I celebrated six years of blogging at Stephany Writes in September. That feels absolutely crazy to me, mainly because I used to have Blogging ADD where I would constantly start and stop blogs I created. Before committing to this blog, I don’t think I kept a blog running for more than a year before dropping it for a different one.
And yet… here I am. More than six years into this blog, and with no plans to stop anytime soon. I love this space because it’s where I feel most fully myself. When I started blogging here, I was nearly 22 and just beginning my journey through journalism school. There was a lot of complaining (oh, the complaining!) and a lot of sadness. Eventually, as I grew up and graduated college and found more solid footing on who I am and what I want, I found my blogging voice.
So, with six years of blogging under my belt (and really, more than that if you add in my other blogs), I thought it might be fun to talk about my blogging process – how do I come up my blog topics, maintain a consistent schedule, etc?
Let’s dive in!
How do I come up with content ideas?
As you’ll begin to see, my entire blogging process is pretty straightforward and no-frills. I don’t keep a detailed list in Evernote. Instead, I just use my Notes app, where I jot down post ideas as they come to me. Post ideas come to me at the most random times, too. Sometimes, I’ll have a thought as I listen to a podcast or read an article or commute to work or fall asleep at night.
The minute I have the idea, I immediately pull out my phone and jot the thought down. My last content idea that I jotted down was simply the quote: “What you think about me is none of my business.” Someday, I’d like to explore what that quote means to me, especially as someone who deals with self-esteem issues on a daily basis.
Sometimes, the idea is bigger than that, like this:
That one came to me last week as I was reading right before bed. It was just one of those out-of-the-blue moments and I wanted to make sure I wrote down this thought in its entirety, exactly how I feel about it so that I can come back to it at another point in time and dive into my thoughts on the subject in a personal essay.
So, that’s how I come up with post ideas! I like having a long list of random thoughts I’d like to blog about because I can pull from this list as I make my editorial calendar. Speaking of that…
Do I keep an editorial calendar?
Absolutely! I find keeping an editorial calendar is key to maintaining a consistent blogging schedule. Mainly, I try to be a month ahead in my blogging schedule. I use Google Calendar for this, which makes it easy to switch out blog ideas if something comes up and I need to change the post topic I had planned. Here’s what February looks like:
Now that I have and use a paper planner regularly, I only use Google Calendar for my post ideas. You may notice that I’ve only planned for two posts a week and that’s because I have made the decision to move from three posts a week to two, to create space for more novel-writing time. My goal is to write one personal essay, to be published on Tuesday, and then a low-key post for Fridays, like Five for Fridays or a Currently post.
Honestly, without this editorial calendar, I’m not sure if I would be able to maintain a consistent blogging schedule. This is what keeps me in line, motivated to write, and my topics fresh and interesting.
Being able to see what I have planned for the month means I always know what I am writing about the following week, and gives me the time to ruminate on what I want to say before writing the post. So, how do I write my posts? Well…
What does my content writing process look like?
This is the one area that can be all over the place, as I don’t have a set schedule for when I write. It’s just whenever I can make the time for it. But, how do I go from an idea in my Notes app to a published post on my blog? It’s not quite as streamlined as you may think!
For example, let’s discuss my post last week, For the Love of Writing. I wrote a long draft of the post on the Friday before I published it. I spent probably about an hour to an hour and a half free-writing. I didn’t stop to edit it for clarity or grammar or anything like that. I just wrote from the heart. Then, I stepped away from the post for a few days. I came back to it on Sunday night, read through what I wrote and added to it. I stepped away again. On Monday night, I came back to the post for my final round of revisions. I read through it, this time via a blog preview so I could read how it would look on my blog (sometimes, I can catch mistakes more easily that way than just by viewing it through WordPress), fixing mistakes and clarifying statements and deleting sentences that didn’t belong. I found a picture to accompany the post. And, after about an hour of editing, I scheduled it to publish the following day.
Sounds pretty crazy, right? I basically spent more than three hours perfecting just one post. Now, I don’t do that for every post (for example, my Currently in January post took me less than an hour to write), but for personal essays and more in-depth posts, they take me a long time because I want them to say exactly what I meant for them to say. And that takes a lot of writing and revising and editing and revising and writing and editing. Over and over and over again, until the post reads perfect (or nearly perfect) to my eyes.
This is also why I’ve decided to drop down to two posts a week. One, so I can focus on writing more personal essays and more meaningful posts. I want to focus more on quality and less on quantity this year. And two, because I need to create more space in my life for novel writing. With three posts a week, the majority of my weeknights were taken up with blogging. I had to change my schedule because writing my novel is my main priority goal for 2016, so I need to make sure I am really making it my number-one focus.
But that’s basically my blogging process! I do like to include a graphic with my posts, and that can add 10-15 minutes to my process between finding the right photo, uploading it to PicMonkey and adding text, and adding it to the post. I don’t spend time promoting my posts on social media (I’ll usually just tweet about the post once in the morning, and sometimes I don’t even do that), so basically, once the post is published, I’ve moved on to what’s next for me.
Keeping up with my blog can seem like a lot of work to some, but honestly, I only do it because I love it. It’s a hobby that earns me no money (it actually costs me money once I pay my yearly domain and hosting fees, ha), but I have gained so much from this space – new best friends, new outlooks on life, the push to go after my dreams, and mostly, a space to be myself, to be accepted, to be heard.
What does your blogging process look like?