6 Ways to Blog More Efficiently with Batching
Blogging can be a game-changer when it comes to your content strategy and website traffic---but writing a blog post isn't exactly quick and easy. Blogging includes a lot of moving pieces that non-bloggers don't think about: planning post ideas, creating graphics, promoting on social media, and of course, actually writing the post! Add it all up, and you're looking at hours working on your blog each week. Blogging will always be a time commitment, but there's one strategy I use to blog more efficiently: batching.
What is batching?
Batching is a productivity hack that helps you use your time more efficiently by focusing on similar tasks in one "batch" of time instead of trying to do seven different tasks in the same time period. Batching cuts down on distractions and multitasking and forces you to focus on what's in front of you.
In other words, it's faster to spend an hour creating a month's worth of blog graphics than it is to create each of those images one at a time as you need them throughout the month. Since your brain is already focused on the task of designing graphics, you'll streamline your workflow if you keep concentrating on graphics instead of trying to jump to a totally different task, like writing.
Batching works especially well for people who already use the Pomodoro Technique to make the most of their time. Big names like Michael Hyatt and Darren Rowse (of Problogger) swear by batching for helping them get more done in a day. And I'm jumping on the batching bandwagon, too---especially when it comes to blogging.
6 Ways to Blog More Efficiently with Batching
Since I work from home with a toddler, one afternoon naptime makes for the perfect built-in batching session. If you don't have a tiny human to set automatic time limits for you, I'd recommend choosing a time each week (like Monday afternoons) to focus on blog batching. If you're behind on blogging and are desperate for something to help you get ahead, try taking a whole week away from client work and batching a different task each day---your blog will be set for weeks to come!
Here are the six blogging tasks I tackle in batches to streamline my process.
Do you ever read a book or take a walk and suddenly find yourself brimming with ideas? This is the perfect time to batch ideas for your blog's upcoming posts.
You can't predict when inspiration will strike, so I jot down as many blog ideas as I can when I find myself "in the zone." This usually happens at least once or twice a week (creativity breeds more creativity, after all!), which means I'm never stuck feeling like I don't have anything to write about.
Coming up with a brilliant idea the night before you're supposed to post just creates unnecessary stress and pressure. Batch your ideas ahead of time, and you'll always have something to write about.
2. Editorial Planning
Not gonna lie, planning my editorial calendar is one of my least favorite parts of blogging. I'm constantly changing my mind and rearranging things, so it's hard not to feel like editorial planning is just a big waste of time.
Still, having a strategy in place for your blog is the only way to make sure your blog accomplishes your goals. An editorial calendar lets you plan ahead for holidays, events, and product launches, and it helps you keep up a variety of content your readers will love.
I like to batch my editorial planning at the beginning of the month. (My two favorite tools for this are Trello and the Editorial Calendar plugin for Wordpress.) Even though it goes against my INFP nature, I force myself to plan out four posts (since I'm currently only blogging once a week) that make sense for what I'm doing in my business right now. I pull from the list of ideas I've already brainstormed, and I try to include some variety so I don't have an entire month of book reviews or content strategy posts.
3. Drafting Posts
The most time-consuming part of blogging is drafting posts. It takes time to craft a well-written post that actually offers solid, actionable information!
I definitely find a creative "flow" when I'm in writing mode, so I try to draft as many posts as I can in one chunk of time. I'm not usually able to get more than one or two posts written during a naptime, but batching still helps me focus on writing instead of getting distracted by other tasks on my to-do list.
If you have a more flexible schedule than I do, I'd recommend setting aside an entire afternoon to draft blog posts. You'd be amazed at how quickly you can get in the groove of writing---especially if you get in a routine of writing posts at the same time each week!
4. Creating Images
This part of blogging used to take me for.ev.er. I'm not naturally good at design, and it wasn't until I created my own blog graphic template in Pages that the process started to go smoothly for me.
Now I just pop open my template, browse through photos from Death to the Stock Photo, and add text. I probably save hours each month by creating images for all four blog posts in one shot. It's so much faster to snag four relevant stock images in ten minutes than it is to start over from scratch with each post!
Bonus tip: Sometimes I create my blog images before the post is written! I don't need to have all the text down, I just need to know what the title of the post is going to be. Since I don't enjoy this part of blogging, I'll often do it toward the beginning of the month to get it out of the way.
5. Revising Posts
I can't write a blog post one minute and hit "publish" the next. Maybe it's the editor in me, but I have to give myself a break and revise later! I've caught countless grammar mistakes this way, and I'll usually find a few places to tighten my writing or make it clearer for my readers.
My revision process goes beyond catching missing commas. Here's the process I follow for revising blog posts:
- Preview the post and make sure everything looks okay visually.
- Add the blog graphic if I haven't already.
- Set categories, tags, and the featured image.
- Add "Click to Tweet" phrases throughout the post.
- Check to make sure all the links work.
- Check SEO.
- Schedule the post.
I know not all bloggers have the time to review their posts so thoroughly, even with batching. If that's you, maybe you'd like to have a pro edit your blog so it's off your plate!
6. Social Media Promotion
Not everyone thinks of social media as part of their blog strategy, but if you're not promoting your posts, they're not doing you much good! I'll spend about 30 minutes each week making sure new posts are queued up to go out on social media.
My personal strategy for this is to use robots. I write three to five updates for Twitter for each new post. I'll add those to the "blog post" category I have set up in Edgar, which automatically sends them out during the times I've set in my Twitter schedule. I'll also pin new posts to any relevant boards using BoardBooster. It takes almost no time at all, and then it's out of sight, out of mind.
The benefit to using these two particular social media robots is their looping features. Both BoardBooster and Edgar will continue looping past posts once enough time has passed. I spend 30 minutes on blog promo each week, and they're set to be continuously promoted so they're never forgotten in the archives.
What's your favorite way to blog more efficiently? Do you have any tips to be more productive with batching?