Welcome back to Introductions over Coffee, where I provide some guidance and insights for new bloggers and maybe as a refresher for us all. I also usually introduce a new blogger to the community but not this week as the person I planned to feature is triggering some alarm bells so I want to monitor a bit more before sharing. I should also say that we’re appearing a little early (or late) this week but Tuesday coming is 1st August, so I want to continue with my monthly letter then, so Introductions over Coffee will be Saturday for one week.
For any new bloggers who wish to raise their profile, please follow the guidance in my posts and do not spam my comments section.
My summer of blogging and creative writing hasn’t exactly gone according to plan but on the first anniversary of Curiosities, Castles and Coffee Shops, Introductions over Coffee is going to reflect on some mistakes made around frequency and scheduling of posts hopefully, sharing some wisdom for our new bloggers. Where appropriate, I’d also encourage our more established readers to share their experiences too.
Are we ready for summer?
It was the start of the summer holidays (24th June, 2023) and I was excited for the summer to come (6 weeks of “freedom”). I was posting 5 days out of 7 and was looking forward to the opportunity to build up a “stockpile” of posts written in advance so I could have at least 2 weeks’ posts scheduled. That was my objective by the end of my holidays (back to work on 8th August).
Its now 29th July (10.45pm as I write), I’ve not published anything for 5 days and its been pretty hit or miss for most of the month. So what has stopped me writing and posting, let alone doing some of that advanced-planning work? I can’t really blame the broken wrist as its now more or less back to normal. I have had 2 really bad migraines over the past month, one last week lasted for about 7-8 days.
Taking a step back from what I’m doing to reflect on what’s happening and why, I’ve realised that I need to look at how often I write, what’s realistic as opposed to what I want to do and what’s required to allow everything to run smoothly. What will allow me to meet my target of 2 weeks posts in advance, although the timeline needs revised. These factors are what I’m going to take us through today.
Getting the basics right
We probably all have ideas of how often we think we should publish or want to post to our blogs but as I’ve outlined with my example, we need to be realistic and there are a range of factors that should be considered. We need to be realistic about what we can achieve given other commitments and the type of posts we are producing. Some of my blogs can be fairly straightforward, being produced quickly. Whereas others require research, which can be more time consuming.
Many offering blogging advice will tell you its less important if you blog daily, twice a week, fortnightly, monthly etc; the key is consistency. For me, that’s where I’m falling down – being consistent over an extended period of time. This is where my second point comes in. To help ensure consistency, you also want to think about scheduling.
I’ll go into scheduling in more detail next time, but basically, you want to set yourself a schedule to work with and stick to (ensuring consistency). You also want to use the WP tools to schedule your posts once you’ve written them. By doing this, you know you have posts ready and waiting to go, and because you’ve told the WP system when to post, it will appear automatically without you doing anything else.
Why did I struggle?
There are a range of factors all combining to mean that while I was able to meet my schedule when things were working well, I wasn’t doing my best work and I had been unable to schedule far in advance at any point. However, any issues (such as migraines) and I don’t have anything in reserve and my blog suffers.
I was trying to write too much, writing constantly. I love writing, so was happy doing this, but it did mean other aspects of my blog were suffering:
- I was not working in advance, creating posts which could be scheduled – so not creating that safety net if and when necessary.
- I was so busy writing, I wasn’t finding the time I wanted to spend engaging with the community or reading their work.
- unable to read work by other “new to me” and new bloggers
- no blogging admin/housekeeping
- sometimes I was spending so much time writing, I wasn’t getting the time to explore, which feeds into my posts
What have I learned?
Its all very well realising that things aren’t working out as well as I might like, but I need to take those insights and figure out what to do to improve the situation, and strengthen my blog and probably also remove some of the pressure I was putting myself under to publish so frequently. I suspect many of these steps will be relevant to many bloggers:
- I was publishing too often and I need to reduce frequency to achieve consistency.
- Recognise that not all posts can be written quickly. Be aware of the volume of work required for different posts and give myself sufficient time to do this.
- I need to reduce my posting frequency if I wish to plan and schedule ahead of time and to allow me to engage in the other necessary aspects of blogging.
- As I write a draft with pen and paper before typing up my posts, I’m going to explore typing more directly to improve efficiency. I’ll need to review for effectiveness.
- I need to recognise that I can’t be a perfectionist as a blogger. I don’t need to create 5 drafts before I’m happy to post something – I’m getting better at this, but its easier on some occasions more than others.
- I need to be disciplined to not post extra days and work on building up my “stockpile” of scheduled posts.
- I need to learn to curb my enthusiasm – if I produce something I get impatient and want to hit “publish” today – I know I’ve said this before – so its something I’m still struggling with.
- My migraines are always worse in summer (I hate summer) so again, I need to be realistic about what’s achievable during these months.
How do I make things better?
I plan to review progress, and hopefully success, and report back later in the year, so to give us something to measure against, here are my objectives:
- Posting 3-4 times a week (Mondays – Wise & Shine; Tuesdays – Introductions over Coffee; plus posts on Thursdays and Saturdays
- Be disciplined and do not exceed my planned structure
- Have at least 2 weeks’ worth of posts scheduled/ready to post by the end of October.
- Am regularly reviewing work on the Reader (at least once a week)
- Engaging with the community regularly (daily)
- By the end of October to have built up a selection of new bloggers as potential features for Introductions over Coffee
- I’m engaging in good blog administration management on a monthly basis and I’ve reviewed and updated my blog style and pages by the end of September
- I will review progress to make any required adjustments every 2 weeks and will provide an update to the Community at the end of October.
Advice for other bloggers
- You need to decide what posting frequency is going to work for you. Don’t be led by others. You know your commitments and availability. You also know the type of blog you are working with.
- Don’t be frightened to experiment with timings – try something, review and evaluate. If it doesn’t work, try something else. Nothing is set in stone, try different approaches to see what is going to work for you.
- Don’t be too tough on yourself.
- Whatever you decide upon, be consistent
- Make use of WP scheduling facilities
- Don’t neglect other aspects of your blog – its not simply about the posts you share. You do need to carry out admin, making sure your links work, that your pages etc are up-to-date.
- Don’t ignore the community – you need to engage with them
- Ask questions
What I’m looking for in new bloggers I feature
I review the new bloggers I come across to decide who to highlight in this post on a weekly basis, and some have been asking what I’m looking for. I would say the following are my criteria:
- a blogger who interacts with their readers and responds to comments
- Are they posting regularly – if someone posts weekly, that’s fine, but I’d probably observe for a few weeks to see how they’re getting on
- Do they produce quality work – if its text, is it full of spelling/grammar mistakes
- is there sufficient information to encourage conversation through the comments section
- If someone regularly spams, they will not be featured. I accept that people can make mistakes at the outset, but they should learn and adapt what they do
I accept that this process is subjective, based on my opinions. Equally if you spot an interesting new blogger, send me a message through the Contact Me part of my site with their details.
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