During the Christmas holidays, I made the decision to write blog posts weekly, at the turn of the year. Knowing that I couldn’t be sure, if I would be able to see through writing, for a whole year. I wrote 4 posts over the course of the Christmas holidays and decided that I would go ahead with it.
Takeaways & key points
- I was doing this for myself, I didn’t announce it
- If you want to start do it weekly for the balance between consistency and overdoing it
- Queue posts up – having a queue can allow you time to invest in to more in depth posts
- Log all your ideas with a basic outline where possible
- Write in markdown to not get hung up on formatting
- Use an app that syncs between all your devices
- Set reminders to write and when the post goes out
- Choose a convenient day for you to post on that anticipates difficulty
No announcement and why start
I don’t have much of an audience or following, so I didn’t feel it necessary to announce it. It’s also what people hear all the time “I’ll be posting weekly from now on,” in the announcement post, yet to continue that for maybe a month. I didn’t want to make any promises, just go on writing, getting better at it and try to provide value.
From the wise words of Sean McCabe (seanwes, he suggests if you want to do anything consistently, make sure you can do it privately for a month. I may be quoting wrongly there, I can’t remember the exact episode of the seanwes podcast it’s from. Anyway, it’s advice I took onboard.
I just wanted to focus on the writing part more than promoting. As it all starts with writing. Albeit Sean doesn’t mean not promoting altogether, I wanted to get the writing part right first.
On to tips
The things I have learnt from my writing experiences are that aside from it being difficult to balance at times and that consistency is key.
Do it weekly
It’s a must. People can get used to the routine of things on a weekly basis and it’s manageable for you. Fortnightly, monthly and beyond that is harder. Daily is hard on yourself though nice in theory.
This is a must, and is the hardest part to maintain. The truth is I don’t have a queue at the moment. I’m hoping to change that soon.
There is a reason a queue is more valuable than just being a buffer, it affords you time to invest in more detailed posts. Posts that require making things can take many hours. If you want to make sure it’s high quality, you need to invest the time.
The topics that require large amounts of research and items creating for the post need that buffer if you can only spare a couple of hours a night or less.
Log all ideas
Have a place you can note ideas, they will come at any time and it’s important to have them to help you when starting writing.
The best thing I find doing when I have an idea is to write some initial notes. This will help remind me of some key points that helped me think of the topic and my own take on this.
There have been times where I haven’t put notes and I’ve had to go through reminding myself of the topic. So I always try to do this. It also helps when you come back to it to validate that topic further. Sometimes you’ll think “actually, that’s not a great idea.” It happens, some ideas you’ll need to sleep on it.
Write in markdown
It’s great to have a website editor I can just copy my markdown in and add the images when necessary and just post. If your website doesn’t currently allow this, you should find out if it’s possible.
The main thing here is I don’t get held up on formatting. A downside of WYSIWYG style editors, is you can end up adding excessive space in your posts and markdown rids this. Getting hung up on formatting is a distraction and what makes for a poor writing environment.
Use an app that is available on multiple devices
There are so many markdown writing apps, so I advise learning it and finding one that suits you. I can write in a separate app. In my case I use iA Writer Pro. The most valuable thing is being able to write on the bus home and being able to pick it up back on the computer at home.
iA Writer may not be for you but find an app you can use across your devices that works for you.
Set a reminder
It’s fairly obvious but easy to overlook the power of a reminder. I have one set for every Tuesday at 7:20am to prepare my post. Be it final tweaks, scheduling or checking it all looks fine, it’s helpful.
This reminder helps you be consistent. Every Tuesday my post will go out before 7:45am. That’s when I start work. The reason for a Tuesday, it’s never a bank holiday. It’s not the first day directly after a weekend. So if I’m slacking on a post I have Monday as my warning day. Then you have the rest of the week to prepare your next post.
Additionally you should schedule and make time for writing. You won’t find it any other way.
This is what helps me
These are the things I’ve learnt from maintaining a weekly writing schedule. I hope to improve my writing over time further and continue to provide value. Which leads me to ask what do you struggle with most when designing? Feel free to email me or send a tweet.