Mondays are productivity days at SimpleProductivity blog.
Your life is full, right? And if you want to blog, that means taking time away from something else, like family. Not a good tradeoff.
However, applying productivity principles to blogging can make a big difference in how much time you spend on it.
First of all, if you haven’t read the Simple Blogging book, do so. Rachel Meeks covers all many topics like balance and handling email. For someone who is not blogging full-time, this book has many tips in it to make the balance possible. (See my review at Make Blogging Work With Your Life. A Review: Simple Blogging )
Now, onto my tips. Please note that these are techniques that I use day in and day out, and they work for me. Your mileage may vary.
I do not write the post you see on the blog the day it goes up, or even the day before. I schedule posts out, trying to go for the following balance:
- Two full weeks of posts scheduled to publish
- One week of posts in the writing/editing phase
- One week of posts in the decide/outline phase
This may not work on every blog, but my blog is not about current events, so my content is not as time dependent. While this may lead me to write holiday articles in October, or summer gardening articles when the spring winds are blowing, it gives me flexibility.
I am not always at this balance. In fact, I am writing this article the week before it goes out, and I am conscious of being behind. But even being behind schedule still gives me enough cushion so that I am not in a daily write/publish cycle.
I use several tools to help me get to this place.
Use An Organized Writing System
Whether you write in a notebook, or in a series of text files, keep your writing organized. I use NoteStudio, a now-defunct piece of software that is a personal wiki. It allows me to link between pages, and with a bit of programming, I made scripts to give me lists of articles in their various stages.
If you don’t want to use something that complex, try organizing your files by date so that you can match the posts back to your editorial calendar.
Use An Editorial Calendar
I have a spreadsheet that has a page for every month. On that month, I can see at a glance where I am. I use conditional formatting to highlight cells, letting me know which articles should already be out on the site, and what is coming up.
Every Sunday I sit down and decide on the articles coming up for the week that is in the decision phase, and I write the working titles down on the spreadsheet. I then fill out the page in Notestudio, and fill in the basics of the HTML (using Breevy to automate this process).
Don’t Wait for the Muse to Strike
One thing I have learned, above all others, is that I cannot wait for inspiration to strike if I am going to get out five posts a week for this blog. My experience has shown me that if I wait until I have an idea or I feel like writing, I don’t write.
So I write as often as I can, even if I don’t have the right words. That’s what editing is for.
Little and Often
Mark Forster’s principle of Little and Often (from Do It Tomorrow) comes into play for my writing. I rarely sit down and write a post, start to finish, in one sitting. Instead, I have various posts in different stages. My first pass at the article is to decide on the topic. Then I outline it. Then I write it in chunks as time allows. Then I put in the photo and links. Then I post the article to the blog in a draft status. Finally, I proof the article and set it ready to be published.
Each one of these steps is necessary to the article, but can be done in little bits of time. I do some writing every day, and fit it in whenever I have a few moments.
Have An Idea File
I challenge myself to brainstorm an idea each day for the blog. Some of these may be utter trash, but many of them find their way into the blog. With a list of ideas, I can quickly pick articles for the upcoming posts.
Whenever I get feedback through comments or email, I also put these suggestions into my idea file. These are marked with a * so that I can distinguish them and give them priority over other ideas.
Sometimes I have an idea for an article that may need a little research or incubation. I start these articles in my drafts, and keep them there. Other times I may re-read an article at the editing phase and decide to pull it because it is not making sense. I put these in the drafts as well.
Twice a year or so I go through my drafts and polish some of the articles up and get them out the door, either on my blog or on another. Others are left to incubate. But I never throw anything away.
Reply to Comments Once A Week
One of the things I have been trying in the past month is to reply to every comment. To keep this from being overwhelming, I mostly do this on the weekends rather than trying to pack it in on the weekdays. Every Saturday morning I take a bit of time and go through the comments from the last week, replying as I go.
These are the things I do to make my blogging as productive as I can. By planning, writing often and having ideas of what I am going to write, I can keep up a publishing schedule without overwhelming myself.
Photo by orangeacid