5 time-saving hacks for company blog posts
Author: Jérémy Bourhis
25th January 2016
Company blog posts and blogs come in all shapes and sizes, from the woefully neglected to the religiously updated. Breaking down the barriers and streamlining tasks makes it much more likely you’ll create habits you can maintain when it comes to blogging for your business needs.
When done properly and consistently, a company blog has a huge range of benefits to offer, including everything from more effective branding and customer satisfaction to better search engine visibility and return traffic. However, blogging is a commitment not for the faint-hearted. In addition to generating ideas, organizing schedules, working with images and managing every stage of the blogging process, you’ve also got that pesky writing thing to do.
Here are some tips for streamlining each of the main blogging pain points for smarter, faster business posts regardless of your size or industry.
1. Generate good ideas easily
One of the biggest sticking points for writing company blog posts is that you simply don’t know what to write about. The longer you stare at a blank screen and a blinking cursor, the worse it gets.
To avoid this, create a pool of ideas that you can draw from as needed. Begin with a broad topic, like security or programming, and work down to the specifics. What are you particularly interested in? What have you read on the subject recently, and what can you add (or debate) in your own post? What’s your particular workflow or approach to problem-solving in this area? Who else can you quote to back up your argument? How can you create a clear link to your business or product?
Work on a topic-by-topic basis, drilling down so you end up with a handful of post ideas for each subject. This way you’ll generate plenty of ideas for individual posts and series rather than trying to think up one idea at a time. If your blog has been around for a while, take a look at your analytics stats to see which posts have been the most popular and consider updating them, adding a follow up post, or creating a series from a similar angle.
Company blogs are frequently restricted to just news, but this can be sporadic at best. Ideally you want to focus on your customers’ interests and provide value for them. It’s also a good way to build up authority and become a go-to source in your industry.
2. Make a checklist
If you’re relatively new to blogging, it can help to create a standardised checklist you can keep referring back to. This ensures that you complete all the important tasks rather than simply writing a post and hitting ‘Publish’.
Your list may include things like:
- Draft title
- Write brief summary/outline of what post will cover
- Write paragraph titles/subheadings
- Draft blog post text
- Add at least 2 images
- Write meta description
- Refine blog post title
- Review and refine post, including all formatting
- Schedule/publish post
- Share post (or schedule the sharing of post) on social media
- Share post elsewhere (e.g. in online communities you’re part of, Slack channels, relevant industry websites)
These are just ideas – your list will depend very much on how you prefer to work and what order you like to do things in. For example, the list above may appeal to some people but in a different order. Others may hate the sight of it because it looks like a lot of tasks to complete (despite the fact that many of the tasks are short), preferring to create a three step list instead.
Ultimately, you want to create a list that works for you and allows the relevant people to see where you’re at with any particular blog post. As long as it works for you, it doesn’t matter what form your list takes.
3. Create an image bank
One of the most drawn-out processes of creating a blog post is adding images. Even with tons of great copyright-free free image resources like Unsplash readily available, finding the appropriate images for your post often involves trawling through page after page of pictures – and then there’s all the resizing, compressing and uploading to do. If you’re the kind of person who sighs when you’ve finished writing a post because you suddenly realized you have a bunch of images to find and add, this hack is for you.
Set aside half a day to create an image bank within your blogging CMS. You can do this using existing functionality or via an image categorisation plugin. If you’re using WordPress, MCM Categories is great for this because you can organize all your imagery quickly and easily.
Simply create your image categories of choice and spend some time finding and uploading images. What you choose will really depend on the type of blog you have and what kind of style/branding your company favors. To pick the best images, think in terms of your post topics, concepts, and generics. For example, a good generic shot of a desk will suit a huge range of blog posts. Something conceptual, like a spark, hammer, or honeybee, can be used to imply ideas, tools, and hard work respectively. Once you get a feel for which images are most frequently needed/preferred, you can do a second round of image uploads that are more targeted.
Take a few hours to replenish your store a couple of times a year so your photos don’t get overused. It may seem like a big time investment at the beginning, but you’re saving more time when creating your blog posts (and if your company blog has multiple authors, you have the added advantages of saving them time and make it more likely they’ll write posts). Additionally, as you’re processing tasks in batches (finding, saving, editing, uploading), you’re saving a lot of time vs repeating the process for each individual image or blog post.
4. Build a cheatsheet
Chances are that you write on the same handful of topics; your category list will confirm either way! If you do tend to write on the same subjects or create the same few styles of blog posts, a cheatsheet will help speed up the writing process. This is especially handy for multi-author blogs and new hires, but it’s useful for solo bloggers too.
The idea is to create a doc (or docs) of hints and prompts that you can refer to whenever you’re writing that particular type of post. For example, if you’re writing about an event the company just went to, your cheatsheet might look like this:
- Introduce event. Include any relevant links.
- Why did we attend?
- What did we like about it/what were the highlights?
- Include photos and caption/describe them in the context of the event/this article
- Call to action/next step/related articles
Again, your own list may look very different. It all depends on the type of post, the topic, and how many prompts you/your team will need. The idea is to cut down on that ‘Ummm…what do I say?’ thinking and fast track to the good stuff.
The important thing to remember is that it’s there to cherry-pick from; you don’t want to structure every single blog post in exactly the same way answering exactly the same questions or it gets tedious very quickly.
5. Develop a schedule that works
Create a blog calendar and populate it with your blog post ideas so you’re always on top of the process and know when you need to generate new ideas. Depending on how often you want the company blog to be updated, you might just plan two or three posts ahead, or a month or two. Ideally you don’t want too many time-sensitive posts (such as a product launch announcement or a Christmas-themed article) so you have plenty of options for moving things around when other posts crop up and take priority.
Your ‘calendar’ can be as simple as listing the title and date due; you can include whatever additional information you like as long as it works for your company. You calendar could take the form of a CMS plugin, a Trello list, an Evernote note, a Todoist project, or similar. You could even go with good old fashioned pen and paper if you wish, though if you’re not the only person who blogs for your company you’ll probably want some kind of cloud-based solution so it’s visible to everyone.
If you find that you’re forgetting to hit deadlines or check your content schedule, you can easily add it to your work calendar of choice using something like our Evernote Calendar Connector. If your team uses Slack, you can stay on top of deadlines with our Slack Connector.
How do you save time blogging for your business? Tell us on Twitter.