Venus Trapped in Mars

15 February 2014

Saturday Sessions: A Guide To Blog Organization




I can't tell you the level of my excitement to have Stephanie from Not Entirely Perfect taking over Saturday Sessions today. Not only is this the first Saturday Sessions in about two months, but it is a really good one.  I asked Stephanie to guest post today because she has been helping me get organized in an effort to get back on my feet and open Social & Chic again. Organization is not my strong point, but it is Stephs. I cannot even begin to tell you the impact she has made not just on my blogging organization, but also on my sponsor planning and general life organizing as a whole. So I'll stop rambling and let Steph take it away! But if you are interested in getting help, check out her rates here!



There's actually a lot that comes with blogging. It's not just about getting a post up, which I admit was what I first thought when I started blogging. But that isn't the case, no matter what 'size' your blog is or what you want it to be - there's responding to comments, fielding e-mailed questions, social media updates, reading other blogs, caring for your sponsors if you have them, updating your design. For most of us, this is not a job and we have commitments outside the blog, like full time work, families, a social life, netflix marathons.

I don't know about you, but I want to be on top of things.  Not just treading water, barely keeping my head up, managing to get things done at the last minute.  I want to know that I can handle whatever is coming.  The key, in blogging as in anything in life, is to work smarter not harder.  I'm a bit of an organizational nut, so I always see the value in getting things organized.  Most people are shocked by this number but if you know me, you won't be: I currently have close to 200 blog posts scheduled. I have a post topic and a title, with the post scheduled to go up on the correct day with the correct label from now until January 1, 2015. Now, those aren't all written - but about half are.  And I'm never left wondering 'what do I post about today?


Most people need not be as crazy about it as I am, but I'd thought I'd share my strategies so you can get ahead on your posting whether it be a week or a month.

And mainly, that strategy is having an editorial calendar. I have a 4 week system of rotating topics. Along the lines of every 2nd Thursday is a cupcake recipe and every 2nd Wednesday is a post about organization. It keeps my blog flowing and keeps the topics focused even though I'm not a typical 'niche' blog. It also prevents 4 posts in a row about my dog, which I'd be otherwise likely to do if staring down a tunnel of writer's block.  In fact, here's what my 4 week schedule is, exactly:


You probably already do this a bit without realizing it.  Weekend recaps?  Five on Friday?  Recipe Wednesday? You're already on your way.  Now, just make a list of the topics you'd like to cover, be it weekly or monthly.  Think about where'd you like your blog to focus.  I do a humor list once a week.  Easy, and very broad.  I do a Chicago post once a month.  Much harder.  But just think - that's only 12 posts about Chicago a year. 12? That's nothing, I can do 12!

Then grab a notebook and print out the calendar for the month (or multiple months if you're ready!) Take some time to really sit down and sketch out what broad topic you'd like to write about each day. Betsy did this during our 'blog intensive weekend' and it's actually easier than you think.

I start over on the first full week of every month, which leaves 4 odd ball weeks (end of April, September, December, and beginning of July.)  These are easy to workaround, they're near holidays so it's easy to think up something holiday themed or to try re-posting popular, 2 year old content.  Or skip posting altogether, that week between Christmas and New Years is dead in blogland and you know it.  You could even consider those weeks your 'writing time', a little vacation from the everyday post.

And for the actual writing: I don't deny that this is the hardest part.  Finding the time to write is always going to be a struggle.  A calendar will make it easier because you've got your topic sitting in front of you, you don't need to debate about it for half an hour before you start typing.  The other benefit of the calendar is that I can write by mood without being repetitive.  When I get home from the grocery and hate the world, I write my 'annoyed' posts because it suits my mood.  Likewise when I was cleaning out my mom's photos, I got a ton of ideas (and photos, obviously) for my 'nostalgia' posts, but I didn't need to post them all at once. I write when I'm in that certain mood, knowing that there's a spot on my calendar for it. And my posts don't feel forced.

Posting ahead doesn't work for everyone.  Some people feel restricted in their creativity or they feel like they'd rather only post when they have something interesting to say.  There is no right or wrong way, this is just what works for me - because when I hit a slump, or writer's block, or a bad mood, it doesn't go away in 2 days, it takes weeks. And leaving without a post for 2 weeks would make my blog suffer. So it's comforting to know that I at least have an idea for every single day. Maybe in August I'll think my August 21st post sucks (it doesn't, it's about hidden gem bars in Chicago) but if I do, I can skip that one day.  I can also switch and do the Chicago post early in the month if I don't have time to get cupcakes ready.  I'm not a slave to the calendar, it's just there as a guiding tool.

Some other tips I have:

-If you get even a tiny semblance of an idea, write it down. Carry a notebook or jot it on your phone. You will not, ever, 'remember it later.'  Even if you suddenly have a great idea about Christmas, write it down. You'll find a spot for it.

-Use the free printables that are always available.  these too.

-If you're not feeling motivated to write (but you have time), do it anyway. Set a timer and just type. If it's not good you can always delete it and if you're still in a funk when the timer goes off, quit. Try another day.

-A calendar allows you to write little snippets in future posts without having to write the entire thing when you're pressed for time. Really guys, calendar.

-Use free apps to help with the other things (like publishing to facebook, scheduling tweets about your sponsors)

-If you're somewhere with internet connection, use the free dragon dictation app to record your blog post thoughts.  No typing necessary.

This is a long post, I know it, so I'm sure I left things out - I'll respond in the comments if you have a question or need specific tips!

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47 comments :

  1. Holy Eff, you are SOOO organized. I envy you.

    and I am using all of these ideas! Great tips girl!

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  2. Kudos for being so on top of things! When I'm 2 weeks ahead I feel on top of the world!

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  3. I am so going to use this weekend to really get ahead. i love your tips and I am sure I will be emailing you for advice! ;)

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  4. Wow, this is crazy! I'm proud of myself when I have 2 post schedules! I need to get more organized like you! Thanks for the tips!

    xo, Hima
    Hima Hearts

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  5. this is amazing!! that you so much steph. i feel so inspired!

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  6. SUPER helpful guide. I am not one to be organized.. I'm always motivated to do it, but never follow through. This seems easy enough to try, and I think I will! Thanks, Steph!

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  7. 200 scheduled posts?!!! Holy moly.

    So my problem is that I have a million unscheduled ideas, but when I do try and schedule them, something comes up that I want to schedule more.

    I like the notebook idea, I need to give it a try.

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  8. I also schedule a lot of my blog post. I also used a note blog to plan my post. Here in a couple week I will be having 5 guest blogger poster on my blog. Which I pre-plan who blog post is going to go up when ahead of time.

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  9. Loooove this post!! Will be pinning this for future reference :)
    Thanks for sharing!! 😘

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  10. I started this at the beginning of the year, but it kind of sucked. Maybe if I actually wrote it out rather than putting it in excel, which I never use, it would work better.

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  11. For me the posts and writing are the easy parts. The pictures are where I struggle! Haha!

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  12. I love the idea of writing out an editorial calendar for a typical month. I'm gonna do it right now. Thanks for sharing!

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  13. This is great! I get excited if I have a week's worth of post ideas! The most organized I have been is immediately writing post topic ideas in my notes app on my phone which seems to be most common in the middle of the night! I have also started a few drafts on my dashboard with post titles that I can use if I am lacking inspiration. I do love your color coded calendar o themes so that I don't post on the same topic several days in a row. Being a niche-less lifestyle blog, have you noticed certain types of posts to be more popular?
    Eva Marie

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    1. Definitely the 'annoyed' posts the first Wednesday of the month! I pick a topic that most people relate too and get annoyed with and I think they have a 'yay I'm not the only one!' kind of feeling. They definitely get the most comments/views!

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  14. I love these Steph. I'm actually going to attempt these tips starting this weekend (along with your tips on meal planning).

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  15. Thank you so much for these tips Steph. I am so glad that you (Sarah) are back with Saturday sessions b/c they are so helpful!!

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  16. I wish I was so organised, yes I know some people think I am organised but I am not one of them

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  17. Posts scheduled until the end of the year??? That's insane!! I definitely plan out what I. Going to write about ahead of time, but there are a lot of times that I realize I haven't actually had time to write it yet until the night before. It can get stressful so I'm trying to get better about that. Right now, I have Monday and Tuesdays posts scheduled, and I'm over the moon!

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  18. I really got to do the planning posts in advance. I just started doing it and still getting into habit of it. It was very helpful post. thank you.

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  19. I want you to organize my life! Wow lady you have it together!

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  20. Love this! I am such an organizing freak. In fact, I just scheduled myself through the end of March. Thank you for the extra dose of inspiration!
    xx
    Here&Now
    Enter my current giveaway!

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  21. This was amazing and insightful. Thank you so much. I am planning my posts through the end of May. I am so excited!
    -The Pretty Thinker

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  22. I've been trying to write it down, think out ideas and change variations of a blog post I see and like ( and /or give credit), do link ups-less often-its a lot of my content. I like to write out old stories from my past, ones I can remember. These are all great ideas! I'll be using them and bookmarking this for future use. Thank you!~

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  23. I loved everything about this. The color coding. An organizing dream! Wheels are turning.

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  24. This is great! I am definitely struggling to get some topics and ideas. I am going to start doing this asap!

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  25. This post is fantastic, thanks for sharing! :)

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  26. Wow! You are so on top of things, organized and prepared! Impressive :)
    http://beautopiaxoxo.blogspot.com

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  27. I love it! My blog is teeny tiny but I am an organization nut so I love this idea. I am off to make my calendar now.

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  28. this is really helpful thank you!
    Lauren | OhHay Blogs!
    xx

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  29. love the idea of having a general theme for days of the month. that would so help with my planning ahead so that I don't have a bunch of similarly themed posts back to back. totally using that idea!
    -- jackie - jade and oak

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  30. This is so helpful! Thank you for sharing! I've kind of been procrastinating making a big schedule for my blog, but it's must!

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  31. 199 scheduled posts?!?! You're a madwoman! I barely have enough imagination for 3 posts a week!

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  32. Love this post and needed it! I sometimes write these kinds of posts just so I can figure out to get organized myself! Well done and appreciated!

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  33. This post really inspired me to keep on writing and blogging! Thank you!

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  34. These are some amazing tips we're definitely going to put into use this year. it can definitely be hard staying organised with your blog when you've also got uni and other things on your plate, so any tips are welcome!!

    www.mkstyleramblings.blogspot.com

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  35. I'm so impressed with your forward-thinking! I'm working on an editorial calendar and you've certainly inspired me!

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  36. I really loved and enjoyed this! this really helped me so much and I cant wait to learn more and start actually doing these tips!, thank you alot dear for the great post! Thanks ladies that was really helpful <3 ^_^

    www.beautylish-life.com

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  37. Great write-up! Writing is a talent, and it must not be wasted. As with everything that we had been entrusted, we should let it grow and share it with the world.> how do you motivate yourself

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  38. Where did you get that fabulous mouse?! I'm a new blogger and I've made my editorial calendar through December and I'm already scheduling posts! Love this method of blogging!

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  39. Thank you so much! This has been so helpful! I wrote myself a blog schedule today, and already have three posts scheduled, and two planned to photograph and write tomorrow. I'm SUPER excited to get back into blogging thanks to you!

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  40. these are great! thank you so much~

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  41. I thought these were some great tips thank you. I still can't believe you have 199 posts already scheduled though! Congrats to you!

    www.spacedreamsandmarshmallows.blogspot.com

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  42. This was incredibly helpful! Thank you for sharing these tips! I'm ready to really up my game with my scheduling!

    www.sanchezfamilyoftwo.blogspot.com

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  43. This post was SO helpful, thanks for posting it. About to get to work organizing and planning future posts.

    Katelyndanyale.blogspot.com

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