When it comes to blogging, there is planning and then there’s planning. I’m sorry is that an annoying way to begin? Let me be honest with you. I began my sister blog Living Creatively with Fibro nearly six years ago and I would say that I began to really come into my own as a blogger about eighteen months ago. Throughout my early years as a blogger, I pretty much went through every bad habit possible. I put some time into thinking about the title for the blog, and that paid off because I am still happy with my choice now, especially once I set this second blog up and linked them together with the Creative Fibro domain. But other than that I just sat down and began writing and I could have made my life so much easier if I had really understood the benefits of planning for bloggers.
What needs planning?
The obvious things that spring to mind are blog posts and yes there is a massive benefit to planning these, which I will cover, but it really pays to have a long term view and to plan the blog as a whole. Let me talk you through what I would do if I was starting a new blog. Which is the same as I am back-pedalling and slowly correcting now.
If you want to please Google (and by that I mean have your blog posts show prominently in the search engine) not to mention helping your readers it helps to have a logical flow to your content. This is something I am trying to put right on my first blog now. Here is an example of a brief section.
If you look at a site like the home page of Wikipedia it is awash with links because, let’s face it, it’s an encyclopaedia. As a blogger we are highly unlikely to generate that level of links because we are one person not a vast team or a machine! But what we can take away from it is the level of organisation.
Breaking down the categories
If you chose a category from the main options at the top right of the page, you are taken to a feature page about that category. Where you can find highlighted choices and then a whole sub menu of content. Just as the image above shows. Like many blogs, when you go to a category page on my blog you are presented with all the posts under that category. In many ways this is a neat and organised way to do things but it is really designed for an existing reader who is familiar with you and your content. But we are no only writing for our existing readers, we write in the hope of reaching a wider audience. Including people who are new to the subject entirely. For instance as a Fibromyalgia blogger, you are also writing for people who have stumbled across the condition and wonder if it is what they are dealing with, or possibly they are newly diagnosed.
Supporting new readers
Given this, now I understand the importance of planning for bloggers at a wider level I intend to work on my category pages and create feature sections with the most important topics and provide a journey through my content in a logical way for a new reader.
Three types of blog content
When I looked at my first blog posts, they were a bit of a mess, in some cases I had a 300 word blog post that covered three or four of my categories in no real depth at all. There was a little of my three types of blog content all included. So what do I mean by three types? Let me break them down for you.
Type one content
Type one content is the building blocks of your blog. It is the posts that help people find you on search engines. As an example on Living Creatively with Fibro, type one content includes posts like: What is Fibromyalgia? Who are Spoonies? and What is a Fibromyalgia Flare-up exposed. This content should be informative and helpful and signpost at least once to a wider range of resources beyond your own blog.
Type two content
In contrast type two content is created more for your blogging community. Posts such as My Christmas Wish for you and My Creative Journey as a Spoonie are examples of this. They do not contain any vital information and I wouldn’t expect them to rank in the search engines, they are part of an ongoing conversation and add some personality and flavour. So what is type three?
Type three content
Type three is a bit controversial, it is really content that would sit better on your social media channels than on your blog. Which ones you choose depends on your audience. If you are serious about growth of your blog the most recommended ones are Pinterest and YouTube. The reason is that Pinterest is a search engine, they are happy for someone to use them to find your content then transfer to your blog to read it. They have done their job. I need to do a lot more than I do on Pinterest. When I have cracked it a bit more I will write about it. YouTube is of course video content and the reason it is effective is that Google own YouTube. Although it can be useful to bring in new readers, if you want to grow on YouTube they want you to keep people on their platform, either sending them to more of your videos or someone else’s. My YouTube content is laughable at the moment. I have well and truly dropped that ball, but it is on my radar!
The importance of Social Media
Having talked about the value of social media as a way of bringing readers back to the blog I thought I would also touch on it at a wider level. I recently wrote the post Instagram for Spoonie Bloggers where I talked about some of the benefits of using the platform. Not to bring people back to the blog necessarily as there are very few conversion for most bloggers. But as a stand alone project. If you are hoping to work with brands and review products etc. increasingly they are more interested in your social media following than your blog readership. So I thought I would give you a brief overview of the social media platforms and how they can work alongside your blog.
You can view the post I have just mentioned for a lot more information. But in short I find Instagram is a lovely community. I have begun a micro blogging process on my grid with a theme for each day of the week. Once I began doing this repeatedly I saw some growth in my subscribers. I can be bad at remembering to do stories, but this year I began a 365 day drawing challenge so that will provide me with daily content. My Spoonie and Creative content have both found an audience with some people interested in both. Hashtags are important if you are looking to increase your following. When researching what the experts say about frequency opinion is completely split. It ranged from one or two posts on your grid per day to weekly content. Whichever direction you go consistency seems to be the most important factor.
I share my Instagram micro blogging to Facebook each day and similarly share any Instagram stories to Facebook. Although I have found several people who use Facebook but not Instagram don’t really know what to make of stories. Hashtags don’t seem to hold as much value on Facebook but it does seem quite good at bringing people to the blog. It is a good idea to share other people’s content as well as your own on this platform. It both adds extra value for your readers and shows you are a community based blogger. Reading into posting frequency again it is split. If you are relying on your followers to see your posts on their timeline the more often you post the better. If they are visiting your page, again consistency seems to be the best approach.
Twitter is fast paced. When I put out a new blog post I schedule it (with different tweet messages) several times over the following days. Then the majority of my posts are retweeted throughout the year (when the subject is appropriate) I still have new readers coming to posts I write a couple of years ago from Twitter. I’ll be honest there is a lot I don’t like about this platform, it seems to have the highest rate of keyboard warriors and hate messages. However, it is popular in the spoonie community and I have proper “virtual” friendships on this platform too. When it comes to frequency of tweeting no limit seems to be the best advice. I have a good handful of auto tweets going out each day but I try my hardest to go on the platform and respond in person at least once a day. I should aim for morning and evening though.
As previously mentioned Pinterest is a search engine disguising itself as a social media platform. I currently share my new blog posts (and edited older posts with new images) to Pinterest and occasionally go on and pin things. This occasionally has to increase, I completely miss any opportunities for growth by underusing Pinterest. It is on my radar to improve.
I am aware that there are other platforms but in my experience as a blogger these are some of the best ones to grow your social following and your blog readership. If your subject matter is on the more academic scale LinkedIn may be a good shout too, but on the whole it is better for networking and finding possible people to work / collaborate with.
The importance of planning your blog content
Now we have talked about planning your overall content approach and sharing your content. I thought I would touch on the more widely discussed concept of planning your content. This really benefits both you and your readers. Although this can easily be done with pen and paper I’m a geek so I use technology. My chosen apps change at this moment I am using ClickUp for my blog planning. I was doing this in Notion but have now switched things up again and use Notion for my personal wiki and knowledge aggregation and for my brain dump of possible ideas. Once an idea starts to feel like it has wings I move it to ClickUp where it is tracked through from Idea through to Published. My Instagram Micro Blog is also planned in ClickUp.
Why planning for bloggers is helpful
Have you ever had that feeling that you know a blog post is due but you are either not feeling well (especially if you are a spoonie) or you are not feeling it, in terms of creatively generating content. We have all been there at some point. You then have a couple of choices. You can delay the blog post and break your schedule (which Google doesn’t like and it can confuse your regular readers) or you can churn out something which you are not really happy with. Low quality posts can again have averse reactions with Google and turn away all bar the longest most loyal readers. So end up with a loose / loose situation. That is where planning helps.
Generating Content Ideas
If you have planned out your content well, you should hopefully have a selection of possible blog titles. Websites like Answer the Public will be helpful if you are at a loss. It allows you to enter a word like Fibromyalgia and see what people have been Googling. I have a selection of other tools you are free to check out in my Notion knowledge bank. This process is primarily for your type one content which should be timeless and just need the occasional refresh.
Getting in front of your posting schedule
The biggest lesson I have learnt is to get in front. If you are currently writing each post as you come to it. As soon as you have the time and the health for it, complete the current post and begin on the next one. My posting schedules are once a month for this blog and twice a month for my other one. Ideally I like to be at the very least a month ahead. If you have seasonal type two content that you want to be in the moment for there is no harm in skipping that post and getting the following one ready. If you chose to you can always give your readers a hint at what is coming next time. I sometimes do this if there is an overlap.
Reaching out for help from guest bloggers
If you are struggling to keep up with your schedule you can always reach out and invite a guest blogger to produce content for you. This is generally a top down matter. In other words, you invite someone with a similar or smaller following than your own. If you are setting the theme for their blog post just ensure you allow them to provide a link back to their own blog. Guest bloggers allow you to spread the workload and share a new perspective with your readers and the guest blogger to be seen by more people and hopefully build their following. On my other blog I have an open invitation for bloggers to contribute to my Fibromyalgia alongside category or to write a guest post if they have a symptom I haven’t experienced.
Housekeeping for your older blog content
When you write a new blog post it is natural to link to other suitable blog posts, but it is easy to forget to go into the older ones and link back to the new content. Even if all your blog posts are type one “evergreen” content it is well worth doing a spot of housekeeping and not only giving the post content and images a bit of a polish but also to review all your post links and make sure you have no dead-ends.
I hope you have found this post helpful. As with all my similar posts I will be refreshing my content regularly and so check back again later for further tips and advice. If you have got something from this post I would be grateful if you could share it on social media so others can find it too.