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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. James B. says:

    I’ve tried to do that, but i can’t. I don’t like doing the same thing that long. SO i write when i need it. Which would be now.

  2. James B. says:

    I don’t do that. Because it’s hard for me to sit and type for more than one post.

  3. Dom says:

    This is all great advice, but you should also consider which (if any) of your posts are time sensitive.

    You may be posting about a news related story that will be meaningless if your post doesn’t go live for 5 days…

  4. Jacky says:

    I usually spend one and a half hour writing every day.

  5. Great post as usual. I already write my posts one day in advance but now I’ll try to do a week’s posts.

    I am relatively new to WordPress and I didn’t know that you can set it to publish automatically at a given time. Great tip; it will be very helpful to me.

  6. Anne Glamore says:

    This is marvelous advice, but the most I can do is write a post one day, sleep on it, publish it the next, and keep one in reserve.

    I’ve tried your method, but my blog is more creative writing (humor) than marketing tips or tech, so I have found that if I don’t capture a funny incident right when it happens, it loses some luster.

    The Fart/Doorknob game just isn’t as humorous after a week has passed!

    Thanks for all your helpful advice.

  7. Rehuel says:

    This is stuff you actually already know, but you start thinking seriously about it again when someone writes about it.

    Thanks again D.

  8. My hat’s off to anyone who’s developed the habit of writing posts in advance. The only time I’m able to is before I travel long distances and won’t have time to log on every day.

    WordPress’s poststamp edit is truly a godsend for delivery.

    Writing a new post every weekday is actually a great start to my morning. I write on two or three blogs (depending on the day), and in about 45 minutes, I’m done and energized to work on projects.

  9. Sonja says:

    Hi,
    I have a niche “information” blog. I am promoting an affiliate product on this site. Every time I post a really “a quality informative” article, I seem to make a sale.

    My question. If I post only excellent quality articles, would it be spamming or unwise to post 3-7 articles / day.

    These are not narrative/talking type articles, but rather, information articles – with some personal additives.

    I am working on increasing my traffic. But for now, this seems to be the best way to make a sale.

    Thanks,
    Sonja

  10. Good advice and worth putting into practice.

    I wasn’t actually aware of WordPress’s timed automatic postings. It’s one flaw that I find with Blogger (which I think sometimes gets a bit too much of a bad press), that when you publish a post it’s timestamped at the time of the first draft save, which makes it more awkward to “back up” blog entries for future publication.

  11. I’ve been thinking about starting a blog, and already, I have a dozen or so posts, sitting on my desktop waiting to be published…finding the time to get it up and running on the other hand….

  12. I write several posts well in advance for Sciencetext.com, but you can come unstuck occasionally if you like to shuffle the queue dates and tweak the posts on-the-fly. Recently, I wrote a post about Akismet, the antispam filter plugin, and had the post queued for a future date. I then queud another post which referred “back” to this post and set it to appear a couple of days after. Of course, for whatever reason, I moved the Akismet post back a few days, forgot to tweak the second one, that appeared first with a dead link to the now as yet unpublished Akismet post. D’oh!

    Lesson learned: Double check your future posts for references to other future posts and make sure you keep them in the right order or futureproof any links.

    db

  13. Mike Rohde says:

    Interesting idea — I think that it is a great benefit to be able to write ahead, if that works for your style. I think for a full-time blogger this idea is more pertinent than for a blogger like me, who blogs as a supplement to my day job as a designer.

    Like James and Anne, I find it difficult to write multiple complete posts at a single sitting. It’s not my style of working. I’m much more likely to capture several ideas as a drafts with bullet points for my thoughts and then come back to expand on the post later. This way I have a stake in the ground which I can spring a fresh post from as needed.

    Because my job is as a designer who happens to enjoy blogging, I feel less pressure to maintain a regular daily schedule, and instead focus on fewer, higher quality posts about once a week.

  14. The problem is discipline :(

    The ideas make terrific sense. I realize the importance of writing in advance and will “stock up” by writing extra posts during the December holidays.

    Google Blogger doesn’t seem to have a timed release option.

  15. This is great advice.

    My site is all about tips, inspiration & cheap psychological tricks (lol) for women -in marriage, with kids and life in general.

    I use lots of photos & have to collect information way ahead of time to make it all funny & informative.

    Now I just need to FORCE myself to do more writing ahead of time!

    Thanks Darren for your advice & help- You Supa-Internet-Guru, You!

  16. James Joyner says:

    This makes sense if you’re doing a How To blog or writing short stories of some such. It wouldn’t work for any of my blogs, though, which are on politics, sports, and celebrity news. All of those are time sensitive and the early bird gets the worm in those fields.

  17. Ganha says:

    at this moment i have like 4 drafts and all they need is some editing , i will try to write in advance
    good post

  18. modaro says:

    I’m stuck and out of idea zzz

  19. It’s nice in theory. And for a while, I had pre-written posts. Then other things took over and I found myself unable to do this in the last two weeks and have been preparing posts the day before which I do not like to do.

    I’m going to try to catch my breath this weekend and write some posts in advance.

    It’s not easy (if you have a day job) blah blah blah

    But I will try to get back on track.

    Thanks

  20. Andy Merrett says:

    A lot of the blogs I write for are news-focused blogs, so require the post to go live fairly promptly.

    However, the method is great for features based on news, where a few days isn’t crucial (papers still publish news roundups of the previous week) and in fact could produce a better, more honed article.

    Now, if only I could predict breaking news… :)

  21. foxnomad says:

    This is absolutely great advice. I used to spend a few hours per day doing posts for the next.

    My writing, free time, and efficiency all improved now that I only set aside an hour or two twice a week to write. I began doing this a few weeks ago and it’s worked out great.

  22. redwall_hp says:

    On Webmaster-Source.com I write my posts and schedule them for later publication, but I don’t write a whole week’s worth in one sitting. I write a couple days ahead, then I write another post or two the next day, and so on. That way I should have a couple posts as “buffer” so in case I can’t find something to write no a particular day. I don’t schedule anything for Saturdays, as I wait until Friday and write a Speedlinking post (scheduling it for the next day). It works well for me.

  23. Caitlin says:

    This is great advice. I really need to develop the habit of writing in advance. The other thing I would suggest is to write a really long post and then break it down. For example, I told my friend that I would write a guest post on NaNoWriMo for her writing website webstuff4writers.com. I wrote a list of six lessons learned and it totalled 1800 words! I could have taken the hatchet to it but I checked with my friend first. Since she liked the stuff, she decided to serialise it over six days. It’s up to the fifth one right now.

  24. Nick says:

    I tend to write a couple of posts together, but haven’t attempted to write a full week’s posts in one go – not sure if I’d like to.

    Also, thanks for the info on changing the time of your blog, was interested on how to do that.

  25. Mark says:

    If I don’t have the time to write a week’s worth of posts in one sitting, I make sure I have at least 8-10 good working titles.

  26. lulugal11 says:

    I used the first tip and wrote all of this week’s posts last week. I found it was easier to do that way because of the settings in WordPress. I wrote some posts late at night and I wrote some on my lunch break. I set them all to go out at 9:00 every day and scheduled one post per day.

    This system worked well for me and I am setting up some posts for next week this way too.

  27. ricky says:

    This is somethong I’ve done for quite a while, and it’s really an awespme habit to get into. My site consists of news and reviews and the occasional rant. I obviously cant really pre-write news posts, but the reviews and rants I will regularly sit down and write all that i have and then schedule them out, two per day till i run out. gives me a base, jjst in case news is slow for a day and tremendously helps me manage time.

  28. Yes and no.

    First of all, I’ve gotten away from the compulsion that I absolutely must publish every day. I usually do, but if it happens that I don’t have anything to say, well, isn’t that why we have RSS?

    Secondly, I’m not sure I agree about publishing at the same time. I’m thinking of potential new readers who may be scanning Technorati etc. – by publishing at a fixed time, I might always miss some of those people because their reading time may mean that my post is way down at the end of the pile by then.

    I do bank posts sometimes, but unless I have a giant bank account, I’ll bleed it off to zero quickly.. I don’t want to publish too many posts in one day (pretty much no more than four, ever), but because my site is a tech tip and knowledge site, I would hate to think that somebody is struggling with a problem that I have the solution for but it is sitting in my bank waiting til next Thursday at noon.. no, I want to get that out asap – somebody might need it.

  29. This is great advice. I do this occasionally, but I need to develop a habit of it. Another way to write ahead of time deals with specific daily posts.

    For example, I do a “Friday’s Frugal Feast” feature on my blog, so I could write several recipes in advance for posting on Fridays. I think I’ll do that today, in fact.

  30. I have been writing my blog posts (mostly) on Sundays before the week they are published for some time now. It works out really well for me most of the time. I still posts when I can throughout the week but for the larger posts I try to do them in one sitting the Sunday before.

    There have been times when I was even able to get 2 weeks worth of posts in advance, it didn’t last long but it was still nice to have that buffer available to me.

  31. Scot Newbury says:

    Having been a reader of Problogger for some time I’ve seen advice similar to this in the past and as is often the case “good advice bears repeating.” I know sometimes I can be thick headed and have to be told a number of times before it sinks in (just ask my wife!)

    A suggestion for those that have difficulty writing multiple posts in advance – write a longer one and then break it into pieces. It’s the technique I’m using right now for my current batch of articles – I laid out on large posting, found the logical breaks and deemed those natural break points as the start and stop of each posting.

    Once again I’m going to try and put some posts “in the bank.” Hopefully this time the habit will stick.

  32. Pádraig says:

    On some of my old blogs I used to write two posts every two days. I would publish one and save the other.

    Then, when I felt like a break, I would just publish the posts I had in my reserve.

    Once I felt like getting back into writing, I would start the process again.

  33. I think it’s a good technique. One should look at this concept of writing posts as a challenge in order to feel motivated for those who have a difficult time.

    I also think it completely depends on your writing style. Some writers like time pressure and it in turn inspires them to create interesting pieces. Other writers enjoy being well written in advance.

    It comes down to a matter of preferance.

  34. Rhys says:

    I do keep about a day or two’s posts in advance (plus a couple of posts for “when the dogs on fire/house ran away”), it helps me relax more knowing I don’t have to post, so I post better posts :)

  35. Moviecat says:

    I have a few posts in reserve, although I would like to have more. I post 5 days a week and create the posts on the weekends…I usually do not have enough time to create more…I wish I had a longer weekend.

  36. MMJ says:

    Thanks for the info. The weekend idea is great. I am going to attempt to use that.

  37. I am going to try to do that this weekend. My blog would benefit from this greatly. I just have to get my discipline together.

  38. Nick says:

    Great article! I’ve just switched to WordPress, and didn’t even realise I could delay article posting like that – thanks.

    Here’s another tip I use: I’ve created a folder on my Mac called “stubs”. Inside is a list of blank text documents named with future article names.

    I carry a notebook everywhere. Any time I get an idea for an article or series, it goes in the notebook. Every evening I transfer the ideas to the stubs folder. Then every morning, bright and early, I open two stubs and don’t do anything else until the articles are written.

    It’s helped me build quite a back-catalogue of articles; my blog’s launching in January 2008, but I’ve already got enough material for the first quarter!

  39. WereBear says:

    Marvelous tips. If one’s blog doesn’t require breaking news, I’ve found that, like stew, drafts are better the next day, when I’ve had time to think over what I’ve said, the grammar and spelling errors leap out on a fresh read, and I’m more likely to develop an idea into two, or even three posts, instead of trying to cram it all into one.

    A recent bout of the flu sucked up a lot of my reserve, but thank goodness I had a reserve!

    In my case, I post once a day, so keeping that schedule is what I think my readers expect.

  40. turtie says:

    Great advice, but can most bloggers actually put this into practice? It seems a little unreasonable to do what Skelli is proposing. But maybe thats what sets the super bloggers apart from us lazy bloggers. I imagine that Skelli must be a fiend at the keyboard. And another problem is coming up with ideas to write about. HOW DO YOU DO IT?!

  41. I wrote all of my posts up until January 6th between yesterday and today. Now I have time to focus on other things. It’s a good feeling.

  42. Many thanks for the advice. I have been struggling with this issues for a long time. I will choose a particular day and time and write them all or as many as I can and put them aside. A great strategy.

  43. I like this idea, when I started out I was doing one blog a day, then every other day, then every third day. I will try it this week and let you know how it goes! :)

  44. kanak says:

    Recently after coming back from vacation and designing new theme, I have also learnt how to post in advance. I am trying to maintain a post frequency of one post per day atleast, hence posting in advance help me a lot. It gives lots of time to read other blogs :D

  45. tracy ho says:

    hi , thanks your advise , iam taking some day off , will try ,
    Greats tips

    to your success in advance,
    Tracy ho
    wisdomgettingloaded

  46. Fantastic advise, have to try and put this one into play on my blog.!!

    Thanks!

  47. akshay says:

    hm……nice post…..bt i do think of my future posts while went 2 sleep…..its the tym when you hav nuthing running in your mind.

    also i do searches on net for topics of my interests n rewrite in my lang.

  48. P4g3M4k3r says:

    Dom brings up a great point. The value of the advice in this article is heavily dependent upon the subject of the blog in question. A more news-centric blog is going to be time-sensitive, so the subject material doesn’t really permit advance creation of material.

    Having said that, even with a tech news blog, or a site of that nature, there is nothing wrong with occasionally sprinkling in a well-thought editorial or opinion piece, and these generally will lend themselves more to advance preparation. Regardless of what material you choose to deal with on your blog, it remains good advice to have something ready-for-publish set aside to throw onto the page on those days when your normal post just can’t happen, for whatever reason.

  49. Skellie,

    This is good advice.

    Thanks Darren for inviting Skellie as a guest writer.

    I’ve taken this advice to another level. We write one month’s of posts in one shot and then send them to our correctors to be edited.

    To answer the question that was asked earlier as to what to do with time sensitive pieces, you simply write them as they come and post them immediately, but for the bulk of your content, you have it ready.

    Perhaps, if you have a celebrity blog, this strategy of writing in advance might not work all that well, but for the vast majority of bloggers, this approach is smart and time saving.

    January will be the first month were we start posting guest writers features … so that should be interesting.

    Skellie also makes another interesting point when talks about having posts ready for vacations. We were away for six weeks this past summer and we had posts lined up for that time.

    The “scheduling” option is an amazing tool that allows you the freedom to write in advance and line-to-publish in advance.

    Since we write one month’s worth of content, we also post them to our blog in one shot as well.

    Of course, as I’ve said, anything that’s time sensitive of breaking news will get added as quickly as possible. When that happens, then it only means that we would have an extra post for that day.

    Great feature story Skelli!

    Gisele
    http://www.mybeautymatch.com

  50. Turtie,

    You can come up with new ideas by doing research.

    If you read publications in your niche, you find topics you want to elaborate on and put your own spin to them.

    That’s the best way to keep the content machine going.

    Gisele

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