Behind the Scenes of My Blog Workflow
"I don't have time to blog."
"I like blogging, but it takes so much time."
"How does anyone blog when they have a business to run?"
Spend any time in a group of online entrepreneurs, and you'll hear comments like this. You've probably even said some of them yourself. Whether you think blogging is fun or the devil's work, there's no denying that it's time consuming.
But here's a little-known secret: blogging for your business doesn't have to take hours on end.
I spend an average of two hours on each blog post. That includes brainstorming ideas, planning my editorial calendar, doing SEO research, writing, editing and formatting, and creating a graphic.
Two hours may sound like a long time, but when you see that I'm fitting all that into less time than it takes to watch Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone . . . well, it's actually a pretty efficient system.
I'm taking you behind the scenes of my blog workflow so you can adapt my system to fit your own business blog.
Behind the Scenes of My Blog Workflow
The Basic Setup
Before we can get into the details of my blog workflow, you need to understand how I approach blogging as a whole.
Blogging is obviously very important to me (I am a content marketer, after all), but I don't think blogging should devour your entire workday. I work from home with two young kids and only average about 14 hours of work each week. Some solopreneurs work that many hours every day!
Since my time is so limited, I approach blogging with a batch mentality so I can be as efficient as possible. That means I group like tasks together so I can accomplish them in one shot instead of bouncing around between unrelated tasks just to get one post published.
I also try to set aside dedicated days specifically for content creation, plus I set a blog schedule that's realistic for my current lifestyle.
Tools and Processes
Since I approach blogging with an efficiency mindset, I rely on tried-and-true tools and processes to keep me organized.
Step One: Brainstorming + Editorial Planning (Asana)
Blog post ideas often come to me in a huge rush. I take advantage of that inspiration by tossing all my brainstormed blog ideas into Asana. I take the time to jot down any main points I want to cover as well. That way when it's time to write, all I have to do is follow the outline I created when I was feeling inspired.
Next comes planning my editorial calendar. I blog once a week and I have four blog categories, so I try to hit each category once a month. I'll scroll through my list of brainstormed posts in Asana and grab whatever strikes my fancy or will help me achieve a specific business goal that month. I assign it a due date, and voila! It's on the calendar.
Head here to learn more about how I organize my editorial calendar >>> 3 Editorial Calendar Tools for Bloggers
Step Two: SEO and Headlines (Moz, SEMrush, Google Keyword Planner)
Confession: I'm not great at SEO. But I know it's important, so I make an effort to do what I consider the bare minimum of keyword planning.
Doing keyword research for each blog post sounds like a good way to kill my soul, so once again, I batch it. I keep a running list of keyword ideas that I think I might want to focus on. About once a quarter, I'll run those keyword ideas through various planning tools (I only use free tools or free trials of paid tools, like Moz and Google Keyword Planner).
Using these tools, I'll rework my list into strong keywords (search terms that people actually search for but that have low competition). Then when I plan my editorial calendar, I'll scan the list for a search term that fits naturally with my upcoming blog posts and write a headline that's catchy and SEO friendly.
Step Three: Write, Edit, and Publish (Squarespace and SelfControl)
I'll admit I have an advantage here. Writing comes easily to me, as does editing. I can usually write a full 1,200-word post in about 45 minutes. I'll wait at least a few hours and read it through again for typos or other errors before scheduling. I write directly in Squarespace, so I format and add links as I write.
My real trick here is using the SelfControl app to keep me away from social media. Writing may be my forte, but I still have to overcome my unfortunate tendency to check Facebook for no reason at all. SelfControl blocks websites you find distracting for however long you choose. You get to pick your blacklist, so you can customize based on which sites are your kryptonite.
Outsourcing and Automation
This is the end of my blog workflow. You'll notice that I didn't do any graphics creation or blog promotion. That's because I have outsourcing and automation built into the process.
Step Two-and-a-Half: Coordinate with My Virtual Assistant
My VA, Julienne, is an essential part of my blog workflow. (You can meet her and learn about her blog process right over here!)
After I settle on my upcoming editorial calendar, I go into my and Julienne's shared Asana project to give her the headlines for my upcoming blog posts. I also write a short promo line to use for a Click-to-Tweet. Then I create a draft version of each post in Squarespace, even if I'm not doing the actual writing yet.
Julienne coordinates with a graphic designer to create my blog images so I don't have to. (The time I used to waste on this step! It's enough to make me want to cry.) Then she goes into the draft posts I created and sets up and formats a Click-to-Tweet and a Related Posts carousel for each post.
These steps are just techy enough to be a pain for me to handle on my own. If I tackled them myself, I'd probably add an hour onto each blog post. That's one hour a week I can spend doing client work (or literally anything else) thanks to outsourcing.
Step Four: Promote My Blog Posts
Your blog does you no good if people aren't reading it. Julienne and I use a handful of tools to keep my blog promo running smoothly in as little time as possible. (P.S. Some of the following links are referral links, meaning I may get some compensation if you click. I only recommend tools I love and use myself!)
The day a blog post goes live, I schedule it share on multiple Pinterest boards at optimized times with one click of a button. This is because Tailwind is magic (and there's an Instagram option, too!). Seriously, there is no easier way to share posts to Pinterest, which is a big deal since Pinterest is my top traffic referrer.
Tailwind Tribes also offer a way for new readers to come across my posts. Tribes are like a fun collaboration group between bloggers in similar markets who also use Tailwind. You share your posts to your Tribes, which lets your group members see your awesome content and repin it to their own boards. This makes it easy for everyone to share high-quality content while promoting their own posts.
Last but not least, Tailwind makes it easy to review past pins and schedule them to repin so your archived content never goes stale. This is something Julienne helps me with every few months.
Oh, Edgar, what would I do without you? Edgar is fantastic because it automatically loops your past content to continue sharing, so those old posts are never forgotten about. You can connect it to multiple social media accounts, including Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook pages and groups. Trust me when I say that Edgar is a huuuuuge time saver in my blog process!
What does your blog workflow look like?
My blog system keeps me sane, but I'm always looking for ways to improve my process. I'd love to hear your best strategies for an efficient blog workflow!