Now that my ten year blogiversary has passed (I still can't believe I've been at it for so long!) and I am facing a brand spanking new decade of blogging, I thought I'd take some time to think ahead and ponder a couple of questions that have been tugging at my brain for the past while.
How can I be a better blogger?
Where do I want to take my blogging in 2014
I'm sure my plans and strategies will evolve over time, but for now, here are some of my preliminary ideas in response to these questions.1. Plan ahead.
I learned a valuable lesson when I decided to continue my daily writing practice throughout the month of December, even though I knew I was going to be away from home for more than a week: planning ahead saves the day!
In late November (after I oh-so-crazily sealed my daily writing fate by signing up for December's NaBloPoMo) I downloaded a blank monthly calendar and started mapping out post topics for each day in December... then, whenever I had some spare time, I set up, wrote, and scheduled a series of posts to cover the days when I'd be away. By the time I left for vacation I was all prepared with more than a week's worth of posts ready to go, and so was able to enjoy time with family and friends without fretting about my blog.
Because planning ahead allowed me to blog daily without a hiccup during the busy month of December, I've decided to carry on with the practice throughout the coming year.
I found some nice printable monthly calendars for 2014 which, when punched and folded, fit perfectly in my new A5 Filofax Finsbury planner (there'll be more in a future post on my devolution from digital organization, I'm sure!), and toward the end of each month I'll start planning ahead for the following month. I'm not going to be too uptight about making sure I have a post topic lined up for every single day - after all, some spontaneity is good, and leaving a few gaps will give me the flexibility to follow inspiration when it hits - but planning ahead should go a long way towards saving time and helping me to craft my blog into what I want it to be.2. Share strategically.
I have discovered that if I want people to visit my blog and read my posts, it's not enough to approach blogging from an "If I write it, they will come" perspective! Much as it can be somewhat uncomfortable to do so, I understand that in order to build a readership I need to promote my posts.
Up until now I've been sharing my posts in a somewhat haphazard way, but for 2014 I have developed a "Blog Post Promotion Checklist" (why yes, I DO work on setting up Excel spreadsheets during my vacation time... doesn't everyone?!) which I am hoping will help me to be a little more strategic about promoting my blog in the days to come.
My checklist should help me in several ways:
- It will remind me to share my posts every day.
- It will prompt me to confirm that the services I have set up to share my posts automatically (e.g., JetPack Publicize, Twitterfeed, etc.) are all working properly.
- It will help me keep track of the various places I normally visit to share my posts and stay in touch with other bloggers.
- It will give me a place to note any other blogs, groups, sites, etc. where I have shared my posts (i.e., on a one-time basis or periodically).
- It will provide me with a record of which places I ended up sharing each day's posts.
Whenever someone takes the time to comment on one of my blog posts, it's as if they handed me a beautiful gift, all wrapped up in shiny paper and topped with an enormous sparkling bow. Really! To me - and, I suspect, to most other bloggers - interaction and community are what it's all about. (Why else do we pour out our thoughts in our blogs instead of keeping them contained in a private journal?)
So this year I am going to work hard at being a better blogging friend by doing unto others: that is, reading and commenting EVERY DAY, just like I wish people would do for Alphabet Salad! While of course it would be impossible for me to keep up with every single blogger I'd like to follow and read every one of their posts (just the thought is exhausting!), I can CERTAINLY do a better job of it than I have been until now.
I started in a rather strange way yesterday, by posting the following message on my Facebook Page:
Dear fellow bloggers,
I am SO VERY FAR BEHIND in my blog reading that I fear I will never catch up... so, in the interest of sanity, and since today is the start of a fresh new year, I hereby declare my own personal blog reading amnesty. This means that I have marked EVERYTHING in Feedly as "read" - whether or not it's actually BEEN read - and am starting 2014 with a fresh, clean slate. I regret having to do this, as it means that I will miss out on reading several of your wonderful posts... but I will do my very best to make up for it in the year to come by reading as much of your writing as I possibly can!
Laurel (AKA Delinquent Blogger)
It may seem like an odd strategy, but for me, it works. By drawing a line under 2013 and starting 2014 anew, I have freed myself of guilt for not keeping up, relieved the pressure to read All The Posts, and given myself time and space to be a better blogging friend going forward.
So these are some of the ways I'm going to approach my blogging life in 2014... and I'm looking forward to the next decade!
Do you have any blogging goals or strategies for the coming year?
(Original post in Alphabet Salad.)
Laurel Regan blogs about life as she lives it at Alphabet Salad - "an eclectic assortment of rants & ramblings."
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