After a very successful HubSpot Twitter chat on Tuesday (join us for the next one on January 24th at 3:30 PM EST!) about business blogging and content creation, one discussion point stood out among the rest: everyone we spoke with acknowledged the importance of business blogging for inbound marketing success, but many people said that, despite their best efforts, it's really hard to find enough time to do so on a regular basis.
It's a common refrain, and this wasn't the first time we'd heard the complaint. But over the years, we've figured out some creative ways to keep our blog fed with content even on days that are jam packed with meetings, weeks with days lost to vacations and holidays, and times when we're just plain not feelin' it.
Because we really want our readers to adopt business blogging as part of their daily (or weekly, depending on your competitive needs!) regiment, we'd like to share with you some of the tactics that can save you some significant time when creating blog content. We still recommend writing pieces that are further outside your comfort zone and really require that you set aside time for critical thinking. But for those days when you just don't have the time for it, these tactics will help you publish valuable content to your blog and keep your content creation machine chugging along at a consistent rate.
12 Tactics for Faster Business Blogging
1.) Set up an editorial calendar. Many people suffer not from writer's block, but from topic block. In fact, often writer's block is a symptom of a crappy topic. If you start writing and find yourself struggling, go back to the topic and ask yourself if it's focused enough and relevant enough for your target audience. But to combat the wasted time you face when that happens, create an editorial calendar, or at the very least a topic backlog that you can reference every time you sit down to blog. It can be as simple as a spreadsheet with a topic, working title, and notes on what you'd like to cover in the post. Add to it whenever a great idea pops into your head, which could literally happen at any time.
2.) Require employees to contribute blog posts every month. Let's say you have a marketing department of 10. Approve it with your CMO, and now you have a requirement that each employee contributes at least two blog posts per month! Or perhaps you're working in a smaller business; in that case, ask each member of your company to contribute one or two posts each month. You'll probably come up against some people who aren't natural bloggers, and that's okay! Have them run topics by you with a brief outline of what will be covered before they begin blogging to save them any wasted time. Remind those struggling that not only is this an important skill they're building, but also that content doesn't have to be long, complicated, or forced. Just write like you speak, about what you know, and edit afterward for clarity.
3.) Reach out to guest contributors. Ask people in your network and industry to contribute content to your blog. This not only eases the burden on you, but it's also a mutually beneficial arrangement. Your contributor gets an inbound link from your site and visibility among your readers, and you're tapping into your contributor's network, strengthening your relationship with this guest blogger and possibly also getting an inbound link from their efforts to promote their guest spot on your blog. As with employees, ask guest contributors to run topics by you in advance to ensure minimal revisions and no hurt feelings.
4.) Set blogging deadlines. This is crucial for internal and external blog content contributors. Set a firm deadline for blog submissions, and set the expectation up front that revisions may be requested and that there is also a deadline for those. You should also set deadlines for yourself, though. If you walk into the office with the intention to write one blog post, set a time limit for completing that task. It's very easy to go down a rabbit hole of research, outlining, and topic wavering. Before you know it, an hour has passed and all you have on your screen is a few sentences! Trick: Draft your post on a laptop with limited battery time and no power cord. This will serve as your ticking time bomb and help you to write your blog post in the time you've allotted.
5.) Stop worrying about length. Many people get tripped up over how much they're writing. The truth is, people hate reading. Even avid readers hate reading. People coming to your blog have a million other things they could be doing with their time, but they're there on your blog to learn something very specific. The easier you make that process (AKA the less time it takes), the happier they'll be.
6.) Answer a common question. If you're on the front lines with prospects and customers every day, consider one, just one, question you get frequently. Write a quick answer to that question just like it's an FAQ, and publish that to your blog. You're being helpful, providing valuable content, and it doesn't have to be long or require any research...because all of the knowledge is already in your head, and you repeat this answer every single day!
7.) Curate a list. While content curation is a quality content lifesaver in a pinch, be very careful here. These can quickly turn into 10 hour long projects (we've seen it). But if you are scared of writing and the task of stringing together sentences every day keeps you up at night, presenting a list of curated content can help cut down on writing time. Plus, it shows good will by linking to other people's valuable content.
8.) Write evergreen content when you have extra time. I know, the prospect of having free time sounds hilarious, but I promise there will be some time when you sit back, look around, and realize you have some breathing room. Or at the very least, you'll realize you need a break from your current task to maintain some semblance of sanity. Use that time to write as many posts as you can about evergreen topics, then schedule the posts for the future. If you do this enough, you'll eventually find that you have a healthy backlog of posts that allow you to walk into work without overwhelming panic over what you could possibly post to your blog today.
9.) Publish excerpted content. Have you written any long form content, such as whitepapers, ebooks, or case studies? Find a section of it that can stand on its own, and publish that excerpt with a short introduction framing what the reader's about to learn. Be very clear in the introduction about from where you've pulled the content. It's helpful and original content, so your readers won't care that it's an excerpt from somewhere else. It also helps you generate more leads, as the blog post will promote the longer form content and encourage more downloads.
10.) Feel the pressure from Google's freshness update. Remember the Google algorithm update from November that started to reward sites that publish the freshest content? When breaking news hits your industry, it behooves you to write about it, as Google's algorithm will now rank you more favorably in search engines for doing so. Let that light a fire under your tuckus to report on news updates very quickly. The nature of the freshness update requires you to be one of the first to report on it to reap the benefits, so trust us when we say everyone else is probably scrambling to get it written, too. Read about it, write about it quickly, get it up there, and move on with your day.
11.) Publish videos and other visual content. Have you been working on an infographic, cartoon, slideshow, or video? These types of content are not only well received by readers and frequently shared, but they require nothing more than a quick intro in way of writing.
12.) Outsource it. When all else fails, find a way to outsource your content creation. HubSpot offers a content marketplace called Zerys to connect you with quality writers at a reasonable rate. Or, you can tap into freelance copywriters elsewhere that specialize in your industry. Just make sure you screen the writers in advance to ensure they are high quality writers who are knowledgeable in your industry.
What tricks do you use to create quality content quickly? How do you find time to blog with all the other tasks you have to complete each day?