So you had this idea you would start a little blog, put up some of your thoughts, and the world would come to read your genius.
You could be ten days into blogging, five months, or five years- and unless you are a famous blogger with a seat next to Diane Sawyer, you might be saying to yourself,
Holy crap I had no idea what I was getting into. This is a freakin‘ full time job!
No kidding. Blogs are time sucking monsters that never rest, are always hungry, and threaten even the most efficient of us. I’m not going to hand out some magic pill (because if I had one, I’d sure as hell be using it), but I will give some advice– having been at this for five years and counting, I’ve learned a few things that might help.
Then again, maybe not. In that case, you might want to consider getting a glass of wine at the nearest bar.
Creating a Master Schedule for a Master Blogger
Wingin’ it isn’t going to cut it. Not if you want to pass the 100 views a day mark. Unless of course you have a talent for balancing plates on your eyelashes. Then you may not need a plan. But for the rest of us, full-time jobs, kids, and other annoying real-life issues interrupt your precious blogging time right? For some people, writing posts ahead of time works wonders. For others (like me), inspiration is the key ingredient, so planning my posts ahead rarely works.
Yes, I do not usually plan my blog posts ahead of time. But for everything else? I do plan.
The little owl is your friend. He will help you manage your social media profiles so you aren’t bouncing all over the Internet all day long. Sign up for a free account and you can add a couple of your profiles without upgrading to pro. I use Hootsuite to manage Twitter, my personal Facebook profile, My G+ page, and my LinkedIn account.
Start scheduling links. I often do this on Sunday evenings. I use things like quotes, helpful hints, and archived posts. Don’t forget to tweet out other relevant bloggers in your niche! I schedule several and that way, I know that I’m active on each platform, even if I’m not right there in front of it.
Here’s a tip: If you have the topics of what you are GOING to write about, create blog post drafts in your dashboard and just copy and paste the permalinks into Hootsuite. So for example, if you know you’re going to write a Finish the Sentence Friday, make up the title, grab the permalink, and schedule a tweet for Friday. That gives you a few days to get that puppy written!
Reading other blogs
By golly, you must have a system. I don’t care if it’s bloglovin‘ or a reader, emailsubscriptions, or post-it notes, come up with a plan. Right now, I read blogs on my lunch break. I go through my list (not every one every day or that’d be a lonnngg lunch break) and pack two tasks into one – instead of commenting on the blog, I share it on social media and leave a comment with my post.
Only write as much as you can keep up with
It does absolutely no good to post seven days a week unless you can also afford the promotion/marketing/commenting time each blog post takes. It is far better to post once a week and take time to comment, respond, and share your work than to furiously write 7 posts and not be able to reciprocate on anyone else’s stuff.
Make each post work for you
If you’ve written 100 posts, chances are the first 40 weren’t anything that hot to trot. On your off days, pick a post to re-read and give a makeover. Add new images, update the SEO description and keywords, rework some it, and then repost it somewhere! Blogs are notorious for building up weeks’ worth of posts that don’t get seen again. The archives need some love too. Use those archives and maybe submit it to a relevant blog hop.
Once a week, take a little time to look at your stats. What posts worked? What didn’t? Did that blog hop pay off or would your time be better spent guest posting? Evaluate what works and ditch what doesn’t.
The tyranny of the urgent
Every task can be put in one of four boxes:
1–Urgent and Important: Things that are important for your long term goals and time sensitive.
2–Not Urgent and Important: Things that are not time sensitive, but ultimately further your long term goals! This is where you should be working, but often aren’t!
3–Urgent but NOT Important: These are things that take your time because they are so time sensitive, but do they really further your long term goals?
4–Not Urgent and Not Important: A big ol’ waste of time!
It’s hard to get stuff done in quadrant 2. For example, spending time to plan out a few posts- it isn’t urgent but it is important. Whereas, reading those five other blog posts in that blog hop you joined seems like it would be in the urgent but not important category. See what I mean? Take time to do some of less glamourous work of blogging- it pays off. Make a conscious effort to work on quadrant 2 items. For example, take a day to rename your images in your media library so you can find things, get a better theme, etc.
Master one thing before moving on
You know the drill– you hear some blogger has done such and such (like join SITS or Triberr) and all of a sudden, this unbelievable urge to join comes over you. God forbid you are out of the loop right? Wrong. It will do you no good to have a million half-tended to accounts. Work on one platform at a time. If you are trying to build followers on Twitter, invest there. Give it a good month getting into a groove. Then go on to the next platform. Or if you already have accounts everywhere, consider investing in a strategy that will help you to work smarter, instead of harder.
Know when to invest your money
If you’re blogging for a hobby, you think you shouldn’t spend money right? What about a hobby like golf, or beading, or painting? Do those hobbies cost money? Sure they do! Sometimes a little money will push you ahead in ways that would take months otherwise. Splurge on a theme or a pro-plugin that will make publicizing blogs or displaying photos easier. Pay for a bit of advertising in the form of Google Ads or premium scheduling tools.
If you’re blogging for the sake of a business, well then that’s a whole different story. You’ll need a monthly budget to get your blog off the ground. Remember, blogs that offer something – advice, help, tips, recipes, inspiration, products, services…typically do better in terms of making money.
Emergency plan for the blogger on the verge of a nervous breakdown
If you feel like you’re drowning, stop right now. Chant this one thing to yourself:
People are not paying as close attention to you as you think.
You know when you went to school with that big ol’ zit and you thought everyone would notice but no one did? I’ve done this so many times– forgotten to post and thought, “People are waiting for me and I’m not producing…”. I hate to break it to you, but people aren’t carefully monitoring you…or me. It’s okay. We aren’t on the nightly news.
It’s time to bring the joy back into blogging. Try to get in touch with why you started blogging in the first place. It’s okay if that mission has changed– it means you’ve grown. And if you are still on the same track because you still feel the same passion, that’s okay too. Simply try to identify why you started and what keeps you going.
A weekly prescription for the overwhelmed blogger…
Monday: Take a walk and brainstorm some ideas. Go through old pictures. Do a little reading of other blogs to get ideas. Take some time in the morning to freshen up an archive and blast it out on social media. Commit to not look at your stats for the week.
Tuesday: Start working on that new post. Meanwhile, find a blog hop and link up another archive. Take the time you would have spent blogging and share your fellow bloggers’ work.
Wednesday: Blast out a picture on social media- a picture of you working hard on your next awesome blog. Write a cleverly worded quote that tells your readers you are deep in the blogging process and it’s worth the wait.
Thursday: Add another spruced up archived post to social media and take some time to learn some new tricks on one of your social media profiles. Keep working on that post. Maybe send out a teaser.
Friday: Treat Friday like a party day. Most people are in weekend mode…blogs don’t always do well in terms of traffic. Don’t sweat it. Do a Twitter party or find some new people to follow.
Weekend: Finish up that epic post you’ve been working on. Get your hootsuite running and plan out when you’re going to share it. Tinker around with your theme. When Monday comes, post your blog and feel proud of your work!
This isn’t meant to be a long term plan, but more like a detox. You are still interacting on social media, but in this case, you only have to produce one really good piece of content, without sacrificing your online presence or stats while you take the time to get in touch with your creative side. If you are still nervous about reducing your output, announce to your readers when your next post will be up. Put it in the sidebar as a widget. TV shows do this all the time (i.e. new episode in three weeks).
Blogging is ultimately about connection
We want people to read our work. We want to connect with other human beings. If you asked your blogging friends, “Hey for the next week, would you rather me stress about writing something new, or spend the week getting to know your blogs?” what do you think they would say? I’d bet when that new piece of blogging genius came out, they’d all be happy to share it!
If the bulk of your readership isn’t fellow bloggers, the plan may not work as well. But you could take a week to get out into your community with some good ol’ fashioned business cards. Talk to people about your blog. Get the postman or the banker interested. New readers are everywhere if you take some time away from your computer to find them!