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How to Start a Blog When You Don't Have the Time

Detail of Girl’s Hands typing on MacBook via Picjumbo

It takes resolve to commit to blogging as an entrepreneur, and even more resolve to maintain it as a habit. There can be so many other competing priorities and the benefits of blogging often aren't realized short term. It's a long term strategy not just for your company but also for you personally.

It's taken me a while to get my wheels going. I did this out of order and wasted a lot of time. If I could go back, this is the way I should have done it.

If you have the resolve, here are the steps to take so you can cash in on your motivation and get your blog up:

1. Take a weekend and write 5 blog posts less than 500 words

The time constraints will help you. It's a sprint. These articles or stories should be written from experience and on topics you know, problems you are solving, thoughts on your industry, insights on your workflows and systems. Timeless pieces that don't need to be released tomorrow to be relevant. You can reference articles if you've read them recently and they are top of mind, but don't do research. Use a free write program like Drafts for iPad or Draft on your computer or Evernote. Write and don't edit. Make them two separate steps. Find a single 1000+ pixel wide cover photo for each post using Flickr Creative Commons that requires attribution only, and attribute it. Remember that one post should be your launch post where you commit publicly to writing. Go on Svbtle and Medium to find inspiration If you need it. Here's mine and two of those ones that inspired me, from Heidi Roizen and Stef Lewandowski.

2. Send the posts to your personal editor(s)

It can be a relative, friend, coworker or an entrepreneur, advisor or investor you have a close relationship with. Use Draft, a google doc, or enable track changes on a word document so you can see edits they make in addition to comments they have. You should have at least one set of eyes on every post, but not more than 2 or 3. I'm lucky my wife has a Master's in Journalism.

3. Choose your platform but don't dwell on the decision

Only after you have content should you pick a platform for distributing your content. Choose Medium, Ghost, Tumblr, Silvrback, Quora, LinkedIn, or Wordpress.com. If you want, register your name as a .com or abbreviation of your name as a .co. Use domai.nr or iwantmyname.com. Don't get any add-ons except private registration. You do not need the .org and .net.

4. Decide your posting frequency and schedule your posts to go live

Once a week or twice a week is enough to start. Don't push yourself too hard. That's how so many habits and resolutions fail: they ramp from 0 to 100mph which isn't sustainable. Posting at this rate with your five articles gives you 2-5 weeks to write your next posts. Download an editorial calendar from hubspot if you need one.

5. Share each link after it is posted

Send it by email to a short list of your friends and colleagues. Include the link and the full post in the body of the email and make sure they know to email you if they want to opt out of receiving them in the future. Make it easy for them to clicktotweet. Use boomerang if you are in gmail and want to schedule this email at a certain time. Post the link to Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook using buffer or hootsuite. Don't expect tons of shares or comments or responses. It takes time and promotion shouldn't be your priority, creating great work and great writing should.

6. Schedule time on your calendar for writing

Before it becomes a habit, treat writing time as if it is a meeting. Put it on your calendar. Eventually pick a regular frequency for these writing blocks. If you are ambitious and want to write everyday, start with 20 minutes, not an hour. You're trying to build a sustainable habit.

7. Take another weekend and brainstorm 50 more post ideas

They can be raw ideas, or possible headline titles. If you're having trouble, then first identify a few themes around which you could write and go from there. Head back to Medium and Svbtle for models (imitation is flattery), or try copyblogger.

8. Develop guest blogging goals

Pick a few smaller publications where you won't have to have your piece sit in a long queue waiting to be read. See if any of the post ideas you created would resonate with their target audience and make sure you know the submission guidelines. Most will be available publicly. Then identify a few reach publications that you can only contribute if you've pre-established your credibility (as a startup founder some of that comes without having written anything at all). I want to contribute to Inc.com, Forbes, Read Write Web, and Clarity.fm.

9. Have a backup plan

Many people that start blogs find it impossible to maintain. If that's you, that's okay. Have a backup plan. Find a column to write for peiodically instead of starting a blog, or just write an occasional post on Medium. Let it house your "portfolio" of stories until you are able to sustain the commitment to writing.