Blogging is not easy and you know it—if you tell me it is, either you’re an excellent (and quite rare) writer or you don’t know what you’re talking about and you’ve never run a blog!?? Write a post, publish it, and wait for the money to come into your pocket. What a beautiful dream! That’d be awesome, wouldn’t it? Reality is much more complicated. If you do have a blog, you know how difficult it is to stay focused and don’t waste your time. That’s why productivity is so important—you need to get the most out of your time to run a successful blog.
Content creation is a creative process with two stages—inspiration and composition. Increasing your productivity means reducing the required time for producing new content, so that you can publish high-quality content consistently and continuously. As always, it’s easier said tan done. There’s a lot to do and your time and resources are probably limited. Today, I’ll share a few tips and tricks that my colleagues at Nelio and I apply in our own blog.
1. Know Yourself
I’m sure you know some people that are extremely active in the morning, whereas others can’t even get started way after their first coffee. Some people work better in quiet places, other need a hectic cafeteria. We’re all different. And that’s OK—what works for me might not work for you (unless you tweak it ?).
You need to know when your productivity is at its peak and get things done at that particular moment. Schedule the most complicated and tedious tasks at your peak and they’ll become easier, because you’ll face them in a safe environment, when you’re full of energy. Leave simple and trivial tasks for other moments in the day, when there’s no need to be completely focused to complete them.
If you don’t know how to get started or when to do what, then knowing when people is the most active might help you. Usually, the best time for working is from 10 to 12 in the morning, when we’re well awake and our productivity is at its peak. Another good time for getting things done is an hour or so after lunch—you might feel dozy right after lunch ?. But, as I said, no one knows you better than yourself, so you’re the one who has to decide which time works the best for you. Try to work at different times and see which one helps you to accomplish the most.
2. Schedule Your Blog
If you find yourself wasting a lot of time in your blog, it’s probably because you haven’t planned anything ahead. If you need to stop and think about what to write, you’re wasting your time. Period.
The easiest way to plan and track your upcoming posts in a blog is using an editorial calendar. We already discussed what an editorial calendar is and how it can help you, but I want to emphasize once again its importance—the calendar offers a quick overview of all the content you’ll have to work on during the next few weeks. If it’s empty, you need to spend a few minutes scheduling a few posts, so that when the time comes, you know what to do.
Here at Nelio, we always plan the content of our blog 4 weeks in advance. This plan includes all the topics we’ll cover in the upcoming weeks (two posts per week) and the author responsible of actually writing it. This way, we all know what we’re supposed to do, we can organize our own days as we please, and things are done on time.
If you think that planning content in advance is complicated, it isn’t—in our particular case, it takes less than an hour once a month. Just write down the topics you want to discuss, decide who’ll write them (if you’re alone, that’ll be you ?), and schedule each post for a certain date. It’s super easy and it really frees your mind! ?
3. Work in Batches
Don’t try to do all at once when writing new content, or completing a post will take forever and you’ll quickly get bored of your blog. Divide your work in small chunks and address one or two at a time, so that each time you complete one of them, you can get the feeling of work progressing. In my particular case, I always tackle post creation in four easy steps:
- Documentation: first and foremost, I look for some information and references, so that I have a better understanding of the topic I’ll cover in my post. Once I have found enough resources, I save them somewhere so that I can link them in my post. To do this, I use Nelio Content’s suggested references.
- Meta-data: the next step is completing my post’s meta-data, including categories and tags, featured image, and SEO fields (we use Yoast for that).
- Writing: next, I simply write the post itself, making sure I link all the references from the first step. This is a complicated step, so you might want to divide it into a few sub-steps. For instance, you might want to decide an outline of the post first, then fill each section, and finally write the introduction and conclusion sections.
- Revision: finally, I read my post and fix any typos I might find, add any missing images, check all links, and schedule the promotion of this post in social media (I cover this topic later on this post).
Once the post is ready, I ask one of my partners to proof-read it once again. We then translate it into English (we usually write the first version of the post in Spanish) and schedule both versions, so that WordPress publishes the post automatically when the time comes. This workflow helps me focus on one important aspect at a time and, in the end, makes me more efficient.
4. Write—Seriously, Just Write
When you’re writing a post, just write. I know it’s an obvious tip, but believe me when I tell you, it’s super easy to get distracted while working on a post—you receive an email, someone mentions you on Twitter, your partner sends you a chat message… there’s plenty of interruptions in our daily lives, and they do happen while we’re writing posts! The blank white page can be frightening—don’t let your smartphone get in the way.
Avoid interruptions as much as possible. Turn your phone off or set it to Do not disturb while working on your blog. It’ll only be for one or two hours, and you’ll really appreciate the “silent” time. If you can do it (I know it’s not easy), you won’t waste any time and the time spent on writing will be much more productive.
5. Automate Content Promotion
In a previous post, we talked about the importance of promoting your content in social media to reach your audience. It’s usually said you should spend 20% of your time on writing content and 80% on promoting it. That’s a lot of time in promotion, isn’t it? ? It’s so much time, that you might be tempted to skip it.
You can’t (and shouldn’t) spend your whole day on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and other networks promoting your blog. You need some time for writing new content, thinking about upcoming posts, replying to the comments in your blog… not to mention other tasks such as updating your blog, dealing with emails, or answering phone calls. Gosh, don’t you want to grab a beer somewhere? You can’t! There’s no time!!
Clearly, you can’t spend so much time on social media. However, there’s people who are always active there—day and night, every day. How is that possible? The answer is automation. There’s plenty of tools that’ll help you to manage your blog and will automate several tasks.
One such tool is Nelio Content, our plugin for automating content creation and promotion in WordPress. Right after I finished this post, I scheduled several social messages that will be automatically shared once the post is published and during the following days. Sure, it adds some extra work when writing the post, but writing this messages while crafting a post is completely straightforward—it takes no more than 5 minutes to schedule all these messages, and once I’ve done it I know that my post will pop up in my social accounts for a while, echoing its existence to my followers and, hopefully, reaching a broader audience.
6. Let Others Work For You
You can’t do everything all by yourself. You might think you can, but you can’t. If you really plan to run a successful blog, you’ll eventually need some help. Sooner or later, someone will have to help you to run that extra mile.
Delegating responsibilities is not easy. But you’d better get used to it. Prioritize tasks and decide who’s responsible of what. And, please, try to be realistic when estimating the complexity and duration of task—if you don’t, you might end up asking impossible things to your partners. The more accurate you are at estimating the amount of work a task takes, the better your blog will be.
In our case, blog responsibilities are divided between the three of us. Each week, two of us will write one post each and the third one will benefit from a week off (even though they might have to proof-read the posts). Oh! And if we’re talking about content translation, we sometimes outsource it so that we can save some time and allocate our resources somewhere else.
7. When Everything Falls Apart, Relax
Even if you follow all these tips, things might go wrong at some point. It always happen. Sometimes we don’t know how to write a post or we don’t find new ideas. It’s OK, don’t panic. Take some time off and relax.
Go out for a walk, grab a cup of coffee, or visit a friend. Just get away from the problem for a while and, I promise, when you retake it, things will look different. Make sure you have some spare time in your day—pauses are very important to maximize your productivity.
What About You?
These are my 7 tips to increase the productivity of your blog. But I’m sure there’s more of them! How do YOU manage your blog? If you have a special technique that makes you the best blogger ever, just let us know
Featured Image by Carli Jeen.