How to Write Blog Posts Like General Motors Makes Cars

General Motors pushes a new car off of their assembly line once every minute, but it takes 2 months in total to make a car. How is that possible and how does that apply to writing blog posts?

To use another example, the online retailer, The Grommet, launches a new product every day, but it takes them two months to prepare for a single launch. How can both timelines be true?
A New Way of Thinking about Blogging
What if I told you that you could publish a new blog post every day by only working one day a week? Would that interest you? What if you didn’t have to do it in one day, but could stretch it out?
The reason why General Motors and The Grommet and you can do all of these things is because of the power of batching work. Instead of building one thing at a time, each sub-task is batched.
The idea is that each sub-task can be optimized by not having to get your workspace and mindset setup for working a particular task before putting it away and switching to the next part of the process.
Playing Devil’s Advocate
However, there are also studies that have showed that when a human is tasked with making something with multiple steps that in the short run it’s actually faster to finish each item instead of batching.
There are also advantages to building something to completion if time is a critical element. If you only have a short time to do something, it’s better to get 1 thing done than 1000 unfinished things done.
However, I have found that there is a difference between physically building something to completion and doing the mental work of creating a blog post due to the cost of task switching between the different steps.
How to Batch Creating Blog Posts
Writing a blog post is actually a series of several different, distinct steps:
  1. Determining what to write about – this could include browsing BuzzSumo, news sites, or Google Trends to see what people are interested in; it could also include asking customer support or the social media marketing team for what questions they’ve been getting or seeing online lately
  2. Researching a topic – once you’ve determined what to write about, it’s time to research the topic to see what sort of angle you can bring to the story. You want to add value to the conversation. One way to do that is to find an answer to a problem someone has (where our product is the answer).
  3. Writing the first draft – this process could involve two steps of writing an outline and then going back and filling it in or you could write it all down as fast as possible. The goal of this step is not to write a finished draft, but only to write as much as possible and as quickly as possible.
  4. Editing the first draft – after you’ve given yourself some time, come back and (or have someone else) review your work. Don’t be afraid to delete things you’ve written. Your words are not your babies. Some writers even go so far as to delete their entire first paragraph. Edit for grammar.
  5. Editing the second draft – after some time has passed, go back through and edit for readability and SEO. Make sure it flows in the right order, has the right sub-headers, and has the right amount of keywords and internal and external links, and also make sure it has a call to action.
  6. Finding images to use – I add this as a distinct step because it’s a different mindset and skill to find an image for use with a blog. There are different ways to do this from searching Dropbox, to asking the Marketing department, to taking a photo yourself, to making an image, to stock photos.
  7. Publish the blog post – when a blog post is published, there are several things to consider such as what the title of the blog post is, what URL is used, what the description of the blog post is, what thumbnail is used, what tags are applied, and when the blog post will be published.
  8. Promoting the blog post – this step could be as little as handing off the URL of the new blog post to the social media marketing department or it could be doing the posting yourself to Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. You could also make a custom graphic of the post for Instagram.
  9. Repurposing the blog post – [optional] once you have the blog post created, then you can record yourself with some b-roll cut in reading the blog post in your webcam. The resulting video could then be uploaded to YouTube. In this way each blog post could also become a video.
  10. Aggregating the blog post – [optional] once you have a series of blog posts, they can be combined into an ebook and sold on Amazon or used as a giveaway to attract new email subscribers or as a free gift in an email newsletter.
If you did all of these steps in one day, you would likely be worn out from all of the task switching. But if you could spend one day doing step 1 and found 20 things to write about, that would be one month’s worth of blog posts. On day 2 you would spend all day doing step 2 for all 20 blog posts. By the end of the second week you’d have 20 blog posts published one month in advance and scheduled on social media.

 

How to Get Started as a Freelance Marketer

Recently I got asked how to start freelancing doing marketing with a focus on social media, email marketing, and blogger outreach:

Hey Erich! So I’m trying to venture out on my own with freelance marketing specially focusing on social media, email marketing and blogger outreach. Joy mentioned you might be able to give me some tips on how you got your clients so I thought I would ask!!

Yeah, I agree with Joy. That’s a great idea. When I first started all I had was a website and that worked for a while, but that’s not enough anymore. You’ll have to be much more direct.

I’d recommend identifying the type of customer you’d like to work for, something very specific you can do for them, and then be laser-focused on contacting them.

For example, let’s say you wanted to sell your services to a business owner you know. You ask around, search the Internet, and you find their email address. Then you upload it to Facebook as a custom audience and make an ad that only appears on their Facebook feed.

Another approach is to start to tell people stories about how you solved a problem and that you’re looking for other people to help in the same way. Use these stories on your website and in conversations with people you meet.

That brings us to the third leg: networking. Find out where your customers meet outside of work and go there. Get involved. Tell your story. Offer value upfront. Give your best ideas away for free. If you have enough ideas, write a book down (10-40k words is enough) and have it printed at createspace.com. Now you’re an expert. You wrote a book on the subject.

Host a live teaching event and charge people to show up. This is not to make money, but to show that your time is valuable and to filter out people who don’t have money.

Lastly, there are lists where you can sign up to bid on marketing jobs such as thumbtack.com. Hope that helps.

If you liked this post you might also like, How to Learn to Become a Blogger.

5 Ways to Get Your Staff to Blog

You’re not the only one with a blogging problem. Here’s how I’m overcoming the problem in the organizations I serve:

1. Separation of duties: keep the writing, editing, picture creation or capture, posting, and promotion processes separate. Even if they are all done by the same person, you’ll get better results if they are all done as separate tasks.

2. Internal interviewing: get staff members to interview other members about the topic and include the best excerpts as quotes in the blog post. This has a secondary effect of getting everyone more invested in the process.

3. Schedule time for blogs: when leadership allows staff to block off time for blogging activities, the results are two-fold. It allows dedicated time to achieve the stated result and let’s the team know that management is aligned with the outcome.

4. Measure the metrics: publicly record and distribute to the team the metrics you want to improve. For example, if you want more blog posts, track “# of blog posts per month”. Replace the metric with whatever element you want to improve.

5. Make it interesting: attribute goals and rewards for stretch goals based on blogging metrics. For example, if “# of blog posts per month” exceeds the stated goal, the team gets to go out for lunch together ‘on the office’ as a fun gift.

Need more tips on blogging for business? Need some help writing blog posts for your business? Email me.