Are you spending too much time on blogging activities?
I’m excited to share a post by my friend Janet Barclay, a website designer and virtual marketing assistant who began blogging in 2006 and discovered a passion for writing she never realized she had. She enjoys sharing her tips with other women who own service-based businesses on her blog, Twitter, Google+ and Facebook. Join her mailing list to receive a free copy of 10 Things Your Website Needs to Attract More Clients.
Thanks so much Janet for sharing your blogging methods with us! Read on to become inspired!
Has it been months since you updated your blog due to time restraints?
Have you avoided starting a blog because you can’t figure out how to squeeze it into your already busy schedule?
You’re definitely not alone.
In a Facebook group for bloggers, I recently asked, “What is your biggest blogging challenge?” and by far the most common answer was “making time to blog.”
I’ve been blogging at least once a week for over eight years, and I’m happy to share a few of the methods I’ve used to make this rewarding activity part of my regular routine.
Consider first that there are multiple tasks involved in writing a blog post, and it’s not necessary that you do them all in one sitting – in fact, I don’t recommend that you even try.
[Tweet “Successful blogging is done in 3 phases: Planning, Writing, and Promoting.”]
Let’s break those tasks down into three phases: Planning, Writing, and Promoting.
The Planning Phase
One of the worst traps you can fall into as a blogger is sitting down to write a post without a plan in mind. You can easily waste valuable minutes, or even hours, considering different ideas and finally starting to write about a particular topic, only to realize you need to do more research or you’re just not excited about it.
Do yourself a favor and keep a running list of blogging ideas using a program like Evernote, a paper notebook, or a simple text document on your computer, tablet or phone – whatever works best for you.
Next, create a schedule so you can plan what you will blog about in the coming weeks. I find it really helpful to select a theme to focus on for a few weeks so I’m not just churning out random ideas. Doing this also creates a kind of flow from one post to the next, increasing reader engagement.
Where you maintain your schedule is also a matter of personal preference. Many bloggers swear by the Editorial Calendar plugin for WordPress, but I prefer something I can have at my fingertips. For many years I used a printed monthly calendar, but this year I downloaded an Excel calendar template so I can access it from all my devices. You’ll find lots of options if you Google free printable blog schedule.
Knowing what you’re going to blog about before you sit down to write will give you a huge jump-start.
The Writing Phase
Many bloggers are paralyzed by perfectionism. Spelling, grammar, and clarity are very important, but don’t let them interfere with your writing process. When you’re working on your first draft, just let the ideas flow. You can even use point forms and abbreviations if you like.
If you have an idea and it’s not going well, just leave it. Don’t waste time and energy agonizing over it. When you come back to it, you may be feeling more inspired, or maybe you’ll just decide it wasn’t a good idea after all. That’s okay, but don’t discard what you’ve done. You may be able to use it for another post in the future.
To keep yourself from getting carried away during the writing phase, you may find it helpful to set a timer. As you’re getting used to this new way of blogging, you will probably want to have the timer go off at regular intervals as you work, say at every 15 minutes, rather than just at the end of the allotted time. Otherwise you may find that your time is up and you’re nowhere near done.
Only when your ideas are fully fleshed out should you go back and edit for spelling, grammar, and clarity. It’s even better to let someone else look it over, because it’s easy to overlook your own mistakes.
These days visuals are an important component of blogging, and you can spend hours finding just the right photo for your post. This is especially true if you use some of the free photo sites that don’t have very good search tools. You may be reluctant to fork over your hard earned money to pay for stock photos, but you have to weigh the value of your time ($$ per hour) versus the $1 or $2 it might cost for a decent stock photo.
The Publishing Phase
Many bloggers love to write, but struggle with the technology involved with sharing their articles with the world. If this sounds like you, you should seriously consider outsourcing this task to a virtual assistant. A savvy VA will also proofread your post and format your pictures to make sure your blog enhances your professional image.
Unfortunately, your work isn’t done once your post is published. All that hard work you’ve done planning and writing will go to waste if nobody reads it. In fact, many blogging experts say you should spend more time promoting your post than writing it!
Fortunately, there are lots of ways to promote your blog posts, and many of them don’t take all that much time:
- Use Jetpack, IFTTT, or another tool to automatically share your new posts on your social media profiles
- Use Buffer, Hootsuite, or another app to schedule additional social media posts (once is not enough, especially on Twitter)
- Join a blogging community where members are committed to sharing each others’ posts – there’s power in numbers!
To contact Janet directly, you may find her at http://organizedassistant.com/