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Batch blogging: The smartest way to keep fresh content on your blog

Ugh! It's Monday morning and I'm supposed to be writing a blog post. 

"I don't know what to write about."

"I have other stuff to do."

"I just don't want to."

You know that blogging is the best way to build a relationship with your audience. 

You're fully aware that your blog is the best sales tool you have. 

And ya, ya, ya, your blog shows off your expertise.

This is great and all, but WHY FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THINGS CHOCOLATELY IS BLOGGING SO HAAAARDDDD???

I feel you. Really, I do. I manage content for smart people, I even give them a year's worth of blogging inspiration. When it comes to my own blog, more often than not, I sit and stare at a flashing cursor on a blank page. 

The cursor taunts me...

"You have nothing to say, just go watch America's Got Talent instead."

"You can skip this week."

"And next week too."

Here's the secret. If I batch my blog posts, posting a new blog every week is easy! Here's how to make blog post batching work for you:

  1. Dream up a huge list of topics you can blog about. To do this, think about what people are always asking you about. What do you know about that you can share? What experience gives you an edge? What can you teach people? Start brainstorming, and then keep going. In 30 minutes, you can come up with at least 6 months of ideas. 
  2. Choose your favorites. Once you've brainstormed a huge list, highlight your favorites. Which ones are you most excited to write about? Which ones light you up? 
  3. Block 2-3 hours. Find a few hours on your schedule to write an ugly first draft of a few blog posts. Once you've scheduled your writing time, create a fresh Google Doc or Word Doc with your titles for at least 7-10 post ideas. This is almost three months of content!
  4. Write like a MOFO. It's now your scheduled blogging time. You've blocked your calendar, removed all distractions, have a full belly and a big cup of coffee and are ready to write. A coffee shop is my favorite place to do this. Write quick and dirty on each topic. Don't worry about grammar, spelling, or even sounding remotely smart. Just get all your thoughts on this topic on the page. Do this for all of your topics. If you have time leftover, revisit your favorites and start editing. 
  5. Blog posting day! When it's time to post fresh content on your blog, you now have a whole lotta content to choose from. Choose whichever post feels the most timely or excites you the most right now. Edit that one. Once you've done the hard work of writing and getting the ideas out, the editing part should come easier. 
  6. Pop the champagne! Because you have fresh content on your blog this week!

Need some help getting started? Sometimes all people need is a pick-list of inspiration. I can customize a year's worth of blog post titles for you here!

I want to die a little every damn day (and that's a good thing)

A few years ago, I read a book called Die Empty by Todd Henry. It’s not what it seems at first glance. Dying empty doesn’t mean literally emptying yourself every single day. It’s about getting your best work out of you, living in a way that you feel good about, and climbing under the covers with a satisfied, shit eating grin every day.

When I love a book, I usually read everything else by the author. Todd Henry was no exception. After reading Die Empty, I dove into The Accidental Creative (his first book and podcast with the same name that I also recommend), and then, Louder Than Words.

My favorite quote in the book, Die Empty was one that stopped me in my tracks.

“The most valuable land in the world is the graveyard. In the graveyard are buried all of the unwritten novels, never-launched businesses, unreconciled relationships, and all of the other things that people thought, ‘I’ll get around to that tomorrow.’ One day, however, their tomorrows ran out.” Todd Henry

Holy shit.

This totally changed how I thought about graveyards, and last week, while traveling in Boston, the kids were fascinated with the graveyards and the ghost tours. The kids want to know if they’re haunted. They also ask questions like, “Is everyone in there dead?”

"Um, I think so."

This time walking past the graveyard, I felt a pang of curiosity. Did these people die empty? This is also where Paul Revere and Samuel Adams are buried. Did they die empty? Did they have ideas and dreams inside of them that never saw the light of day before they laid to rest?

Then, as I recalled Todd Henry’s quote, my curiosity turned to sadness. And not just because they didn’t have the luxury of reading the book and being spurred to take action on their dream or otherwise, but because the unfulfilled potential in the graveyard must be huge. "Huge" being a very scientific and specific measurement of course.

That curiosity rang through my mind the rest of the day. How many people did I pass on the street (especially in the financial district with intense faces) aren’t doing what they want to be doing? How many people have a half written book in Google Docs that they haven’t touched in a year? How many people have something important to say to someone, but are too scared? How many people are afraid to be vulnerable? Living in fear of being judged?

It was after I read the book Die Empty, that I wrote my first book. I wrote it like a speed demon in just a few months. I wrote it like I desperately had a message to get out. I’m glad I did it, and I’m very proud. If I hadn't read this book, I might be still boring my friends by saying, "I'd love to write a book someday."

Earlier this year, I quit my corporate job so I could do more of the work that I love. I needed to do more work that lights me up so that I could die just a little more empty.

I know I’m on the right track because it’s just been a few months since I’ve made a bigger promise to myself to die a little emptier, and I go to bed every fucking night with a smile. I smile and say to myself, “Holy shit, this is my life. Thank you.”

What do you need to do right now, today, or this week, so you can die just a little more empty?

Do that.



 

Once upon a time, you were a badass at storytelling

Once upon a time, you could sit around a fire and share a story. Two hands cupped around a mason jar or solo cup filled with wine (am I the only one who drinks wine at a campfire?)

You’d share a story that’s been passed down for generations. A story that changed over time as your Uncle jerk-head decided to tweak some details for impact. Stories that you’ve heard year after year between “pass the mashed potatoes” and “more butter please.”

Back in the day, I have a feeling that storytelling wasn’t a skill. It wasn’t something you “worked on” or put on your list of goals for the year. Get better at telling stories. Check.

Of course, this is my assumption, because I don’t know if I’m old enough yet to say things like, “back in the day.”

Our stories today are different though. They’re captured forever in sans serif. Preserved on this blog, on a Facebook timeline, in a book, or in a TED talk.

 

Do any of these sound familiar?

  • “I have no good stories”

  • “My stories are boring”

  • “No one cares about my stories”

Let’s look at each of these stories you’re telling yourself. Yes, these are stories too.

 

“I have no good stories”

Finding stories takes a little practice. The more you do it the better you’ll get. Here are some fun ways to dig deeper into your stories.

  • Go through your day like you’re actively searching for a story.

  • Keep a running list of stories you want to tell. You’re going to remember these stories at the most inappropriate of moments. Keep a notebook handy. The memo app on your phone, Google Docs, and Evernote are all great options too. 

  • Read books. A lot of them.

  • Look outside your industry. I’ve learned more about business and life from hockey, baseball, and awkward parties.

 

“My stories are boring”

Maybe. Do you think they’re boring because you’re watering them down? Are you focused on how you think you should be communicating and not how you naturally want to share? When you’re too worried about how your reader is going to receive your story you could be leaving out all kinds of juicy details that would make your story great. Almost every time I write a blog post, a little voice tells me, “This is boring, you don’t really have anything to say.” I tell that voice to shut the hell up.

The other thing you can do is practice. Once a day or once a week, write a story. Even if you don’t share it with anyone right away (or ever), you will get better.

Want an objective opinion? Send it to someone you trust for some honest feedback. Don’t have anyone? Send it to me and I’ll share my thoughts for what it’s worth. Really.

 

“No one cares about my stories”

Stop it. Your story told only the way you tell it might be just what someone needs to hear right at this moment. You have plenty of stories, and it’s not your judgment call to make if your story is worthy of being told. Tell the story. If it doesn’t resonate with someone, they’ll move on. If it does, you might have changed the rest of their day or the rest of their life. Either way, you may never know about the impact you’ve had.

Keep telling the stories.





 

A free daily practice to fill your creative well (that's also like therapy)

I’ve never been to therapy. This certainly doesn’t mean that I’m saying I don’t need therapy. When I feel stretched to the point of thinking I do, I find it just means I’ve gotten out of touch.

 

Out of touch with myself (keep it clean folks.)

Important disclaimer: I’m not licensed to tell you what to do or give advice.

Over the past few years, I’ve started a few new habits. One is a daily glass of wine; another is making my bed every morning. The most valuable one though is morning pages.

Morning pages is a term coined by The Artist’s Way Author, Julia Cameron. It’s simply three full 8x10 pages of whatever vomit comes out of your brain first thing in the morning. Written longhand, no editing, and definitely no filter.

I’ve gotten in the habit of doing this every morning with my rocket fuel latte (a delicious combo of coffee, cocoa butter, hemp seeds, MCT oil, and vanilla stevia). It’s the best free therapy I’ve ever had. Maybe even better than wine.

 

How (and why) to do it:

  • It fuels creativity and the junk out the corners of our busy brains

  • Think about it like refilling your creative well. If it runneth dry, fill that shit up.

  • Use an 8x10 notebook, and write on three full pages, no abbreviating

  • Write whatever pops into your mind, WHATEVER - if you’re worried about someone reading it and thinking you’re insane, you’re doing it right

  • Buying a notebook that makes you feel good about writing morning pages helps

  • Here’s a short video from Julia Cameron, author of The Artist’s Way about them

  • With kids, some days it just doesn’t happen, or I just write one page. High-five yourself and move on. Don’t beat yourself up.

  • Whine and complain, let it all out

  • Don't re-read morning pages

  • They're for your eyes only. When you finish a notebook, burn (or recycle) the pages.

  • Look forward to the future and leave all your goals in here

  • Get the crap out of your head and get on with your day

Create a daily habit. Set your notebook out by your coffee cup, and take just 15 minutes. If you don't see a big difference in your clarity, your creativity, and your mental energy in six months, I want to know about it. I think they're all that and a bag of macadamia nuts. 

10 unsexy ways to get shit done and be wildly productive

Productivity isn’t sexy. Neither is running around like a chicken with its head cut off (which I learned, there’s some truth to that expression.)

Since stepping into my first corporate job as a management consultant, I’ve been obsessed with productivity. I’d ask myself when approaching every task, “Is there a way I could do this better or faster?”

Even now, as a copywriter, I’m always looking for ways to get stuff done for my writing clients while balancing the writing I want to do for myself in the best way.

The 40-hour workweek has always pissed me off. Why do I need to trade exactly 40 hours of my time for a paycheck when I can do what’s expected of me and more in 30 hours? It’s not that I rushed through my work; I just make sure I’m putting the right level of focus on the tasks that matter.

The ultimate goal of productivity might appear to be ticking stuff off my to-do list, but at the heart of it, it’s about building a body of work I’m proud of.

Humans were designed to work. This is not a list of productivity “hacks” (can we stop using this word, please?) Rather, it’s a list of some unsexy ways to get stuff done.

 

  1. Wake up early. If it’s your jam. I’m the most focused in the morning before other demands have started clamoring for my attention.

  2. Wake up knowing what you need to do. Sitting at your computer staring at your calendar then planning the stuff you need to do is the backward way of doing it. Plan what you need to accomplish the night before, and wake up ready to dive in.

  3. Priority to-do lists. No matter how long your project list is, there are projects that take priority. These are the ones that move your life forward. Sit down and list out all the things you need to get done each day, then, write a list of 3-5 of the most important things to do first. The things that will leave you feeling content when you go to bed tonight knowing they’re done.

  4. Sticky notes. Take your top 3-5 tasks for each day and write them on a sticky note. When the day is over, trash your note, and then write tomorrow’s list.

  5. Own your calendar. Block periods of time on your calendar when you need to focus. For me, this means blocking Monday’s and Fridays and each morning. Clustering phone calls together when possible is a great way to save your creative energy.

  6. Schedule your time. If I know I have 20 hours of client work to do in an upcoming week; I plan those 20 hours. Same for writing a blog post, I plan that time each week. It’s on my calendar like a commitment.

  7. Check your email a few times a day. I know this one is hard. I love inbox zero. We love the satisfaction of seeing a new email in our inboxes. When you spend a few focused minutes answering emails, you get to experience life outside your email.

  8. Turn off notifications. When you’re focused on a task, turn off email notifications, instant messaging, and anything else that will interrupt your focus. Even if you don’t check new messages as they arrive, just knowing it’s there takes your focus away for a few seconds.

  9. Introduce rituals. I give some examples of rituals here. Like having a particular playlist for each type of work, or when you sit down with your morning rocket fuel, you know exactly what task you need to do without thinking about it too much.

  10. Slack off. Yes, build time into your day to take breaks. Even if it’s five minutes to listen to music, stare out the window, or watch penguin videos, you’re giving your brain a break so you can come back to your work refreshed.