January 21, 2016: If you’re in the business of regularly writing content on behalf of clients or for your company, you’ve likely gotten your process down to a science. Maybe you always start with an outline. Maybe you keep your notes and ideas organized in Evernote or Wunderlist or Google Keep (or many others) so that you’re able to dive right in when you sit down to your computer.
Or maybe not.
Let’s face it: Effective content writing isn’t all organization and outlines, which is to say there is an art to the science. Sure, you must give due time and consideration to keyword research, editorial scheduling, and content strategy, but none of those things would matter if you didn’t actually write up a post to publish.
Point being: You’ve got to find a way to make the words flow, each and every time you write up a post. So what’s the magic formula for how to write blog posts faster?
Sadly, there isn’t one. But there are several things you can do to spend less time writing and more time moving the needle with your SEO strategy.
Let’s have a look:
Before You Start Writing
One of the first things I do when I go to write a blog post is make sure I have myself set up to succeed. Now, success means something different to everyone, but what it means to me is that I’ve done everything I need to do in advance to work quickly and efficiently.
Whether you’re new to the content niche you’re writing about or it’s old hat, you’ve got to find a way to make it sound like you know what you’re talking about – even if you don’t. The obvious way to accomplish this is by doing your homework (keeping up with the latest industry happenings, reading industry publications and other authoritative articles, connecting with key thought leaders for interviews, etc.).
Don’t waste time on any of this while you’re writing the post, however – the key is to get it out of the way before you start. And don’t limit your efforts to just what you can dig up on the subject matter, either. Connect with SEO, social media, etc. teams within the organization to see what others may already know (or have heard about) on the topic.
It may sound elementary, but you need to spend some time on your headline before you even begin to think about the blog post itself.
Tools like CoSchedule can help you analyze your current headline and beef it up to drive more social shares, traffic, and SEO value. On a somewhat sillier note, Portent’s Content Idea Generator gives you oddball title suggestions that just might have the extra oomph you need to get someone to click on your post. (That or just make you laugh…I got “How Blog Posts Are Cuter Than Kittens” when I was coming up with a headline for this post.)
I’m not much of an outline type of person (they always end up taking me longer than just writing the blog), but I do make sure I’ve given some thought to how I want to structure a post before I start writing.
To this day, I refer back to the five-paragraph essay structure I learned back in high school (otherwise known as the “hamburger format”):
This is not to say that every blog post I write is five paragraphs long (or that yours should be, either). The key is to make sure you have a proper opening, supporting paragraphs, and conclusion – to make your points clear and your post easy to follow.
While You Are Writing
Once you’ve gotten all the preparatory blog work out of the way, you can begin the real work of writing the post. In theory, it should go off without a hitch every time, right?
Distractions come up (you need that mocha latte your colleagues are going to get or else you will die of caffeine withdrawal) or you’re pulled onto another project or a conference call. Etc. etc. etc.
Here are some tools that can help you stay focused on your writing – so that you’re writing faster (and better):
- WordPress Distraction Free Writing: If you’re old school like me, you still write in Word and then copy everything over into WordPress when you go to publish (a vast improvement from my college days of writing everything out by hand). With WordPress Distraction Free Writing, which makes the current page fill your entire screen, you can feel like you’re still in writing in Word – but save yourself the hassle of copying/pasting when you’re done.
- 750 Words: It can be daunting to sit in front of a blank screen – especially when you’re not doing it on a frequent basis. The site 750 Words turns writing into a game of sorts. It not only gives you points based on how many words you write – and how many consecutive days you write – but it also tallies metrics such as words per day, words per minute, number of breaks taken from writing, etc. Not only that, but it analyzes the feelings, themes, and mindset of your words (happy, upset, success, etc.)!
Above all else, try to stay focused on saying what you mean when you write. Using fancy or flowery language doesn’t always make you sound smarter or more authoritative; in many cases, it just muddies your writing.
Use simple and digestible language, keeping in mind that the average blog reader spends anywhere from just a few seconds to a few minutes on a post. Choose your words wisely and stick with the ones that will have the biggest impact on your reader.
After You Are Done Writing
All right, so you’ve got your post written. Now what?
You owe it to yourself (and your readers) to spend some time reviewing and editing the post to make sure it gets your points across in a clear and cohesive way.
This doesn’t have to be an overly time-consuming process. Maybe you read it aloud (shocking how many errors you’ll catch this way) or have a colleague look it over.
Here are some tools that can help with a quick, easy editing process:
- Hemingway: Labeled as “like a spellchecker, but for style,” the Hemingway App evaluates your writing to make sure it’s bold and clear. The app highlights long, complex sentences and common errors, in addition to adverbs, passive voice, and areas where you can use a shorter word to get the same point across. It even grades your writing for readability (note that the average American reads at a 10th grade reading level)!
- Grammarly: Similar to Hemingway, Grammarly checks your writing for misspellings, dangling modifiers, and misplaced punctuation. Simply drag and drop, copy/ paste, or upload your text into the textbox for an instant grammar check.
When it comes to how to write blog posts faster, there is no one-size-fits-all approach that will work for everyone. The key is to figure out what makes your creative process flow so that you’re able to get in and bang out a quality post quickly, time and time again.
What’s your advice on how to write blog posts faster? I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.