(Just wanted to say Howdy from those who have wandered thru from ProBlogger.net. Be sure to check out the full list of submissions.)
Darren at ProBlogger.net has a group writing project going this week. He’s asking readers to post their Habits to Highly Effective Blogging. I thought: Let’s give it a go. At first blush, I didn’t feel qualified. I’m new to this whole paid blogging thing. (Got my first paycheck this month, thank you very much!) Then I re-read the project title. “Effective” Ah, now that I can contribute to. Bald Man Blogging has, after all been around for nearly three years. (Not the domain; just the blog.)
Currently I’m juggling six blogs – including this one and one not-yet-launched. On five I am the only author. So, this spring has been a crash course in “effectiveness.” I’ve got to get the most bang for my blogging buck. (Did I mention I’ve still got the day job?) So here’s what I’ve learned about being an effective writer.
Develop a Routine
Is it just me, or is the web FULL of distractions? Email, IM, forum chit-chat, flash games, news, RSS feeds, etc. Distractions are everywhere. Many of those same distractions, however, provide ideas for posts. So, you can’t just cut them out. What you need is a routine that mixes in writing, reading, and playing. Here’s how I start each morning.
- Look at stats. I like the pretty numbers, but more importantly I want to know what happened yesterday. Was there a sudden jump in traffic? Did a post hit the big time? Did I get a new inbound link?
- Look at WordPress Dashboards. I moderate comments (Ah, the Spam Assault of 2006…) and again, check inbound links.
- Look at the actual blogs. I like to make sure nothing exploded. This is also where I respond to comments.
- Open three tabs in this order: b5media internal forums, gmail, Bloglines. I work thru each tab closing them as I go and opening new ones as I see fit, for example Bloglines items that I want to dig into. Closing those first three tabs are key for me. It I don’t, then I may never make it out of this loop. There’s always something new in one of them.
- Work thru that new set of tabs, commenting or whatever, until I get to the last one. When I’m done with it…
- Open the WP Dashboard for Blog #1. I’ll also open Bloglines in a new tab, because I maintain a Bloglines folder with resources. (This sometimes kills me, because I get distracted in unrelated feeds.) Now I write. Whatever I need to. One post or ten posts. I don’t set goals other than be up-to-date. I like to have a post go live every day. If things are flowing, then I may crank out half a dozen. If they aren’t, they I make sure I’m at least up-to-date.
- Once I’m done with Blog #1, I start over with those three tabs from above: forums, gmail, Bloglines. (I have them set up in a bookmark folder called “Re-start.”) Work thru those, then tackle Blog #2. Generally, all six blogs have received attention by the end of the day.
Change Your Routine
This is about constantly learning and growing. I’ve just recently started working with the routine above, but sometime in the next couple months I’ll change it. At least a part of it. I’ll adjust something to see if it works better. If it does, great! If it doesn’t, great! I just go back to the old routine and have learned something for the future.
Read, Read, Read
The mind requires stimulation. I have a collection of 50 or so feeds of personal interest. Plus a couple dozen that are specifically to feed [pun intended] sundry blogs. I also keep track of all the b5media blogs. I’ve got the usual friends and familiar voices in Bloglines, but I also try to include several from outside my box. You never know where an idea might come from. Diversity breeds insight. Conflict creates change. And change is an opportunity to grow. In addition to Bloglines, I have a few books and magazines laying around the house.
Jot down Ideas… Now!
This one is fairly new for me. Too often I get a great idea, but it’s gone before I get around to doing anything about it. These ideas often come while doing “something else.” have to get the idea down before it flits out of my mind.
So, when an idea pops into my head, I try to drop whatever I’m doing, jump into the relevant WP Dashboard, and start a “holder” post. All I really want is a Title, something to remind me of the idea when I get back to that blog in the routine. I might jot down a couple quick notes as well, if the idea has some flesh on it. Save the post as a draft, then back to the routine. The goal is to save the idea with minimal interruption to the routine.
Do What You Can, Get Help with the Rest
Last but not least, ask for help. You don’t have to know it all. If fact, I think it’s better if you don’t even try. Know what you know. That is, get really good at whatever it is you can and want to do. Then, ask for help on the other stuff. You can’t master all things.
This site is a good example. I quickly realized that I didn’t know enough to do a design myself, and it would take me too long to learn. So, I asked for help. Now, I can do what I do, and say thanks for the help.
Bonus Benefit: Asking for help puts you in contact with other people. More contact = more ideas. More ideas = more potential posts.