So you’re going to take up blogging. Good on you! It’s the best way to build trust and authority, generate organic traffic, and build an email list. And eventually, make piles of money with affiliate marketing (or maybe product creation). But it’s also a hell of a lot of hard work! So in this article, I’m going to give you a productivity guide for bloggers. So you can get more done in less time!
Before we get to the guide, a quick word. The most important thing of all is to get started. It’s better to have an unproductive system that actually generates content, than an efficient system that doesn’t really do anything.
That might sound like a contradiction, but it isn’t. Don’t be one of those people who spend half a day setting up their charts, lists, calendars, pomodoro timers (what the hell are those things anyway?), and then realize it’s time to go bed and they’ve done nothing. When in doubt, just take action!
You can go back and improve the system later. Just make sure this some kind of system producing some kind of results first.
Now that’s out of the way, let’s get straight into the tips.
The biggest mistake is to sit down to write a blog post and start wondering what you’re going to be writing about. This is terrible! You’ll sit there, think for a while, do some “research” (i.e. read Facebook), and then it’s time to go to bed (or to work).
Planning content and writing are two totally different tasks requiring totally different mindsets. Set aside some plan every month or so to plan out your content. I wrote a guide on how to do content planning here.
Then, when it’s time to write, you just pick an article off your list, and away you go! Don’t forget to fill in that plan by doing some good keyword research.
I have come up with a simple but powerful workflow for writing and publishing blog posts. Maybe it doesn’t work for you, that’s fine. Everyone has their own tools and quirky ways of working. Just make sure to come with your own one and follow it.
The less time you spend bouncing around trying to figure out what to do next, the more time you’ll have for writing and publishing killer content.
I have a final publishing checklist that I use to make sure I haven’t forgotten anything before I click Publish. It roughly goes like this:
Following this checklist means I don’t forget basic stuff. You can edit them later but it’s more annoying (e.g. forgetting to add in links is a pain, because I then have to add them separately on my main post and my Medium cross-post).
Everyone says this, but it’s true. I have music on because I tend to think and work better with music, but try to minimize all other distractions. Make sure the only tabs or windows you have open are your essential working ones (for me it is Google Sheets, Google Docs, Notepad, WordPress dashboard, image editor).
Facebook and its incessant notifications are especially dangerous. I always only open Facebook when I’ve published and it’s time to promote.
I find putting my phone more than an arm’s reach away is a good trick for preventing you from aimlessly checking notifications when you hit a writer’s block.
It can be tempting to discover new niches and new keywords and build new sites. I always have ideas for another dozen sites and niches! But it is a dangerous distraction.
In the long run, it’s actually good to build up a portfolio of blogs and websites. It diversifies your income, reduces your risk, increases your chance of striking gold, and improves your liquidity (you can sell one but keep others going).
But you need to build one site up to a “critical mass” where it runs on its own momentum, gathering links and traffic and repeat visitors.
In pretty much any niche, that point will be when you have between 50 and 100 good articles on the blog. Once you hit that point, you can choose to diversify. Until then, focus.
This tip has two parts. One is about typing, the other is shortcuts.
If you can’t touchtype, then in the name of all that is holy in this forsaken world, stop what you’re doing right now (even if it’s reading my awesome blog) and go learn how to touchtype.
I learnt when I was a kid with some space invaders typing game. I’m sure there are plenty of online tools and games like that now. Go do it! Always strive to improve your typing speed and accuracy. It is actually one of the most important factors in your blogging productivity.
Another part is keyboard shortcuts. People don’t use these nearly enough. You should keep mouse usage to a minimum. A mouse is slow and inaccurate compared to a keyboard, and can cause wrist and nerve damage over time.
My favorite ones are the basic Chrome ones: Control-T for New Tab, Control-W for Close Tab, and Control-Tab for Jump to Next Tab. Essential. Control-Page Up jumps back a tab, which is useful too.
A lot of people get caught up on the bells and whistles on their blog. What shade of colour their banner is. Which photo to use on your About Me page. What font to have on their menus.
Having a site that looks good is important, but it only has to be good enough. The stuff that really moves the needle in the long run is your content. So focus on that first. Play with the window dressing later, if you have time.
If and when you want to make your site look really good, I recommend Thrive Themes – it’s what I use for this site. It comes with great themes, plus it has boatloads of tools for collecting emails, doing surveys, and a hundred other things.
This is a big one! There are some things people are good at, and some things people are not good at. I’m not good at graphic design and performance optimizations, so I outsource a lot of those to other people.
There are websites like Fiver and Upwork, where you can hire smart people to do the jobs you don’t, won’t or can’t do. So do it!
If it would take you seven hours to struggle and put together an infographic, or you could pay someone $100 to do it, it’s a no brainer. How much is your time worth to you? Pay a specialist, get a better outcome, and put that time into something you’re good at. Like writing articles.
Although of course, you can outsource that too. I recommend writing at least 50% of your own content, so your voice comes through loud and clear on your website. But if you want some paid articles too, I wrote a guide on how to outsource your blog content.
Some people get stuck on doing a “perfect” blog post. They write, re-write, edit, re-edit, then start again because it’s “nowhere near good enough”. Huge mistake!
Get something out there. Get it in the wild, get it ranking, start gathering feedback. You can go back and improve it later on. In fact, I wrote a whole guide on exactly how to improve your old blog posts!
I hope you found this article helpful! Did you get some useful tips? Can you think of any more? Please let me know in the comments!