From ProBlogger Expert Ali Luke of Aliventures.
Do you ever feel like your blog is yet another responsibility on a very long list?
For the vast majority of bloggers, blogging has to fit in around an already full life. Perhaps you’re:
- Building an online business, which you’re marketing by blogging … but the business takes up loads of time
- Starting out as a freelancer writer, and building a client list through your blog and newsletter … but you need to focus most of your working hours on your paid writing
- Raising a young family – with sleepless nights, hectic mornings, and tons of housework along the way
- Working long hours at a busy day job … leaving you very little time or energy to write
Even if you have very little time, you can blog consistently. Here’s how:
Step #1: Remember That Consistent Blogging Doesn’t Mean Frequent Blogging
Perhaps, right now, you can’t realistically commit to publishing posts on a frequent basis.
You don’t necessarily need to blog weekly (and you definitely don’t need to blog daily). I’ve never met a reader who unsubscribed because a blog didn’t publish quite as much great content as they’d have liked; I’ve met plenty who unsubscribed because they felt overwhelmed by the volume of content … or who left because the quality dropped.
I suggest blogging between once a month and once a week: decide on the frequency and do your best to stick with it.
If you can, write a post or two to keep back for times when you’re particularly busy. If you haven’t been posting for a while, delay starting back until you’ve built up a little stock of posts.
Step #2: Batch Together Your Blogging Tasks
When you’ve only got, say, an hour a week, you don’t want to waste your time struggling to come up with an idea.
I’ve been blogging for nine years now (on my own blogs and as a guest poster and freelancer), and over time, I’ve learned that it’s easiest to batch together different content creation tasks.
Batching can be a huge help with managing your energy as well as your time – take a look at Naomi Dunford’s great post How To Stay Amazingly Productive On Low Energy Days for examples of how different blogging activities might fit your “ebb” or “flow” times.
Here’s how I suggest you batch your tasks:
Set aside 20 minutes. Come up with as many ideas as you can (try to get at least 10). They don’t have to be amazing ideas! Get lots down as quickly as possible and you’ll soon find that you move beyond the unworkable or boring ones.
If you’re stuck, try using the ProBlogger blogging prompts to spark off ideas: you can get a whole pack of them when you join the ProBlogger weekly newsletter (which is also a great source of blogging inspiration)!
Set aside another 20 minutes. Pick four ideas. Spend no more than five minutes very briefly planning for each one.
It helps to come up with a consistent structure (which I’ll get to later in this post). For a very basic structure, think:
- Several key points that all relate closely to your idea/ title
You might be happy to write straight from your five minute plan (especially if your post is a short one). If you want, though, you can add an extra “outlining” stage into the batching process.
Go through your 5 minute plan and flesh out each key point. Add notes about:
- What specific tips or ideas you want to share in each section.
- Any links or examples you want to use.
I’d suggest spending 10 minutes per outline at this stage.
It’s absolutely fine to change things about your plan at this point, too – don’t feel that you have to stick 100% to what you’ve already written.
Once you’ve got an outline, drafting your post is pretty straightforward! It’s just a matter of going through and writing out each section that you’ve planned. You won’t need to worry about where you’re going next, and you won’t find yourself going off on a long tangent.
You also don’t need to draft your post in a single session. You’re not trying to store it all in your head – your outline is down on paper already – so you can draft in short bursts (e.g. 10 – 20 minutes per day) if that suits your schedule better.
If you created a good outline before you drafted your post, you may well not need this stage! If you didn’t, you may have found that your first draft went off in an unexpected direction or that your initial idea needed some refining as you wrote.
If that’s the case, set your post aside for a day or two, so you can come back to it with fresh eyes. Then:
CUT: Cut out any sections that don’t really fit the post. Save them for a different piece.
REARRANGE: See whether any sections (or even paragraphs) would read more smoothly or logically if you reordered them.
ADD: Check whether there’s anything you need to add. This might be simply a link to another post or an explanation of something that new readers may not understand.
When you edit, you’re looking very closely at your post: at the sentence structures and word choices. (This is why you want to rewrite first, if your post needs a fair amount of work: there’s no point perfecting a sentence that you’re only going to end up cutting out altogether.)
You may find that it’s helpful to have a batch of 2 – 4 drafts ready that you can edit in sequence, with your critical “editing” hat on rather than your creative “writing” hat in place.
Formatting and Links
If you’ve not already done it when editing, go through your post one last time and make it look great.
Put in an image (or several images), Header 2 format for subheadings, bold text for key points, blockquote format for quotes, bullet points for lists, and so on.
Also look out for any opportunities to include a useful link – whether that’s to an old post on your blog or a post on someone else’s site.
Step #3: Use a Content Calendar
If you sometimes struggle to know what to post, or feel like your blog needs more variety or consistency, you need a content calendar or editorial calendar.
This doesn’t need to be anything fancy or complicated. I make a simple calendar in Evernote each month, with one blog post title and one newsletter piece listed for each week:
You can take this a step further and “theme” the different posts that you do. For instance, if you write one post a week, your standard calendar template might look like this:
- Week 1 – “how to” post
- Week 2 – re-run an old post (see tip #4)
- Week 3 – inspiring, encouraging post
- Week 4 – round-up post, linking to good posts elsewhere during the past month
Alternatively, you might make a calendar that rotates around different topics. For instance, if (like me) you blog about writing, you might have a calendar like this:
- Week 1 – fiction-writing
- Week 2 – freelancing
- Week 3 – blogging
- Week 4 – publishing
There are plenty of different ways to use and structure your calendar, and Darren covers lots of good suggestions in this podcast on creating an editorial calendar.
Step #4: Have a Consistent Post Template
All blog posts have a structure. At the very least, posts start with some sort of introduction – even if it’s just a sentence or two – then have a main body of content. Ideally, they should have a conclusion too.
Bloggers who produce a lot of content generally have at least one standard post structure to work from. Michael Hyatt has a very specific template that he uses for pretty much every post on his blog, for instance.
You might think that using a template will make your posts less interesting. In fact, the opposite is true. It’s easier for readers to engage when your post has a logical progressing (instead of being a meandering collection of points) – and it’s generally far easier for you to share your thoughts if you have a structure to contain them.
Step #5: Recycle Old Posts
If you’ve been blogging for any length of time, you’ll have an awful lot of posts that new readers won’t easily spot. Even if these are listed in your archives, they won’t necessarily be seen.
One very easy way to post regular content when you’re busy is to revive an old post. Simply choose one from your archives (I’d suggest going back to at least a year ago), and repost it.
Depending on your topic and how old your post is, you may want to:
- Update the post with new information or facts, if those have become outdated.
- Update the post with fresh examples and links – these can date quite quickly, so do check all existing links in particular to make sure they still work.
- Change the formatting or layout of the post – perhaps you’ve altered your blog’s theme and the post no longer looks as good as it once did.
- Include a note to state that the post was previously published. I like to do this to avoid confusing readers! I usually pop a line in italics at the top of the post, e.g.: This post was first published in 2012 and updated in 2017.
I’ve republished several of my favourite old posts, and so far, not a single reader has complained … and several have thanked me for publishing content that was just what they needed, right now! So even if you’re reluctant to republish content, give it a go and see what happens.
Of course, there’ll probably be a fair amount of old content that you decide not to republish. You could still save time by using it in other ways – ZenOptimise has a handy list of 12 different ways to do this.
Step #6: Look at Your Whole Weekly Schedule
If you’ve tried the above tips and you’re still struggling to find enough time for your blog, then you need to take a look at everything else going on in your life.
Chances are, there are a lot of things you can’t realistically change (e.g. the hours you spend at your day job, the hours your partner works, how long your baby naps) but there probably is at least a little bit of leeway. For instance:
- Can you set aside one or two nights a week for an hour’s blogging, e.g. from 8pm – 9pm? You don’t have to work all evening every evening!
- Can you get up 15 minutes early to blog in small increments? (Check out Tip #2 on batch producing posts, above.)
- Could you reduce the time you spend on some household chores? For instance, could you batch cook a couple of nights a week so you don’t have to cook each night? Can you order groceries online so you don’t need to get out to the shops at the weekend?
- If you live with a partner, can you arrange your joint schedule so that you both get a little more free time? For instance, perhaps you’ll take the kids out on Saturday afternoons and they will have the kids on Sunday afternoons: that way, you’ll have time to blog and your partner will have time for their hobbies.
- If you don’t know where your time is going, keep a time log for a week to find out and write down everything you do. If you’re mostly at your computer, use RescueTime to track what you’re spending time on.
There may well not be any easy answers, and you may be frustrated that a lot of your schedule can’t be changed. Focus on what you can change and control, though.
Moving Forward, Step by Step
Blogging can feel a bit relentless at times: your blog needs fresh content week after week. Treat it as a marathon, not a sprint – don’t burn out.
Also (and I really struggle with this!), do try not to compare yourself to other bloggers. They may well be at a completely different stage of life from you (perhaps they don’t have a day job, or they don’t have kids, or they can afford to pay a team of assistants…). Instead of thinking about them, stay focused on what you can do to keep growing your blog – or, as Charlie Gilkey puts it, watch your own lane.
Ideally, you want to gradually move towards a position where you do have more time for your blog – so you might look at creating or growing some income streams, for instance, so you can afford to pay for some childcare or for a virtual assistant.
I know how tough (practically and emotionally) it can be to keep up with blogging when you don’t have much time to spare. Take it at your own pace, step by step. And while overall consistency is important, if you do feel overwhelmed, it’s fine to take an occasional week off!
How do you fit your blogging in around your busy life? Does one of the above tips already work well for you, or do you have something else to suggest? Share your ideas in the comments below!
I’m a part-time blogger blogging for a while. I everyday try to manage the time for my blog, it’s bit difficult but not impossible.
Today, I got some great tips here which will help me to improve by blog.
Glad to help, Pawan! I agree it can be difficult to find time — you’re doing a great job to spend some time on your blog every day. Keep up the good work!
Glad to help, Pawan! I agree it can be difficult to find time — you’re doing a great job to spend some time on your blog every day. Keep up the good work!
Really awesome post..Learned many things from this post.Thankyou for sharing this awesome post..
#1 is where it is at.
I am a full time pro blogger but live a busy life, circling the globe as I blog. I realize posting twice weekly to my blog is the easiest way to be consistent, whether I have more time or little time. Blogging consistently is about doing a few things – literally – really well.
Guest posting. Blog commenting. Posting to your own blog. That is it. Nothing more. So if you have little time to blog you can just do 1-3 things daily, and then, focus on publishing only 1-2 times weekly on your blog, to rock it out.
Example; if you devote your attention and energy to publishing 1 post weekly that post will rock because where your attention and energy goes, grows. Which ensures that single post will yield more traffic, subscribers and profits, then 2-5 thin, lightweight blog posts.
Think leveraging. Making a big impact in little time. This is why guest posting and effective blog commenting are huge to any time-strapped blogger. Landing a guestie on Pro Blogger with its 300,000 member community or writing a long form blog comment on PB will drive serious traffic to your blog and also boosts your subscriber count too…and helps you build friendships with other successful bloggers.
Thanks for sharing Ali!
What great additions, Ryan — thank you! I completely agree with you that ONE great weekly post is far better than several mediocre ones. Far better to do a few things and do them well than to spread yourself too thin trying to do everything.
Thanks for the great ideas. Having a 9 to 5 and blogging is truly a challenge.
When you talk about Recycling old posts, do you mean creating an entirely new post with the updated info or updating the post and changing the published date?
I should’ve been clearer! I do it by updating the existing post and changing the published date (I normally set it to a future date, then click “Publish” to put the post live again, if that makes sense.) That should bring it back into your blog’s feed.
It does! I suspected you meant to modify the existing post. But using a future date is a twist I didn’t think of.
A very well written piece right here.
I think with the proper structure in place you can have a comfortable blogging schedule without being over stressed (queue ripping hair out)
Absolutely. I think structure makes such a difference: blogging gets stressful when it feels like it’s all falling apart around you (trust me, I’ve been there a few times…!)
Consistently blogging is a big challenge for newbie bloggers. I am posting 2 to 3 articles in a week to make my frequency of blog post. Your steps here in this article will help newbie to plan their blogging schedule. Great post, Thanks for sharing with us.
Thanks Vishwajeet! Sounds like you’re doing a great job staying consistent. Good luck with your blogging!
Thanks Ali, this was really helpful. I tend to let myself get caught up in emails, checking social media rather then just sitting down and DOING THE WORK!
I have started to batch my jobs and focus on three mornings a week to see how I get on.
It’s so easy to get caught up in all the little things — especially as so many of them need to be done over and over again (I never quite seem to clear my inbox!) Good luck with the batching. :-)
Dear Ali, your post is just what I needed today! Thank you for this great advice. I recently started my blog and I feel completely overwhelmed with everything there is to do. And I have thought about quitting because I’m probably not going to be able to post weekly. Your first point encouraged me to keep going. So thank you :-)
Aw, so glad to help! You honestly don’t need to post weekly — lots of successful bloggers don’t (Naomi Dunford on IttyBiz, for instance). If anything, I think if you post less often but post really good stuff, you have readers who are super-excited to get a new post from you. :-D
Woww… very inspiring. I am one of the bloggers who always feel that a day should be more than only 24 hours. Always having difficulties to manage my time between family, work, and also other activities. It left me with only a little space of time for my blogging.
Great post Ali. Thanks for the inspiration. It gives me a new idea how to manage my blogging life.
I know what you mean — I wish I could have an extra few hours in the day! Glad this was helpful. :-)
Get many ideas to apply to my site.
I will try recycle old posts first.
Thank you for your useful article.
I think that’s a great place to begin, Bella — good luck!
If I can share one important tip with you, Ali, in return for yours. You really need to calm down those exclamation points. I am a longtime editor and if people are enjoying your blogs now, they will enjoy them more with less shouting.
Thanks Andy. I do try to look out for them when I edit; I’ll admit I’m a bit exclamation-point happy sometimes… I don’t personally read them as “shouting”, more like “excitement”, but I can see how it could come across that way.
Perfect timing. I really appreciate these tips. After just having started a new blog, finding enough time every week to produce one profound article really is harder than I thought—despite having started my first blog about 14 years ago. But there is a reason why not one of my former blogs still exists. ;-) This time I really try to be consistent with my publishing schedule. However it’s not only writing publishing. Promoting articles, enhancing the website (which still lacks lots of features I have in mind), performing SEO tasks, trying to get into contact with other bloggers, etc. takes a lot of time.
So I’ll definitely try the task batching and the content calendar. I already knew Michael Hyatt’s article template which I gotta try next time. And producing some of the easier articles (like “The 5 [insert topic] blogs you got to read”) in advance should also help.
Anyway, thanks a lot for sharing this advice. :-)
Yes, it’s all the stuff other than writing that can really eat up time. I’ve found it helps to put the writing first and try to do as much of the other stuff as I can … but to avoid letting it take over.
I always believe that consistency is the best thing you can do for your blog. I publish every day which is giving me amazing results.
Though not everyone has enough time to post even once a week. But they can manage it by planning.
Recycling the older posts is an effective idea.
Thanks for sharing with us.
Thanks, Ravi. Great to hear you’re getting such good results. :-)
Consistency is a huge thing when trying to grow a blog. When I first started my blog, I was posting new posts once per week. However, I quickly realized that my blog would take forever to grow, so I started writing 2x per week.
This works fine for me and I’ve managed to keep writing at this pace for several months now. Batching works great for me.
Whenever I sit down to write new blog posts, I focus on writing. I try to write 1,000 words everyday, sometimes it’s more or less.
This technique has helped me get over 2 months worth of content scheduled in advance. Of course after I am doing batch writing, I have to spend a few days proofreading my articles and creating images for social media.
However, it’s always nice to have several articles pre-written in advance. This way if anything in life comes up I won’t have to worry about not having a new blog post published on my blog.
You’re so right, we can’t compare ourselves to others. Like you said, some people have all day to spend on their blog. I have about 2.5 hours per day to spend on my blog, sometimes I get more.
If we start comparing ourselves to others, we start doubting ourselves. We think that we should be further along than we actually are.
Focus on your own blog and just work on growing it. Such great advice for bloggers. Now I am off to check out the template that Michael Hyatt’s template he uses for his blog posts.
Thanks for sharing these tips, I know that they will help so many bloggers become more consistent and improve their blogs.
Have a great day :)
Sounds like you’re doing brilliantly, Susan — hurrah for you. :-) And wow, I wish I was 2 months ahead right now (after a busy few weeks, I’ve just clawed my way back to about 2 weeks ahead on blog posts and a month ahead on newsletter posts …) Keep up all the great work. :-)
This is great. I’m going to share it with my staff writers at Planting Roots: Strength to Thirve in Military Life. Thanks!
Thanks so much for sharing the post, Ginger. Really glad you enjoyed it and hope it helps your staff writers too. :-)
Ali, I find that Evernote works really well to enable the progressive writing style in short bursts that you outlined in your post. I can quickly jot down an idea and a few key points about it in my iPhone (often using Siri or Dragon Anywhere to dictate it). I can then return to it a day or two later and start the process of converting it into an outline, determining what additional information or research I need and so forth. The final step is to “add flesh to the bones,” figuratively speaking. It’s a very efficient way to write!
I use Evernote too — and love it! I have my content calendar there in one note, ideas in another, and separate notes for different post plans and so on.
I’ve taken it one step further, developing a set of templates that enable me to use it to manage an end-to-end creative process – perfect for creatives like bloggers and content marketers. I wrote about it here: http://chuckfrey.com/evernote-for-creatives/
Check out workflowy.com. I find it to be a fabulous outlining/mindmapping tool. I use it as a super structure for my entire blog. When you are outlining a post, it is super easy to drag ideas around. I put a short-cut on my phone to the “post ideas” section where I can quickly jot down an idea.
I heard a lot about Evernote. I should try it now.
Great post – full of several creative ideas. I am about a year into blogging and need to start creating more compelling content. Will keep this post in mind. Thanks.
Thanks, Doug — best of luck with the next year. :-)
This post was perfectly timed for me! I’m just starting out and feeling so overwhelmed with too many projects that I’m already juggling. You’ve given me lots of great ideas, and a sense of not being too hard on myself! THX
Yay, so glad this came at a good moment for you! It can be really tough to juggle everything — sometimes I find I have to focus on clearing one project out of the way before I can get back into the swing of blogging. Good luck with it all!
I’m quite familiar about being crunch for time when it comes to blogging. For me the best times to blog is usually on the weekends and I only publish a blog once a month. I found ways to make the best of my times and use some of the same strategies as you’ve shared here.
Thanks for sharing! Have a good one!
Thanks Sherman! Sounds like you’ve got some good processes in place already. :-)
Another great article speaking to exactly what this business blogger faces daily. I will use the – batching tip to do all my writing in one block and then aim for consistency, not daily but regularly. http://best4businesses.com/
That sounds like an excellent place to begin, Marsha. Good luck with it all!
Very useful information and straight to the point on how to gain attraction to your blogs.
Great tips. I do blogging in my spare time as a passion. For my day job I work twelve hours a day as a nurse. These are some things that I’ve used to keep me on track:
a. I use a notepad on my cell phone to jot down blog ideas when they come to me throughout the day. I’ll revisit this list when it comes time to write a new post.
b. I wake up an hour earlier then I need to on days that I work in order to spend thirty minutes creating new blog content.
Daily posts are overrated. I can think of many blogs that publish daily posts that just become annoying. Quality suffers. I’d rather see a blog published once a week with deep material than something light and fluffy. Very few blogs pull off quality daily posts.
Great tips — thank you! I’m with you on daily posts. Big blogs with a lot of guest contributors can pull it off, but it’s REALLY hard for an individual blogger to keep up the quality when blogging daily. And to be honest, as a reader, I get overwhelmed by even GREAT daily posts. It’s just too much!
Thank you for your share. Very usefull. I will try to practice your tips.
I do make outlines. For instance, if a new idea pops up in my mind while I’m writing; I open up a new file to note down the key points of the new blog post.
All of the points you mentioned are fantastic.
I’m looking forward to reading more from you.
All the best!
Thanks Hassaan! I love your method of noting down new ideas and key points as soon as they come to mind — like you, I sometimes find that writing one post gives me ideas for more.
You’re welcome. I totally agree. It happens.
I loved this post!! Thank you!
Great write up. Just about the article i need to fire me up. i have been procrastinating on starting my relationship blog for over a year now.
I think the time is now.
many thanks for this wonderful article.
Ooh, exciting times, Emmanuel — best of luck with your blog!
At the beginning it is very difficult to write blog post specially who has a day job like me. But later it makes its own path. Now I enjoy writing. Even my day job helps me to write more as my blog is related to my profession. That is civil construction.
I think having a blog related to your profession can work very well: you tend to know the topic in a lot of detail, so there’s not much need for research.
When I am in a pinch to come up with content. I use Contentpride.com. It literally has saved me hundreds of hours when coming up with things to post. They take over the entire process of researching and writing.
This post came at just the right time–for a while I had been really good about regularly posting but lately I’d gotten off track, and today I was feeling both guilty for not keeping up and overwhelmed about starting again. Your tips make the process more manageable. For outlining, I’ve found mind map tools (I use XMind) really helpful.
So glad this came at the right time, Kate! I’ve got on well with XMind too. Trust me, I’ve had plenty of periods of being wildly off track myself … and I know how hard it can be to get going again. Please don’t feel guilty: sometimes life just gets in the way of blogging!
Thank You so much for this wonderful post.
Consistent blogging help you to not to loose grip on your writing also.
Thank you. This was very helpful.
This post was full of such great tips! I took notes on the different steps and how I could break them down even further! Thank you so much!!! We have three teenagers and I have a full-time remote working position as well, so while I have tons of flexibility I don’t have tons of extra time. This should help me be more productive with the time I DO have! :D
Hi, This blog is very informative and all the tips applied to my blog. Excellent article.
Wow, thanks Ali.
Having an inactive blog site for a couple of weeks could really take worry even the most experienced bloggers. These tips are a really great help.
WOW, It Is Just Amazing! You Are A True Inspiration for Newbies
Hi, Ali, I think it’s time for me to start looking at old posts for reposting. When you do that, do you simply edit an old post and keep the original date? Or do you copy and paste the information and create an entirely new post? And if you do the latter, do you leave the old post up in the blog? Thanks for answering in advance! I really need to do this…