Editor’s note: This post was written by Antonio, a blogger and a consultant who provides writing assistance to job seekers. He loves writing about marketing, education and productivity. He’s also crazy about riding his bike and bumping into new people (when he’s on foot). He will be happy to meet you on Facebook and Twitter.
Procrastination is a dirty word for many writers, because it means they are not doing the work that needs to get done because they lack the discipline to do it.
It sounds pretty bad put that way, but that is how psychologists characterize chronic procrastination. Yes, it is a disease for some people, and they need professional help to tell them to get going!
Fortunately, most bloggers only suffer from occasional procrastination, and need nothing more than a little push in the right direction.
Hence, there is no need to feel bad. Procrastination happens to the best writers. To prove it, we asked professional bloggers, writers, and branding experts to weigh in on the procrastination dilemma and give their piece of advice on how to combat it. These practical tips are from their personal experiences with the dreaded P word. Find out how they got themselves out of a stall.
Tips From Popular Bloggers
Be Curious and Lurk Where your Target Audience Hangs out
Check out comment sections, forums, and attend seminars to know the concerns of your target audience and write content that will help solve their problems.
“The best place to get ideas is comments on your articles. Many newbie bloggers ask questions in the comment section, so if you look at them carefully, you can devise some of the best blog post titles.
Forums are the best place to get ideas. This is a place where people hang out in the real time. You post your question, and get instant replies from the experts. So by going through different sections as per your niche, you can get some of the most awesome ideas.
I get ideas from offline meetings. I attend a lot of seminars on various niches like marketing, social media, blogging, WordPress etc. So listen to people and analyze their problems. This can be a great place to know about the real problems which you can solve with your content.”
Leverage Technology to Find Great Content Ideas
There are several applications you can use to monitor trending topics and actively listen to online discussions.
Content marketing manager and author Natalia Chrzanowska of Brand24 also believes in letting other people tell her what they want to read. She starts her day by listening to her target market using various tools.
“I have some proven methods that help me get inspiration for new content. I always start my day with a press review, reading the most successful blogs in my industry and checking up on news. If something is trending on the Internet, it’s worth considering it as a topic for the next post.
I also use Brand24, a social listening tool to track online discussions about content marketing, and digital technologies. I pick up the most popular conversations and try to convert them into interesting stories.
On top of that, I use tools like BuzzSumo, Google Keyword Planner and Google Trends to discover potential of particular topic area. I also ask my audience or our clients about what they want to read about. Their feedback helps me stay on track and keep content relevant to the readers.”
Analyze Trending Topics and Write Content that Adds Value to the Discussion
“There are so many great ways to come up with content ideas. Here are some of the main ways I get content ideas:
Feedback from my blog’s readers – I want to share what they want to learn, so I’ll incorporate topics based on discussions with readers and the occasional survey.
Popular topics – Most of my content is evergreen, but I’ll always keep my eye out for trending topics to write about. Providing I have some unique insight to share.
Questions in niche communities – One of the best places to get ideas is to check out forums and communities where your target audience hangs out. There are usually a lot of questions being asked so it’s a treasure trove of potential topics to blog about.
Topics that can be covered more accurately or in more detail – If I’m searching for a resource on a particular topic that I can refer people to, I’ll check out a lot of blog posts in the process. More often than not, I come across topics that would be good to learn about but the posts available are just surface level.
These are great opportunities to write a post that goes above and beyond what’s already on the web.”
Think of your Title First and Then Build the Article from There
Former news beat journalist and essay writer Chloe Martin of Edugeeksclub stands by a proven formula for getting her going when she has a topic for a blog and not much else.
“I always start with a title. I go through several versions using one of the very useful online title generators and keep a couple I think will work for a particular topic. I play around with each one a little, do a bit of research to see what is interesting, and before I know it, I have a whole article forming in my head. I have to write it down pretty fast or I forget some of the great ideas I got just from the title. It sounds silly but it really works.”
Address the Problems of your Readers and Create Searchable, Shareable, Evergreen Content
“My most successful blog is one on How To Write TV Series Bibles, which has had an amazing 45K+ unique hits since I wrote it back in 2009. Recently, I commissioned a graphic artist, @edwinatyrell to turn the TV series bibles post into an infographic. Even though it has only been live a matter of weeks, it’s already had in excess of 2000 unique hits and gains more daily.
I think there are several reasons why my post is so popular. First up, it’s a “How To” post, which have high “Google-a-bility”. People want the answers to their questions, such as “How To Write TV Series Bibles”! I always find “How To” in the post aids my hit rate.
Secondly, TV writing has gained in popularity steadily with spec screenwriters. When there are so many submissions in the pile, writers know that “just” a TV pilot on its own probably won’t cut it anymore when approaching Industry Execs. They need to really sell their idea and storyworld “off the page” – and a good TV Series Bible will help them do that.
Thirdly, despite TV writing’s increasing popularity, there’s still not that much information online about the ins and outs of that world, including TV series bibles. As a result I have found many people have linked to my post, including pretty large screenwriting sites and forums, so people find the post year on year.
So, the B2W equation for blog success? “How To” + specialist subject/knowledge + scarcity will help you write a post that is successful and bring many people to your site. Good luck!”
Imagine your Readers in front of You and Anticipate the Questions They will Ask
Linda Dessau of Content Mastery Guide is a speaker, author of Write Your Way to More Clients Online: How to craft captivating content for newsletters, blogs and social media, and expert blogger who has a passion for teaching. She beats down procrastination by thinking about how her readers would benefit from her articles.
“What motivates me to blog is imagining one of my readers sitting across from me, eager to better understand some aspect of business blogging – the topic I write about at Content Mastery Guide. I know from the questions I hear that there is a lot of confusion, misinformation, and intimidation about blogging. I try to think like a beginner and look for new and creative ways to make blogging easier. Whoever is your audience, if your goal is to delight, inform, and help them, you will never be short on motivation to keep blogging.”
Get Motivated by Thinking of the Mutual Benefits You and Your Readers can Glean from Your Content
Ashley Faulkes, web developer, and blogger has a more laid back, but nonetheless wholly practical approach to the whole motivation thing. Think of it as a “mutually beneficial.” This take on content writing will help you get the job done.
“There is no one thing that motivates me to blog, but I will give you a few of the most important reasons I blog on a regular basis.
1. It allows me to pass on the things I learn from working on my website and my client’s.
2. Blogging also provides me the opportunity to get to know, connect with, and network with my fellow bloggers, marketers and experts on the web.
3. For my business and website it provides content that can be shared and linked to, and it also slowly elevates my site in rankings and brings in potential clients. This is something all businesses should be thinking about (aka content marketing).”
Define Your Niche and Your Limits and Write within those Boundaries
Content writing is not just about putting words together in a clever way. You need to think about the value of what you are writing. Be specific and conscientious. Gaurav Tiwari, WordPress developer and blogger, states,“Senseless writing is worth nothing.” He explains what he means below:
“Don’t write posts just for the sake of publishing. Any moment, when you realize your post isn’t going to stand out of the crowd of the internet – stop writing.
Always make sure that your post is properly formatted with headings, paragraphs, quotes, citations and images. Its content should be properly ordered to navigate reader from the start to the end in a flow. Always remember that once your reader missed the flow, she’ll feel detached from your website – and then you may lose her as a reader, forever.
Minimize errors and follow certain rules in all of your articles. Don’t hop over several writing niches. Define your limits and write within them. This will help your readers make their mind about your blog.
And remember, a great blog takes time, so never give up.”
Develop Your Own Blogging Habits which You will Follow no Matter What
“There are a few blogging habits that I have built, which help me be more productive. And by practicing them regularly it helps me build upon them.
- I check analytics daily. This helps me understand what content has done well and what hasn’t. By checking stats it tells me what I should blog on and what I shouldn’t.
- I blog every week no matter what. Whether I am sick or in a blogging mood, I always blog. This ensures that I get in a routine and never stop blogging.
- Before I start blogging I always come up with a headline first. This ensures I am writing content that does well on the social web. As a headline is the most important aspect of your post when it comes to social shares”.
Don’t Strive for Perfection – Get Started on Writing and Edit Later.
Allison Barclay, brand strategist, graphic and web designer, and owner of Painted Summers, puts procrastination in perspective for writers that can’t seem to get started because they want all their ducks in a row before they do.
“It’s important to realize that no matter what, you have to start somewhere. You will never improve or get anything done at all if you’re always waiting for perfection.
DO NOT STOP WRITING. Don’t pause or go back to edit anything yet. You’re just getting words out and easing back into the flow of writing. You can delete the pre-post stuff later, but now isn’t the time.”
Give Yourself an Opportunity to be a Winner
Irfan Ahmad, blogger, social media savvy, founder of Digital Information World says that looking into the future and seeing your results is a great motivation to start working right away to make that future a reality as soon as possible:
“One failure leads to another, so does success; for every blog post you did not write on-time, you can expect to fail other deadlines including a blog after the next. The only person who really cares about that blog is you – audiences will find a replacement and it is up to you to keep them engaged.
To beat procrastination, simply focus on achieving your bigger goal, whether it be success, engaging audiences, becoming a thought leader or something else – recall what motivated you to write your blog and why you decided to get it done for today, understand you are about to let your historical self down for not delivering a promised result and appreciate how much your future self will thank you for avoiding the delivery of excuses instead. The closer you get to that bigger goal by getting the job done, the sooner you see results, the sooner your future self thanks you and the less likely you are to procrastinate over giving yourself the opportunity to be a winner”.
Ask for Expert Advice from Influencers in Your Niche
Fabrizio Van Marciano, professional blogger, Graphic and WordPress Website Designer at Magnet4Blogging says that his most successful post was an article on marketing methods which he consisted from tips from bloggers he has reached out to:
“My most successful blog post has to be the expert roundup article I did very recently, where I reached out to 23 top bloggers to ask them about their most favourite marketing methods for promoting a brand new blog post. What contributed to the success of that post was the fact that a lot of my loyal readers, subscribers shared it on social media sites. It was also re-shared on larger blogging and marketing community sites like Inbound.org and BizSugar.com. The contributors of that post themselves dropped by to promote it too on their own social networks, which meant more traffic, more exposure, comments and all the rest of it. You can check out that post here.”
Be Your Best Boss and Your Best Employee
Freddy Gandarilla, founder of Internet Marketing Blog 101 says that if you take blogging seriously, success is sure to follow:
“I get organized as much as possible. I organize my time, my internet browser, my daily action plan and my life. For example; I have all of the links I need well-organized in my browser’s folders – I created my own work schedule to follow with a daily action plan – and I take short breaks – and lastly, I try to follow a healthy diet and be an active person. Healthy Food and frequent Exercise keeps your Focus sharp.
I simply treat blogging as a Real Business. I make sure I am my best Boss and my best Employee”.
Whatever your motivation, approach, or tactic is, all these tips for beating procrastination boil down to one thing: Start writing. Every writer wants their work to be the best it can be, but to get to that stage you need to have something to work with. It does not really matter what you write as long as you start. Once you get started, the words will flow, and you can pick it up from there.
Don’t Overthink It
“When we overanalyze a situation, we start to worry about possible outcomes or others’ opinions. Instead of procrastinating, take action and sort the rest out later. Just get started. A bad decision stuck to is better than inaction.”