Is finding time to blog something you struggle with? A number of people have asked me how they can find time to blog on top of everything else that I have going on.
Writing content is vitally important for your blog. It is your source of direct visitors, plus the meat of what you share in social media, the combination of which is essentially all the marketing many of us do. Your content attracts and maintains a relationship with your subscribers, and it is also what prompts readers to take action, even if that action is simply a blog comment.
Without regularly added, fresh, original, useful content … well, your blog becomes the web equivalent of the Pacific Junk Patch.
One thing you might have noticed though is that I don’t stick to a rigid writing schedule. This helps me find time to work on my blog around other commitments, but is only possible for me because of a few factors:
- I already have a reasonably sized, engaged audience. You might say I have some “credit in the bank”.
- “Traffic” is not something I rely on for my income. Providing I help enough people work towards their own goals then I will attract “few but enough” customers to pay my bills.
- My philosophy is that you are only as good as your last post. Given the choice between “phoning it in” to keep up an arbitrary schedule and waiting to post something I am happy with … well, you guessed right, I wait.
You might not have these luxuries so need to balance your schedule a little more in favour of keeping in touch with subscribers more often but without making it too taxing a job for you.
My approach is to offer my loyal audience content you will want to bookmark, give you actionable tips via the benefit of my experience. If I succeed then I get more subscribers and clients, and really, unlike many bloggers my subscribers and customers are the only people I need to worry about where my blog is concerned.
I have no advertisers to keep sweet, and I don’t intend ever selling my blog, so I have no need to inflate my page views. Providing I do well with keeping my readers happy then my peer group and potential partners will also be happy.
If however you make money from impressions or ad clicks then you will need to get your traffic up and maintain that high level. That makes having a more rigorous publishing schedule a priority.
At the same time you can’t let your quality suffer because you are pushing quantity, making your productivity even more important.
Most of my readers are individuals, professionals or small businesses, so it might be well within your reach to shift your online business model to be more about authority than page views and clicks. If that is the case for you then focus on one solid article a week rather that try to achieve an unrealistic schedule – that might be all the solution you need. If you do want to eek out a few more hours in your week though, read on for some more tips!
How can you find time to not just write but create great content?
- Set time aside – preferably quiet, focused time with zero distractions. I recommend actually putting this time in your diary and sticking to it. If you try to “catch 10 minutes” then you are going to either keep pushing the task back or you are going to find that time just vanishes altogether. Also setting a specific time allows your subconscious to prepare.
- Write in Batches, and if possible schedule your posts in advance – Most blogging software such as WordPress allows you to write articles in advance and set the date and time when they should go “live”, visible on your blog. Publishing in advance allows you to write in quieter times and have the articles visible at busy times. While I no longer do this on chrisg.com I have always done this when writing for clients (when you have a contract for a certain number of posts per month it is not a good idea to write them just before they are meant to be sent out to subscribers!). Writing in batches allows you to get into a flow and you will find the writing process far more fluid than trying to task switch between your main job and being a writer. Darren often has cafe days where he will sit and batch write a whole raft of posts, and he ran away to a hotel to complete his work on the Problogger book!
- Jot down ideas as they come to you – When you relax your brain or think about something else is when some of your best ideas will come to you, so make sure you store those ideas on a notepad, in your phone, or on some scrap of paper! A really cool aspect of the WordPress is you can use multiple tools, even email, to send a draft of a post to your blog for later use. I have a whole bunch of draft posts that are just headlines and some bullets waiting for me to complete them.
- Repurpose content – “Repurposing” is taking your content and using it in a different location, in a different way, or re-packaging it. So I might take a series of posts and create an ebook, or I might expand an article into a presentation. Someone might request they republish my article in their newsletter. It can work the other way though, and it can be a great way to fill your blog. Take points from your presentations and write them up as blog posts. Maybe you have a transcript that you can copy and paste as a starting point? Have you got a section of a report or ebook tat you can use? Emails to customers? Existing content is an asset to be reused if you are creative!
- Answer questions – Taking the last point further, my customer, coaching client and audience questions are my best source of content. This post came from a question I get asked a lot and was asked in interviews twice last week. When you answer a question in email, on a forum, in a chat, blog comment, or in an interview with a transcript, then you can copy, paste and edit to create a post. The best part? You KNOW it is on-topic and relevant.
- Have a system – My coaching clients know that I have a writing system that allowed me to write for at one point twelve different blogs at once. This has meant I have written thousands of articles, and to be honest was probably too many because people were telling me I was getting over exposed! In brief, use headline formulas, write an outline, create without stopping, turn off the internal editor until you have a first draft. People try to write the whole thing at once and get stuck switching from creating to editing and back again. Don’t do that – split the creative part from the editing part and you will work with your brain rather than against it!
- Failing all that – outsource! If you still struggle then get guest writers, pay writers, or what I think is a really smart move, get an editor to take your thoughts and ideas and polish them into finished articles.
These might not be silver bullets but they do work. While my family is watching TV I can sit with them with my laptop tapping out outlines, drafts, or editing. Some times it will take three or even four days for a post to get to the point where I am happy to hit publish but I have also had articles written in under half an hour that have been big hits in social media and in terms of traffic.
The big difference though is when you make time.
How do you find time to blog? Do any of my tips work (or not) for you? Please share your thoughts, experiences and tips in the comments …
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