Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Fulfilling Your Calling or Blogging?

While this post is geared more for writers, I personally believe any blogger may benefit from it (more so, those of you who are just starting to blog). It's taken me awhile to discover this truth, but it's very liberating when put into practice.

A commonly known blogging rule is that in order for your blog to receive the most readership, you must blog often. I've discovered that waiting until you have time to blog doesn't work out so well. In fact, it usually results in few--if any--blog posts. 

Of course, there's a direct opposite to not blogging enough--which is blogging too often! While you are supposed to blog often, doing so takes a lot of time. For unpublished manuscript writers, creating content for a blog on a regular basis can become so consuming that they soon find their manuscript collecting dust. They exert all efforts into that blog while everything else fades from view. I know, because I've been there. 

Not too long ago, I felt as though God kept giving me a gentle tap on the shoulder. "Holly," He said, "Do you want to finish that manuscript and story I've placed inside of you, or do you want to only reach people through your blog? Are you a writer or a blogger?"

I considered the question for a second. Without any warning, (probably prompted by God) a strong conviction rose inside of me, making it very clear that I'm a writer who blogs. Yet, even with this new revelation, I didn't know how to return to writing more often than I blog. The truth is, blogging had become a stumbling block, hindering me from the completion of my manuscript because the desire to write a new post always struck when I least expected it--and it struck quite often. The only way I'd re-gain my writing time was to guard it jealously. So, God and I created what I call the "Preemptive Blogging Plan." 


If you want to be successful in writing full-time while meeting a quota of blog posts, you're going to have to toss the Seat-of-the-pants idea all the way to the next galaxy. The only way to truly blog is to plan.

1. Decide your goals every month. If your blog is like mine and you mostly write reviews, this should be an easier task. After all, you know what books you'll be reading and when those reviews are due. Regardless of whether your write reviews or certain content, it's a great idea to sit down and decide what kind of posts and content you'd like to include for the month. Do you want to change a few things on your blog or maybe add new features? Would you like to steer your blog in a particular direction or discuss a certain subject? Is there an event coming up that you'd like to share? Deciding all of this ahead of time will help you resist the overwhelming urge to blog every time a new idea springs up--which could be about as often as the sun rises or absolutely never. If you want to work on blog strategy and marketing, set goals for that as well and decide how--and when--you'll accomplish them.

2. Try to write posts only once a month. This doesn't mean you only write one post for the month. It simply means you're going to write all your posts for that month at one time. Pick a Saturday on your calendar (or whatever day works best for you), wake up early, and start writing. Don't stop until you've written every post and subject that you've planned in your goals. This also includes preparing and writing content for newsletters. Once you've finished writing all posts, take a break. When you return from your break, go ahead and start the re-writing phase. After you've completed re-writing, go ahead and edit, and then you can proof it. Then you can begin to work on posting pictures and links to all your posts. When you've finished, whatever you do, don't publish your posts! Keep them in draft format.

3. Decide when to publish your posts. Pull out a calendar and write the name of post titles on the days you choose to publish them to your blog. Is there a certain post that will receive better reception from readers on a particular day? Then pencil it in. 

4. Reminders and Alerts. Make sure you set reminders in your phone, Google calendar, or ipod to remind you of the dates you've chosen to publish individual posts. If the blog service you use allows you to set the date and time for it to publish a post without you prompting it, then at least set reminders so you can put the URL on social networks. 

5. Before you publish, do a quick read-through. It will be easier to catch typos and missing words after letting the post cool down for a while. 

6. Do allow exceptions for the unexpected. If something comes up that is a hot topic at the moment and you have a unique take on it, then don't wait until next month to write a post for it. By then, there's no reason to write it or publish it, because the buzz will have already died down. So, go ahead and allow yourself to do a SOTP (seat of the pants) post. Just don't make a habit of doing this. 

So, what do you think of the Preemptive Blogging Plan? I know it looks simple in writing, but I've learned that executing it is something different altogether. 

If God has called us to write a story, we can't allow our blog to get in the way. Using the Preemptive Blogging Plan will ensure you continue to get that story written and study your craft!

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