Early in my freelancing career, I picked up a sizable project: 60 blogs in 60 days. When the client asked if the timeline was reasonable, I responded positively. A blog a day? Of course I could do that.
But as I settled into the project, two things became obvious:
It wasn't exactly a blog a day. If I wanted my weekends to myself, I had closer to 40 days to pump out 60 blogs. Not a big deal, but I would need to adjust my schedule. Instead of writing at least one blog a day, I'd need to write at least one blog and half of another.
I didn't want to spend 40 days working on this project. Yes, I had the opportunity to take my time, but I didn't want to drag the project out longer than I needed to. Plus, I could get paid earlier if I finished the project earlier.
Although the deadline was 60 days, I decided to push myself to finish in 30. I knew that the timeline was reasonable given my abilities and experience as a writer, but I would also need to reach into my bag of tricks to complete the job faster. I still had other client projects to focus on, and I couldn't afford to allow this one deadline to distract me.
Below are some of the tactics I used to complete the project in half the time—and other techniques I've picked up over the years.
7 Techniques for Blogging Faster
1. Hammer out your outline completely before you start writing. I generate a lot of content. In fact, this is the fifth blog post I've worked on today. Although I would consider myself productive, it's not because I'm especially driven or focused.
Much of that productivity came from thoroughly outlining beforehand. My favorite tactic: Create a complete, bulleted outline, then systematically flesh out each bullet point. By the time I've reached the bottom of the page, the blog is complete, save for some editing and proofreading.
Don't be afraid of reusing outlines when it's appropriate. On the project I mentioned at the top of this blog post, there was a portion of blogs on similar topics that could be formatted similarly. I didn't need to reinvent the wheel for each post. By reusing a single template, I only needed to pull very specific pieces of information for each blog. This had the wonderful effect of slashing the amount of time I needed to spend researching.
2. Block out distractions. At a previous agency, I worked on a client that received 2,000-word (or more) articles. Compared to the content we normally generated, these were steeped in long, detailed interviews and background research—and they took time to compile. My best tactic for completing these long blogs was to lock myself in one of the offices with a whiteboard, crank up some music, and pound out 2,000 words. If necessary, I'd map out the piece on the whiteboard, but the main focus was on my computer screen, turning notes into outlines and outlines into paragraphs.
3. Rush through the first draft. I tutored South Korean exchange students for five and a half years, and the biggest hurdle most of them had in their writing was their self-confidence. My solution: I would instruct them to explain their ideas aloud, completely unfiltered, and jot down their thoughts as they moved along. This allowed them to get an entire first draft down on the page that they could edit, manipulate, and redact as they saw fit.
Give yourself permission to rush ahead. Forget about picking the perfect words or finding the ideal phrase to express your idea. You have hundreds (maybe even thousands) of words that need to be written in your blog, and they'll never hit the page if you don't put them there.
4. Do more research. Introductions have never been my strength. I'll occasionally come up with something I'm genuinely proud of, right there on the spot, but usually I wait until I've written everything else to develop my hook. This was especially evident to me in my journalism days, when I would write 20+ articles for a single issue and need a hook or article summation for each introduction. What I eventually came to realize: If I was struggling with an article, it was because I actually hadn't researched enough.
If I find myself struggling today, whether it's with the introduction or a body paragraph, I know it's likely because I haven't made myself 100% comfortable with the subject matter.
5. Save the hard parts for the end. If you really want to write blogs quickly, get the easy stuff out of the way first. Maybe you know exactly what you want to do in your introduction and conclusion, or maybe you know exactly how to explain your main ideas in the middle. Start with whatever is easiest, then move on to the things that are difficult.
On this blog, for example, I knew which tips I wanted to provide, but I wasn't sure what I wanted to cover in my introduction. It wasn't until writing about the next point (consult an expert) that I jarred my memory and came up with the current introduction.
6. Consult an expert to accelerate your learning. I've written thousands and thousands of articles and blogs in my career, so much of the advice I'm presenting today comes from the tricks I've picked up along the way. I'm an expert in creating content, but not in, say, motor vehicles. If I needed to write a blog on car transmissions, I have two options:
Option A: Spend time researching (watching YouTube videos and reading as much content as possible) until I feel 100% confident with the subject matter.
Option B: Call my mechanic friend Brandon. Instead of spending time reading and maybe getting some unreliable information, I could call Brandon and spend 15 minutes talking about transmissions.
While Option A is a good starting point, I'll get better insights from Option B.
Consider starting a spreadsheet of subject matter experts you can tap if you need assistance in your research.
7. Write a lot. Do you know how runners get fast? They run. Writing is an exercise you can improve on if you put in the practice. If you're not comfortable blogging now, do anything you can to make writing part of your usual routine. Start journaling. Write short stories. Try your hand at poetry. Heck, start a personal blog on topic you're passionate about. If you make writing part of your daily life, you'll notice measurable strides in your abilities.
Blogging can be daunting, especially if you're just starting out. But with the right processes in place, you can make it an easy, enjoyable experience. With your content in hand, you can build out the rest of your content strategy.