Create blog content when you don't have time

Create blog contentA while back, I asked you guys what you were struggling with most in your blog or business. And wow, your answers surprised me! Turns out, many of you (like me) struggle to work on your blog consistently.

Here are some of the things I heard:

  • I have trouble finding time to write with a full-time job and a 7-month old
  • The hardest thing is regularly creating blog content
  • I’m overwhelmed with decisions, so I don’t make any
  • It’s hard to find the motivation to sit down and write for an hour with two jobs
  • I don’t know what to write about
  • I have a lot of blog topics but don’t know where to start, so I don’t finish
  • I’m so tired by the time I get home that I just want to veg for an hour then crawl into bed
  • My family thinks blogging isn’t a real job until I make money, so they keep interrupting me

So in this post, I’ve got some tips to help keep our momentum going.

First, I’m going to drill down on time management and motivation. Then, I’ll share blogging systems that will help you maximize every hour you spend on your blog.

Ready? Let’s dig in.

CREATING BLOG CONTENT PART 1 –> PRIORITIES AND MOTIVATION

Step 1. Is blogging a priority right now?

If you’ve been trying to blog consistently but can’t seem to get there, hold the phone. Depending on your business model and growth, blogging consistently may NOT be your main focus right now, and that’s perfectly okay.

Let me explain…

>> Business growth

If you’re familiar with my DIY Your Biz Blueprint, you know my four phases of building a successful online business:

  • Phase #1 (The Launch Phase) – create your website and brand identity
  • Phase #2 (The Hustle Phase) – drive traffic, build your platform
  • Phase #3 (The Growth Phase) – generate leads and sales
  • Phase #4 (The Profit + Scale Phase) – automate sales processes, build your team

I go into loads more detail and cover specific milestones for each phase in this post.

BONUS: If you want, you can grab the Online Business Roadmap so you know exactly what steps to take. It’s broken down into 4 easy to follow sections with prompts, milestones, and goals. Plus, you’ll have the resources and tools to help you reach them. Just click the image below to download it.

Get the Online Business Roadmap from ConversionMinded

Roughly speaking, the closer you get to phase #4, the less frequently you’ll be blogging.

(at least for a stretch)

Last year, I switched my focus from regular blogging to creating new products, webinars, and sales funnels. Every month, I could only manage to bang out a post, if that. And every month I’d stress about it! First off, I know that blogging is a non-negotiable for my business. Plus, I can’t wait to share everything I’ve learned this past year. It’s killing me!

But here’s the thing:

I spent two years (in phases #2-3) building my platform, gaining visibility, driving traffic, and generating leads and sales. Now in phase #4, my focus is on sales systems and automation. So that’s what I’m doing.

As entrepreneurs, we like to think we can tackle everything, all at the same time. But there are only so many hours in a week, and we have to learn to say No to things that we desperately want to say Yes to (more on that below).

Bottom line, if you’re at the tail end of phase #3 or the first part of phase #4, you may need to pull back on blogging until you have sales funnels and automation in place.

>> Business model

There are two ways to build an online business:

Way 1: From the ground up – Build your platform first and worry about money later
Way 2: From the top down – Start with a product first and build your platform later

Which one should you choose?

Great question! I’ve been mullin’ this over for a bit. And the answer is that it comes down to timing and pricing.

Timing

How quickly do you need to make money? If your business is a side thing right now, you may have time to build from the ground up. In that case, #1 could work best.

On the other hand…

If your goal is to make money within a specific time frame, or if you want to leave your 9-to-5 by a specific date, #2 is the way to go.

Pricing

This has more to do with HOW you build your platform than which model you choose, but it’s something you need to consider. So let’s take a look.

If you sell low-cost products (under $500), you’ll want to start from the ground up and go all-in on organic growth. By that I mean, blog your little tush off and forget about Facebook ads!

If your products cost $500 or more, I would focus on Facebook ads and webinars before you even think about blogging. At that price point, you can absorb the cost of ads and still make a killer profit.

Keep in mind that there are always outliers. Depending on your niche, you may do very well with Facebook ads and lower-cost products. Just sayin’. One never knows. 🙂

These business models aren’t exclusive. We’re talking about where to place your focus FIRST.

Even if you build from the ground up, you should set a goal to create a minimum viable product (or service) within, say, the first six months. For more on this, check out this post.

Bottom line, if you sell low-cost products and/or you’re building your platform organically, blogging should be your main focus right now. If you have high-cost products, Facebooks ads and webinars should be your main focus right now.

Step #2. Find your motivation

Motivation has a huge impact on productivity. When you can’t find your ‘why’ and don’t see the reward for all your hard work just yet, it can be hard to justify putting in the time.

I mean, who cares if you’re not bangin’ away at your blog when there’s no payoff, right?

Off the top of my head, I can think of three reasons we lose motivation:

Reason #1: Lack of support
Reason #2: Confusion + overwhelm
Reason #3: It’s not working

On some level, these all come down to fear but let’s drill down on each.

Reason 1: Lack of support

If your friends and family are 100% in your corner, high five! That’s amazing! You’re incredibly lucky to have their support.

Many times, it doesn’t go that way. As much as you want and need it, your loved ones may not support you in your entrepreneurial journey.

To them, the hours you spend banging away at your laptop probably seem like a colossal waste of time. And I’ll bet they think your business is just a hobby, to boot.

They might show you their “un-support” in different ways. Like all the times they interrupt you while you’re working because, well, you’re not really working, are you? It’s amazing how a simple question like, Do you know where I put my wallet? can throw you off track and shake your confidence.

BOUNDARIES!!

Maybe your family is even more un-supportive and wants you to quit entirely.

I can relate to this one:

For the first two years of my business, my husband begged me to stop blogging. Every week, I heard some version of, “The blogging thing is cool and all that, it’s just not going anywhere.”

Finally, by year #3 things started to change. I was making money. Once I earned enough to replace my income, my hubby was all-in.

(he even comes up with blog ideas for me now!)

See:

The early years of any business are hard. There’s this mountain of stuff in front of you. You feel overwhelmed and fed up. And you forget why you started your business in the first place.

But you know what?

Your belief is what’s going to carry you through the storm. In my case, it didn’t matter what my husband said. I knew my business was going to work, and I wasn’t about to back down. Every time he’d challenge me, I’d work harder and longer. At some point, he got tired, and I won. 🙂

But if I’m completely honest, I felt like quitting ALL the time. It’s hard to stay strong, no matter how much experience you have.

Here’s what helped me keep going:

  • Experience with start-ups – For better or worse, self-doubt is part of the entrepreneurial journey, in my book.
  • Knowing my why – Every time I doubted myself, I’d tap into my vision and purpose.
  • Having a buddy – I check in with my pal Taughnee every Friday to chat about our goals, what we’ve accomplished, and so on. That time is pure gold!

Bottom line, your loved ones may or may not support you in the beginning. Either way, don’t leave the future of your dream business up to them. Build your own support system. Hire a coach, join a mastermind, find a buddy in your niche…whatever you need to do to stay motivated.

Reason #2: Confusion + overwhelm

You can’t take the next step in your business if you don’t know what that step should be.

When things are fuzzy, and you’re working two jobs plus taking care of a family, it’s nearly impossible to carve out time for your new business. You don’t know what you’re carving out time for!

Even so, I think there’s a deeper truth here.

Confusion and overwhelm creep up most when you’re unsure if your idea will work. Maybe you half-started (or will start) your business and now you’re wondering if you chose the right niche. Or, maybe you don’t know if you have the passion and will power. Or, you wonder if you’ll be able make money.

That’s when it’s nearly impossible to make decisions. Heck, even when you’re crystal clear on your niche, there’s still no guarantee it will fly.

And that’s just it:

There’s no “flying” or “not flying.” There’s only DOING.

The business you start today will look much different than your actual business. What I mean by this is, it will take on a life of its own as you evolve and learn more about your audience, yourself, and where you want to be.

That’s why it’s crucial to take action. Your future business is at stake here!

Now, you may be thinking, Sure, Sandra, but what if I make the wrong choice?

I hear ya! It’s totally normal to have fears like that. Making your move is a scary step. But when it comes right down to it, the only *wrong* choice is not taking that step.

Or to fool yourself into thinking you’re taking action when you’re not. I call that the Maybe Mindf*&k.

Maybe I’ll do it later…

Maybe I’ll try to get a client…

Maybe I’ll write that post…

Giving yourself an out keeps you stuck in a revolving door of indecision.

These days, I’m more afraid of not making a decision than making the wrong move. And believe me, I make A LOT of wrong moves.

Think of it this way:

Every question that stays in your head holds you back. Period. What you need, and quick like, are answers. You want to shove those questions behind you as fast as you can. Turn uncertainties into certainties, good or bad.

Here’s an example:

Somehow, I got myself in a jam by trying something new with a recent promotion. I had just signed up some affiliates and wanted to give them swipe files so they could share the sale with their audience.

Problem was, I didn’t have time to create the swipe files. It took me three days to get them together, which left me very little time to prepare stuff for MY audience.

Now, I wouldn’t run a promotion like that again. But I’m glad I followed through. Know why? Because I answered one of the biggest questions I have right now:

Should I invest time in affiliate programs?

Turns out, the answer’s no. And that’s perfectly okay, because I know what to focus on now.

Bottom line, if you’re not sure if your idea will fly, take action. Go back to your business plan (you have one, don’t you?), evaluate your choices, and give yourself a deadline to make a decision. Then run with it.

Reason #3: It’s not working

At some point in your blogging journey…

You’re going to be doing everything right…creating content like it’s your job, sharing it everywhere, showing up everday bright and cheery…and nothing will be working.

You won’t have the page views you expect, or the subscribers you want, or the customers you need.

And you’ll be thinking, Why am I spending time blogging? It doesn’t work! 

I feel your pain! Whether your blog is your business or you’re blogging for your business, if you’re not getting results, you need a better content strategy.

Maybe you’re not covering topics that truly resonate with your audience (see “research blog topics” below). Or, maybe your blog format doesn’t convert subscribers and customers. Maybe you’re even a bit all over the place wth blog topics and need to narrow your focus and niche.

The good news is:

When you hit this road block, you’re officially out of Launch Phase and into Hustle Phase! High-five!

Now it’s time to get serious about every word you write. Keep readin’ for content strategies that will get you big results.

CREATE BLOG CONTENT PART 2 –> SYSTEMS AND WORKFLOWS

Step #3. Block out time for your blog

It’s easy to feel stuck when you’re juggling work, a family, and a social life, *gasp.

But if you want to change your life, you have to change your behavior.

Unfortunately, it’s not enough to say, “When I have time…” 

You really do have to MAKE the time.

The good news is, you can get a lot done in just a few hours when you focus on the right things. So if you find yourself wondering, “Should I even bother to write? I only have an hour right now!”

Absolutely! If an hour is what you have, make it work. Whatever you do, don’t look at blogging as one of those “all or nothing” things, like I used to do. Small chunks of time add up to big results!

Maybe weekdays won’t work, but what about Saturdays and Sundays? Can you get up an hour earlier? Ask for help with the kids?

How about these time-sucks…

  • Texts
  • Emails
  • Instagram
  • Facebook
  • Netflix
  • YouTube

…can you shut those down?

If you take an honest look at your daily routine, you can probably save a few minutes here and there. Block that time out now, friend.

Once you’ve set aside specific times for blogging, the next step is to maximize your productivity. Here are a few of my favorite blogging systems and workflows to help you get loads more done in less time.

>> First, don’t overthink things

Too often, we spend more time dreading than doing. We imagine things as monumental tasks that will take FOREVER to complete. Know what happens then? We get stuck before we start.

Overthinking leads to procrastination.

In reality, progress comes from baby steps. All you need to do in the beginning is to get your blog up and running, and write your first posts. They don’t have to be fabulous works of art. In fact, your first posts will probably be crappy, and that’s perfectly okay.

The first time you rode a bike, you sucked at it, right? But you kept getting back on until one day, it was easy.

It’s like that with blogging.

When I look at my first posts, I literally cringe. Even now, I look at stuff I wrote three months ago and cringe (and I will probably look at this post and cringe, too!). Your audience may not love your first posts. Stick with it anyway.

Blogging is a journey of discovery. At the end of the day, it’s just something you do. Write words on a page and let the rest evolve.

>> Research blog topics

When I get writer’s block and don’t know what to blog about, I put off writing until I have more time to brainstorm ideas.

Sound familiar?

No matter what phase of business you’re in, bangin’ out blog posts is hard. First off, you have to come up with topics in the first place. Then you have to narrow your ideas down to the ones that are most relevant to your expertise and audience. Then you need to develop the idea and start writing (see below).

Instead of leaving it to the last minute, set aside the first Sunday of every month to research and brainstorm ideas. Open up Google Sheets and dump your ideas into a blog idea library.

Try to organize them in themes that make sense for your audience.

For example:

My audience is interested in business, social media, and blogging, so those are my categories. Every idea needs to fit into one of the categories to “make the cut.” If not, I move on to the next idea. This is a great way to rein in your ideas, zero in on your focus, and avoid overwhelm and confusion.

When you have a library of ideas to pull from, you’ll be much more likely to sit down and write at the end of the day.

>> Start with an outline

There’s a structure to writing blog posts, much like there’s a structure to writing songs. Verses lead to pre-choruses, and pre-choruses lead to the main hook (or chorus). In our case, paragraphs are verses, content upgrades are pre-choruses, and the call to action is the main hook.

Here are the five main sections to a killer post:

  • The headline should make people want to click in the first place
  • The intro should hook people in and make them want to keep reading
  • The main points should help people achieve a specific outcome
  • Content upgrades should help people take the next step in each section
  • The outro (or conclusion) should wrap up the main points with a call to action

When you use the same structure for every post, you’ll save loads of time. And you won’t feel like a slacker, staring at a blank screen wondering what the heck to write!

How do you develop a great blog post structure?

Good question! The answer is pretty simple: Start with an outline. 

And outline goes beyond loose planning. This is where you get a bird’s eye view of your post. Develop your blog idea, brainstorm any details you want to include, and ensure that each point makes sense. No more going off on tangents!

Over time, you’ll develop a skill for training your thought process. Every post should have a specific goal.

Ask yourself:

Why am I writing this post? What do I want to convey? How will it help my readers? How will it support my business and sales goals? Is there more than one idea in here?

Some of my outlines are comprehensive, 1,000-word posts all on their own. Others are loose ideas and bullet points. Those usually start as offshoots of the main post, where I’ll jot down any secondary ideas that come up. If I can flesh the ideas out into a full outline, I’ll move forward with it. If not, I’ll ditch the idea and move on.

If you’re curious, here’s what to include in your outline:

  • A working headline
  • An intro – one to three paragraphs
  • 3-5 main points you want to cover – with subheadings
  • Up to five bullet points for each subheading
  • Content upgrades you want to include
  • An outro, or conclusion
  • The main call to action – what do you want readers to do next?

>> Batch-write blog posts 

Once you’re in the zone of writing, you’ll likely find that one blog idea will inspire other ideas. Take advantage of that *zone* by writing several posts at once.

Batch-writing posts works best when you take one blog topic and turn it into several posts. Every time you write a new post, ask yourself:

  • Does this idea make more sense as two posts instead of one? (aka: am I going off on tangents?)
  • Is there a specific section that would work beautifully on its own? (aka: can I offer more detail in a separate post?)
  • Can I turn this post into a series (aka: can I take people on a journey from one post to the next?)

Can you see how writing this way is a win-win! You create more content, save hours of time, and feel encouraged by all the progress you’re making. And these types of posts can easily be repurposed as a content upgrade or digital product. Brilliant!

>> Use ghostwriters

Sure, it’s better to write original posts that are infused with your unique voice and perspective. But some weeks you just can’t squeeze in the time. Don’t let limited resources crush your momentum. Find writers who can help.

(that’s what I did with this post!)

Now, I know it’s not ideal, but it works in a pinch. Ghostwriters save time, which is what you need most.

And yes…

You’ll have to edit and refine their posts. The role of ghostwriters is not to replace you as a writer. It’s to help you write faster. It’s a lot easier to edit an existing piece of *anything* than to start from scratch, in my book.

At the very least, a ghostwriter (or a guest blogger) can outline your idea, research important details, and flesh out the main points so you have a foundation from which to work.

Need help finding ghostwriters? Try Content Runner.

>> Blog less frequently

Who said you have to blog once a week?

If you’re really strapped for time, don’t stress. Reduce your blogging frequency to biweekly or monthly.

Be careful, though. Keep your readers in the loop when your schedule changes. Let them know when to expect new content now.

Here’s an example:

It’s been a while since my last post! A lot has been brewing lately, and I can’t seem to catch my own shadow these days! Just so you know, I’ll be blogging less frequently over the next few months so I can focus on sales funnels and webinars. I can’t wait to share everything I’m learning with you! Good news, I’m kicking it all off today with the five phases of profitable webinars to help you make more sales.

When people know what to expect and feel connected to your journey, they’ll keep reading.

>> Use an editorial calendar

Once you have a blog idea library, the next step is to plan a month’s worth of posts. Some bloggers like to schedule three months of content or more. I find that too overwhelming. Honestly, I have a hard time planning four posts!

Create a Google Sheet that includes:

  • Blog titles
  • Target keywords
  • Blog images
  • Word counts
  • Keyword competitions
  • Writers (if you’re working with at team)
  • Notes (this will help you with the outline)
  • Content upgrades you want to include
  • Due dates
  • Publish dates

Quick Tip: Use Trello to set due dates, gather blog assets, and images, and manage your schedule.

>> Have 2-3 content upgrades ready to go

Relevance is king with content upgrades. You want to give readers multiple opportunities to subscribe as they read through your post.

What I mean is:

Include more than one content upgrade if you can. Content upgrades work best when they are directly relevant to a specific section.

But that doesn’t mean you have to create a new content upgrade for every post!

Start with one or two that are most relevant to the topics you write about. If you have them handy, you can quickly grab them and add them to the appropriate section.

(just like I’m doing below!)

BONUS: If you need help creating freebies and content upgrades, this lead magnet template pack may help! Just click the image below to get access. 

Download the Lead Magnet Template Pack

That’s an example of a content upgrade I created ahead of time. I keep an Evernote note with Thrive Leads shortcodes and descriptions for all my content upgrades so I can grab them quickly.

One last thing:

It’s super important that your opt-in graphics stand out from other images in your post. Use different colors, fonts, and sizes to make them pop. Make sure they show up well on mobile because that’s where 80% of your traffic will likely come from.

>> Don’t compare your blog to others

Ever read someone else’s blog and wonder if you’ll ever catch up?

It used to drive me nuts!

It’s sooo easy to feel discouraged by other bloggers who seem to have it all figured out…a brilliant blog design, epic content, clever phrases, seamlessly flowing language, beautiful graphics…all of it. Argghhh. They make it look so easy!

Here’s what I’ve learned:

We can’t compare our start to someone else’s finish.

Bloggers who are *ahead* of you in their blogging journey simply started before you. That’s it.

The only thing you should measure is your own progress. What did you achieve last week? Are you blogging more consistently? Have you carved out specific time blocks that will work for you, where you won’t fall prey to distractions and interruptions? Did you create an editorial calendar? Did you write that post you were supposed to?

And remember this, friend:

Your audience wants to hear from YOU. They want your voice, your inspiration, your insights, and your expertise. Most of all, they want you to help interpret all the conflicting information out there in the blogosphere. That’s all you need to do.

That’s a wrap! Now I’d like to turn it over to you. What helps you create blog content on the regular?

by
2 replies
  1. Avatar
    Storm McManus says:

    Love these tips! I find that content creation is all about being organised and putting processes (that work for you and your biz!) in place. Then repurposing all those lovely words as often as you can. But of course we all get busy on the forward-facing side of our biz, it can be hard to find the time to look inwards sometimes! So important though.

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.