In “A Sample Blogging Workflow” by my friend, Chris Brogan, he talks about the process of blogging with consistency and determination in mind.
Your company has decided to launch a blog, and you’re the lucky blogger. Maybe you’ve even asked for this pleasure, suggested it to the boss yourself. Only now, you have to deliver, and you have to stay consistent. It’s not always easy to keep up a steady blogging pace, and there are days when you might run into a roadblock or two that might keep you from delivering on your schedule.
His tips for “building and maintaining a steady blogging rhythm” are excellent to help us set our goals and plans for keeping our blogging on track. Here is a brief summary in my words.
- Know Your Goals: List your site goals. What do you want out of this blogging experience. Look at secondary goals. What are your business, professional, and publishing needs. Make sure everything you publish goes through this filter to help serve your goals.
- Create a Task List and Schedule: Blogging takes time, and there is a sequence and rhythm to that time. You need to find an idea, research it, start composing your story, possibly find images, figure out the category and tags appropriate to the content, edit, publish, and promote it. Afterward, you need to track it, make sure it is getting the attention it deserves. You need to examine all the elements that define your work blow and take them into account, scheduling them to keep you on track.
- Know Your Tools: It’s critical that you know well the tools in you blogging arsenal. You must know your browser in order to effectively use it. You must know WordPress or your CMS publishing tool inside and out to understand how to make it work for you, framing your content. You must know how to use a feed reader, tracking your favorite news and inspiration sources. In today’s highly social web world, you must understand the ins and outs of Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and other social networks. Bookmarking, note-taking, image editing, screen capture programs, scheduling, editors…what are the tools you need to blog. Learn them well so you can speed up the process of delivering content to your site.
- Plan for Inspiration: Don’t rely exclusively on social networks or your feed reader for story sources. Plan for self-inspiration and motivation. You never know what will inspire and trigger a blog post, so schedule walks, open your eyes during visits to the grocery store, eat at new restaurants, attend a new meetup group event…plan for serendipity to increase the odds for inspired blogging.
It has taken many years to streamline the process. My work flow is often interrupted with client work and teaching, just as yours would be with family and other work. Over the years, I’ve built in many backup techniques to my system to ensure I can return to the flow and keep working. For example, I write and do my core editing in a text editor as I work often offline and far from a convenient and stable Internet connection. The auto-save feature of WordPress creates backup versions of my post as I work on it, giving me opportunities to leave it and come back to find the article preserved (most of the time), and go back to an earlier version just in case I completely lose track of what I’m writing. After publishing a post, I copy it and save it in a “done” file to ensure I have a backup copy for those just-in-case moments or when I need to quickly refer to information within the article in future posts. It’s important to incorporate Take advantage of all such details into your own blogging workflow to ensure you are using the most efficient and effective process.
Here is the basic structure of my blogging work flow.
- Be inspired. Like everything, it begins with an idea, often generated from within my feed reader sources, conversations, client questions, blog comments, social media, tracking trends, or just taking a walk and letting my mind be open to new ideas.
- Research the information and copy it to NoteTab Pro using Firefox web browser and a combination of two Firefox add-ins to automate and speed up the process, CoLT (Copy Link Text) and AutoCopy, which automatically copies text selected on a web page to the system clipboard. Normally, only one item at a time is saved to a system clipboard. NoteTab Pro’s Paste Board feature captures all text copied to the clipboard, which makes it a powerhouse research tool when teamed with AutoCopy and CoLT. Also note that if I’m interrupted in the research process, NoteTab Pro automatically saves the file awaiting my return.
- Write and edit the post
- Write and edit the post in NoteTab Pro or Scrivener, often switching between the two for their various features (the day I find a text editor with Scrivener features…dream come true). I write in HTML to speed up the process and avoid the hassles of forcing things to work in the Visual Editor of WordPress. If you wish to speed blog, you must learn the basic HTML tags and write in HTML.
- Review the article to verify it is in line with the goals and purposes of the site. If yes, it’s good to go. If not, I look at other sites and sources to consider publishing it elsewhere. I also have the option to edit the post to ensure it lines up with my site’s goals, or save it for a time when it might be more relevant to my readers.
- When the article is ready, copy and paste it into a new post in WordPress.
- Do a final edit to the post. This is the last chance I have to change my mind, edit it to match the site goals, or pull it.
- Select the appropriate post categories.
- Add the post tags highlighting the search terms and keywords representing the subject matter of the post.
- Add images, either researched, screen captured, or created. If the post requires it, I add a badge icon linking to the post category in the upper right corner of the post.
- Set the “more” tag feature to force an excerpt and truncation of long posts on multiple post pageviews to minimize reader scrolling.
- Preview the post to ensure it says the right things, looks good, and images are aligned properly.
- Publish the article or set it to a future release date.
- Back it up by coping the published article’s content and paste it into an archive text file in NoteTab Pro or Scrivener as a backup with the published date. When appropriate, the content is added to the various book material I’m writing in Scrivener.
- Add the date and time the post will or was published to my editorial calendar.
- WordPress.com and WordPress sites have options to automate the syndication of your published content to social networks. I verify them and add promotional tweets and posts to promote the article as upcoming or published.
- If the post merits the attention, I will track the metrics and web analytics of the post to ensure it is serving its goals.
- If the post is part of an article series, I will edit past posts to update the new addition to the series.
- If the post inspired more posts, I add the ideas to my Idea file and to my editorial calendar to schedule the post project in the future.
- If the post is worth it, I will add it to next year’s editorial calendar to promote it as a “Blast from the Past,” automating the release when possible.
- Rinse and repeat.
In 20 years of blogging and web publishing, the process of content creation, honing, and publishing has not changed for me, though the tools have dramatically improved, making the process efficient and fast.
Your blog exercise today is to clearly define the steps in your blogging process and work flow. Schedule them out on a calendar if necessary. Study how your work flow works, look at the tools you use throughout the process, find weaknesses in the system, and fix them.
Your process may not be my process. Everyone has their own system. It’s important to examine it once in a while to see if it is still working for you.
I added Scrivener to my work flow only a couple years ago. It has dramatically increased my ability to process extensive collections of content, structuring the order, flow, scheduling, and production. I’ll be publishing a tutorial on how I use Scrivener for blogging, but I encourage you to experiment with it on your own today to see how it may work for you.
While there are a variety of text editors out there, NoteTab Pro text editor continues to be my favorite. It is simple and easy to use, yet is exceptionally powerful. I’ll have a tutorial on NoteTab in this blog exercise coming soon, too.
LOOK OUT! I’m working hard on creating an ebook of the first six months of Blog Exercises due out in July. Stay tuned for news on how to get your free copy.
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