23 Ways to be a More Productive Blogger

My love for writing is not a secret, but something I don’t often share is that there are days when I just don’t want to write.

alarm clockIt happens to all of us, regardless of our passion. There are days when all you crave is mindless activity. You just want to watch TV or take a nap. Other days, you just don’t feel like you have time to fit blogging into your already packed schedule.

Committment is one of those key things that separates those with sustainable, worthwhile blogs from those who will post a few times and disappear. Being a blogger means making a committment to serve your audience, even when you don’t feel like you have the time or you just don’t want to write.

To help out in those situations, I identified these 23 ways to be a more productive blogger:

1. Identify your peak

We have natural rhythms to our productivity, but they are different for each person. For example, I am much more focused in the morning between about 8 a.m. and noon. I am attracted to shiny objects beginning at about 2 p.m. Identify the time of day when you are most productive and schedule writing time during those focused hours.

2. Eliminate distractions

It took the first couple of years of my undergraduate degree for me to figure out the environment I needed to learn. What I finally realized was that I couldn’t have the television or radio on when I studied. I also couldn’t study with friends or in noisy or distracting environments (even the library where people watching was way too tempting). The same is true for when I write. The best environment for me to write in is one where I am alone and it is quiet. This knowledge helps me eliminate distractions and create an ideal writing environment.

3. Choose your device wisely

We all have numerous devices we could use for writing, but some assist the writing process while others seem to hinder it. Some people prefer to write first on paper, then type out a post. Others might find their iPad to be a convenient and productive writing tool. I prefer to write via my desktop computer. I love the big screen and wireless keyboard and mouse. I rarely feel as productive as I do when I’m sitting at my desk in front of my computer. Determining which device works best for you may be about trial-and-error. It’s not something you can learn from others.

4. Consider your workspace

I’ve read advice from productivity experts about clearing your workspace, leaving nothing but the tools you need for the task you’re completing. That’s a great idea, but it’s probably not for me. The best way to describe my home and work offices is “organized chaos.” What may look like stacks of books and papers to others is a perfect organization system for me. It doesn’t matter what your workspace looks like as long as you have the tools there to be productive.

While we’re discussing workspaces, remember to prepare yourself for productivity before you sit down (or stand if that’s better for you) in your workspace. I always get myself something to drink and use the restroom before I sit down to work. If I’m at home, I change into comfortable clothes. This prepares me to focus on the task I need to accomplish.

5. Switch locations

Even the perfect workspace may feel stagnant at times. Switch locations if you begin to crave change. I sometimes work from a conference room at the office or at my kitchen table. I am crazy productive in coffee shops. I also have been known to read or grade while sitting in the sun on my front porch or at a patio table overlooking our back yard. Don’t be afraid to alter your location. Being comfortable will assist your productivity.

6. Switch mediums

You spent a lot of time determining which device was most productive for your writing, but sometimes it may seem stifling. It’s ok to switch if that happens. Sometimes I just get tired of being in front of a screen, so I grab a notebook and a pen and go write somewhere else. The result is the same.

7. Know why you blog

Understanding the reason behind why you do what you do will help keep you motivated.

8. Choose your passion

Write about something that’s important to you that you know a lot about. You’ll automatically have more motivation.

9. Keep your writing schedule

Create and adhere to a writing schedule. The longer you do this, the more writing will become a habit. Your mind will begin to switch into that mode, saying “Ok, it’s time to write now.”

10. Be realistic

You can set yourself up for failure by overcommitting initially to how much you can write. I think it’s best to start a blog with a post a week and build from there once you consistently meet that schedule for a couple of months. If you start your blog thinking you’re going to post five or seven days a week, you’re likely to burnout quickly.

11. Keep an idea list

You can’t be productive during your writing time if you don’t have a clue about what you’re writing about. Keep a list of ideas so you never sit and stare at a blank screen wondering what to do next.

12. Avoid research overload

Don’t get lost in gathering and reading information about your topic. Understand when you know enough to be informative and just write.

13. Outline in advance

Outline your post ahead of time so you’re ready to write when the time comes. I outlined this post (key points and bullet points) in a notebook earlier today, knowing I wouldn’t have time to write it until this evening. However, now the writing is going much quicker because I’ve already spent time simmering on the post’s content.

14. Just write

Don’t edit as you write. This will get you nowhere. Just sit down and write. Editing comes after the full draft is written.

15. Use a timer

Know about how long a post should take and set a timer for that amount of time. This will help you focus on communicating efficiently in the time you’ve allotted.

16. Know when you’re done

You are writing a blog post, not a novel. You don’t have to trace an idea back to the beginning of thought and forward through the death of your great great grandchildren. Write enough to meet your audience’s needs, then be done.

17. Use the 80/20 rule

The 80/20 rule says that 20 percent of your input yields 80 percent of your output. Think about that concept in all facets of your productivity. Do you need to do what you’re doing? Only focus on the things that will yield the greatest results.

18. Embrace flow

Sometimes the writing is just easy. The words flow. Take advantage of this flow state and write multiple posts that you can save and use later on days when the words seem difficult.

19. Vary content

Creating different types of content helps you when you don’t feel like writing as much. It also gives you and your readers variety. Consider writing lists, quotes, reviews, Q&As, or using mostly photos or video to tell a story.

20. Challenge yourself

Create a blogging challenge for yourself. For example, Patrick Phillips challenged himself to post every day. How long has it been now, Patrick?

Sometimes your competitive nature will keep you going, even when you’re tired.

21. Reward yourself

I often write at the end of the day. Sometimes I don’t feel like doing it. So, I remind myself that I can crawl into bed with a book as soon as I finish my post. Knowing that I will be able to relax without guilt can be a reward for writing my post.

I also bribe myself with social media. For example, I tell myself that I can check Facebook after I finish writing a post but before I edit it. Facebook becomes the reward for getting it done.

22. Just do it

The best way to write is to write. Some days you may have to force yourself to post. I hope those days are few and far between. If they’re not, you may want to reconsider your blog’s purpose and frequency.

23. Skip one

I don’t encourage you to skip posts because your audience expects you to keep your regular schedule. However, I’ve learned a little secret in seven years of blogging. No one will die if I miss a post. I might feel bad about it. I might have fewer readers that week, but the earth will continue rotating.

I missed a post just yesterday. I had a busy day in the office and my daughter had a night basketball game. I was just too tired when I got home, so I chose to go to bed instead. I felt guilty for a few minutes because I didn’t keep my writing schedule. Then I realized that I didn’t keep it because I spent the time supporting my daughter. Needless to say, I decided my priorities were in place and you guys would understand.

Blogging isn’t easy. You have to put in the time and the work to get the results you want. Hopefully these productivity tips will help you make the most of your writing time and keep your motivation high.

What did I miss? How do you encourage yourself to be productive about blogging?

 

7 comments
blogjunkie
blogjunkie

Great bunch of tips Kenna! I'd add 1 myself — quantify the ROI of blogging as that provides great motivation to keep with the habit. For a business that ROI may be the number of visits to your blog; for a hobby blogger it might be the cool people you've met through blogging. Looking forward to more blogging tips from you!

SimplyAndrea
SimplyAndrea

I find that when I read other blogs and websites that are similar to mine, I get inspired to keep writing, especially if it's one that has more of a following than mine! Great article, by the way. 

patricksplace
patricksplace

Ha! Thanks for the mention, Kenna! 

January 5th was the first day of the current stretch of daily posts. January 4th is the only day this year that I didn't post. (Which annoys me greatly!)

Most days, finding a post topic is relatively easy because since I focus on multiple topics, each day gets its own theme. That makes finding ideas a little easier than if I were just wide open every day of the week. Once in a while, it takes me until right up to an hour or so before post time to really find something to say, but the other half of my strategy, other than posting daily, was to make better use of an editorial calendar so that I can at least jot down ideas that I can take more time to flesh out before I actually start writing.

So far, so good! :) 


profkrg
profkrg moderator

@SimplyAndrea Andrea, I agree! Reading is a wonderful way to find inspiration, whether that reading is in your area of blog interest or not. I challenged myself to read 100 books in 2013. I've almost reached my goal. Thanks for taking the time to read and comment.

profkrg
profkrg moderator

@patricksplace That is really awesome, Patrick! Don't let the Jan. 4 thing get you. Let's just call it a holiday, shall we?

If I understand correctly, you have a certain time of the day by which you post. Why is that?

patricksplace
patricksplace

@profkrg I try to publish each day's post by 9am (sometimes a bit later on weekends). The idea is that I find people tend to read my newest posts within the first 24 hours, and by publishing early in the day, I can promote the post on social media all day long and potentially get more eyes on it right off the start.

Then for posts that are more evergreen in nature, I will promote them a few more times over the next few days...and then sporadically after that when I need another "promo". :)

I like to believe it's valuable to be somewhat predictable for your audience when you can. There's a inside-the-media newsletter I read often, and I know it's published every morning at 8:30, so I know when I can go there to get new information.

Thanks for mentioning me, by the way...I think you might be inspiring a blog post soon! :)

profkrg
profkrg moderator

@patricksplace I used to try to publish by 9 a.m. for pretty much those same reasons. However, my schedule is such that it just doesn't always happen. I decided I would be happy publishing five days a week and not beat myself up about the time. I wonder when I changed my strategy. It would be interesting to see if a difference shows in my analytics. 

I'm glad to read that our discussion is providing some inspiration. I look forward to seeing what comes out of it!

Kenna

Latest blog post: Look! Media Internships!

Trackbacks

  1. […] once a week, on a set day of their choice. Just meeting this weekly deadline helps them practice becoming motivated and working on a schedule, even when they didn’t want […]

  2. […] miss? How do you encourage yourself to be productive about blogging? Kenna Griffin is the author of Prof KRG, where a version of this story originally […]