It’s a word that strikes equal portions of terror and fascination into the hearts of all us seat-of-the-pants bloggers.
I love to plan. But I find I rarely stick to said plan. In fact, I tend to lose my plans in the dark abyss of my computer filing system (wait, was there a system…? I probably invented one, and then forgot it.)
But I digress. On with batching!
If you’re new to the world of batching, don’t stress.
You can start simple.
Even briefly outlining the main points for your posts for the next month will make it much easier to write when you get to them.
But why bother? Even though I’m sure you love the idea of batching as much as I do, here’s some fantastic reasons to do it:
- Say goodbye to the pressure of having to produce great content each week.
- Want to take a holiday (a real one)? No worries – just schedule those blog posts to go live and add your social media posts to your Google Calendar + IFTTT and you’re golden.
- Welcoming a new baby? Batch it up and take that time!
Batching is a great way to get a lot of content completed at once.
It works because you focus and don’t switch back and forth between tasks.
You put your writing brain in and write. Then the next day you might put your graphic design brain in and do all your graphics.
How do you make it work? Not gonna lie, it’s hard work. If you’re used to deadlines spurring you on to get work done, batching is going to feel really awkward until you get used to it.
Batching Your Blog Posts
One of the most arduous tasks facing us bloggers is the part where, you know, we actually have to knuckle down and write a blog post. Shocking, right?
Batching helps you focus and frees up time to focus on other things later.
The first thing to decide when you prepare to have a batch day is how much you’re going to batch. Set a reasonable target – perhaps try starting with 3 or 4 posts.
Day 1 – Outline
Once you’ve got your editorial calendar sorted for the next few months (congrats by the way), you’ll know exactly what posts you’ve got coming up.
Set aside several hours to outline each post in great detail. <<< I just wrote this and then realized that it’s rare for anyone to tell you what a good outline is.
This is what I do:
- What’s the point of your post? The main message? The take away? The goal? Write it down. (this is a new thing for me)
- What do people need to know about your topic in order to achieve the goal? Brain dump time!
- Do you need to throw down some W5? That’s Who, What, Where, When, Why. And you can add a little How in there too.
- Think about all the questions people might ask about your topic. If you start going off on a tangent, you might split off some of your ideas into a second post.
Does your outline now look like spaghetti? Mine usually does.
Let’s impose a little order.
But first – I have to tell you something awesome.
Did you know that list posts are incredibly popular?
- 5 ways to grow basil in your kitchen.
- 19 timesaving shortcuts for Thanksgiving.
- 7 tools you must use for your next design project.
- 12 things to get Mom Bloggers for Christmas.
Did you know they’re also incredibly easy to outline? And write? They practically write themselves.
I recommend adding at least one list post to your editorial calendar per month.
Ok, back to imposing some order on the outline.
This takes a little bit of finessing. And you’ll kind of develop your own style as you settle into your writing voice.
Again, I always used to hate it when people said ‘find your voice’. Where do I look? How do I find it? Are you being deliberately cryptic?
Voice is about style, and word choice, and grammar. It’s also about practice. Editing. And learning how to write better.
This is what I normally do with my outline:
- Decide what’s important to include in this post.
- Narrow it down to 3 or so main points.
- Add a few bullet points under your main points.
Day 2 – Draft
This is a big day.
This is the day where you go through and draft yoru outlines into atualy blog posts.
Don’t worry about errors. (I deliberately left in the above errors as examples.)
Don’t worry about saying the same thing multiple times.
It doesn’t matter.
You get to clean it up in the editing stage.
The charming analogy ‘word vomit’ comes to mind. That’s what we’re doing here. Disengage your inner editor and get it all out.
If you’ve ever won at Nanowrimo (reached 50K words in 30 days), you’re probably a master word vomiter. Go you!
Don’t know how to disengage your inner editor? Go faster! Here’s a few tools that help:
- Write or Die – the basic premise of this is you’re racing the clock. If you don’t type words fast enough, you lose the game. (Gamification is great for productivity)
- Ilys – can’t help yourself looking back over what you’ve written? Ilys makes it easy for you – you can’t see what you typed until you’re done. And you can set a word limit so you have to reach it before you can actually view what you’ve written. This one’s my personal favorite.
- Written? Kitten! – Write 100 words, get a cute kitten picture. What could be better?
Day 3 – Edit
Does the idea of editing your work make you shudder?
I get that. It’s hard to edit your own work. Previously whenever I’d do it, I’d find myself thinking things like: Argh! I sound like a complete numbat! Ugh! What was I thinking… I can’t write that.
Working as a freelance editor has DEFINITELY helped me overcome this. I’ve improved my editing skills (and incidentally, my writing skills) immensely over the last few months. That’s why I’m sharing with you the exact process I use to edit for my clients – right here, on the blog.
What I do:
- Grammarly – I use the free version and dump my post into it. It’s good for catching odd errors and things like the Oxford comma…
- Spell Check – next I use the Microsoft Word spell check to catch any other errors before I get into it for real.
- Links Check – check all links to make sure they work and go where I say they do.
- Fact Check – make sure any statistics you’ve worked into your post are 100% correct. Majorly embarrassing moment if they’re not.
- Name Check – mentioning influencers and the like is a great strategy for getting on their radar. But it doesn’t work if you don’t spell their name correctly. Just make sure.
- Read and edit – generally speaking, try to get your message across in the minimum number of words. If you can replace 10 words with 3, do it. Get to the point as quickly as you can and don’t ramble around it. Try speaking it out loud. Sometimes it helps.
- Problem words check – we all have our own problem words. Words we misuse or grammar that we abuse. I apparently like to leave my participles dangling… Anyway, you’ll learn what words and grammar you have a problem with and you can run a search for those words or phrases that you commonly misuse.
- Special mention – YOU/YOUR – such a simple error, yet so irritating. I like to run a search for YOU and just make sure that there’s no ‘your’s masquerading as ‘you’s. It happens to the best of us.
Phew! Still with me?
Go through and edit those amazing blog posts, you champion you. You’re almost there.
Day 4 – Process
Take your beautiful, freshly edited works of bloggy art and create the actual art that goes along with them.
Open up Canva, create your graphics and upload everything into WordPress. Then format it so it looks pretty and schedule it to go live at the date you set it for on your editorial calendar.
Kick back and relax. You just batched some content!
That’s a Wrap!
I’m looking forward to a lot more batching in 2017. With a new blog planned and an increasing client load, as well as needing to get out there and get published on authority sites… well, I’m going to need it!
Have you ever batched your blog posts? Let me know in the comments!