Blogging is key for driving traffic to your website from search engines and social media channels. It will establish you and/or your company as an industry thought-leader, and you'll get the opportunity to rank for search queries with every blog post you write.
So it's no surprise letting your blog fall into a rut can be detrimental to your business. I've seen companies' traffic cut in half after abandoning their blog for months due to the time constraints they felt keeping the content flowing.
So how can you quickly write good blog posts when you're in a time crunch? It's not as hard as you think.
1) Have a backlog of ideas ready to go.
Brainstorming new ideas is the most time-consuming part of content marketing. So get it over with all at once. Once per month, take an hour or two to go through this process:
Think of two how-to topics -- something you can walk readers through step-by step. Add these to week #1 and week #3.
Think of two list-based posts -- for example, the top five ways to solve XYZ problem. Add these to week #2 and week #4.
Think of two new industry trends -- you can get ideas from other industry blogs. Add these to week #1 and week #3.
Scour your email inbox and find two questions your sales reps or teammates have asked you about your industry -- this is blog idea GOLD. You can just use the question as the blog title, and answer the question as the post. Add these to week #2 and week #4.
Once you have all your ideas for the month, you can focus on writing the rest of the time. Trust me, the hard part is over.
Tip: If you're having trouble coming up with topics,use the Blog Topic Generator. It's a free tool that helps you come up with literally hundreds of topics for free based on the keywords you'd like to rank for.
2) Do away with distractions.
I know you can write a blog post in an hour or less. I don't even know you, but I believe in you. The thing is, you are so much more of an expert on your company and industry than your readers, so I'm confident you can whip up something that's helpful to your audience.
Unfortunately, most of us are inundated with distractions. You'll start writing ... and you'll get an email. You'll start writing again ... and a colleague will IM you. You'll start writing ... and someone will come up behind you and ask you a question.
Say no to distractions. Close your email inbox for an hour. Close your instant messaging client for an hour. Escape to a conference room or put on your huge sound-blocking headphones for an hour, and give dirty looks to whoever approaches you. Okay ... maybe don't give them dirty looks, but make it clear that you are IN THE ZONE, and are not to be interrupted.
3) Create section headers or numbered lists.
This is what I’m doing in this post. First, compile the list of tips you want to provide, steps in your how-to instructions, etc. Turn each tip/step/etc. into an H2 section header prefaced by a number. Under each section header, elaborate on each tip using a small paragraph or two. Writing content in little chunks like this is much less overwhelming than trying to spit out free-flowing concepts and ideas.
Using section headers also makes it easy for readers to scan the post, quickly grasp the main points, and read the sections most interesting to them. It also breaks up the content nicely, so it looks less overwhelming. So it's a win for you, and a win for your readers.
4) Use bullet points.
Bullet points are a great way to list points, takeaways, or ideas. Again, it’s a way for readers to quickly scan the content, making it easy for them to understand. They're also pretty easy to write. Here are some ways to use bullet points:
List things. Turn lists in which each item is separated by a comma into a bulleted list.
Create steps. If you’re explaining how to do something, list each step as a bullet point, rather than having one long rambling paragraph.
Summarize your post. Preface longer posts with a bulleted list similar to a table of contents, and show what you’re going to cover.
Provide takeaways. Wrap up longer posts with the biggest takeaways from that post, in the form of a bulleted list.
5) Avoid dense paragraphs of text.
Dense paragraphs are those long blocks of text with nothing to break it up. There aren’t enough paragraphs, section headers, or images to break up the content. At first glance, this style of writing looks very overwhelming to your readers -- but it's also time-consuming to write huge blocks of text. If you find yourself writing more than 2-3 paragraphs worth of content without a line break or a section header, you're probably spending more time than you have to writing something your readers won't have time to read anyway.
6) Use images, but don't fall trap to the rabbit hole.
Finding images to use in your blog posts can be one of the most time-consuming aspects of blogging. But it's important to use an image or two in your post to break up the content, and to make the post more visually enticing when readers share your post on social media sites.
In case you're having a hard time finding the perfect, free image, here are some stock photo sets you can use that are 100% free, no licensing required:
Try not to get distracted by all the pretty pictures! Set a timer for ten minutes, and promise yourself that at the end of the ten minutes, you will have chosen an image or two to use in your post.
7) Break up longer posts.
If you have a super long blog post that exceeds 2,000 words, you might want to think about breaking it up into two separate posts. This will also allow you to create two separate pages of content, which give you two separate opportunities to get traffic for each of those pages.
Remember to link back and forth between the two posts so readers can easily find the different sections.
8) Get a colleague to proofread for you.
Once you finish up your post, there are probably a couple typos from having written it so quickly -- and that's okay. It's hard to proofread your own work because you tend to overlook mistakes in your own writing, even if you read it over multiple times. Instead, send it to a colleague to proofread. A fresh set of eyes is more likely to catch your mistakes. If you don't have a colleague to help out, use Word to help you identify glaring errors.
I hope these tips help you crank out blog posts more quickly! If you have any more tips to share, please comment below. I'd love to hear from you!
Want to share this post? Here are some ready-made tweets:
Click to tweet: How to Quickly Write a Blog Post When You're In a Time Crunch - http://hub.am/1nD3y5M by @DianaUrban at @HubSpot #blogging
Click to tweet: Don't let your blog fall into a rut -- you'll lose traffic. You can always find time for #blogging. Here's how: http://hub.am/1nD3y5M