extensive instructions and training before you simply hand over the keys to your blog. Content marketer Steve Lazuka recommends providing the right writers the tools necessary for long-term success, even if it requires more time initially.
9. Visualize Concepts (Korah Morrison - @KorahMorrison)
“Visualization is the path to understanding.”
It’s easy to get caught up trying to find the right words, or way to express a complex concept. Mental blocks are all too often translated to frustration, which can lead to abandoned drafts and Facebook surfing.
Mindmapping, the process of sketching out ideas in a visual format, can be used as the basis for visual content creation, or to work through an issue. Korah Morrison’s blogging tips include using the mindmapping software Mindjet for whiteboarding without even leaving your desk.
10. Keep it Simple (Diana Kightlinger - @EclipseWriter)
“I’m not trying to impress my readers – I’m trying to inform, persuade and entertain them.”
Nothing can slow your content creation process faster than frequent trips to Thesaurus.com to find the fanciest word you can possibly cram into a long sentence. Stop trying to sound smart, and start focusing on getting the point across.
Freelance writer Diana Kightlinger recommends adopting the Flesch-Kincaid readability index, and striving to write at an 8th grade level. If you’re averaging much higher, there’s a good chance you’re losing efficiency in the quest for fancy prose. Not only is striving for readability among excellent time-saving blogging tips, it can increase the readability (and shareability!) factor of your content significantly.
11. Use Dual Monitors (Susan Herin - @betweennaps)
“Dual monitors save me time, but they mostly save my sanity.”
There’s no escaping the fact that content creators can use dozens of tabs and windows to create a single blog article. You may find yourself tabbing between search, your previously published blog articles, Evernote, Wordpress, and a word document.
Dual monitors are something of a silver bullet among blogging tips, and productivity studies have found that using two screens can improve output by as much as 20-30%! Lifestyle blogger Susan Herin has even compared blogging on a single screen, after months of dual monitor usage, to working with one hand tied behind her back.
12. Source Images in Advance (Tina Roth Eisenberg - @SwissMiss)
“Try to get organized in other aspects of your life by using some of the tools that exist solely for that reason.”
One of the sharpest blogging tips we’ve encountered is the notion of sourcing images in advance of the writing process. And really, why not? Searching various sources for royalty-free or creative commons-licensed content can take time, and create a bottleneck in your quest to publish.
Entrepreneur, Designer, and Blogger Tina Roth Eisenberg swears by the online organization app DropMark, to create folders of blog-worthy images which can be easily searched and utilized during the content creation process.
13. Add Facts Last (Neil Patel - @NeilPatel)
"With a few quick Google searches you should be able to back up the points you are making."
Even the best-laid plans for thoroughly researching your content before beginning to write might not be enough. Great content marketers know that sometimes bold assertions demand facts, and you might not have the statistic prepared.
Kissmetrics founder Neil Patel is a firm believer that your revision process should include a look towards the credibility of your post. After you’ve finished writing, and not a moment before, examine your content to determine if you need any additional facts and figures. Being pulled into the trap of researching as you write can disrupt productivity and clarity.
How do you manage to create content efficiently without sacrificing quality? What are your favorite blogging tips for saving time?