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Creating A Blogging Maintenance Routine That Isn’t A Chore

Guest Post by James from Organize IT.

Running a blog isn’t simple. Besides the obvious challenges of regularly writing great content and making sure plenty of people get to read it, there are so many elements of a blog that need regular attention. You could ignore things like spam comments, out of date posts and broken links and just about get by, but if you really want to keep your blog healthy and running smoothly you need a maintenance routine.

Many people I know don’t have a regular or organized routine, they just deal with situations as and when they feel like it. The problem with this approach is it quickly becomes a big time-consuming chore. They might get fed up of all the spam comments one day and decide to do a massive deletion session which takes several hours. Alternatively they might decide to shake up their categories in one go which again takes lots of time.

What I personally do is break down my maintance sessions into small chunks and focus on it every week. It’s much easier to take little steps regularly than large strides occassionally. Rather than editing dozens of comments in one session, for instance, you can do just ten comments in each weekly setting. Similarly with links, rather than trying to get on top of them all in one go, you might set a target of fixing twenty links each week. This approach allows me to keep on top of maintaining my blog without it becoming a time-consuming chore.

With that in mind, below are the things I focus on during my weekly routine.

  • Comments
    If you do only one thing in this category clean up your spam comments. You should have Akismet or some similar anti-spam plugin in place which will capture most of it, but a little involvement on your part may be required. You may also want to edit and clean up some comments, particularly older ones. I personally check over all new comments from the week, plus a page of older comments.
  • Old posts
    There are a couple of things you can do here. If you’re like me, you’re writing skills and blogging knowledge will have improved over the years and many of your older posts will be lacking. It’s never too late to freshen them up – improve the grammar, expand it, add extra links, etc. If you think that’s a waste of time, see if it’s worth just updating the post title/permalink to make it more SEO friendly (remember to redirect properly). I’m slowly working through each post each week, right from the beginning of my archive.
  • WordPress/plugin updates
    What better time to get the latest release of WordPress downloaded or get all those plugins finally up to date than during your maintainance routine?
  • Categories and tags
    This is perhaps a minor area to maintain but if you have a lot of categories or you’re quite liberal with your tagging, it may be worth giving this some attention. If you have dozens of categories or have a mish-mash of unorganized tags they’re no use to anybody. Delete or consolidate!
  • Broken links
    Linking to dead content is bad for obvious reasons but it’s inevitable that over time link rot will occur. That’s why it’s useful to keep them all up to date, especially if you’re changing categories, titles, etc. Download the broken link checker for this. You may be surprised at just how many dead links you have. Don’t forget to check old pingbacks and author URL’s too (while editing your comments). I update or delete ten broken links each week.
  • Backup
    The last and most obvious step. After all your hard work providing great content and maintaining it all, it would be a shame if you lost it all due to some mishap, hack or general disaster. Make sure you backup regularly!

James is a blogger and aspiring author from the UK. He writes regularly about how to work smart and play smart in the 21st century at his blog, Organize IT, and on Twitter.

About Darren Rowse

Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.

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Comments

  1. Bruno Auger says:

    Writing has always been my achille’s heal when it comes to blogging.
    I know I can think of great things to write but putting it on my blog in a way that makes sense is the most diffivcult task.

    As for all the other little trvial things associated with blogs is easy to me. I never really thought of freshing up old posts or even thecategory an tagging thing.

    I back up my blog daily so I never have to worry about it.

    Thanks for the enlightening post.

  2. Nice tips James. I’ve just got into the habit of backing up my blog. All of that work, just for one day it all to be lost would be a disaster. Thanks.

  3. Thats helps me a lot … especially about the updating the older posts one … lets start making a routine shall we :)

  4. Is it really worth it to spend much time re-doing old posts? This can be very time-consuming. Would it not be better to spend more time on future content? I would like to hear more people’s thoughts on this particular issue.

    On our particular site, we feature a lot of money saving deals and freebies that expire after a few weeks. Would it be to our benefit to go in and update all these posts, or leave them “as is”?

  5. Being an amateur pilot, I can appreciate the value of having a routine or pre-flight check list. It keeps you focused on what needs to be done and ensures that you don’t let any thing fall through the cracks.

    -Arif

  6. Hi James,

    You’ve got me thinking about updating to the latest version of WordPress – something I’ve been putting off for the past 3 months.

    It wasn’t until a couple of weeks ago that this came to my attention. I was trying to run some newer plugins (WP-Polls) with my current version of WP (2.5) without much success.

    thanks for sharing this and reminding me what I’ve got to do :)

  7. Alvin says:

    I did almost all of the listed points except for the old posts. Will spend some times to update them maybe with images. Thanks for the tips.

    iPhone mail settings for your Bluehost account

  8. Dan Smith says:

    I had to do a little bit of maintenance myself. I had a follower recently join the blog who had a distasteful blog himself. So I moved that blog to the blocked followers part because my blog is mainly about Christianity and lewd pictures on my followers list is not conducive to good blogging.

    I don’t know if it was a prank or what, but it was distasteful, and like a spam comment, I removed it.

  9. James Joyner says:

    Much of this is impractical if you have a large number of posts. My primary blog has 30,000 plus posts from over seven years of writing. It would be a colossal waste of time going back to edit comments and links on them.

    Creating good new content should be your main focus. It’s just not worth several hours a week in the weeds.

    What does make sense is to clean up frequently visited older posts. If something is getting lots of hits again via Google or StumbleUpon or whatnot — or it’s always getting a steady stream of hits — then it’s a good idea to clean it up, update it and link to newer posts. Ditto if it’s on your Most Popular or Sneeze pages.

  10. Seth W says:

    Maintenance is a vital step in making a professional blog. Correcting errors is really important if you want your blog to be the best.

  11. Just thinking about your lists makes me tired. I think the biggest challenge for me is the old post. I don’t think I’ve ever gone back through old posts to freshen them up. It seems like, especially with a site like problogger, this would be a never ending task. The 1 post per week is a good idea, but again, that will take you forever. Seems like a pretty big time drain.

  12. Darren, nice way to help us get organized. I am spending so much time right now that I just switched over to Thesis, and what I focus on now is to get a solid good foundation, and I document all the design steps so I know which optimization tools I use, which plugins I downloaded and why and keep a master document handy about foundation of the blog, and then I plan to develop a routine, for which your post is excellent but there never is enough time, is there? At least not until I go full-time blogging ;)!

  13. Jaky Astik says:

    Darren! It’s time you moved up to some other good blogging idea. Problogger seems to be getting saturated, don’t you think?

  14. Lots of great info here! Too bad i’m not on wordpress . . .

  15. Jozef Nagy says:

    I would add one more category to your post: Checking your site statistics. Don’t get stuck in the obsessive rut of checking your site stats constantly. Set aside some time, weekly at most, and review your numbers then. You can do things like check for upticks from new referrers, traffic swings, most popular posts, etc. all in one sitting. That way your mind is in the analytical frame of reference and can put together disparate data elements to find opportunities you might not have discovered otherwise. When your routine consists of stats checking on a daily basis, it’s usually just a mindless check of page views, unique IPs. There’s a lot more to discover if you dedicate the time.

  16. carti online says:

    Please tell us what strategy you use to organize your work in terms of old posts from the beginning…

  17. supergranny says:

    Thanks, I guess I’m a fairly ‘green” blogger and didn’t give cleaning and maintainance a second thought. I will now…jthank you!

  18. Nice list! My current blog is brand new (celebrating the one month birthday in a couple of days), though I’ve got an old, languishing blog that could definitely do with some TLC…

    Actually, reading this list, I’ve realised that even on the current blog, there are a few small maintenance things I want to do – changing some links, sorting out some formatting, etc. So thanks for the reminder! I’ll definitely be getting a maintenance routine implemented to handle things on a weekly basis, rather than letting them mount up for months (my usual method, alas!)

  19. Adam Baird says:

    Nice tips! I’m going to make it a point each week to update each post from the corresponding week six months prior.

  20. I hate spam comments. Nice post James. Looks like you have a nice site.

  21. I am just now realizing how out of date some of my older posts are, and they’re only a couple of months old. The thought of sprucing up old posts had never crossed my mind before, but it makes total sense.

    Thanks for a great post and some practical tips. I especially like the part about grouping tasks together, like dealing with a batch of comments all at once.

    Thanks again. Great stuff.

  22. I agree that the routine can be very helpful. Instead of posting and maintaining a couple of blogs and links now I focus only on 10 weekly.

  23. Thanks for sharing this relevant post!
    This gives knowledge on the new discovered things and routines which will help in making things easily understand.

    This is such a nice post!

  24. I do my comment moderation by hand, just as the comments come in, so no digging in the Akismet queue for me. As for the rest, great tips, but I would put back up first, not last! SY

  25. Jason says:

    Updating and backing up blog installation is a pain. The company I use does this as part of the monthly fee. Helps save time for other task.

  26. Hey Darren,

    Just installed the broken link plugin and I have…GASP…246 broken links! Must be from when I switched from Blogger to WordPress. Ugh. Will try to fix 10 each week.

    Thank you so much for a great maintenance plan–this is awesome.

    As always, you rock. ;)
    Heather

  27. Matt says:

    Usually I can get into one routine very easily. Either fixing up the site, cleaning up the code and ads, or posting content. For some reason I can never make myself do them in the same day.

  28. Maintenance will always be a chore.

  29. Eric O. says:

    One thing I’m learning is that I’ve got to schedule time to do certain task. If I don’t do this, I end up just doing what I feel like doing at the time and neglect some important things.

  30. Want add one note to “Backup” step – don’t just backup your database, try to restore it. So many people do this step incorrectly or not doing full DB backup without realizing it.

  31. Shannon says:

    So funny you posted this. I spent the weekend re-organizing my blogging routine into something more manageable since I work full time. My new routine is basically, no major site updates during the week, I now save those for weekends. During the week, I have about 90 minutes now where I can comment, checks stats, do the blog itself. It’s feels much better to have a system in place than to just randomly work on the blog with no rhyme or reason.

  32. Akismet rules, but you do have to be careful about the false positives.

  33. I understand the need to update posts and refresh them from time to time but we must be careful not to sacrifice new material to this cause, in my opinion, as novel ideas and posts should outweigh the importance of older news both in the eye of the reader and in the mind of the author.

  34. Great tips. I like doing the old post post at least once a month giving highlights from the previous 30 days.

  35. Hmm. For someone who has more than 1 blogs running, maintenance can be quite a chore. Finally I have a decent system in place that allows me to get maintenance done in a day. Yeps, I’ve scheduled Fridays as my maintenance (eg: plugins, updates, etc…) — that’s for non-critical stuff though. :)

  36. Phil Fox says:

    I feel that updating older posts is time well spent.
    However, it’s all about priorities, and how much time is available. If you have very little time, then don’t spend too much time on older posts, instead concentrating on getting new content on your blog.

    As for backing up your blog, don’t just think about it – DO IT. There are some great plugins for this purpose.

  37. Thanks for a good post. I have start backing up my blog now and I will be happy the day I need it :)

  38. Having a maintanace routine serves as a check in balance for blogging. Yes, many do quite take it for granted (even I have). Though it has to be kept as a constant activity. I just have to remind myself every now and then.

  39. Sujay says:

    I agree to your points. You should do the maintenance work in small bits of time instead of waiting for it. But just reworking on the old posts might be somewhere you don’t want to spend time. Also I do believe that marketing and promoting the blog is another thing you need to spend time for.

  40. Ugh.

    OK, I cleaned up categories and tags last night while waiting for the MLB draftee deadline.

    I’m pretty good about backups, though. I’d had to lose my content.

  41. Joe NDZULO says:

    Great post James.

    After reading it, I realized I had maintened my blog very irregularly, just because it is a great time consuming exercise. With your outline, it is clear that I can plan a much more effective maintenance.

  42. Great post and especially like the part about going back to old posts and cleaning them up.

  43. Glenn A says:

    “If you’re like me, you’re writing skills and blogging knowledge will have improved over the years”

    First usage of “you’re” good, second one bad. Still have a ways to go with those writing skills, my man.

    Solid post otherwise, especially the tip about cleaning up old comments.

  44. G. E. Marrs says:

    At this point, I wish I had this problem (my blog becoming busy enough to feel upkeeping to be a chore).

    I’m confident though that the day will come. *crosses fingers*

  45. Wow … I do not think that any one have described this in such manner.

    But don’t you think that your blog design should also come under maintenance. This one should be in top priority list as well.

  46. R.W. Jackson says:

    Great article James. I find that not keeping up on things starts to make me sort of resent doing the things I love to do: writing new content and reading other people’s blogs. It’s as if I feel like there is ‘real’ work to be done i.e. drudgery and so I penalize myself by not doing the fun stuff. A good routine is a great idea and really helps.

    Thanks for putting everything so clearly.

  47. Rick Cadden says:

    Thanks! My son is a blogger and got me set up and said mostly the same thing about small chunks of writing and cleanup at a time. I try to bock out 1-2 hours a day for blogging and writing and that seems to work.

    Have a blessed day!

  48. Wasim Mughal says:

    Afterall I found the tip about maintenance, You cleared my mind, I am going to follow your routine a bit but mostly I will be making changes for that.

    Regardssssssss

  49. yoonod says:

    It about all of priority, and how long be can offered. If you are not almost free, then the counselor spends too much time on older post, change into and is absorbed in getting the new content of the network diary about you.

  50. Grammar Nazi says:

    “There are a couple of things you can do here. If you’re like me, you’re writing skills and blogging knowledge will have improved over the years ”

    Ironic.