“You have to blog 71 times a week if you want any traffic.”
“No you don’t! You’re better off writing one killer post every few weeks.”
Those are extreme examples, sure. But the debates on what it takes to succeed with a blog are endless.
I’m not about to wade into the quality vs. quantity debate. That’s a topic for another post. All I’ll say on that front: why not both?
Whatever your position on this issue, I think all of us can agree that it would be great to be productive with whatever time we have to blog… whether that’s 10 minutes or 10 hours a week.
I’ve written a TON of blog posts over the past four years. When you combine personal and client projects, that number is probably in the thousands.
During that time I’ve figured out a few strategies that help me stay productive.
Everyone’s writing process is different, so your mileage may vary.
With that said, I’m hopeful that you’ll glean at least a few things you can apply today to write blog posts faster.
My blog posts start well before I put pen to paper or finger to keyboard.
The first thing I do is read. The idea is to familiarize yourself with the topic. Run a Google search for popular articles, news stories, and other blog posts about it.
Set aside some time and read your way through it. Sometimes I will highlight something interesting or jot down a note or two. Mostly I’m just reading, reading, reading. Immersing myself in the topic.
This doesn’t have to be like preparing a college thesis. Usually you can get a good bird’s eye view of the topic in 30 minutes. After you read half a dozen articles, you’ll fill in gaps in your knowledge and come away from the process with a new angle for your post.
Once you’re swimming in information, do a different task for a while. Take a break from thinking about it and allow your subconscious to take over. Then you’re ready for the next step.
I have a love-hate relationship with outlining.
On one hand I despise the structure. I just want to write and see where the words take me. On the other hand, having a few guide marks to follow is nice when you feel lost.
The compromise I ended up making: a loose outline. I name and arrange the major sections, and include a short summary of each. This gives me a bit of order while keeping things flexible. I end up spending less time on revisions, which always makes me happy.
This is a personal preference. Some bloggers don’t use outlines at all. Others go into a ton of detail, basically writing a first draft except for a few stylings and transitions.
Play around with this and figure out what works the best for you.
3. Word Vomit (First Draft)
Now we’re getting to the good stuff…
Ready to go?
Pull up your outline on one monitor. Ideally, turn off the internet, silence your phone, and slaughter every distraction.
Set a timer for a set time. Start it up, write with abandon until it goes off. I work in 50-minute chunks, with 10-minute breaks between them. You might like the Pomodoro Method, which is 25 on and 5 off.
Write fast. Feel free to jump around to whatever section of the post catches your interest at that moment. No, things won’t be perfect. But that’s okay because you’ll clean it up later. It’s a heck of a lot easier to edit words once they’re on the page.
Sometimes this will feel sloppy. Self-doubt, that critical voice that tells you that you aren’t good enough, will trail you like a shadow. Just keep writing. Don’t look back. Outrun it!
I’ve found that the critical voice never really goes away, but the more you blog, the better you get at tuning it out.
4. Revise Ruthlessly
Once you finish your draft, do something else for a while then come back to the post fresh.
What I do: I start reading it aloud. Whenever I get to a part that sounds awkward, clumsy or repetitive, I change it.
Clarity trumps being witty. How can you get your message across in as few words as possible?
This might be slow going if you’re new to blogging. However, just like with writing itself, practice will make you faster.
If you need some editing tips on the fly, copy and paste your post into the Hemingway app. It shows you where the weak words are and pinpoints difficult sentences. Best of all? It’s completely free.
5. Move On
This step is the hardest one for perfectionists like myself.
Once you revise a few times, load that post into your CMS and hit “publish.”
No work is ever finished; it’s abandoned. Better to start thinking about that next post than spend months chasing perfection. If something is 95% awesome right now, and it would take 20 hours to get it to 98%, isn’t there a better use of your time?
This is liberating when you think about it. Instead of obsessing about getting one post just write, you just write more of them. And it’s that productive output which will improve your quality.
All of this sound like hard work?
I have some news for you: it is! Be wary of all the “gurus” out there promising to hack the process. This tips will help, but the most important one I can give you is to practice, practice, practice.
If all of that sounds like too much commitment, hire me to do it for you while you focus on running your business.
That’s all for today. Good luck writing your blog posts faster!