Do you wonder how big bloggers keep publishing new content all the time? How come their publishing machine is so well oiled? Where do they get the time and the ideas? Are they online all the time every day? Do they have assistants working for them creating and publishing their content?
These questions can be answered in three simple steps:
- They eliminate the redundant steps and tasks. For this you should check my guide to becoming a productive blogger
- Then they use technology and tools to automate and schedule as many of the remaining steps and tasks as possible
- The rest they do themselves or they delegate and outsource to other people
This post is your guide to automate, schedule and delegate your blogging tasks. Let’s get started.
Why is it important to be active and publish new content?
One of the best pieces of advice for a newbie blogger is to publish new content regularly. In my early years of blogging I posted new content every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. I did that for 2 years without missing one day. This helped me establish my authority in the field and grow an audience. There are plenty of benefits in publishing new content consistently when you are starting out.
Consistent new content builds trust and a consistent audience. It brings a stream of traffic and gives readers a reason to subscribe to you, follow you in social media and check back. It helps you build a buzz and expectations around yourself and in that way attract an audience that loves your content and is eagerly awaiting to hear from you next time.
More new content brings more opportunities for shares in social media, links from other sites and traffic from search engine thanks to the different keywords and topics you’re covering. Frequency of new posts can affect the search engine algorithms so you may rank higher. Search engines crawl and index sites that are updated regularly more frequently.
Think about what is right for you. You have to find a schedule that works for you. You don’t want to stress yourself too much by going for a too frequent schedule that you cannot achieve. Be realistic about how much content you can create and how frequently.
Automate and outsource during holidays and time off
All the advice in this articles can also be used if you’re just going to take some time off and holidays. You may have many plans for how you want to spend the days off. You want to explore new places or enjoy time with family and friends. You don’t want to be on your digital device all the time.
In most cases holidays mean less time for blogging. It might be easiest to just go off the grid and forget your blogging activities for couple of weeks but that may negatively affect your blog’s plans and your traffic could suffer. Going away on holiday and forgetting your blog can result in a lost momentum. Your site would become inactive, there would be no new content and no recent activity on your social media profiles.
This could result in a decrease in revenue. It will not give the best impression to new visitors who might have become loyal subscribers otherwise. It gives a bad impresion to the potential advertisers too.
I was on a trip last week without much time dedicated to blogging and even without internet access. With a bit of planning, scheduling and automation I was able to keep my blog and social media live and active. Regular visitors would not have been able to see much or any difference from a week when I am concentrating on the site full-time.
It’s a very good idea to take a break to travel or just to relax and get new inspiration. We all need a break once in a while. Some people get addicted to being online and continuously staring at the screen. Here are some warning signs you might need a break from blogging.
But going offline doesn’t mean you need to let your blog die while you’re away. Automation, scheduling and task delegation can help with this. It can also help you be more efficient with the way you spend your time day to day. The rest of this post will focus on helping you use technology to automate and schedule majority of your tasks, and delegate the rest.
Get your mobile setup ready
If you’re going away on a vacation you should get your traveling setup ready. These days I normally take a mobile phone when I’m on my travels. I use it for everything from checking mails, managing social media and doing blog updates when necessary.
WordPress (the content publishing platform I recommend) has nice apps for both iOS and Android. The app syncs with the web instantly so you can start a post on your mobile, save it as a draft to continue editing in your computer browser. You can edit articles, you can respond to comments and so much more.
I’m not too comfortable with creating new content on a phone, the smaller screen just feels too slow to write on. It’s more suited for consuming content, communication, marketing or slight edits. My discomfort with creating content on small screens is why steps below are key to have a relaxing vacation but keeping my blog active at the same time.
Prepare your content in advance
You know how long you will be away for. You know if you will have an internet connection while on vacation. You know if you plan to have time to get some writing done while you are away. Think about these factors and plan ahead. If you won’t be able to get online or if yo’ll be busy with other activities, you should create the needed amount of content in advance. Edit them, style them and get them ready to be published according to your normal schedule.
If you want a real break you could source some guest posts to be published during your time off. This will save you from being too stressed and needing to create a large amount of content in the weeks up to your trip. You can either ask bloggers you are connected with to submit something for your site, or you can announce on your site or in social media that you are taking guest post submissions.
A lot of bloggers are very active guest posters as there are many benefits of doing it. This means that as long as you have a site with a decent popularity you should be able to get some quality posts sourced.
Schedule posts to be published in the future
WordPress has this great built-in feature that allows you to schedule your posts to be published in the future. You can write your post today and set it to be published automatically at any time you wish. It’s called WordPress TimeStamp.
Write your post as you would normally. All the same process. The only difference is that instead of publishing right away when your post is ready, you schedule it to be published at a future date and time.
To schedule do take a look at “Publish” section in the right hand side of your post writing screen. Where it says “Publish immediately” click on edit. Now you will have the option to select a date and time in the future that you want your post to be published. Select the date and time and click on OK.
When you have confirmed the future date and time you want your post to be published on, the “Publish” button will become “Schedule” button. You will also have a “Scheduled for” date and time there for you to see. If you click on the “Schedule” button your post will be automatically published at the chosen date and time.
Set Akismet to moderate the comments automatically
Comment sections are the lifeline of many sites. This is also one of the tasks that consumes the most time for majority of bloggers.
Some bloggers prefer to manually approve comments, but that might be impossible to manage when you’re going away. As you don’t want the discussion to die out while you’re away, you should set Akismet WordPress plugin to do all the work for you.
In WordPress settings in “Discussion” some bloggers usually have “Comment author must have a previously approved comment” checked. By removing this you let Akismet automatically approve comments. There is a tiny risk that one or two spam comments might go through the filter but I find Akismet generally does a great job. Get comfortable about letting Akismet control and moderate the comments section for you.
See my complete guide on how to setup your blog to automatically fight comment spam.
Automate your social media marketing
Having a large established audience is a great promotional tool for your content. As you’re set to publish several articles while you are away your audience will help you spread the word as they normally would. Help your visitors do the promotion for you by including social media sharing buttons in your articles.
There are several good plugins for this, such as this one. Sometimes I use my mobile phone to go through my after publishing marketing routine on social media when on holidays. This would take me some 10-15 minutes a day, but there is an even better solution.
If you prefer you can also schedule your social media activity. You can write your posts in advance and schedule Twitter and Facebook to send out messages announcing your new articles. It results in clicks to your site from your followers, and helps the promotion as people do retweet, like and share interesting articles. You can schedule your posts directly on your Facebook page and use a tool like Tweetdeck or Hootsuite to schedule on Twitter.
If you prefer to be completely hands off you can get all your new posts to be posted automatically on social media without needing to do any work. One great service for automating social media posts is IFTTT (If This Then That). It connects you to more than 100 different platforms and allows you to set “recipes” like: IF I publish a new post on my blog, THEN automatically post the link to my Facebook page. These are the most relevant recipes for keeping your social media profiles updated:
- Post on my Facebook page
- Post on Facebook with an image
- Post to my Twitter profile
- Post to Twitter with an image
- Post to my LinkedIn profile
- Post on my Google+ page
- Publish on my Tumblr blog
- Submit to Reddit
- Post to Blogger
Outsource and delegate some of your tasks
A blog is normally a company of one employee. You are the jack of all trades. You do everything from creating content, improving the design and doing the marketing. You have the complete knowledge of everything about your site, you do not need to communicate to anyone else and you make all the decisions yourself.
But as your site grows you might run into challenges by doing everything yourself. A single person project cannot scale. Especially if you want to achieve big things. You might need to get some help to grow and scale your site. This means relinquishing control and delegating your work to virtual assistants.
Many bloggers struggle to make this leap and grow beyond the one man show. The first time I hired a virtual assistant to run my site was a disaster. Even worse, it was all my fault. I was running a site about email marketing. I was writing posts every day to try to get it off the ground, with the dream of eventually quitting my full-time job to become a highly paid email marketing consultant.
Unfortunately, I had hardly any free time. I had a full-time job doing copy writing for an online gaming company, and I had a very young daughter to take care of. I’d lie awake unable to sleep – burning with all the plans I hadn’t had time to do! So, I decided to hire a virtual assistant. All I knew was:
- You can hire a virtual assistant in the Philippines for $300 a month
- Filipinos speak great English
- They can do tasks that you don’t have time to do yourself
So I hired a virtual assistant called Kim for $300 a month. Within 48 hours, I realised I’d made a huge mistake. It was clear that outsourcing my site to Kim wasn’t going to work. The posts I asked him to write were okay, but they were formulaic and not up to the standard I wanted. Kim’s English was good – but by the time I’d thought up an idea for a post and outlined the content, I could have written it myself.
Looking back, my mistake was obvious. I was asking him to do something unrealistic – writing my posts. I didn’t know it at the time, but trying to outsource the core activity of creating useful content is a huge mistake.
Interestingly, that’s not where my outsourcing story ends – in fact, it was just the start. Instead of giving Kim writing tasks, I decided to throw him other building tasks that would give me more time to spend writing. This turned out to be hugely successful – and has massively freed up my time to this day. The hard part is knowing what tasks to outsource. So, here’s 4 building tasks I recommend giving to your virtual assistant:
Task 1: Post research
The best way to get value from a virtual assistant is to have them help you with research. Say you’re writing a post about the top 10 screen casting applications on the Mac. You’d ask your assistant to create a document featuring all the software he can find in this category. Next to each piece of software, you’d ask him to list the name, price, and website address – as well as the main features of the software.
Or, let’s say you’re planning to write a post about how to barbecue a trout. You might ask your assistant to find other articles about barbecuing trout that you could read before you start writing. You’d ask him to find somebody a YouTube user who’s posted a video of themselves cooking trout on a barbecue – and set up an email interview with them, so that you have some quotes to put in your article.
You want to get to the point where when you sit down to write a post, you’re basically walking into the kitchen and finding all your ingredients washed, chopped, and laid out – so all you have to do is assemble the parts and serve up the result.
Task 2: Finding posts to comment on
Another great job for your virtual assistant for is finding posts to comment on. When you know your topic reasonably well, the hard part about commenting isn’t cranking out the comments – it’s is actually keeping up-to-date with other people’s posts. So, ask your virtual assistant to create a list of sites in your niche that you want to monitor.
Then, have your assistant look at them two or three times a week and send you a daily or bi-weekly email with a digest of what’s been posted. Then you can quickly dash off your comments, and your assistant can post them on your behalf – under your name, with a link back to you.
Task 3: Interviews
One problem you have as a blogger is finding fresh content to post. Interviewing other authors is a brilliant way to get expert content quickly. You can ask your virtual assistant to spend one or two days a week finding other bloggers in your niche to interview.
Usually, fellow authors are happy to be interviewed – and they’ll often share the resulting post with their audience too. If you give your assistant this task one two days a week, then pretty soon you’ll have a steady flow of autopilot interview content for your site.
Task 4: Reviewing other sites
One tactic that I’ve tried with one of my websites was reviewing other websites in my niche. It works really well – it was great content and it won me a lot of respect and gratitude from fellow bloggers in my industry. He’s what you do. Ask your virtual assistant to go out and find other sites like yours and write out a quick 40 to 50 word summary of what’s on the website.
When she has 10 of 12 of these, you can combine them into a list post that can sit on your website as a great piece of cornerstone content. Make sure you link to all the sites featured of course. It’s good SEO to link to other pages in your corner of the Internet, and it also encourages other bloggers to reciprocate and link back to you – which never hurts.
Automation and outsourcing is not the same as auto blogging
A word of warning: You should automate and schedule tasks you can but you should still remain engaged with your site. The goal of scheduling and automation is not to remove your blogging work completely. Outsourcing is here to help you delegate some tasks to allow you more time to focus on the tasks that only you can do.
The goal is rather to help you do your blogging more efficiently, saving you time and letting you use your time more wisely. You should also avoid all the salesmen selling courses, software and automated tools to “help” bloggers get rich quick.
That dream sounds great except that it doesn’t work and doesn’t do any good to your readers or to your site. Don’t use any auto blogging software (these tools normally create posts based on RSS feeds from other sites). If it’s not obvious, this is why:
- It’s not great content. If you a want to be successful at blogging, you need to create unique content that people love to consume and share with their friends.
- Google hates spam and all these sites are just copying content, and they give no value to the user.
- Your host will eventually shut down your site because of the copyright infringement.
Following these simple steps can assure you that you work more efficiently and that your site is not inactive (even while you are away on holiday). Your visitors will always get fresh content, comments will be moderated, traffic will be coming in and your blogging momentum will keep on going.