Blogging can be an enjoyable experience or it can be a draining time-suck. Which would you prefer? Whether you’re blogging for your own reasons, freelancing, or doing it for your business, finding the time to write can be difficult if you’re juggling it amongst other work. Here are a few tips to leverage the time that you do have.
- Leverage your free moments. The problem with writing is that your mood can affect productivity. You’ll find your own rhythm, but don’t forget that there’s more to writing than just writing. When you don’t feel like writing, those are the moments that are good for brainstorming topics to write about, doing preparation, browsing relevant sites, finding Web content to use for references, sourcing out images or capturing screenshots and so on. If you’re not the sort who can write on demand, you’ll find it a lot easier to write when you’ve done the prep work beforehand. Write long enough (months or years, depending on your background), and you might even find that content writes itself in your head, just waiting for you to type it up. I still have those moments, as I did with this post, but only when I’ve done the prep work in advance.
- Be conversational. You’re not writing the next great novel and not writing a masterpiece of copywriting. Use a conversational tone of voice. I find that taking the attitude that I’m sharing information with colleagues works best for me. Conversational blogging voice, once you get the hang of it, is much easier to write in and thus likely to take less of your time.
- Don’t over-explain. The beauty of the Web is hyperlinking. This allows you to write what you know and link to everything else. If you’ve already written about a topic, link back to your own archives (this is called “deep linking”) instead of writing the same thing over again. Repeating yourself not only takes time, it may turn off regular readers. Besides, linking to your own site’s archives is a good optimization practice that not only helps your readers find your older, relevant content but helps you rank better in search engines, if you’ve linked properly. (More on linking and deep linking in an upcoming post.)
- Use an audio recorder. Recording your voice with a handsfree headset while you’re on the go can be great for capturing some ideas that you can translate later. Better yet, if you have an iPhone and ambient sound level of your surroundings is low, Dragon Dictation will properly capture and translate your voice (English only). If you use the iPad version, you can save multiple recordings, then later edit, copy and paste the text of any given saved item. (Just be safe if you’re using while driving.) Other smartphones might have similar apps. (Dragon is available for E-Mail on the BlackBerry.)
- Get an iPad. You can say what you want about the limitations of the current iPad models (WiFi-only and 3G/WiFi), but for me it’s been a boon when carrying a laptop is out of the question but I have some work tasks that need doing. WordPress mobile for the iPhone is handy, but the iPad version is far more usable, and fantastic for creating posts on the fly. Other blogging systems will probably follow suit. There’s also a real-time “discovery engine,” YourVersion, which I find phenomenal for finding ideas and up-to-the minute references on a given keyword or phrase. I use the web browser version on a daily basis for my blogging. (Disclosure: I am an unpaid tech evangelist for YourVersion and own private share options in the startup.)
- Use portals and aggregators. Find ideas to write about can take up a lot of your time. A couple more great idea-finding tools are Techmeme and Alltop, as an alternative to YourVersion. Google Reader also comes in very handy and often shows news sooner than the Techmeme and Alltop. (If you’re blogging in a niche that has no Techmeme equivalent, you could build your own aggregator/ portal, or collaborate with other bloggers to save time.)
Hopefully, one or more of these tips helps you. On the other hand, if you have lots of time but are suffering creatively, work on breaking your writer’s block.