Monday, April 2, 2012

8 things I've learned about blogging so far

It's been three whole months since I made that crazy new year's resolution to blog every weekday this year and guess what? I haven't skipped a single day! I'm a quarter of the way through my resolution. Hooray for me!

Even though this is hardly the most impressive feat ever performed in the blogosphere, I thought I'd share what I've learned about daily blogging so far. Here are 8 things that have got me to the three month point and will hopefully get me to the end!

1. Tell everyone! If you want to blog every day, announce it! There's nothing like shouting your goal from the rooftops (or into cyberspace) to make you accountable. Once you've made that commitment and put it in writing, you're more likely to stick to it. If I say I'm going to do something, damnit, I have to do it!

2. Find a cheerleader. While it's great for every man and his dog to know your goal, it's also important for those close to you to support it. In my case, Kim would never let me hear the end of it if I didn't make good on this promise. In fact, every time I doubt myself, or hint that maybe blogging a few times a week would do, Kim tells me to cut it out. In the nicest possible way. He wants me to succeed and he also gives me the time I need to achieve my goals. For example, I'm in a cafe typing this while he's at home with the kids. Is he not the best?

3. Make daily themes. This was the best thing I did. I decided that each day would have a theme and that I'd stick to it. I can't emphasise how much easier this has made it for me to keep going. I'm not scratching my head thinking about what I'm going to write about tomorrow. I already know I'm reviewing something. Easy!

4. Plan ahead. I use Mac's iCAL to block in topics. For example, I have a tentative list of the next few books I'm going to review and I'll put the titles into the planner. Same with my interviews and features. The beauty of using an electronic calendar is that if I change my mind or want to swap something around, it's easy. I also keep a running list of post ideas in the 'to-do' bar on the side. I'll also pre-schedule as much as I can (because I don't want to be chained to the computer every single night) but often it's not possible to write more than a few days worth of posts in advance. That's okay though because it keeps things fresh for me.

5. Make lists. I'm a compulsive list maker and I always have been. There's nothing more satisfying than crossing something off (yes, I'm a crosser-outer, not a ticker). I stick them at the bottom of my computer screen with some cute washi tape. I create a new one every day but I very rarely get through the complete list so there are always quite a few tasks that roll over to the next day. And the next day...

6. Be social. Join link parties! I'm a regular at Our Creative Spaces on Thursdays and Flea Market Finds on Sundays. It's fun to check out what other people are up to and a great way for people to find you. Visit other people's blogs and leave comments. I'm the first to admit I could be better at this. But I know how nice it feels to receive a comment so when I see something I like on another blog I wade through reCAPTCHA and say something. Sometimes it can be lonely out there in blogland so it's nice when someone drops a line :)

7. Switch off. Although it comes part and parcel with the blogging life, there comes a point when social media becomes a problem. Like if you're loitering on Facebook or Twitter waiting for something to happen like a bored teenager in the mall. Or pinning to your Pinterest boards like you get a commission for it. I'm not talking about me. I wouldn't do that. That would be crazy and sad. I wouldn't do that at all...much. But the best advice I heard recently was to treat these sites like the water cooler at work. It's where you go to take a break and socialise, and then you go back to your desk. Easier said than done! I've also heard tell of people who only check their emails three times a day - morning, lunch and afternoon. Now that's a level of self-control I'm yet to attain. Apparently this improves productivity as you deal with things in batches rather than as they arise. This is my goal for the next quarter. Can I do it? Sure, why not. Who would have thought I'd blog every day for three months. Anything's possible!

8. Have fun and just do it! If it becomes a chore, stop and back up. Re-assess your goals and reasons for blogging daily or remind yourself why it's fun. And it should be fun! Maybe the answer is to scale back. Is daily blogging too much? Maybe several times a week would do (and I've certainly thought about this!). But right now I still have a spring in my step whenever I approach the computer for blogging time. I do it because I love to write, it's fun and it keeps me out of trouble ;) But at the same time there are definitely days or weeks where this whole venture seems a bit crazy and too hard. But I push through, I get out the 'bum glue' (as an old teacher used to say), I sit down and I write. Once I start I can usually find a topic to get excited about and fall in love with blogging all over again. So just do it!

So that's what I've learned so far. How do you keep on top of things? I'd love to know!