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How to Develop the Habit of Writing Posts in Advance

Keeping You Posted by Skellie.Do you write and publish your posts in one sitting? Many bloggers do. Unfortunately, this kind of posting habit presents a number of problems. For example:

  • You won’t be able to develop a consistent posting rhythm. Your publish times will vary depending on whether you’re inspired, whether you have writer’s block, or whether you have time to write.
  • It’s difficult to be relaxed as you write when you need to publish your post quickly.
  • You’ll find yourself forced to publish what is really still a rough draft when your post takes longer than expected and you need to go somewhere, meet someone, or do something.

Writing hand-to-mouth can also hurt your blog’s traffic. If your posts appear whenever you’re able to write them, your readers will never be sure when to check your blog for an update. They’ll find it difficult to develop the habit of checking, and those that haven’t subscribed might start to forget you.

In this post, I want to outline a few methods you can use to develop the habit of writing posts in advance. It’s a habit that will save you a lot of stress in the long-run.

Write this week’s posts in one sitting

Instead of writing posts just before you publish them, try setting aside one day to write your posts for the rest of the week. It could be a few hours where the rest of the family is busy and you’re not, or the time and day when you tend to feel most creative.

Once you’ve written one post, you’ll find yourself able to write more smoothly as you tackle the next one. Your writing muscles are already warmed up. As you tick off posts, you’ll grow more confident in your abilities to produce good content, making each post easier to finish than the last.

Writing without the pressure of immediately having to publish what you’ve just written will also help you to be more relaxed as you write.

Once you’ve finished your posts for the week, you don’t have to think about producing content for seven days (unless you want to write for other blogs). You can publish your posts at the same time/day each week, meaning your readers will soon start to develop their own habit of checking your site for updates on those days when you regularly publish a new post.

Write one extra post per week

If writing a bunch of posts in one sitting is something you can’t imagine doing, I’d suggest developing the habit gradually by writing one surplus post each week. If you usually publish 4-5 times a week, you’ll be one week’s worth of posts ahead after a month.

You can use the head-start to write next week’s posts the week before, at whatever time suits you — whether you want to do them all at once or write a post every few days. Once again, you’ll be able to publish your posts in a consistent rhythm when it’s time to debut them for your readership.

Finish your drafts and half-written posts

Another quick way to get a head-start with your content is to finish off all those drafts and half-written posts saved inside your blogging software. If you’ve started them, and you have an idea of what you want to write, the hardest work is already done. You might find it takes very little time to finish off a number of posts that have been sitting in your drafts bin for weeks or months.

A ticking alarm clock.
Photo by Mike9Alive.

Start posting like clockwork

Once you have a week’s worth of posts written in advance, you can publish your posts at the same time and same day each week. Your readers will start to know when to look for an update at your blog, meaning you can expect to receive nice spike of traffic at that time.

How to set your posts for timed release with WordPress

Check to see if your blog software allows you to set posts to future-publish. If you use WordPress, you can auto-post via the ‘Write Post’ screen of the article you want to set for timed release. Expand the ‘Post Timestamp’ sidebar heading, tick the ‘Edit timestamp’ box (important!) and set the time and date for when you want the post to appear on your blog. Then hit ‘Publish’.

Don’t worry — it won’t actually be published until your WordPress account’s clock reaches the time and date you’ve set for it.

A note: make sure your WordPress account’s time is the same as your own. From your Dashboard, go to Options –> General. You can change the settings under the ‘Time & Date’ subheading.

Use the habit to build a safety net

Once you’ve developed the habit of writing in advance, you can use it to start building a safety net of content to use when you’d like to take some time off blogging (or if something keeps you from blogging).

Very few bloggers have a team of guest-posters just rearing to write something as soon as we need them to. If we want to take time away from our blogs — or are forced to — many of us will have to earn it.

I strongly recommend that you have at least one week’s worth of posts saved in case of a blogging emergency. This will allow you to keep your blog running like clockwork for a week, even if things are a little chaotic for you during that time.

Food for thought: if you post four times a week and you write one extra post per week for three months, you’ll have enough content saved up to run your blog on autopilot for three weeks!

If you feel like a blogging holiday would help refresh and inspire you, you can use the habit of writing in advance to earn one. Why not start today?

Skellie is a regular writer for ProBlogger. Subscribe to her feed for more useful blogging advice.

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Comments

  1. Skellie,

    I’m so sorry for the typo in your name in my closing statement!

    Gisele

  2. I really struggle with this. I think I’m going to sit down this weekend and give it a go though.

  3. jon roth says:

    Actually, someone pointed out earlier this year that in WordPress, if you timestamp into the future, while the posts won’t be published until the appropriate time, if you use “ping” services, they will be pinged. Unfortunately, I can’t remember what URL he pointed to as proof, nor the site. I can look into it.

  4. MaxBro says:

    Use Tumblr to warm up your writing muscles.

    If you want to be able to write quality, lengthy posts, then you have to keep writing whenever you can. It doesn’t matter what you’re writing–it could be emails, mind mapping scraps, comments, or whatever.

    My advice would be to use your main blog for your primary articles, and use something like Tumblr as a stream of consciousness addition. Tumblr already works like a scrapbook anyway, and it’s a great way to posts little ideas or random stuff that might build into a larger article down the road. If anything,it’s a nice way to keep your fingers clacking the keyboards and strengthening your writing skills.

    Another great article Skellie. I find my best posts come when I’m sitting there and suddenly struck by an idea. It might be from something I read on the web, or just something totally random.

  5. Thats a very goo dtip cause blogs need fresh content, if u wont udpate for a week or 2 u will drop in se rankings, its very important to plan your postings, great post as always!

  6. I find this a great method too Skellie. I like to have at least a few days posts in forward publish at a time. It’s amazing how much pressure that lifts off my shoulders. And I always publish at the same time (within 15 mins) each day.

    I took a four week break last September and i forward posted a month’s worht of articles so my blog could keep running during that time.

  7. Skellie says:

    Thanks for the feedback everyone :-). I’ve enjoyed reading it.

    @ turtie: Darren’s post on finding ideas through mind-mapping contains some fantastic tips on finding post ideas.

    @ Gisele: Don’t worry about it! It’s probably my fault for using a weird name ;-).

  8. Mrs. Micah says:

    I go through phases on this. Right now I have three posts which aren’t yet finished–nothing set for tomorrow morning (but then it’s Sunday morning and I get low blog traffic then anyway). But hopefully I’ll have several lined up by tomorrow night.

    I try to have a schedule…I like to publish one after 8:30pm (sometimes as late as 11, depending on whether I just want it to be available first thing the next morning). And then I publish another between 1:30 and 2:30pm. That way it appears in feedreaders before people leave work. But they’ve also had a chance to check my morning post on their lunch break. I use the Timestamps to set it all up.

    My best way to get started on a post is either to e-mail myself about it or put a subject headline (and maybe an outline) in my saved drafts. Sometimes I’ll put a note in Google calendar to e-mail me if it’s something that’ll need more research.

  9. Talia Mana says:

    I love being able to post in advance, but unfortunately Blogger doesn’t have that capability…

  10. Shaun Carter says:

    Great post. I have been trying to get in the habit of having a week’s worth of posts in reserve. It certainly makes things run a lot smoother and doesn’t require finding something to write about everyday.

  11. Alex says:

    As my blog deals with news as it breaks, there are some posts which are not easy to plan beforehand.

    But for the other informative entries, I guess you’re more than right. It often happens that because I don’t plan in advance I end up either posting 4 to 5 posts or nothing at all, and as I’m learning that’s not very good for the readers.

    Great post, I’ll try to take your advice and follow suit.

  12. great advice. Thank you. I will try that out today. I have a lot of unfinished posts that I can try to finish a handful as backups. The holidays get hectic and I have been neglectful to my readers. I think this will help me.

  13. vineet says:

    Hi Darren, Skellie,
    I was thinking about the same when I read your article on building on posts you already have. I kindda guessed you re going to write on this too. I have faced the same challenge and I have written on how I am planning to tackle it tactically in my post below
    http://internetbusinessjunkie.blogspot.com/2007/12/power-of-mind-mapping-in-growing-your.html

    thanks skellie for the post.

    vineet nair
    http://vineetnair.com

  14. Yeah it really does pay off, recently I went on holidays for two weeks and with some fore-sight and planning I managed to have enough posts for that whole time.

    I also like the idea of writing an extra post a week.

  15. colbert low says:

    this is something I struggle to do in 2007. I will definitely need to do more of this posting in advance as my 2008 new year resolution. thanks for the great post

  16. Josh Klein says:

    Great advice. Last night I wrote all of this week’s posts, and set them to automatically publish at 8am (for most of my readers). That way they’ll have fresh content to read first thing in the morning, as my readers tend to do.

  17. Jummy says:

    Like another commenter said, this is one of my goals for 2008. It’s more time effective than the mad scrambling I do to meet my blogging obligations.

    This is a great read; thank you.

  18. Heh, I haven’t been doing prewriting for about two weeks now- going to be sitting down soon and writing about 3 weeks worth though. Between sickness, crazy snow storms, and programming work it is a miracle I even have time to eat.

  19. Danny says:

    I just started my blog and seriously need to do something like this. A great idea.

  20. Andrew G.R. says:

    The best word bloggers can learn is EVERGREEN. Always have a few posts ready that can be published at any time. This alleviates the pressure of being “under the gun” to produce regularly.

  21. Karri says:

    Great stuff Skellie!

    As someone said; you know this stuff already, but you fully understand it only when someone else tells you about it. This method is universal.

    We are not stupid than others, not less talented than others. The others have just learned what the best people are doing, how they do it and what they don’t do. This is the thing here as well.

    No, you can’t apply every advice straight. But the great thing is that you can take advantage of these tips and use them as you will. Your “winning-edge” is builded of these tips and lessons combined.

    This lesson is much about getting a “winners-edge” with discipline and common sense. Nothing fancy, but real wisdom rarely is. I will discipline myself to apply these great idea for a certain period of time – and let the results speak for themselves.

  22. I would really love to be able to write my posts a week in advance. What do you do if you have a blog where a lot of what you put on there can be yesterday’s news before lunch time?

    Not all of my content is so time constricted, and that’s when I definitely feel the most creative. I try to slow down and take my time with my other posts, but like I said, time is of the essence. Oh, what to do?

  23. Andy says:

    It is difficult to write in advance. But in the last days I made the experience that this is possible and much more relaxing. Not all content has to be published immediately.

  24. I would love to get into this habit. I write posts and post them quite randomly. I am going to try this strategy posting ahead of time this week. I plan on writing all my posts for the week on the weekend, just to see how I like it :)

  25. John Simpson says:

    Another thing is that you have time to change your mind about what you have written. If you post hand-to-mouth, you can’t change it once it’s posted. Sure, you can make corrections and edit the post, however, readers have already seen the initial posting, so if that initial post contained errors or incorrect information, it’s too late.

    John Simpson
    http://www.sbtv.com

  26. noor says:

    ye what an idea ,sir? I also do in the same way i.e. i first pen down all my ideas on the paper and prepare a beautiful story out of it.But…when i start typing it, i don’t know from where those ideas come and i totally reject the previous story.Taking a few ideas from that, at the end what i see is totally a different story.Your idea is really a nice one as a person can get much more fruitful ideas after penning down the story.

  27. Alvin Lim says:

    A great article I have ever read so far. It inspire me to practice the habit of writing advance posts in the future. I am going to follow the guidelines. Thanks for the great post.

  28. Good post Skellie.

    > If you’ve started them, and you have an idea of what you want to write, the hardest work is already done

    Unfortunately (in this case), the opposite is true for me. Turning my ideas into understandable posts is probably my biggest struggle. Aside from obsessing over every detail, I tend to have three new ideas for every one idea that actually makes it onto a Post-it note or “draft” status in WP.

    For anyone else in this boat – it helps me to do an outline first, and force myself to ignore the details. I also keep a notepad handy at all times to scratch down ideas. If I find myself stalled on a post for more than a few minutes, I save a draft and do something else.

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