Someone asked me in last week’s eLearning Freelancer Bootcamp Q&A about how I maintain my blogging momentum. I’ve been blogging since late 2006, and I’m still publishing every week. I have published over 1100 posts (about 400 “real” posts plus 700 posts of curated links). That’s a lot of writing. Many people start blogging but struggle to get past the first handful of posts. These are the methods I use to keep blogging consistently, year after year.
Consistent publishing schedule
Decide how often you want to publish, and aim to stick to that. One post a month consistently is better than 8 posts one month and then nothing for the next 3 months as you recover. I aim to publish every Tuesday morning, with emails going out either Tuesdays or Wednesdays depending on the exact publishing time.
Block time to write
Along with planning the publishing time, I block time on Thursday mornings to write blog posts. It helps to have a consistent time. I reschedule that time if needed (I’m writing this on a Monday afternoon because I had a migraine last Thursday), but I never cancel that appointment on my calendar.
I recommend blocking the time a few days before the post should go live. That gives you a little more leeway to make time if you’re sick or something else comes up (like it did for this week).
Plan topics in advance
I keep a spreadsheet with a tentative list of topics for each week. If I’m not feeling particularly inspired, it’s easier to start writing when the topic has already been chosen than to have to pick a topic and then start writing.
Although I find it helpful, I don’t strictly hold myself to that schedule. If I get a good idea for a post that I’m more motivated to write about, I move things around and change the schedule.
Create a series of posts
One way to keep the blogging momentum going is to create a series of posts. This might be different aspects of a topic (like my instructional design careers posts) or each part of a complex process in sequence. I have a series of posts following each step of creating a branching scenario (see the bottom of that post for links to the whole series).
A series of posts lets you dive deeply into a particular topic over time, rather than feeling like you have to cram everything into a single monster post. Sometimes, the comments or feedback on an early post in the series will give you direction or inspiration for later posts.
I keep a very messy Google Doc with inspiration for posts. In a post several years ago about where I get blog post ideas, I noted my primary sources:
- Online discussions
- Questions from readers
All of those sources can give you good questions or ideas. Part of the trick is writing them down or collecting them as you come across those ideas. The running document works well for me, but you might find a tool like Evernote to be easier for collecting those thoughts.
As I mentioned earlier, this post was inspired by a question during a live Q&A. I talked about several of these points live. It wasn’t written down, but it was recorded, and it’s already fresh in my mind. I have often turned email or social media questions into blog posts. After all, if I have already written a paragraph or two on LinkedIn, that’s a good start on a blog post.
Clark Quinn has gotten several blog posts from recent social media conversations on general learning myths and on combating the learning styles myth. Those are good examples of creating a longer form reflection from something that started in a different context.
I now have a significant number of posts in my archive, so I’m also updating old posts. A lot of the content is evergreen, but I need to clean up broken links, add images, and improve readability.
Repurposing helps you maintain blogging momentum by saving your energy and time. You don’t always have to start from scratch. If you have taken the time to answer a question (especially a question you’ve seen repeatedly), that’s content you can often use.
Presentations and podcasts
I use the recordings of presentations or podcast interviews as blog posts. That’s the most direct repurposing I do. I could go one step further and add transcripts to the blog posts, which might be helpful for folks who would rather read than listen. (If you’d appreciate that, could you let me know with a comment or reply?)
When I plan a presentation or conference session, I often repurpose content. It goes in both directions: I present on topics I have blogged about, and I blog about the specifics of my presentation.
For example, let’s take my session on Streamlining Branching Scenario Planning and Design. I have given this presentation for two groups (with changes):
- The Online Network of Independent Learning Professionals (watch the recording)
- The Learning Solutions Online Conference (recording available if you were registered)
I’ll also be giving this session again at DevLearn in October.
That presentation drew on several existing blog posts, like 3 Tricks for Working with SMEs on Branching Scenarios and Managing the Complexity of Branching Scenarios. I also wrote some new posts, like Branch and Bottleneck Scenario Structure. That post in particular meant I already had some graphics ready to include in my presentation. So, I got a good topic for a blog post, plus I reused that topic in my presentation. My blog was essentially my first draft for thinking about the presentation.
With planning, consistency, inspiration, and repurposing, it’s easier to maintain momentum in blogging. It can be a challenge to keep writing all the time. I think this applies to a lot of content creation, not just blogging. If you’re creating a podcast, posting YouTube videos, or even just posting consistently on LinkedIn, these tips may make it easier to maintain momentum.