Wednesday, 24 April 2019

Secrets of a Successful Blogging Workflow

Fran and I have been blogging since August 2013. Just about everything we do is a joint enterprise, although I look after the website itself and take the lead with the writing. Let’s take a look at how I go about putting one of our blog pieces together.

Focus and Content

We blog about lots of things, but mainly mental health and supportive relationships. We welcome guest contributions: if you’d like to work with us check out our Guest Guidelines.

Inspiration

Most of my ideas come from conversations with Fran or other friends, things we’ve done together, events I’ve attended, or things I’ve seen on social media. Here are a few examples.

Then again, inspiration can come from almost anywhere if you’re paying attention!

I jot ideas down as and when they occur, often whilst traveling to or from work or taking my evening walk, using Google Keep or Trello (my favourite to do list app) on my phone.

Scheduling

We started out rather haphazardly, posting between one and four posts a month and with no clear strategy as to frequency or content. After a time we settled on posting once a week, on a Wednesday, with additional articles going up on a Saturday. I’m proud to say we’ve maintained that posting schedule for several years.

Writing

Most of my articles, including this one, start out in Google Keep. This means I can work on them on my phone, my Chromebook, or my PC at home. I write best in coffee shops or at work on my lunch breaks. Mostly I compose on my phone (I have a Bluetooth keyboard and a folding stand, which make it easier to type) but sometimes I choose to write longhand in my Midori Traveler’s Notebook, especially if I am feeling “stuck”. Using a fountain pen on paper helps me get the words down on paper without being tempted to edit as I go. It does mean, of course, that I have to type my notes up later.

Editing

Once the article is written, or at least drafted, I move to my home PC. If the piece was drafted in Google Keep, or if it’s a guest piece, I simply copy and paste into a new Word document. If it was drafted by hand I have the unenviable task of typing it up from my scribbled notes! The first thing I do is run three global changes on the document.

  1. Single quote to single quote
  2. Double quote to double quote
  3. Double space to single space

The first two might seem redundant but they ensure all single quotes, apostrophes, and double quotes are nice and “curly”. Once that’s done I can get down to the actual editing.

Titles and Capitalisation

I don’t always use it but the CoShedule Headline Analyzer is very helpful in writing titles that “drive traffic, shares, and search results.” The title of this article (Secrets of a Successful Blogging Workflow) scores 72 out of 100, which is pretty good.

I use another online tool to ensure titles and headings are consistently capitalised.

Images

I like to use my own photos where possible. Other images are sourced from royalty free sites such as Unsplash. Pablo is a brilliant online tool for finding royalty free images (via Unsplash), cropping them and adding text.

Putting It All Together

Our blog is powered by Blogger. Once I have everything ready, I open our site in a browser (there is a Blogger app but I don’t find that useful at all) and open a new post. I paste from the Word document into the HTML window, and add HTML tags by hand. I like to keep things simple and limit myself to the following tags:

  • Headings: eg <h3></h3>
  • Paragraphs: <p></p>
  • Bold: <b></b>
  • Italic: <i></i>
  • Lists: <ul><li></li></ul>
  • Blockquotes: <blockquote></blockquote>

I add links, images, and labels (keywords) using the Blogger interface.

Publishing

I usually have everything in place in advance and schedule the post for 7:30 a.m. on the relevant day.

Link Testing

I proof read in advance but links in Blogger previews are not active, so once the post has been published I double check all the links are working before I start to share it out on social media. I am usually in a coffee shop at the time (yes, at 7:30 in the morning!) and can correct on my phone if necessary.

Sharing on Social Media

Once I am happy with the post I share it on our social media. I generally start with Twitter and Facebook (my personal account plus either my author page or our joint Gum on My Shoe page). Later in the day I share to the other Facebook page, any relevant Facebook groups, and LinkedIn. I share our latest post on Twitter throughout the week, specifically on the following Sunday (tagging with #SundayBlogShare) and Monday (#MondayBlogs).

Statistics

I confess I am not as clued up as I could be on the stats side of things. I don’t know how many unique users visit our site, for example, although I keep an eye on the number of pageviews for individual posts and pages, and for our site as a whole (over 202,000 total pageviews at the time of writing).

Our Blog Book

Published by Eliezer Tristan Publishing, our latest book No One is Too Far Away: Notes from a Transatlantic Friendship showcases the very best of our blog posts and articles. It is available in print and for Kindle from Amazon (COM | UK) and in print from Barnes and Noble and other booksellers. Also on Goodreads.

A Blogger’s Toolkit

I use the following more or less routinely in my blogging workflow.

 

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