I’ve had a sordid past with blogging. I’ve started four blogs before this, but was never quite able to get them off the ground. My startup efforts were strong, but the follow-through wasn’t there. So, I wanted to share the process I’ve finally come to that keeps me blogging week after week.
1. Choosing Your Topic
Of course, the key starting point to any blog is to choose a topic or set of topics that is both narrow enough to draw an audience and deep enough to keep you writing. Topic selection is important. Too broad a topic and you won’t be able to regularly post on each. Too narrow, and you run out of ideas to post on. One could argue that my own blog has too many topics, but they connect to each other and together represent my areas of skill and interest.
- Challenge Course is a specialty are of Education.
- Technology, Writing, and Project Management all link to my technical writing career path.
- My Personal category allows me to include special posts on specific occasions and allow me to tell my personal story.
- My Photography rounds my website by documenting my experiences, adding to my designs, and connect to my personal story.
Each of these are areas that I continue to pursue and each adds to the picture of who I am and what I offer. When looking for your own topics, be sure to choose topics about which you feel strongly, are knowledgeable, and continue to pursue on a regular basis.
2. Idea Collection
Murphy’s Law suggests that you will get your most brilliant ideas for blog posts when you are away from any means to record them. Bring a small notepad and pen or have a note or app on your phone to collect ideas when they come to you. Great ideas for posts come up all the time in conversation or when I have quiet time to myself to think. If you are often driving, consider a digital voice recorder of some type to help collect ideas.
Then, be sure these notes get into your inbox or are processed into your personal organization system. I recommend keeping a folder or a list where all your blog post ideas go. When the time comes to choose next week’s topic, you can go to your trust folder or list and have a slew of ideas to choose from. This folder can also include clippings from articles you found interesting or links to tools that help get your creative juices flowing. Anything that can help spark and idea belongs here.
3. Actionable Tasks
David Allen, in his personal task management paradigm, Getting Things Done, warns about the danger of amorphous projects. Your weekly blog articles fall right into that category. The key to continue moving forward with your blogging is to break it down into actionable tasks. Task need to be single actions that can be accomplished individually. You may need to complete them in a certain order, but each one can be tackled one at a time. Here is an example of my repeating weekly task list fr my blog:
- Brainstorm and research a topic
- Identify Keywords
- Draft article
- Add some images if applicable
- Set featured image
- Check for keywords
- Proofread article
- Publish article
- Share article on social networks
- Comment on blogs related to this week’s article (back linking)
OmniFocus, my task management software, allows me to set this list up as a weekly repeating sequential project. This means that each task on this list appears in my daily todo list in order. This allows me to move forward with my blog one step at a time, rather than having to carve out a whole hour or two to do all the work of putting it together. We put off what we feel is going to take a lot of effort and brain power until we “feel ready.” This can result in putting the project off for weeks, months, or even years.
4. A Regular Schedule
Once you’ve broken your blogging practice into actionable tasks, the next step is to create a schedule. By taking tasks on one day at a time, so that by your scheduled posting date, all you need to do is a quick proofread before you post or schedule your article. In my task management system, due dates identify when specific tasks will show up in my daily task list. I lay out the dates so that I slowly build up each week’s article. In my list above, brainstorming and identifying keywords are set to be done on Friday, the article is drafted over the weekend, and then posted on Tuesday or Wednesday. When the first item comes due, it appears in my todo list. As each is completed, it opens the next task which then appears in my todo list when it comes due.
Probably the best things I do for myself in my blog schedule is to always be working a week ahead. So while I have a blog coming out on Tuesday or Wednesday of this week, I’m actually finishing up and scheduling next week’s blog on that day. This has saved me time and again from a crisis or insane week.
Last, but certainly not least, you have to commit to the project. Be diligent! Don’t let yourself say, “Work is picking up this week, but I’ll post something next week.” You have to make blogging a priority or you’ll never follow through. For me, it took the motivation of finding a new job and the experience of being asked to write weekly blogs for work that got me kick started in my latest endeavor. They say that it takes 21 days to form a habit, so your first three weeks of blogging, you’re going to have to really hold yourself accountable. But, as you get into the stream of things, you develop a pattern, and soon doing your weekly blog becomes as simple as following the reminders you’ve set for yourself.
Round 6 Bonus Tip
I will leave you with one last piece of advice to help keep your blog alive. Think up a simple, but regular post that requires a minimal amount of your time. I have my Photo Fridays. I’ve also seen people share a favorite moment, article they read, funny picture, or wise quote of the week. Be creative. Share a short haiku each week or maybe a 3 second editorial. A quick and simple post can add to the regularity of your posts and can be batched months at a time and pre-scheduled for release.