How to Be a More Productive Blogger with These 7 Apps and Tips
Are you aware that lack of time is one of the biggest challenges bloggers face?
For this reason, when today’s guest author Benjamin Brandall offered us a productivity post, I grabbed it.
Benjamin’s post combines technology with time-saving blogging tips.
By the time you’re done reading his article, Benjamin claims you will be able to publish a blog post in three hours or less from start to finish.
Are you ready to be a more productive blogger?
The Tips and Apps You Need to Finish a Blog Post in Under 3 Hours
By Benjamin Brandall
It’s difficult to consistently write quality posts on a time limit.
Actually, it’s practically impossible to do so unless you have a system for organizing your efforts. Doing so will let you create more content without losing quality – a match made in heaven for your page views.
A system, for example, like the one I use to write 1,000+ word articles in less than 3 hours from scratch.
You don’t need to drown yourself in blogging tools (quite the opposite in fact) or pump yourself full of caffeine until you go off like a rocket. In fact, all you have to do is:
- Block out your time
- Document your workflow
- Automate what you can
- Spend half your time researching
- Write with minimal distractions
- Never edit straight after writing
Don’t believe me? Well, let’s get straight to it then. Let’s be better bloggers.
Before you storm away and research your next post, it’s important to have a solid foundation which will let you repeat any success you have. You need to create a stable workflow which you can comfortably replicate with no margin for error – don’t rely on your memory alone (we’re only human after all).
Plus, if you find that a given step (eg, research) is taking too long, or that your posts aren’t edited well enough, having that set workflow allows you to go back, see where the problem lies, and correct it. Iteration (repetition) is the best way to improve, and your blogging preparation is even more valuable than your content itself.
In other words, it’s better to know what you’re doing right/wrong, because then you can do something about it.
Block out your time
Unless you block out your time, you have a snow cone’s chance in hell of keeping to your schedule. By putting strict limits on how long you have to spend on each stage of the content creation process, you spur yourself into making the most of the window you have.
My advice would be to block out your time in hours and assign rough tasks to each block. For example, you could say “9-10am = research”, “10-11am = writing”, etc.
One of the best ways I’ve found to do this is to block out your day using events in Google Calendar, then having push notifications on your phone/computer to let you know when you need to switch tasks.
[Related: How to Be Found on Google Today, 19 Powerful Tools]
Document your workflow
As I’ve already said, documenting your workflow allows you to not only repeat successes and improve upon mistakes, but it removes the chance for human error because you’ll never be relying on memory.
You don’t have to record the process for everything (following a checklist while researching/writing a post won’t do your flow any favors), but they’re incredibly useful for important procedures which don’t change often.
For example, we use our own app (Process Street) to record our blog pre-publish checklist, keyword research process, and almost any other marketing process you can think of. Having said that, as long as you have a set process it doesn’t particularly matter what you use – a pen and paper can do the job on a very small scale.
[Related: This Is What You Should Do After Publishing Your Blog Post, Top 7 Most Valuable Time-Management Tips for Bloggers, How to Use a To-Do List to Be a More Productive Blogger]
Automate what you can
Another benefit of documenting your processes is the ability to integrate the apps you use and automating sections that don’t require human input. It might sound complicated, but process automation is a doddle with a tool like Zapier.
All you have to do is tell Zapier to detect a “trigger” event (eg, you saving a note in Evernote) and dictate what “action” it will take (eg, copying the note into Google Drive).
A quick example of the time and effort this saves would be automatically triggering your pre-publish checklist so that you don’t have to worry about creating it yourself.
[Related: 17 Reasons Buffer Will Blow Your Mind, Can We Really Trust Hootsuite?]
Creating your posts
Okay, preparation done, now it’s time to write the post itself. The key here is to be more productive – yes, it sounds stupid to spell it out like that, but there’s more to it than “focus and write”.
You need to be constantly tracking your time so as to not go over-schedule (if that 3-hour limit is set in stone) while not pushing yourself to the point of mental stagnation.
Spend no more than half your time researching
I used to write by looking up one source at a time and writing as I learned. Needless to say, never do that – it leads to a jumbled mess of points which don’t form a coherent argument, and a mind that’s little more than sludge after about an hour of work.
Do all of your research in one block, and give yourself enough time to do so. Spend half of your time (1-2 hours) doing purely research, with the most writing being to note down a source, a quote, or a rough point you can make.
Get everything you need to write your post and don’t get bogged down in too much detail. Skim sources for important details – don’t read every piece of fine print. Most importantly, make sure you don’t run over-schedule by tracking your time with Pomello.
[Related: 19 Strange Ideas That Will Amplify Your Productivity ]
Write with minimal distractions
Your research is done, so now it’s time to write. The biggest waste of time at this stage is to have to break your flow to go off and research another point (or worse still, check your Facebook feed). Not only should you have everything you need in one place, but you shouldn’t leave the app you’re writing in until you’re done with your main draft.
The best way I’ve found to do this is to write using a minimum distraction writing app like Quip. The UI (User Interface) is basic enough that you’re almost bored into writing, and their full-screen mode allows you to block out every distraction not covered by the UI.
As a side-note, try to make sure that your notifications are muted for at least this stage (and preferably all other while creating a post). Disable desktop notifications, put Slack (a collaboration tool) on “Do Not Disturb”, then get to writing while continuing to track your time.
Never edit straight after writing
There isn’t any suggested app for this section – it’s more of a useful way to take advantage of how most of our heads work. After researching and writing your post (possibly one straight after the other) you need to take a break from it.
Leave your post alone until the next day. Go work on something else – perhaps start researching and writing another post in the meantime. Doing this will let you tackle your work with a fresh mind, letting you spot mistakes and ways to improve your writing far easier than if you stick yourself in a rut and edit immediately after writing.
There you have it – the tips and apps I (and the rest of my team) use to write our blog posts as quickly as possible without sacrificing quality.
Have any tips of your own to cut the chaff out of your writing workflow? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below!
Author bio: Benjamin Brandall is a content marketer at Process Street, where he writes on startups, SaaS, and workflows. In his spare time, he runs Secret Cave, a digital culture blog.
Host blogger’s comments:
Update: According to Benjamin, “The apps I mentioned all have free versions, and I’m talking about things you can do with the free versions in the post. So everything can be done for free. :)”
Benjamin offered valuable tips and apps that can help you focus and be a more productive blogger. Are you familiar with any of them and can recommend them to others? How long does it currently take you to write a blog post?
I look forward to your responses in the comments section.
Please share, so other bloggers who are pressed for time know about these free tools and tips.
Benjamin’s post offered free tools to save you time blogging. Would you like more free tools?
Click here to get your own downloadable PDF of my free blogging tools list.
How to Have Time to Blog and Do It All
How to Blog and Still Have Time to Sleep Part II
How to Be a More Productive Blogger with These 7 Apps and Tips