7 Tools & Tactics That Cut Our Writing Time Up To 58%
According to HubSpot, companies that publish at least 16 blog posts per month get over 3x more traffic than those that only publish one or none. In other words, more content means more traffic and hence, more revenue for your business.
But if you get down to the math, that means you'll need to create and publish at least16 blog posts per month.
That’s four articles per week plus research and writing work almost every day.
For companies with large teams and a dedicated staff, it’s easy to hit that target.
However, for businesses with small teams and solo bloggers, it could seem like an impossible task.
But consistently creating fresh content is the key to attracting a regular stream of leads and customers. Even if it takes time.
The goal is to produce consistent content while maintaining, or even improving, the quality of what's published.
It’s a huge challenge.
So how do we solve this?
Commonly, there are two ways.
- One is to devote more budget (hire more writers).
- The other is to simply do it all yourself, but devote more time writing.
Thankfully, there’s now a third option. One that's more cost-effective and more practical:
Knowing how to write efficiently.
In this example, efficiency is the result of a combination of two factors: knowing how to write faster and knowing how to lower the cost of creating content.
If you master this,
- You will spend less time on creating fresh content.
- Your productivity will double (or even triple, quadruple!) without taking more out of your budget.
- You’ll reduce the cost it might take you to create a piece of content.
With these tips and tricks, creating fresh content consistently will become the least of your worries.
So what are the ways to create content faster, without sacrificing quality? Let’s start with addressing the mental roadblocks all creators face and giving you the solutions.
Step 1: Produce consistently, religiously
We all dream of going viral. Hours after hitting “Publish”, thousands will Like and Share. Influencers will link to it and talk about it with their fans. Then after a few days or weeks, it hits a million views.
Content writers are always trying to come up with that mind-blowing idea. But is it actually worth it?
Weeks and months can pass before that big idea hits. And when it does, it's undoubtedly followed by countless hours agonizing over research and actual creation. After all, if millions view it, it better be perfect, right?
Then before you know it, it's been months since your last blog. You've lost customers because of your decreased "visibility", and all those chances to hit Google's first page because you didn't publish anything.
So what then?
We say forget about that once-in-a-lifetime "epic content" and focus on consistency instead.
Epic content might change the world. But if it takes too much time, the risks are too great. And there's no guarantee.
Instead, producing consistent content provides better (and safer) returns over time.
Who knows, if you produce a bunch of quality content, one or two of them might reach traffic in epic proportions - even if you’ve produced the content in less than an hour.
Now, creating consistent content also means having some bookkeeping skills. When you're hit with a really good idea, you'll want to file it somewhere where it's safe, organized, easy to recover and put together when you need it.
Here are few great tools for organizing content ideas on the move:
Step 2: Batch and focus
We can learn a lot from traditional industries. For instance, high-performance manufacturing companies produce thousands, if not millions of products that meet strict standards - and they do it at low cost.
It goes beyond technology and automation. This is about batching and focusing.
Manufacturers make products in large batches. They save on production costs that way because they use less time and resources in the initial setup and in keeping the process running.
You can do the same in coming up with ideas and creating content. Your initial setup costs are the energy you put into "getting in the zone".
- You can save initial setup costs by batching because, instead of thinking up ideas here and there or writing on and off throughout the day, you can do it all in one go.
- You save energy and gain more time for the creation process itself.
Today, set aside one hour devoted only to listing possible blog topics. Then use the next hour just for writing.
- Get rid of the distractions.
- Don't interrupt your train of thought.
- Let your momentum build and just focus on the task at hand.
It may take some effort initially (we all know how hard it is to avoid Facebook), but it's more productive in the long run.
Many creators and trailblazers make use of batching.
For example, Paul Graham, co-founder of Y Combinator, mentioned Maker’s Schedule, Manager’s Schedule. You have two different sets of tasks: one is about creating and the other is about administrating.
The schedule for those activities should be separate. Batch all the creation-related tasks and accomplish them in a few hours (Maker’s Schedule). Then, go into Manager’s Schedule where you do necessary administrative work.
In this method, you minimize interruptions in your workflow, stay focused, and your day becomes smoother.
Step 3: Shorten research time - see what others are writing/asking about the topic
After forgetting about epic content and learning about batching, it’s time for one of the hardest tasks: Coming up with new blog topics and ideas.
Many of us just stare at the screen for minutes on end and give up. It’s not easy to come up with fresh ideas. That’s why it’s difficult to produce content consistently in the first place (over 40% of marketers find this a challenge).
So how can you come up with fresh ideas?
There are two ways: either you create or you curate.
We've created an in-depth guide to finding topics fast so we recommend you to have a look at that if you want to dig deep into this technique.
READ: How to Generate Blog Topics Like a Bad Ass
Step 4: Multiply those topics using a content calendar
Magazines (both offline and online) have all their content already planned months in advance. This ensures that they always have a steady stream of content in their publishing queue, plus enough room for any last minute, time-sensitive pieces. To accomplish this, they use a content calendar.
If you've chosen to create a "Best of [Topic]" content, multiply it by creating a monthly version of your content. So you'll end up with:
- Best of [Topic] January 2017
- Best of [Topic] February 2017
- and so on...
Well, guess what? You now have a series of 12 instant blog posts that's going to fill up your editorial calendar for a whole year.
Any relevant dates and upcoming events can also help you come up with fresh content ideas. Most importantly, it makes your content time relevant.
Again, we've gone in-depth on how you can generate blog post ideas for a whole year (in record time!) in our one of our blog posts, so we highly recommend checking below to get a better idea.
Step 5: Use proven headline formulas
"On the average, five times as many people read the headline as read the body copy. When you have written your headline, you have spent eighty cents out of your dollar." - David Ogilvy
The goal of the headline is to make people click and view your content. If the headline can’t do that, you lose.
That’s why many writers and marketers spend extra time crafting the perfect headline. They create magnetic headlines that draw people in.
Here are a few questions people ask when creating magnetic headlines:
- Should I write the headline first or after creating the whole content?
- How do I remain ethical and honest to my readers with my headlines?
- Is it all right to use headline formulas?
Let’s address the first question. Writing the headline first can guide you into creating the content. If you write the headline last, it will best represent what you’ve created (more ideas to draw from and the content still evolves).
Some people prefer one over the other. One thing is for certain though. It’s hard to get it right the first time. That’s why it’s smart to just start writing and see if you can improve on it.
It can take a lot of time (some experienced marketers and writers still get stuck with this). But the good news is there's a smarter, easier way: use proven headline formulas.
Again, we have gone into the deep end on how to create amazing titles and headlines in a recent blog post so we recommend clicking the below if you're keen to find out more.
Step 6: Write now and edit later
If your headline has created high expectations, your content better deliver.
This is the part that gets scary (and consumes a lot of time). That’s why many writers and marketers never finish or never get started at all.
The straightforward solution here is to just start writing something. You can start with a rough outline and fill the gaps as you go. Or you can just write continuously.
However, writing takes a lot of time because of your constant aim for perfection. You want to get each sentence right the first time. You hit the backspace every time a word or phrase doesn’t seem right. In other words, you write and edit simultaneously.
To save time and create content faster, reserve the editing for later (or hire someone else to do it). This way, you can focus on just creation. Then it becomes easier to edit and revise.
After writing the whole piece, you can refine what you’ve created. Get rid of unnecessary words, correct the grammar and punctuation, add more sentences to clarify something, rearrange paragraphs, and more. There’s enough time for all that, now that all the words are already in front of you.
Step 7: Use blog post templates
Even with the use of checklists and following all the tips mentioned above, content creation can still be a challenge. That’s because every step of the process is a conscious activity. In each step, you have to think about what you’re doing and what to do next.
The process gets even harder when you need to produce content consistently. At the start, it might be easy. But as you need to produce more (all the time), you might start to run dry.
So how do you solve this without relying on content mills and content generators?
Create your own blog post templates.
- You don’t start from scratch. You open the document and fill the gaps as you go along.
- Templates also serve as a checklist. You’re sure that all the essential elements are there before you hit Publish.
- You maintain your focus. After following the template and editing the content, you’re done. It’s also your guide for what to do next.
- Getting stuck? Browse through the templates and you’ll come up with new content ideas.
- In the mood for writing? Randomly select one template and start writing.
- Add variety to your blog posts, topics, and format (we give 30 free blog post templates below)
- For marketing agencies, use the templates as a guide for content planning and strategy.
Solo bloggers, freelance writers, and marketing agencies can benefit from using blog post templates. It’s a quicker and easier way to produce more quality content.
If you need a steady stream of content for your website or blog, you need to create content fast. This way, you’ll still have time for other business-related activities while still prioritizing content creation.
The key here is to get something started (forget about epic content and focus on consistency) and then using all the tools available to become more productive. It’s also great to have checklists and blog post templates so you’re sure everything’s covered and you’ll save time and energy on thinking about everything.