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Plan Ninety Days of Blogging in Ninety Minutes (Or Less)

If you’re having trouble keeping your blog on track, a calendar may be just what the blogger ordered. We always…

If you’re having trouble keeping your blog on track, a calendar may be just what the blogger ordered. We always have ‘em for The Daily Post and Hot off the Press — they help us organize and space out the topics we want to cover, and they let us relax knowing that come April 5th, 15th, and 25th, post ideas will be at the ready. We may re-organize as we go or toss in new posts based on how the blogular winds are blowing, but we can trust in the basic structure.

Even if you’re not posting every day, a calendar can help you stay motivated, develop good blogging habits, and grow your readership. Take a few minutes to work through these five steps, and sketch out a solid 90-day blogging plan.

1.Define some goals.

Goals don’t just focus on how often you’d like to post, although they certainly can. Here at The Daily Post, our goals for a month might be “Expand our photography coverage,” “Reinforce how embeds can add life to posts,” and “Publish 1980s music-themed prompts, including a minimum of one Rickroll,” along with “Post every day.”

Yours might be something like “Post the recipes I inherited from Aunt Mary” or “Chronicle my grad school application process” in tandem with a quantifiable goal, like “Post twice a week” or “Gain 50 new followers.” All your blog goals — big or small, measurable or ephemeral, Rick Astley-related or not* — will inform your calendar.

*Gotcha.

2. Pick a reasonable posting frequency.

A reasonable posting frequency is not your dream frequency, it’s the frequency you can actually maintain. It takes into account the time you have to dedicate to blogging, as well as the fact that blogging is about more than posting; you’ll also spend time tweaking your theme, poking around your settings, and reading others’ blogs, whether or not you intend to when you log in.

You can always publish more than what you plan in a calendar — but once you start missing scheduled posts, things go downhill fast. I like Coco Chanel’s advice: when you get dressed, take off one accessory before you leave the house to avoid overdoing it. When you create your first schedule, remove one element to ensure it’s realistic.

3. Brainstorm topics you know you want to cover.

How often have you had a dozen things you wanted to say… until you sat in front of the blank “new post” screen, and they all disappeared? Finding the initial idea to jump-start a post is the toughest part of blogging, so a cheat sheet listing of your ideas is one of the best supports you can have. Brainstorm the topics you know you want to post about, and keep the list handy to jot down flashes of brilliance as they come. (Make sure you keep a notebook by the bed.)

Add anything that captures your attention to the cheat sheet: general topics, specific questions, random inspiration words, song lyrics, whatever. Even “I want to respond to three photo challenges” — anything that captures the kinds of things you want to blog about.

4. Take a hint from your stats.

Your stats tell you what posts are resonating with your readers. Look at your most popular posts and topics to get a sense of what people want to hear more about, and compare that to the cheat sheet you just made. See where they overlap. Do those posts advance your goals? You’ve found your blogging goldmine, and the foundation for your calendar.

Take a minute to figure out what your blog’s popular days of the week are, too, so you can publish your best work on the days when more eyeballs will be on it.

5. Look at your non-virtual calendar.

Last, cross-reference your blog life with your life-life. Look at your overall calendar. Will you be traveling? Do you have a big deadline? Are your kids on spring break? Is the Rick Astley concert coming up?

Now, write out your schedule. Take your post ideas, use the info gleaned from your stats to prioritize them or narrow them down, and start slotting them into a calendar. Assign them specific dates if you’d like, or just list the post topics you’ll cover each week. If 90 days feels like too much, start with four weeks. And if you want to be extra-industrious and/or are still fizzing from the adrenaline rush of creating such a well-organized scheduled, create drafts for all the posts so they’re waiting for you in the dashboard.

You still may not end up checking every post off your list, but you’re primed for success — you know what you want to write about and when, so the hard part’s done. Happy publishing!

——

Stopwatch image by conte magnus, openclipart.

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  1. I recently signed up for an A to Z challenge, posting six days a week for the month of April. This is a pretty dramatic increase in output for me, so before I signed up, I made sure that I had topic ideas pegged for all 26 posts.

    My “calendar” was a quick Excel spreadsheet that I pasted into OneNote (my go-to for blog ideas). As the month progresses, I’ll know the other in which I need to work and not be panicked when I can’t remember what I was going to post for letter J.

  2. Re: # 3–Am I the only one who cannot make heads or tails of notes I’ve madly dashed down for a great new post? A week later I’ll find scrawled On the back of a bank deposit slip, “Teller had unusual facial hair. 1st encounter with mustache. Funny!” And I think “Am I supposed to write a humorous accounting about the first time I kissed a man or a confessional post that I now need to shave?” Anyhow, loved this ! Extremely helpful!!

    1. For what it’s worth, you are NOT the only one writing notes on the back of deposit slips that you either cannot read or haven’t the faintest idea why you wrote in the first place. I think it’s a trait we writers’ (at least these two writers) possess. Creativity, insanity, it’s difficult to say for sure!

      1. I had been leaving myself notes all over until I got my iphone! Now I keep all of my random thoughts throughout the day listed in a Note document on my phone…if your phone does not have this app, you can always save a text message in your Drafts with your notes!

      2. It’s funny that you say that because right after I posted that response I searched through the rest of my old notes and found tons of old ideas! I found that keeping one note file with all of my ideas on it makes it easier to remember that it’s there and keep everything on track. To each his own though :-)

      3. Oh good! Welcome to my club or I think you’re welcoming me to yours? I accept! Now the first order of business on today’s agenda is… Err….Can you make out what that says? Or remember what it meant?? ;-)

      4. I so do this as well! Except recently I created an account with a free list-making app called workflowy. Now all my half-brained ideas are at least in one place, and I feel a lot better! But I agree it’s definitely a writerly trait!

      5. This started out as a funny quirk between two bloggers, but it’s gaining steam. We should start an online WordPress writer’s group.- what a hoot! Calling all bloggers who write notes everywhere and who may, or may not, have the slightest idea where they are!!! Love it.

    2. Huh! I just found 5 ‘notes’ everywhere in my purse, in which one of them was about my phobia on London’s underground escalators. So, you’re not the only one.

    3. I have many an incoherent written ramble as well :)

      Sometimes, I post ‘em as is, or invent reasons why I might have thought they were facts worth nothing — not a bad subject for a short, lighthearted post.

      1. How funny! As soon as I wrote my comment with the teller’s mustache, I thought “okay, this is definitely today’s post. “How to Make Sense of Your Own Nonsense!” Of course I didn’t title it that. But I went home and wrote it and clicked publish. Probably the easiest one I’ve done so far. Then I see you commented that it wouldn’t be a bad subject for a short, lighthearted post. Great minds? Thanks for today’s Daily Post!! I always feel inspired to do something when I leave here!
        Stephanie

  3. On the one hand, I blog in order to capture the minutia that is my life, whirling, whizzing positively flying by me (four kids in three years is my tagline…), and yet on the other hand, BRILLIANT! A calendar. It might not happen today. It might not happen until the youngest is in kindergarten, but a simple thing like a calendar would be a game-changer. Thanks for all these helpful posts. We may not always act on them (Like my background? It’s still too busy.) but we’re listening!

    1. For me, the best calendar is one that is just a skeleton of things I know I’d like to talk about at some point, with ample room for the minutia-style posts.

  4. Thanks for the advice! I invariably am looking at other blog posts when I should be writing mine! I guess I should keep a calendar to keep me on top of things!

  5. Great post @MichelleWeber! I recently signed up for the A-Z Challenge and its a blast. Scheduling posts ahead of time is a must for me as I travel a lot. :-)

  6. I’ve been writing a poem a day, on top of the Daily prompts or photo challenges. Just in case I run out of ideas, but the hot off the press is also awesome thank you :)

  7. Great advice! I keep a dry erase board and dry erase calendar right next to my bed. Sometime i wake up at 3am writing thing on it. Helps a lot. I emailed this to myself immediately ..thanks so much!

  8. Great tips, Michelle, particularly about setting realistic post goals and keeping a notepad of ideas. I have a folder on my desk that I shove notes, clippings and other prompts for ideas into on a regular basis. Also, I’m glad you included the detrimental effects of Rick Astley on blogging…

  9. A great post with terrific advice on how to focus and plan out a blogging schedule. I have put a large emphasis on this type of planning over the past few months, and it has helped tremendously.

    As always, thanks for the tips!

      1. Well, I’m hardly one to give tips or advice on blogging. But…

        What works for me is that I have come up with a different theme for each day of the week. For example:

        Monday I post a street photography series;
        Tuesday is a single image that has to do with a street or neighbourhood;
        Wednesday is an open topic day;
        Thursday is photography tips/resources day;
        Friday is my personal black and white photo challenge day.

        I take weekends off.

        It’s pretty basic, but it helps take the guess work out of blogging.

        The other thing that I do is write all of my posts over the span of one or two nights a week. That way it doesn’t feel like a job. I also keep notes like you mentioned, so that when it comes time to get down to work at the computer, I don’t draw a blank.

      2. Thanks for sharing! This is a great approach — you have some structure to fall back on, but can still blog spur-of-the-moment ideas within that.

  10. Good advices, I really need to focus and find a posting frequence. However, no Point in looking at stats – since I have NO visitors! :D
    Gosh. Perhaps I shall just give up. Or at least switch back to monthers tounge.

  11. My problem is that I can`t write on my calendar and my whole family uses all our devices so I can`t have a digital calendar either. I think maybe on WordPress, somehow they should make a Calender just for your blogging and it would be really cool.

  12. Reblogged this on scottboyde and commented:
    I’m not sure about the rest of 3100 students but I am struggling to keep on task! This might be my solution and yours too! This shows how in roughly an hour we could pass the rest of our online blogging section of our course! I have given a trial run to see how it goes!

  13. always looking for blogging tips, this is a great idea! I think brainstorming and preparing a bunch of posts at once is a good idea too, then you can post at your leisure.

  14. Love the tips. It’s been a bit of a task at keeping my new found blogging nature alive within the confines or work and everyday family obligations. But your post served as much needed motivation for me.

  15. I love the calendar function! I try to post three times a week, and by using the calendar I have scheduled my posts out for April and half of May. As an international teacher who returns home every summer, I’m a little worried about keeping up the thrice a week schedule, so I will be looking here for ideas!

    -Amanda

  16. Wow!!! Thank you so much for this post. I am new to blogging so this helped a lot. I am a travel blogger, and I find it hard to keep up with posting things I’ve seen/done. But, now I see to just make a schedule. It doesn’t have to match all the time! Thanks again!

  17. I’ve been posting every day since January 3rd. It’s been challenging but has forced some discipline on me.
    I want to cut back but I’m afraid i’ll go back to posting whenever.

  18. Want to try this. So hard though. I’ve actually done it in the past, posted consistently once a week for a few months on my Bike Europe blog but life got stressful and I stopped. :-(

  19. I’m working a slightly different editorial calendar. I write a blog about sports (world football referees) so my calendar is very much influenced by events in that world. I put together a calendar with all the upcoming important matches – including more obscure ones like a celebrity charity match. I’m using that calendar to alert me to upcoming things I need to cover.

  20. I am new to blogging. After reading this, I think I have a plan that is doable for me. Thanks!!
    Plan:read interesting topics. everyday for 90 days. Jot down thoughts, inspirations and ideas that are generated. Plan to actually write a blog weekly in the beginning with a long term goal to write something daily.