If you or your kids read J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, you remember Hermione Granger and her time-management trick: Ever the overachiever, Hermione used a magical Time Turner to squeeze three Hogwart’s classes into a single exhausting period.
As a freelancer and business owner you can sympathize. Between client and customer work, handling your business, managing family life, getting a little exercise and, you know, sleeping, there aren’t enough hours in the day.
Yet marketing gurus now advise you to add yet another task to your schedule: Content marketing. Today running a business isn’t enough. You have to be a publisher, too. And the easiest way to publish is to blog.
“Remind me again why I need to blog.”
You know the drill: Today, traditional marketing efforts don’t pack the power they did in the past. Content marketing, on the other hand, promises to you help you build relationship and move sales needles with less push and more pull. With content marketing, you provide clients and customers with useful news, tips, entertainment and other information of relevance to them.
Over time, your quality content enhances your image, strengthens your brand, tells stories about your product, company and customers, boosts search engine ranking and builds a USP.
Seems the only thing it doesn’t do is create itself.
The weighty task of content creation falls to you—the business owner or freelancer.
Where will you find the time?
You will never “find” time.
For all intents and purposes, spare time doesn’t exist. If you want time—to come up to speed on digital media, set up a blog, create content—you have to make time. Barring your discovery of a Time Turner, by hook, crook and force of will, you need to carve out time to blog.
7 time-saving blogging tips
Though I fall down frequently, the following suggestions help me squeeze out regular posts for two blogs—while managing client work, family, a boxer puppy and life’s curve balls. I like to think Hermione would approve:
- Rise early and get a head start on blogging. The quiet, distraction-free morning hours are a great time to focus on content creation. So set your alarm clock and awaken an hour—or even two—earlier than usual. If you’re not by nature a morning person, wrenching yourself from bed can be rough at first. But with persistence—and coffee—it pays off. For tips to help you transition to morning hours, check out this Zen Habits post.
- Commit to a regular blogging schedule. Make it once a day, once a week or once a month, but make it regular. Consistent posting helps boost site traffic, build community and attract search engine spiders. Beyond that, a dependable blogging schedule reinforces your commitment to content creation: A healthy dose of obligation assures you actually make time for writing.
- Create an editorial calendar and plan blog posts in advance. In addition to supporting consistent posting, an editorial calendar also helps you publish more purposefully. As a business blogger, you’re not creating content as a form of self-expression. You want those posts to work. Hard. You need them to attract traffic, generate leads, sell products and services, position you as an expert. Thoughtful editorial planning helps you think thematically and strategically and, again, make time to just do it.
- Jot down blogging ideas. When you get an idea for a blog post, write it down immediately. As soon as you can, transfer those back-of-envelope scribbles and iPhone Notes into a dedicated file. Evernote is my favorite organizer.
- Break work into chunks. Got an extra 15-20 minutes? Don’t squander it on Quora or Twitter. Instead, use the time to review post ideas, brainstorm headlines or work on a lede. You’ll be surprised at how much you can accomplish over several 15-minute periods. More than that, you’ll feel a tremendous sense of accomplishment at being able to switch gears so quickly. I use a 15-minute hourglass to help me stay on track: Somehow I’m better able to define time boundaries when I see sand trickle away than when I watch the hands of a clock.
- Squirrel away a few posts. It’s great to have a post or two in your back pocket to pull out in emergencies—when your child is home sick, an overseas client has a rush job, or you adopt an adorable, untrained boxer puppy. So when you have extra time—hahaha!—use it to churn out as much content as possible. Then squirrel away the extra post(s) for a rainy day.
- Cheat. Lean on your copywriting and blogging swipe files, helpful posts and headline lists. Create aggregated posts and collections of themed links to other bloggers. Stick a TED video up on your site. You don’t need to reinvent the wheel every time you post.
Final takeaway from Hermione Granger: Let go of perfectionism.
No one’s perfect, not even multitasking Hermione Granger. In the end, Hermione returned the Time Turner to Professor McGonagall. Tired, distracted and short-tempered, Hermione decided the quality of her time was more important than the quantity of tasks accomplished.
We can all take a lesson.
Share your Time Turner blogging magic.
Do you blog? What are your strategies for fitting this task into your busy life? Please share.
Want help with your content marketing? Whether you need copywriting, editing or content marketing strategy, I can help. Contact me.
Photo of Hermione Granger courtesy of killerroses.