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 do 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 as I keep telling them, I'm just messy, not unorganized. 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/podcast episode a month. I break that entire process down: one week for making the script, one week for recording it, two weeks for editing. I tell myself "I have to have this 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, and it can evolve over time. I wrote a post back in June 2019 about staying organized for bloggers, and I'm amazed at the differences that've appeared in myself since then. What works for me now may not work for you; everyone needs to experiment to see what works best for them. So I'm going to list some of the most useful ways I've found to stay organized for you to try. And let me know what ways you've found to stay organized in the comments so I can give them a shot!
#1: Bullet Journal
I would be totally lost without my bullet journal. For those of you who don't know, a bullet journal (or bujo) is basically a calendar/to-do list/planner/diary hybrid that you create yourself. Some people turn them into sketchbooks with monthly spreads. Others are bare-bones lists and dates.
I do the whole monthly/weekly/daily spreads to keep all areas of my life pinned down. But there are some spread specific to writers and bloggers that I have found particularly helpful.
My "Books of 2020" spread is a list of all the books I've read this year so far. Not just the ones I've reviewed, but all of them. This is useful for when I do lists (favorite/least favorite books), and when I do a "year in review" style post in December about the best books of 2020.
I have a page of general Writing Deadlines, where I write the due dates for Diary of the Green Snake and my BitchShelf articles. I also keep my yearly writing goals, like getting an agent for my scifi novel Citadel and getting beta reader feedback for my fantasy manuscript.
A page that is quickly running out of room is my Idea Page, specific to blog and YouTube ideas. I saw a vlogger use post-it notes, so that whenever she ditched or did an idea on her page, she just had to remove the post-it note, and that would give her room to replace it with a new idea. But I'm always afraid of the post-it notes falling, so I just write it down traditionally and cross it off when I do it, trying to find little bits of space to cram more in the corner. There's also a section within this page for TV shows and movies I want to watch and review, which should probably be a spread all on its own.
And of course, there's my blog schedule. I tend to plan all of my blog posts out at least a month in advance, which saves me a lot of time and headache. As you can see in the picture above (which was taken in mid-April), I have columns for each month and the post date, with plenty of room to write. If I have to reschedule something, I black it out with marker and use a white gel pen to fix it. (Using a pencil and eraser poses the very real risk of creating a hole in the page, which is why I prefer the pen.)
#2: Story Journals
I am a journal hoarder. Every journal I have has a specific purpose. There's the obvious "dump journal," the ones full of random story ideas and shoved on my bookshelf for when I need inspiration.
But specific to organization, there's an even crazier method. Every book/series I'm working on has its own journal that includes character sheets, overly-detailed histories of the world, and notes on plot and narrative arcs. Diary of the Green Snake has one. Earth's Final Chapter has one. Citadel--my sci-fi work in progress--has a whole binder.
Wasteful? Probably. I've started digitizing this. (Thank you, Scrivener.) But few things beat old fashioned paper and pen.
Point being, everything that I need to know about any project--the religious practices of Citadel, historical notes of the Old West for Green Snake, character sheets for Earth's Final Chapter--are all in their own notebook. Other authors call this "the book bible" or "series bible," a single place for all the necessary notes of a story. I'm not flipping through a dozen dump journals trying to find a minor character's backstory or re-researching something I already looked up. I'm not skimming hundreds of pages of random story ideas to find the one note I need to confirm before I resume writing an important scene. Each story/series has its own book.
For the Citadel binder, I went further and added dividers for characters and cultures. It makes locating key facts much easier.
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.
Bloggers, on the other hand, don't usually have editors. Most of us 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 Sunday and podcast every month), 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.
This way, if I fail to post on time, my readers--especially the ones who financially support me on Patreon--will know. And that's an excellent kick in the pants.
What are some ways you stay organized? Let me know in the comments so I can give it a shot!
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!