One “Unsexy” Word That Improves Your Blogging Productivity

unsexy blogging productivity tipIn blogging (and in online businesses in general) there are certain tasks that you have to take care of repeatedly. Although these tasks can be easy to handle, they are still stealing your time from something more valuable.

Especially if you are doing these repetitive tasks differently every time, you’ll find yourself wasting your energy for nothing. If this is the case, let me introduce you to an “unsexy” word, which will most likely help you take control of the situation: A policy.

According to Wikipedia, a policy is: ”a principle or protocol to guide decisions and achieve rational outcomes. A policy is a statement of intent, and is implemented as a procedure or protocol.

I can already hear you shouting “what?” aloud and I can’t blame you. Especially if you are wondering what this has to do with your blog or your online business, you may be even more confused.

But fear not: I’m going to share some practical examples how to make sense of policies, and how they can be used in your everyday blogging, so that you get a better control over those repeating tasks.

Why policies?

So what are the exact benefits of policies and why should you bother learning more about them? With my experience so far, I have realized the following:

  • Clear expectations between me and my readers
  • A standard way of doing repeating things
  • I’m in control of my blog
  • Better accountability
  • Good basis for outsourcing tasks

If we break down the list to pieces, here is what I mean with each one of the benefits:

  • Clear expectations between me and my readers

When clear expectations are set there shouldn’t be any confusion between you and your readers on how something is done.

For instance, if I define a clear guest posting policy on my page and redirect people to that page before they are about to contact me, they are aware about the way I handle all the submissions.

Once the policies are in place and people are aware of them, saying “no” to a request is much easier.

  • A standard way of doing repetitive things

When you define a standard way of handling repetitive things, you are not trying to reinvent the wheel every time. This in turn helps you spend less time on these repetitive tasks.

  • You are in control of things

As soon as you have a standard way of doing the recurring tasks, you’ll start to remember the right execution order of them – almost in your sleep. :) Really, executing these tasks becomes much easier, since you know what you should do first, what comes after that and so on.

This in turn gives you the feeling of being in control over things and you are not wasting time on wondering what to do next.

  • Better accountability

When I have defined my policies and announced them publicly, the pressure is on me to get stuff done. Without this kind of pressure, there is always a higher risk for procrastination.

  • Good basis for outsourcing tasks

Finally, if you put the time of defining and documenting a standard way of dealing with these repetitive tasks, they are much easier to outsource in the future.

Writing these steps down and creating specific checklists is not a fun thing to do. Yet, once you do them, you have done the hardest part of this work and these particular tasks are easier to get out of your task list at some point.

benefits

Being accountable to you

In everyday blogging, I’m using these very policies that help me control my time and make me more productive.

Please note that this list is not complete and you can find various repetitive things of your own that can benefit from policies.

There is also another noticeable thing in this list: some of these policies I have only kept to myself, so I’m practicing the importance of being accountable. In other words, not only do I declare how I do something, but I also do them the way I describe them.

1. Blog commenting

I check my comments every day – twice a day – and I make sure to reply to them before I shut down my computer in the evening. This way the visitor can expect to get an answer to his/her comments soon enough.

2. Replying to feedback

I make sure to reply to all the personal messages that I have received in my inbox within 48 hours.

3. Guest posting

I try to reply to all guest post submissions within 72 hours. This means that I give a reply whether I approve the submission or not.

If I’m on a fence (whether I should accept a submission or not) and I’m not quite convinced of the pitch, I’ll redirect the user to my guest post policy page.

4. Product reviews

Every now and then I get opportunities to review a product for free. However, since I like to test out things (before recommending anything), I’ll make sure the person who sends the request understands this first.

I might also have scenarios when it’s just impossible to do any testing. For instance, I’m now finishing my book project so reviewing other products is pretty much out of the question.

If this is the case, I also let the requestor know that I’m busy right now and can’t do anything for him/her for now.

5. Blog content policy

I update this blog with a following schedule:

  • A full-length blog post on a bi-weekly basis, on Tuesdays
  • Creating an additional bonus download for each one of the posts I publish (these can be downloaded through PSD+ – join my e-mail list to get instant access!)
  • A link roundup post on every second Thursday of the month
  • A podcast show once a month (starting again in January 2014)

Once people know the schedule I’m following, they can expect new content from me certain times of the month/week.

6. Email list content policy

I’m also creating exclusive content for anyone who subscribes to my e-mail list. I’ll update my list as follows:

  • Weekly productivity tip on every Friday
  • Monthly productivity wrap-up (+ the productivity lessons I have learned) on every third Friday of the month
  • Replying to personal e-mail messages from my subscribers – within 24 hours

7. Social media policy

I’m not spending too much my time on social media, but my way to handle it goes like this:

  • Maximum of 20 minutes on a daily basis
  • I’ll reply to messages and tweets that are addressed to me/mention my name
  • I’ll retweet valuable stuff by others (either directly on Hootsuite or through blog posts on other blogs)

Right now I have these seven policies that I follow, but naturally I’ll come up with new ones if the situation requires so.

Staying committed

Creating a policy is a start, but there are two really important things that you have to remember:

  • You have to follow your own policies
  • You have to keep them up-to-date

In the first case, if you are unable to follow your own rules (that you have publicly declared to your audience), you are going to have issues with people trusting your word.

It’s useless to define rules, make people trust them, and then let them down because you weren’t able to keep your promises. When you create a policy to follow, it’s your job to follow it as well.

Secondly, once you have created the rules you have to keep them up-to-date. Once again I’m returning back to my guest posting policy, which has changed over time.

Certain sets of guidelines were OK at a certain moment, but as the time went by and I started to get submissions that I didn’t like, I updated the policy again to reflect my current standards.

Once you really commit to these two principles, procedures can make your more effective and increase the trust towards you.

Hitting two birds with one stone

Once you have created your policies, you should take them further by creating a checklist based on them (if possible). With a checklist it’s so much easier to see if a certain condition is met.

birds

A checklist is nothing more than a list of items that’s related to your policy. These items can be in question format, so that the possible answers are either a “yes” or “no“.

If one of the checks fails with a “no” answer, that item can be can be reviewed further until the answer becomes “yes”.

A checklist can also terminate the whole process altogether – even if one of the items on the list fails.

Here are three examples of checklists and how the previous validation rules can be used with them:

  • Guest post policy (even if one item is answered “no”, a post is rejected)

Is the length over 1000 words?

  • Blog post publishing policy (one item answered “no” doesn’t necessarily terminate the process. Instead, it requires further attention from your part.)

Does the post title contain a keyword?

  • Product promotion policy (one item which can terminate the whole process)

Does this product benefit my audience?

Validating a certain policy point with a checklist makes your work faster, but what is this second bird that gets hit with a stone?

Well, it’s obvious that a checklist like this can be given out to your virtual assistant (VA), who can run the check instead. Once you do this, you have one task less to do and you can spend your time elsewhere in your blog (or on your online business).

Conclusion

Policy might not be the first word you think about when talking about improving your blogging and online business productivity. In fact, the word sounds very bureaucratic and many people probably avoid it because of this.

Yet, it’s a powerful way of defining the (public) rules you operate by. And once you declare something publicly you’ll most likely stick to your rules. This in turn increases your audience’s trust towards you.

Want something extra?

Join my e-mail list and get access to PSD+ (Productive Superdad+), a special resource for my readers. This resource gives you something extra in the form of PDFs, videos, checklists, and articles – something you can’t find on the blog.

Related to this post, you can download a PDF version of it.

About Timo Kiander

My name is Timo Kiander aka Productive Superdad.

I want to show how an online entrepreneur like you can improve your productivity in your online business.

Comments

  1. Wow Timo, Great… You deserve lot of hits for your this unique post ! Timo, I love your this deep & such a wonderful post post :)
    Taniya Madan recently posted..How to Promote Events Using Social MediaMy Profile

  2. Hey Timo,
    I downloaded your book and am enjoying the read.. Looking forward to catching up on all your posts.

    Do you really only spend 20 mins a day on social media?

    All the best,
    Dave
    Dave recently posted..Productivity Ideas: 30 Day ChallengeMy Profile

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