Keeping Up with a Weekly Blog: A Behind the Scenes Look

Photo by Animated Heaven on Flickr

Keeping commitments can be tough.

I know this – as someone who tends to stick it out even when I shouldn’t.

And yet, our ability to make, and keep, our commitments is often what pulls us through the mud and the muck that being successful requires.

It’s that determination to just keep going that’s made it possible for me to build things I’m proud of, make it through a crisis, and heck, to grow and evolve as a business owner.

And a few years back, I made a commitment to you that we should celebrate.  

If you forgot our anniversary, that’s okay. :)

But five years ago, I made a promise to write you every week, no matter what. I promised that I would bring you a blog that would teach, encourage, and inspire you to live your best life – and build your best business.

And by golly, here we are, still going strong.

It hasn’t been easy. I’ve spent a lot of time trying to find ways to make this work for both of us. There were plenty of times when our relationship was a little rocky, like that time at 4 a.m. on Sunday morning when you were expecting to hear from me and I wasn’t ready to talk yet.

But we’ve hung in there, haven’t we? And our relationship is as strong as ever.

So thank you, just for being a part of my life all this time.

Have you ever wondered what it takes to manage a regular blog? A lot of my clients want to know, as they carefully weigh the decision about whether or not to add this to their business.

Today, I thought I’d share some behind-the-scenes secrets about what works for me. (And if you read to the end, I’ve got a little gift for you too.)

PLANNING PHASE

  • First, I keep a spreadsheet in place where I capture random ideas for topics to write about. (This is my Idea Bank. Once you get used to looking for them, they are EVERY where.) I used to keep these in Evernote, but these days, I’ve found that a spreadsheet works better for a bird’s eye view.
  • Then, each December, I grab a flip chart and mark it off into 4 main sections, one for each quarter of the year.
  • Inside each section, I mark off 3 blocks, one for each month.
  • Using Post-It notes, I brainstorm potential topics, themes and areas of focus for the year, and stick those up on a wall. I use that idea spreadsheet for inspiration as I work.
  • Next, I choose a broad Focus for each of the 4 quarters.
  • Then, I choose 3 Themes, one for each month that fits the Focus for that quarter.
  • Once I have all of this sorted out, I add it to another spreadsheet, thus creating my Blogging Calendar for the year.
  • On the last Friday of the month, I open that up and review the plan. Keeping the month’s theme in mind, I brainstorm specific topics for each week of the next month. If I’m really clear about what I want to cover, I’ll add the article title in right there. If not, I’ll at least jot down an idea for each week.

WRITING PHASE

  • Next, I’ll follow a content creation schedule to get the draft written in a way that works for me.
  • For a time, I liked writing 200-300 words a day on whatever article I was focused on at the time. Small bites were easier to manage, and kept me from obsessing – as I sometimes do!
  • Currently, I’m experimenting with setting one day aside each week as a writing day, and I get as much done that day as I possibly can.

PUBLISHING PHASE

  • Once I’ve completed a decent draft, I’ll add it to a Blogging Worksheet. This is a form I’ve created that covers everything I need to communicate to my VA, so she’ll know how to set the post up on on line.
  • Next, I’ll upload that worksheet to Trello, where she and I have a Board specifically set up for blog prep in general, and a specific card in place for this week’s post.
  • From there, we use a standardized checklist to mark off additional steps that need to be completed, such as creating a Pinterest graphic or uploading the post to social media.

That yearly planning sheet, often called an editorial calendar, is a life saver, and makes everything easier. Like planning meals for the week, grocery shopping is easier when I know what’s on the menu, and writing is easier when I know what’s on the plan!

Thinking about starting a blog yourself?

To help you, I’ve created a template of my planning system that you can adapt for your own needs. Click here to get that. There’s no cost, and no opt in required. Just click on the link, and download it for yourself.

If you have questions about how to use it, just say so in the comments below and I’ll be glad to answer them.

And happy anniversary!

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