Monday, March 18, 2013

Creating & Using a Blogging Schedule

Last summer, I finally settled on a definite schedule for this blog, and since doing so made the tasks of writing posts and organizing my ideas so much easier I thought I'd share my methods here.

First of all: why use a blogging schedule?  It's not essential, but I have noticed that the blogs I most enjoy reading tend to be the ones that are updated on a regular basis, whether that is daily, a few times a week, once a week, or even just once a month.  Maintaining a regular posting schedule lets readers know that they can depend on you.  And letting your blog sit for too long without any new posts also runs the risk of turning away potential new readers who may think your blog has become dormant.  But, as I said before, it's not essential, and some bloggers simply don't have the time or inclination to commit to a specific blogging schedule, which is okay.  But if you do, and if you like to be organized and methodical the way I do, then using a schedule can be a great way to go.

These are the pages in my DIY planner that I use to organize my blog posts.

First of all, decide how frequently you want to post.  If you're just getting started (or even if you've been blogging for a while already), I would suggest that you estimate your desired frequency of posts, and then pick a target frequency that is a bit lower than that.  Most people probably overestimate the number of posts that they'll be able to write, so choosing a lower frequency makes it more likely that you'll end up with a schedule that you can actually maintain.  For example, at the beginning of this year I revised my blogging schedule for this blog so that I'd have a new post appearing approximately every 5 days.  While I would love to be able to post three times a week, that is not realistic for me right now and trying to post that frequently would just lead to failure.

Secondly, have a list of ideas for future posts.  If you've been blogging for a while, you may already do this, but if you don't, start making a list right now of specific ideas for potential future blog posts, and add to the list whenever you think of a new idea.  You should try to have anywhere from a week's to a month's worth of blog post ideas on this list at all times.  That way, when it's time to write a new post, you won't need to worry about what to write.  Trust me, this makes things way simpler and less stressful.

Next, use a monthly calendar to plan out your future posts.  (You can see mine in the above photo.)  It will probably be simplest if you use this just for blogging so it doesn't get cluttered up with anything else.  Say you have decided to post twice a week on Monday and Wednesday.  Take your calendar and write "blog post" in every week on Monday and Wednesday.  Then look at your list of blog post ideas and write specific ideas in on the days when you'll be posting.  If you tend to write posts that fall into a few very specific categories, try to space things out so you don't have two very similar posts being published one after the other.  This brings in some good variety to your schedule.  For example, I usually alternate product reviews with non-review posts.

Finally, start writing!  It usually makes me a lot happier if I have my blog posts completely written before the day they are posted.  You should be able to set things up on your blog so that you can write posts and have them automatically posted on a date and time that you choose.  This means that if you are incredibly productive one week and write ten posts in five days, you can publish your two posts for that week and schedule in advance blog posts for the future, when you may experience a dry spell or be too busy to spend time writing for your blog.  This allows you to post regularly even if you may not be writing regularly.

Writing the draft of a future blog post by hand in my notebook.

Some more tips:

  • Your schedule is not set in stone.  If you miss a day, or if your post is a day or two late, don't worry about it (this post and the last one were actually a day late!).  Probably no one but you will even notice it, and even if they do, who cares?  It's your blog, and if you start feeling guilty about missing posts, then you'll start to enjoy it less, and if you're not having fun doing it, why do it at all?
  • Likewise, if you need to increase or decrease the frequency of your posts, just do it.  It's great if you can post more frequently than you thought you could at the beginning, but even if you can really only manage one or two posts a month, that's okay too.  The most important thing is (to me) maintaining a regular pattern of posts (i.e., not ten posts one month and then none for the next two months).
  • Don't tell readers that you will be posting about such-and-such topic unless you already have that post written or you are 99% sure that you will have it posted by the time you said.  I've done this in the past, where I've said on my blog that I'd have a certain something written in the next few weeks and it never happened.  That really annoyed me, so now I try to avoid saying something like that unless I'm absolutely certain that I'll have that post up by that time.

I've maintained my blogging schedule since last June (although I did start posting slightly less frequently this January) and it's really made me so much happier with my blog.  I currently have five future blog posts written and scheduled, and I have my schedule planned out completely until the end of July (and reviews planned until September), which is a bit excessive but really makes things a lot simpler for me.  I just get such a good feeling looking at all of those future blog posts planned out, even though I know that some things probably will get changed around a bit before July comes around.

Do you stick to a schedule with your blog posts?  Do you have any tips for blogging regularly?

14 comments:

  1. Thank you so much for sharing this! I found it to be very helpful.

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    1. And thank you as well, Sue! I hope that it does help you.

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  2. Great idea to use a blogging schedule. I don't post very often, but with this system I might post more regularly :)

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    1. Thanks, Defne. It definitely has helped me to post more often. Before, I was averaging around 4 or 5 (or fewer) posts per month; now, I usually manage 7 or 8 posts in a month. Still not a lot of posts, but more than before!

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  3. I have tried this and miserably failed. I tried at the beginning to post every day, but I realized that I just can't do it with school and all. Now I am thinking I will post every weekend, and maybe once during the school week. I'm going to try to be much better with this!

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    1. Kayte, blogging while you are in school is a definite challenge. I maintained two separate blogs through my last three (very busy) years of university, so I understand! Although I am able to post more frequently now, I am still not even close to being able to post every day and I am in awe of anyone who can post that frequently. I think the most important part of using a schedule is setting realistic goals, so it sounds like you are well on your way to that. Good luck!

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  4. Wonderful post! I have tried something like this myself. It didn't work, mind you, but that was my fault. My problem is usually finding interesting ideas for posts.

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    1. Thanks, Randall! Coming up with ideas can be a challenge as well. For me, it helps if I have a dedicated place to write the ideas down as soon as think of them, otherwise I forget them again. I don't usually have a problem with coming up with ideas for this blog, but for my personal blog this is actually a major problem for me right now. I've only managed about 2 posts in the last month because I'm just stumped for ideas. Ideas do often seem to come in waves, so sometimes you just have to put up with a dry period for a while.

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    2. I don't usually have my posts planned in advance on a calendar, but I know roughly what I will write about each week. I like to post 4-5 times a week, depending on how busy I am. Most of my posts are inspired by what I've been doing (knitting, reading, etc) so some weeks I have lots to talk about and other weeks I have very little!

      I keep thinking it'd be nice to map things out in advance and know what I'm doing for the whole month, but it's just not practical for my blog. During the week though, I usually only write in two or three sessions, and then schedule the posts through the week. So I'm not actually online 5 times a week!

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    3. I do admire how often you post, Millie! Although I'm mostly happy with my current posting frequency for this blog, I do wish I could post more often for my other blog. I think I could take some inspiration from you by focusing more on just writing about what I've been doing in my life.

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  5. This is an awesome post - wish I'd read it a year ago hehe. What I find is very helpful is doing things in batches. Like if I'm working on a review and I'm taking pictures for it, I'll take pictures for a bunch of reviews I want to do. Or writing samples, I'll do a bunch of writing samples all at once. It takes more time in the moment but in the long run, I surprise myself with how much more material I have to work with!

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    1. I agree with you, Azizah - doing posts in batches really can help to save time in the long run. I try to do that as well when I can. It really gives me a good feeling when I can work on several posts at once and get ahead. Thanks for the comment!

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  6. Nice advice, and nice looking blog! I have been working on organizing all of my ideas (too many ideas, too little time), and your post is inspiring me. Thanks!

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    1. Thank you, Andrea! "Too many ideas, too little time" was a problem that I used to have with this blog; now that my ideas are better organized, I don't forget them, and I can feel confident that I'll get to all of them in time. It's really a great feeling! Good luck!

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