Darren Rowse over at Problogger released a new book this week called “Blog Wise: how to do more with less”. Inside 9 well-known bloggers reveal their productivity secrets. At the end of the book it’s all summed up into 9 actionable steps you can do to be a better blogger, however I read the book (twice in the last 3 days!) and found so many more tips, so I decided to choose 9 of my own and share them with you.
1. Keep running lists
This tip comes from Amy Porterfield, the Facebook Guru, who says:
“If anything pops into my head [while I'm working] I have a tablet next to me where I write it down so I can forget about it… and stay focused.”
This is a great idea. I have several lists which I use to keep track of all sorts of things. My favorite place to keep lists is in Wunderlist, take a few seconds to jot down any thoughts you have on the note and put it somewhere logical – I have lists based on various things, and everything goes into my inbox while I’m working and then I file it all before taking a break.
2. Have posts stockpiled
This is from Matt Kepnes who is a travel writer:
“He’s got months of posts stockpiled that so if he can’t get a post written for some reason, he can use a piece he’s already prepared.”
This tip obviously depends on what sort of blogger you are, if you’re blogging the news you’re going to need a crystal ball to stockpile posts. For everyone else I think we should aim to at least have a post or two stockpiled, I’m currently working on trying to get a week’s worth of posts written in advance so I have more lee-way on when the post needs to be written by (time-wise during the day that is. My rule is that I’m trying to write posts for the same day next week). The other thing you can do is outline post ideas that you’ve had (which come from the above list), and that makes them quicker and easier to work on.
3. Do a weekly review
This tip comes from Heather Armstrong who says that:
“Either on a Sunday afternoon or a Monday morning, I’ll take a look at my week and what’s required of me.”
I like doing this and I try to take it a step farther. Have a look at the week that’s just passed as well. Figure out what went well, and what didn’t. What you could or should have done better. And then do a good plan for the week. I plan out the posts for the following week, and check on what needs doing this week as well as “real life” events that might affect my blogging.
4. Plan 6 months to a year in advance.
This tip comes from Mr. Problogger, Darren Rowse, himself:
“Darren has 6 monthly planning sessions to do some bigger picture thinking and try and work out where my business is heading. Jasmin [on my team] helps me create products – ebooks and courses and things – she’s got this wonderful spreadsheet of the next 12 months of my life, and what products we need to launch, and what needs to be done to get those products to launch.”
Planning 6 months to a year in advance sounds like a huge task, but it’s definitely worth it. I started my plan by writing out the months of the next 12 months (March-Feb), and then wrote down “one big thing” I was going to do in each month. I then grabbed a separate piece of paper for each and planned out what steps needed to be taken to make these projects work. I’ve written an estimated “time this will take” at the top of each project page and then gone 2 weeks before that and put an event in my calendar to remind me to get started on it.
5. Be consistent
Abby Larson runs a blog network with her husband Tait, they keep their network of blogs updated with 75 posts a week. She says:
“I think that is you’re just starting out at blogging, constancy is key. It’s knowing that every week or every day or three times a month, you’re going to put out really beautiful content, and you stick to that.”
I really have to agree with this. Of course, no-one is perfect and even if you plan to post every day it doesn’t necessarily happen. I’ve found making rules for myself such as how many days off from blogging I’m allowed per month is quite useful. As well as consistency Abby also mentions quality. There’s no point putting out bad quality content – it’s actually worse than putting out no content. If you use steps one and two of keeping a list of post ideas and then having posts prepared in advanced it’s much easier to be consistent.
6. Break things down into small manageable chunks.
“Find ways to either break them down into small, manageable chunks, or… just make them fun.”
Jeff Goins says he uses this to trick himself into doing important tasks, but it can be useful for any task. If you’re writing a really long blog post then split it into the key sections and make sure to take a break between them. If you’re trying to promote your blog then make things really easy “I will email 1 reader” or “I will comment on 5 blog posts”. Often putting a number into your task will make it easier – work on X for 20 minutes, or “do Y 5 times” is much easier than saying “work on X” or “do Y” because it has a definite end.
7. Practice doing to improve your creativity
Gretchen Rubin says that the discipline of doing something regular helps you to do it better:
“The more you do, the more creative you become. It’s part of the discipline.”
This is very true. Some days trying to write a blog post can feel like you’re trying to find a rainstorm in the Sahara desert. But if you sit down and do it on a regular basis it becomes much easier. As a bonus if you do it for 4 weeks in a row it becomes a habit, so make a pact with yourself this month to sit down and write something every day. Even if you only blog a few times a week you can write something, an email to a friend or family member, or get a head start on your blog post. At the end of the day it will all help.
8. Know what you’re trying to achieve
“If you know what you’re trying to achieve it so much easier to show up hat twice a week, or once a week, or five times a week – whatever you think is right.” – Brian Clark http://www.copyblogger.com/
If you’re trying to do something it helps to know what. You don’t pack a suitcase just because, you pack a suitcase so you can go on holiday. If you know what you’re trying to achieve you can break it down into small manageable chunks, incorporate it into your plan for the future, and you will eventually achieve it.
9. Let go of your expectations of results
Leo Babuta encourages bloggers to let go of their expectations about results, because, he says,
“I’ve found I’m much happier with the work that I do when I let go of those expectations. It turns out the goals were getting the credit for all the work I’d been doing.”
What do the numbers really mean? As Leo says “my blog will do just fine whether I track it or not”, and especially if you’re just starting out you should really take this to heart. I know it can feel like you’re shouting into a void some days, so try not to have wild expectations. If you’re struggling to let go completely I recommend setting low expectations that can be easily hit.
Well, those are my nine tips which I learnt from Blog Wise. If you’re interested in learning more I highly recommend checking out the book, it’s currently $14.99 instead of $19.99 and I would say it’s well worth it.
Are you blogging wisely? Do you have any questions, comments, or tips? Please let me know in the comments below!