How long does it really take to create content? Reports vary, but many experts claim they work on an article for anywhere between 2 hours and several days. Are people on the quicker side creating low-quality stuff? Not necessarily - they’ve probably just mastered the art of productivity. I’ve been creating web content professionally since late 2010. On a typical day, I write anywhere between 2,000-3,500 words of really great stuff. I’ve learned more than a few tricks to speed myself up during my years at the keyboard. I’ve decided to provide you all with unprecedented, exclusive access into how I get it all done and save time blogging on a daily basis:
1. Outline First
Forget everything your high school English teacher taught you about writing a good outline - including developing a framework for each paragraph. I save time blogging by developing the headers for list posts, or the paragraph topics for essay-based articles in advance.
2. Don’t Write in Order
List posts are among the most popular and shareable kinds of content online. They’re particularly easy to consume, which is Buzzfeed consistently goes viral. When you’re developing list content for your own blog, don’t feel you need to flesh out each item from top-to-bottom. When taking this approach, it’s crucial to read the post once you’ve finished for flow - but the “attack and complete” approach is one powerful way to save time blogging.
3. Research As-You-Go
Some writers prefer to gather all their sources in advance. I’m sure it’s a highly valid tactic, especially if you’re working on an academic project. However, no such rules exist for blogging, and you could find that your citation needs change as you get further into the project. Find sources on an as-needed basis, to ensure you save time blogging, don’t waste time getting ready to start.
4. Avoid Self-Editing
Perhaps the worst thing you can do for your productivity is stopping to self-edit. It doesn’t matter if your sentences are too long or you’ve picked the wrong word - these minor problems are what the editing process is for. You’ll reach your end goal much quicker if you write with as few stops as possible. I’ve always been an advocate of editing my work once it’s complete, but my friends with a tendency to self-edit as they write report that nipping this habit in the bug is a highly effective way to save time blogging.
5. Use HARO
Need an expert source for your upcoming article? Use Help a Reporter Out (HARO) to pitch your query to 200,000 experts. Submitting your question takes around 2 minutes, and the responses will begin pouring in within hours. You’ll likely find it’s the fastest way to source original content for your articles, and far more effective than putting questions on your Twitter or Facebook. Crowdsourcing isn’t always effective, particularly if you’re still building your following on social media, but HARO cuts right to the chase so you can save time blogging.
6. Switch Concepts Quickly
I’ll be the first to admit that sometimes posts don’t exactly write themselves. If you’re pressed to develop something for publication, fighting through a topic that you just can’t hack might not be the best choice. I’m a huge fan of switching topics to save time blogging if you find yourself 15 minutes in, and with little progress to show for it.
7. Use Write or Die
Efficient blogging is a function of experience - but you can totally cheat and improve your efficiency without blogging for years. The Write or Die app isn’t for the faint of heart, but it’s highly effective. It’s cheap, and you’ll gain access to exercises that disable your backspace button, or require you to hit a certain word count, fast!
8. Don’t Leave the Zone
Every writer has a magical state of total productivity - for convenience’s sake, we’ll call it the zone. This is when words come easily, and your thoughts flow quickly onto the screen. When you reach this point, don’t leave. Don’t answer your cell phone, don’t check your Facebook, and don’t stop.
9. Avoid Burn-Out
When you write thousands of words a day for years, you run the risk of burnout. Actually, you could find yourself up against creative exhaustion much faster if you’re not careful. As blogger Mattis Weiler points out, the most challenging thing is to “take action consistently.” Reward yourself for a job well done by taking frequent breaks, and full weekends off from the job whenever possible.
10. Maintain an Editorial Calendar
There are two types of bloggers in this world - those who maintain an editorial calendar, and those who don’t. Trust me when I tell you that the ones who save time blogging not only have an editorial calendar, they keep it up to date. When you’re reading other blogs or catching up on your favorite tech sources, quickly transfer any bursts of inspiration into your content plan for the month.
11. Batch Tasks
There’s a lot of ancillary work that goes on behind-the-scenes for content marketers. Things like responding to comments, checking your metrics, planning, and outreach. I typically blaze through these duties as soon as I get to my desk in the morning. This approach might not work for everyone, especially morning people, so the important thing is to batch tasks. Respond to comments at least once daily, but don’t interrupt your writing time for administrative duties so you can save time blogging.
12. Get a Second Monitor
All you really need to create content is a computer and an internet connection. However, you’ll find that your productivity jumps drastically if you invest in a second monitor. Believe me, whatever price you pay is worth every penny as you’re more effectively able to research without navigating between tabs.
13. Know Your Vice
Every blogger has at least one internet vice, which leads to a rabbit hole of procrastination when they should be creating content. For many people, it’s probably Facebook, Pinterest, or Twitter. Personally, I’m an obsessive email checker, so I’ve invested in Inbox Pause. This Gmail app whisks all of my new messages into a special folder, so I won’t become distracted while writing. The best marketers save time blogging by knowing their weaknesses, and using technology to combat it.
14. Set Deadlines
Content creation is a creative process, but I believe you’ve got to put guidelines in place. When I’m writing, I set deadlines, and I typically hit them. Once or twice, I’ve even been known to race other writer friends to reach a certain word cont.
15. Have a Rock-Solid Editing Process
Are you lucky enough to have a staff editor? Well, you can skip this section. If you’re like the majority of small business marketers without much support, it’s crucial to strreamline and define your editing process. My typical approach looks something like the following:
- Step away from the content! Take at least an hour off after writing before you edit.
- Do a quick read-through for any glaring issues with structure, tone, or citations.
- Upload to Wordpress (or Blogger or HubSpot), format for SEO.
- Ensure the post contains appropriate internal links for SEO.
- Read over it once more, and schedule for publication.
Eager to learn more about how you can save time blogging? Check out our article, 13 Time-Saving Blogging Tips from the World’s Busiest Marketers!