It’s a big issue. You’re enthusiastic about about your blog. More than this, you’re excited by it! But a blog requires high quality content… and that takes time to produce. But there are some things you can do to make this process faster. I am going to tell you my secrets for how to write blog posts quickly and effectively to squeeze the most from your writing time.
This is a topic that’s close to my heart. SideGains occupies most of my thoughts on a daily basis right now. There’s so much to do when you’re a one-man band looking after a blog.
When you have your own blog you also wear a lot of hats. One minute you have to be a website administrator, the next a marketeer! There’s always something to think about and always something to plan for.
But blog posts are the reason for its being. It’s vital that you market your blog, but it’s substance (i.e. blog posts) has to be present for you to have something to promote!
Content is so important… high quality content even more so. But writing blog posts takes a lot of time and can be extremely tough. Some posts seem to write themselves; others can feel excruciating.
I have researched extensively looking for tricks and tips to help me write blog posts quickly since there are only so many hours in the day. If you’ve read my article how long it takes to write a blog post you’ll understand what I mean.
I’m always looking for ways to improve how effectively I write, and over time I’ve got better. What follows then are my tips for how to be more effective in your writing and how to write blog posts quickly… or at least as quickly as possible!
Blog Post Title List
Right at the start of the SideGains project, I brain dumped a list of article title ideas based upon my knowledge and experience. I used Google Docs to do this (and still do actually).
Google Docs is free (you’ll need to set up a Google Account for this) but it meant I could work on it on my tablet while offline and upload it to my Google Drive later. Ideal for when you’re on the move.
Anyway, these ideas were not generated by thinking about keywords to target. They were based upon ideas I thought would be useful to people with questions that my knowledge and experience might help to answer.
I got quite excited about this and created a list running into several hundred ideas for blog posts. At that point I didn’t think much about it, but this was actually the start of me planning my posts.
I constantly add to this list. As I go along I remove some of the ideas from the list… but I add many more!
A List of Blog Titles Gives You Options
Having a list of blog title ideas gives me lots of options. If I’m finding a particular post title tricky and I get stuck when I’m writing it, I put it to one side and start on another. Sometimes this gets me through a block and when I come back to the post again, I find it flows more quickly.
A list of blog titles also helps me to keep moving forward and maintain my enthusiasm, as I always have something to work towards. To some people, a long list like this might seem daunting. But to me, it makes me realize there is so much more great content to look forward to. If I had a small list I’d probably panic that I’m running out of ideas!
If you don’t already have one, start your list today. Think about your niche and what someone with less experience might want to know.
A list of blog titles might not seem like something groundbreaking, but I can tell you it is!
Trust me… it’s a great way to start opening up your creativity and get you to think (even if subconsciously) about what you might write for each one.
Researching Ideas from the Blog Post List
This is another thing I started to do from very early on. Once I had my list of blog post ideas, I began to create placeholder documents for them using Google Docs.
I’d open up a new document, pop the post title into it and start adding some text. Again the text would be a brain dump and include perhaps:
- An idea of the structure it might take
- An introduction
- Questions people might need answering
- And most importantly, research.
The research could take the form of:
- Links to informational articles from reputable sites
- Relevant statistics
- Research into studies carried out in the topic area
- Related news items (industry specific or otherwise)
- Images, videos or charts to use in the post
The research informs the content. Even if I still haven’t put a pen to paper, I’ve got a good source of ideas for each blog post. So when I begin to write, I have got some things in the bag already.
Prior Research Helps You Write Posts Quickly
The other thing about doing your research beforehand is you don’t have to break your concentration in the middle of writing to check something… as much! Sometimes it’s unavoidable, but this can minimize wasting time when you’re in the writing zone.
At the end of researching each idea for a post, I usually have:
- An introduction
- A clear idea of structure
- Facts I can refer to
- References to which I can link
- And media to edit when the time comes.
This saves a huge amount of time, enabling me to write each blog post more quickly.
Research for blog posts is actually the most enjoyable part of the process… apart from publishing of course! You have the opportunity to do some detective work, get to read interesting articles by thought leaders and learn a bunch of stuff in the process.
Prioritize the Order of Blog Post Ideas
When you refer to your blog post title list there’s a tendency to prioritize the ones you think you should write first. This might be the ones you feel will be most popular, or that you know people are asking lots of questions about online.
Prioritizing might also be driven by keyword analysis and the search phrases you believe are the most important.
My view is that there are of course certain subjects you need to flex your muscles about, to show you know your beans. Blog posts like this can be substantial though. We might think of them as cornerstone articles: articles that provide in depth information about a certain topic. They can require lots of research and may be quite difficult to write quickly.
There will be others that you are excited about. You may already have a lot of ideas for these without research, but feel there are more important ones to tackle first. You’ll come back to these later because they’ll probably be easier to write.
Don’t Save the Best For Later
I argue the case for NOT saving these until later. One way to write a number of blog posts quickly is to tackle the ideas like these now rather than saving them. You’ll be able to pad your blog with content you’ve enjoyed writing, and you’ll have have written them quickly
You might also get yourself ahead. Something I strive to do is to have a number of blog posts ready to schedule for the times when I need to work on cornerstone articles. Cornerstone blog posts take more time, focus and energy to create and you’ll do little else while working on them.
The moral of prioritization: don’t save your favorite blog posts for later. Write them now, get a store of them and use them to buy time to write cornerstone blog posts.
Write Quickly, Stream Your Consciouness… Edit Later
One of the dangers of writing blog posts is we try to deliver the finished article off the bat. We try to edit what we’re doing to nail down the perfect sentence… for every sentence we write!
If you labor over every sentence, you will not write blog posts quickly. Fact!
What I’m advising is not to edit your blog posts as you go. The aim should be to write a draft, not write the finished article in one pass.
That doesn’t mean to say you don’t need to think about what you’re writing. It just means that you build the main body of your post first. You can edit it as brutally as you like when you have a completed draft.
When I’m writing like this the aim is not to stop too long to think, and certainly not to revise what I’ve already written until I’ve finished the draft. I don’t even bother to correct spellings or bad grammar when I’m in mid-flow since this too slows the process down.
I find often that this approach gets the shape of the post written quickly. I’m left then with refining it by removing weak parts and strengthening others.
The overall goal is not to finish the blog post in one sitting but to write a draft post quickly.
This one goes without saying really. As with many things, the best way to write a blog post quickly is by focusing on it. Distractions disrupt your focus.
Switch off your phone, turn off email or social media notifications and sit down somewhere where you can concentrate.
I also tend to switch off the spelling and grammar suggestions in Google Docs as these too can interrupt your flow: they’re just too tempting to correct when I see them.
When you’re writing a draft, you’re not ready to publish so leave spelling and grammar checking until the end.
Find Your Time Sweet Spot
Do you know when the best time to write is? Have you ever noticed a relationship between the time of day when you’ve written a post and how quickly you’ve written it?
Personally I feel I can write most productively at any time… when the conditions are right. Usually it means when I have no distractions, which most often means at night. However, I have knocked out 1,500 words in 30 minutes on several occasions when I’ve taken an early morning train long-distance. No distractions apart from the white noise of train travel.
Some people write more quickly in the morning before the day has started for other people. Others write faster late a night. It’s my belief it’s worth testing over a few weeks to see what works best, and if there really is a time sweet spot for you.
Since producing the initial draft post is probably going to require you to be more alert and productive, it makes sense to blast the more demanding task of writing the article during the time you are most productive and editing when you are least productive.
Write Your Posts in a Public Place
This is an experiential one for me. I mentioned above that I’ve found that writing posts when I’m on a train journey results in me producing blog posts quickly. To a certain extent I believe I write more effectively in this situation because there are fewer things to distract me:
- I can’t get up and walk around easily
- Family, friends and colleagues are not with me
- I have limited Internet access
- There’s not much else to do!
There is a theory though that working in a public place might compel you to be more productive. In the 1950s, the sociologist Henry A. Landsberger developed a theory he called the Hawthorne Effect. The theory was built upon data collected by psychologist Elton Mayo for a study on the Hawthorne Works (a factory owned by the Western Electric Company in Illinois).
Landsberger suggested that people are productive when they feel they are being observed. Now this theory applies to the work environment and actually has some critics. However, it’s worth trying out for yourself.
For example, last week I took my daughter roller skating: she skated with a friend, I sat in the coffee shop! I managed to draft two pretty substantial articles during the 6 hours I was there, and also planned another one.
Now it might not be that the Hawthorne Effect was working its magic on me. But I have experienced on multiple occasions that working in public places seems to help me write blog posts fast.
Google Docs features a neat little function called Voice Typing. It’s only available when you use the Chrome browser and you need to have a microphone and an Internet connection, but that’s it.
You switch it on from the Tools menu by clicking the Voice Typing option. This pops up the Voice Typing tool, which you can use to select your language and activate when you’re ready to start dictating.
I’ve tested this fairly recently (not in a public place!) and it certainly seems to help me write more quickly. There have been times where it’s produced some weird interpretations of what I’ve said that have taken me a little time to figure out afterwards. However in general it’s a pretty useful way to write.
There are many very sophisticated dictation tools available but Google Docs’ Voice Typing is good enough for what I need.
Take a Break for Your BRAC
From his research, American physiologist and sleep researcher Nathaniel Kleitman proposed the theory of the basic rest-activity cycle (BRAC). Kleitman suggested that humans operate in 80 to 120 minute cycles of excitement and rest. The first part of the cycle is characterized by feelings of alertness and focus. Towards the end of the cycle we feel tired and lose focus while the body is preparing to ramp up the excitement again.
There’s a theory that by understanding and working to our individual BRAC we can maximize our productivity. The idea is to work in 80 minute blocks and then take a 20 – 30 minute break.
Give it a try to see how it helps you write your blog posts more quickly!
Work at It
There’s wisdom in old sayings. Practice makes perfect is an example.
Nobody got better at anything by doing nothing. As you write more blog posts, over time you’ll get into a rhythm and begin to write more quickly.
To begin with, writing can be a slog. This feeling can last for weeks or even months. But you will get better as you become more familiar with your writing process and get into your flow.
Stay with it and over time you’ll develop your skills and naturally write posts more quickly.
This one requires you to be realistic.
For example, I could set myself a target of two 1,500 word blog posts per day. Would I achieve this every single day?
Targets are great (and necessary for me to be honest) but they need to be achievable.
You’ll need to be realistic if you’re just starting a blog. As I’ve already mentioned, it’ll take you time to hit your stride. So setting yourself achievable goals is vital to avoid demotivation if you’re not constantly hitting them.
Another way to set targets is to break up the effort you put into each individual blog post. If you figure out your basic rest-activity cycle (see above) you might combine this theory and try to work in 90 minute cycles. You might write for 60 – 80 minutes then take a 10 – 15 minute break.
You could set a timer to help you with this and write until your time’s up. However don’t keep your timer where you can see it, so you’re not distracted by clock-watching!
Sometimes a post refuses to be finished! You’ll find you get blocked, disinterested or just dog tired of it. That’s normal and actually okay.
Be flexible, even if you’ve set a target to finish it. Give yourself a break from it, put it away and work on something else.
I’ve had a few experiences like this. I have shelved the posts and come back to them refreshed and with a renewed drive to finish them off.
Sometimes a bit of distance can help unblock your creativity. So if you’re having trouble, don’t let a particular blog post bring down your output.
Look at your blog title list and choose something you know you can drill through quickly. Sometimes working on another post topic can give you the perspective you need to finish off something you’ve been stuck on.
Bookmark Difficult Parts
As you progress as a blog writer you’ll probably encounter parts of a post that are difficult to write.
A technique that journalists use is to place a bookmark in a particular area of an article that is proving tricky.
Let’s say you’ve written an introduction and nailed the first two sub-heading areas quickly. The third one is giving you a problem though and your flow has stopped.
As long as you’ve planned the main structure of you’re article you have an idea of what the subsequent sub-headings are. So put bookmark text under the third sub-heading and move onto the fourth. Journalists use the letters TK to bookmark a place they need to revisit, but you can of course use anything you like.
This is actually a really useful insider trick for how to write blog posts quickly. You’ll find you’ll remain in your flow and when you come back to your placeholders, they might still be challenging but they’ll hold you back less.
Think About Tomorrow Today
Some of the best writers use this tactic to help themselves the following day. Plan what you’re going to be working on tomorrow and figure out how it might play out.
If you’re using a blog post title list like me and have the research and post structure prepped, give it a once over and leave it in your mind to revisit as the first writing task the next day.
When you’re still going good and you come to an interesting place and you know what’s going to happen next, that’s the time to stop. Then leave it alone and don’t think about it; let your subconscious mind do the work.Ernest Hemingway
If it’s good enough for Hemingway, it’s good enough for me!
Summary of How to Write Blog Posts Quickly
- Build a blog title list in Google Docs. If you don’t have a Google Account, create one.
- Prioritize your blog title list in terms of the posts you know you can work on quickly… don’t save them for later!
- Remember that you are initially writing a draft. Don’t labor over style, grammar and spelling errors. You can fix these when the draft is done.
- Minimize distractions. Find a place to write where you can focus and decouple yourself from as many distractions as possible.
- Try to identify a time when you seem able to write blog posts quickest. When you know when that time is, try to write during that period as often as possible.
- Try writing in a public place. You may find the Hawthorne Effect inspires you to be more productive!
- Try dictating a blog post using the Google Docs Voice Typing tool. It may help you write first draft more quickly.
- Write in 80 – 120 minute cycles. 90 minutes of writing and a 20 minute break. Use a timer to help.
- Practice and over time you’ll get faster.
- Set achievable targets for yourself…
- But be flexible with your targets.
- Don’t let tricky parts of a blog post stop you from proceeding. Bookmark the area and come back to it later.
- At the end of the day, go back to your blog post title list, look at your next prioritized post and run through the research document you’ve already created. This will put you on the right foot when you start writing tomorrow.
That’s all folks!
Please let me know if this helps you in any way. I am always looking for techniques about how to write blog posts quickly and more effectively. Drop me a comment below and let’s talk about it!