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Planning and Organizing Blog Posts for the Year
Submitted by Pam on Fri, 01/22/2010 - 23:22
I couldn't resist introducing this post with a shot of our 10" diameter Hibiscus blossom (Hibiscus moscheutos) taken this past summer! After all, this post is designed to give you a few tools for planning your blog posts for the whole year ahead! Why not a picture of coming attractions?
My readers in the southern hemisphere are already enjoying summer, so here is what's around the corner in their future!
Diane published our third annual Christmas podcast conversation in December during which I mentioned that I usually have most of my blog posts planned a year in advance. Now even though, to me anyway, this seems a perfectly normal thing to do, apparently it surprised a lot of listeners and several have written and requested more information about just how exactly I do that!
Actually it isn't mysterious or terribly clever! But it has been working well for me. And fair warning in advance - it is NOT virtual! I am sure it could be adapted into a virtual system if you are so inclined!
One of the tools often taught in courses designed to improve memory is to "hang" something you want to remember on a "hook"! This is an effective and popular way to organize new information as you put it into your memory. Well, my "system" really isn't much different. I have simply created a set of "hooks" for my thoughts, ideas, plans, and information and a place to keep them easily accessible until I want to add to them or until am ready to use them!
Since my blog posts often include such things as detailed tutorials for season specific crafts, a system for capturing and storing inspiration and information is essential. In fact, I have noticed a trend in the crafty blogosphere - it is definitely season-centric! And this helps immensely because it offers a great framework for organizing blog posts!
Because most of the planning tools I have to show you are a reflection of my own blog, they are season-centric. But this system can be adapted for those of you who write blogs not related in any way to making tutorials, or sharing recipes, or following seasons.
The fantastic new blog, Make and Meaning, is a great example! Definitely does not fit into any of the above categories. But I am willing to bet that the contributors to Make and Meaning have those brilliant flashes of insight or inspiration that catch all of us when we least expect it! And that insight may or may not be followed up by "brilliant" related thoughts. If these are not captured immediately and then filed so they can be found again, this flash of brilliance will disappear - sometimes forever!
Very important to note: a spiral notebook, although a valuable tool for capturing all those bits and pieces of momentary brilliance, is NOT useful as a tool for storage and retrieval. The little note book I carry at all times is only the first step! We will get to that again in a moment.
This is a great time of year to score a big discount on a ring binder and a 2010 calendar punched to fit in a binder. The important thing about a binder is that it allows you to add pages and move pages around easily. There are many two page per month (like the one above) and one page per month (like the one below) pre-printed calendars available; however, if you are very clever on the computer, have fun designing your own!
Last year I used a one page per month calendar, but this year, I am liking the extra writing space available in the two page per month format - a LOT!
The first thing I do is fill in every holiday! I bet THAT is a big surprise! And, if I intend to post for that holiday, I usually will write "Mother's Day post" or "Imbolc post" on the calendar day I plan to post for that holiday.
GET A BUNCH OF PENCILS AND ERASERS! Holidays don't change - they can be written in ink! Blog posts can be quite fluid! I always write my planned posts in pencil! Your calendar becomes a framework written in pencil not in stone! (Those lovely soup recipes I just shared this month were actually originally planned for last October! And you just never know when a post like "Antonio's Gift" will come out of the blue!)
Many of the pre-printed calendar packs come with some kind of "to do" page attached to each month. I use this page to jot down ideas for blog posts for that particular month - a "post idea page". (A sheet of notebook paper works just as well.)
During last year, I learned the hard way that planning posts for a given month and writing them on the calendar page, 10 months in advance, is a recipe that guarantees erasures - lots of them! Better idea - use a "post idea page" and place it in the binder just in front of each calendar page. I am finding that this works much better, allowing me to jot down ideas that I think might work as posts but not yet assigning a publishing date.
My calendar page for this coming November is almost completely blank except for the holidays and my blogaversary giveaway! But my "post idea page", as you can see, is already quite full! The month of November is already completely planned but I will wait until about two months out before I actually fill in the calendar pages and assign dates. I may think up better ideas or decide that what was so brilliant today is not so brilliant tomorrow!
Once the calendar pages are filled in, you have created a very effective "to do" list. You have established what posts will be published on what date and can plan your time, photography and writing accordingly.
Notice the words "see notes" circled. This refers to the next, very useful part of this system!
Right behind every month calendar page I install, in alphabetical order, a page for each post I am working on for that month - a "post in progress" page. This is where I record the details whether it is some really cool factoid I found about the use of straw house blessings in ancient European cultures or a link stored in my bookmarks about how straw is processed for use in wheat weaving. Anything that I come across pertaining to a particular upcoming post, whether it comes as a stroke of genius while taking a shower or something discovered while surfing the internet, goes on this "post in progress" page.
Something that never ceases to amaze me is that when anyone actually decides on something they want to do, information and help seem to come from many different sources. The "post in progress" page works in the same way. Once a post idea is added to the binder, I am always surprised by how much information starts showing up! And once I am ready to write my post, all those little bits and pieces of information and insight will be in one place!
Don't go anywhere without a pocket size field notebook attached to you! Your field notebook is where you capture every idea or inspiration or solution that comes your way whether you are standing in front of a rack full of yummy yarn, lying awake in the middle of the night, or waiting in line at the grocery check-out! (For some unknown reason, many solutions to tricky steps in tutorials come to me while I am in the shower! I get to my notebook as soon as I dry off!)
Again, I want to point out that the field notebook - or any spiral notebook for that matter - is not a good solution for storage and retrieval. Use it only as a capture tool. Every day or once a week, go through it and move the ideas, thoughts and solutions to the "post in progress" pages, or "idea pages" or even the calendar page they belong on.
One other capture tool I often use while on the computer is a regular old legal pad! I use it to record everything I want to remember for personal or blog use. A cool ornament I want to make, a book my sister would enjoy, a link to a "post in progress", a technique I want to learn, or notes taken while listening to a podcast. And again, these bits and pieces get stored in their proper place once a week!
I wanted to add a couple other sections from my binder that might be useful. My mind seems to work very well organizing by calendar month. But perhaps your mind works better organizing by subject. I actually started out this way - organizing by subject - (and here are my "beautiful" dividers made from reused cardboard salvaged from the backs of 8 1/2 x 11 lined pads!) All "post in progress" pages for tutorials were filed behind the tutorial divider, all those for recipes filed behind recipes, etc. But I soon found out that having everything I am working on in any given month all in one place worked much better for me.
Yes! I have a section already started for next year!! Usually there isn't much activity in this section until about June. But as the year progresses, there will be ideas that come along that would best be saved until next year - like the perfect recipe to share at Valentines or a darling bunny pattern perfect for Easter. Write it down and forget about it - until next year!
Last fall, while making Christmas projects, I had a couple "failures". But I received mail suggesting that maybe these failures were really possibilities for another crafty technique! I listed the idea on the August 2010 page. So now, on a "post in progress" page filed for August, I have begun notes for a possible post turning these little lemons into lemonade!
So.... there you are! Simple. No magic!
But if, like me, you are blogging your passion, your mind is constantly pulling ideas out of the ethers - more than you can handle all at once. Get into the habit of writing them down and putting your notes in a system that allows you easy access!
I just bet, if you open your mind to ideas and jot them down when they appear, you will have a year's worth of post ideas in no time at all!