Blogging is tough.
Well, that's not entirely true. Successful blogging is tough. You need to come up with, write, and edit at least one blog post a week. You have to promote on social media. Put together and send out a newsletter. Keep the rest of your website updated. Connect with guest bloggers, or other blogs where you can be the guest blogger. And this is in addition to the rest of your life: family, friends, hobbies, a "real" job (or two), maybe even school.
So how to bloggers stay on top of it all? The key is organization.
And I can hear my entire family laughing even as I write this. At first glance, I am one of the least organized people out there. But that's not entirely true. I'm messy, for sure. All my crap gets everywhere, I never do chores, and I have a bad habit of procrastination. But I love making calendars and schedules, and I've found ways to cheat my procrastination. This is mostly done by creating little deadlines. For example, I usually make one YouTube video a month. I break that entire process down: one week for making a script, one week for recording it, two weeks for editing. I tell myself "I have to have this one part done by Saturday the 9th," which means it gets done on Saturday. But hey, it works, because I'm not rushing the entire process at the last minute.
Now, organization is a little different for everybody. What works for me might not work for you. So I'm just going to talk about the three things that are critical to my personal success as a blogger and hope that it proves helpful to you.
#1: A Monthly Calendar
I've tried every type of planner and calendar out there. Bullet journals, school planners, iCal, and I cannot for the life of me stick with them for more than a few weeks. Mostly because they're too narrow. They focus on day-to-day tasks, and that's stuff that I can keep in my head. There's no need for me to write it down, so I don't, and the planner ends up collecting dust.
But I cannot keep more than a few days' worth of tasks in my noggin. Which is why the monthly calendar is ideal for me. I like being able to see what I'm going to be writing about at a glance. The posts I do on this website, my BitchShelf column at Luna Station Quarterly, YouTube, Patreon, and any short stories/novellas/novel due dates I have, all of them are right there.
I tend to plan out everything a month in advance, and have at least a vague idea of what's going to happen next month. It saves me a lot of time and headache. I know what all the deadlines are, I know at a glance when I need to promote what, and since almost everything is in pencil I can erase whatever I need and rework it.
#2: A Journal
A writer without a journal is like the Doctor without their TARDIS. They just can't work without it.
Journals are important for idea-keeping. A possible new blog post popped in your head during your day job? Write it down and then get back to work. Someone suggested a new TV show you might want to watch and review for your blog? Whip out your list and add it. Found a different blogger's post to be really inspiring and/or awful? Write down the topic so you can do it better. Seriously, take this journal with you everywhere.
(It didn't work for me, but check out "bullet journaling" on YouTube. If you do it right, then you get this journal and your calendar in one place.)
Eventually, you'll have a whole backlog of ideas that you can go to when it's time to plan next month's posts. Most of my blogging ideas tend to revolve around writing tips, since book reviews are self-explanatory, and I post at least one Writing Tip article a month.
It's hard looking at that blank space and thinking, Shit. What the hell am I going to write about this time? But it's a lot easier if you have a ready-made list of ideas to get you started.
I don't know about you guys, but unless I have someone or something holding me accountable, the thing I want to do almost never gets done.
Accountability has many different forms. For most writers, it's a terrifying creature known as the editor. Editors give hard deadlines, and if writers don't meet them, it's a shit storm.
But bloggers don't usually have editors. Most bloggers, like me, are solo. There is no one person, no authority figure, holding us accountable if we post a day late, or even skip the whole week.
Except your readers.
Once your readers get used to a certain pattern from you (in my case, a blog post every Friday and a guest post/interview every Wednesday), they will wonder if you don't stick to it. One of the biggest "secrets" to a successful blog is consistency. If you're not consistent, you will lose readers.
One thing that I do that keeps me accountable to my readers as well as help me stay organized is I post my monthly schedule to my patrons over on Patreon. Two days from the time this post goes live, I will tell my patrons exactly what's going to happen in August: who the guest bloggers will be, what the regular posts will be about, what the YouTube video is about, as well as any short stories or novellas that get published that month, too.
This way, if I fail to post on time, my most critical readers, the ones who financially support me, will know. And that's an excellent kick in the pants.
What tools do you use to stay organized? Let us know in the comments!
The first Dragons, Zombies and Aliens blog was started in 2015. Somewhere between college coursework, paying rent with door-to-door sales, and keeping up with my sorority sisters, I wrote reviews, rants and commentaries on books, TV shows, and movies. Now, this blog has moved, improved, and the sky's the limit!