Like a lot of people I started blogging because I had read about the marketing benefits it could give my business, and like a lot of people I had little clue about where to start or how to be successful. So I jumped straight in and just started writing. Inevitably I made mistakes along the way, mostly due to lack of planning. Here are three lessons I’ve learned about the importance of planning your blog.
1. Have posts in reserve
When I started blogging I would write a post and put it online straight away. I wrote as and when I had something to write about, so my posts were sporadic.
I could see that successful blogs posted regularly, and I soon decided to set myself a goal to post weekly but sometimes I simply couldn’t find time to write, or find things to write about every week.
Had I planned my blog better (or at all!) I would have written a stack of articles before starting my blog. That would have given me a reserve supply of articles ready to post on those weeks that I didn’t find time to write.
2. Don’t start a series on a whim
Shortly after starting my blog I had a great idea to write a series of posts offering advice to new freelancers. This was inspired by a conversation I’d had with someone thinking of going freelance, and I quickly wrote two posts and put them online.
However, after that it was a long time before I wrote another post in the series, mainly due to my usual excuse of having no time to write. I’ve since written a few more posts for the series, but looking at the subjects they cover, I wish I’d planned the series more before starting.
The posts give advice on a number of subjects that would be useful to new freelancers, but the subjects were chosen based on conversations I’d had or experiences I was having in my business at the time, so looking back I feel they haven’t been posted in a logical order. For example, the post on quoting for work comes before the one on ways of finding customers – but you need to find potential customers first in order to have work to quote for!
If I could start over the posts would be in a more logical sequence, one that could function as a step by step guide to starting out as a freelancer.
3. Stick to a schedule
This is advice I’m working hard to take myself, and I do believe it’s worth it: sticking to a writing schedule. After finding my early sporadic posting habit disappointing, these days I try to make a little time each week to write something (preferably more than one post to help with lesson #1, building a reserve of posts).
I find that when I’m writing regularly, it becomes easier, more fun, and the quality of my writing increases, but when I skip a week I’m more likely to get writer’s block when I restart my routine, and at moments like that blogging seems an awful lot like a chore.
I don’t have a strict writing schedule though; I haven’t set aside a particular day or time for writing, I just make sure it is on my to-do list for the week and fit it around my client work and other responsibilities. Most of the time I do manage to stick to my schedule, but if found I was skipping a lot of weeks, I would try making a regular appointment for myself to turn away from Photoshop and do some writing.
These three lessons are by no means the only things I’ve learned to improve my blogging skills, but they are probably the most important ones. What they all have in common is that they show how vital planning is to writing a blog, making it easier to maintain, more fun to work on and improving the quality of posts.
Please leave a comment and share your tips for more successful blogging.