There’s a saying that goes “the best ____ is the one you use” + I’m quite fond of it. This applies to business systems, workout routines + so much more. But for today, we’re going to apply it to content creation systems.
I’m guilty of getting sidetracked by new systems + software instead of simply putting great content out into the world in whatever way I default to. It’s hard not to see a new product that you want to try out for your own business to see what benefits you can reap from it.
It wasn’t until I simplified my blog writing process that I finally stopped dreading creating new content.
This process might not excite you, but I can bet that it will surprise you in the lack of tech involved. #nonnerdalert
map out ideas
The first thing that I do is I map out the blog posts I want to create for an entire month at a time. I would love to be doing this a full 6 weeks ahead of time, but for now, I lay out the 3-5 posts I want to create 2 weeks before the month starts.
At the start of the year, I print out this calendar from Dani and Thyme Is Honey so that each month has it’s own sheet of paper. I do this so that if I am struck with inspiration about a theme for the month well in advance, I can map it out when inspiration strikes.
When I print the calendar pages out, I also mark all of the holidays for the year just to make things easier on myself when the month rolls around.
At the top of the sheet of paper (two weeks before the month starts), I write the theme for the month at the top. Writing content with a monthly theme has helped me tremendously in coming up with content ideas + allowing me to dive deeper into more complex tutorials without creating one monster blog post.
Since I publish posts on Mondays, I write the working titles or post ideas for each Monday down the sheet of paper. If I’ve got ideas for social media promotion, I’ll write those notes in on the other daily squares.
Before I dig into how I write, I want to point out that batch writing has saved my butt in terms of how much time I spend creating new content. If I don’t have time to brainstorm the posts for the month AND write them, I’ll tackle writing another day.
Otherwise, I take my calendar printout notes to my keyboard + get to work on drafting at least the first round of all posts for the month. Once I start writing, I find a groove + love taking advantage of it.
I also do batch graphic creation — creating the blog post featured images (using a Photoshop template) + social media post images (using a second template + icons from Font Awesome.)
Getting everything done in one day means that I’m at least 4 weeks ahead on blog content — how good would that feel for you + your business?
When I’m ready to write my 3-5 posts for the month (depending on the number of Mondays + if any holidays have me wanting to take a day off), I open up Dropbox Paper.
WTF is that? you ask…it’s a writing tool from the folks at Dropbox that I’ve gotten hooked on. I have tried using Google docs, Evernote, Bear, Word, writing directly in WordPress + more with not much success.
Dropbox Paper is clean enough that I’m not fussing with distractions but has the right features for me to get it done — templates, headings, bold, links + comments.
I have a blog post template that contains the core structure of my posts (intro, content, opt-in notes + details to include in the newsletter for the week) that I use for all of my posts. I start by copying the template for as many posts as I need to write that day + give them all a loose working title, unless I know for sure what to title the post.
From there, I write the post that feels the easiest to me. This is how I overcome the sucky part of writing — getting started. If I started with the hardest post, I’d get lost in doing “research” + wouldn’t get my writing done.
I follow this process moving from easiest to next easiest to next easiest until all posts have the first draft knocked out. If I have time for graphics, I’ll get those done, but I usually stop here + feel super accomplished.
My editing process looks like this –
- create new post in WordPress
- copy + paste content over from Dropbox Paper
- read through + apply styling with quick edits
- preview the blog post + read the entire thing aloud
- make any additional edits before scheduling the post
I see the benefit in having an actual editor (or at least a different pair of eyes) review my content, but for now this method works well for me. And because there is usually a full day or more between writing + editing, I come back to the post content with a clear head.
To recap, when creating new blog content I use printed paper + Dropbox Paper. That’s it. Then I use a calendar plugin to see my posts mapped out on my digital calendar.