I (also) started a Daily Blog in five steps
I hesitated a lot before I started my daily writing. Had a lot of questions in my head, all the way from being proficient at writing, being able to dedicate enough time to it, to choosing the right platform to write on. Here are some of the things that I learned throughout these three months and that I would advice anybody wanting to write daily to consider:
Choose the right platform
Different platforms give you different benefits and reach different audiences. Choosing the right one for you can save you a lot of work and heartache later on. I am not going to claim that I have the best setup, but I decided to publish in three different platforms simultaneously. Here are my choices:
Wordpress. Wordpress is the platform that drives my business website, so I am already bought into it. Wordpress can also be customized to do all kinds of cool stuff. To me, it made sense to use Wordpress as my primary publication method, for several reasons: 1.- the content in Wordpress belongs to me and nobody else, I don't have to worry of being locked out and losing access to all my work. 2.- It is my website, so people can then also look at my services, my contact information, etc. 3.- It can be customized to drive other services, like Medium for example. Now, for exposure, it cannot be worse because nobody "hangs around" there.
LinkedIn. I have been a LinkedIn user since very long ago, and I have thousands of connections there. I wanted to leverage those connections because what I was planning to write about also fit that audience. In addition, the Newsletter feature on LinkedIn makes it super-easy for anyone to subscribe, reason why your readership can grow fairly quickly.
Medium. Besides the two above, I recognize that both Medium and Substack have influenced blogging in an important way, and I wanted to be a part of that. In addition, these two platforms are the only ones that I know of that offer a monetization plan built-in. At the end, I decided for Medium, after I read somewhere that it is supposed to work better for new authors that don't have an existing followership that they can just port over.
Automate as much as possible
You want to concentrate on the writing, Right? Well, then you need to minimize anything else, and unless you have your own personal assistant, automating is the way.
As I already mentioned, personally, I drive everything from Wordpress, and through some automation plugins, I author once, and publish three times. In addition to this, I installed a Grammar checker on my computer, and the Wordpress app on my phone, which allows me to feed Wordpress from anywhere.
Set a goal, early on
Be purposeful. First, What's the purpose for your writing? Do you just want to "express yourself", is it because you want to make the case for something?, or are you trying to create connections to engage offline?
Identify your audience. Who are you writing for? What types of things does your audience read? How can you reach them? Where do they hang out?
You may not have everything 100% clear, but both of these decisions will affect highly what you write about and on which platform.
Set a horizon. I knew that at some point, I would face the question: “When do you pull the plug?”. I never meant literally when, I really meant What would be the thing that would tell me that it is not worth continuing? I knew this question would come up, because it comes up with every project.
I consider this very question to be in the battlefield between strategy and execution, or more simply, between the plan and reality. When you succeed, it is often easier but, How do you know if your plan was failed? Or, is it just that you didn’t put enough effort into it? Or maybe something unexpected happened that affected the outcome?
Answering any of these questions and making a decision in the heat of the moment, with all the emotions setting in, is probably not the best idea, especially if you have invested quite some time and emotional effort into the project.
Create a workflow that works for you
To be honest, a few months ago, writing something everyday looked to me like an unattainable feat. So I find a solution: I don’t.
What I do, is that I PUBLISH something every day. This allows me to chunk my work in batches, specifically in three fundamental areas, each of them using a particular set of skills:
This is the process through which I come up with new topics to write about. It is definitely a more creative and “big thinking” process. Some of you may call it “Inspiration”. I just call it a damn good system for remembering ideas. We all have tons of ideas, but it is not easy to remember everything that we come up with in one day, so when something good hits me, I have created the discipline of writing it down. I do this through either WordPress’ mobile app, by creating a new draft post, or I just send an email to myself, from where I can later create a post.
This can be as simple as a title, a phrase, or sometimes a bit longer explanation of what I am intending to say.
Not everyday are the same, sometimes I can have three or four ideas in a few minutes, sometimes they come harder. When this happens, I resort to trying to focus the mind around the topics I have long selected (my daily publication's name, PPILL, stands for Purpose, Process, Innovation, Leverage, and Leadership). This usually helps quite a bit. All these ideas end up in my WordPress blog, classified under a particular category that I can later pull up, which brings me to the next step.
In this phase, I use the skills and mindset that we usually associate with a writer, the person who sits in front of a keyboard and intentionally writes. I regularly sit down, and go through the topics I have saved through the ideation process, and I flesh them out. I write out the details of what I am trying to say, look for quotes if necessary, etc. Sometimes I start with a structure in mind, sometimes it develops naturally.
There is a lot of editing going on in this phase, moving paragraphs around so that they make more sense.
Once a post has gone through these process, they are flagged in a different way, so I can come back to them in the next phase.
I normally do this only once a week. It is quite some mechanical work, but I have experienced that I can move through this quite fast. Here, I put on my marketing and critical hats. Each post created in the previous phase gets cleaned, checked for grammar errors and typos, formatted, and then the “metadata” gets fixed as well. Most posts get a new title, they are re-classified in a different category, they are given an introductory paragraph, hashtags and an image. Finally the post gets scheduled to go public sometime in the future.
This process -together with a quite robust system for publishing- has helped me not only to banish to oblivion any trace of "writer's block", to be consistent in my writing, and to produce more content than I have ever imagined I would, but also to spend less time in the process.
Be ready to be perplexed
Once you start, things may not exactly go as you planned. Don't be shocked if you have to do away with any of your assumptions. Everything that you prepare for, everything that you intentionally build, may actually not prove true, or will be taken in a different direction by your audience. So stay the course, but be ready to recognize where you were wrong and be flexible enough to shift your strategy.
I hope these tips help in any way and if the content I produce is of your liking, please follow!