Five Easy Ways To Become A More Productive Writer

Are you spending too much time writing your blog posts? Want to be a more productive writer? Here are my secrets to writing better content faster.

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Blogging and writing are both important tools you can leverage in today’s digital landscape.

More than 80% of content marketers blog, according to a recent survey by the Content Marketing Institute. That’s a huge number for one profession.

But why should blogging matter to you, specifically? You’re not a content marketer. Why should being a more productive writer matter to you?

On average, all businesses with blogs generate almost 70% more leads than those without, according to a hubspot survey.

I’m going to teach you how to write. I’m going to teach you how to create blog content quickly.

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Now you might be asking yourself, “why in the world would this guy be giving away his writing secrets?”

There’s a simple answer: I’m a writer. It’s my job to give you (the reader) all my secrets… but, I guess, a part of me also likes the idea that someone out there might benefit from “Josh’s Secret Formula for Writing Success.”

So here we go. After reading this post you should have the mindset of a more productive writer.

1. Have Fun

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Did he just say what I think he said? I did.

Stop thinking about SEO, and analytics; stop thinking about pull tactics. Think about communicating clearly. Think about how you would explain things to a friend.

Jargon –When talking with your friends, you wouldn’t use jargon to describe more commonly understood concepts (ex. “sole-protection device” vs “shoe”)  so don’t feel the unnecessary need to do it with your audience. It’s actually one of the worst things you could do.

Tone — Tone is tricky, because it can vary based on your audience, and your company’s overall tone, but I think the trick to tone — and perhaps the trick to all writing — is the ability to understand and adapt to your audience’s expectations, to meet those tonal expectations, and then to surprise them.

In my blog posts, I like to use a conversational style and humor to keep people from feeling bored. I know as a reader, it’s much easier to learn if the copy has a rhythm, or if the content is slightly entertaining, as opposed to say… Ben Stein.

 

2. Create a Plan

You might be wondering if you really need to start out with an outline. To be completely honest, you don’t; however, spending about 30 minutes on an outline will save you hours later when you’re struggling to come up with ideas and direction.

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As for creating the outlines, people have their own ways of filling them out.

Some people will start by writing the intro. In journalism, this common practice is called writing the lead. The idea is that the into, or lead will guide the rest of the blog post or article.

Another method, and I suspect a far more common one for blogging, is filling out the meat of your content, the center (this means all the tips you’re currently reading), before writing the introduction and conclusion. The logic here is that once you have the real piece typed up, you can write an intro and conclusion around it.

Lately, I’ve favored this last method for increased productivity.

SEE ALSO: Brainstorming Tactics for Content Creation

3. Set a Timer, Beat the Clock

This one goes right along with my first tip to have fun. Make a game out of how productive you can be.

Here’s how you play:

Get your smartphone or a simple egg timer and set it to 20 minutes.

 

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Before you press Start, you should make sure your phone is on “Do Not Disturb” and that there are no distractions (e.g. T.V., music, babies screaming, dogs barking, roommates arguing).

Also, before pressing Start, you’ll want to identify what exactly you plan to accomplish within your 20-minute time-frame. Set realistic goals.

Press Start and for 20 minutes work harder and smarter than you’ve ever worked in your life. Trick yourself into believing that these are your only 20 minutes and that you must focus them wisely.

When the clock stops… go again.

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Again, before starting the clock you will want to identify what you will accomplish in the next 20-minute round (hopefully, you’re knocking out sizable chunks of work). In total, you will do this three times, to equal 60 minutes of solid work.

I do this all the time and because of my habit, I’ve found a whole new appreciation for my skills as a writer. And how could I not, the very essence of the game is to beat my high score — to see how much free time I have left over.

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Not only is this one of the best bits of advice I could give you for increasing your writing productivity, this game will also leave you with a tremendous sense of accomplishment.

4. Write Regularly

Writing skill is as much a muscle as it is a talent. It’s important to write at least a few hundred words every day just to stay in shape.

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By practicing content writing you’ll become more productive at finding research, analyzing data and structuring outlines.

Overtime — and as if in your sleep — you’ll also become a better editor. This will further increase your productivity as a writer since editing is one of the more tedious, time-consuming tasks.

5. Edit Last

How many of you will write a sentence — Delete it. Write another sentence in its place, then delete that one too?

This neurotic back and forth can be avoided if you refrain from doing one thing. Deleting.

Just write and don’t stop writing. Don’t worry about typos or grammar issues.

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After years of receiving papers riddled with red marks, it can be hard to break the habit of compulsive editing. But when you’re writing content, the trick to flow and productivity is to just get it out — you can always go back to clean things up later.

There’s an old Stephen King quote:

 “To write is human, to edit is divine.”

One trick to being a more productive writer is to be a more human writer and that means being OK with your minor errors, so long as you’re getting out big-picture ideas.

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SEE ALSO: 10 Things To Avoid If You Want To Be Productive

In Conclusion:

Blogging is important for a company’s long-term success. For a blog to work, it must be powered by strong writing.

By learning to have fun with writing, creating outlines, setting a timer, practicing, and delaying the editing process you can become a more productive writer. In fact, I’d be willing to bet just focusing on any one of these tips would make you a more productive writer.

If you get a chance to test out my writing secrets, please let me know in the comments which ones were most helpful. 

 

 

 

7 Free Google Tools All Digital Branders Should Use

You’ve probably discovered that there are numerous free Google tools at your disposal. But do you know which ones can help your digital branding efforts?

If not, you’re not alone.

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Image Source: resellerclub

Would you believe many content marketers struggle with making the most of the various free Google tools? In fact, a recent study found that less than 50% of B2B marketers say they’re effective at content marketing.

There are so many free Google tools offered that it can be hard to know where to begin.

Below is a short-list of my favorite free Google tools for digital branding and content marketing to get you started.

7 Free Google Tools All Digital Branders Should Use

1. Google Analytics

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Image Source: Neil Patel

Google Analytics is one of my favorite free Google tools because it provides you with a quick snapshot of performance over time.

This is incredibly helpful for keeping on the right track to achieve your goals.

Google Analytics also provides a wealth of information about your website’s visitors, including the following information:

  • Demographics — Learn about the people that make up your audience. Demographics include things like gender, age, income level and geographic location.
  • Social engagement — You can find out which social networks visitors are coming from and how they’re interacting with social plugins on your own site.
  • Tech used — You can see what browsers, operating systems and other networks visitors are using to view your site.
  • Mobile info — You can see how many of your users are using mobile and whether or not you should optimize your site to fit the smartphone’s screen — you should.
  • Traffic sources — Do you know your site’s main traffic sources? You can by analyzing search engines, other websites, direct traffic and your RSS feed.
  • Top content — You can see the top performing piece of content and the worst. This will help you as you continue to produce new content.
  • What leads to conversions — You can also establish goals in Google Analytics to see which of your site visitors convert. Examples of goals might be purchasing a product or signing up for a mailing list.

SEE ALSO: How to Best Use Goals in Google Analytics

2. Google Alerts

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Image Source: iconsdb

Want to stay in the loop? Google Alerts is essential.

Google Alerts keeps you apprised of the latest news, and lets you know anytime someone mentions your brand, whether on a 3rd-party review site, or even a social network, blog or forum.

You can have the search results sent regularly to your inbox or RSS reader.

You can use this same technology to keep up with your competition and see where they are getting mentioned.

3. Google Trends

Occasionally the well runs dry. So how do you consistently produce quality content for your blog?

Enter Google Trends.

Google Trends is the perfect brainstorming resource for new blog posts.

SEE ALSO: Brainstorming Tactics for Content Creation

The tool allows you to see topics currently trending, as well as the current news stories trending. With luck, you can find a topic or news story with a connection (even a flimsy one) to your brand and make your next blog post culturally relevant.

 

4. Google Adwords: Keyword Planner

The Google Keyword Planner is one of the best tools I know to conduct keyword analysis for your brand.

It is user-friendly, with an intuitive interface and that’s coming from someone who tends to shy away from technology.

You just have to experiment with the tool for a while —  running a search after search — for you to understand what’s going on.

You’ll do the same thing once you do figure it out, since running multiple searches will give you a better idea of which keyword to use.

5. Gmail

What’s your record for most unread emails in your inbox? I bet you mine’s higher.

Google Mail (Gmail) is Google’s free email platform, boasting a smart inbox filtering system. This allows you to filter messages into various categories,  where you can choose to have them bypass the inbox totally, or just label them to be archived.

If you use the filtering system wisely, you can avoid trying to claim my title for the most cluttered inbox.

6. Google Docs

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Image Source: alison

If Google Analytics is one of my favorite free Google tools, Google Docs is probably my favorite.

Google Docs is simple. It is a sharing platform — sharing documents, spreadsheets, presentations, drawings and tables with others online to view, download or edit.

I think of it like the Microsoft Office Suite on crack.

This free tool makes editing a synch. And it’s perfect for remote work, or working with employees spread out geographically in multiple locations — Google Docs has allowed me to work with people on the other side of the world while sitting in a Dallas coffee shop.

I like this tool so much, I’ve downloaded the app on my phone.

7. Google Calendar

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Image Source: nysba

I know many marketing professionals who live by their calendars. Specifically, they live by their Google Calendars and the only way to get a meeting with them is by extending a Google Calendar invite.

This isn’t because it’s an exceptionally nice gesture on your part; it’s because 1) people can share their calendars with other users and 2) Google Calendar alerts.

Google Calendar allows you to set up reminder alerts that appear as popups when you’re logged in to your account. Mine appear usually one hour before a meeting.

But this is only the tip of the Google Calendar iceberg.

You can use Google Calendar to keep track of guest posting opportunities, Twitter chats, advertising expiration dates, editorial calendars, and the list goes on…

In Conclusion:

I’d just like to reiterate that this is not a complete list, but my personal short-list of free Google tools for digital branding.

There are many more tools to experiment with and choose from; I chose these seven because of my familiarity with the tools and for their applicability to digital branding and content marketing.

Be sure to let me know what free Google tools you use, as well as how you use them — to what end?

 

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