Who has time to commit two, three, or even four hours to writing a blog post? You're busy running your business, and writing for your blog probably isn't at the top of your priority list. That's why this post will give you a proven strategy for churning out a high-quality business blog post in 60 minutes or less.
Set a Timer
It's human nature to adjust your output based on how much time you have available, so giving yourself more time isn't always in your best interest. There are certain times when you'll need to spend several hours on a blog post. However, we usually find ways to fill up the time we give ourselves.
A great strategy for staying productive when writing is to use the Pomodoro Technique. Its basic premise is this: Set a kitchen timer to 25 minutes. Vow to avoid any distractions or disruptions for the ensuing 25-minute period, being sure to include a short period of time to recap and review. After the 25 minutes are up, take a five-minute break to clear your head. Set the timer and repeat.
Think taking a break eats into your productivity? Well, research published in the Harvard Business Review seems to suggest that giving yourself a brief break actually makes you more productive: "When you work on a task continuously, it's easy to lose focus and get lost in the weeds. In contrast, following a brief intermission, picking up where you left off forces you to take a few seconds to think globally about what you're ultimately trying to achieve. It's a practice that encourages us to stay mindful of our objectives." There is real value in taking that five-minute break, so don't feel guilty about using it to re-charge and clear your mind.
Decide on a Topic
I often find that when I choose the right topic, the post almost writes itself. That's why selecting the topic – one that you're passionate and knowledgeable about – is so critical in keeping to a 60-minute time limit.
Some of my best (and fastest) blog posts have come from connecting with what my audience actually wants to read. Some ways I do this are:
- Looking through blog comments to find questions or comments
- Looking through Facebook ‘Posts to Page’ to see what’s on my fans’ minds (you can also look through your @mentions on Twitter, but Facebook comments are usually more in-depth)
- Re-reading emails I’ve received from website visitors and subscribers to see what questions they want answered
Write the Bones of Your Post
By now, you should have found a pertinent question or comment from one of your readers or social media followers. Chances are, it's a topic you already know a lot about. And since your reader was likely looking for your opinion or expertise on the subject, the post shouldn't be heavily reliant on research.
- Take a closer look at the question. To start your post simply cut and paste the question or include a screenshot if you prefer (check with the poster first if you’re going to publish identifying information). Dedicate the first two or three paragraphs to stating the question and offering up some general discussion about the issue. Don’t solve the problem or answer the question at this point – you’ll do that later. Spend a few moments thinking about your opening line, as this will be your ‘hook’: the line that draws readers into the rest of the post.
- Get specific. Spend the next few paragraphs moving into the specifics of the issue. For instance, if the general topic was about finding new clients, I may discuss a number of possible strategies one could use. I still wouldn’t provide a definitive answer to the question, but rather present all the possible options or viable solutions.
- Dive in. Finally, it’s time to give the answer or solution to the question. Remember that your readers were looking for your opinion, so you’re not necessarily obligated to give a research-backed answer. Preface your answer with a statement like “In my experience,” or “From what I’ve seen,” just so your readers are clear.
- Add a conclusion. Don’t overthink this one. Your readers simply need some closure, so a simple two to three sentence closing thought is usually sufficient.
Add Some Flare
If you've flown through the steps above and still have a few minutes to spare, I highly recommend adding some elements of interest to jazz up your post.
- Find a relevant quote that backs up your point
- Cite a relevant statistic
- Include an infographic that relates to the topic
- Include links to related blog posts you or others have written
Find an Eye-Catching Image
There's no way around including an attention-grabbing image. Chances are you're going to be sharing your post on social media, and your image is what will get it noticed and shared. There are many ways to find great, free images online. However, because of the time limitations of the strategy I'm suggesting here, I highly recommend using Canva.
There you have it: A step-by-step guide to writing a business blog post in 60 minutes or less. I recognize that writing a long-form, research-based article will take far longer than an hour. But sometimes you need fresh content and don't have much time.
John Rampton is the founder of Palo Alto, California-based Due, a free online invoicing company specializing in helping businesses bill their client easily online. You can connect with him @johnrampton.