Seven Simple Strategies for Blogging Every Day
How to be efficient so you can get back to your day job.
I’m testing myself to see if I can write a blog post every weekday. This post is the fifth day in a row, and I’m already cheating by writing about the process.
To write every day, I have to be able to finish a post in less than an hour. I used to resist this notion of constraints— thinking everything I wrote had to be a long-winded candidate for the New Yorker.
But then I noticed that many times shorter is better. And more popular. Done well, shorter is more digestible. You take a single, important thought and flesh it out. People like that.
Here are some strategies to make daily blogging not only possible, but fun, efficient, and most importantly, readable.
1. Repost from somewhere else.
Consider: do you already have blog-worthy material somewhere else. For example, have you written meaty emails, newsletters or online comments.
These often make great posts.
My main source of old material is Quora. I have 133 answers there, almost all which could be cleaned up and expanded for a blog post.
Besides the obvious benefit of having already done the bulk of the writing, you’ve already gotten feedback on the content. That and time for reflection often allows for a much better draft for the blog (I don’t just post verbatim).
2. Cut a bigger blog post into multiple posts.
This post is, to my mind, the most important thing I’ve written in the last year. But you can tell it’s too long simply by looking at the pattern of highlighting. The top has tons of highlights, and the bottom has none. The readers got highlight fatigue.
But there are at least five good blog posts inside of that post. I’ll be cutting that post up and giving each section the framing and breathing room that it deserves.
There’s a corollary here that helps with regular writing. If you have a big idea to share, you can share it over the course of multiple posts rather than get stuck writing an epic essay.
3. Take advantage of soundbites and tangents.
I love the highlight feature of Medium because highlights tell you things that could be their own post.
Either one of those could be posts in their own right. And I almost wouldn’t have noticed except that a few people highlighted them.
So I try to sprinkle my posts with soundbites, playing to the highlighter crowd, as the testing ground for future blog ideas.
4. Respond to someone else’s post.
Other people’s posts are a great writing prompt, and they’ve often done the hard work of framing an issue for you.
The problem with this approach is that it’s very easy to fall into the trap of picking a fight with the original author. If you don’t mean to do that, take a hard look about whether you are respecting the original post.
(However, picking fights is a tried and true marketing strategy. TechCrunch, for example, reached its peak by picking one major fight each month.)
Example: Why I stopped pretending that I’m a robot and other insider musings about the human performance industry. I had to rewrite this post after the original author had thought I’d called him a dick (I did, but didn’t intend to, if that makes sense).
5. Respond to your own post.
This is actually how Malcolm Gladwell writes a book. He talks on the Tim Ferriss podcast about writing a book by finding one good story and then circling around that story over and over again.
For example, I wrote a potentially non-partisan post on politics and then separated out a very partisan post so as to not distract from the first. I might circle around the original non-partisan post for decades as I articulate my political views.
6. Fill wish-list table of contents for a book you’d like to write
I have three books that I’m “writing.”
One is on leadership and management, for example, The Rule of Three. I keep a draft Table of Contents with links to both published and draft posts.
One is on behavior design, for example, Super Human Cognitive Stamina.
One is on meditation for high performance, for example, One Trick to Beat Procrastination Forever is actually a meditation article.
7. Lots of drafts.
By far, the thing that helps the most for getting a post out is that I have lots and lots of drafts (269 in Medium).
I’m sure you’ve heard about artists struggling with inspiration. It’s dangerous to have to rely on inspiration to produce every day. Eventually you start looking for crutches. That’s the path to drug addiction.
However, I find that having lots of drafts lets me do a survey of my inspirations. I consider several posts and pick one where I have the inspiration necessary to finish it quickly.
In this case, inspiration means that there’s a preponderance of related neurons that are already primed for that topic. Having a feel for this is a huge part of being able to post every day.
Behavior design concepts in this post.
I’m not sure if this will be helpful to you, the reader, but I’m trying to articulate my theory of behavior design, so I want to go through the exercise here of highlighting the philosophy behind the above strategies.
- Momentum. Starting with small steps (like reposting a fully written post) almost always beats waiting for the time and energy to take a giant step.
- Systems. Your brain doesn’t get bigger; it gets better structures for thinking. Whenever possible, create systems for yourself.
- Cheating. In the BJ Fogg concept of BMAT he describes a behavior as coming from three qualities in parallel: motivation, ability and a trigger. His deeper realization, that I subscribe to, is that almost always the most effective way to make a behavior is to tackle the ability dimension. You can do this either by increasing your skills or by decreasing the task’s difficulty. For now, I’m calling the latter cheating. It’s good to cheat and the strategies above have tons and tons of cheats!