“Doing it all” is the power (and the power drain) of the entrepreneur. Most small businesses spend 20 hours a week on marketing, six hours or more on social media, and one to two hours on content creation, such as writing a single 500-word blog post – at minimum.
And for good reason! 61% of consumers say they’re more likely to listen, follow on social media, and buy stuff from a brand when that brand creates authentic, original content. In short: when a business has a blog worth following, people will follow it.
With stats like these, who can afford not to blog?
Exactly. That’s why you’re blogging. And you’re probably doing so even when content marketing feels like just one more thing to add to your already lengthy to-do list. After all, writing is not just Muppet-arm-flailing on the keyboard until something great magically comes out.
But what if you could cut your writing time in half? Or more?
We’ve collected some of our favorite tips and resources so you can save your precious time, while writing amazing posts, and still get the most out of your content.
First, try better brainstorming with software
Ask yourself: do you really have content that’s worth sharing? According to expert content marketer, Neil Patel:
“…the few digital marketing influencers who spend their time creating the right content drive more traffic and leads than they can handle because they continue developing awesome content for their own blog.”
In other words, we’d better get things started on the right foot!
Whiteboard and outline your ideas, virtually
Or you can try digitally whiteboarding your ideas with apps like Stormboard. If you collaborate with other writers, Airstory is perfect for sharing your notes, research, images, and drafts all in one place.
The awesome power of mind-mapping
If you’re not familiar, mind-mapping is a massively effective, highly visual way to get ideas out of your head and into outlines that make sense. Coggle and MindNode are two of our fave tools if you want to give next-level visualization and collaboration a shot.
Make an editorial calendar (and stick to it)
A simple and organized editorial calendar is the essential time-saving tool. Building an organized backlog of ideas, story snippets, and time-sensitive topics (like writing a post about a conference you’re planning to attend) lets you pick and choose from ideas you’ve already vetted – instead of scrambling for topics every week.
I know it’s basic, but why overthink? Google Sheets is a familiar spreadsheet experience that easily tracks, shares, and helps you plan out your great ideas.
Don’t forget SEO!
SEO puts your content to work, getting you traffic and leads and (figurative) internet hugs. While the art of SEO is always changing, easy WordPress plugins like Yoast tell you if your content has enough strong keywords (while you’re writing!) to grab the attention of search engines. Or you can give SEMRush’s SEO content template a try.
Once you’ve got a great idea all planned out, and an awesome backlog of ideas to pull from, it’s time to get down to the business of actual writing.
Next, eliminate distractions
Entrepreneurs don’t generally stop multitasking. Thankfully, there are some awesome tools that make it easier to focus when you just need to put your head down and write.
We love the OmmWriter app for a uniquely immersive distraction-free writing experience. It’s not free, but its soothing music, gorgeous interface, and mechanical keyboard sounds as you type make it well worth the $$.
Not included: hot cocoa and a crackling fire
Noisli is a free option, with a colorful minimalist web text editor and customizable ambient sound combos to keep you focused. It lets you easily export to your Google Drive or a .txt file, too.
Features can become distractions when all you need is the written word. When you just want to keep it simple, either good old Notepad or Byword are consistent, simple, and frills-free.
Add. More. Media. (and get creative with your content)
The biggest time-saver when it comes to writing? Not writing as much.
Content is good! But our brains love variety and visuals. The more media you include in a post, the more time you save. You’ll naturally start to condense your writing the more media you include, and your content will become more dynamic.
Here are some real ideas ideas to help you cut down on how much you write while keeping things on your blog interesting (and engaging).
Change up your “usual” style
Whatever your go-to strategy is, varying your posting format is like giving your readers a Whitman’s Sampler (without any of the gross flavors, we hope).
Usually write longer posts? Change things up with some “bite size” content. Master of the hot-take-on-trend quickpost? Try out a deep dive and do some competitor research.
Experiment with posting lists of your favorite blogs, how-tos in a simple 1-2-3 format, a few “what I’m reading” posts – you never know what might go viral with your fans.
Use free, high quality images
There are so many websites with beautiful, professional-quality, FREE photos that it’s impossible for us to list them all. They make every post look more professional, and help you stand out on social media. These are just a few of our fave sites:
- Even a savvy Flickr search for license-free photography and graphics can really up the profile of your blog
Include infographics – no designer needed!
Infographics are one of the top three most effective types of content, and you don’t even need a visual designer to put together compelling graphs.
.GIFs and more .GIFs
If you like .gif’ing all the things, sites like Giphy are indispensable for marketers to find or create fun video snippets and – if you really, really want to – adorable memes:
A video is worth 1.8 million words
Millennials in particular (but, come on, we’re all getting there) want to watch videos on their phones more than they want to read articles. So, making a video of yourself on a topic from your editorial calendar is a pretty smart strategy for mobile – and an entire generation. (It doesn’t even require a film crew anymore – thanks, GoVideo!)
Finally, shrink your actual writing time to (almost) nothing
We’ve all read the books and listened to the podcasts about single-digit workweeks. Many of the same tips and tactics apply to blogging, and can save you a ton of time. Once you have that strong editorial calendar, talented freelance writers can take your ideas and run with them in your voice and style. Time savings for you: all the time!
But don’t stop there:
Ask your network to be guest posters
If you’re already building relationships with influencers in your industry, guest blogging can help you reach a bigger audience, and fast. It’s almost too easy.
Get quotes from expert sources
Want to get people to share your stuff? Quote them in it – the more people you include, the more opportunities you create to get outside shares.
Or, get a longform quote from an expert in your industry and break it up with your own analysis. (It’s a lot easier than starting from scratch – and a big time-saver!)
Bonus tip: Find content similar to what you write about, but with more social reach (tons of shares, likes, comments, etc.). Look for influencers who are known to share and guest post to maximize the chance that they’ll link, share, or blog for you, too – and expose you to their network!
Don’t know any experts and don’t know where to start? HARO is a networking tool journalists use that promises “a source for every story.”
Find a virtual assistant to proofread for you
Editing can take a ton of time, and getting another pair of eyes on a post before it goes live is always a good thing – and a mega time-saver. Virtual assistants are perfect for this tedious task. (This is a writing hack some of us wish we’d thought of earlier in our careers.)
Link out and give love
Summarize and editorialize a post from a favorite blog to save time and garner goodwill from the blog you’re sourcing. You’ll drive referral traffic and increase the chances of new people linking back to your blog. The more links, the more SEO goodness you’re giving to your site.
(Moz has an excellent beginner’s guide to SEO that explains how growing popularity and link building works.)
Bonus tip: When you can, email the author of the post you’re sharing. Tell them how you feel about their post and when you’ll be linking to it. This is an easy way to expand both your influencer outreach efforts and your network! (Here are some tips on how to do influencer marketing really, really well.)
Give your old posts a refresh
Add fresh information to a popular blog post of yours and re-share it as new post. (Yes, you can do that!)
The best part about upgrading your content? You have all the social proof, search traffic, and shares already – if you repost, you’ll get more search traffic, especially if you keep your title the same. Why? Google ranks new content over old content, so take advantage of that social proof power!
Don’t forget to automate your social sharing
Sharing and re-sharing your blog posts on social media is massively important to driving traffic – but it’s also a huge time suck. (And the more blog posts you have, the more time it takes.)
Automating the social promotion process will save you hours a week, and ultimately cuts back on the time you need to spend blogging. (That’s why we built a tool that does the whole thing for you!)
What did we miss? What are some of your favorite ways to save writing time?
If you’ve got a fave app, habit, or hack, let us know in the comments below!