What can you do in 30 minutes?
You can lose yourself in an episode of your favorite half-hour show on Netflix. You can get distracted by Facebook and fall into a black hole of unproductiveness. What if you could get an entire blog totally ready for publication in this amount of time? It would be pretty world-changing, wouldn’t it?
I’m not suggesting that you start publishing anything that’s less than awesome in the name of efficiency. Nor do I think that every blog you write should take 30 minutes or less; it’s much better to provide a variety of article lengths and depths to your readers.
However, learning to improve your efficiency can only make you a stronger content marketer. In the time you save, you’ll be able to spend more time on content promotion methods, networking, and generally becoming more effective at what you do.
Keep in mind, this is only one process, but it’s a process I’ve refined over the past few years as a professional content marketer. Individual results may vary, so I’ve made sure to suggest modifications to the process. Are you ready to totally revolutionize the way you work? Here we go!
Before you start:
1. Have Your Tools in Place
When I blog, I usually compose in Google Docs, find my statistics and facts via Factbrowser.com, capture screen caps with Microsoft’s Snipping Tool, and pull my stock images from FreeDigitalPhotos.net. These aren’t the only resources I use.
I love quite a few different content creation tools, many of which you can find here. The important thing really is knowing how you’ll accomplish what you need to when you first sit down to write, because switching tools can be highly time-consuming, and distracting.
It’s the same concept as really preparing your environment, which leads us into our next point nicely.
2. Prepare Your Environment
I like to write at coffee shops. Random, quiet noises are my productive spot, so much so that I’ve even been known to stream Coffivity’s noises when I work from home or the office.
However, some people need abject silence and an uber-clean interface like Ommwriter to get anything done. That’s fine. Know how you work, and be sure you’ve optimized your environment before you start, from background noise to your favorite chair.
3. Know What You’re Writing
Every day when I browse the internet and catch up on blogs I follow; it’s with part of my mind focused on thinking about the content I’ll be writing over the next week. If I discover a new study or blog that would serve as an awesome resource, I’ll bookmark it, or even copy/paste it directly into my editorial calendar.
When I sit down to write, I typically have at least one high-quality resource already set aside to serve as a citation. Even if I don’t, the important thing is knowing the basic topic and/or keyword I’ll be covering, so my writing time is just that, and I don’t lose focus by trying to pick a topic.
For true insight into my typical creative process, here’s how I get a blog article done in 30 minutes:
0-2 Minutes: Think about what you’re doing:
First things first:
- Is your head really wrapped around what you’re going to cover in this post?
- How many words are you aiming for?
- Are you taking a particular angle or opinion?
- How are you going to differentiate your content?
Even though you might not get any words on paper in your first couple minutes, I think this stage of the process is crucial.
0-5 Minutes: Know what you’re up against:
To be fair, you won’t need to spend three minutes on this every single time. True experts can probably just jump into outlining. However, if you’re not exactly sure what’s already been written about your topic-matter or keyword, perform a few quick searches to be sure, and ask yourself the following:
- Has this topic been covered extensively?
- How can I add value to the dialogue around these keywords?
- How can I inject my brand’s values into this subject?
0-8 Minutes: Outline your blog
Forget everything you learned in English class about proper outlines - you know, the ones with both Roman numerals and a basic overview of every sentence you’ll write.
Your outlines don’t need to be detailed. No one is going to see them but you. The important thing is to create a basic direction for your blog, so you can stick to the plan and deliver something that flows well. If I’m writing a research blog, I’ll usually create a sentence or two about each paragraph. If I’m working on a list post, I’ll create my subheaders.
8-20 Minutes: Flesh out the body of the post
Maybe I’m weird, but I don’t always create my content in order. In fact, I basically always write my introductions second-to-last. This probably isn’t going to be the easiest part of efficient content creation, but it’s crucial. Flesh out the body of your post. The following tips and hacks help me immensely at this stage:
1. Research as-you-go: Ask yourself whether each list point or subheader is credible. If not, add statistics and quotations.
2. Abandon if necessary: Struggling on a certain point? It's okay, skip it and come back to it later.
3. Be Ruthless About Distracting? Do you feel your mind wandering, or your fingers itching to go check out your Twitter? Resist the temptation at all costs. If necessary, chuck your phone across the room (I'm joking of course, but discipline is critical!)
20-22 Minutes: Write your intro
Introductions are pretty much the same as a first impression, so make it a good one. Set the stage for your article by providing context for your content, and be sure to add an opening line that’s sufficiently intriguing to hook in your reader.
22-24 Minutes: Include a Call-to-Action
What action do you want your readers to take? Would you like them to:
- Leave a comment
- Check out relevant content
- Download your eBook
- or Share your post on social media?
Pen a compelling and persuasive concluding section that entices your readers to keep engaging. To learn more, check out 15 Call to Action Samples for Rocking Blog Posts that Convert.
24-26 Minutes: Source an Image or Two
Using Creative Commons Search or a site like PhotoPin, source images for your content that enhance your overall message. Don’t settle! Pick high-quality images that will stand out in a newsfeed. If possible, gain some proficiency with an image-editing tool, so you can add text overlays in seconds.
26-29 Minutes: Edit Your Work
In a perfect world, these three minutes will occur a bit after the fact. I believe editing is always more effective when you’re looking at your content with fresh eyes. However, if you’re on a self-imposed or real deadline, I recommend following the steps below to edit fast:
- Edit your subheaders for power and descriptiveness
- Read your subheader content for spelling, grammar, and flow.
- Ensure your introduction is compelling.
- Evaluate your call-to-action for persuasiveness.
- Double-check that your title is nothing less than superb.
29-30 Minutes: Write a Meta Description
Create 140-160 characters of truly great content to describe your blog on search engines. Ensure it’s descriptive, engaging, and will entice plenty of click-throughs.
Wondering how long this blog took me, including adding images, citations, and proofreading? The answer is 29 minutes, from start to finish (and that includes getting a refill on my coffee).
Have you reduced the amount of time it takes you to create content? Which efficiency or productivity hacks did you find most helpful?