Ashley Zeckman

Productivity Power Panel: Tools, Tactics, & Workflows of Highly Productive Bloggers – #NMX

Ashley Zeckman     BlogWorld NMX, Online Marketing

Productivity Power PanelI arrived early to Monday’s Productivity Power Panel and it was standing room only.  I quickly snapped my picture (as you can see the panelists were doing the same of the packed room) and found my spot in the back of the room, on the floor.  This panel discussion features Moderator Craig Jarrow (@TMNinja) and speakers Leo Widrich (@LeoWid), Brett Kelly (@inkedmn), and Mike Vardy (@MikeVardy).

In this session the speakers covered 3 different elements to becoming a highly productive blogger:

– Techniques and Tools

– Social Media and Sharing

– Gadgets and Gear

Techniques For Picking Blog Topics

Craig: One of the first things we get asked about is how do we generate so much content, or how do you write so many posts on the same topic?

Leo: The key thing for me is that I email ideas to myself or work on concepts on my cell phone.  Within the email the subject is my post title and then I include the headings in the email.   As I go through old posts I come up with a lot of new ideas.

Brett: For me it involves going through my sent email folder.  It helps clarify what specific problems people are having and questions I’m answer.  I will also do some mind-mapping which is a non-linear brainstorm.

Mike: for me it’s about the consistency with which I approach blogging each day.  I’ll go into my categorized RSS feed multiple times per day, or use apps on my phone.  There are a lot of blogs out there and a lot of people writing about the same thing.  If I don’t have something to add then I make note of what topics to steer clear of.

Quick Tips

Social Discovery: Use your favorite social network as a search engine.  Type the word “how” and then your topic for post inspiration.

Repurpose Content: Find inspirations from previous topics you’ve written on that resonated well with your audience.  You can write on the same topic with a new and unique hook or angle to provide your audience with something new.

Scheduling Your Writing Workflow

A challenge that many bloggers face is finding a time to write.  If you’re most inspired in the morning but try and schedule your writing time for the evening you will constantly find yourself struggling to get the words on the page.  Once you find a time of day that works for you, schedule time for yourself to write at that same time each day.  It’s important that you don’t fight your body clock and recognize when you’re going to be prime for writing.

Effectively Managing Social Media Channels

While each Panelist has a different preference for which social networks are their favorite (with the exception of Twitter) they all offered similar advice for managing your time on social networks.  The biggest piece of advice?  If you’re just getting started focus on building a quality network on one site vs. trying to do too much at once.

Several of the panelists recommend finding a few small chunks of time during the day to publish on and monitor your social media accounts.  Also, there are many tools that have proven to be extremely helpful for managing multiple social media profiles. 

Gadgets & Gear

Since you never know when inspiration will hit you each speaker agreed that mobility is key when looking for gadgets and gear for your blogging needs.  Gadgets such as iPads, iPhones, and other tablets were recommended as tools of choice.  One speaker even shared that he sometimes likes to go old school, using nothing but a pen and paper.

Tools, Tools, Tools

Tools can be a very effective means of staying organized whether you are at home or on the go.  Each of the panelists had a variety of preferences for tools but I have included (and linked to) some of those mentioned in the discussion.

Drafts: If you’re looking for a down and dirty note taking application this is one you want to check out.

IA Writer: For writers that are easily distracted this program eliminates everything but the writing sheet.  In fact you can even go into Focus Mode which fades all surrounding text.

Scrivener: Creating an eBook or white paper can be difficult to keep organized.  This application is made for writers focusing on composing long and sometimes difficult documents.

ByWord: This program meshes seamlessly between desktop and mobile for content creation.  You can also easily export and publish your blog posts directly from the application.

Marked:  If you want to quickly create a properly formatted document from plain text then I suggest you check out this application.

IFTTT: If you want to set up triggers or alerts based on particular actions such as a checkin on Foursquare or a tag in a Facebook post If This Then That is an application worth investigating.

As you can see there is no one “right” way to become the most productive blogger you can.  But there are a set of best practices we can follow to stay focused and make the most of the time we set aside for writing.  What have you found has worked best for you when writing content (blog or otherwise)?  Also, what tools do you use to stay organized?

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Ashley Zeckman About Ashley Zeckman

Ashley Zeckman is the Senior Director of Digital Strategy for TopRank Marketing. In addition to finding innovative ways to showcase the exceptional work of her team, she is also responsible for creating digital marketing programs that drive customer acquisition and growth for the agency. Her background includes expertise in everything from content marketing strategy to branding, account management and social media.

Outside of her role at TopRank Online Marketing, Ashley prides herself on being a great home chef, painter, prankster and dog mom.


  1. I’ve been publishing daily for five years. I use both a Word file of idea starters for blog posts in addition to paper-based notebooks where many ideas are either initially captured or completed before they go into the Word document. When I was in the corporate world and blogging, my best time was always on Friday nights into Saturday mornings. Since then, I haven’t been able to find the natural, every day time the panelists suggest. Sometimes I can get everything written for the week during the previous weekend. Some weeks, I’m writing each day’s post the night before.

    • Hi Mike,

      It can be difficult to get in a rhythm for your writing. I’ve found that I like to give myself a couple days buffer for posts in case I’m not feeling particularly creative the day before they’re due. 🙂 Thanks for reading!