All this week, we’re taking an in-depth look at the process of content creation in the form of blog posts, which most budding Internet entrepreneurs will utilize in some fashion in content marketing. Today’s topic: how to find the time to get great content together and put it out there for consumption.
Finding the time to blog.
It’s one of the biggest problems my clients and countless other bloggers out there face. Between running a business, taking care of personal and family obligations, and actually, y’know, working, it can seem like an overwhelming task.
And therein lies the problem, in my humble opinion. We look at “it” — content creation and publication — as a single task.
It most definitely isn’t. It’s a bunch of related tasks, and when you look at it like that, somehow, it starts to seem a whole lot more manageable.
The Solution Is Systems
What is a system? I define it like this:
System: a workflow (series of management tasks) designed to minimize duplication of effort and make ongoing repetitive work tasks easier and more efficient
By breaking up tasks into similar groups, and essentially chunking your content work schedule, then adopting workable systems for each separate group, you can make blogging ever so much easier.
So, instead of thinking of it as “writing and publishing a post,” think of it as:
- Generating content ideas
- Scheduling posts
- Writing posts
- Formatting and polishing posts
- Optimizing posts for search engines
Then schedule each of these tasks as a group, preferably on separate days.
Note: This system really only works if you have an editorial calendar for your blog, at least for the upcoming week.
Annie’s Way-Easy Blogging System
Maybe an example would help. So, here’s how I do it.
I start with an editorial calendar for the month, which I usually begin creating around the middle of the previous month.
Then, on the Friday before the week in question, I take fifteen minutes to review the posts from the current week. I update the editorial calendar to make sure it’s an accurate listing of the topics I’ve covered. (This is important because I use the last month’s editorial calendar when I create the next month’s, because I don’t want to overemphasize topics I’ve already covered.)
I also use this time to review the posts for possible places I can add intra-blog editorial links.
Next, I look ahead to the following week. I check out my files to see if I had any huge flashes of inspiration that might warrant changing the EC around a bit. I make those changes and solidify my plan as to what’s gonna get posted when. This might mean I change the order of posts a bit — for instance, if I’m covering a topic that touches on another topic, I might want to schedule one of those posts before the other, if it logically makes sense to do so.
For my filing system, I use Circus Ponies Notebook (a Mac app), and start a new weekly page in that notebook file. If you have a Mac, I highly encourage you to check out this incredibly powerful application. But you can also use One Note, plain text files, or any word processing app; just name your files descriptively and keep them in a dedicated file folder on your hard drive so you can find them easily.
Note: Plain text files are way underappreciated, I think. They’re totally clean — there’s absolutely zero of those weird codes that sometimes import from word processing software. And with a descriptive name for the file and saving it to the desktop, you can access them easily. Leave the relevant text file up and running as you do your brainstorming, reading/commenting, or other tasks, and it’s even easier.
Finally (still on Fridays), I brainstorm each topic. I flesh out each main point into three to five sub-points that I can use to develop the topic. When I’m done, I have an outline for each of the next week’s posts.
On Saturdays, I write. Since I’m just fleshing out the points I outlined the day before, this actually doesn’t take much time. I usually set aside about two hours for this process, knowing I’ll have time to revisit and refine each post the next day.
Finally, on Sundays, I do the refinement work. I polish, I format, I optimize my images, I do the SEO work, and I give each post a final preview in the WordPress dashboard, to make sure it all looks good. Then, I schedule each post to publish at six AM EST on successive days.
Each set of tasks takes less than two hours. Six blog posts total takes five or fewer hours a week (exception: foundational content which I schedule way ahead of time and work on a little bit throughout).
During the next week, I set aside additional chunks of time to read other people’s blogs, comment on blog posts, etc. If I see something during this process that either triggers a good idea for a new blog post or would be relevant to something already in the pipeline, I copy the URL to a fresh page in the notebook file (or a new text file) with a note to add it.
When I’m done doing my reading and commenting, I review that page, fire up the WordPress dashboard, and make all those changes to my blog posts. That’s the last chunk in the system.
If you can’t find five hours a week to market your business, I’d suggest the problem isn’t marketing — it’s your business and time management practices in those other areas. Marketing your business (especially an internet business) absolutely must be a priority.
That’s the basic system. In each of the next four posts, we’ll look more closely at systems for each specific task, as well as some additional tips to help you master the art of easy, breezy content creation without the heartbreak of trichotillomania.