Close
Close

How to Produce Great Content Fast – in Five Simple Steps

This is a guest contribution from Ali Luke, author of The Blogger’s Guide to Effective Writing. 

Great content, posted on a regular basis, is vital to your blog’s success.

But most bloggers, especially those new to writing, struggle to produce high-quality posts as quickly as they’d like.

This is usually because they’re following some poor writing practices, like:

  • Sitting in front of a blank screen, trying to come up with an idea
  • Going off on a long tangent in the middle of a post, only to end up deleting it
  • Getting distracted by Twitter, Facebook, Skype…
  • Editing every sentence as they go along – making very little forward progress
  • Adding in bold, subheadings, images, and so on while writing

If one (or more) of those sound familiar, follow these steps and you’ll be able to create great content, fast.

Step #1: Come Up With Lots of IdeasLight bulb with a great idea

It can take ages to come up with one idea – but once you start, it’s often easy to come up with many more.

Instead of staring at the screen every time you sit down to write a post, come up with a whole batch of ideas at once.

Set aside time at your most creative time of day (first thing in the morning can work well) and start brainstorming.

Jot down everything that comes to you, even if it seems trite or unworkable – a not-quite-right idea may lead you to a great one.

Step #2: Pick an Idea and Create a Plan

When you sit down to write a post, turn to your ideas list and choose one that seems to grab you. Before you jump into writing the post, though, take five – ten minutes to create a plan.

Some post ideas come with a ready-made structure: “10 Tips…” or “5 Ways…” or “How to…” posts are easy to plan. All you need to do is work out the numbered subheadings or steps.

Other posts may be a little more complex – but the same principle applies. Work out the key points you want to include, and get them in the right order.

Some writers like to plan in a linear format, by writing a list; others prefer to use mind-mapping, throwing ideas down onto the page and organizing them afterwards.

Step #3: Switch off Distractions … and Write

Writing is a high energy activity, and most bloggers find it very easy to give into the temptation to do something else instead.

Once you’re into the flow of writing, it’s best to avoid stopping: if you pause every few sentences to check Facebook or Twitter, you’ll not only waste time, you’ll also struggle to get going again.

Get rid of any tempting distractions before you begin. For me, that means closing Twitter and Facebook, and often putting on music to drown out background noise (I have a husband and 3 month old baby in the house…)

If you find it tough to focus at home, try writing somewhere else. Take your laptop to a cafe, or use a computer in your local public library. You’ll probably find that it’s much easier to concentrate.

Step #4: Edit and Proof-ReadProofreader Dictionary Entry

Don’t stop to edit while you’re writing. It’s fine to quickly correct a typo or two, but if you’re constantly deleting and starting again, you’ll never get anywhere. Instead, plough on forward to the end of your post’s first draft.

Once you’ve got that draft written, set it aside for at least an hour or two before editing. That way, you can see it afresh – and you may find that much of it is better than you originally thought. You’ll also spot issues like overly-long sentences, and poor word choices.

It’s often useful to separate editing (where you’re changing and improving your post – perhaps cutting or adding whole paragraphs) from proof-reading (where you’re just looking for typos and spelling, grammar or punctuation mistakes).

Step #5: Add Formatting

You may want to combine this with step #4 – but I find it’s usually best to add formatting once my post is truly complete. That way, you won’t find yourself rewriting sections that you’ve already painstakingly formatted to look great.

You don’t need to spend long on formatting: a couple of minutes spent putting your subheadings into a header format (usually H2) and adding in bold text can make a huge difference to the readability of your post. This is also a good opportunity to split up long paragraphs and make sure any quotes and lists are formatted properly.

 

If you follow these steps when you write, you’ll find that you get posts written much faster – perhaps in half the time that it usually takes you. You may find the content creation process more enjoyable, too – instead of struggling to get the words down, they’ll flow easily onto the page.

Do you have a question about writing faster, or any tips to share? Let us know in the comments!

Ali Luke has written over a thousand blog posts and is author of The Blogger’s Guide to Effective Writing. If you’d like to write faster, better content, grab your copy today: the code problogger will give you a $5 discount.

About Guest Blogger

This post was written by a guest contributor. Please see their details in the post above. If you'd like to guest post for ProBlogger check out our Write for ProBlogger page for details about how YOU can share your tips with our community.

Problogger.net runs on the Genesis Framework

Genesis Framework

The Genesis Framework empowers you to quickly and easily build incredible websites with WordPress. Genesis provides the secure and search-engine-optimized foundation that takes WordPress to places you never thought it could go.

Check out the incredible features and the selection of designs. It's that simple - start using Genesis now!

Comments

  1. Adding formatting is vital – it can help the search engines to discover your content, index it and send you free targeted traffic. I always love to read your posts, Ali. Thanks for all your great work at FS.

    • Ali Luke says:

      Thanks, Michael! And great point about the SEO benefits of good formatting — thanks for adding that. :-)

  2. You’re completely right about not editing while you’re writing. Stream of conscious writing is the way to go. I remember reading somewhere that writing and editing use different parts of the brain. That’s probably why it ruins your flow… Regardless thanks for the tips! I’ve already been doing most of them, but I’ll definitely try generating more ideas at once as well as adding formatting AFTER I’ve finished a post.

    • Ali Luke says:

      Cameron, I think you’re right about writing and editing using different parts of the brain. They’re certainly different skills — writing is all about creating and editing is about being analytic. (I have a feeling that writing is a more right-brained and editing a more left-brained task, but I’m certainly no expert here!)

      Great to hear you’re already using many of these tips; let us know how you get on with batch-generating ideas. :-)

  3. shawn waller says:

    It’s a great feeling when you find out that you are following in the foot steps of someone who’s a successful blogger. I have a very similar system for creating my blog post. Thanks for refreshing advice.

    • Ali Luke says:

      Brilliant stuff, Shawn! Glad to hear you’ve already got a great system in place. I’m sure you must have some good tips to share with us too..? :-)

  4. Edson Hale says:

    There are two ways to grab an idea for you post; first one is to think about in the night before sleeping and next morning you have lot of ideas about your new post; second one is forget about the fact you are blogger and just enjoy your surroundings for quite a long time and after them back to work and you can get lot of brilliant ideas.

    • Ali Luke says:

      Edson, both great tips: thank you for adding these! I think both of these are really good ways to access the subconscious mind — where the best ideas bubble up from.

  5. Jitender says:

    I think facebook is the biggest distraction, which i feel always when i stuck to the facebook news feed and waste a couple of time. Thanks for the tips to go to cafe or public library. i will surely use these tips :)

  6. If anybody just follow 5 above steps he/she must be able to to Produce Great Content within a short time. I am really thankful to this blog author. In fact this is an exclusive article to learn quality content writing.

  7. I prefer to write in the morning. I don’t know why but it suits me coz a lot of things come to my head and being a blogger, I don’t want to let go of the idea and start writing. Prior to writing, I plan on how the article would come out and this is assembled within my head.

    Thanks for this wonderful share

    • Ali Luke says:

      That’s great you’ve found your best time of day, Jerry, and that you plan before writing. :-) I’m no good at holding my plan in my head — I have to write it down — but some bloggers do just fine with a mental map of the post, and it sounds like you’re one of them!

  8. Shana Norris says:

    I am guilty, guilty, guilty of #4. It is SO HARD for me not to edit as I write, but I KNOW I’m much more efficient AND effective when I just write, and edit later.

    As far as #1 goes, I try to keep my inspiration notebook with me at all times. If I get an idea when I happen to not have the notebook close, I’ll text myself the idea or, if I’m running (and I happen to get some good ideas when I’m pounding the trail) I’ll do a voice memo. Even though it’s torture to listen to them later because I HATE the sound of my own voice, it works in a pinch.

    Thanks for the advice & inspiration, Ali.

    • Ali Luke says:

      Shana, it can be really tough to get out of the editing-while-writing habit … do keep trying! Even if you can reduce the amount of editing you’re doing while writing, it helps.

      What a great plan on keeping your notebook close. :-) I often get good ideas in the shower, which isn’t ideal for writing or recording, alas!

      On a bit of a side note: loads of people hate the sound of their own voice (I’ve slowly got used to mine, after making myself do audio content every month for my membership site…)

  9. Elizabeth says:

    I wish a few hours was enough time for me to see something fresh. I find that if I don’t put aside a piece of writing for a week or two, I don’t catch repetitive wording etc. Maybe blog writing is different though–this is from a creative writing standpoint.
    Thanks Ali! I love the tip about music; I always feel more confident and motivated when I write to music :)

    • Ali Luke says:

      Elizabeth, I tend to leave creative pieces for longer, too — I think fiction (and creative non-fiction) are a lot tougher than blogging, as more rests on the writing style.

      Glad music works for you too!

  10. Ian Anderson says:

    I think it’s also better to leave the title until after you’ve written the article, as then you’re fully immersed in the topic and more likely to come up with a killer headline.

    Oh, and ending with a question or request (as you do) is a great technique to copy because it stimulates comments, don’t you think?

    • Ali Luke says:

      I actually recommend having your cake and eating it on this, Ian — coming up with a good title first, then tweaking it (or trying out a new one) afterward.

      If you start writing with just a topic in mind, it can be tough to focus and structure your post: with at least a draft title, it’s easier to stay on-topic.

      Yes, I think ending with a question or request is a great idea! It’s a technique that I learned from ProBlogger several years ago, and it’s one I see lots of big blogs using very successfully.

  11. Very good tips on content generation. I also don’t spend much time on formatting, Just basic meta tags and H2 is important, Agree. Also I prefer writing the post 2 days before I post so that i get a chance to revise them in next couple of days if there is any improvisation required, which is fair amount of time before publishing the post

    • Ali Luke says:

      I think two days is great, if you can manage it!

      With formatting, you may well find that H2 tags are enough. I find that having short paragraphs and using bullet points (where appropriate) also makes a big difference to the readability of my finished posts.

  12. Jenny Parker says:

    I am a regular blogger and willing to share information about blogging tips, web design tips and web world related latest news. Also doing guest blogging in quality blog. Are you allowing guest blogging in your blog?

  13. Hossam says:

    You’re completely right about not editing while you’re writing. Stream of conscious writing is how you can go. I recall reading somewhere that writing and editing use different elements of the brain. That’s probably why it ruins your flow… Regardless thanks for the tips! I’ve recently been doing a lot of them, but I’ll definitely try generating more ideas simultaneously along with adding formatting AFTER I’ve finished a post.

    • Ali Luke says:

      Hossam, I think you’ve simply copied Cameron Chardukian’s comment from above! Did you mean to copy it and perhaps add a comment of your own?

  14. this is absouletely what the beginners like me wants in the form of advise. I will try my best to follow all your steps. and seurely it is an honor for me to read the articles from an successfull blogger like you!!!

  15. peter says:

    Lovely advice especially staying way from Facebook and Twitter as you write

  16. Russel Adler here;
    Very well put. Pretty much a self explanitory subject. I am in the process of putting together my own blog…or two!
    jurytrial.com
    russelladler.com

    Your input would be appreciated. Am I on the right track?

    Russell Adler

    • Ali Luke says:

      Looks like you’ve made a good start, Russell! Just a heads-up — the navigation at the top of your site looks a bit wonky.

  17. Liton Biswas says:

    During writing a post, I come up with lots of post ideas. What I do-I write those ideas in a separate note. This technique helps me a lot to create content continuously. In this way I never run out of post idea.

    • Ali Luke says:

      That’s a great technique, Liton — thanks for sharing it! It sounds like a very good way to avoid getting off-track with those ideas while you’re writing, as well as a good way to ensure you’ve got a constant supply of ideas. :-)

  18. wow. Nice post. I was out of ideas and your post helped me buddy. Thanks a lot.

  19. Norm says:

    Great tips.

    Should there be a step 6 like onpage SEO.

    I found that optimisation of keywords can reap great rewards if done correctly for articles.

  20. Great tips! Having lots of ideas and writing with no distractions always works for me! Plus setting deadlines for myself also helps. :)

    • Ali Luke says:

      Deadlines are a great motivational tool. I find that promising my readers a post (or promising a fellow blogger a guest post) spurs me along nicely…

  21. Scott Ayres says:

    I can SO relate to this!! I’m awful at keeping 100 tabs open and getting distracted while writing. It’s probably my number 1 problem.. Great reminders.

    • Ali Luke says:

      Thanks Scott! You might try a full-screen writing environment (DarkRoom, Write Room or Scrivener are all good ones) — some bloggers find that a really helpful way to at least draft their content.

  22. EXCELLENT post and great tips! I constantly find myself falling victim to “blog post block” – I love the idea of brainstorming first thing in the morning then when the writing process begins I’ll have an idea list to choose from. Brilliant.

  23. Sam says:

    Fantastic tips… especially the edit later one! I need to work on this, I find myself editing and correcting as I go along which seriously interrupts the flow of words!

  24. WhyILoveTraderJoes says:

    Great post especially about putting it down for a couple of hours then edit. I always edit as soon as I am done and end up disappointed.

    Thanks for sharing!

  25. Kalee says:

    I try to create 30 headlines before the month so I don’t have experience that dreaded, “Oh crap!” moment when I have nothing to say. I also have to hide distractions including Facebook and my cell phone while I am writing. When I format the posts and add pictures (which have helped my traffic a LOT) I can sort of see the phone, but I prefer to be totally alone with my thoughts. It makes for a better post and usually is quicker than those with interruptions!

    • Ali Luke says:

      Getting 30 headlines ahead sounds brilliant, Kalee. :-) And good side point on pictures — an eye-catching image or a useful screenshot can make a big difference.

  26. Hi,

    Your first step: Lots of ideas. How you find these ideas and how to determine which is doable? Many times I’ve chose the wrong niche to go in, after spending about 6 months.

    • Ali Luke says:

      I’m really addressing finding ideas once you’ve got a topic here (ideas for blog posts on an existing blog) but in terms of niche … I’d suggest finding something you want to write about at least once a week for years!

      I went through a couple of blogs when I started out (one I kept up for almost a year, one for more like 2 – 3 months) before I found what I really wanted to blog about.

      Of course, some niches will be easier to monetize than others — I’m guessing this is part of your concern? — but it really helps if you pick a topic you’re keenly interested in, beyond just the prospect of money.

  27. Sbazaar says:

    Good content creation is a key for the success of any website or blog.
    Writing unique and effective content is always a time consuming job.

    You have provided very useful tips.

    Thanks.