Blogging is typically thought of as an easy profession, or maybe even a hobby. But if you’re a blogger like me, you know that it’s just simply not the case. Blogging is tough. And a lot of what makes blogging tough is the time that goes into it. Writing content, interacting with other bloggers, being present on social media, promoting your content – everything that comes along with blogging takes time, and a lot of bloggers find this to be the hardest part. One second you sit down to get some ‘quick’ blogging done, and before you know it, it’s been hours and the day is gone. Blogging is a lot of work, and if you let it, it will suck up all your time and become a problem. But, if you know how to build a blogging workflow and get things done in a set amount of time, you can stay productive and never let blogging get ahead of you.
I never really used or understood the term ‘workflow’ until I established my own recently. I used to think it was just something that super productive business-y people used to describe their boring workdays. But recently I’ve realized it’s a great word that just means creating a system of tasks and perfecting it so that you can get the most done in the least amount of time. Now, I LOVE my blogging workflow, and don’t know what I ever did without it.
So, how do you establish your workflow? Well, it’s actually really easy! If you’re looking into workflows I’m going to assume that you’ve blogged before a few times (sorry if I’m wrong, you know what they say about assumptions). So, if you’ve been blogging for any length of time you know what goes into blogging- research, writing, editing, designing, scheduling, promoting, sharing, etc, etc – too many things to list. Now that’s the work. The flow means establishing an order and system in which you do these things. It should never be just a random bunch of things, and then you remember you forgot something, and then you forget to do something else. It should be a system, that is established and tweaked to perfection, so that every time you sit down, you know what needs to be done and how to go about doing it.
So take out a piece of paper. Right now! I won’t be angry if you’re typing, but I really do love paper. Now, make a list of all the things that go into writing one blog post (we’ll start with one to keep things simple). This includes everything big and small, from sharing on social media to dreaming up a title. Think about all the things you do when writing a blog post. Think about the physical materials you need nearby when writing. Think about breaking down your process into smaller, simpler steps that are easy to check off. I feel a lot more productive when I check things off lists, don’t you?
It’s okay if your list is out of order, because the next step is to number them. Read through your list and write out the order in which you should be doing these things. Maybe you’ll realize you’ve been doing something out of order that could be a lot more helpful somewhere else. So think about when each list item needs to happen.
Next, write down an approximate guesstimation (technical term) of how long each item takes. You don’t need to get down to seconds here, but take a little guess of how long each thing should take you. Accuracy doesn’t matter, because one you start working through your workflow to actually write a blog post, you’ll realize how long each thing truly takes. Right now you’re just guessing times so that you can get an idea of what should take up the bulk of your time, and what should take the least.
Now actually use that list. Keep it beside you for the next few weeks while you blog. Perfect your workflow as you work. Add in steps you forgot were necessary, and take out any steps that you really don’t take (though you thought you might).
Once you’ve got the workflow for one blog post down, think about combining them. How many blog posts do you publish in a week? I publish three. Maybe you could write all of them at once, design all the images at once, and then schedule all your social content at once. Combining actions will make you even more productive than doing them all separately. Think about what you need to focus on on its own, and what might be faster to combine together.
Once you’ve perfected your workflow, type it out. Make it look pretty and hang it on a wall somewhere. If you want to, make it into a checklist and print copies for every time you write a new post. Check things off once you get them done. Eventually you won’t need the checklist, your workflow will be automatic and you’ll know the steps by heart.
I’ve been working on my workflow since I launched this blog in April, and it’s certainly come a long way since then. I’ve perfected some areas, while I’m still working on a great process for others. Soon I think I’ll have my workflow down to a science, but for now, here it is.
My Blogging Workflow
First of all, you should know that I publish three posts a week, on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Every Sunday I get all the blogging work done for the upcoming week so that I’m never stressing or rushing at the last minute. Of course there are weekends when I have things going on and I don’t get to write all three posts, but for the most part I try to get them done by the end of Sunday night.
1. I have a list of 100+ blog post ideas that I created before I launched. I add to it all the time whenever I think of new ideas. My first step is to pick 3 of these ideas that inspire me today and write them in my datebook for Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.
2. Open a my browser window, log into WordPress, and start a new post. Think of a title and type it in (though it might be edited later).
3. Research if necessary for this post. Make a list of headings and notes in the post window as I go.
4. Write the post. Save draft as I go so I don’t ever lose my work.
5. Preview the post in true view and proofread.
6. Add a keyword to the SEO Yoast section and make changes until I have a green rating. Choose a category and add tags.
7. Double check my title and make sure it sounds good and is enticing.
8. Open my feature image template in Adobe Illustrator. Change the template text to the title text and add a comment if necessary. Change the background colour, create a design, or add a background stock photo.
9. Save the image and export as a PNG. Then edit the size of the PNG to optimize for loading times. Upload the image and insert it into the post a few paragraphs down. Add relevant alt and title tags to the image. Also set the image as the feature image for the post.
10. Preview the post and double check for any errors, and then schedule it for the appropriate day and time.
11. Repeat steps 1-10 two more times. Now I have three posts written and scheduled for publication throughout the week. The posts are also automatically set up to publish on Facebook with the publicize feature.
12. Open Hootsuite. Open the view mode of all three posts. Schedule a tweet for right when the first post is published. The first tweet is always just the title of the post, ‘on the blog today’, a link, and the feature image.
13. Go through the post and grab content excerpts and interesting headings or sections to tweet out. Schedule as many tweets as I can for the next month and beyond.
14. Repeat steps 12 & 13 for the week’s other two posts. **I don’t currently schedule posts for Facebook other than the automatic post, but that is something I want to start working on.
15. Keep Hootsuite open and open sites to find curated content. I currently have a go to list of sites to find great, relevant content that my readers will be interested in. I try to stick to blogs in my niche that are hugely famous, because I love to help fellow bloggers out where I can. Now I schedule tweets and Facebook posts sharing this content. I schedule the content with attractive graphics on Facebook since there is always a graphic associated with each post.
I try to complete all the above steps by Sunday night. Then, throughout the week:
16. When each post is published I go to my page and Pin the feature image to my White Corner Creative board, and to all the blogging group boards I am a member of. **I’m currently working on this step because I’d like to find a way to schedule Pins out at various times rather than pinning them all at once and having to do it manually. I know there are services like Tailwind, I just haven’t got around to it yet. Eeeeeek.
17. Post the images to instagram at various times if I think they are attractive or share worthy. **My Instagram game is something that I really need to start working on since it’s not where I want it to be now.
If you want to – you can take my blogging work flow and build from it. Start with these steps and then change them as you need to to suit your own process. Maybe you don’t use Adobe Illustrator, or maybe you don’t have a list of blogging ideas and need to add a step for brainstorming. That is okay! Your workflow needs to suit YOU. Your skills and your needs. My workflow is nowhere near complete, there are still things I need to work on, and I’m always adding and improving as I learn things along the way. Start today (or whenever you need to blog next and take the time to write your workflow like I mentioned. I guarantee, it will do wonders for your creative process and your productivity.