Five simple ideas to cut your blogging time in half

blogging time

By Mark Schaefer

I stumbled around and fumbled around for a long time when I started this blog. For the first nine months I was inconsistent and confused. Then I realized how many great business benefits I was realizing through the blog and decided I better get serious about it!

I became more dedicated and disciplined, which really paid off because the only way you’re going to get good at this is to practice!

Without question, my biggest obstacle to consistent blogging was time. It still takes time of course, but today I can deliver a lot more content for a lot less time than I did a few years ago. Here are some ideas you can use to become dramatically more efficient with your content creation. In fact, you can cut your blogging time in half!

1. Never face a blank screen

Here’s the number one thing you need to do to cut your writing time: Never, ever face a blank screen. Let’s unpack this idea.

Your biggest time-waster is going to be deciding what to write about or maybe wasting time writing something that is not too good and then scrapping it. You have to eliminate that waste, and it’s easy to do.

You need to be disciplined in two areas.

First, you need to be constantly collecting ideas. Think in terms of story ideas as you live your life. Is there a headline, an article, a question, a news story, a joke that can be twisted in a way that would make an interesting and entertaining blog post?

Be on the lookout for these ideas everywhere and then WRITE THEM DOWN.

Second, commit to blocking out two solid, continuous hours to write every week. No interruptions, no email, no text messages.

If you can stick to this regimen, you will be amazed at how your productivity will improve because you’ll never be looking at a screen with zero ideas again.

Time saved: 50 percent or more

2. Try video blogs

I can make a better quality video on my smartphone today than I could on an HD video camera five years ago. Making a simple three-minute video can be done in a fraction of the time it takes to write and edit the same material for a written blog post.

Once you create your video, upload it to YouTube and follow these steps to post it on a blog post:

  1. Find your YouTube video.
  2. Click the ‘Share’ button below the video.
  3. Click the ‘Embed’ button next to the link they show you.
  4. Copy the iframe code given and paste it into the html of your web page.

So simple and voila! You have a great blog post.

Time saved: 70 percent

3. Get a little help from your friends

Here is an amazing way to efficiently create great content with fresh ideas.

Let’s say there’s a question on your mind that would make a great post but you don’t know how to answer the question. Why not pose the question to your social media friends and get some help?

Here’s an example. It occurred to me that there are certain websites out there with content so amazing they really don’t have to worry about SEO. They simply attract views from their greatness. This might be easy if you’re a big brand, but what about if you’re a small company or even an individual?

Where would I start to find examples of this? I asked my friends on Facebook.

Within one hour I had lots of amazing examples … a chef in France, a hand-made tool company in Latvia, a site with nothing but data visualizations. I looked through these sites  and created one of my all-time favorite posts: 10 Soul-grabbing brands that prove you don’t need SEO to succeed.

Since my friends essentially did the research for me, this saved me hours of hunting online and they were happy to be acknowledged in my post!

Time saved: 25 percent or more

4. Ask a question instead of providing an answer

I’ll bet this has gone through your head more than once: “But what do I write about … what value can I possibly add to the conversation?”

Sometimes the best blog post doesn’t have the best answer, it has the best question.

It takes a lot of time for research to write a post that provides a conclusive answer to an issue. But some of the most interesting things happen when you simply ask the right question.

I often end a blog post with “What do you think” because I honestly don’t know!

Here’s a little secret. Probably the most popular post I ever published, Content Shock, was a question, not an answer. I observed that it was getting much more difficult to win at the content marketing game because of the explosion of information density on the web. I suggested that content marketing was not going to be sustainable for some businesses. What do we do about it? I did not offer a solution but It spurred 1,400 comments!

Of course I eventually answered that question in a book, The Content Code: Six essential strategies to ignite your content, your marketing, and your business … but that’s a story for another day.

Time saved: 25 percent

5. Copy and improve

All of us consume so much great content. Part of the value you can provide to readers is exposing them to new ideas from others and then improving on it.

For example, I was recently reading about the “flow state” of peak performance and wrote down an idea about how this could be applied to content creation (see, I follow my own advice!).

I then “copied” key ideas from a book on the subject (with attribution and a link to the author) but then added my own interpretation along with comments from friends who had experienced flow (I posed the question on Facebook and used their answers in the post).

This turned out to be a great piece. It was an original idea, but I leveraged the great thinking of others for the core idea.

Here’s an example of how you can do this. Are there some time-saving ideas I missed in this article? Write your own post and start by summarizing my points. Add your own spin to the foundation I built. Piece of cake, as they say here in America!

Time saved: 50 percent

Well there you have it. What other ideas do you have to save time on your blog? Leave a comment below … or better yet, write your own great new blog post about it!

SXSW 2016 3Mark Schaefer is the chief blogger for this site, executive director of Schaefer Marketing Solutions, and the author of several best-selling digital marketing books. He is an acclaimed keynote speaker, college educator, and business consultant.  The Marketing Companion podcast is among the top business podcasts in the world.  Contact Mark to have him speak to your company event or conference soon.

Illustration courtesy Flickr CC and Mike Licht

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  • Great thoughts Mark. I’m finding my push toward consistency is really emphasizing my need for strategies like these. Thanks!

  • Makes me feel great that this might help you Brad. Thanks for letting me know!

  • Love this Mark. This is super timely as my students are just starting their blogs and I have a presentation tomorrow for a number of companies where they say this is their #1 issue on why they don’t blog. I’ll be sure to share this with them! TY as always for the knowledge and wisdom.

  • Awesome. You made my day!

  • Love the tips! I have a Google Doc that I use to write down little notes or links to articles that give me great ideas to write from.

  • Good one!

  • #1 is so important. Wondering about what to write while a blank page stares back is just a dead-end zone. Being a constant collector of ideas is one way to cut blogging time down significantly. (Having a comfy blogging chair like yours helps, too!)

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  • Great tips Mark! I’d also add dictating your blog post via some dictation to text app.

  • Great tips Mark!

    When I read your articles previously I would never have thought that you face problems writing because you always produce good content, plus you’re an author. Reading this I realise that we all probably have those blank moments.

    I like your ideas here. I have a file for writing down ideas, an excel sheet, but I’m not disciplined in keeping it updated. Note to self: must improve!

    Thanks
    – David

  • billschick

    In addition to finishing up The Content Code, I’m also listening to A More Beautiful Question. I think these two books (plus a small handful of others) should be at the top of all content marketers’ lists this year. Mark, #4 and #5 are really quite brilliant ways to reduce time. A LOT of time in blogging is spent trying to come up with ideas. For inspiration on topics, I keep these in mind: Any questions a prospective client might ask during a sales call, anything I’m personally struggling with (helps me learn WHILE I’m sharing that experience with others, and thinking about the channel. One of your key points of focus is getting your content shared. As an artist first, sometimes the format or media can actually help inspire WHAT you create. Thanks again for the great work here. —B

  • Thanks for adding your tip sir!

  • I find when I stay disciplined, everything works. It’s when I get out of that groove that the wheels fall off : ) Thanks for commenting David.

  • Simply a fantastic and insightful comment Bill. Thanks for sharing your wisdom Bill!

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  • Mark, I thought about you and this article when I read about a new writing app called Flowstate, that will delete everything if you stop typing! Terrifying but could be effective, haha.

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  • ronellsmith

    Yes, yes, and yes, Mark. Blogging is a great example of where the quest for perfection gets in the way of simply getting things done. Sometimes – many times, in fact – it comes down to simply making the time to get it done.

    RS

  • Thanks so much for the comment sir.

  • : 0

  • Mark, I look forward to your posts daily. I know that when I read them they will be the highest quality. #5 is a great way to say time, provide valuable information to your niche and, give credit to the author of the original post. It is a win win win. As I tell my students, we all learn from someone.

  • Great advice! Thanks for commenting!

  • BiggsMontana87

    Not at least initially but you can repurpose content down the road, really once you build your backlog and get momentum it is a lot easier to maintain your speed than start.

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