Last week, I discussed the importance of crafting an editorial calendar for your blog. It helps a blogger plan out content in a general way. Today's post is about planning out posts on a post-by-post basis.
Plan Out Blog Posts In Advance
Every blog has its own needs and goals. As such, I consider my advice more guidelines (or principles) than hard and fast rules. For instance, a blog that posts poems or fiction will have a different structure than a blog that delivers news, which will also be different than a blog focused on how-to advice (or sharing opinions). All of this to say that bloggers should plan out blog posts in advance.
While I can appreciate a good ramble as much as the next person, a simple outline can often help bloggers bring pinpoint focus to their posts. Getting started is easy:
- Start with a blog topic. I'll use my poetry blog as an example. So a topic might start off really general--like I want to share a poetic form. Only, there are dozens of poetic forms, soooo...
- Pinpoint a specific subject for that topic. In my poetic forms example, I would select a specific poetic form--let's say the triolet.
- Outline that specific subject. Once I know I want to write about a triolet, I identify everything I want to say about the triolet: the rules, the history, an example, and so on.
Once I have this sketched out, it makes my job of going from idea to blog post that much easier.
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Plot Out Blog Posts In Advance
It's one thing to outline the content for your blog posts; it's another thing to outline the structure of your blog posts. Take a look at this example post from my April Poem-A-Day Challenge. These posts follow a specific structure every day of the month:
- Introductory message about whatever. Usually, the introduction gave reminders about specific aspects of the challenge or pointed out things that were happening during the month.
- Poetry prompt. Each day, I shared a poetry prompt.
- Plug for a WD product or service. The things that I and other more talented people work on throughout the year to help writers find success.
- My attempt at the prompt. Every day, I took the poem-a-day challenge myself and wrote a poem to the prompt.
- Note about the day's guest judge. Each day featured a different guest judge (aka, poetry rock star).
- Plug for the Poem Your Heart Out Anthology. This anthology features the winning poem from each day's prompt.
- My bio. Short and sweet.
- Links to other Poetic Asides posts. Anyone who makes it to the bottom may be interested in more poetry-related information.
For 30 days, this is the structure my blog posts had, because I took the time to plot out my blog posts in advance. It made my job creating them easier, and it made the posts themselves more effective.
Even looking at my 8-part series on better blogging, you should be able to find some structure: an intro, a header, a couple paragraphs on the day's subject, a plug, a few more notes on the subject, my bio, and links to more posts. It's always OK to break the mold, but plotting out the structure can help blogger and reader alike on a daily basis.
You don't have to follow either of my examples to find success, but take time to think about the overall goals of your blog, as well as the needs of each specific blog post. With the assistance of tracking, you'll be able to figure out what works best for your audience.
Robert Lee Brewer is Senior Content Editor of the Writer’s Digest Writing Community, which includes editing Writer’s Market and Poet’s Market. He regularly blogs at the Poetic Asides blog and writes a poetry column for Writer’s Digest magazine. He also leads online education, speaks on writing and publishing at events around the country, and does other fun writing-related stuff.
A published poet, he’s the author of Solving the World’s Problems (Press 53) and a former Poet Laureate of the Blogosphere.
Follow him on Twitter @RobertLeeBrewer.