You want to blog regularly. You need to. Yet, you can’t get it together.
Why? Oh, several reasons:
- I have so many topics running around in my mind. I can’t settle on one.
- I can’t find the time.
- I’m completely blocked. I’ve already written about everything.
I started blogging in 2008, so I’ve experienced all of the above. I coach clients as well on this and I hear these statements a lot. We are all busy, so the best way to handle all of the above is to get yourself organized. How? It’s a simple approach to what is honestly a simple problem: have a system.
Let’s discuss a few options.
One of the biggest mistakes I see writers and bloggers make is not identifying their author branding, which is the very foundation of everything they will do on their social media and in blogging.
They just want to talk about and sell sell sell their book. We all know these authors. We all avoid these authors. Maybe you’re one of them. Let’s change that.
By identifying what interests you, what you’re an expert in, what you’re passionate about, what you want to learn more about (aka, your keywords and keyphrases), you are creating a roadmap for yourself. A plan to follow. A system.
These topics are what you will blog about.
I suggest 5–6 main branding keywords/keyphrases, and 3–4 “back-ups” — topics that are fun, lighter, yet still make you, you.
Remember, we’re talking personal (aka, author) branding here. We brand the author, not (only) the book. Why? You’ll be writing more than one book. If you talk only about the book you’ve written, what happens when the next book comes along? You have to create all new accounts. Save yourself the trouble.
People connect with people, readers follow authors, so build relationships with readers by being the person you are. You’ve been doing it your whole life. Be authentically who you are. That’s what personal branding is all about.
Want to learn more about personal branding? Read here:
Why Branding Confuses You and How To Fix That Right Now
What author branding is and what it’s not isn’t clear to most writers. It’s not that complicated! Here I break it all…
Example: For my writing account, Rachel Thompson, Author (aka, @RachelintheOC) my keywords/keyphrases are the following:
- surviving childhood sexual abuse
- love and loss
- women and children’s health
- mental health
My back-up keywords are:
- my cats
- my lack of cooking skills
- my love of Nutella, reading, and champagne
You won’t see me writing about champagne or my silly cats on my blog, however, I will share photos of them on my social media. This is how the keywords/keyphrases work across our entire platform. This also solves the issue of having too many topics.
Narrow your focus to help your readers know what to expect from you, yet don’t make it so incredibly restricted that you’re only writing about one thing all the time because, boring.
First Assignment: Write out a list of what interests you, as I mentioned above. Pick your 5–6 major topics and your 3–4 back-ups. Keep it handy.
Creating Your Topic Lists
Now that you know your 5–6 main keywords/keyphrases, create topic lists. I do this in my business blogging idea notebook in columns. Do what works for you. I spend about 10 minutes each week coming up with blogging ideas and just keep adding to my columns.
If it’s a blank-idea day, that’s okay. I know I’ll come back to it.
Here’s a super high-tech image of my super high-tech blogging idea notebook:
No need to try to figure out what I wrote. Point is: get it out of your head and onto something, whether that’s a computer program, a Notes app on your phone, or an actual notebook.
So in the example above, I have four blog post ideas under the heading of BLOGGING, and four blog post ideas under the heading of SOCIAL MEDA.
This takes a few minutes out of my week. Surely you have the time to take a few minutes to write down blog topics instead of futzing around on social media.
This is your second step in getting organized.
Once I’ve written down the blog ideas under the main topics, I transcribe them into my blogging calendar (see more below), and start again with more ideas. Stuck for ideas? Even when you think you’ve written everything there is to write, I guarantee you haven’t. I’ve been consistently blogging for 12 years.
Where to find ideas, beyond what I’ve mentioned above? Social media is a great place. I asked my @BadRedheadMedia Twitter which of these four topics held the most interest for them (all on my blogging calendar already), and “creating a blogging calendar” was by far the most popular, so this is what I’m bringing to you this week.
Honestly, this is my favorite go-to way to assess interest. I received over 25 responses and then went over to Facebook with a more specifically-worded question: do you have a blogging calendar and if so, what do you use and if not, why not? Those responses helped me create this post as well.
Some folks go to Quora, a Q&A platform. See what topics interest you and dive in.
I also find great topics here on Medium when I read what someone wrote and feel inspired, or, more often, read the comments and completely disagree!
Inspiration is everywhere, y’all.
Create Your Blogging Calendar
Step number three. There are many, many ways of going about this. Fancy, simple, and somewhere in-between. I’m a practical girl, so I go with something that works for me and isn’t difficult to learn: Google Calendar.
It’s free, easy to use, and easy to share, in case you have an assistant or accountability partner.
Take the lists you’ve created in your blogging notebook (or wherever you stashed it), and now add your topics to an actual calendar, which takes only a few minutes. I keep it short and sweet:
- Research and outline on Mondays
- Fill in on Wednesdays
- Finish and submit on Fridays
Here’s what my October calendar looks like:
And if you click on one of the purple thingies, you can drill down even further:
As I do my research, I basically dump links into the Day Calendar Notes section for reference, so they’re handy when I go in and do the actual writing. It’s kinda ridiculous how basic and simple this is, however when you do this, you’ll be amazed how well you stick to it.
It’s like making an appointment with yourself AND your writing. In fact, that’s exactly what it is.
Regardless of whether I’m writing here on Medium or for my own blogs, this is my system. Splitting it up this way helps make my writing time manageable, particularly because I’m also running my business full-time, writing books, have two children, and a house to manage as a single mom.
If you’re partial to Google Sheets (think: Excel) instead of a calendar, you can use this free, already-filled out template created by Blogging Wizard. It’s a quite detailed, step-by-step guide which you may find useful.
- Trello (free)
- Evernote (free)
- Your planner (I use a Franklin Planner for my daily work, not my blogging calendar — but use whatever system you like)
- A scrap of paper (not recommended yet hey, whatever works, right?)
- A formal blog planner, like this affordable one by The Lovet Agency (I’m not affiliated with them in any way).
The point is: write it down. The benefits of writing things down are numerous, the very least of which, you get all those ideas swirling about your head down and organized. A system, remember?
You know how we have great ideas at the most inconvenient times, like in the shower or just as we’re falling asleep, absolutely convinced we’ll remember and, of course, we don’t? It’s because our brains haven’t encoded those thoughts.
Encoding is the biological process by which the things we perceive travel to our brain’s hippocampus where they’re analyzed. From there, decisions are made about what gets stored in our long-term memory and, in turn, what gets discarded.
Writing improves that encoding process. In other words, when you write it down it has a much greater chance of being remembered. (Source: Mark Murphy via Forbes)
So, you know your main keywords and keyphrases, you’ve created columns of topics within your keywords and keyphrases, and you’ve now created a calendar. Hmmm, what’s left to do? Oh, yea. Write!
What’s the best, most ultimate blogging schedule? Only you can decide that, based on your life and time available. However, according to Bakerview Consulting’s Barb Drozdowich:
“I always suggest no more than twice a month at first. I typically get people started at once a month — that way they don’t run out of things to say and can build an audience.”
Totally doable, right?
Real-life example: I started writing this column here for Ninja Writers Pub weekly about four months ago, however, that became overwhelming given the time I could reasonably allocate, so now I publish here once every two weeks. For my own blogs (my writing blog and my business blog), I’m lucky if I can publish every three months and once a month, respectively.
I’m human. This year with the pandemic stuff has been a challenge for everyone. Do what you can. Having a schedule helps set a routine. If I wander off the path, at least I have a guide to return to.
Learn more here about how to write, market, and be mentally healthy (especially right now):
How To Write, Market, AND Be Mentally Healthy
Feel like it’s impossible, writer friends? I’m here to tell you, you can do it.
Having a blogging schedule is a huge step in organizing your writing and marketing, and blogging is a huge part of your author platform. It’s also an excellent way to get in the regular habit of writing and connecting with your readers. It’s also about readers getting to know you, being authentic, and increasing visibility.
Want to learn more about how to share your blog posts for maximum visibility? Read specifics here:
How To Share Your Blog Posts For Maximum Visibility
Want more eyes on your posts? Here’s my quick-start guide!
Blogging is marketing and writing, all bundled into one — how awesome is that?
Did I miss anything? Please share below in the comments!
✍️ Rachel is a Top Writer in Social Media here on Medium.
To learn more about social media, book marketing, or other related topics, visit Rachel’s BadRedheadMedia.com site, or connect with her on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn, or join her Street Team!