I write lots of useful blog posts each month, but I know it’s not that easy for everyone. Most of the bloggers I know barely have time to blog, and when they do, they tend to be inefficient.
I’m going to show you some of the time management techniques that I have used to become super-productive and grow a number of successfully productive blogs and businesses. Let’s face it, you don’t want to be like the blogger in this comic illustration:
Here’s what I am going to teach you:
- An overview of productivity
- How to become productive in blogging
- Benefits of increased productivity
- Measuring productivity
1. Overview of Productivity
The key to being productive is getting organized.
David Allen’s classic book (now an online course and resource producer), Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-free Productivity, introduced millions of people to the importance of organizing tasks and setting priorities so you can manage everything and be happy with your personal development achievements.
A key takeaway from the book is that once you can clear the mental distractions that keep you from working efficiently, you can stay on track even on your busiest days.
How does this apply to blogging?
The three main factors that affect bloggers’ productivity are attitude, technology, and flexibility. Let’s take a closer look at those factors.
1. Attitude: The National Business Research Institute discovered that attitude is one of five factors that affect employee productivity.
As a blogger, you might be an employee, but, you still have to answer to your readers. In a way, you’re working for them and what readers want must guide your decisions.
Have you ever noticed that you perform better when you’re happy or excited about a project? It’s the same with writing blog posts and promoting your blog. Attitude is everything: be positive and you will be inspired to innovate and to inspire others. That’s sure to push your personal productivity to the next level.
2. Technology: Are you using the right time management tools to manage your blog? That will make a huge difference in your blogging productivity levels.
For example, learning when to use automation instead of manual marketing methods can be important. I’ll talk about this more later in the article, but here’s a good example from Auto Focus Marketing:
Dr. Dustin Burleson used Infusionsoft to automate customer follow-up and track customer acquisition. As a result, he acquired more than 7,500 active patients and increased the value of his business to $4 million.
Don’t be afraid to learn how to automate aspects of blog content and product creation or marketing and relationship building. Using the right management tools will help you to be more effective in less time – and that’s exactly what productivity is!
3. Adapting to change: Do you frown at Google updates or do you embrace them? That can affect your blogging productivity.
As a blogger and content marketer, you have to adapt to change, in order to stay competitive. Change is inevitable. If you want to grow your online business, you will likely create new products, offer new services, introduce improved technology and adjust your editorial calendar. These new developments can change your focus and provide an opportunity to increase your personal productivity and get better results.
What if things don’t always work out as planned? To be more productive, treat change as a learning experience and an opportunity for some personal growth. Learn from failure and move on with a better plan.
Productivity tips: Some bloggers fail to reach their potential and achieve a productive blog because they buy into myths about blogging productivity. To be more productive, understand the difference between myths and realities; between ideals and facts.
Now that you understand what affects personal productivity, let’s get into how you can be more productive.
2. How to Become Productive in Blogging
If you want to be productive, the first step is setting a goal for your blogging business.
You need to decide on a personal development course of action. For example, if you wanted to build relationships with other authority bloggers in your niche, here’s what you could do.
Step one: Write down your personal growth and blog content objectives. Say you’re planning to connect with Chris Brogan – what do you want to achieve? Do you want him to share your posts on Twitter or Facebook? Do you want him to recommend your products/services to his loyal subscribers? Whatever your goal is, write it down on paper.
Step two: Share his stuff. Social media influencers are busy, so you need to give them a good reason to consider connecting with you. One way to do this is to share their blog content, products and ideas with your community.
This will pay off when you establish a relationship, because a simple tweet from a trusted marketer can send thousands of visitors to your blog.
Step three: Where can you find Chris Brogan? Does he hang out more on Twitter or on Facebook? Can you reach him easily through email? Check out his blog to find out how to connect with him.
Step four: Briefly introduce yourself. When you contact a pro blogger or influencer, the first goal is to briefly tell them who you are and let them know you have just shared their new post. This single act of kindness will go a long way, because first impressions matter when building connections.
Here are some other ways to be more productive.
Break down complicated tasks: In some ways, blogging is like any other project. If you’re going to be efficient, you need to understand the scope and simplify the whole process. Don’t be a time waster by fixating on complex details.
SWOT analysis: This will help you look at strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. This is a business analysis process that also works well for blogging.
Strengths and weaknesses are the internal factors that affect your performance as a blogger. Opportunities and threats are external factors that you can’t control.
Create to-do lists: If you have certain tasks that you need to accomplish, put them on a to-do list. It’s a simple but effective productivity tool worth using. The best time management approach, says PickCrew, is to keep your list clear and realistic.
That also means keeping it short and manageable. The fewer the items on your list, the more likely you are to complete them and not feel overwhelmed by concerns that you need more time to do so. Here’s how you can power through a to-do list for your blog:
Write tasks down: Write down all of the tasks that you have to accomplish in a given day, using action words.
- Write blog post
- Research keywords
- Check email
- Comment on five industry blogs
- Check sales stats
- Send a newsletter to subscribers
Set priorities: Prioritize, placing the most important task at the top:
- Send newsletter to subscribers
- Write blog post
- Check email
- Check sales stats
- Comment on five industry blogs
- Research keywords
Focus on one task at a time: Finish one task before you move to a new one. This kind of focus is the key to true productivity and is one of the best productivity tips you can remember.
Use a timer: Set a deadline for each task. You should know how long each task will take: 20 minutes for a newsletter; an hour or two for a blog post. Use the RescueTime app to track your time, so that you can set realistic deadlines, without needing to add more time as you go.
Cross off completed tasks: Each time you complete a task, cross it off or check the box, so that you can tell which task needs your attention next.
Delegate tasks: Learning how to delegate tasks is another important blogging productivity and personal development technique. Even if you’re just getting started in blogging, you have the option to hire a virtual assistant or another professional to support you.
Change Management Consulting has a guide that will teach you how to delegate for blogging productivity. The most important steps are to:
- Define the task properly: What task do you want to delegate? Is it writing, keyword research, tweeting, commenting, copywriting or graphic design? Spell it out before approaching a professional.
- Match the professional to the task: When you select someone for a specific task, that person should have the necessary skills and proven track record to carry out the task and get results.
- Communicate effectively: If you want your assistant to deliver what you want and avoid creating more work, clear communication is a must.
- Set deadlines: Let the person you are working with know when you expect them to deliver. Set deadlines and stick to them, because deadlines guide and discipline people to work hard.
Leverage technology solutions: As I mentioned earlier, technology can be a big help, when you’re trying to be productive, by eliminating some of the donkey work. Management tools to consider include:
- accounting software
- customer relationship management software
- link analysis tools
- free project management tools
- CRM software solutions, like Infusionsoft or Salesforce
One application that allows you to manage tasks and teams is Trello. Here’s how you use it.
Step #1: Go to Trello.com. Create a new account. It’s 100% free.
Step #2: Create Boards. This is where your individual tasks will live. You can create boards for projects, actions or anything else that you need to organize.
Step #3: Create new cards (for the tasks that you have to do or blog post titles) and add them to a board (see the example below). Once you create your card, you can easily add a title and description.
Step #4: Assign the task to a team member. Just drag the image of the individual that you want to handle the project to the card. That person will get an automatic email notification.
This is just an introduction to using Trello to enhance blogging productivity. For a more in-depth tutorial, check out this article from Tuts+.
Take a break: You may be tempted to keep working to meet a deadline. That’s the wrong approach. According to the New York Times, one of the best ways to stay on schedule is to take breaks.
Breaks also help you to retain information, make connections and re-evaluate your goals. If you’re looking for content inspiration, taking a walk could produce a great idea to improve your online business. Try it and let me know how it works for you.
3. Benefits of Increased Productivity
In the last section, I mentioned using RescueTime to track your time management and activities. I also talked about outlining your process when you are outsourcing. Together, those two tips help you to capture what you do, so that you can identify where you need to take action to become even more productive.
As you do, there are four more benefits you will likely enjoy. Being more productive will help you:
- reach your ideal customers more easily
- improve your brand image
- enhance your content strategy
- acquire and nurture leads
It’s even harder if you’re using content marketing and need to write useful blog content before networking with other bloggers. If you use the techniques mentioned in the last section, you will have more time for networking – and that makes it easier for you to reach them.
For example, to free up more time, you can outsource content writing to a professional or hire an in-house writer. You can also save yourself the hassle of trying to build relationships through social media platforms and pitch new post topics from a guest writer that will benefit the audience you have in mind. Guest blogging is extremely powerful. I still use it to build quality backlinks to my content.
Improve your brand image: Remember that blogging productivity means achieving more in the limited time you have. One area where you can use this extra time is in improving your brand image and delivering on the promises that you have made to readers and potential customers. A strong brand identity builds trust and eliminates objections.
Zappos has a brand culture of delivering superior service to online shoppers. That’s an attention-getter. When you shop at Zappos, you get free shipping and a 365-day “no questions asked return policy.” That’s part of the Zappos culture and it’s why 75% of Zappos customers are repeat customers.
Just like Zappos, once you make your brand promise plain and deliver on it, you won’t have the luxury of being a time waster in that area. Instead, you can focus on delivering and making your customer happy.
Enhance your blog content strategy: A great way to improve user experience on your blog is to develop an effective content strategy.
As the illustration below shows, each state of your content strategy depends on the others for success.
As a productive blogger, you can take shortcuts on some of the stages and still create a winning blog content campaign.
For example, you can use productivity tools like Wordtracker, SEMrush and Long Tail Pro for keyword research. They will improve your organic traffic and sales. You can also easily research and export thousands of long-tail keywords that make it easier to rank in Google.
You can automate much of your inbound and social media marketing. I don’t recommend using software to build links, but you can use tools to analyze trustworthy sites for link building.
Pybop has a simple five step plan for a productivity blog strategy:
- Content auditing: What content do you have right now that’s generating organic, referral and social media traffic? Do you need to add new blog content or promote the content that’s already out there?
- Content analysis: Does your current content align with your goals? Do readers share it on social media platforms? Are your inbound links trustworthy, natural and SEO-friendly?
- Master plan: Consider hiring people to help with market research, market analysis, content creation, distribution and tracking. And don’t be afraid to use management tools, if they help. Play with the data to make sure that you are targeting your blog content correctly. Remember to map the steps that you use to create useful content consistently.
- Execution: Carry out your plan.
- Results: Check regularly whether or not your content is driving the right customers to your site and readers to your blog. Caleb Wojcik advised that you should forget vanity metrics, like page views and focus on actionable metrics, such as email list growth, engagement, sales and social influence.
Acquire and nurture leads: Data from Hubspot shows that businesses that blog daily or multiple times in a day acquire more leads.
That’s good news for a productive blogger. If you can produce more useful, sharable content, you will gain more leads without having to dispense too much time.
One thing that you can do with the extra time that you free up is to speak at industry events, conferences and trade shows. It’s a great way to funnel more leads to your business.
You know what surprised me? The fact that selling is one of the ways to acquire leads. When you sell a product or service and a certain level of trust has been established, prospects will respect you more.
4. Measuring Productivity
When you use several blogging productivity techniques, it is crucial to measure how well you are doing. To do that, says the International Corporate Consultant, you must understand the productivity blog formula.
In a nutshell, you can become a productive blogger when you increase the value that you offer and reduce the time required to create that value. In other words, you must streamline every time management step to meet deadlines.
According to Harvard Business Review, you can’t always accurately measure productivity, because accomplishing individual tasks isn’t directly proportional to simplifying them.
But, I believe that you need measurable data, so that you can keep improving your blog content strategy, blogging, lead generation and online business. Here are few guidelines for you:
Understand where you were: As a blogger, you have to know and understand where you were before you implemented some of the blogging productivity techniques that I mentioned above.
Track your accomplishments: One question to answer is how each task gets done. TechRepublic recommends a balance between doing it fast (productivity), doing it right (customer satisfaction), doing it on time (predictability) and continuing to do it (satisfaction and motivation).
But, the main question to ask is: does the task get done? Measure accomplishments rather than hours, as well as the return on investment. Prioritize tasks that deliver the highest ROI. For example, does every piece of content that you write generate leads for you?
Measure success: Once you know where you were, it’s time to measure where you are. Expect it to take at least six months to see the results of your improvements. Not every improvement will have an instant result. Here are some areas to look at, in order to measure the results of your focus on productivity.
Did you acquire new customers?: Customer acquisition is important for any business. Understanding what makes your customers tick and investing heavily in inbound marketing is a great way to acquire new customers.
You can use productivity blog techniques in this area, too. Open Marketing advises that you reduce acquisition cost, cross sell and upsell, then channel your energy and creativity to customer retention.
Did you move prospects through the sales funnel: The sales funnel is the channel that leads your prospects to the point where they buy your product/service. As we have seen, being a more productive blogger increases leads and more leads means more sales.
At the top of the funnel, you have a greater opportunity to talk to prospective customers and blog readers. but there’s a lot of noise and competition, as this illustration from Marketing Artfully shows.
When you measure productivity, ask yourself where your prospects are in the sales funnel and what you must do to move them through it.
For example, if you’re following up on email subscribers, timing your messages is very important. Vertical Response shows you the best times to send email messages to your subscribers and get better open rates.
Social media reach: When it comes to measuring productivity blog strategies and the quality of your outcomes, social media reach is one of the best metrics that you can track.
One way to find out about social media reach is with by using a social media tool by Buzzsumo:
Step #1: Visit Buzzsumo.com. Enter your blog URL and hit “Go!”
Step #2: Set your filters.
The results will show you your most shared blog content over the past six months.
Some types of content outperform others. You could be more productive just by focusing on the types of blog content that people share most. For example, did you know that photos generate 53% more likes than the average post on Facebook?
Since we’re talking about Facebook, here’s another statistic that you should pay attention to: 81.9% of social media sites shares are made on Facebook. So, part of getting more from your time is making it easy for readers to share blog content on Facebook.
If you’re not seeing the number of social shares that you expect, maybe you have too many sharing buttons for social media sites.
In a recent research study, Unbounce discovered that “too many choices can overwhelm us to a point where we choose nothing at all.”
I also found that adding more social share buttons on my site decreased overall social shares by 23%. That’s why I only use three share social media site share buttons on my blog.
And, I still get thousands of tweets, likes and pins from my target audience.
Whatever your marketing objective, track actionable metrics, like blog traffic, social shares and email open and click rates. That’s how you will know if you are becoming a productive blogger.
The bottom line is to produce useful blog content regularly. That’s the foundation of every successful blog. You may not have time to write and publish new posts every day. But, when you do, focus on writing lengthy posts (1,500+ words).
I know this works, because that was how I increased my search traffic by 13.15% in 30 days. Even if you don’t get the same results that I did, you will definitely increase organic traffic, improve your search ranking and gain more shares on social media sites.
If you have struggled, in the past, to increase blogging productivity and to get more done in a limited time, 2015 is the year instigate some personal development and to make a change by implementing the tips in this post.
Remember that blogging productivity doesn’t mean working extra hard or staying up late. Instead, it means that you manage your time efficiently, while focusing on the most important tasks that also give you a sense of fulfillment and achieve your business goals.
What other methods have you used to improve your productivity as a blogger?
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