Blogging and creating material for your social media can either control you or you can control it. There is no deep spiritual application on this issue. It is simply effective time management and discipline.
Manage it, or it will manage you.
It’s like a student who stays up all night to study before a big test because they were at the beach playing volleyball with friends the previous day.
No one feels sorry for him when he shows up blurry-eyed the next morning.
But I have something to confess. I’ve taken this purely enjoyable process of writing for this agency blog and turned it into a death-march of obsessive-compulsive behavior.
You see, I’ve already got topics and notes for blog posts every week through October.
That’s October 2017 (next year).
For Pete’s sake, 2017.
The weird part is I don’t decide what shirt to wear until the morning each day or decide what to have for lunch hours in advance.
It’s this one thing. Okay, maybe there are a few other things.
There is something about the regular commitment of posting blogs that turns me into a crazy person. The others in the agency laugh at me. Steve expresses concern.
I am going to try and justify my behavior today in an attempt to turn a borderline personality disorder into a trait to be admired and revered.
Good luck on that one Bunky. This is just weird.
Personal Justification #1: Always one to look for the easy way out, the thought of having to be creative and pithy on one or two days notice is frightening to me. Planning is my defense mechanism.
Personal Justification #2: My mother’s words about “not waiting until the last minute to do your school work,” still ring in my ears. If I don’t plan my blogging, she’ll know. She’ll know.
Personal Justification #3: Since I know most other people don’t plan their blogs to the extent I do, it makes me feel superior. (In reality, I am quite proud of my humility.)
Okay, enough of this.
You need to treat your blogging and content for social media like any professional media organization plans their editorial calendar. Here’s how to make blogging and social media content easier: (and even enjoyable)
Introductory Note – You are never off-duty. Blog vacations are for people treating their platform as an avocation. If you are serious about being a professional author and blogger, you are always on-duty. Planning ahead will allow you to disengage for a week here and there and not make it look like you disappeared. If you actually do disappear, so does your readership.
Step One – have a clear idea of your message platform and your target audience. NOTE: “Anything that comes to mind” is not a message platform and “Everyone” is not an audience. If you write anything to everyone you will reach no one with nothing. (Unless you are a famous person then we are all interested in what color shoes you are wearing today)
Step Two – make a calendar with dates you need to have content for distribution. Spreadsheets are helpful with columns:
Notes About Date
Deadline to Complete
The best system is one you use. So find the best tools for you.
Step Three – identify those dates connected to a holiday, event, anniversary or something that will give direction to your material. For Christians, you need to do something for Easter and Christmas, so there’s two. There are also the other holidays like Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Thanksgiving, etc., that can be a starting point for something. Make a note in the calendar to give you a framework to create. Creativity flourishes inside a fence.
Step Four – Depending on your primary message and audience, note those dates and topics needing to be addressed. For instance, if you are writing about issues related to cancer, you need to have material prepared for Cancer Awareness Week, various events related to it and more. The point here is some material “writes itself” when there is an obvious reason and purpose.
Step Five – Discipline yourself to work ahead and regularly. Do something little every day for 10 minutes, like journaling. If you plan and work ahead, you will sincerely enjoy the process of creating content for your audience.
But take my advice with a grain of salt as this is coming from someone who already knows what he will write about for the October 31, 2017 blog post.
Wow! I get excited when I have three blog posts written ahead of time. I can’t imagine being caught up until October 2017!
I doubt I’ll ever be that organized, and a spreadsheet just makes my brain freeze. But you’ve given me some ideas on how to be more efficient. Thanks!
A brilliant blog. Helpful – organized – with just enough humor so I don’t feel bludgeoned. Thanks!
I’d add one ore suggestion on being professional, and that is to factor in the time required to answer comments in a meaningful manner. It does take time, sometimes quite a bit, and I suspect that many bloggers get caught out, and wind up replying as something of an afterthought.
I laughed out loud at your post today. Thank you. I needed that.
I consider myself to be fairly obsessive compulsive, but, Dan, 2017? I guess I need to get with the program here.
Over the past year, I’ve been a regular reader of this blog and have taken your advice to wag the tail and build my platform before I’m published. My website is up, and all my social media is established. The last thing on the list is blogging on a regular basis.
Your post was timely today, as I find myself floundering a bit with my blog. I love the practical application you’ve offered here. I’m taking your advice to the next level and scheduling ahead. Maybe not all the way out to 2017, though. ;-).
Thank you for sending me off to my desk this morning with a smile and a plan of attack.
I use Trello to plan and organize my blog posts. It’s great fun. Just need to discipline myself to actually execute the plan so beautifully laid out and color-coded in Trello. 🙂
Trello looks interesting! It looks like pinterest to me–is it similar to pinterest or is it really better to use for organizing blog ideas?
Meagan, I haven’t tried using Pinterest for planning blog posts (interesting idea!) so I’m not sure how Pinterest compares to Trello in this regard. My Pinterest board is image-heavy while my Trello board is text-heavy. Trello is a series of “cards” I move along the board as I progress from idea to finished post. In real life they’d be index cards. 🙂
Thanks for such a helpful post. I finally have my “brand” figured out and starting the blog is next. Your steps encourage me to get going!
Dan what your faux OCD planning for the blog tells me is that you are, gasp, RELIABLE. Yeah, I know that character trait is so old fashioned that it might make us “square”, fuddy- duddies, sticks in the mud and so on. On the doors of many shops in the Caribbean business hours are posted as “Open around _______.” I can’t count the number of imploded blogs I’ve encountered, many with the last entry made months to some even YEARS ago while proclaiming “I’d love to hear from you.”
Recalling from the past the five P’s. Prior planning prevents poor performance. I would love to see you post a blog in the same manner as this one while changing the topic to how YOU approach the writing of YOUR fiction novel. I am sure it would prove to be enlightening and entertaining. THANKS!
Love this quote: “Creativity flourishes inside a fence.” I’ll put that one up on the wall. Thanks.
Sheri Dean Parmelee
Dan, thanks so much for the info on blogging. I’m the new kid on the block with regard to writing a book and was just reading yesterday about the importance of having a blog. I just started doing research on preparing to have one, so your information was very timely. I look forward to seeing what you write on October 31, 2017….if the Lord tarries His coming!
Thanks, Dan. You almost made me want to stop playing volleyball. And you did make me laugh!
You didn’t mention my favorite reason to stack up all those blog posts: we writers are an observant bunch, and we always have lots of good ideas! If we don’t write them down, we lose them! We’ll get to them eventually, right?
Thanks for this fun and inspiring post! I am just starting out with my website and blog.
Should I wait to make my blog public until I have a certain number of posts already written? I am afraid that I won’t be able to keep up with a blog and writing a novel at the same time but I’m giving it my all!!
There is no magic number, but if you blog once a week, maybe wait until you are a few weeks ahead before you start so you can do one new post every week and not have to rush.
By the way, all this is null and void if you are commenting on news of the day, This sort of posting requires a daily short-term view of things, but it also wears you out!
Thank you Dan, this information is helpful!
You mean…you don’t care what color shoes I’m wearing? That’s OK, I’m wearing slippers 😀
I have tons of topics planned out also, so I get where you’re coming from. I never related it to my OCD-ish side, but it makes total sense.
I’m going to look into Hootsuite, CoScheduler and Buffer and make a decision about pre-scheduling other forms of social media so I don’t just disappear.
Dan, I hope you’re keeping a nice organized file of all your past blogs as well as future blogs. There’s a book there.
Me writing a book would clearly be a sign of the end times. Just ask my high school English teacher!
Great post Dan!
Here are a couple of follow-on ideas. If you have a WordPress hosted blog, use the coschedule plugin for social media scheduling, writing and sharing. We use this and it’s a life-saver!
Also, here is a comprehensive calendar we use for ideas when “marketing to moments”: http://www.holidayinsights.com/moreholidays/
Leanna Lindsey Hollis
This great blog post made me laugh as I blushed over my own blogging technique. I’m completely intimidated by the comments of organized bloggers.
I’ve blogged every day for nearly three years, but rarely know what I’m going to write until I start typing. It’s a blessing that I know both my message my audience. Maybe that’s why it works for me. Or maybe it doesn’t. Not a soul has asked me about my shoes today.
Linda Riggs Mayfield
Some time ago, in this very spot, you lit a fire under my writing plans by advising narrowing one’s focus, specializing in something–I did take it to heart, but that’s where I got stuck (burned? ;-)). And now you’ve just added fuel to that fire. My WordPress blog is about things that happen in which I see spiritual truths or lessons or analogies, and I love writing them and taking and posting my own photos for them. But the books I’m pitching and for which I’m submitting proposals right now are historical fiction. I have a Facebook web site called Linda Riggs Mayfield, Author, for the process of writing them and notes about the history column I write for a local newspaper. And I earn my income with academic writing. I have a Facebook page Dissertation Consultant for that blog. I attend well to one, then another–not good. If it is possible to be organized enough to do justice to all of them, is it wise? Your posts are always thought provoking!