This post is based on episode 101 of the ProBlogger podcast.
When it comes to blogging, consistency is very important. It keeps readers coming back, and ultimately determines whether or not your blog becomes one of the millions of blogs that have been abandoned over the years.
However, knowing you need to be consistent is one thing. Actually posting consistently is another. So to help keep you blogging for years to come, here are 11 tips to help you blog more consistently.
1. Don’t bite off more than you can chew
Many bloggers start out with good intentions about how often they’ll post. “I know all about this topic, so it should take any more than a few hours to write each post. That means I can publish five times a week and still have the weekends to myself.”
Then they start writing, and quickly realize that writing down their ideas in a way people can easily understand takes a lot longer than a few hours. And from there they have to decide whether to revise their schedule (and possibly eat their words) or just publish whatever they can manage in those few hours.
You’re much better off publishing consistently but less often than to promise something you simply cannot deliver. Even if your readers don’t realize you’re publishing less often than you said you would, the fact you’re not delivering on your promise will dishearten and possibly demotivate you.
Try writing a few posts and see how long they take, and work out your schedule from there.
2. Generate as many ideas as you can ahead of time
To be consistent, you need to make good use of your time. And that means knowing what you’ll be writing about before you sit in front of the keyboard. The last thing you want to be doing is trying to come up with an idea when you should be writing.
Ideally, you should have an entire list of ideas you can choose from. And to create such a list, you need to devote some time to come up with them. (Not sure how to come up with them? Here’s a post that will help.)
And keep making time for these brainstorming sessions whenever your list of ideas is getting short.
3. Block out time to create your content
You also need to devote blocks of time to actually write your posts. Don’t make the mistake of thinking you can just sit down whenever the mood hits you and thump out a post. Writing is a discipline, and to become good at it you need to do it regularly and consistently.
On some days the words will flow easily, while on others they may barely trickle onto the page. But there’s only one way to write a post, and that’s to keep showing up in front of the keyboard and pounding those keys.
And like most disciplines, the more you do it, the easier it becomes.
4. Block out some more time to polish what you’ve written
As much as you might think your first draft is perfect, chances are you can make it even better by editing it. It’s a chance to not only fix up any embarrassing, typos, but also to tighten the opening, make the transitions smoother, and even give it a better headline.
And you should always do this as a separate process rather than while you’re writing. Why? Because creating and editing use different parts of the brain, and so you need to treat them as separate processes.
And if you need some pointers on how to go about polishing your posts, we have a post than can help you with that as well.
5. Add some easy posts to the mix
Whatever niche you’ve chosen, chances are some posts will be easier for you to write than others. So make a note of the types of posts you can create quickly, and use them to give yourself a bit of breathing space when you need it.
Some posts I find relatively easy to write include:
- reader discussions
- reader challenges
- link posts
- archive/’best of’ posts
You can also invite other people to write guest posts for you.
And depending on how often you’re posting, you could create a schedule where you publish particular post types on particular days – reader discussions on Mondays, link posts on Tuesdays, reader challenges on Fridays (so they can work on them over the weekend), and so on.
6. Create an editorial calendar
Speaking of schedules, another great way to post more consistently is to create an editorial calendar.
At a basic level, it can help you plan your posts ahead of time so you can see what deadlines are coming up and when you need to have them written by. But an editorial calendar can also help you see where you can build on previous posts to create a series – a great way to hook readers into your blog.
And if you use an application such as CoSchedule (which we use for both ProBlogger and Digital Photography School), you can even schedule your posts to automatically publish at a particular time on a particular day.
Which is especially handy when you…
7. Write in batches
When you sit down at the keyboard to write, it can often take a bit of time to get into the flow. But once you’re there, the writing suddenly becomes a lot easier.
So why not take advantage of being in that’ flow state’ and keep writing? Instead of stopping once you’ve finished your post, start writing the next one. And if you’re still in the flow when you finish that one, start on the next. You’ll get a lot more done (because you’re not wasting time getting into the flow), and the quality will probably be a lot better than if you stopped and started again each time.
And when you’re done writing (and polishing) them, you can add them all to your editorial calendar in one hit.
8. Write for your audience
Writing fresh content week after week (or whatever schedule you’ve set for yourself) can be quite draining. Especially when you’re writing for complete strangers who may not even read your content, let alone enjoy it.
So don’t write it for them. Instead, write it for people you know and care about – your readers.
Some of my best posts were written on a plane while returning from a conference. Why? Because I wasn’t writing them for a stranger. I was writing them for someone I’d met at the conference, and writing about the problem they told me they were having.
So make a point of writing for your audience. And if you’re not sure who they are and what issues they’re having, it’s time to find out.
9. Create content that’s meaningful
Another tip is to remember why you created your blog in the first place.
While some people create blogs for the sole purpose of bringing in traffic (which as I mentioned last week is not a good idea), most bloggers set out to create meaningful content that can change people’s lives in some way. It’s their ‘Why?’
And your ‘Why?’ will keep you writing, because you know it’s helping someone else get through their day. Whether you’re helping them sort out their finances, fix their relationships, or even forget their troubles for five minutes, you’re making a difference to their lives.
And that’s one of the greatest feelings in the world.
10. Create content that drives you
When you’ve been blogging for a while, the process of writing fresh content, going through the polishing process and finally publishing your post might start to wear a little thin.
So why not try creating your content in a different way?
For me, podcasting was a game-changer. Not only did it help me reach a new audience who prefer listening to reading, it also brought a lot of energy to my content creation.
And with Facebook Live and YouTube, you can now add video to the mix.
So if your energy is starting to wane, it may be time to try something new.
11. Be spontaneous
While I’ve talked a lot about planning and scheduling in this post, sometimes it’s worth being a little spontaneous.
Sometimes you come across a piece of news that’s practically begging to have a post written about it. It’s as if you’ve been given a gift.
When that happens, I suggest you start writing straight away and publish quickly before its news value disappears (and before your enthusiasm wanes). Yes, you still need to polish what you’ve written, but because you were so enthusiastic it probably needs less work than you’d expect.
(Whether you publish it as a ‘one-off’ event or adjust your editorial calendar to accommodate it is up to you.)
So while planning will certainly help you more consistently in the long run, don’t be afraid to change those plans occasionally.
So there you have it: 11 tips to help you post more consistently. Are there any that I’ve missed? Let us know in the comments.
Photo by Jason Jarrach on Unsplash