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8 Tricks That Will Help You Blog More (With Worksheet)

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We’re already two weeks into 2014, but that doesn’t mean it’s too late for New Year’s Resolutions. Make blogging yours — here’s how to stick to it!

You already know why you should be blogging — and you probably feel bad for not doing it often enough. Don’t worry, you’re not alone. Maintaining a blog is hard work, especially when you’re just starting out.

But in the spirit of new beginnings and self betterment, now is the perfect time to commit to building better blogging habits. And it doesn’t have to be painful — there are lots of methods you can use to help you stick to your goals!

Below are 8 useful tricks you can use to create better blogging habits and set yourself up for success. Each trick includes an Action Item, which we highly recommend completing as you read the post. 

Download the Worksheet

#1: Define a specific goal

The first thing you should do when setting any goal is specify in concrete terms what you want to accomplish. It’s much easier to stay on track with clear and unambiguous outcomes in mind.

For example, if you decide your New Year’s Resolution is to “blog more,” how will you know if you’re on track? A better version would be “I will publish one new blog post every week.” An even better version would be “I will draft a blog post every Wednesday evening, edit it Saturday afternoon, and publish it on Monday morning.” Not only have you clearly defined your goal, you’ve also defined the process you’ll use to achieve it.

When you set specific goals you need to ask: what does success look like for you? This is a very personal question. If you’re brand new to blogging you might aim to publish one post per month. That might not sound like much, but once you finish reading this post and get back to your busy life you’ll be amazed at how easy it is to forget about the internal commitment you just made (which is why we discuss reminders later on). Some people prefer to set lower, but more realistic goals they’re certain they can attain.

However, another line of thinking is to set ridiculously ambitious goals. Why not set a goal of blogging every week? Or — hear me out — every single day? There’s a great book called The 10x Rule which suggests that people achieve amazing and unexpected things when they set goals 10 times bigger than what they initially think they can achieve.

For example, let’s say you’re confident you can post once per month: why not increase that to 10 posts each month? It might sound crazy, but seriously — what do you have to lose by setting huge goals? You might just surprise yourself. And even if you end up publishing only 5 posts per month that’s still 5 times as many as you thought you could!

Action Item: take 2 minutes to define your blogging goals for the next year — and be as specific as possible!

#2: Write your goals out on paper

Figured out your specific blogging goal? Good. Now you need to write it down on paper. One study found that you’re 42% more likely to achieve your goals simply by writing them down.

Why is this? No one knows exactly, but you’ve got nothing to lose by trying! Personally, I feel like something magical happens when I physically touch a pen to paper and consciously move my hand to write words. For me, writing on paper turns abstract thoughts into something tangible.

In The 10x Rule mentioned above, the author suggests going as far as writing out your goals every night before you go to bed. The idea is that repeatedly writing them out forces you to reflect on them on a daily basis and more solidly plants them in your memory.

Action Item: grab a good old fashioned pen & paper and write down your (very specific) blogging goal. You might want to write it down several times, and perhaps repeat the ritual on a daily basis.

#3: Publicly commit to your goals

Many of us keep our resolutions private because we’re afraid of embarrassing ourselves when we fall off the wagon. It’s natural but counterproductive thinking. What if you turned that idea around and shared your goals so that you’re less tempted to give up on them?

Robert Cialdini, author of Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion makes the point that individuals are driven to act consistently with their previous commitments in order to stay true to their concepts of themselves.“

The Power of Publicly Committing to Your Goals (emphasis added)

When you share your goals, not only do you have people to hold you accountable — you also have a group who can provide encouragement and keep you focused on your objectives.

Who should you share with? Obviously whomever and however many people you feel comfortable with, but our advice would be as many as possible — including strangers! Naturally, you’ll tell your significant other, best friends, and your loving mother. But also consider posting on Facebook, Twitter, your website, and of course your blog!

So avoid the temptation to be shy — use the social nature of humans to your advantage!

Action Item: Now that you’ve clearly defined what you want to achieve and you’ve written it down, tell everyone!

#4: Takes notes when an idea strikes

Every creative person feels that unique mixture of excitement and dread when faced with a blank canvas or empty page. The key is being prepared. Writer’s block is surprisingly easy to solve: when you have an idea for something to write about, quickly jot it down for later. And when you’re ready to write, look at your notes. Almost too easy!

As you go about your daily life you’ll start having tons of ideas for blog posts. I get my best ideas when chatting with friends over coffee, waiting for the train, or running on the treadmill — not when I’m sitting at my computer trying to be creative. You need to capture these ideas in as much detail as possible when they occur so you don’t forget them.

If you like pen & paper, check out Field Notes. They’re beautiful and easily tuck into nearly any pocket. If digital notes are your thing, check out Evernote. They’ve got apps for every device imaginable and they all stay perfectly in sync. You can also clip links and images. Evernote even lets you compose notes via speech — you’re going to have a bad time trying to type a note on the treadmill!

You’re more likely to keep notes if you enjoy the process — I love having an excuse to scribble in my Field Notes. Whichever method you choose, make sure it will be convenient and readily available at all times. The tricky thing about inspiration is you never know when it will strike!

One last tip: to get the ideas flowing, read What to Write About on your Photography Blog

Action Item: decide on how you’ll take notes and acquire whatever supplies you need. Then figure out how to have your note-taking system handy at all times!

#5: Write posts in advance

Let’s be honest: sometimes blogging feels like work. There’s nothing worse than knowing you have a deadline, yet feeling totally uninspired. That “ugh, I need to write another blog post already?” feeling only adds stress — which paradoxically kills your creativity even more.

Here’s a clever trick many professional bloggers use: they write a whole bunch of posts all at once — when they’re motivated and in the zone — and then spread them out to be published over a long period of time. This way you aren’t constantly burdened with knowing you have to write.

(Of course once you get used to blogging, it becomes much less of a burden. In fact it becomes downright enjoyable!)

Most blogging software (including FotoJournal) allows you to schedule a post to be published at some time in the future. You can fill up your hopper with pre-written posts and know you’re covered for the next while. This frees you up to think more creatively about your blog and future topics — which you can record using your note-taking method of choice!

This trick is an absolute lifesaver for people with especially busy or unpredictable schedules. Never again let unforeseen happenstance foil your blogging goals!

Action Item: Pull out a calendar and use your blogging goal statement to determine which days you’ll need to publish on. Then, identify opportunities where you can periodically write two or more posts in advance.

#6: Set reminders for yourself

Chances are you’re a busy person with a lot of things on your mind. Be honest with yourself. If you add “blogging regularly” to your mental todo list, how likely is it for that goal to gradually fade into the background?

If you’re anything like me, the chances of that happening are quite high. You can combat this by setting up a system of reminders to keep your blogging goals top-of-mind.

It’s important to note this reminder system isn’t necessarily reminding you “Hey self, you should go write a blog post RIGHT NOW.” Instead, consider it a gentle but constant nudge to think about blogging and remind you that you set the goal in the first place. Being periodically prompted to consciously acknowledge the objectives you set will make you less prone to forget them.

There are thousands of reminder apps out there, but you can keep it simple. Your smartphone’s built-in reminder app or Google Calendar will work perfectly. Personally, I use the Clock app on my iPhone, though I’ve recently grown to love Commit.

You can even go low-tech and simply stick a bunch of Post-It notes in places you’re sure to see them (on your computer, refrigerator handle, the dashboard of your car, etc). Move them around and add new ones periodically to avoid growing accustomed to them.

Just like note-taking, what you use doesn’t matter much as long as you actually use it!

Action Item: Decide how you’ll create reminders (digital, low-tech, or both). And then actually create them!

#7: Make it part of your normal workflow

Workflow is a huge part of every photographer’s life. You probably have a process for every detail of a shoot, covering first interactions with a client all the way to album delivery (and if you don’t, you should).

Having a defined workflow means you’ll never forget about an important step when serving a client. Workflows are also crucial for time management because they let you estimate how long tasks and projects take to complete — and therefore enable you to plan your time accordingly.

One surefire way to ensure you stick to your goal is to fit blogging into your existing workflow. This way you won’t forget about it, and you’ll have to plan your time accordingly. The most common reason (excuse?) for not blogging is “I don’t have time.” By adding blogging to your workflow you are deliberately making time for it, and thus won’t fall into the “no time” trap.

You already set aside several hours to edit photos — why not devote another hour to blogging?

Action Item: map out your workflow (how/when you get stuff done) and find an opening where you can insert blogging.

#8: Don’t stress over quality. Just write.

Admit it: you’re probably a bit of a perfectionist. You spend a lot of time framing the perfect shots, and even more time editing to get them just right. If you’re running a business, though, you need to be practical. Spending hours editing a single photo reduces your hourly rate to a pennies.

At FotoJournal we do not simply “write a post” and publish it on the blog in an hour. Nope. We have a collection of mostly awful, half finished prose that we’ve just thrown together during a period of inspiration. We know these will never be published in their raw, original form. The important thing is to get something — ANYTHING! — written. Sometime it’s just a list of bullet points. Other times it’s the opening few paragraphs. Occasionally it’s a over a thousand words.

When we’re crafting a post we take one of these monstrosities and lovingly massage it into an article that we can be proud of. It’s far easier than starting from scratch, because the genesis of the idea — essentially the hard work — is already done.

Nathan Barry writes about The Commitment That Changed My Career. He pledged to himself that he would write 1000 words a day, every day. That’s a lot of writing — surely some good content will come out of it. Not to mention the benefits of building such a constructive habit!

Initially a lot of your writing will be unsatisfactory. It’ll end up getting trashed. Persist, however, and two things will happen. Firstly, you will always have something worth publishing and secondly, you will become more efficient – more of what you produce will be publishable (or at least will require fewer revisions).

So stop obsessing over getting it perfect — just start writing!

Action Item: Just write, write, write! Write anything and everything. Your initial scribblings are just ideas. You’ll flesh them out later on.

In Summary

Blogging can be hard, but the benefits from publishing often can bring about clearer thinking and life-changing opportunities. With deliberate and conscious effort, you can build awesome habits that make blogging a breeze — and even fun.

If you work through each Action Item in this post (and download the worksheet) you’ll be well on your way to to blogging success in 2014!

Do you have any tips for building good blogging habits? Leave a comment and let us know!

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