Almost anyone can figure out the how of blogging, right? Go to one of the blogging sites, write a post or two, and you are blogging. Do you know what it takes to sustain the now of blogging over time? Do you wonder how to find the time to write or pull together audio, video or image content? That's what I was wondering when I began my research project and ended up writing a e-book on the decisions to make before even starting a blog. Email me and I'll send it to you.
If you haven't read the previous posts, here's the one on a Blogging Foundation, and here's one on setting its Direction. Now, we address the time issue. Time is valuable. Your blog is valuable. If you want to sustain a blog and keep it going, arrange time to include your blog.
First, I noticed that authors, whether of a blog or a book, are all saying the same thing: set aside time to write. I'd say that holds true whether you are writing a marketing brochure, an article, a blog post, a book, a resume, or anything else, you need to set aside time to write. Some of you may have full schedules already so then it becomes a matter of how important it is to write. If it's part of something bigger that you're aiming for and is important to you, you'll find the time, whether it's at 4am before everyone wakes up or after the kids go to bed or once a week on Saturdays or even everyday at 3pm.
What I did is I used my Google Calendar to section off blocks of time to write and attend to my blog. I have a day job, and there are blocks of time for client work, for following up with clients and/or prospects, and for writing. And of course, blogging! When my calendar says it's time, the time to blog is now!
If you can commit to a writing schedule that helps you produce enough material to post 2- 3 times a week or any regular pace that works for you, then give yourself a huge pat on the back as that is great progress toward achieving blog sustainability.
The second helpful time tip I learned is to create a blogging publishing schedule, aka an Editorial Calendar. If we're blogging, we are now in the publishing business, so it's a good idea to do as the professionals do and create of schedule of what to publish when. That way we don't repeat ourselves and we can keep our readers interested with variation. Plus, it may help writer's block to have a pre-assigned topic to write about at a given time in your writing time.
The TLKMA Key and the Editorial Calendar
Here's how I put together my Editorial Calendar. I googled something along the lines of "Excel calendar template" and found a month template. I then printed it out and decided I would post twice a week. On the days I wanted to post, I placed vertically, the letters "TLKMA." This is a key for:
Then, I assigned various attributes to make sure I was mixing up content. Here's what I suggest:
First, assign blog categories (or topics from the last post) to different days, rotating them or grouping them as you see fit. Place the topic by the "T" in each instance.
Then, assign a length. It may be helpful to switch up long posts with short posts or medium posts. Assign the length of each post on the calendar by the letter "L."
It would also be great to vary the kind of posts you are creating. It may be a how-to, a how-not-to, an article of thought leadership, a Q&A, an interview, a definition, a story, etc. Get the idea? Place the kind of post next to the "K" in each instance in your calendar.
The "M" assignment is to vary your media, whether written, image, audio, video, or a combination. If you choose to have more of one kind, or none of one kind, that's okay. Do what's appropriate for your blog.
The last assignment is "A" for author. If you are including other authors, then you will want to assign in a way so that their responsibility of submitting a post is spaced out evenly.
That's the Editorial Calendar. Schedule out a month, and repeat. I'm playing around with one month at a time, which gives me a little freedom to post about relevant topics that are happening now.
I hope that's helpful to you! Let me know if you have any feedback about this process.
Thanks to Alan Cleaver for the image, Creative Commons license via Flikr.
Dori "Story" Gilbert is Chief Storycologist; passionate about professionals, their journey, and their ability to direct a career story they love.