It’s a typical, grey, Michigan winter day. People are heading home trotting quickly to their cars bundled against the cold air.
One cube warrior walks a touch slower than the rest. He’s lost in thought. You can see the steam rising from his moving lips. It looks like he’s recording something into one of those iPhone headsets. He even stops once to tap a quick note into his phone.
In a minute, he gets in his car, shuts the door, and takes out a moleskin stashed in the center console. He spends 5 minutes scribbling down an idea. Starting the car, he vanishes into the late commute traffic.
It’s 9:30 PM and the house is finally quiet. His wife is catching up on the latest Facebook thread, the baby snores softly through a stuffed-up nose. The high-maintenance golden retriever, Nala finishes her nighttime ritual by lapping up one last drink and loafing upstairs to burrow her way under the covers between the two older boys.
Now the only noise heard throughout the house is the practiced staccato on a time-worn keyboard.
It’s me - blogging.
Similar Stories Play Out Every Day
The latest Technorati State of the Blogosphere study shows that 18% of the blogging world is made up of “professional bloggers.” These bloggers either pen posts for pay or run their own blog-focused business. They make about $18,000/year on average for their efforts.
They keep doing it because they know that a blog is a powerful tool for attracting a devoted audience. They hope that they can turn this audience into a business that can support them and their families full-time. Others just want a little extra cash to replenish what the economy has drained away over the last few years.
People Often Ask Me How I Do It...
Right now I publish a post every weekday. Friday is a light day since it’s an easy roundup post. But from Monday to Thursday, I’m blogging full out. The pundits say that I and others like me will burn out eventually. We’ll see.
However to do what I do with any quality you need to have a game plan in place. Here’s mine. Hopefully it will help you as much as it’s helped me.
Write a draft in 20 minutes.
The first thing I do every morning is write a draft of the next post listed on my editorial calendar. I don’t care if I don’t like the topic. I write the draft anyway. Believe me, I’ll love the topic come tonight when I have to finish the post, if I want to or not. The morning time is the witching-hour for most writers. It seems that your brain likes to reward you for dragging your butt out of bed. I cheat sometimes by pulling my iPad under the covers and pecking out my draft one letter at a time.
I have to squeeze in creative thinking time whenever I can. I keep a pad and paper beside my towel. It used to be my iPad, not a good idea. The moment I have an idea, I talk it out. I write it down as soon I exit the shower. Sometimes, I write a quick outline to get a head start on writing.
My coffee ritual takes about 10 minutes. During that time, I quickly flip through my RSS feeds via Flipboard or Feed.ly. I have a Twitter RSS feed set-up to push tweets with the #blogging hashtag to my Reader. You can do the same thing for your topic of choice. Just find the appropriate hashtag. Here’s a post from Kristi Hines showing you how to do the RSS Feed Ninja move.
I used to have a digital recorder now I use my iPhone to record any post ideas that pop into my head. I normally listen to an audiobook loosely related to marketing, strategy, entrepreneurship, and leadership on my way to work. I find that the material gets my creative juices flowing. I record anything that occurs to me, no matter how wild it sounds. I’ve learned that censoring your brain is the quickest way to shutting down your creativity for good.
Before Walking in to the Office:
I have a strict rule. No blogging while on the clock. I don’t need the hassle. Neither do you. Respect your employer and blog on your own time. That means I spend 10 minutes in the car recording my thoughts into my iPad or Moleskin before I head in to the office.
I spend 30 minutes fleshing out my morning draft. I write full-out for those 30 minutes. Most days, I can finish the text of the next day's blog. If I have time left, I check my RSS Feed again.
I listen to fiction. Science fiction to be precise. My brain needs a break and my 45 minute commute is perfect. I’ve learned that this mental downtime is essential for my productivity and creativity. I also enjoy admiring the writing of exceptional authors.
I have a terrific wife that makes it easy for me to devote crazy amounts of time to my blog. However I try to be available to talk with her and fool around with the kids until 9pm. At 9pm, I put Jay-Z on the headphones and finish up the post that I’ve been working on since waking up. I add photos, links, and other doodads that make my posts sing.
If I have more gas in the tank, I’ll outline 2-3 new posts from the notes in my notebook or iPad.
My writing is over at 11pm sometimes earlier if I’m lucky. I’m getting better about getting at least 8 hours of sleep. Like most, I make it up on the weekends, if that’s really possible.
With this regimen I always complete one post and put 2 more on deck. My editorial calendar is a lifesaver because it keeps me on task and on purpose. Finish yours if you haven’t already.
I also keep a spreadsheet of post ideas. I keep this spreadsheet open on my desktop to jot down the random idea. I won’t flesh these ideas out until the evening session or the morning drafting session.
I spend 3 hours over the weekend putting posts in the bank. I get them 95% finished and save them as drafts on WordPress. I never save anything that I don’t plan on using. If it gets to WordPress it’s getting shipped. Just a quirk of mine.
Finally, the best professional bloggers fall in love with discipline and planning. They learn to avoid people who cut corners, lower the bar, or make excuses for themselves. It’s just bad mojo that can play with your head.
It’s a weird notion, but your mind craves discipline. It likes to know when it needs to deliver your next burst of inspiration. I’ve never had writer’s block, since I’ve gotten serious about writing and publishing. My daily regimen puts creativity on auto-pilot.
Gather Around, It's Story Time
I love reading about how other writer’s do their ‘thang. How do you squeeze in your writing around your day job?
One more thing - Publishing every day doesn't help if you are focused on the wrong audience or have horrible post mechanics. Before you increase your posting frequency, let me review your blog and let you know if you are ready to turn your new traffic into subscribers, donations, or sales.