April 26, 2021 Content Chat Recap: How To Become A More Productive Blogger

A #ContentChat header image that says today's topic is how to become a more productive blogger, with guest Eb Gargano.

Time can easily be a writer’s worst enemy. Right as one piece of content is finished, there is often another deadline right around the corner, and a multitude of new tasks can pop up at any moment. Before you know it, your day is over and you’ve made no progress on your next blog post. But there is a way to break this cycle.

In this #ContentChat, we’re joined by Eb Gargano, professional blogger at Easy Peasy Foodie and Productive Blogging, to explain how to become a more productive blogger. Read the full recap below, where we discuss how to develop a blog content plan, ways to remove distractions from your workday, tips to overcome writer’s block, and tools to help with blogging.

Q1: How can bloggers set realistic goals for 2021? What KPIs or metrics should they track to measure their success?

Eb focuses her goals on actions, not numbers. She recommends setting goals around what you will do to increase your metrics.

A1a: Actually (despite my business background), I don’t like to set fixed ‘number’ goals. My approach to setting goals is all about ‘actions’ – what I will actually ‘do’ this year to increase my metrics. I find this approach yields better results. #contentchat

— Productive Blogging (@EbGargano) April 26, 2021

To measure the success of your blog and its content, track KPIs including pageviews, pages per session, percent of returning visitors, organic traffic, and engagement.

A1b: It depends how you monetize. If it’s ads/affiliates, then pageviews, pages per session, % returning visitors, RPM and revenue. If it’s from selling ebooks/courses, then email subscribers and conversion rates are much more important… and, of course, sales! #contentchat

— Productive Blogging (@EbGargano) April 26, 2021

A1. I’m a fan of tracking engagement. If there are readers sharing your content + reaching out to tell you how your content is helping them or that they’re loving it, you’re mostly winning at blogging. #ContentChat

— Masooma | Content Writer (@inkandcopy) April 26, 2021

Yes, definitely engagement metrics! What do the readers do once they’re on your blog post? Are they bouncing right away or clicking around? Also, how does your blog content play into your conversion paths? #ContentChat

— Melanie Graham (@WriterGirlMel) April 26, 2021

A1. I’m always looking at organic traffic for my blog. If I’m doing things right, that’s increasing. To be realistic, I look at my historic improvement and set the goal based on that. I.E. If I saw 50 new visits from organic last month, I might make my new goal 60. #ContentChat

— Jessica Thiefels | Mindset + Marketing (@JThiefels) April 26, 2021

We track 1)Attraction (organic traffic views, search rankings, impressions) – 2) Engagement (bounce rate, time on page, path to other pages)- 3)Conversion (registrations for other assets)”

— Anne Merkert (@anniemerkert) April 26, 2021

Set up your goals in Google Analytics.

And if @todcordill were here today, he’d remind us to set up our goals in GA too! #ContentChat

— Erika Heald | Founder @ErikaHeald (@SFerika) April 26, 2021

Historical metrics can help inform what is a realistic goal to set. Remember that if you’re starting from scratch, it can take ~6 months to gain momentum.

A1: I always start by taking a look at the past 12 months. What am I proud of? What could I have optimized? Did I see the results I was looking for? From there, I set new goals and strategies for the upcoming year. #ContentChat https://t.co/FHkDfj7h8I

— Erika Heald | Founder @ErikaHeald (@SFerika) April 26, 2021

A1: I think it’s important to look at historical metrics, resources and your overall business or sales goals. Make sure all of these are working together before you set target KPIs. #ContentChat

— Melanie Graham (@WriterGirlMel) April 26, 2021

Historical metrics definitely help set realistic goals! and avoid a burn out and set unrealistic goals. #ContentChat

— Shruti Deshpande (@shruti12d) April 26, 2021

Absolutely. And I think it’s important that if you’re just starting out and don’t have lots of historical data to give yourself some grace and don’t set expectations too high! #ContentChat

— Melanie Graham (@WriterGirlMel) April 26, 2021

Yes – especially in the early days! Blogging can be like ghost town for the first 6 months #contentchat

— Productive Blogging (@EbGargano) April 26, 2021

And always ensure that your goals and KPIs map back to your overarching business strategy.

A1 The most important data to track should go back to what you’re trying to achieve through your strategy. That’s going to vary from blogger to blogger and site to site, but there is almost something you can measure that ties back to your strategy’s effectiveness. #ContentChat

— Derek Pillie 🎯 (@derekpillie) April 26, 2021

Q2: What should a blog content plan include, and how do you develop this plan? Do you have any templates or resources that help?

A blog content plan can be a basic spreadsheet with dates and post titles. Remember that a simple grid can be incredibly effective.

A2a: At its most basic, a spreadsheet with dates and post titles will suffice! But I add the post’s current status, category, social media, the URL when done. Then I have extra tabs for ideas, affiliate schemes, my courses, guest posts… it’s like my second brain! #contentchat

— Productive Blogging (@EbGargano) April 26, 2021

To build out your blog content plan, include columns for a post’s current status, category, short description, responsible team members, resources to inform the post, key deadlines, and URL (when published).

A2. Use a simple Trello board to organize your blogging content plan.

Create the following columns: ideas, to-do, doing/in progress, editing, published.

Add a due date to each approved idea to stick with your publishing schedule. #ContentChat

— Masooma | Content Writer (@inkandcopy) April 26, 2021

A2; First things first a blog content plan should include,
👉clearly defined audience persona
👉Outline broad topics – up funnel
👉Narrow niche topics – down funnel
👉Calendar for key dates/holidays/seasonal
👉Posting schedule#ContentChat

— Shruti Deshpande (@shruti12d) April 26, 2021

A2: I include:
-Deadlines & pub date
-Topic & description of the post
-Assigned writer & editor
-Targeted keywords & other relevant SEO details
-Resources for the post, including SMEs to interview
-Marketing strategy/sales goal the post ladders up to#ContentChat

— Melanie Graham (@WriterGirlMel) April 26, 2021

A2: include the 5 W’s – who, where, why, and how #contentchat

— Martha Neumeister I #SocialMediaMarketing (@mne90) April 26, 2021

I actually organize my strategy development AROUND the development questions… it’s a wonderfully clarifying way to think about the problem at hand. #ContentChat https://t.co/LH3Hd7gj4y

— Derek Pillie 🎯 (@derekpillie) April 26, 2021

Consider color-coding your document.

A2: I’m also a fan of color-coding based on the marketing goal/topic/category. That helps me quickly glance at the plan and figure out if I have too much focused on one area. #ContentChat

— Melanie Graham (@WriterGirlMel) April 26, 2021

Trello is often recommended by the community.

A2 Goals > Strategy > Tactics and so much @trello #contentchat

— Dan Goldberg (@Jonas419) April 26, 2021

When planning individual blog posts, consider creating an additional plan-on-a-page. This document should explain the goal of the piece and capture all necessary elements, including SEO considerations and proposed social copy. Link to these plans on a page in your main blog content plan.

A2: I am a big fan of having a content plan-on-a-page that documents what I am trying to achieve, how I am going to do it, and what success looks like. It can also be helpful to think about your content pillars. #ContentChat

— Erika Heald | Founder @ErikaHeald (@SFerika) April 26, 2021

Per the chat, many members of the #ContentChat community combine their editorial calendars and blog content plans.

From our #ContentChat conversation, it sounds like many of us combine our editorial calendars with our blog content plan. pic.twitter.com/0dgpImqnoY

— Erika Heald | Founder @ErikaHeald (@SFerika) April 26, 2021

It makes sense to some degree… your blog is going to be the engine of your editorial calendar, so many other pieces of the calendar are going to fit around what you’re blogging about and when. #ContentChat

— Derek Pillie 🎯 (@derekpillie) April 26, 2021

Definitely. I used to try to manage content strategy, calendars, and writers using different tools. Sometimes less is way more! #contentchat

— Dan Goldberg (@Jonas419) April 26, 2021

Eb shares her content planning template to help get you started.

A2b: You can find my content planning spreadsheet and my step-by-step process for planning content here >>> https://t.co/rfQI23MVLe #contentchat

— Productive Blogging (@EbGargano) April 26, 2021

A2. I keep it simple: keyword, title, due date (to hold you accountable) and that’s about it! It doesn’t have to be complicated.

Q3: How can bloggers effectively brainstorm new content ideas?

First document any seasonal or fixed-date content. Then, brainstorm content ideas that align with your team’s focus topics. Prioritize this list with a keyword research calculator to find which ideas are most likely to drive traffic to your site.

A3a: I always advise bloggers to consider seasonal/fixed date content first, then brainstorm content ideas under each of their categories, then use a keyword research calculator to identify which blog post ideas are most likely to drive most traffic. #contentchat

— Productive Blogging (@EbGargano) April 26, 2021

Use tools like Ahrefs, AnswerThePublic, BuzzSumo, Semrush, and Quora to help brainstorm new content ideas.

A3: A few ideas:

* Do a @semrush or other keyword analysis to ID gaps
* See what blog content was most shared via @BuzzSumo
* Take your top-performing blog post headlines and replace the keyword
* Reimagine a new format for your best-performing blogs #ContentChat

— Erika Heald | Founder @ErikaHeald (@SFerika) April 26, 2021

Love these, Erika! I like to put my idea in @answerthepublic too to lear what questions people are asking and create a skeletal outline for the idea. #ContentChat

— Masooma | Content Writer (@inkandcopy) April 26, 2021

A3: I also love using tools like @answerthepublic + @BuzzSumo for idea generation. #ContentChat

— Melanie Graham (@WriterGirlMel) April 26, 2021

A3. @GoogleTrends
@answerthepublic
@Quora
@semrush
@ahrefs

these are a few tools one can use for new content ideas..#ContentChat

— Amal Ghosh (@AmalGhosh3) April 26, 2021

A3. Most of my ideas start with keyword research; I have an idea and then I dig in to find topics that people are actually searching for. My go-to strategy is using the @ahrefs site explorer to see what other companies in my space are writing about/ranking for. #ContentChat

— Jessica Thiefels | Mindset + Marketing (@JThiefels) April 26, 2021

Get to know your target audience and brainstorm content topics that meet their needs. Directly ask your target community what topics they’re interested in, use social listening to identify priority topics, and gather internal stakeholders from any customer-facing teams to share insights.

A3: I love pulling together a small brainstorm group with a few key stakeholders. I also use @semrush to pull competitor reports and find out what we could be writing about, or which posts we could improve from an SEO standpoint. #contentchat

— Melanie Graham (@WriterGirlMel) April 26, 2021

By talking to the target audience and finding out what questions they’re asking

— Patrick Icasas (@PatrickIcasas) April 26, 2021

A3 So often people from the same department and similar backgrounds sit down to brainstorm. No wonder they get stuck. Get a diverse group together from across the organization. #contentchat

— Dan Goldberg (@Jonas419) April 26, 2021

Yes – this is super important! Individuals who have contact with clients or customers can be incredibly valuable in these brainstorms. They understand pain points and questions you can address in blog content. #ContentChat https://t.co/kl6OoQB2Uv

— Melanie Graham (@WriterGirlMel) April 26, 2021

Freely write ideas without judgment.

A3. 1️⃣ Use paper + pen and spill all ideas — good or bad on it.
2️⃣ Consume content online + books. Make notes on interesting things related to you niche.
3️⃣ Surf Q&A platforms to learn questions target readers are asking
4️⃣ Ask your audience. #ContentChat

— Masooma | Content Writer (@inkandcopy) April 26, 2021

our first point is the most important. When you are brainstorming don’t stop to judge the ideas b/c a silly or not at all practical idea may lead you to your next big idea. #ContentChat

— Erika Heald | Founder @ErikaHeald (@SFerika) April 26, 2021

Use the ‘Wonder-Wheel’ technique, where you write your broad topic and all possible subtopics.

A3, I use an old technique the ‘Wonder-Wheel’ technique. Write your broad topic in the middle and list all possible topics along its spikes making it like a wonder-wheel. Cover each topic as you go. #ContentChat pic.twitter.com/fJyZAxujj1

— Shruti Deshpande (@shruti12d) April 26, 2021

Brainstorm visually with a whiteboard, sticky notes, or a mind-mapping tool.

A3: brainstorm visually #contentchat

— Martha Neumeister I #SocialMediaMarketing (@mne90) April 26, 2021

Use Google’s ‘people also ask’ suggestions.

A3: I also find Google an incredible source of ideas/inspiration! Those ‘people also ask’ questions have led me down many a rabbit hole #contentchat

— Productive Blogging (@EbGargano) April 26, 2021

And actively break your routine or seek out new media sources to help spark ideas and creativity.

A3. I believe brainstorming for ideas can come from reading a book, get another perspective, watching the news. Just let the creative juice flow and it will all come together. #contentchat

— Kay (@kayyy_bk) April 26, 2021

Check out Eb’s post for more details, plus her Keyword Research Calculator.

A3b: You can read more about my process and download my Keyword Research Calculator here >>> https://t.co/IZUZ1dZHPd #contentchat

— Productive Blogging (@EbGargano) April 26, 2021

Q4: What daily practices can marketers and bloggers follow to stay productive and focused throughout their day?

To be more productive during your day, check email and social media less often (which can include scheduling time for those activities). Close any internet browser tabs that are not an immediate priority. Stick to the plan for your day, and add any new tasks to tomorrow’s to-do list.

A4a: Check email and social media less often. X out of anything you are not working on RIGHT NOW! Don’t try and multitask. Always plan your day. Stick to your plan and add things that crop up to TOMORROW’S to do list! #contentchat

— Productive Blogging (@EbGargano) April 26, 2021

Planning my day is critical to getting my writing in. I block off time on the calendar then do whatever it says to do in that time slot. #ContentChat

— Erika Heald | Founder @ErikaHeald (@SFerika) April 26, 2021

Eat the frog, which means identify your most challenging or time consuming task, or a task that you simply have been pushing off for too long, and work on it first thing in the morning.

A4.

1️⃣ Start your days with a pre-prepared to-do list so you know exactly what to do.
2️⃣ Eat the frog. Do the toughest/most unpleasant work first.
3️⃣ Minimize distractions and take regular breaks. The pomodoro method can help with this. #ContentChat

— Masooma | Content Writer (@inkandcopy) April 26, 2021

Yes, yes, yes! Eat the frog especially… it makes for a much happier and more productive day… otherwise too much energy spent stressing about the big ugly FROG – and too much procrastinating! #contentchat

— Productive Blogging (@EbGargano) April 26, 2021

I never heard of “eat the frog” until last week. It was recommended to me after some survey.

I’ve yet to read the eat the frog article, it’s been an open tab for a week now. I do need to eat the frog!

That’s been my wife’s approach to her day her whole life. #ContentChat

— Tod Cordill (@todcordill) April 26, 2021

I’m certain you’ll find it very helpful. Goes like this: identify your most challenging/time consuming task or one that you’ve been putting off, then work on it first thing in the morning. #ContentChat

— Masooma | Content Writer (@inkandcopy) April 26, 2021

In addition to eating the frog, know your best time for doing different types of tasks.

A4: One other thing I would add: Try to structure your day around your productivity levels. For example, I feel more creative in the morning and that’s when I like to get my writing in. The afternoon slump is perfect for getting those small to-dos done. #ContentChat

— Melanie Graham (@WriterGirlMel) April 26, 2021

A4: Concentrate on challenging tasks when your brain is fresh #contentchat

— Martha Neumeister I #SocialMediaMarketing (@mne90) April 26, 2021

Break large tasks into smaller steps.

Tackle a problem in smaller pieces. Sometimes a big issue can exhaust and consume you even before the day has begun. Small bits at a time helps me keep on track and make progress. #contentchat pic.twitter.com/pxbCfYeLFP

— Shruti Deshpande (@shruti12d) April 26, 2021

YES! Breaking a large, seemingly unsurmountable, project down to smaller manageable tasks is the most important take away from any engineering curriculum.

I know… we’re talking about #marketing, but the methodologies are starting to merge. #ContentChat

— Tod Cordill (@todcordill) April 26, 2021

Take daily breaks or use a morning routine to clear your mind.

A4. For me, I have a routine that I must start my day with meditation. This gives me a clear mind and I can plan my day. I decided to try meditation from watching Russel Simmons. This daily routine has done wonders for my busy brain😂. #contentchat

— Kay (@kayyy_bk) April 26, 2021

I also have found that I can reboot in the afternoon by taking the dogs for a walk or, back when it was a possibility, going to the gym. #ContentChat

— Erika Heald | Founder @ErikaHeald (@SFerika) April 26, 2021

Check out Eb’s article for more ideas.

A4b: More tips / explanations here >>> https://t.co/mLLbLF6vfi #contentchat

— Productive Blogging (@EbGargano) April 26, 2021

Q5: What productivity tips do you have to keep bloggers focused on writing, instead of getting distracted by other work or life priorities?

Write a daily to-do list, including all work and life needs. Tackle each task one at a time, and do not multitask. Silence your phone, close all unnecessary browser tabs, and turn off notifications to stay focused.

A5a: Write a DAILY to do list and number it. Include EVERYTHING (work and life) on your to do list. Then, when writing, close all other tabs, turn off notifications, set your phone to silent and focus solely on writing. Don’t try and multitask! #contentchat

— Productive Blogging (@EbGargano) April 26, 2021

Take breaks to reset, and break large tasks into smaller steps to stay motivated and more easily recognize your progress.

Fresh air and exercise does wonders! I’ve found even just a quick break to make a cup of coffee can help – especially if I can’t quite think how to word something… it usually comes straight to mind after a short break! #contentchat

— Productive Blogging (@EbGargano) April 26, 2021

⬆️ your productivity by;
👉Mind map your ideas
👉Have a consistent schedule
👉Reduce distractions – block sites that disturb, keep you phone away
👉Take a break
👉Set smaller achievable goals
The 🗝️is to keep moving forward, #ContentChat

— Shruti Deshpande (@shruti12d) April 26, 2021

When you first write, write without judgment. Focus on getting your words/ideas out, and then refine those ideas.

A5. Use the pomodoro timer (work for 25 minutes and take a 5-min break or work 90 min and take 15-min break) + free writing where you write without judgement to get a first, rough draft out on a document/paper. #ContentChat

— Masooma | Content Writer (@inkandcopy) April 26, 2021

Totally agree about free writing… I call it my ugly first draft. I am convinced writing and editing are mutually exclusive… if you try to do them both at the same time it just doesn’t work! #contentchat

— Productive Blogging (@EbGargano) April 26, 2021

And, again, silence or hide all distractions as necessary.

A5: Turn off Smartphone notifications for your social networks including WhatsApp, etc. You don’t believe how much time you are winning! #contentchat

— Martha Neumeister I #SocialMediaMarketing (@mne90) April 26, 2021

I frequently have no idea where in the house my phone is at any given time b/c I actively try to limit distractions from its notifications by keeping it charging in the living room or otherwise out of sight. #ContentChat

— Erika Heald | Founder @ErikaHeald (@SFerika) April 26, 2021

A5. Turn off all distractions, (ie Phone, TV). As previously stated, I like the idea to tackle the hardest task in the morning when your brain is fresh, I love that idea. I will try it! Last but not least, take a break, don’t overwhelm yourself. #contentchat

— Kay (@kayyy_bk) April 26, 2021

Q6: What are your go-to tools for blogging, including spelling and grammar, headline optimization, SEO, etc.?

Check out the multitude of tools for blogging that the community recommends below. Is your favorite tool missing from the list? Let us know in the comments!

A6a: My top tools are Google Trends, Google Search Console, Google Analytics and Google’s own search results for SEO. @ConvertKit is my absolute must for email marketing. Then for productivity: @CoSchedule and @TailwindApp save me HOURS every week! #contentchat

— Productive Blogging (@EbGargano) April 26, 2021

A6b: I use Word to write the first draft of my blog post – this gives me a great spelling / grammar check AND keeps writing distraction free. Reading aloud is also a great ‘tool’ for finding typos and checking readability #ContentChat

— Productive Blogging (@EbGargano) April 26, 2021

A6. @Ben_CoSchedule’s headline analyzer for, well, headlines@Grammarly and @HemingwayApp for text editing @answerthepublic for structuring blog posts and @BuzzSumo for identifying content popularity. #ContentChat

— Masooma | Content Writer (@inkandcopy) April 26, 2021

A6. Honesty, I’m new at blogging. One of the tools that I love to use is Canva. I would love to see the responses so I can learn of more tools. #contentchat

— Kay (@kayyy_bk) April 26, 2021

How could I forget to mention @Canva??? We use them for every blog post on our site—and for my @ErikaGlutenFree blog too! #ContentChat

— Erika Heald | Founder @ErikaHeald (@SFerika) April 26, 2021

Oh yeah – big fan of @Canva over here too! #contentchat

— Productive Blogging (@EbGargano) April 26, 2021

A6: I’m a big fan of @semrush for SEO work and @Grammarly + @ReadableHQ for content review. #ContentChat

— Melanie Graham (@WriterGirlMel) April 26, 2021

I haven’t heard of @ReadableHQ before. Tell me more! #ContentChat

— Erika Heald | Founder @ErikaHeald (@SFerika) April 26, 2021

Ah! It’s a must-have if you’re trying to target a specific reading level scale. We often have clients who request a particular grade level or reading level score. It’s especially critical for checking our patient-facing content. #ContentChat

— Melanie Graham (@WriterGirlMel) April 26, 2021

A6: Google Analytics, Google Drive (Google document for writing drafts), Spreadsheets for content plannings #contentchat

— Martha Neumeister I #SocialMediaMarketing (@mne90) April 26, 2021

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