I’ve really been trying to blog more regularly this year, and I seem to be doing better, but part of me’s still not satisfied with my output. As is the way with me, I wanted to try and figure out what’s been stopping me blogging more often and if there was a way to improve things.
The thing is, I know that the writing of the posts isn’t the issue – I type pretty quickly on a PC and my tablet and I spend roughly two hours a day on a train. If I want to write something, I’ve got the time to write it. That’s not the problem, I’ve got about six posts written and ready to go, but there’s always something that stops me posting them.
”Blogging Daily Guru’s” Miss The Point
At least they do for me. I’ve signed up for a couple of these “blog more regularly” email courses and without fail, they all talk about “frameworks” for posts and “ways to find the time to write”, but like I say, for me, getting stuff written isn’t the problem.
I was starting to think it might be WordPress itself.
But You Always Say You Love WordPress!
Yes, I know, and I do love WordPress. It’s brilliant; no other CMS comes close to the level of flexibility or simplicity that WordPress offers, but I’ve started to think that, as the platform and this installation have evolved, it’s gotten slower and there’s just too much in there. I used to post here a couple of times a night if I didn’t have anything else to do, I used to write and post three or four posts a day on various blogs for work while still doing my main job, and I used to be able to get them written and posted inside half an hour.
So what’s changed? A few things I suppose: my current theme’s got a slider on it that I have to edit pictures for, I take ages finding or making pictures to go with my posts, my mailing list template is hacked together (my fault) and, ultimately, posting takes longer than writing, even in the slightly longer-form style I’ve been using for the last couple of years.
I wanted to see if I could optimise that process at all, speed things up anywhere I could and, consequently, post more regularly. In order to do that, I had to find out where the timesinks were. So I put together a task list and timesheet for posting when I did my last post.
The Posting Task List
- Write the post: most of my posts are written on my tablet on the train, so this usually takes longer than on a PC. It also adds a couple of other tasks.
- Sync to Dropbox: when I write on my Android tablet, I usually use an app called Writer. I also use Kingsoft Office when editing documents for work as it saves in MS Office format, but it’s a lot slower than Writer. The downside to this is that I have to copy and paste my piece from Writer into Kingsoft Office and then save it to Dropbox so I can get it straight onto the PC that I’m going to post it from. This doesn’t take too long, but does require WiFi, which is a consideration.
- Find images: I’m constantly being told off for using too many words and not enough pictures, so I’m trying to break my posts up with images. Finding the right ones can take some time and sometimes I end up either screenshotting or creating my own in Photoshop, as I did with my last few posts. The image issue is the main reason I don’t just post straight from my tablet and the app, to be honest. It’ll take way more time and effort than it needs to to find and upload those pictures.
- Make slider image: My current theme has a slider which I’ve ended up having to create a Photoshop template for in order to ensure the images are of a consistent size and have that lovely little fade-out effect at the edges.
- Locate links: I’m not one of those people that will remember the URLs of things I want to link to and write the HTML for the links off the top of my head. I know people that can do that, but I’m not one of them, particularly when they’re affiliate links. There’s some time in this.
- Add post content: this is the first interaction with WordPress, so I suppose this is the point at which we’re tracking the time that I spend using it rather than the extraneous bits, but for the sake of completion, I’d like to leave the rest of it in. This includes pasting my content, adding my images and links and anything else that’s actually in the post’s body copy.
- WordPress SEO configuration: this bit’s pretty easy, but it’s basically writing meta tags for the post (title and description) through Yoast’s WordPress SEO plugin. Doesn’t take too long, but for someone who usually writes about SEO, it’s pretty essential.
- Formatting check/ proofread: for me, it’s essential that the last wave of proofreading happens when the piece is actually on the site. I use the WordPress preview function and check it that way, making sure there are no typos and the images have all come out how I want them to. The best way I’ve found to make this quick is to open the preview in a new browser tab and drag that over to my other monitor, leaving the edit window open on one screen, meaning I can edit quickly and see the effects without switching tabs. Dual-screening really is a life saver sometimes.
- Hit publish: this is arguably the most important bit, but as you can see, I’ve gone a fair way already before pressing the magic button and I’ve got a long way to go yet.
- Set up slider: This theme uses a custom post type to set up the slider. This involves uploading the image I made earlier, writing the title and description, setting up the link and text for the button and making sure that the post type is noindexed. Then I have to go through previous slider posts and edit the position number for them in order to make sure they all show in the right order.
- Clear cache: my site uses W3 Total Cache to make it whizzy-fast, but I’ve had people tell me that they can’t always see my new post on the homepage straight away since I’ve installed it. This makes sure that doesn’t happen.
- Tweet it: I always Tweet my new post straight away. Due to the fact that I’m such a fan of doing things manually, I always hand-write my tweets for my post rather than just hitting the Tweet button. No beef if you just click it though, I’m always grateful for shares and will always @ a thank you if you do it 😉
- Buffer it: Between SocialBro and Buffer, I’ve got a good grasp of when my posts will get the most exposure, which is why I always Buffer a handful of Tweets for my new post – I do have a day job, after all. These are always manually written and I like to test different wording to try and optimise my click through rate.
- Submit it to Stumbleupon: Stumbleupon is a great source of traffic, so it’s always worth sharing my new post to it. I get a lot of value out of the platform at the best of times anyway, so I like to share what I can there. Again, my tags and descriptions are manually written specifically for the platform. Oh, and Stumbleupon – if you guys are reading this, some new categories would be lovely.
- Share it on Google+: Google+ still isn’t the most active of platforms for me, but I still get a lot of value out of it because a lot of smart people I know actually engage there more than on other networks that we’re friendly on.
- Share it on Facebook: to be honest, aside from my last post, Facebook is my least-referred social network, mainly because I use it for people I know outside the industry, friends that I know outside SEO and family, but I still get some traffic from it, and it’s always good for testing things like Open Graph tags.
- Share it on LinkedIn: getting the picture yet? I get quite a bit of traffic from LinkedIn, and it’s one of those networks that doesn’t get a lot of love from people, but I like to stay active there.
- Set up my email update: this bit’s the killer. I use MailChimp and have hacked a purchased template to death trying to make it work. I’m not great with this, although I’m getting better, but I still have to manually move the bits of content that I wrote for my last few posts, including links, around and write something unique for the latest one, so it takes a while. These then get scheduled and ready to go.
- Set an annotation in Google Analytics: if you’re posting a fresh piece, this is essential, just so you can track how much extra traffic it brings you. So that’s the process. How long does it take me under perfect conditions? Let’s find out.
Task Time Write the post 45.15 Sync to Dropbox 0.47 Find images 12.32 Make slider image 8.27 Locate links 2.36 Add post content 1.49 WordPress SEO configuration 2.52 Formatting check/ proofread 4.56 Hit publish 0.3 Setup slider 8.32 Clear cache 1.02 Tweet it 0.45 Buffer it 8.36 Submit it to Stumbleupon 1.32 Share it on Google+ 1.26 Share it on Facebook 0.45 Share it on LinkedIn 1.29 Set up my email update 9.35 Total 108 mins### Results And Conclusions
So there you have it – based on my last post, it takes me 108 minutes to post an update here and, out of that 108 minutes, only about 45 of them are spent writing the post. The rest of that time is spent messing around with the theme and promoting the post.
I suppose that’s the conclusion I’ve got from this: it’s not WordPress in and of itself that’s the problem, it’s a combination of the theme choice I’ve made and the promotional channels that I choose to utilise. This exercise has definitely given me some direction on how I can improve things.
As much as I like my current theme, it’s a timesink. That slider takes ages and is pretty frustrating to use, particularly on a slower internet connection. It also makes posting from my phone or tablet absolutely impossible.
There are also some improvements that can be made with my promotional methods. Although I’m happy with the channels I use, I think I could stand to invest a bit of time in making my mailing list template more functional. It looks great, but it’s a bit of a pig for me to use, which is entirely my fault.
With that in mind, my actions are going to be yet another re-theme for the site – something quite minimal this time, no sliders, no shiny things, just content. I might even go back to eleven40 (aff) – and to redo my mailing list template.
So there we have it, that’s the reason I don’t blog more often: it takes ages to post and promote an article. If any of you “blogging guru” types have any suggestions around how to speed that up beyond my current actions, I’d be grateful.
Since I wrote this, I’ve decided to action my changes before posting. I’ve gone back to the eleven40 Theme, with the Pro version for Genesis 2.0 – looks shiny, right? With no slider and a gorgeous minimalist look combined with a couple of CSS and layout changes, this theme is exactly what I needed. I’m wondering why I changed in the first place.
I’m also going spend some time getting my mail template set up properly over the next few evenings, which should help matters.
Hopefully cutting out all these extraneous/ slow areas will help me cut down on the time I spend messing around and focusing on the reason I set this blog up in the first place – writing.
How about you? Do you spend more time posting than you do writing? How do you find the time to blog regularly? Let me know in the comments.