Jan 16, 2013
Table of contents:
Blogging seems to be one of those things that many people start, yet few manage to keep going. I think a lot of people have the desire to write about what they are passionate about and publish it online, but turning that passion into a regular form of content can be extremely difficult.
When I first started this website, I would go through phases of writing, and then long periods of neglect. I just couldn’t find it in myself to produce content on a regular basis, even though I had the desire to do so.
I think there is so much value in regularly writing your thoughts on a subject and publishing it online for anyone to read. Writing really cements your understanding of a topic when you are forced to explain it in your own words. I also think the ability to write clearly is a huge asset, no matter what industry you work in or what your job entails. Writing is all about clarity of thought and being able to communicate effectively. If you write regularly over a sustained period of time, you will eventually become a really good writer.
Also, don’t think you can’t do it just because you are not a “writer”. I am by no means a natural writer, and I actually struggled through English lessons throughout my education. Until just a couple of years ago, I hated writing, but I think it’s not until you are actually writing about something you care about that your passion starts to show.
So if you are looking to start a blog, or you have given up in the past and want to try again, here are my 4 secrets for writing regular content. These 4 things actually worked for me, so I hope they will work for you too. Take a look at the dates of my first 20 or so posts to see how I struggled to post regularly at the beginning!
The first really important thing to do is to set yourself a schedule. Unless you have a set schedule to meet, you will never be able to post regularly.
A lot of people want to blog only when an idea strikes them. If that is the kind of blog you want to write it is unlikely that it will ever become “regular”. Writing whenever the mood strikes, or when you think of an idea that is worthy to be written about won’t happen very regularly. There’s nothing wrong with this kind of blog, but it will always be sporadic and it will never grow a following.
A schedule forces you to be more creative and think of topics to write about. When you know you have a schedule to meet, you start to get into the habit or producing more ideas on a regular basis.
I wanted Culttt to be a very active website and so I decided I would post 3 times a week. You might not want to make this kind of commitment to writing, but you need to make a commitment based upon the investment you want to make.
You also need to hold yourself accountable to meet the schedule. A schedule is pointless if you miss it. Start with a target that you can easily hit. Once you start getting traffic and your website starts to grow, it becomes much harder to miss your schedule.
Once you have your schedule in place, you need to set a routine in order to produce the content. Setting a routine is important because if you don’t, you won’t hit your schedule.
Setting a routine to write is exactly the same as learning or improving anything. For example, if you were having piano lessons once a week, you would need to set yourself a routine to practice, or when the lessons comes round each week you would show no improvement. Think of your schedule dates as your piano lesson.
Blocking out time to write is important because it forces you to sit down and do the work. If you don’t set yourself a routine, you won’t end up writing.
Like an type of art, writing can often be difficult. Either it is a struggle to convey an idea, or you live in fear that what you write is not good enough. This is made even worse when you have a schedule to meet, and you’ve blocked out time in order to write. It’s easy to find yourself sitting for a long time, staring at a blank document.
I’ve found the best way to solve this problem is just to write no matter what. My first draft of a post is often terrible as I quickly get everything I want to say out of my head and into a working document. The majority of the time I’m just writing out a list of bullet points of areas I want to cover, or I write down all the section headers without ever writing out a proper sentence. If you do this, you can very quickly get the structure of a post, without the struggle of writing the first paragraph.
Whenever I write a post, I write out the headings and then just write as much as I can under each section. Once I think I’ve written all my ideas down, I save the document and call it a night.
I don’t usually look at the post again until I want to put it into WordPress. When you come back to a post that you’ve written, it is much easier to edit it down to exactly what you want to say. Coming back with a fresh set of eyes enables you to critically evaluate what you have written so you can re-write or re-organise it so it reads more clearly.
Part of writing regularly is also about getting over the fear of your writing not being good enough. When you are shooting for a gruelling schedule, you don’t have time to painstakingly edit every word.
Real artists ships.
The final problem with writing regular content is formulating enough ideas for content. It’s difficult to sit down and start writing in your allotted writing block if you have nothing to write about. It is much easier if you already have a list of ideas for potential posts as you can just start writing straight away.
In order to write regularly, you really have to surround yourself within your niche. Hopefully you have picked a topic that you are passionate about, and so you already have a lot to say.
I find one of the best ways to start formulating more ideas is to read a lot of content. I have over 150 RSS feed subscriptions in my Google Reader account that I clear down every day. Whenever I see something interesting I just star it so I can come back to it later. I also follow a lot of people on Twitter who regularly post links to interesting content. Again I just favourite it so I can come back to it and read it when I have time.
I read all different types of content from a wide range of different websites. From big media companies, to individual bloggers. I find having a wide range of different types of content enabled me to discover the type of content I want to write.
When you start reading a lot of content from a particular niche, you begin to synthesis the various ideas that you read and mix them with your own. This enables you to subconsciously spot patterns or come up with ideas for original content. You will probably also see posts in a particular format which would work well for a different idea that you have.
It’s difficult to come up with a regular stream of ideas, but you can make it a lot easier if you provide yourself with the right type of inspiration.
And finally, have some way of writing down notes or ideas for blog posts. I use Evernote all the time to store lists of post ideas and random thoughts that could potentially grow into a post. Sometimes someone will mention something to you that triggers an idea for a post. Personally, if I don’t write it down immediately, I will never think of it again. Keeping a centralised list of post ideas in Evernote makes it a lot easier to start writing as soon as I sit down in my allotted time.
I’m not going to lie to you, writing a regular blog is a lot of hard work, but the huge amount of opportunity it grants you in the long run is worth the effort. It enables you to make something really great over a long sustained period of time bit by bit.
Hopefully these four things will encourage or help you to start regularly blogging too. I really struggled to write regularly for a long time, but by finding what works for you, you too can start building something you really care about.