As a content writer, content marketer, WordPress plugin developer, and small business owner, it can be quite difficult to find time to do it all. Especially if you also have a regular job that requires your attention, too. Throw in the demands of raising a family and it can be quite a challenge to avoid distractions and stay focused. These 5 tips will help improve your content writing productivity.
Success in the business of online media and content writing includes the constant need for new content, on a consistent basis. With a full schedule, it can be hard to maintain that consistency.
Even if you are just starting out as a content writer, it is never too early to think about what you will do to build on success.
Structure your posting schedule
For maintaining consistent content writing productivity, an editorial calendar is an absolute must. Personally, I use the aptly named Editorial Calendar plugin for WordPress. This allows me to write articles, posts, and other content ahead of time, allowing plenty of time to come back later and do edits.
Every blogging and freelance writing professional that I know of puts scheduling near the top of the list when it comes to keeping their work flow consistent and productive.
Structure your personal schedule
I find that I have to create certain time blocks during the day or I get nothing done. I set aside time for support via email or forums, creating new content, plugin development, and web site improvements. In the past, when I would simply work on whatever I was inspired to do, I found that I would drift around. A support request email would come in and I would do that, then I would flip through the forums, and maybe write a post. When I would come back to whatever I had started on, I found that I was no longer focused or inspired to do it.
Structuring the time made this much better. I found that structuring my schedule has allowed me to improve productivity and more effective use of my time, which ultimately made content writing much easier.
Limit unnecessary distractions
Are there unproductive things in your life that prevent you from executing your business strategy? Those are things that you need to eliminate (or severely restrict).
Distractions from productivity in your business are going to vary depending on whether you have an office or work in the living room. These things are going to vary from person to person. For me, the biggest distractions are (1) TV and (2) unstructured time. I find that I simply cannot mix content writing with distracting media (such as having the TV on in the background). And as I mentioned earlier, I can’t write content when I don’t have a set calendar.
Eliminating TV from my life was hard at first. But cutting the cord on unneeded expenses like cable TV (more on that later), reduced the amount of content I had readily available. And with less to watch, I found that I had the TV on less time during the day.
The problem of unstructured time we have covered already, but I will emphasize that you need to have a specific schedule to follow to get tasks done. Otherwise, you will find yourself wandering around and in the end nothing gets done. At the risk of sounding cliche, you are spinning plates.
Limit unnecessary expenses
This may seem slightly off-topic regarding busyness and content writing, but dovetails with limiting unnecessary distractions. If there are things you are spending money on that are wasting your time, I would take a more realistic view of those expenses.
For example, in limiting distractions, I mentioned television can be a black hole for your productivity. What about a cable television package? The bare minimum for cable or satellite after you consider contract minimums and taxes is going to be around $60/month. That’s $720 per year you are spending on something that takes you away from other more important things.
I have found that practicing delayed gratification as part of limiting my expenses has not only made my business more solid, it has also helped me eliminate unneeded clutter from my life. So limiting expenses will help you eliminate unnecessary distractions.
Know when to say no
This is hard when you are starting out and building any business, but especially when you are in the business of content writing. You have to know when to say no to people.
This can mean saying no to certain work. Either your schedule is full or it might not be material you want your name on.
If your schedule is full, that should be obvious. Taking on additional writing work could put you over the edge. And that can mean other work suffers (or worse, your personal/family life). Know your limits.
The other – material you don’t want your name on – can be more difficult to discern. Perhaps it is something controversial that you don’t want to be associated with long term. Or maybe it is something that would compromise your personal beliefs. In the long run, it is better to stay true to yourself than to have some content out there that years later you are hoping no one finds.
Another time to say no is to customers who may overreach what your service offers. This is a little more delicate. My personal approach to customer overreach is to simply say no, and give a brief explanation. Over-explaining actually does more harm than good. Most people will understand their own over-reach when you say no. And if you have good reasons, you will not get bad PR for doing the right thing. A good idea is to have an established policy for yourself and your work ahead of time. When you have drawn the lines ahead of time, you’ll better know when they are crossed.
Get busy writing content
Now that you have some tips for content writing, you can get busy with your productivity. Each of these tips could probably generate a post of their own (and they might eventually be that). They all come from my own real world experience.
I hope this gives you some ideas to work into your own process of running a content writing business. What are some things that have worked for you? Feel free to share your ideas below.