There’s a truth about blogging that bloggers don’t always admit: maintaining a blog is tough, time-consuming work. The vast majority of bloggers aren’t bringing in enough money to make a living. If you’re in this majority, it means your time spent writing and maintaining your blog is split between the blog and everything else you’ve got to do to make enough money to live. What if you could use technology and the spare time you probably already spend doing non-productive activities to get a leg up on your blog maintenance?
I have a full-time job as a product manager and principal consultant. I’m also a new father and a carpenter, so when I say the blog is one of my last priorities, I mean it. I use this process on a daily basis to pump out content and ideas to keep me going without the need to have marathon writing sessions that take up hours each day. It’s not perfect and is always evolving as my life, tools, and processes change.
Have a process of your own to maintain your blog and 5 minutes a day? Leave me a note in the comments.
Let “Someone” Else Transcribe Your Ideas and Notes
Your best ideas may not always happen in the shower, but they probably do happen at some of the least convenient times. You could force yourself to carry around a notebook and pencil at all times, or you could let technology shoulder some of the burdens of getting your ideas onto paper for you. You may know how much I enjoy using Siri for hands-free tasks, and taking notes is no different. Whenever I have a new idea for a post, I pull out my phone and say, “Hey Siri, create a new note, [insert contents of the note].”
Now, this method does have its limitations. For one, you need to be an iOS user, however, many Android devices have voice-activated assistants built in as well. Second, Siri can’t take really long notes, so you’ll need to create pause points where you let Siri do its thing before you continue. Lastly, Siri won’t record everything you say completely accurately. This is made worse if, like me, you tend to take a lot of notes while walking outside or in a place with a lot of background noise. Even with these potential issues, though, Siri is much more useful than forgetting your idea while you search for a pen and paper.
Outline in Google Keep
Once you’ve created a running list of ideas for your blog, you’ll need a way to flesh out the best ideas without spending hours creating a draft. The writer Anne Lamott firmly believes that perfectionism is a creativity killer. Before I start writing any post, I create a quick outline where I list the primary topics that I want to address in the article. Most of the time, these topics become—or at least inspire—the section headers of my post.
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By using this process, I can quickly get a feel for whether the idea has enough meat on its bones or if it’s likely to fall flat. Because of that, this tactic of creating a quick outline becomes the first place in my process where I can actually kill a bad idea before it gets too far down the line. I use Google Keep to outline my posts because the user interface makes it insanely simple to create notes formatted like checklists. When I move onto the next step (writing the draft), I always refer to my post checklist and cross off each topic as I write it in my post.
Transfer Your Outline Into a Draft Post
Once I feel like my outline can stand on its own, it’s time to start writing the draft. You could draft your posts in a word processor or another tool, but I find it’s easier to use the blog editor (I use WordPress) to create drafts. I’ve spent far too much time reformatting posts that I’ve copied and pasted from one location into the WordPress content editor (yes I know there are markdown tools available to avoid this). Additionally, if you save your posts as drafts inside of WordPress, it’s easy to return to those drafts on the WordPress mobile app if you have a free moment, say while waiting in line at Starbucks or watching the Bachelor on Monday nights.
Keep Your Blog Dashboard Open on Your Computer
Chances are, you’ll have sections of downtime each day where it might make sense to push out a paragraph or do some light copyediting on a particular blog post. Rather than wasting time navigating to your dashboard, logging in, and finding your post, leave your latest post draft—or at least your blog’s dashboard—open in a browser window on your computer. I didn’t realize how much time I was wasting by having to log back into my blog every time I needed to make a minor update to a draft post until I was managing multiple drafts at once and returning to my blog several times each day to make updates when I had a free second. Give yourself back a little time each day by having your dashboard ready in the background.
Make Photos Come to You
Once I’ve completed my post and feel I’m ready to publish, the pesky Feature Image editor in WordPress reminds me that my post is imageless. We all know how important it is to include images in our posts, but sometimes it feels like it can take just as long to find a good image as it did to write the whole blog post. Luckily, free photo sites (if you’re comfortable using them) will often send you regular emails with some of their latest or featured content. What’s the benefit? Rather than hunting for photos, you can let the best of the best come directly to you. My favorite site is Unsplash. Registering for the website is very simple, and you can configure your email preferences to receive notifications about featured images or curated collections to get inspired.