Planning and Organizing Blog Posts for the Year

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!

 

 

Pam, I just want to chime in

Pam, I just want to chime in here that you're a master of organization. I really appreciate being able to peer into your system, and take a good long look. So very useful. I remember the podcast (twin of this post). It's so nice to have a post that goes along with the ideas you presented in the podcast. That's what I call added value!

I know i'm a little late to

I know i'm a little late to the party, but i wanted to say thank you for this great amount of information! I found this post quite some months ago and quickly looked through it. At that point i was not sure if i was able to start a nice blog about my passions, but i found this post interesting, so i bookmarked it anyway. Now that i am seriously preparing to launch a blog, i remembered your post.
I read through it and it's a great system. Thank you again so much for sharing it!

I love this idea. Thank you

I love this idea. Thank you so much for sharing. I love being organized and planning things out. This has given me thoughts on how to organize my zillions of blogs (ok, not zillions, but 5).

Thanks so much for sharing

Thanks so much for sharing your system. I'm a bit late coming to this post, but as a big fan or Diane's, I know see that creative genius runs in the family!

Thank you Pam. I came here

Thank you Pam. I came here via Diane's blog and am so appreciative of your system info. Your blog is beautiful. Your organizing and thinking ahead really shows through.

Pam, Thank you so much for

Pam,

Thank you so much for the blog planning information. I just started a new business and blog, and was completed lost of where to start. It took me several days, but now I have a year's worth of blog material. Phew

Thank you again and thanks to Diane for talking about your blog on her podcast. I am a great fan.

Lydia

This is great stuff, Pam. I

This is great stuff, Pam.

I have a similar note-collection system to which I will add blogging ideas and schedules. My system is electronic. I use a great software package called SOHO Notes. I have both the desktop version, and the iPod Touch version for portability. They sync together, so I have all my notes with me at all times. Works great!

These are such great thoughts

These are such great thoughts for keeping organized, thanks!!

I never thought about having

I never thought about having a book for my blog ideas. I have a book like that for other things, but never thought to use one this way. Thank you for probably making my life a heck of a lot easier :)

wow. i'd never even

wow. i'd never even considered this before ~ what a brilliant idea! i am wondering, though, when you start writing the posts? do you write them the day of, or a week in advance, or do you have them ready in rough draft form a few months before they appear?

thanks so much for sharing!

So much good stuff in this

So much good stuff in this post! I too, keep a notebook with me at all times but I really like how well you have yours organized. Inspiring seems like too small of a word to use.

And I might add... I love your *clever* little post-it note in the middle to cover up all your notes! Ha! :)

Thanks for sharing!

oh my goodness! a lightbulb

oh my goodness! a lightbulb moment for me! thank you for sharing your ideas, I'm off to shop for another binder to keep me organised!

This is so inspiring! I'm no

This is so inspiring! I'm no where near the point of posting every day - just trying to post once a week! But I can still use your ideas, thank you so much for sharing!

I can not tell you how much I

I can not tell you how much I think your system is going to help me. This is just what I needed. I have tried many differnt ways and still am scattered. I do the notebook thing, but as you said it is only good for ideas, not for storage and retrival. You are my new hero.
I am so glad I found you - thru One Pretty Thing. I will have to thank Rachel.

My best
Diane

Wow. WoW! WOW!! I am more

Wow. WoW! WOW!! I am more than a wee bit impressed. Wait...picking jaw up off the floor....yup, yup, I'm Impressed! Thanks for sharing what is working for you! :>

Great ideas! Thanks for

Great ideas! Thanks for sharing them. Now I have no more excuses :)

Pam! My goodness, this is

Pam! My goodness, this is inspiring. I am just horrible at keeping track of my thoughts and am blogging by the seat of my pants. Lots of room for improvement in the way I do it--thank you so much!! And p.s., your comments always just make my day :).

Wow, and here I have been

Wow, and here I have been using my 'carry around' book for sketching! lol
Seriously, this is a fabulous post just full of excellent ideas. It is so YOU Pam. Now I know how you get all those fabulous posts done with the great photos and excellent instructions.

Just wonderful!

Great ideas here. I

Great ideas here. I particularly like the one about keeping a notebook with me at all times to capture those fleeting thoughts and inspirations. I'm going to tuck one in my purse today, and try to never be caught without it.

Pam your always so giving id

Pam your always so giving id like to give you award please drop by to get it!
Have a great week!

Wow, this is so inspiring! I

Wow, this is so inspiring! I get so excited when I have just a few days planned ahead. My goal this year is to have a week's worth of posts ready to go. Fingers crossed... Thanks so much for writing all of this up, I'll be linking.

Because of you, I am heading

Because of you, I am heading straight to my printing shop to get one of thoses double-sided monthly agendas, right after work. ^-^ I love the fact that I will use it only for blogging.

I shall start planning my blog all year-long, now. This is a great idea, Pam. :-D

Hi! I found you through

Hi! I found you through Alice's (futuregirl) blog. This is such great information. I love the idea of having the whole year and the following year right in front of you. There are so many times when I think "oh, this year for Halloween...." but then October rolls around and that thought has long been forgotten and the random notebook page I wrote it on is at the bottom of a drawer.

Pam, you definitely gave me

Pam, you definitely gave me the right tools. Cannot thank you enough. I keep finding myself behind because I hadn't properly planned and wonderful things just slip away. Thank you for sharing!
I send you a big hug from Mexico today :)

My goodness - you're amazing!

My goodness - you're amazing! Love the idea - but a loooong way off for me!!!!

Pam, thanks for sharing how

Pam, thanks for sharing how you do keep organized - and inspired with your blog! I have a notebook for my blog too, I will have to post about it to show how I do it.

THough I have so many posts planned in my head, I should be more specific about the "when" I think, your system is great for that! :-)

This is great! I 'm going to

This is great! I 'm going to start with this immediately. Thanks, Pam.

Pam, you're amazing! Thank

Pam, you're amazing! Thank you for sharing this! I am such a newbie at blogging and I think the thing that kept me from starting sooner was that I struggled with how to keep myself organized. I have a spreadsheet that I have loosely structured ideas on, but I'll definitely adopt some of your ideas. Perfect timing too, just as I'm getting started! Thanks so much!!

Thank you all so, so much for

Thank you all so, so much for your kind words!  I do hope sharing this will help anyone out there that uses it. 

It really is amazing how writing down ideas with intent to make them into a post creates a big magnet that draws ideas and information right to you!

I welcome any questions by the way!  This is so second nature to me, I had a really hard time putting it into words!  So if I left something out or something is not quite clear - please ask!

This was SO nice of you to

This was SO nice of you to share. I think that's one of my favorite things about the internet and more specifically, blogs. Everyone is so nice and willing to share!!!

Thanks again! I'm totally going to implement this :)

Lovely people with so much to

Lovely people with so much to share and willing to share it!  Yes I agree, the crafty blogoverse is a wonderful place to live!

My goodness!!! And I remember

My goodness!!! And I remember the days when you only intended to post at Christmas time. I admire your organization. Could you send me some of your magic? I'm lucky to get my children to school (almost) on time.
Now we know why your posts are so full of information and goodness. Are you sure you were never a teacher?!? Schools could use more people just like you Pam :)

Thanks so much for posting

Thanks so much for posting this! After I listened to the podcast, I had grabbed a blank book to try this out in, but now I see that would have been disaster! I'm so glad you shared this! I grabbed a binder last night and printed some calendar pages. One of my resolutions this year is to improve my blogging, so this will be a BIG help!

Thank YOU!  I hope the system

Thank YOU!  I hope the system will help you organize your blog.  One thing I love about the system is that I always know what I am blogging about next and when!.  (Unless something betterto write about pops up of course!)  No more thinking - ouch - it has been two weeks since by last post - I need to post - I am NOT feeling inspired.

You are amazing... lots of

You are amazing... lots of great tips that I need to adopt. I sort of have a system but it involves holding all the little tidbits in my head instead of jotting them down, which means I undoubtedly lose lots. Often I wake up in the middle of the night and lay there thinking up ideas that are whoosh, gone by morning. Silly me for not putting a notebook on my bedside table to capture them... thanks for the push, Pam! Am looking forward to reading everything you have in store for us here.

Pam, this is wonderful - so

Pam, this is wonderful - so helpful. Thank you!!!

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