1. Make sure you’re working with (and constantly updating) an editorial calendar
Let’s admit it: there’s nothing that hurts your productivity more than searching for exactly what to write when your writing itch strikes. It takes time to come up with the right ideas for the blog you manage.
Even if you’ve some topic ideas parked in your editorial calendar, creating briefs or getting into the specifics like the rough word count, secondary keywords, CTA, and the rest of the briefing shebang takes time.
And the writing mode that magically blessed you? Poof. Gone by the time you’re done figuring out the basics. This is why Ceillie Clark-Keane who runs content over at Unstack, recommends, “spending time getting your editorial calendar right.”
Once you have blog topics researched and planned, you can focus on creating content consistently 💪
Don’t forget: lay out important details beforehand including “information like publish date, keyword, and title,” Ceillie points out. “I also like including information like category or author type so that I can make sure we’re covering all the topics we need to.”
Pro tip: Pencil in buffer-backed deadlines. These aren’t deadlines set in stone, but rough ones that’ll help you stick to your publishing schedule. The key, however, is adding a buffer to the deadline – in case an emergency crops up or a freelance writer you’re working with doesn’t turn up the work in time for you to edit it.
If you don’t already have an editorial calendar, it’s going to take some experimenting to figure out what works for you and your team. While I’d suggest Notion or Trello to lay out your content plan, several of my clients also prefer Asana.
Adeline Karpenkova, Content Marketer at Joinative is a Trello fan like I am. She notes, “I keep all the ideas on the Trello board. When I know I don’t need to spend another hour researching ideas and keywords, it’s easier for me to get down to work without being distracted by other tasks.”
There’s also a fourth project management software that Ceillie shares, “I’ve love using Monday.com because you can communicate so much information visually, which saves time.”
So a project manager that works for you is one that makes you tick. “Whatever system you use [though], make sure you can export this into a spreadsheet. This is key for analysis, and it also makes it so easy to turn your calendar into a to-do list for SEO adjustments and improving your content long-term.”
Get started today by taking this content calendar template for a spin.
2. Do the legwork first, write second
When I take bulk content orders from clients, I always request them to share the briefs upfront. Know why? Because that way I can bundle tasks like outlining and interviewing experts before I can get into the writing part.
Storyteq’s Content Strategist, Andreea Serb, works much the same way. “After defining my content calendar, I don’t go straight into the writing process. I usually start backward by planning the month’s outlines, featured contributors, and questions.
Then I reach out to contributors to set up interviews or send them the questions via Google Docs. This saves me tons of time in how I plan my writing and allows me to create a smooth flow.”
That said, this tip works if like most other content folks, you’d also be one step ahead of your publishing schedule. In plain words: you work on Feb’s content in Jan, isn’t it? Since you don’t have to publish right away, you can easily divide the work into researching, outlining, interviewing contributors, and finally, writing.
Don’t create content in advance and publish, say weekly? The next tip for creating content consistently is for you.
3. Block time for writing
Saying you’ll write today is never enough. Instead, scheduling time for doing so is a meaningful way for getting some actual, words-on-paper/document work done. 🎉
“It can be so enticing to spend a day updating outreach emails or discussing collaboration opportunities instead of writing a 2K-word blog post,” admits Adeline. But to address it, she “usually allocates two days a week to writing. On those days, I check my inbox in the morning and then focus on content creation for the rest of the time.”
So you’ve two ways to block time to write:
- Block a few hours daily or as many days as it suits you
- Block a few days to write, putting the rest of your marketing tasks on the back burner
There’s also a third, hybrid version: block at least 75% of some of your days to write. The remaining 25%, you ask? Dedicate that to daily marketing chores on your plate.
For instance, I commit Mondays to write. The outline for the draft I work on tends to be ready from the past week. I get to the heavy lifting right away – a tactic called eat the frog or doing the heaviest/most procrastinated task on your list done first thing in the morning.
You can eat the frog too. Or, you can focus on blocking time for writing when you are the most productive.
4. Set fake deadlines
If I were to choose one tip from all these tips on how to stick with your publishing schedule, I’d pick this one.
Not because I’m biased. ❌
But because it’s how I’ve never missed a deadline for client work (well, except once. Thankfully, that was a retainer client so they already knew of my knack for sticking with deadlines).
Content Marketing Manager at Supermetrics, Pinja Virtanen, uses the same approach for keeping up with her publishing schedule. “Somehow I’ve managed to convince myself that adding a due date on a Trello card makes it real—even if I’ve completely made up the deadline.”
So how does setting fake deadlines work? It’s simple.
If you’re to publish content on 15th Feb, consider setting a deadline for the 10th of Feb. Make sure your editorial calendar reflects this too – that’s part of the process of making the fake deadline feel real so you respect it enough to achieve it.
Since I use Trello, I use the ‘due date’ section to add a deadline that I set for myself. Inside the card, I include the real due date – one that I’ve agreed to with my client.
Not sure you can stick to your fake deadline or convince yourself the deadline’s not real? Take a page from Pinja’s book and pair fake deadline-ing with time blocking (the tip we discussed above).
“To really finish a piece, I need uninterrupted time for researching, writing, and editing. If I manage to block those slots in my calendar, I’m almost guaranteed to publish the piece by the deadline. And if I make every deadline, I’ll keep up with my publishing schedule,” Pinja explains.
5. Limit the time you give to research. Use placeholders instead
Next up, use placeholders. Yes, literally.
It can be pretty challenging to put a full stop to researching the topic at hand and get into the drafting bit of creating content.
The Content Marketing Manager at ReputationDefender, Jennifer Bridges, opens up: “the thing that always slows me down is getting lost in my research. I strive to find the latest and most interesting information to inform my articles, and I like to include links to back up any assertions I make. However, while all this research might make for better content, it doesn’t leave me much time for the actual writing.”
The solution? Here are two for you:
- Assign a timestamp to the research work
In other words, depending on how well you know the topic, set a time limit to research. For example, give no more than an hour to it. Having this limit means you’ll spend more time researching instead of less since the time you research is focused time.
Why? Because you’re less likely to open thousands of tabs (hundreds are okay though 😃) since you know you’re short on time. You’re also less likely to spend hours reading the same, regurgitated stuff in hopes of finding something useful.
- Divide your research into two steps – one before drafting and another after it
Again, start with research, but limit the time to, say 30 minutes to get the basic idea of what’s already covered and what’s ranking.
Next, create an outline from what’s in your brain plus the research you’ve done. Have experts contributing to the piece? Get their insights before you finalize the outline.
Once done, start writing without delay. If a timer doesn’t make you anxious, set one up, turn off all notifications/distractions, and write without thought.
But the limited time researching meant you don’t have the perfect stat or research to back your point? Don’t worry. Add a placeholder in its stead and continue.
This is how I roll when I work on drafts:
See the red font? In my drafts (the version for my 👀), it means I need to add some detail. I use a lot of highlighter too. The green highlighter goes where I think an internal link should be. If I’m looking for synonyms, I’ll use the aqua blue highlighter to remind myself to look for another word. The yellow highlighter? I use it wherever I’m unsure.
Sometimes, I add comments to myself in red font. For example, I’ll write ‘make this short,’ ‘sentence too meh. Definitely rewrite’ – things like that.
If it’s an SEO-optimized piece that I’m working on, I’ll use another highlighter shade to highlight keywords so I can see where I’ve worked in the keywords. When I edit, this helps me make sure keywords are weaved into the content naturally. Bingo 🙌
You can also go all in with your ideas minus any research like Jennifer does. “To avoid getting bogged down and behind schedule, I force myself to trust what I already know about the topic and just start writing.”
“Then, after I’ve established the bones of the piece, I’ll go back in and flesh it out with specific statistics and links to examples,” she continues. “This way, I accomplish much more in less time, leaving me room to complete my non-writing tasks while sticking to my publishing schedule.”
6. Give creative space to those who write for you
This one’s a hat tip to Kieran Tie, the Editor over at ConvertKit. If you aren’t a lone content marketer juggling all things content, this tip is what you need.
Kieran notes, “My biggest lesson learned from managing a half-dozen remote writers publishing three times a week: Avoid making yourself the bottleneck.”
Instead, “give your writers access to everything they need to be self-sufficient. For every post, we share a detailed writing brief, voice and style notes, content templates, suggested links, and most importantly, clear deadlines.”
Once done, leave them be. If they’ve any questions for you, be proactive in answering them, but breathing down their neck is only going to slow work for both sides.
Not sure you can trust the freelance writer you’re working with? Work with them on a one-off project, say a blog post – giving them all the freedom they need with you answering their questions.
The end product will tell you how much you can trust the writer to help you keep up with your publishing frequency without adding extra load to your plate.
Here’s more on how to work with freelance writers.
Keeping up with your publishing schedule by creating content consistently isn’t an impossible nut to crack. Follow the tips above and I’m sure you can stick to your publishing goal 🎉
Remember: it all starts with a well-organized editorial calendar. Go on to block time for creating content or divide the job into parts (researching, outlining, interviewing, and so on) and chip at the work. Don’t forget to trick yourself by setting false deadlines.
Most of all, if you work with freelance writers, give them the liberty to do their job – they know what they’re doing.
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