One of my main focuses this month has been to create some sort of schedule for Writing and Works to try to get more organised with my posting. This isn’t the first time I’ve tried to tackle this challenge, in fact I’ve put together a few schedules over the last seven years, but in the end they all fell apart. Despite these failures, the fact remains that having a blogging schedule helps to grow your audience and it can help keep you on track when inspiration is running low. Having a plan can also keep you from running out of steam and it lets your readers know what to expect. For example, there are some blogs that I visit on the same day each week because I know they will be positing something that I’ll be interested in on that day. I know their schedules and I follow them as a reader.
So, today I am going to go through three points that I’ve found helpful while trying to build a blogging schedule. You might have other tips to add but these are the ones I find myself coming back to over and over. These are my key points.
1. Daily Prompts.
The Daily Post puts up a new prompt each day and these can be a great source of inspiration for bloggers. While some prompts have guidelines for responses such as word counts or the media that should be used, The Daily Post leaves your options wide open. You can write a poem, a story, an article, or you could even create a piece of art to match up with the word of the day. Furthermore, if that day’s prompt doesn’t inspire you then you can generate a different one and take that instead. The options are very much endless.
The downside to using daily prompts, and this is if you only use the current day prompt, is that you can’t plan ahead and schedule a post in advance. It’s a read and respond situation. For some this is perfect and most days I find that I can churn something out that hits the mark. Other days I don’t want to write for that prompt or I just don’t want to write at all, and this means there isn’t a post for the day. As a blogger you are less prepared to deal with surprises in your posting schedule and less able to adapt. This is why just using the daily prompts doesn’t work as a sustainable plan in the long run.
2. Link Ups And Blog Hops
Often with link ups and blog hops you’ll have the same issue of having to create a response in a set amount of time as you would with daily prompts. However, there are some link ups that fall outside of these limitations. The Weekend Coffee Share hosted by The Part Time Monster is a weekly link up, but the point is to simply write about your week as if you were having a chat over a cup of coffee. In theory you could prepare a post for this a couple of days in advance and schedule it to go up over the weekend. You could also build the post over the duration of the week and then edit it on the day you want to post.
Finding these sort of link ups not only provide you with a community, but it gives you structure to your week which really helps if you’re like me and find the idea of daily posting rather daunting. You could schedule your whole week around link ups and blog hops if you wanted, for example:
Dverse Poets Pub – [Mondays are Haibun or Quadrille nights with a prompt to help you get started.]
Dverse Poets Pub – Poetics Night – [Another prompt based poetry night but not limitations of the from used.]
Friday Fictioneers – [The prompt for Friday Fictioneers is released.]
WWW Wednesdays – A book review link up. [What have you read? What are you reading currently? What are you going to read next?
Dverse Poets Pub – Open Link night or Meeting The Bar. [The events alternate the same as Monday nights.]
#FreewriteFriday – Found this a while back but I can’t remember where and it still works as a hashtag. Write a post from beginning to end without putting your pen down or going back to edit. You can tweak a little once you’re finished but the idea is to keep it as pretty much in the original condition. As you’re using a hash tag and not a link up you can schedule this in advance.
Flash Fiction Challenge – Hosted each week by Chuck Wendig. He provides the prompt and the word count, you crank out the story.
Weekend Coffee Share – As mentioned above. This is a weekend blog party where you write a post and you can link up on Part Time Monster’s site and you can add the hash tag #WeekenedCoffeeShare to find more contributors on twitter. It’s a really fun, friendly community and it’s a nice chatty style post for the week. *Can also be done on a Sunday*
Sunday Photo Fiction – Write a story of 200 words based off the photo prompt.
I could go on and list hundreds more events but we’d be here forever so I’ll leave it at that. There is of course a downside to this sort of planning and I’ll touch on it in my final point as well. Having a schedule that is too rigid can be just as bad as no schedule. It can stifle creativity and in some cases leave you stagnating. It’s important to find a balance in your blogging, and that’s my point for the number three in this list.
3.Forging Your Own Path
The top piece of advice I can offer is to sit down and think about what you love to write and what you’re posting already. Set out the days of the week of a piece of paper and work out for yourself what makes sense when it comes to a blogging schedule.
I know that I can write a piece of freewriting each Friday. I know I can write a poem for DVerse poets most Mondays because their prompts work for me. These are key points in my week that I know I can hit. I can put this as concrete markers in a schedule because the chances of me not wanting to write those posts or not being able to are incredibly low.
You also need to learn your limits. WWW Wednesday is a weekly prompt but I do it once a month on the last Wednesday of the month because I know I will always have material to work with that way. I don’t always read a book a week, but some weeks I’ll read three. My reading fluctuates and I know that once a month is the perfect regularity for me to write a book review piece.
I also allow myself some flexibility. I have learnt that I’m not very good at keeping to a schedule when it comes to writing a series. Both Headquarters and Solitary Creatures are currently sat on the back burner for the moment because I’m focusing on my novel, but if I do write a post for them I’m probably going to bank it rather than hit publish. That’s because I now know it’s better for me to stockpile those chapters and schedule them, then it is to try and force myself to write a new one each week. The editing and planning it takes is just too much stress alongside the rest of my writing. This was a hard lesson to learn but one I eventually got my head around.
In conclusion, finding a way to merge all three of these points is what I’ve found works best for me. The regularity of blog hops and link ups gives me a basic structure while the freedom to add alternative posts, as and when, keeps me interested in writing and stops the blog from stagnating. Working on non-prompt material allows me to schedule posts in advance and shift my focus from sitting at a laptop writing new content every day to writing chapters for my book without sacrificing my blog. I’ve still not managed to completely grasp posting in advance as many of you will know, but then again I’m still learning too. As with last week’s post on Seven Tips from Seven Years of Blogging, this piece is just as much for my own benefit as anyone else.
If you don’t pinpoint your weaknesses you can’t fix them, and that’s what I intend to do. Over the last seven years I’ve learnt a lot about blogging and to celebrate the seven year anniversary in October, I’m doing a weekly series of posts about those little bits and bobs I’ve picked up. Next week I’ll be tackling one of the toughest things I’ve tried to do here on writing and works, and that was organising guest posts. In the meantime I hope you’ll stick around and check out some of the poetry and stories here on the site. Thanks for reading.