5 Ingredients Required to Create a Blog Schedule That Works

Some find schedules freeing while others hate it!

[This is part of the Developing Great Blog Content Series. Check out the other posts!]

Smart bloggers eventually identify patterns in their writing and their weekly output and craft a schedule that works for them. Sometimes these “schedules” are explicit and written down while for others it’s more of a “feeling” and intuitive in nature, the latter of course being seasoned and vetted!

The challenge is that most of us, especially newer bloggers, have never been taught or coached to find those patterns or even shown some basic techniques so as to create that robust blog schedule that sustains a successful blog!

The point is that great blogs that have great blog content typically have a great blog posting schedule working behind the scenes. This isn’t always the case but more often than not there’s a so-called “method to the madness,” especially for those that consider themselves professional bloggers.

But for starters, you might be wondering what I mean exactly when I say a “blog schedule” – what I mean specifically is a weekly (or monthly) outline of what and when your blog content gets published, perhaps as granular down to categories and even keywords!

Heck, it might even look like this and show your daily schedule:

An old schedule from a few years ago.

I crafted this blogging schedule out 3 years or so ago and used it for more than 2 years as I grew my blogs toward significant profitability. Eventually this blog schedule catapulted me into a full time blogging career and so I know that scheduling does, in fact, work!

I now have a more broad daily/weekly/monthly scheduling process but to start I needed to really train myself and “lock myself in” to a system for the highest levels of output and efficiency.

Do you need a daily system like the one pictured above? Probably not (well, maybe some of you do…). What you do need to do is know some of the key ingredients so that you can create the right blog schedule that works for you.

The 5 Key Ingredients

There are a number of factors at play that can help guide you to the right blog posting schedule and many more that you might entertain based on your personality and personal preference, but here are 5 key ingredients that I typically share when I coach and counsel others on creating their schedule.

1. Categories

Your categories play a significant role in finding the right pace for your blog schedule. More specifically, the quantity and quality of your categories can shift your schedule quite a bit.

If you have 5 categories and have committed to engage with those pieces of content every single week then you’ve begun to create that schedule already. Your aim is to publish at least one blog post per category per week. That was easy.

If you need some suggestions on the amount of categories your blog should have then you should probably read this post here on my thoughts. Remember, the more focused your categories are the better defined the blog posts can be and the more targeted they will become. It’s easier to hit the target when you know where it is!

Now, if your category are qualitatively large and broad you might have a hard time nailing down the exact number of blog posts per category – again, this is an issue with your ability to focus your categories! Take another look at those categories and refine them if you can!

2. Personal Goals

You might have some personal goals in terms of your schedule that you’d like to hit. I believe in short term goals as they’ve helped me become a success as I create sustainable momentum forward with my blogs and with my writing.

If you have a goal of writing 30 times per month then your blog schedule will reflect your ability to do just that. You’ll make your daily, weekly, and monthly schedule block out the time necessary to write and to execute on your goal.

I would imagine that a combination of this personal goal can help you make the right adjustments in your schedule so that you can be optimal in reaching your numbers!

I also know of some bloggers who have traffic goals instead of publishing goals – for example, they try to hit a certain number of pageviews a month and continue to publish and track daily their metrics. If one post knocks it out of the park in the first week then they consider themselves covered for that month in terms of their goal and they go easy for the rest of the month. If they are falling behind in traffic they pick up the pace and publish a bit more so as to increase those numbers.

You can do both/and here and find what works for you.

The right mix of ingredients make all the difference.

3. Niche and Focus

Your particular niche will really help navigate you towards what might be an optimal posting schedule for you. For example, if you’re blogging in the high-tech industry you already know that it’s one of the highest publishing sectors out there in terms of blog posts.

As such your publishing goal is going to be substantially higher than in other industries and your blog posting schedule will need to reflect that particular niche, culture, and general expectation.

This can be tough for a new-ish blogger and sure there’s some definite “give” here but you’ll want to do your research. I’d also recommend perhaps taking a look at your blogging persona to help give yourself some clarity in this arena. You might also take a look at the “Blogging Tree” to further your research.

Whatever you come up with you’ll want to make a schedule that paces well with the understood culture and industry. If not you could lose valuable readers and eyeballs. Or, you just might be such an innovator as to create an entirely new expectation – who knows?

4. Experiment, Measure, and Refine

At the end of the day you’re going to have to do a bunch of experimenting when it comes to your schedule. You might create a robust daily schedule like I did in the beginning and try it out for a few weeks. If  you find that you’re constantly behind then change it up and adjust. If you’ve found yourself with too much free time and not enough content then adjust accordingly as well.

But, don’t forget to measure the success or points of tension and failure as you work through the refining process of your schedule. You might find that the first few weeks of your new schedule are doable but the traffic patterns or numbers aren’t working out. Adjust or change it up!

Your goal over the course of the first year is to find a sustainable pace that you’ve refined over time. Start somewhere but know that you’re not locking yourself into a schedule forever!

5. Be Flexible, Be You

Finally, you have to remember that your schedule is your schedule and no one elses. If you’re not having fun or feel comfortable and are stressed all the time about it then something is wrong!

I re-iterate so you don’t forget:

  • If you’re not having fun then your schedule is wrong! Change it!
  • If you’re not feeling comfortable about the pace or the results then refine it!
  • If you feel stressed all the time about the schedule then you need to adjust your expectations!

A blog schedule is to help you be more productive and to get more out of your blog – don’t let it cramp your style or set you back! Use it as a tool for advancement and greater success in what you’re already doing. The schedule is yours and yours alone to change and edit over time – at the end of the day you have to live with it!

And, of course, if you’re not a scheduler at all then you probably already skipped this post entirely!

Hope that helps! Would love to see what you come up with in terms of your blog schedule!

[This is part of the Developing Great Blog Content Series. Check out the other posts!]

  • http://BeAFinisher.com Greg

    Thanks for this, John. I knew this was something I needed to do to get on track and to get focused. The category part has been the most helpful as I’ve done things in fits and starts.

    • http://john.do John Saddington

      sweet! where are you on the number of cats?

      • http://BeAFinisher.com Greg

        I have 4 categories and I also use sub-categories. As I look at them, though, I realize that I can ditch the sub-categories. I can’t really see where they would be useful in the future.

        • http://john.do John Saddington

          greg,

          it entirely depends on your blog’s content and how you organize it. with 4 cats you can probably lose some of the subs for right now!

  • Ashley Pichea

    I struggle with scheduling my blogging time. Blogging time runs over into social networking time, social media management time, me time, and so on and so forth. One of my goals for this summer is to determine how much it *actually* takes me to blog each week (minus all the interruptions and distractions) and then carve out a set time each week to accomplish all the tasks I need to get done. This is especially important as I’m adding more responsibilities to my online plate as well as offline. Thanks for the post!

    • http://john.do John Saddington

      i’d love to see this report!

  • Barthel

    Keep up the good work! Almost every article I’ve read in you blog was useful to me and because this sounds like a typical spam comment, I won’t leave an URL :P

    Greetings from Bavaria!

    • http://john.do John Saddington

      ah, thanks barthel!

  • Dawn King

    Great post, John. I loved reading your schedule from a few years ago because you allowed time to read other things, brainstorm ideas, and pray. Too often I schedule writing time and expect just to actually types words out and leave no room for brainstorming.

    • http://john.do John Saddington

      thanks dawn! my schedule’s been adjusted since then to a more “organic” and “natural” pace but still very applicable.

  • http://aproverbswife.com/2010/08/how-i-balance-marriage-home-schooling-blogging-home-making/ Saidah@AProverbsWife.com

    I find that schedules work best for me as well. Schedules give me structure and clear vision for where I am going and what I want to accomplish each day. Having a schedule helps me determine when I am actually done working on my blog or when I have extra energy for additional projects. For example…like in your illustration, I set a number of posts to write each day along with other tasks. There are days when I am able to crank out my schedule number of posts for the day and others when I have so many ideas that I am able to do more. Those are the days that make the rest of the month great. When I am ahead of schedule I have more wiggle room to relax with family or take on other projects.

    • http://john.do John Saddington

      love this!

      now what is your link that you’ve provided? are you a contributor to that blog?

  • Brandon

    Thanks for the tips!

    For my blog, I always try to write my posts several days before I post them. Do you recommend this?

    • http://john.do John Saddington

      yes! that can definitely work well!

  • http://m1p.org Greg

    I am impressed on how you’re laying out your life…nice balance between blogging (vocation), prayer, family etc. I know it all happens on run but it’s good to layout it out so you keep focused in your roles. You’re a machine! Oh… btw glad your on a Mac now ;-)

    • http://john.do John Saddington

      haha!

      ;) thanks man!

      i love my macbook air… goodness.. best machine ever.

      http://john.do/macbook-air/

  • http://www.alifeofstudy.org Nate

    Great post! Your blogging advice has helped me tremendously.

    Thanks!

    Nate

  • http://rocketplantstudio.com Brian Notess

    Definitely something I struggle with. Scheduling, that is.

    Every time I make a post schedule it goes out the window once I get extra busy and I have to start over.

    Thanks for the tips though.

    • http://john.do John Saddington

      being “busy” isn’t a bad thing though.. right? especially for where you are? how are things going, btw?

      • http://rocketplantstudio.com Brian Notess

        Things are good. Still moving a little more slowly than I’d like, but still moving forward. :-)

        • http://john.do John Saddington

          how can i help?

          • http://rocketplantstudio.com Brian Notess

            Hmmm a skype conversation sometime might not go amiss.

            • http://john.do John Saddington

              lets do it

  • Chad

    Since I just started blogging seriously this year, I have really started to focus on getting organized and working against a schedule. In fact, that’s what my main blog is about – my journey applying Biblical principles in areas of organization and productivity.

    I’m 26 years old and until this year, I never used an organizer. Now, nearly two months since I started using one full time, I can’t live without it…

    • http://john.do John Saddington

      you know what bro…. i still don’t use an organizer.

      • Chad

        haha! :) I just think that it’s really funny how just a couple of months ago I couldn’t live with it, while now I can’t live without it. I actually get depressed when I regress and don’t get anything done.

        I also use joesgoals.com as a way of tracking repetitive daily goals – such as Bible reading, cleaning up my work environment, etc… – building good habits and quashing bad habits.

        • http://john.do John Saddington

          let me check that out… haven’t heard of that one!

          • Chad

            Let me know how you like it. They also have a journal/logbook section, although I’ve never used that part before.

            When I open up my chrome browser, I have three tabs open up: my gmail account, joesgoals and an empty tab – that’s how important joesgoals is to me.

            I also like the feature where you can display a graph on your site of how well you are doing.

            • http://john.do John Saddington

              wow… widgets? neat!

  • http://laceywilcox.com Lacey Wilcox

    What are your suggestions for balancing writing with social media, networking, etc? These things also play a big part in traffic, and I have a really hard time feeling like I know how to divide my time well.

    • http://john.do John Saddington

      lacey,

      brilliant question. can i answer this on a post? i think i’ve got some thoughts i’d like to expand on.

  • http://www.tillhecomes.org Jeremy Myers

    I like how that schedule repeatedly says, “Check Google Reader Don’t Panic.”

    Checking Google Reader is one of the best/worst moments of my day. I love reading what others are writing, but I panic when I see how many posts I have browse/review/check/comment on.

    • http://john.do John Saddington

      …….. seriously. i HAD to put that in there…!

  • http://www.geekforhim.com Matthew Snider

    Great post brother, I am ahead in posting for the next week so far. I love being ahead. It gives me a bit of comfort knowing If I miss a day of writing, it’s all good.

    • http://john.do John Saddington

      how far do you typically schedule out? have you always been that ahead?

  • http://wordsofwilliams.com Eric Williams

    What a great post. Something I am always looking to tweak and improve upon is the schedule and how to become more effective and efficient. You da’ man!

    • http://john.do John Saddington

      thanks eric!

  • http://scatteredblogger.com Joshua Chase

    Great post John, I definitely need to adhere to the schedule that’s for sure. Going to put some of your tips into practice and see if I can’t get a more consistent post schedule happening this month.

    • http://john.do John Saddington

      let me know how it goes!

  • http://smalltownstudentministry.com Ben Read

    this post is definitely challenging me to be more focused. I need to redo some of my categories, because I know some are super specific and others are far too general. I like the challenge of making sure I post in key categories at least once a week. love it, thanks.

    Do you have any tips for setting up an efficient post schedule? ive seen people who have tools that allow them to lay out the next few weeks of posts, do you do this ever?

    • http://john.do John Saddington

      no tools for me! i don’t like to be held down too tightly… i enjoy the flexibility of drafting on paper napkins or on the computer.

  • http://www.familyfriendlyfrugality.com/ Heather @ Family Friendly Frugality

    Great tips! I HAVE to have a blogging schedule or else it all falls apart for me. With two young kids and a full time blog job (with side writing jobs), I’d be lost without a schedule (and very unsuccessful).

    I have to ask, what is the program that you are using for your schedule in that screen shot. I’d love an online to do list that I could check off throughout the day!

    • http://john.do John Saddington

      that is awesome! congrats on making blogging such a large part of your life!

  • http://ichrch.com Rich Langton

    I’ve got a schedule happening that’s working at the moment. The thing I’m struggling with is coming up with categories. I can totally see how having categories will help to further define my blog and improve my content but as I look at my posts I’m finding to tricky….. any thoughts?

  • http://www.lookingtowardshome.com/lettersfromhome Neil @ Looking Towards Home

    I found that printing out a blank monthly calendar helps. I decided that I would post on Mondays and Thursdays and there I write the titles on the calendar. I have a little checklist on each page too and tick them off on each date for how far the post is to completion (drafted? found picture? picture online? category and tags?….)

    This works well for me as I am used to working to an editorial calendar for the science journals I edit and write for in my day-job.

    Thing is though, for the past couple of months, getting the post out has always been ‘down to the wire’ – I would love to build a backlog of posts ready to go, but can’t seem to juggle the time (1.5 jobs to pay bills). Perhaps a daily planner that’s as detailed as yours and includes pray, pee, sleep, dream might help :-) I should highlight the “pray” more too – wasn’t it Martin Luther who gave some good hints on how to succeed in this busy life:

    “If I fail to spend two hours in prayer each morning, the devil gets the victory through the day.”

    “I have so much business I cannot get on without spending three hours daily in prayer.”

    • http://john.do John Saddington

      whatever works the best, right? this worked for a while but i’ve got a new system now.

      just have to remain flexible and do what is best!

      1.5 jobs… i’ve had at least 2 jobs for as long as i can remember!

      • http://www.lookingtowardshome.com Neil @ Looking Towards Home

        I know – I’m a slacker!

        • http://john.do John Saddington

          eh.

          ;) you’re doing just fine.

  • http://www.loco2.co.uk Anila

    Love that you mention prayer and scripture I try to make that a priority than think ooh I could squeeze out another blog post!

    • http://john.do John Saddington

      ;) have a great one today anila!