What does your blog post writing process look like?
For a lot of bloggers — whether they’re blogging on their own blog or as a freelancer — writing blog posts involves:
- Struggling for an idea, under deadline pressure.
- Leaping in without a plan.
- Putting off writing a post altogether because it seems like such a huge task.
- Getting distracted while editing, adding links or finding images
One great way to make writing blog posts easier and more enjoyable is to batch produce them.
Think of batch production in terms of cookies.
If you’re going to make a dozen cookies, you don’t do it like this:
- Check the recipe.
- Prepare ingredients for one cookie.
- Mix ingredients.
- Bake the cookie.
- Wash up your equipment.
- Repeat 11 more times.
That would be, clearly, a massive waste of time. Instead, you do it like this:
- Check the recipe.
- Prepare ingredients for 12 cookies.
- Mix ingredients for 12 cookies.
- Bake 12 cookies.
- Wash up all the equipment.
With blog posts, it’s similar.
You could get an idea for one post, plan one post, write one post…or, instead, batch similar tasks together so you’re producing lots of ideas and plans at once.
Yes, it takes a lot longer to complete 12 blog posts than it takes to bake 12 cookies.
You don’t necessarily have to create a “batch” at every stage of the process (in particular, you may only want to draft one or two posts at a time). Even if you can batch together just some of your writing tasks, you’ll find it makes your blogging life a whole lot easier.
Here’s how to do it.
1. Brainstorm lots of ideas
You don’t have to do this on paper, but I find it helps to get away from the screen. Sit down with a notebook and jot down all the ideas that come to you.
You might want to create a mindmap, use specific prompts, or whatever else works for you. I find some of my best ideas come when I’m away from my usual work environment — so you may want to try leaving your desk and heading to a local coffee shop. (If you want to go beyond the coffee shop, check out some of these suggestions for new places to write.)
Allow 20 minutes for coming up with ideas.
Don’t worry about whether they’re any good or not…just write everything down.
Sometimes, a so-so idea can lead you to a brilliant one.
2. Create several blog post plans
Choose four or so of your best ideas and write a plan for each one. I’d suggest spending 5-10 minutes per plan.
In the plan, jot down:
- The message or core idea of the post (you might want to try coming up with a title at this stage).
- The key points or steps the post will cover.
- Any thoughts about resources you might link to, experts you might quote, etc.
- A “call to action” for the end of the post.
The great thing about creating plans ahead of time like this is that when you come to write, a lot of the work has already been done for you.
This makes drafting a post feel much less overwhelming.
3. Draft one (or more!) blog posts
Once you’ve got several plans in place, grab one and flesh it out into a full post.
This is the biggest single step of the process…but it should go smoothly if you have a solid idea and a clear plan in place before you start to write.
If you tend to get distracted while you write, try:
- Switching off your internet connection. If you need to look up a fact or figure… don’t. Just pop a note in the document and come back to it when you edit.
- Writing in timed bursts. You might try Pomodoros (25 minutes writing, five minutes break) or set a timer for however long you think it should take you to finish the draft. While the timer is ticking away, you’re writing.
- Listening to music through noise-cancelling headphones. I find this hugely helpful in blocking out distracting noises (especially when I’m working in a coffee shop or library and other people are moving around and chatting).
- Find an app that helps you to stay focused. It could be a timer, a distraction-blocker, a time tracker like RescueTime, or something that plays sound/music that helps you concentrate.
4. Edit several blog posts
If time permits, write three or four blog posts before you edit.
The “editing” mindset is quite different from the “writing” one, and you may find that once you get into the swing of editing, it becomes easier to spot your overused words and clunky phrasings.
The other big advantage to editing several posts at once is that it makes it easy to create connections and links between them…or to avoid inadvertently making them too similar.
5. Find (and edit) images for your posts
Do you ever spend more time than you’d like to admit trying to find the perfect image for your post?
By seeking images for several posts at once, you’ll likely find it’s a quicker process. Maybe something that comes up isn’t quite right for the post that you had in mind … but it’ll be perfect for a different one on your list.
If you create branded images for your blog, it’s generally quicker to make several at once: that way, you don’t have to repeatedly open up your image-editing software and set up the right colors and so on.
One great benefit of batching your blog post writing tasks like this is that you’ll be able to make better use of the ups and downs of creative energy.
When you’re feeling keen to explore ideas and come up with high-level plans, you can work on those stages of the production process.
When you’re feeling focused and creative, you can write — without thinking about everything else.
When you’re in a more critical, analytic mode, you can do lots of edits at once.
When you’re having a bit of a slump, you can do some of the more mundane bits of blog post production — like finding and editing images.
You’ll also be able to take advantage of bits of time when you’re not at your computer: ideas can easily be jotted down in a notebook, as can plans…and if you print out your drafts in advance, you can edit anywhere too.
If you’ve not tried batch production before, set aside some time to give it a go during the next week. I’d suggest:
- Spend one 20 minute session generating ideas for your blog (or your client’s blog).
- Spend another 30 minute session outlining at least four posts, draw from those ideas.
Investing less than an hour in this way will make it so much easier to get your next four posts written.
Have you tried batch producing blog posts? We’d love to hear about your experiences in the comments.