5 Ways to Write Posts On a Schedule

Dec 202010
 

Do you write a new blog post only when inspiration strikes, or only when you have  “something to say? ”

I’ll bet that if you answered yes to either, you don’t post very often, or with any regularity.

Waiting for inspiration can be a trap. What if no inspiration strikes, or does not strike with any regularity? When it does strike, you might be busy. You may not get to your computer to develop it, or you might forget. You might write down your idea and then not come back to it. The result: you post nothing, or you post infrequently.

Waiting to have something to say works the same way. What if you don’t have anything to say for several days? Or you fail to develop the “something” when you did think of it.

Did you notice the key word? It’s “waiting.” Waiting is a waste of time. What matters is “doing.”

Blogging regularly takes forethought and a strategy, particularly if you’re a recipe poster. With a little planning, you can improve your blogging quantity. Here are 5 tips on how to post regularly:

1. Establish a schedule and stick to it. What is the right amount? Posting at least once a week is realistic. If you’re more ambitious or have more time, go for more. I post twice a week, and if I hadn’t made that decision, I’d probably post a lot less.

Whatever you decide, be sure it’s an amount that you can handle, every week, no matter what. Don’t start out with guns blazing and then fade out from exhaustion when you can’t keep it up. Be honest about what you can handle, and you’ll be more likely to succeed.

2. Pencil it in. This is an old trick. If you block out the time in your calendar, you’re more likely to get the work done. Figure out what times are best for you. Maybe you only blog at night after the kids go to bed. Maybe you’re best in the morning, before reading email. Figure out how much time you need. Don’t schedule an hour when you need three.

3. Focus. When the time comes, put your bum in the chair and don’t get up until you’ve got a draft. Don’t check email or social media or answer the phone. If you’re still drawing a blank, spend 15 minutes (set a timer so you don’t get sucked in) scanning the net, reading news items or blog posts that might inspire you. If you have the luxury, come back to your draft for a final edit before posting. You’ll always find something to improve.

4. Make a list of upcoming blog topics. It’s a sure-fire way to have “something to say.” Make it long and varied, such as a book review, an event, an essay, and a recipe. List some subjects you can write at any time, and some that require planning. Think of some short posts, a minimum of 200 words. The more you mix it up, and the longer your list, the easier it will be to pick what suits you. If you can’t come up with topics, try keywords. Or write down ideas for a series.

Stick with topics that excite you or that you know a lot about, rather than what you think you should write about.

5. Take photos to inspire you. You might decide to write about a cookie exchange, a dish you found on a trip, or a restaurant meal, all because you took photos at the time that are good enough for a blog post. Use events in your daily life to springboard into a post.

I’m not going to tell you to stockpile posts, because I can’t figure out how to do it. I remember David Lebovitz astonishing the crowd at the first BlogHer Food when he admitted he had dozens of posts in various stages of development. I can only aspire.

Got more tips on how to be a regular blogger? I’d love to know.

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 Posted by on December 20, 2010 at 1:36 pm

  76 Responses to “5 Ways to Write Posts On a Schedule”

  1. These are great tips Dianne. I’m especially a fan of #5. I start every blog post I write with my photos for the post right at the top of the page. It’s a lot easier for me than staring at a blank screen.
    I also agree with David Lebovitz’s tip to be working on several posts. I like to have a few in the “queue” ready to go, and then I can take a week or so away from writing as the already written ones go live at their appointed time. Sometimes the time off from writing blog posts is just as important as the time dedicated to writing them :)

    • Oh you are so organized, Jenn. I’m jealous. And it does help to have time off, because you don’t want to start feeling like it’s a burden. How do you do it?

      • I try to know what I am going to write about before I cook a dish for a post. I learned a long time ago that making a recipe and then trying to figure out what to say about it afterward is often not the easiest road.
        Maybe it comes from being a scientist, but I have a food blogging “lab book” so to speak that helps me keep track of posts and dates along with my ideas and how I am going to relate them to the food I am making. I also use it to keep track of any recipe development I do, especially when it comes to gluten free baking (which often feels like a science experiment)…

    • I’m very much a fan of working on several posts at one time, and I make sure they are all varied in subject matter. My blog covers food, television, music, and cocktails. Right now, I have posts pending on a soup I just made, the origins of the song “The Girl from Ipanema,” an episode of “Modern Family,” and the history of the Manhattan. Whichever strikes my fancy next time I sit down is the one I will pursue.

      I am a big food photographer, and some posts are just a favorite photo and one line of commentary. This is a way to have new content up when I haven’t had time to contribute some serious writing to go along with it.

      Another option is to list ten links to posts on the web you’ve read and enjoyed recently with one line about what it was you found interesting.

      One last note, and this is just a personal preference… I never ever apologize in a post for not having posted in some time. No one cares about how busy my life and work schedule have been. They just want to read about tv, food and drink. Plus, I don’t need to feel guilty about not having posted, so there’s no need to apologize.

      • Very good last point. I agree. No one wants to hear it. Julia Child says you shouldn’t apologize for your cooking either. Same principle.

        I’m impressed that you can work on several posts at a time. It’s a good idea as long as you can finish some in time to post!

  2. Good advice Dianne, especially that little line about writing on topics that excite you or that you know a lot about. I’m slowly learning not a to write myself a big ‘to do’ list for posts on things that I will need to research and that I’m just not all that interested in.

    Writing shorter posts is helping me to post a little more regularly too.

  3. Sometimes when I get stuck, I start writing my blog post as if it were an email to a friend or a family member (sometimes even myself). For some reason, that enables me to shake off the cobwebs and get my brain and fingers moving. I have also starting keeping a running list of post ideas on my “task bar” in my gmail account. It is easy to add ideas whenever they come to me that way, since my email is almost always open. Next up is creating the blog editorial calender, to keep me on track.

    Great post- and thanks for the encouragement to keep moving forward!

    • Writing an email is a great idea, Shelby. It is also freeing, possibly. It gives you the opportunity to write in your normal voice, vs. worrying about whether your public writing for readers is good enough.

      Can’t believe you are organized enough to create an editorial calendar.

  4. I always told my students that their muse was not their friend, but a fickle (redacted). ;-) Paddy Chayevsky (screenwriter) said to stop thinking of writing as art because you can’t always be brilliant but you can always put in a good day’s work.

    • Love it. Having been a reporter, I’m not a big fan of the whole muse idea. I had a deadline and I had to produce, or I’d get in trouble. It was as simple as that.

      As long as you’re quoting writers, Ernest Hemingway would put in a morning’s work on a single paragraph, then take off to a restaurant to drink.

  5. I was just talking about the need to set up my exact “blog work schedule” starting in the new year. Thanks for this…

  6. Thanks Diane, I needed to read this!

    Life always has a way of getting in the way, but if I follow your tips I will have a better chance of actually getting a post up!

  7. Great post, Dianne–and very helpful! This is an issue I’ve been wrestling with as a newbie blogger. I have lots of ideas for posts running through my head–many of them I’m writing and revising mentally throughout the day. But I need to sit down and get them in writing. Setting a time for writing every day would help (maybe in the morning?). My other issue is revising: I revise, and revise, and revise, and refine…forever…as an editor, I know this is a good practice to follow, but it can also take up too much time–time that should probably be devoted to writing new posts instead. When do I let go and move on to a new post–that’s another question I’m working through. Thanks.

    • Some people keep working on posts in their head, and then when it comes time to write them down, the post comes out fully formed. Other people have to sit at the keyboard to produce.

      You don’t sound like either of those, Katie. Perhaps some kind of fear that it’s not going to be good enough that keeps you from writing it down. Then the perfectionist (or the critic) in you keeps editing and is never sure when it’s done. I’d say the writing’s done when your voice comes through clearly; when it’s clear and concise; and and when it has a beginning, middle and end.

  8. For me, inspiration often strikes *while I’m writing.* So if I always waited around until I knew what I had to say, I would guess that at least half of my ideas would never happen. I learn by doing.

    -Ben

  9. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Paula Niño and others. Paula Niño said: I'm sticking this to my desk! RT @diannej: 5 Ways to Post With Regularity. Nothing to do with Raisin Bran.New post at http://bit.ly/hYhb9X […]

  10. As always, very useful advice. Thank you, Dianne.

    Since I am home most of the time, inspiration and something to say does come up often. I make it a point to write 2-3 times a week, sometimes more and sometimes less. But I make it a point to jot down notes during the week so that at any time I am ready with something. Does it work? Occasionally.

    I’m finding things a bit scatterbrained with some posts. There are times where I let my post ramble on without focus. I lose sight of why I am blogging in the first place. I lose sight of the intent of my blog — food and life. Not every post is about food or a recipe I experimented with that day. But my goal is to discuss something food related and how it relates to my daily life. Without notes and careful planning, I could (and have once or twice) blathered about sheer nonsense.

    Now, if only I could get my head around some photo ideas. I need to start creating an archive of “blog worthy” photos that can be used at any time and recycled if need be. My photography is the only thing I am stuck on for some reason. Hmm. Need to fix that and pronto.

  11. I find that giving myself a deadline works best. I really enjoy the photography part of my blog, so editing and downloading the photos happens right away. At that time I set a publish date for the post which I feel gives me a sense of urgency and yes I did accidentally have a half written post publish itself once.
    The one thing that does not work for me is the stockpiling approach. A while back I had so many posts stockpiled I was actually posting from photos I took a year ago. I find if it gets to be more than a couple of weeks since I made the recipe I lose interest and sometimes I forget the original source of the recipe or the adaptations I made.

    • That is unbelievable, Nicole, that you could have so many posts worked out. It sounds like you didn’t finish them, though, hence the issues you brought up, which could come back to bite you.

      Deadlines are always good. I find a sense of urgency propels me to do the work.

  12. Hi Dianne:

    Great info – thanks for all you share here. I find that if I don’t sit down and edit and post within 24 hours of creating a recipe or formulating an idea, then it tends to go completely by the wayside. I’ve got about 4 or 5 posts in various stages of development that have just been sitting out there unpublished and unrealized. I definitely agree that waiting is the best way to lose interest in something. Sometimes it takes me the better part of an evening, but being able to pound out a post from start to finish is the only way I can get it done.

    • Yes, I go thorugh this too sometimes. I start something and put it aside and then I don’t want to go back to it. It’s best to keep the momentum up. I guess if you’re going to have unpublished posts, it’s best to finish them so you don’t lose interest.

  13. Thank you Dianne!
    I have been thinking about this topic so much lately…it’s like you know just what I need to hear.
    First of all, I am a dedicated list-maker. A snippet of my To Do list might look something like this:

    – Mail care packages to my sons
    – Write a blog post
    – Get oil change
    – Mail “Thank You” notes

    Writing a blog post is never an after-thought, or something that I’ll do when I “get around to it”. It is treated as something important; something that needs to be done. The incentive to write a blog post (which involves taking photos, editing photos, and verifying facts, aside from the actual writing) comes to me as I am writing and editing one of my blog posts. Halfway through I can almost taste that delicious sense of accomplishment that I know will be mine when I check the “Publish” box.

    Oh, I am also a big fan of sending an email to myself when an idea pops into my head. It really helps to have those reminders every time I check in.

    • You’re welcome. I came up with this idea because so many people in my last post commented that they only post when they’re inspired or have something to say.

      I make lists too! My favorite part is crossing things off.

      Good idea about the email. I tried recording a note to myself on my iPhone last week. Have no idea where it is.

  14. Right off the bat I would like to thank you for such a wonderful and helpful blog! I just started a blog of my own so I’ve been reading a ton of your past entries to glean more wisdom.
    I definently established a couple personal rules before begining my blog, to help keep myself in check. I made myself a list of entries, and even whole series’, I look forward to writing. And I’ve given myself at most a week in between writing posts with a Friday deadline. My ideal is a post every 5-6 days but like you said, I don’t want to push myself too hard at the beginning before I even have many readers.
    One of my plans for when I have trouble churning out material, should that ever happen, but still wanting to have a post for people is to have a “guest” star to write a blog, since I know a few people who love to write.
    As far as keeping myself writaly, it always helps to have encouragement and a loving “push” to keep going from surrounding friends and family. I’d be interested to know how many bloggers actually keep the ball rolling with and without that kind of support. I imagine it’s much more difficult if your ONLY fan base is people who you’ve never met.
    And of course it’s nice to have my iPod Touch in my pocket at all time to when a moment of inspiration hits and needs to be logged for posterity!

    • Speaking of iPod Touches, I love the auto correct feature (not). “Writaly” = writing. Sorry about that.

    • You’re most welcome, Zachariah. Sounds like you are on your way. Very sensible.

      I do not have encouragement and a push from anyone, but I suppose I don’t need it at this stage. You are lucky to have that.

  15. Your post is timely. It’s been weeks since I published my last post and everyday I tell myself I need to publish SOMETHING. Thanks for the short and manageable list of tips…t’s exactly what I needed.

  16. You’ve just articulated thoughts that have been bubbling up half-formed in my brain for a few weeks now. Thank you. I post so rarely anymore, but I always *mean* to do it. Scheduling a “blogging session” is the only way I can get myself to post with any regularity. (And imagine, I used to blog 6 days a week last year.) I’m determined to shape up with the new year.

    Also, I think I write on Hemingway’s schedule; it takes me for-absolutely-ever to write something, and then I’m ready for a drink.

    • Perhaps you are burned out, Beth! Six days a week is intense. If it took you forever, you must have had hardly any time to booze it up.

  17. This is so helpful to read.

    Like a lot of commenters so far, I set myself a deadline. I have a ‘hard’ deadline which is that I must post once a week (Friday) and a ‘soft’ deadline that I should post twice a week (Tuesday or Wednesday). I find that if I have a lot of time to blog or a lot of ideas, this allows me to keep up the enthusiasm but if I get busy, it takes the pressure off.

    My other strategy is to focus on keeping the posts coming rather than obsessing over their content. Quality is important but I have a tendency towards perfectionism.

    Because I am new to this, I’m just keeping it as simple as possible while I find my feet. Later I plan to expand and write reviews (of restaurants, cookbooks) and maybe something to do with the politics of food, but right now my blog is basically a recipe blog.

    • Recipe blogs are lot of work, so three times a week sounds ambitious to me. Re keeping them coming, that is a good strategy when faced with perfectionism.

  18. Impact on failure to achieve tadalafil shop online satisfactory.

    “Amateurs sit and wait for inspiration, the rest of us just get up and go to work.”
    — Stephen King (On Writing)

  19. I read somewhere (maybe here?) to create an editorial calendar for my blog, so I do. Since I’m not waiting for inspiration, it means I can plan ahead – I’m not scampering to take a photo or test a recipe for this week’s post. When/if inspiration happens, I can always change the post topic – the only editor I have to answer to is myself!

    • Yes, someone else made this point. I used to make them for magazines, but it didn’t occur to me that a blog should have one. Good idea.

  20. This past year I have been writing more on my blog but still w/out direction. You have written what I have been thinking about. A structured blog w/ timely pieces. I am also going to focus on a theme and platform. This is the year of inspiration! Thank you for your blog, insight, and encouragement!
    Happy Holidays!

  21. Dianne –
    I am only an echo of all the comments before mine: thank you so much for all the simply great topics and solutions to problems that we all seem to be encountering.
    I think the greatest hindrance to my posting on a more regular and timely basis is that I don’t allow myself the “fun” of creating the post! It is almost as if I have to go through an entire day of “stuff” to earn the right to sit down and create a post. Isn’t that just plain sick! Since when do we need to give ourselves permission to do something just because it is something we “want” to do? I think maybe you might be a therapist! I need to just decide whether I consider this as “profession/work” or is this just plain “fun?” We never seem to have to give ourselves the OK to just get the bum in the chair and go to work. I need to adjust my attitude! Maybe I should just think of it as work and not all play and I can slide into the rhythm of the workday. Maybe that will work…. If it doesn’t I may require another therapy session?? Guess we’ll all be back again on Friday!

  22. More great ides – thanks, Diane.
    I am especially partial to #4, myself. I try to keep a list of topics for future posts. I find that if I let that particular well run dry I can get a little panicky and muddle-headed. With a list of topics I always know where I’m at!

  23. Thanks Diane. I needed that. Now that I have a job in the city, spend 3 hours a day commuting and am working in the world of the federal government I’m missing the 8 hour a day culinary inspiration of being surrounded by food and kitchen products.

    Sometimes, in my sleepy morning haze as I’m sitting in my cramped, overly heated bus seat an idea comes to mind, I write it in my head and then the ride is over. I wrap my scarf around my neck, pull on my gloves, check for my ID badge and climb off the bus. In front of me is the Washington Monument and as I step through security and into my 8 hour day doing something so totally not food related among people who mostly seem as though food is just an afterthought and the idea I had taking shape in my head takes it’s leave — quickly.

    I just need to find a way to type as I’m traveling. An iPad might be the answer. Too many ideas have flown out of the bus window these past 2 months.

    • Lovely imagery, Fran. Sounds like you are missing your former life, but I imagine you are enjoying your paychecks. An iPad or laptop might be just the trick.

      • Fran, I don’t commute but I email myself ideas all the time so I can get back to them. Especially if I have an idea about a blog post when I’m working! I also now have an iPad and that is also great for when i don’t want to pull out the computer but want to jot ideas. I used to be a “write it all on scraps of paper” girl, but I would lose them all…
        Love the name of your blog too! And that you thought you were a year older than you are (I’ve done that!)
        Mel

  24. Great post Dianne. I do think it’s hard. For me, co-writing a blog has proven immensely motivating. Another person is relying on me to get the job done. We take turns posting and we both need to hold up our end of the bargain. I’m getting ready to go live with a blog of my own so it will be interesting to see how disciplined I am without someone to answer to!

    • Thanks Katie. I know other people who co-write on a blog and it seems to work for them. It’s definitely motivating — you don’t want to look like the partner who doesn’t deliver. Look forward to seeing your own blog soon.

  25. I have 40 or so half-baked posts in my queue, all at various points of completion. And still, sometimes I just don’t know what to write!

  26. I’m laughing because I always tell my students that they won’t get inspiration unless they write. And I never listen to my own advice.
    Mostly because I’ve got a lot of other stuff going on, but it’s not really an excuse.
    I have many more pictures to write posts of than I have any writing for. I like my post to feel timely– I often want to just forget the whole post if I don’t get to it fast enough.
    I think it’s good advice, though, to have a schedule. I should.

  27. I, like David Lebovitz, also have about 30 half-done posts waiting in the belly of my blog. It’s not due to extreme organization — it’s because I start them when inspiration strikes and often never finish them, exactly as you predicted can happen.

    That said, I make sure I get up one post a week.

  28. Bum in the chair is always the reminder I need! Lately though I’ve been writing the posts in my head, sometimes scratching out a particularly FABULOUS thought on a sticky note. I used to be almost superstitious about not thinking about my writing but now I find it helps me create a storyboard of the post in my head.

    • Some people are really good at working the whole story through in their heads. The thing is, then you have to write it down! I don’t know how much you could get onto a sticky note, but keywords are always good to jolt the memory.

  29. I am not ashamed to admit I am supremely organized in all aspects of my life – with a full time job and grad school on top of my blog, I need to be! When I first started blogging, I posted once a day, every day, sometimes more but that’s not reasonable and you’re not really able to write quality posts at that rate. I guess I thought more was better, even though with a journalistic background, I know better ;-) After about 6 months of that, I went to 3x week which I found much more do-able though sometimes it was more than that – sometimes things come up that are time-sensitive that I need to post on a certain day so I post between 4-6 times a week now.

    There is a plugin for WordPress called editorial calendar that I find amazingly helpful – it’s a visual look at your blog over the coming month – I used to print out my iCal month by month since I am very visual, I need to see things on paper but now it’s all there. Before coming away on vacation, I scheduled 9 posts which was a lot of writing and organizing before I left but at least now there is fresh content coming up on my blog without me having to worry about it on the road and all I am doing is checking in from time to time on comments and uploading my pics to Tastespotting and Foodgawker (which I also have a system for – takes me about 20 minutes on the morning of a new blog post publishing to submit to the photos site and Foodbuzz and schedule tweets etc..). It’s taken me 18 months to come up with a system that works for me! On my regular iCal, I actually note what I am cooking when so that keeps me on track for posting too.

    I am a member of a lot of blogging groups – Daring Kitchen, French Fridays with Dorie etc.. and I find that helps me keep focused on producing regular content too. Once I have plugged in all the challenge posts for a month, that’s 9 posts already there, with just the actual cooking and photographing to deal with before I put my own spin on the writing. Even if I posted nothing more than those, it would probably be enough fresh content but I usually post around 17 posts a month. My New Years’ resolution is to feel ok with skipping a month here and there of these challenges in favour of my own content (easy when I will have tons to post about Mexico) or simply feel ok posting less. Because less is sometimes more, right?

  30. Thanks for the topic and comments – you’re all inspiring me to renew my energies for my blog. I started it in August, but was in a car accident in October, so I had blogous interrupptous for a month.

    I’m still developing my system, and appreciate the reminder to be more systematic. I’m going to create an editorial calendar to keep myself in line.

    One thing that I do that keeps me on track is carry a small notebook and camera with me at all times, so that when inspiration does strike, I can capture it. Sometimes the camera is more useful than the notebook in capturing a name or place. I just take a quick photo of that cheese or that storefront, and have a visual reminder when I’m at the keyboard.

    • Hope you are okay, Krista. I like your comment about carrying a notebook and camera at all times. Great suggestion.

  31. I keep a calendar on my office wall with a 3 month view. I’m pretty regimented in keeping up with my posting schedule as I know that my readers are expecting posts on certain days of the week. I “pencil” In ideas a month or two ahead and those ideas are constantly in flux based on the season, new clients, and recipe surprises that happen along the way. While I’m no David Lebovitz, I try to have a handful of posts ready to publish just in case something comes up and I don’t have time to sit and write. Am I obsessively organized…or ?

    • Really, do readers expect a post with regularity? I am not sure about that, at least from my readers. Maybe if I didn’t post for a few weeks people would ask me if something was wrong.

      I don’t think you’re obsessively organized, just organized. You’re flexible about changing things also. Whatever works, and you have such a successful blog, Lori, that it’s definitely working for you.

  32. Another great topic! Such useful info for me. I (again, as a new blogger) seem to not post frequently due various reasons, some of which are what is described above like waiting for a topic, not enough time in the week, not making it a priority, etc..
    But I am finding that a significant limitation to my frequency is feeling that I need to have a photo (and a really good one) for each post as well as getting all the facts straight. I feel I owe this accuracy to readers. Am I too obsessed with perfection? I don’t strictly have a recipe blog but I would call it a cooking or cooking experiences blog with occasional recipes. Again, my problem may be that I’m still not sure who my audience is.

    • If you can’t tell who your audience is from the comments, you’ll have to make one up. Who would you like to talk to? Other busy moms? People who like to entertain? How old are they? How often do they cook? You can make it up based on your friends.

      I suppose not every post needs a photo, but it does add so much. Perhaps you can use headings or colored type to compensate? Yes, you do need to get your facts straight. That is not optional, as you say.

      • I hadn’t thought of making up an audience…great pointers. Thanks for confirming also what I felt right about: getting everything as correct as possible.

  33. Excellent tips! This now makes up most of my list of new year’s resolutions for my fledgling food blog.

    (Also, just ordered the Will Write For Food book, can hardly wait for it to get here!)

  34. So many great ideas here. I’m going to write my food blog plan on the weekend for 2011. And also for my consulting blog that hasn’t seen me visit in many months. Thanks everyone! particularly like @recipegirl’s idea of keeping on the wall – THAT will remind me!

  35. The thing that stops me from posting regularly is the pictures. I work the usual 9-5 and live in London which means its pitch dark when I get home! I dont use flash in my photography so can only take pictures during the weekends. If i’m lucky and its not pouring down with rain which means having the lights on all day…

  36. […] See also: Is food Blogging too much work? 5 ways to write a post on schedule […]

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