Blogging Tips 101: Manage Your Time and Get Sh*t Done
Very few bloggers have the luxury of time on their side. Most web publishers are either managing a blog part-time while they work a “real job”, or they’re full-time writers who need to produce consistent volumes of content to earn a living.
In either case, time management is crucial to a great majority of us folk in the blogosphere.
Producing content faster will either give you more money or more free time – both desirable outcomes. So let’s have a look at some blogging tips for getting more done in less hours.
But first . . .
How to fail at blogging – A step-by-step guide
Sit down at your computer. Start tapping out a few words, with no real plan or vision for how your blog post is going to turn out. After a few sentences, decide you need a pretty photo to complement that first paragraph. Head over to Flickr and spend 15 minutes searching for a nice CC-licensed image. Come back to your article and write another few lines. Decide you don’t like your opening sentence and spend a few minutes rewording it. Keep writing, then remember you need to reply to a comment on yesterday’s post. Head over to your comments section and swiftly become embroiled in a flame war between two of your readers. Spend twenty minutes reading and writing comments. Get back to your article, write another paragraph, and then realize you need to check some facts before you can publish. Spend 15 minutes searching Google for reliable information. Get hungry, abandon your blog and wander off for lunch . . . .
This is a surefire method for becoming a slow, frustrated and ultimately unsuccessful blogger. You could spend hours working in this manner – a little bit here, a little bit there – with very little output to show for it.
If you want to get serious about producing regular, high quality blog articles, you need a plan of attack.
Divide and Conquer
The act of writing isn’t as time intensive as it might appear. If you’ve got a coherent idea in your head and can operate a keyboard, you shouldn’t need endless hours to create a decent piece of copy.
The reason that some people can’t find enough time in the day for writing is that they try to do everything simultaneously.
The key to time-efficient blogging is to recognize that you’re not dealing with a single task. Rather, managing a blog is a series of individual tasks that need to be tackled one at a time.
You don’t simply “blog”, do you? No – you research, you write drafts, you edit, you source images, you reply to comments, you promote your content and you maintain your site. Try doing all of this at the same time, and two things will probably happen:
- Producing content will take you a looong time, because you’re constantly distracting yourself.
- The quality of your content will suffer, because you’re not devoting enough attention to the most important task of all: writing well.
Manage your tasks with an inverted pyramid
This is an example of how I try to handle my blogging tasks on a day to day basis. I use a “top-down” approach, where the bulk of the work is done first, early in the day, and I move through my tasks in a descending order of importance.
This is the rough draft phase, where you just sit down and hammer out as many words as possible, without worrying about style, form or spelling and grammar mistakes. The aim of the drafting phase is to simply translate your thoughts into written words. Create a rough shell of an article, which you can then develop into something worthy of publishing.
This is where you go back over your initial rough draft and polish it. Fill the gaps, fix the mistakes, restructure your copy in a logical and readable manner. Read over it several times and keep tweaking until you’re satisfied.
While research is fairly time-consuming, it doesn’t require as much mental capacity as actually creating content. I personally find that research and brainstorming article ideas are just as easy in the afternoon as they are in the morning, whereas writing and editing become more taxing as the day wears on.
Discussion and Social Media
While it’s very important to participate in the comments and foster a community on your blog, this can turn into a major time sink if you’re not careful. How many times have you sat down at your computer to write a quick blog post, but ended up just trawling through your comments for half an hour instead?
I try to get my writing, editing and research done by the middle of the afternoon, and then use the later afternoon for comments and social media. Don’t get bogged down in discussions if you’ve still got serious writing to do.
It’s preferable to do your writing in a single, uninterrupted time period, so you don’t lose your train of thought. But comments and social media can be done it little pieces throughout the day, whenever you have a spare minute.
Sourcing Photos and Videos
This is by far the easiest task of the lot, which is why I usually leave it until last. It takes very little effort to scour through Flickr and YouTube, so I know this is a job I can safely leave until the end of the day. It might take some time, but it doesn’t require much in the way of cognitive power.
This is just an example based on how I usually work. Everyone has their own strengths and weaknesses, and your pyramid might look different to mine.
The important thing is that you make an honest assessment of which tasks are the hardest for you and which are the easiest, and you use this knowledge to create a savvy blogging plan.
Finding the time
Once you’ve got your pyramid sorted out, you need to fit it into your schedule. Take whatever free time you have available throughout the day, and divide it between your various blogging tasks.
Do your most important, brain-intensive tasks at the times when you are most productive and functional.
If you work well in the morning, and have a spare hour after breakfast to do some solid writing, don’t waste this precious time with mundane administrative tasks. Shut everything else out and focus solely on producing copy.
Don’t even think about the next task in your list until you’ve finished the one you’re currently working on. While you’re writing, think only about getting the words out. Worry about form and style in the editing phase. Once you’ve got a decent looking piece of text, THEN you can start worrying about adding photos and videos.
Work your way down through the list in this manner. Save the smallest, least significant tasks for later in the day (or whenever you feel the least productive).
Even if you’re tired and lazy after dinner, you can surely muster the strength to share a post on facebook or find a couple of photos on Flickr. That hardly requires more effort than watching TV.
But if it’s past your bedtime and you’ve still got 500 words of raw copy to write and edit, you’re probably heading into desperation territory – where you either abandon the article until tomorrow, or do a rush job that doesn’t reflect your true abilities.
It’s all in your head
There’s a huge psychological advantage to knowing that the hardest part of your blogging day is behind you. If you’ve knocked over the bulk of your writing and editing earlier in the day, you’ll find the smaller tasks much less daunting.
Example 1: Oh sh*t, it’s 9 pm and I’ve still got all this writing to do, and I haven’t even found any images or replied to yesterday’s comments. Panic!
Example 2: Nice one, it’s 9 pm and my article is written. All I have to do now is find a few images, reply to some comments and I’m done. Time for a beer!
Tackle the most challenging parts of blogging at times of peak performance, and you’ll realize how easy the rest of your tasks are.
It’s only when you leave everything to the last minute that managing a blog becomes overwhelming.
But it’s not always that simple!
No, unfortunately it isn’t. Not everyone has the luxury of choosing when they work on their blog. If you’re holding down a regular 9 to 5 job, you probably don’t have custody over the most productive hours of your day.
Nonetheless, a determined and passionate blogger should be able to find little scraps of time here and there in which they can pursue their craft. During the train ride to work, on your lunch break – whenever you’ve got a bit of downtime.
And if you can sneak 15 minutes of blog writing on company time, without the boss noticing – GO FOR IT!
**Calling all bloggers**. This is a chance for you to share your own ideas about effective writing and time management. If you’ve got something to add, please deposit your pearl of wisdom in the comments section below. We’d love to hear from you.