There are so many ways blogging can help us develop as an author, as well as build an audience. It is important for creative writers to blog, but blogging can sometimes be stressful and frustrating, as well as a major time-suck if we’re not careful.
So, how can we authors make sure we are efficient bloggers? I have picked up a number of tips on this topic over the last two years, as well as built up lots of experience blogging. Here are some things I’ve learned about blogging efficiently:
1. HAVE A BLOGGING SCHEDULE: NOT JUST FOR WHEN YOU PUBLISH, BUT WHEN YOU WRITE POSTS.
I publish Sundays and Wednesdays here at crimsonleague.com. I also write new posts on Sundays and Wednesdays, but do you know what makes my schedule really work for me?
- I write on Sundays for the following Wednesday.
- I write on Wednesdays for the following Sunday.
I don’t write the day my post is “due.” This keeps me feeling relaxed. The last thing I want, when an idea for a post is hard to come by, to feel harried and anxious because I have a pending deadline.
I KNOW that if I can’t think of something to say or if something unexpected should occur, I still have plenty of time before the post I “need” to be writing is actually meant to go live. Pushing things back would be no big deal, so I don’t feel anxious or guilty when I have to push things back.
If you’re anything like me, this is a big, big way to be more efficient. I am anxious by nature, and that does little to help me be productive or manage my time well. The arrangement I’ve developed for writing my blog helps me minimize that personal weakness of mine.
I write my post at the point of the day when I feel like it, or I can, or I have an idea. And I don’t have to stress before that time comes because I don’t HAVE to write that day, push come to shove. I have a built in buffer.
2. LIST POSTS ARE YOUR VERY BEST FRIENDS!
An awesome tip I picked up from the social buzz club is that list posts are WONDERFUL for a blogger with a busy schedule. Why?
They are multiple posts in one! At least, you can craft them to be. It works like this:
- Your first post introduces a list of concepts that are somehow related to each other as a stand-alone, interesting, and useful post for your target audience.
- After that, you expand upon each entry in your list as its own, separate post.
- Hopefully, your first post gets a lot of attention and keeps people coming back to read the follow ups. List posts tend to be among the most popular and most shared types of posts.
This not only gives you multiple posts, but it allows you to delve into topics deeply, which is AWESOME because as most bloggers know, good blog posts aren’t graduate theses. There is only so much you can say in a short space.
The list structure helps you say more and go further. That’s one thing I really love about it! I have a history as a grad student in the humanities, so I enjoy picking things apart. I find fulfillment and purpose in deeper, more critical thinking.
List posts also force me to be creative and to find connections between odd things, which is awesome! When I have two ideas for posts and I like them both, I sometimes try to connect them as two entries of a list. That forces me to analyze how they relate and intersect.
Then I’m forced to go beyond that connection to think of other list entries. It’s a great way way to practice critical thinking, and I can promise you, I have learned so much through such exercises!
Now, I know not everyone likes list posts. And there’s definitely no reason you have to write them if you prefer not to. But if you don’t mind the popularity of the list structure and its limitations, it can actually be a very liberating kind of restraint. They tend to be fast, simple, and straightforward posts to write.
Here are some examples of list posts I used to spawn four or five posts to follow:
- The Five Things Every Good Novel Does
- The Do’s of Creative Writing
- The Don’ts of Creative Writing
3. HAVE A TARGET LENGTH AND BASIC STRUCTURE THAT YOU REPEAT.
If I remember rightly, this idea comes from Molly Greene and her book Blog It! Having a go-to structure saves time because you don’t have to worry about how to arrange and format your posts.
It also helps you build an audience, because you are providing consistency. That means the people who enjoy your posts are likely to enjoy the other posts you write. They will come back because they know your posts are consistently interesting, challenging, helpful, or thought-provoking for them…. whatever the case may be.
Target length is important for me because I sometimes find myself having more to say about a topic. When I’m around my target length, though, I know to stop myself.
Rather than write one super-long post, which takes more of my time and energy as well as greater chunks of my ideas, stopping at my target length (for me, 600-800 words) allow me to get multiple posts out my idea. I don’t neglect to say the rest of what I was thinking…. I just shape that content into its own post (or two) for the future.
Victoria Grefer is the author the Herezoth trilogy, which begins with “The Crimson League” and has new editions coming out this Fall. She also has a writer’s handbook out, titled “Writing for You: A Novelist’s Guide to the Craft of Fiction.”
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