About this time last year, I was preparing to begin again with my blog.
Over Easter weekend 2019, I spent time idling in the sunshine back home, thinking randomly. There’s nothing like idling in the sunshine for plans to be made. There’s a story, possibly apocryphal, of how Agatha Christie liked to work out her novels while doing the washing up. Let the brain untangle its thoughts while you’re doing something that doesn’t require much concentration (or, in my case, not doing anything at all).
Work at that time was being particularly stressful, with its twelve- or thirteen-hour days as standard, and I was relishing the time to myself. Nothing was expected of me, and the sun was shining. And I started thinking about what I wanted to be doing with my life. About how to leave the stress behind.
I’d pulled a box of crafting magazines I’d forgotten about from under my bed which made me think, again, about the blog I was neglecting. Again. On and off, I’ve been blogging since 2013. When I started, I had no real idea what I was doing with it, or where I wanted to go with it, or what I cared enough about to write regularly about.
I ended up spending quite a lot of that Easter weekend thinking about what to do and making plans. And then spending the following few months working out the details and organising myself.
These last twelve months have been the only ones in which I have managed to do that which is lauded as the best way to build a blog: to post consistently. I have even, over the last couple of months, increased my posting from twice to thrice a week. It’s also been the most successful year in terms of the stats I try to ignore.
How have I done this?
Well, simply, I have an editorial schedule and I plan at least a month in advance.
I know the topics – even if sometimes only vague outlines, like “Craft” – for each day that I plan on posting something, and I use the same order of categories each month.
Simplicity is key.
The less you have to think about the things which don’t really matter, the easier it is to focus on the things which do. A bit like office workers who have a “uniform” (black trousers, white shirt) so they don’t have to think about what they’re going to wear every day. It also means that I can write some things months in advance, especially the recipe-posts or book reviews.
I endeavour to have as many posts for a month scheduled before the 1st of each month. Sometimes I manage it, and sometimes I don’t. In times of greatest panic at meeting deadlines, I’ve used (tarted up) posts from my earlier days. But I’ve always had the topics ready.
I’m not going to lie: having all the old posts, which I pulled in the interests of starting almost afresh, has been exceedingly helpful. I may never reuse them all, but at least I have them to choose from if I’m having an off month.
Of course, some things have changed from my early plans. I’ve come up with new things to write about – my monthly words, for instance – and, more recently, I’ve added an extra post each week. I have the time at the moment. I hope to maintain it when I go back to the Office.
Of all the things I’ve read about starting a blog, the two best pieces of advice are these:
- Have an editorial schedule, however vague;
- Build a bank of potential articles.
Think ahead. Plan ahead. To be honest, that probably applies to quite a lot of life.