Something I’ve learned in the last year is that if I have to do something regularly (so you know, most things in life) I need to have a system for it.
I looked through my archives the other day and realized that (with a couple of exceptions) I had been blogging 5 days a week since June 2012. That’s a big commitment especially considering my limited internet connection for most of that time. But I made a system, that has changed and adapted over the years, and now I have a workflow that helps me get it done. If you’re curious, here’s how it goes.
I keep several checklists in an idea section of my blog’s OneNote notebook. I use OneNote to record the ideas because I’ll be able to record them no matter what device I have with me. I keep a different page for each topic that I cover on the blog (working/creative, tech, life/style, 30 things, etc.). Once I publish a post that has one of those ideas, I check it off.
One Month ahead of time (at least)
Make an editorial calendar. I already have a week to week plan of what types of posts will happen on what day. But a month ahead of time (so for March, I did it in the first week in February) I write out the dates and days of the week that I’ll post that month. Then I go through and start filling in on each day the subject or title of the post for that day. I keep this calendar in OneNote (there’s a calendar section, and each month gets its own page). I make it a checklist so that once I format and schedule the post, I check it off the list as done.
I used to do 3-4 months at a time, and then not touch the editorial calendar for awhile, but now that I have internet access everyday, I only do one month at a time, which makes it a little more flexible for me.
2-4 weeks in advance
Start writing the posts. I try to do at least 5 posts at once, but if I’m really on a roll, I’ll just write the entire month over the course of a weekend or week. It works great because you’re gaining momentum as you write! Some posts don’t get written at this time because they might be time sensitive, and if that’s the case I try to at least set up an outline. I keep these drafts in OneNote in a drafts section.
2 weeks in advance
Go back through the posts and find the extras, like sites I should link to or parts I might have skimmed over on my first draft run that now need to be deepened.
Start brainstorming ideas for images that go along with each post. Record those ideas on the calendar page next to each day
Edit and Format Photos. For general editing I use either Photo Gallery, Fotor, Windows 8.1 Photos app, Nokia Creative Studio (for photos I take with my smartphone), or a combination of these. I always crop to a 4:3 ratio, just to be consistent. I often add text using PicMonkey. Once the image is edited I save it under a new SEO friendly name (only recently started doing this, but it’s one of those things that’s really not that hard). I keep my images on OneDrive so that I can get to them any time.
1-2 weeks in advance
Open up my OneNote drafts notebook and Windows Live Writer (my favorite blog editor) and I copy and paste my drafts into Writer, add my photos, and make it look pretty (fixing up the spacing, adding hyperlinks, etc.). I add relevant categories, choose the correct day to schedule the post. Once the post is scheduled I go back to my calendar checklist and check it off. I also go back to my ideas checklist and check off the ideas that were used in the posts that were scheduled. I hopefully do the whole month at this point. But if not (or if I have some straggler posts that are time sensitive) I keep those items unchecked on my blog calendar checklist so I know to come back to it.
That’s what I do. The timeline is less important than batching the tasks. So I do the planning all at once, then the writing, then deal with photos and formatting. Without this batching, I don’t know that I’d be able to get posts up 5 days a week.
Do you blog? Do you have a workflow or system set up to keep you on track?