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Blogging 101: Set Yourself Up For Success

You did it! On your last day, plan for success over the next month — and give your co-bloggers some pats on the back for a job well done.

Welcome to Blogging U! This course isn't currently active, but you can learn more about what we offer and register for upcoming courses on the BU home page.

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What a month! You’ve created your blog from the ground up: personalized it, built a growing network, and published posts and pages.  Today’s our last day, so let’s make sure you’re in great shape for the next 30 days! A little planning now goes a long way toward keeping the momentum up.

Today’s assignment: sketch out an editorial calendar to cover your next month days of blogging (or just set a few goals), then visit and congratulate five other Blogging 101 bloggers.

Why?

  • Your blog is a work in progress, and having a sense of where you’d like to take it will keep you motivated and focused.
  • Everyone likes acknowledgement of a job well done.

For many of us, blogging is a way to express ourselves and interact with others during our free time. The idea of setting deadlines and making plans can put off those of us who do it for the sheer fun, but the great thing about editorial calendars is that they can be as rigorous or elastic as you see fit. A calendar — even a loose one — gives you a foundation from which you can add and subtract posts rather than constantly asking, “What should I write about today?”

Something as simple as “publish a post every other Tuesday” is a calendar of sorts; making any pact with yourself is a huge step beyond the “whatever, whenever” of having no plan whatsoever. When you mix regular posts (like your new feature) with spontaneous, off-the-cuff material, you create a dynamic, engaging blog.

If you write it, send me a link — I love Korean BBQ.

A calendar also lets you make smart decisions about the mix and the timing of your posts. Busy week? Schedule posts that are shorter or easier to write. More free time? Dive into that essay on the history of Korean BBQ you’ve been meaning to start.

Based on this month, how frequently do you think you can publish? What topics do you want to address, and in what order? Write up an informal outline for yourself, and use it to keep you on track. Consider asking your readers what they’d like to hear more about, and use that feedback to sketch out your editorial notes.

A few guidelines as you think this through:

  • Be realistic. it’s better to schedule two posts a month you know you can publish than a daily post you’ll miss six days out of seven.
  • Budget for interaction. Remember that publishing is only part of blogging — make sure you leave yourself time to engage with the community.
  • Write it down. if it’s only in your head, it’s not really a calendar. Use your phone’s calendar, a note-taking app, or pen and paper. Having written notes helps you stay on track and measure your progress

If a calendar doesn’t feel right for you, set a goal or two for your next month instead. What do you want to accomplish next: publish twice a week? Double your follower count? Get feedback on your poetry? Finish a piece of long fiction? Learn CSS?

While you’re mulling your goal, think about how these 30 days have gone. What was the most fun? The most rewarding? The most challenging? Your goal might be different from what you’d originally thought — the serendipity of blogging means we’re always heading in unexpected new directions as we interact with the learn from others.

Finally, close our your blogging day off with a few kudos: visit five other participants, and congratulate them on a job well-done. Try to include a few people you haven’t yet interacted with. (But if you have some favorites you’ve been following all month, be sure to include them!) The other bloggers will appreciate the acknowledgement, and you’ll make some new connections who’ll stay with you post-Blogging 101.

You’re now free to move about the blogospheric cabin! Feel free to write a post about this experience, what you might need to reach this next goal, and what’s next on the horizon. We’ll see you around The Daily Post!

That’s a wrap! On behalf of Jeremey, Velda, and everyone at The Daily Post, thanks for sticking with the challenge! We’ve had a great time and have really enjoyed watching your blogs and relationships develop. We hope it was also a happy and helpful experience for you.

Assignment posts will remain accessible here on The Daily Post so you can continue to refer to them. The Commons will remain open for conversation for one more week; after that, you’ll be able to refer to the links and comments there but will no longer be able to post. If you’d like to continue chatting with bloggers and getting feedback, we invite you to visit the Community Pool here each Monday; it’s an open thread where any blogger can seek (or offer!) support and critique.

Happy blogging!

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