Just like doubling a chocolate chip cookie recipe tends to make my family even happier, I have found that “batching” blog content makes the process and result better. In fact, batching can be a key element to producing high quality, relevant content you can deliver consistently on your small business website blog. If you’re trying to produce content for your blog on a post-by-post basis, you probably feel like you’re never going to get ahead and that feeling might keep you from even trying to produce content for your blog in the first place.
Batching will help you to create content more efficiently and I believe effectively. And it’s not just for your blog content. You can batch produce just about any kind of content you need for your small business from text content to images, even podcast episodes.
Schedule Your Content Batching Sessions
Content creation (at least at the beginning) can be daunting. It takes a lot of time and can be frustrating until you get the hang of it. Being intentional about setting time in your schedule to batch your content can be the difference between it getting done and it getting pushed to the side.
You need to commit to a time when you will batch your content. Whether that’s weekly, monthly, quarterly or even annually. Once you’ve committed to the time for your batching session you have to guard it.
I guarantee lots and lots of other tasks could be accomplished in the time you set aside for batching content. However, creating content for your small business (especially for your blog) can have real longterm positive effects. But if you don’t make the time to do it, you’ll never reap the reward.
Start with a Content Batching Plan
If you want your batching sessions to be successful, you have to go into them with a plan. Just like you develop a blogging strategy for your small business, you’ll need a strategy for batching that blog content.
You’ll waste time at the beginning of your batching session if you have to determine what type of content it is you’ll be creating. Instead you want to hit the ground running and prior to your batching session allow your mind to start working through the elements of your content before you ever sit down to actually produce it.
Grab a notebook (or create a new Google Doc) and make a list of of the content (blog posts) you will create.
You can make a simple list of ideas or take the time to flesh out each big idea with sub-ideas. The sub-ideas will become your sub-headings as you write.
Create in Themes in Your Blog Content
Batching your content by theme is a great way to be more intentional and focused when creating content. You should have already identified your content themes when you created your batch plan and now you’ll want to produce your content in those themes.
Instead of bouncing back-and-forth between writing recipe posts and ranch life posts, focus on batching all your recipe posts before you move on to a different theme.
Don’t forget to be creating content that fits into your Cornerstone Content areas. Batching is most effective when you’re creating content that is directly tied to the purpose of your website/blog. Batching your secondary content (whatever that might be) is a great goal to aspire to, but I recommend starting with your primary content first.
Get in the Batching Content “Zone”
Finding your “zone” for maximizing content production might sound silly… but it’s a real thing, and it’s worth taking the time to identify it!
Start with your “warm-up routine.” What do you do (what can you do) to get yourself warmed up for batching your content? Do you start by making a pot of coffee? Putting on a certain type of music? Going for a walk in the fresh air?
I’ve found that for me, I like warming up by listening to a business podcast or audio book. I’m always careful not to copy the work of other entrepreneurs… inspiration is awesome, duplication is not. But I find that listening to other entrepreneurs share ideas and strategies about any business topic, really helps to get my brain in gear and results in a smoother transition into content creation.
When it’s actually time to create written content, I’ve found silence is key to my “zone.” Just the sound of my fingers tapping on the keys and my dog Charlie snoring in the background works best for me. I could do without the dog snoring, but it’s essentially white noise I filter out. What doesn’t work for me is music or the TV being on in the background… but that might be exactly what you need to get into “your zone.”
Some people find the energy of a coffee shop to be just what they need to focus in on the task at hand. Others enjoy working on their back porch or stopping in at the local library to hunker down and batch their content.
Take Time Away to Batch, if You Can
The other thing I find really helpful when I want to do a super batching session is to get away for a day or two. My family has a cabin in the woods and it is by far my greatest “super batching zone.” It’s quiet there; just the sounds of the creek running, the wind in the pine trees and of course Charlie snoring at my feet.
Other friends of mine like to check into a hotel room to create their ideal “super batching zone.” I know that getting away isn’t possible for everyone. So if that’s not realistic for you, that’s okay. It’s not so much about the place as it is about creating (as much as possible) the environment that works best for you to batch your content. If you can reproduce that environment every time (or almost every time) you batch content, you’ll find that your “zone” really becomes a key element to your content creation process.
Minimize Distractions to Improve Focus
No matter where or how you work, if you find you’re easily distracted when creating content, there are multiple things you can do to minimize the distractions that pop up and improve your focus. I like to write my content in Google Docs offline. By turning off wifi on my laptop I can ensure that I won’t receive any notifications including those oh-so-enticing email dings while I’m creating content. Another benefit of turning off wifi is that I don’t spend any time getting distracted by Google searches when I’m creating content.
I’ve created a simple five color system I use to highlight text in my offline document that requires online attention once I’ve finished writing and editing my document.
Red = Find the answer online and plug it in (works great for quotes and attributes)
Blue = Internal Link
Green = Outbound Hyperlink
Orange = Pertains to paid course, remove from blog post chunk
Yellow = Add an attachment/download
By highlighting the text as I’m writing, I don’t have to worry that I’ll forget to include a link, or remove a piece of content that only pertains to a paid course but not to a blog post. I’ve saved my color key in my Evernote app so I can refer back to it when needed. Now I don’t need to refer back to it, because it’s a regular part of my process, but when I first created it, I had to check it multiple times!
I also like the “back up” benefits of creating my content in Google Docs and then transferring it to the intended platform like WordPress (blog) or Kajabi (courses).
Go Analog and Write It By Hand
If distraction is really a problem for you, or you’re not as comfortable with typing on a computer, I recommend going analog and starting on paper first.
I also often start my batch planning and even my actual content creation by setting the digital aside and handwriting my content. I don’t do it for every piece of content as it is not nearly as time efficient. But it’s a great way for me to really get my brain engaged in the activity of content creation. I find it much easier to flesh out ideas on a page in a notebook than the more formal action of writing in a word processor or online platform.
Keep a Blog Content Notebook for Quick Fleeting Thoughts
I don’t know about you, but sometimes I feel like I have so many thoughts and ideas zipping through my head that if I don’t write them down I’ll lose them. I like to use the Evernote app for keeping ideas digitally, but not during batching sessions. Since the best way to maintain your focus is to minimize distraction, grabbing your phone to type in those ideas whizzing by won’t help.
That’s why I like to keep a physical notebook handy during batching sessions so I can write down thoughts when my brain is working in hyperdrive. This strategy will help to keep you on track as you work and give you a bank of ideas to come back to when it’s time to batch plan for your next session.
Focus on Writing Content First and Creating Assets Later
One of the easy places to get overwhelmed when creating content whether it’s for a blog, social media or some other medium, is that in most cases you don’t have to just create the content… you have to create (or gather) the assets too. [Assets include photos, videos and graphics]
My advice is to start by focusing on your content first and creating or gathering your assets later. For your blog, this means writing out your content first and only after you’ve finished writing and editing your text content (for every post in your batch) do you move on to the assets you plan to include.
By using this method you’ll be able to focus on writing and then be able to also batch asset creation and gathering.
Here’s an example of the difference between focusing on content first and assets later:
Catie writes a blog post and decides she wants to include images of her new farrowing barn and recent litter of piglets in her post. She stops writing her post to go grab some photos thinking it will be nice to get some fresh air on her walk to the barn. When she comes back to her computer she edits the photos on her phone and airdrops them to her laptop. She realizes she forgot to take a photo of the heat lamp she mentioned in her post. So she heads back to the barn to quickly grab that shot. As she comes back in the house to finish her post she realizes it’s now 5 o’clock and her “batching time” is over and she hasn’t even had a chance to complete her first post… and her family is wondering what’s for dinner.
Callie schedules time to batch her blog content. She writes four blog posts that fall into her Cornerstone Content category of “Ranch Life.” After she writes her posts she edits them for clarity, spelling and grammar. She looks at the clock and realizes she has time left on her “batching plan.” Then she heads out to take photos for ALL FOUR blog posts.
She can edit the photos faster (and more consistently) because she can do them all at once. After a quick edit Callie drops the photos into her blog posts and schedules them to autopost every Thursday for the next four weeks.
So these two examples might be a little oversimplified, but they do illustrate how batching both the text content and the asset creation can make a big difference.
Don’t Forget to Edit. Twice.
There’s nothing more frustrating than creating content only to find mistakes in it later. Okay, maybe there are more frustrating things, but for me when it comes to content creation specifically, it’s right up there.
I’ve found that despite my degree in journalism, I still sometimes forget to edit my content. TWICE. It’s particularly irksome when I send an email blast with a typo in it. That one can’t be changed. Luckily with blog content, you can go back and make edits…but it’s better to get it right the first time.
That’s why I like to recommend that you edit your content as you write, and then edit it a second time before you hit publish.
Sometimes it’s helpful to even take a break and walk away for a few minutes before you come back to edit what you’ve written. Fresh eyes help you find those mistakes your brain keeps autocorrecting without you realizing it.
Don’t Just Batch, Chunk
You might think I’m talking about chocolate chip cookies again, but I’m not. In addition to batching out your content so you can produce it more efficiently in focused blocks of time, you can also “chunk” your content out by repurposing it for different platforms.
For example, this lesson was created during one of my super batching sessions at our family cabin. I wrote it specifically for the my year long website course, Site Club. But I will “chunk” elements of this lesson out into smaller blog posts (always at least 300 words in length) for my blog.
When you go into your batching session with the longterm plan of chunking content, it allows you to more effectively produce your content the first time. It also makes your batching time that much more valuable, because you won’t just be using the content you’ve created once. You’ll be using it multiple times! Chunking is a way to really start to gain traction in the content creation game.
And if you’re worried about repeating yourself, don’t be! There is nothing wrong with reusing and repurposing your content. In fact, your audience (any audience) almost ALWAYS needs to hear what you have to say more than once.
Track Your Content Creation Time
Keeping track of how long it takes you to prep for your batch sessions and how long it takes you to actually create your content can be a helpful source of data later. It will help you to plan future batching sessions and estimate how long it will take you to create your content. It’s also a good tool for challenging yourself to get better and faster.
My favorite time tracking tool is called Toggl. It’s actually one of my favorite digital tools and I use it every day to track every task I complete in and for my small business. Need more more productivity resources and suggestions? Check out this post on task stacking.
Don’t Overdo It
If you’re like me, it can be really tempting to push yourself into the “overdoing it” zone. I’ve found that my ideal batching session is no more than four hours. After four hours my brain is tired, my eyes are starting to sting and I find myself mentally and physically losing power.
There is something called the diminishing law of return that states that at a certain point the results of your efforts no longer outweigh the effort itself. When we pass the diminishing law of return we start to sacrifice quality for increased output. And quality matters.
So even if you decide to block out time for a super batching session and head to a hotel or stay at that Air BnB you’ve always wanted to try, remember to take breaks in between your sessions. Remember to rest your eyes and your brain. When you batch content with a fresh set of eyes and a full cup of enthusiasm, you’ll like your results better.
Batching Your Blog Content
May 16, 2022