If you’ve ever started a blog, you’ve probably been there.
You launch your brand-new publication, feeling creative, accomplished, and excited for everything you’re going to create in the future.
For a few weeks, you compose witty, informative pieces that you know readers are going to love.
You advertise your blog on social media and even get a fair number of clicks on your posts.
But then, something happens. Your blog loses steam. And before you know it, it’s January and your most recent post was made in December…of the year before last.
What went wrong? How do blogs that start off with great concepts and enthusiasm from their authors lose momentum and drift into internet oblivion? Most of the time, the answer is simple: it all adds up to poor planning and processes.
When it comes to the success of your blog, a lot of pieces enter the puzzle. You need great ideas. You need to understand the needs of your audience. But there’s one commonly forgotten part of blog publishing that can make or break your efforts, and that’s having the right process.
I’ve been blogging professionally for three years and another two as an amateur trying to fumble my way through the genre, and I’ve learned a lot.
But here’s the biggest lesson I’ve picked up…and believe me, I learned it the hard way:
You can’t fly by the seat of your pants from week to week and expect to publish good content.
Like I said last week: if you’re ready to bang your head against the computer screen because you don’t know what to write about, you’re doing it wrong.
Planning your posts weeks in advance needs to be a part of your blogging process or—make no mistake—you will get too overwhelmed to sustain it.
Trust me: I’ve spent too many hours crying over blogger’s block to not share this important truth with you.
So how do you do it?
Here’s how I publish Creativity Matters from week to week and keep my sanity.
Keep a Blog Content Planner
Whether it’s a spreadsheet, a planner, or a productivity program like Evernote or OneNote, you need to set up a system for planning your blog posts.
For me, it always starts with choosing a theme for the month.
Themes provide consistency and congruency for your audience—it helps them know what to expect from week to week on not just your blog, but your social media, which should also be geared toward your monthly focus.
Pick an organizational tool that fits your learning style. I like to journal, so I use an actual calendar so I can not only plan my blog, but also make notes about social media content that will support it.
If you’re just getting started, spreadsheets are one of the easiest tools to organize your blog. Here’s an example of how you might set up yours. It includes the title of the blog and your theme for that month, as well as the date of publication and the keywords you want to include for search engine optimization (more on this next week)
Bonus Tip: Set aside a period of time every week to plan out your calendar as far in advance as you’re able. Will the schedule and themes change? Probably. After all, creative people can’t rule anything out and you have to be willing to adapt if a really good idea comes your way.
But it will make your life extremely easier if you have a sketch of how the next several weeks are going to go down.
The bottom line is that you’ll have everything you need for each post, all in one place. No seat-of-your-pants planning required. No stress needed.
Have a Standard Operating Procedure for Publication
Your blogging process will go a lot smoother if it is the same from week to week. The more you develop a rhythm for creating your posts and sharing them, the faster and more efficiently you’ll become as an author.
My process for Creativity Matters works like this. On Monday morning, I check my blog planner to see what title I’ve chosen for the week. Then, I bang out a rough draft and set it aside for anywhere from several hours to a day.
When I come back to it, I clean it up and revise it. Then, I design all the necessary graphics and visuals that will make the post “pop” and create more engagement with readers, helping them to better understand the ideas.
After that, I set up the post on my website, do the layout, and schedule it for publication.
This is the schedule I’ve followed every week since Creativity Matters launched in November, 2020. I don’t deviate from it. Simply having a set process for how a blog goes from an entry on a spreadsheet to a real, live, published piece makes my life a lot easier and helps me create better content.
Don’t Think Too Hard.
I alluded to this in last week’s post, but aside from bad planning, the worst thing you can do as a blogger is overthink it. I know writers are notorious for overthinking and that I’m asking a lot of you. The good news is that starting a blog is a great way to break yourself of this habit.
Good blogging moves fast, yet produces quality content. It’s deft, yet accurate. It’s elementary enough that audiences can understand it, but logically and methodically organized.
One of the biggest objections writers offer about blogging is that they don’t have time for it. It takes practice to do this, but once you get to the point where you can churn out a great post in a few hours, it simply won’t be an issue anymore.
You’ll have plenty of time to work on your own writing and publish your blog. Maybe even every week.
How do you do this? Just don’t think so hard. It’s both that easy and that complicated at the same time.
Here’s how it works. You do two drafts at the most. First, write what Anne Lamott calls a “shitty first draft.” Just bang it out and see where it goes. Then, get some distance by setting it aside. Then, clean it up and go to press.
I know this process I’m suggesting is contrary to your instincts. But it works. And it’s freeing.
You’ll be surprised how much more down to earth and helpful your writing can be when you remove your ego from the revision process.
Want to learn more about blogging? This is the last week to sign up for How to Build a Killer Blog, my free webinar about getting started with your blog.
You’ll get to learn more about planning your content, unearthing subject matter that speaks to your audiences, and getting your ideas out there in a way that impacts your audiences.
Also…speaking of getting your ideas out there, how do you promote your blog, anyway? If you’re wondering about this, come back next week and find out!