In January, it’ll be a year since I launched my blog. I know right, WTF? I never actually realised that people would enjoy reading my stuff and that they’d keep doing it for a whole year. Anyway, I’ve read a few of these ‘Behind the Scenes’ type posts recently, and I think after nearly a whole year of blogging it’s time for me to jump on the bandwagon. Today, I’ve written a little bit about what goes on behind the scenes when it comes to my blog. My techniques could definitely do with a bit more work, but hopefully it will give new bloggers a bit of insight and maybe even a few tips!
The Planning Stage
If I come up with an idea, I write it in my notebook on my ideas page and when it’s time to plan my content for the next month I’ll pick things that I think are relevant or that I’d like to work on. I make a note of the date that I would ideally like to post it, and I generally try and do this for the whole of the month, or at the very least for the next couple of weeks.
Once I’ve got a list of the content I need to write, rather than spending all of my time planning and writing one piece before moving on, I’ll make rough notes for say, the first 5 or so blogs on my list. I don’t really go any further than bullet points or a mind map, as it just helps me get some rough ideas going for the content, along with the basic plan for how I’m going to structure it. Once I’m happy with it and I have a rough idea of the direction I want to take the content in, all that’s left is to start writing it.
The Writing Stage
As much as I love writing, I need to be in the right mood to actually get into it properly. At the time I’m writing this, I’m currently on my ‘blogging break’ – even though I’m still using it to churn out some decent content.
I use my rough notes as a guide and I essentially just go from there. I often find it’s easier to write the bulk of the content first, and once that’s finished I go back and write the intro and conclusion. I’ve tried starting from the beginning and writing the introduction to the post, but I often get stuck and I find that my motivation goes out of the window. After numerous attempts at trying to write in order, I just thought “to hell with it” and I write whatever the hell comes out first.
I write all of my posts using Google Docs so I always have a back up on my laptop as well on my WordPress account. Plus, it means I can keep track of previous drafts and also any side notes. It’s also handy to keep track of any keywords I’ve decided to use too. I’m quite lucky in that my job has given me a fair bit of basic SEO knowledge over the years, so I’m trying to take that forward into my own blog too.
Once I’ve completed a post, I’ll upload it to WordPress and get all of the formatting done, adding links and images etc. Once it’s ready to go I schedule it and move on to the next one! I schedule in an initial social media post for Facebook and Twitter, and then I’ll add it to my social media planner (a crudely made calendar in my bullet journal) for later on.
I try not to get too bogged down with figures and stats, as I don’t want it to become something that I start obsessing over. Instead, I note my stats for each day of the month to try and identify any patterns in my traffic. At the end of each month, I also make a note of my top three posts and this helps me to see what my strong points are, and maybe even come up with a few ideas for future content.
Tools & Apps
Through reading various articles written by my fellow bloggers, I’ve discovered a few apps and tools to help me manage my content. Here are my top three:
I have the app installed on my phone so it’s handy if I want to write down a potential idea or come back to something later on. It syncs to my laptop so that I can easily transfer notes from one place to another too. Most recently, I’ve found that it’s super handy for keeping up with everyone’s posts in the blogging community too. When I scroll through Twitter or WordPress, I often don’t have the time to stop and read the blogs there and then. I’ve learned in the last year that engagement with other bloggers is key, and with so many incredibly talented writers out there, I like to keep up with them. So, when I don’t have the time to stop and read something then and there, I’ll copy the link into Evernote and come back to it later. Usually, this will be during my lunch break at work. I’ll be honest, it’s a very long list, so if you get comments from me a good week or so after you’ve posted something, that’ll be why! I know realistically I can’t keep up with every single post written by my blogger friends, but these wonderful people take 5 minutes out of their day to read my posts, so the least I can do is read theirs too!
Until I discovered Hootsuite, which we use at work, I naively had no idea that such apps existed. I didn’t realise Hootsuite is a tool you have to pay for, but I later heard about Buffer from a number of my fellow bloggers. It’s made my life so much easier! Any blogger will tell you that engaging via social media is key when it comes to getting your content out there, and scheduling a post here and there is quite time consuming when you add it all up. With the free version you’re only allowed a set number of posts per day and a set number of social media accounts, but for me that’s more than enough, and it means that if your content plans change it doesn’t affect the posts you have scheduled!
I created my logo and banner using Canva, which is a free graphics design tool, and I love it! I also use it to create content to share on Pinterest too, there’s so many different templates and fonts you can use. You can create pretty much anything using Canva – Pinterest graphics, Instagram posts, infographics, you name it. There’s a paid version and a free version, but to be honest there’s loads to work with on the free version and I’ve found it’s suited me fine so far.
I hope you’ve enjoyed my little peek behind the scenes of my blog! If you have any tips to share, feel free to leave them in the comments below – I’m always intrigued to know how others run their blogs!