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Your First Week of Blogging – Plan Your Future Blog Posts

Update: this post has been updated and compiled with other similar posts into ProBlogger’s Guide to Your First Week of Blogging – a week long guide into getting your blog going on the right foot.

Lets look at another idea of what to do in your first week of blogging. Related to our previous post in this series which focused upon writing compelling content – is a task that I think can be a very useful habit to get into – developing an Editorial Calendar, or at the very least doing some planning on the future content that you’ll be producing for your blog.

Today I want to show you three techniques that I use in my process of future planning for posts.

1. Capturing Ideas

One of the most useful folders that I have on my computers desktop is one that I simply call ‘Ideas’.

Screen shot 2010-02-18 at 10.24.40 AM.png

Inside that folder are four other folders – one for each of my blogs and another for miscellaneous ideas.

Screen shot 2010-02-18 at 10.26.01 AM.png

Inside each of those folders are many many text files. Each text file is a different idea for a blog post.

  • Some are completely empty and the name of the file is simply a short phrase which is an idea I could write about.
  • Other text files are simply a list of 3-4 points that I could write about.
  • Others are more developed ideas – they might contain an introduction or even a full draft of a post (although generally once they are at this stage I move them over to saving them as a draft in WordPress).

These text files generally begin their lives at random times during the day when I’m thinking about something else and an idea pops into my mind. The key is to capture them quickly, record them in a way that they can be found again and to develop them as much as I’m able to as the idea is fresh.

Sometimes, if I have the time and energy for it, I’ll work on the ideas for a while straight away but many times I simply get as much of the idea down into the file as I can and then save it for another time.

This means that at any point of time I have quite a few post ideas at different stages that I can tap into.

2. MindMapping

mind-map.pngI won’t write an extended post on this as I’ve covered it previously but one of the most powerful techniques that I’ve ever used for coming up with blog ideas to write about is mind mapping.

You might choose a different method of brainstorming – but the key is to set aside specific times (I try to do it monthly) to simply come up with ideas to write about.

You can read more about how I do this in at Discover Hundreds of Post Ideas for Your Blog with Mind Mapping. Note: I used to use whiteboards for this process but now use a Mac tool called MindNode.

Generally once I’ve done the mind mapping exercise I’ll then convert the best of the ideas that I’ve generated into text files to save in the ideas folders mentioned above.

Note: Incidentally – I also use mind mapping when planning a new blog. It’s similar to the technique outlined above on coming up with post topics but I find it also helpful in planning out categories for a new blog.

3. Editorial Calendars

I’ve used a variety of approaches to creating editorial calendars over the years. I’ve adapted my approach over time to suit the different stages of my blogs. These days as I’m actively editing two decent sized blogs with up to 30 posts a week I find that I need to map out what posts I’ll be doing ahead of time.

In doing this you’re able to develop content that builds momentum (posts that build upon each other), take your readers on a more thoughtfully planned journey and give them a more balanced run of content.

I found previously that if I wasn’t planning ahead in this way that I’d end up with too much of one kind of content all in a row which didn’t really benefit readers as much.

The other good thing about this approach is that you know what writing you need to have done by certain times of the week – deadlines work well for me in motivating me to work.

My Editorial Calendar approach these days is pretty much based around spreadsheets. I’m on a mac and use its ‘Numbers’ program for this and simply have a spreadsheet which looks like a weekly calendar. Here’s last weeks:

editorial-Calendar.png

You can see here that DPS has a 2 post per day schedule and that ProBlogger is on a 1 post per day schedule – but I like to throw in a few extras each week. This is obviously a completed week – I generally am playing around with it during the week and am finalising timings as the week progresses as I (and my writers) finish posts.

I also have editorial calendars on the go for future weeks at any given time – they’re less developed but I do add to them as I get closer to the beginning of each week.

At this point spreadsheets work best for me but previously I’ve taken different approaches including using a paper diary, using iCal and Google Calendar, using tools like Basecamp etc. It’s about finding a system that works for you and setting it up so that you do it naturally as part of your workflow.

Also check out Day 12 in the 31 Days to Build a Better Blog – it is all about Editorial Calendars.

Tasks for Your First Week

Perhaps an editorial calendar like the above one is a little advanced if you’re in the first week of your blog – however the concepts behind it can be good to explore. If I were starting a blog today I’d be taking the above three exercises and doing something like this:

  1. Set up an Idea Collection Process – whether it be using folders and text files as I’ve mentioned above, getting a notebook and pen or using a tool like Evernote on your iPhone – set up a system where you can collect ideas as you have them for future use.
  2. Set aside time to brainstorm topics – schedule time into your monthly (or weekly) workflow where you’re simply setting aside time to brainstorm possible topics to write about on your blog.
  3. Develop some kind of system to help you look ahead at the future posts on your blog – You might use a calendar of some kind or simply have a section of your notebook where you plan your next week or month of content.

Share Your Approach to Planning Future Content on Your Blog

I’ve shared 3 of the techniques I use to help me keep fresh content coming on my blogs – I’d love to hear from you on how you do it in comments below!

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. I like the recommendation for MindNode! I’m going to give that a shot.

    Couldn’t you use MindNode instead of the weekly planner ?

  2. I love the idea folder idea. I’ve been doing something like that, but not nearly as detailed. I’m going to give it a try.

    I tend to flesh out my ideas as I write them, and my writing often surprises even me as it comes out and I discover the truth behind the ideas I have. For that reason, I don’t know that the mind-mapping thing would work for me. After I write, I edit and edit and edit some more before I post. I usually cut 40-50% of the content. I can be long-winded!

  3. Thanks for the post. I will be back to read more from you, I really enjoyed your post.

  4. Credit Card says:

    The MindNode is a novel idea, it kind of reminds me of brainstorming teachers made me do in high school before I wrote a paper.

  5. Sammy says:

    I’ve tried using sticky notes and moving ideas around. Once the notes are organized, then put them in Excel/Word for safekeeping and editing.

  6. scheng1 says:

    I use Helium as an inspirational source. Whenever I run out of writing ideas, I would login to rate the articles. Sometimes, a title appeals to me. Sometimes, it’s the extremely bad writings that makes my blood boil.

  7. Very happy to have run into this post because my new fiancee and I are about to take on a new blog all about staying fit with your spouse. One of the big challenges has been how to start in an organized way. We have not yet decided what catagories we will have and who will write when and about what. We don’t know if we will always post together or if sometimes it will be only about me or only about her. I am going to suggest to her that we do the mind mapping for starting a blog that you wrote about. I just really don’t want to get going and have no direction or sense of where we are trying to take it. Thanks for all the secrets!

  8. For MummysReviews,com, an editorial calendar is a must since we receive product samples to review and it helps us get things organised. It also helps keep track on the guest articles to submit. Our calendar is in a spreadsheet, with added details such as sponsor names and value of samples, which would help in business analysis.

    Ideas are written down on a Notes file on my iPod Touch or MacBook anytime they come in.

    If I’m on the Net, I create a draft post straightaway.

    Another tool is a Business Plan document: this helps plan the direction for the blog and revenue-generating ideas.

  9. Currently I am maintaining a post frequency of 3 posts per week.On the other days of the week I plan for future posts

  10. Really interesting, thanks for the read

  11. Jodi says:

    Interesting post. I especially like seeing how you come up with ideas.

    Currently I have an “idea log”, just a file in RoughDraft program that numbers each idea I enter. Some of my ideas are a line. Others are an entire paragraph sketch. I also keep a small journal with me for just post ideas and another for blog development (like future types of posts, etc.)

    But I’m thinking of trying out your idea with the folders and text files. And the calendar.

    Jodi

  12. I usually make my editorial calendars each week on a fresh sheet of paper but I like the spreadsheet idea. That might save me some hassle. I’m going to have to start doing that.

  13. nice articles for a new blogger like me

  14. Gina says:

    HUGELY embarrassing newbie question here: a text editor is NOT the same as a word processing program, right? Darren says he uses a text editor, so that’s NOT Word or NeoOffice? It’s a different program?

    I’ve read that writing a draft in Word causes problems when it’s time to publish, is that true? If so, what are the name of some text editors tat you all use?

    Thanks for not laughing!

  15. I like to plan series that I either spread across all 5 week days or weekly series that I consistently return to. That helps me stay organized and helps me focus my ideas because I know on Mondays on my Christian Blog, I do Marriage Mondays – anything about marriage, Tuesdays is something about how to be a blessing to others, Fridays – finance, etc. Planning this way helps me stay ahead and helps me feel less overwhelmed.
    When I know what I’m doing ahead of time, it helps me avoid panic and anxiety.

  16. Leon Noone says:

    G’day
    How timely .I’m setting up my blog right now. Yesterday, I mapped out roughly the first twelve posts. Your ideas and recommendations are most useful.
    Thanks
    Leon Noone

  17. Lain Ehmann says:

    Great ideas as usual.
    I use the ole’ pen-and-paper method. I occasionally sit down and create a long list of ideas. I don’t assign them to days. Instead I just make a big list, so if I’m stuck, I can refer to the list to get the juices flowing.
    Thanks!
    Lain

  18. Wayne John says:

    Darren, great post. Wanted to let you know about a mind-mapping tool I found that I’ve been using: http://www.mindmeister.com/ – It’s free and so far I really like it. I’m using it to plot a series on building a website as well as drilling into any ideas I might have.

    Just wanted to bring your attention to this tool in case you were not aware of it. Feel free to zap this comment if you like.

    Cheers!

  19. it’s really difficult to make any specific plan on blogging.

  20. Hi guys

    thanks for the tips – though i have never followed this method for planning my blog posts and it sounds like a great idea i will give microsoft excel a good airing tonight.

    I tend to just have a pad write loads of ideas for blog titles and then once a week when i do them for the week ahead i consult my blog title list.

    kind regards

    sam
    X

  21. Rob Gokee says:

    I love your approach to creating blogging ideas, which I’ve had problems with over the years.

    One issue I have is that I am on Twitter a lot; by the time I get to my blog I feel like I’ve talked about all the things I’d put in a blog post. I’ve had to learn to hold certain things back from my tweet stream so that I can talk about them in more detail on my blog.

    I use ToodleDo and Taskjot (Blackberry) for my ToDo List; I’ve created separate lists for each blog that have a running list of topics, so that no matter where I’m at I can add them. It works much better than my traditional method of trying to keep them all in my head;)

  22. Hi Darren, a blogger in about my first week here. I think that it’s going to take me a while just to digest the information you have here on your website – but I’m already putting into practice some of what you have taught, particularly asking questions in my posts.

    I have use text files to jot down notes and it is helpful. At my day job doing web development I have a notebook that I’ll write down ideas in as they come. It’s an oh so very important thing to never lose an idea that comes to mind. Maybe the idea ends up not working – but you don’t want to lose one that will work.

    Thanks for the advice and I am sure you will keep up the good work.

  23. chandan says:

    Really some great idea Darren, Its good for us that we get some best blogging guide from you.

  24. In doing this you’re able to develop content that builds momentum (posts that build upon each other), take your readers on a more thoughtfully planned journey and give them a more balanced run of content.

  25. Darren, you’re a whole lot more organized than I am. I’m a single mom who works three part time jobs outside the home and I barely have enough time to get 5-7 loads of laundry done each week! But I did find a blogging organizational tool recently that’s very helpful. It’s simply a yearly calendar of events. It’s given me some good “ideas in advance” for blog posts.

    Write On!

  26. Tola F. says:

    I’ve been trying to get my act together for blogging so this is great for me.
    I’ll definitely be coming around here as well for tips on blogging and writing. Thanks man..

  27. Planning out future posts makes sense. Even if I just make a list of ideas, at least I have something I can think about in the meantime.

  28. Dave Higgs says:

    I have a little notebook which I carry around. As you get older your mental notes seem to fade so much quicker :)

    I use it for everything – appointments, invoicincg, and blog post ideas…

  29. Juliet says:

    Love all your ideas. I love how you mind map. I will definitely be using that in the future. Currently I use Evernote for everything. I like how it syncs with my iPhone and I can keep things organized quite well.

  30. I keep a calender to plan when I’m going to post my stuff. Its very helpful because I can anticipate problems like bad dates for posting from beforehnad. The MindMapping, although pretty obvious, is a very good tip which I haven’t used yet. Cheers!

    @JeffreyRomano

  31. Wow, I wish I knew this information when I first started blogging. This is very helpful for knew and up and coming bloggers. Thanks for sharing!