Alright hands up: How many times have you just been so unmotivated to do something, especially when you actually really need to do it? Or looked a mammoth load of tasks that you need to do and just get super overwhelmed? If you're like me, this happens more often than you'd care to admit. So today we're going to talk about how to plan out your blog posts, to try and plan for success and not freak out.
Why should you plan your posts out?
When I first started blogging I was pretty lack-lustre on ideas. I'd only write when inspiration hit. The problem with this is that you become very inconsistent. People (namely, your readers) like consistency and like to know when to tune into your blog. The other problem with this is that you have no accountability for when your posting. Very quickly you get into the tune of "Oh no, this is too hard to catch up on two weeks of blog posts!" or, "It doesn't matter if I skip one or two. It won't matter." (Which generally leads to the first statement.) This is a vicious cycle you don't really want to be in.
Instead, taking a step back and thinking to yourself; 'Right. This week I'm going to write two posts. One will be about why "Dogs are Better than Cats," and the other, "Teabags are welcome to stay in teacups. A discussion piece."' - is a much more achievable way to look at what's coming up. You know there are two things you need to write about, you've got a subject, and hopefully enough information to write it.
If you're stuck though - writing out ideas in advance is your best friend.
Inspiration + Motivaton = BFF ♥
Inspiration can strike at the weirdest of times. In Austin Kleon's book, Steal Like an Artist. He suggests that you "Steal" ideas off other authors and jot them down. In my notebook, I prefer to call this my Gotcha Page. It's the section where if I see a cool idea, or overhear a weird conversation, or read about a cool word - it goes down into an ever-expanding idea bank. Plagiarism is NOT cool, however being inspired by others, and having your own opinion, views, and voice on a topic leaves room for discussion.
Let's be honest, it's no different than having a Pinterest inspo board for your future house, or with cool quotes. And hey - if a Pinterest board is the best way for you to gather ideas, go for it! Whilst you're at it - maybe you'd like to check out mine?
Personally I like using a physical journal, and I collect many of them. Currently, I'm using a Moleskine dotted journal, however, blank ones work just as well. Getting one that's about an A5 size (5 x 8.25in for those who don't use our Australian system!) is great because it can fit comfortably in most good-sized handbags and backpacks.
Group your ideas together
Once you start looking at what ideas you've got, grouping them into categories does a couple of things. Firstly, it gives you an indication of topics that are probably going to pique your interest more than others when it comes to writing. If you've got twenty ideas about the uses of washi tape compared to one or two about unique animal facts - you're going to notice that pattern. I was pretty shocked when I started to upload all my future titles into WordPress as drafts, and these were the most common:
- Life Updates
- Mental Health
- Blog Tips
- DIY + Arty Tips
- General Lifestyle tips
Again, if you're looking at posting two or three times a week - looking at this and saying that you're a little lacking on DIY posts for the fortnight, (that's two weeks just as a FYI) bam! There's more you can be looking into researching and coming up with.
Planning for Success
A question that often gets asked is "How far out should you plan out your posts?" I used to think that people who would plan six months of content in advance were crazy until I realised that it's not actually a bad thing to do. Maybe six months is a bit too long for you personally. I would recommend taking a day during the middle of the month to start planning out the next month's posts. If you're posting twice a week, generally you'll be looking at eight to ten posts for the upcoming month. This gives you enough time to
- Think of ideas
- Research the ideas
- Get a head start on writing them
Once you've got this down, it's a lot less scary than getting to the day before you're meant to post and thinking, "What the heck am I supposed to write about?!"
This doesn't need to be a long exercise, it can take as little as 30 minutes, whilst you're watching your favourite show on Netflix. Alternatively, if you want to spend upwards of a few hours to really get a plan together - more power to you!
Throughout my years of doing NaNoWriMo - writing sprints have also massively worked for me. They're blocks of 30 minutes where you chuck on some music, turn off ALL distractions and just write whatever comes to your mind. It might be all word vomit, but sometimes you'll get a bunch of super cool subjects that come out of it.
Writing it down
So finally, you've come up with your ideas for the week/month/year. You're ready to commit and then what?
There's a number of things to do from here, and it's up to you and your personal workflow on what to do:
- Save all of your ideas as a draft post on whatever platform you're using. I use WordPress and this is super easy to save and schedule drafts in upcoming categories.
- If you've got the inspiration for the subject early, write it! Even if it's only a paragraph here and there, that quickly adds up!
- If writing that particular post does not Spark Joy (Thanks Marie Kondo) then move onto another topic. Forcing yourself to write something you don't want to do is going to show up in your writing
- Alternatively, if you do suddenly get a massive piece of creativity - write, write, write!
- Pick out days that you know content is going to be published, and stick to it.
For example, you'll normally find that Sundays are my blog tips days, whereas Tuesdays are my #RealTalk and life updates. This also gives your readers a bit of normality towards your posts.
- And as a big time saver, copy your page templates from previous posts. It saves on formatting, especially if you've got a layout that you're super happy with.
- If you do finish writing your post early, awesome! Schedule it in advance using your Webhosting tools. Don't forget to check back though and make sure it's actually posted!
Those should give you enough of a base to be able to stick to a plan and schedule, it just takes a bit of dedication!
The 10 Steps on How to Plan Out Your Blog Posts
- Don't freak out!
- Take 30 - 90 minutes to consider what your blog goals are for the month
- Ideally plan a month in advance
- Refer to your Snatch That page if you're out of inspiration
- Group your ideas together into categories
- Schedule it in a diary (paper or virtual)
- Start with a small goal, and work your way up to more posts
- Work on small sections of it daily if you can
- If you feel inspired for another topic - you can change your mind about the post!
- Stick with it! But if you miss a day, don't stress - but plan to make it up on another day.
Wrap Up Time!
I hope you've found this chapter of my "How To" series; How To Plan Out Your Blog Posts, helpful! It can be really overwhelming when you're first starting out, or fallen behind in your posts to get back into it. There's always a way though, and that's one of the best things about blogging, you can always pick up where you left off. Do you have comments or questions? Or something you'd like to see a post on? Let me know in the comments below and it might appear in an upcoming feature!
As always, don't forget we do also have our blogger and writing group on Facebook that is free to join!
Thanks so much for reading, and I hope to see you again soon!
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