This is an abstract from my book How to Start a Blog
I am an engineer and I believe in systems. Humans are weak. Systems are strong. Humans with a system are on a good track.
If only we could have a system for our blog, everything would be simpler.
Turns out that we can definitely have a system, and in this section, I’m going to explain the system I use.
It might not be the perfect system for you, and I won’t pretend it’s a system that works in 100% of the cases. But it’s a starting point, and by tweaking it you can create your own perfect system.
A system makes you consistent.
Consistency is key
Why is consistency so important?
Because consistency is deeply entrenched in our lizard brains.
You are the one that makes one blog post every Tuesday. You’re not the one that tries to write a blog post consistently each week. You’re the one that just does.
It’s not me, Flavio, saying so.
Let me share something from Robert Cialdini, author of the amazing book Influence:
Once we have made a choice […] we will encounter personal and interpersonal pressures to behave consistently with that behavior. Once you have a series of 5, 10, 20 weeks of posting, you automatically become the one that posts every week. Or twice a week, or whatever schedule you chose.
That’s the key to the system: consistency.
Have you ever heard of Rand Fishkin’s Whiteboard Friday? That was a great video series about SEO that came out every Friday. Do you know about FunFunFunction? MPJ releases one video every Monday. Every one of his fans knows and waits for his “good Monday morning” every week.
I’m sure you know YouTubers that post on a pre-determined day. Like Saturday or Tuesday.
Everyone can find the time to create a blog post every week. But not everyone is willing to put in the work to create something every week. Will you?
Schedule posts ahead of time
As we just discussed, the single best thing you can do with your blog is stay consistent.
But staying consistent is hard.
One of the easiest ways to become inconsistent is to miss a day because you were sick, or because you went to a party, or because you took a vacation.
When you miss a day, and you forgive yourself for this, you will miss other days.
That’s what I would do. If I let one day slip by without a post, well… nothing bad happens and I have a track record of missing one post.
Before I realize it, I am sure I will miss other posts, too. Just because I was too lazy one day, I ruined the consistency of my blog and now it’s impossible to get that perfect streak of posts back.
How do you prevent that? By scheduling posts ahead of time.
Before you start publishing your blog, before unveiling it to the world and announcing it everyone, write 3 posts as we discussed before, and start building up your queue.
Have a queue
When I first started my blog, I discovered the notion of creating a queue by accident.
I happened to work on another project of mine, one that didn’t take off as I expected it to.
This project involved creating some long guides, about topics I cared about.
So when I decided to shut down the project, I thought that it was a shame to abandon those long guides to their unknown fate.
So I cut each chapter into several blog posts, and I got about 15-20 of them.
I could have published them all on that day, but I randomly decided to queue them up. One today, one tomorrow, and so on.
A couple of days after that, I had an idea for a new post. I was a blogger now, right? And I queued it after all those posts.
The queue has never dried up since then, over 700 days ago. Some days I reached the end of the queue and I had to fill it up again from zero, but I never missed a day.
I just attribute this result to the system – the queue I’ve built up, and the shame that would result from having written all those posts in the past and then stopping.
I could not stop.
Pick a schedule frequency you can sustain over the long run
One key part of this scheduling and queuing system is frequency.
How frequently should you post?
My recommendation is to post with a frequency you can maintain over time, consistently.
Start with one day per week. Create a queue, as I suggested, and see if you can maintain this frequency over 2-3 months. Once you start having a queue that’s too long, say a blog post you write today will be published 3 months from now, then you can start increasing the frequency.
It’s always best to scale up the frequency than to post less frequently because you can’t sustain the frequency you initially set.
The reason I focus a lot on consistency and frequency is that people get used to it and they learn to expect a post from you, and they look for it.
If you start missing posts and not sharing information as frequently, then people don’t know when to expect a new post from you, and they feel lost and disconnected.
This happens with everything. I notice it with videos.
If you watch YouTube videos frequently, what do you think when a YouTuber that posts every day, and you watch every day, suddenly stops posting for a week?
I subscribe to a YouTuber that posts every Saturday, and every Saturday, unless I am out doing something, I’m there, at noon, watching his video.
If you know beforehand that you have 3 hours a week to dedicate to blogging, don’t force yourself to create too many posts.
Do one post a week, but do it well. Don’t create many posts that are irrelevant or low quality, create one that you can be proud of.
Quality is perceived, and people will associate your worth with the quality of your work.
Be known for creating high quality and helpful content.
Focus on the process, not the outcome
One recommendation I have to be productive is to focus on the process.
I am focused on creating the blog post.
I am focused on creating ebooks.
I am not focused on how many people will read the blog post, or if they will like it.
That’s not something I have control over. The best thing I can do is focus on my work and make sure it is the best work I can perform today.
Keep the process lean
When thinking about my process, I like to simplify it.
I want to remove all the friction I can remove.
It all needs to be simple, fast, streamlined.
I don’t want roadblocks.
I try my best to remove all the resistance and all that powers resistance.
There should be nothing between me and writing a great blog post.
Keep a list of topics
I don’t always have the time to write about something.
Sometimes I have an idea for a topic, and I write down the title of the article in my favorite writing application.
When it’s time to write a new blog post, and I don’t have an idea ready, I go through the list of titles and find one that is appealing to me in that specific moment.
Capitalize high energy days
Some days I have really high energy for writing blog posts. Some days I have very little, if any, energy.
On those days when I have the fire, I can write a few blog posts in a row and code the rest of the day (as that’s my job). I have fuel for everything.
I capitalize on those days. I sit there and I might write 5 posts, and put them in the queue.
The days I have low energy I am thankful for those high energy days and I am thankful that I did everything I could to get the most out of them.