Blogging is a bit like dieting – we all know we need to do it but the day-to-day discipline and effort required feels completely overwhelming! Like you, I need to run my business, serve my clients and squeeze in all the personal/family to-dos. But I can now honestly point to years of consistent, weekly blogging (over 1,000 posts) despite these daily demands.
How do I blog? Here are my secrets for publishing a weekly blog post in 60 minutes:
- One hour to plan out the year: Each year I map out an annual editorial calendar. I comb the web for studies and surveys that uncover what topics and questions keep my readers (business owners) up at night. I select twelve of these topics and assign one to each month of the year. (For example, this month’s theme is “How do I get found on the Internet?”)
- 10 minutes to plan out the month: I then make twelve virtual or paper folders and insert articles, jotted ideas, etc. whenever something of interest passes my inbox or Twitter feed. Each month, I look in my folder and assign a draft headline to each week. (This month I decided to split my articles into the four search categories: Direct, Referrals, Local Search and Global Organic Search (this article).)
- 10 minutes for creative brainstorming: The night before my post (in my case Sunday evenings), I sit with my iPad and let my thoughts take any creative, fun route they desire. I brainstorm my topic, surf the web and jot notes -- no expectations or time pressure, just creative flow. I then email myself my thoughts for the next morning.
- 10 Minutes for free writing: I learned this technique from the inspirational book Accidental Genius: Using Writing to Generate Your Best Ideas, Insight and Content by Mark Levy. Since getting started is usually the biggest barrier in writing, I set a 10 minute timer and warm up by writing as fast as I can any thoughts that come into my head related to the topic at hand - no editing, no spell-check, no organizing. Since the evening before I had started the process with some background facts and ideas, I start this process with enthusiasm. The volume I produce in this short 10-minute window always amazes me.
- 30 minutes to edit and polish: After my free writing timer beeps, I let my internal editor kick in. I cut, rearrange, highlight and polish but again only allow myself a limited window of time.
- 10 Minutes to push it out: I load the blog post into WordPress, making sure I select the appropriate tags and keywords to assist in search. To make sure my content gets pushed out into the web world, I use Hootsuite to pre-program 5-7 daily fun facts or teasers to push out the post to my social media networks.
- What worked? Every few month I look back on the metrics (comments, visits, retweets, likes, etc.) to see what posts resonated and which were lackluster. These observations I then bake into my future editorial calendar.
How do you blog? Share your tips in the Comments section below.