I once wrote and submitted 11,000 words in one day. True story. It nearly killed me. Granted, blog posts were shorter then and required a lot less depth.
These days, it's more realistic to aim for 3,000-4,000 words in a day. But whatever your daily goal, if you're going to blog professionally, as I've been doing for the past 11 years, you need to streamline your process so you're working efficiently and turning out high quality work every time.
Here's how I do it.
1. Use Feedly to Research and Track News
If you cover the the same topics regularly, you need a way to keep on top of the latest developments. Sure, you could search for updates every day or set up a Google Alert, but my favorite tool for this is Feedly.
Feedly, which is both a web and mobile app, allows you to:
- Curate and categorize your own research sources
- Add individual blogs and sites you want to follow
- Search for particular topics and follow them
It's worth spending a little time at the start adding categories and sources so you can find the precise content you need later.
As you can see above, I've included social media, tech, blogging and business categories which also covers SEO. And I've included a couple of news sources like Mashable, which covers pretty much everything.
I start every day by skimming the headlines and reading anything that catches my attention. You can read most stories inline.
As a bonus, Feedly integrates with a wide range of social sharing tools, enabling you to share content from within the app.
Don't be afraid to include some off-the-wall or general news sources; this can give you a new angle for your content or help you to keep it topical.
2. Search Google the Smart Way
Feedly's great for what's happening now, but sometimes you need to find older information. Google is great for that but you'll have to tweak some settings if you want even better search results.
And by better, I mean more recent. Think about it: things change online all the time, so an article written three years ago - even if it was great at the time - may not always have the most relevant information.
That's why I use search tools to search for content published within the last 6-12 months.
For some reason, you don't see the "search tools" label in mobile results. If I'm doing a mobile search, I add the current year to my search term to help get more recent information.
When I use search tools, I know that I'm using the most up-to-date information in my blog post.
3. Save Research You Use Often
Whatever your blogging beat, you'll find you need some research sources over and over again.
Instead of having to look them up every time, you can save time by saving them offline. There are a few ways I do this:
- I download a PDF of the research and save it to an appropriate folder on my computer. (Since I backup online, this means I have access to it from everywhere.)
- I save the research to Pocket or Stash with the appropriate tag.
- I import it into Scrivener (my favorite tool for managing my writing)
This works well for annual reports on the state of social media or content marketing or blogging - you get the idea.
4. Build a List of Human Sources
My journalism background means that a lot of my clients ask me to interview people as part of the content creation process.
One reason why that's great is because it puts me in touch with people who can be sources for more than one piece of content.
Recently I was writing a post on business and one of the sources I used had a podcast of her own. That led to another article specifically about the podcast.
You'd better believe I've kept her contact details in case I need to interview her again for a different type of article.
5. Create Outlines
I started my writing career as a journalist and I learned then to create quick outlines for anything I was writing. I start with a phrase or draft title and make a bullet point list of everything that occurs to me about the topic.
Then I rearrange those points into a sensible order, adding bullets for an introduction and conclusion. For topics I know well, that's enough for me to work with.
However, some topics need more, so I'll add sub-points for each bullet based on my initial research. At this stage, I'll also include links to any useful information sources for each point and may even add a short summary.
This means that when I'm ready to write, the process is smooth and uninterrupted.
6. Write First, Edit Later
One thing that can interrupt the process is editing as you go. I don't do that. These days, I dictate my first draft using Dragon NaturallySpeaking.
I let it sit for a couple of days, then go back to it with fresh eyes to start the editing process.
At that point, I'll correct spelling mistakes and go through word by word, line by line, sentence by sentence and paragraph by paragraph to make sure it makes sense and delivers what the reader expects.
7. Be Disciplined
Finally, one of the most important qualities for professional bloggers and writers is discipline. Even when you don't feel like it, you have to write.
To make this easier, organize your day according to when you work best.
I'm a morning person, so I often start writing between 7 and 8am, when I'm most creative, and taper off towards lunchtime. In the afternoons, I'll usually edit a piece I've already drafted.
Together, they let me know how much time I spend on different activities and websites so I can plan effectively for future work.
These tips and tools help keep my professional blogging career on track. What tools have you found useful when you blog?