Recently, I’ve noticed my blog taking over my life a little bit. Right now, having finished my degree and having any work to do, it’s not a problem. However, I’m very aware that this will not last forever! I also need to start thinking about preparing for my MA as I have to work on the assumption I will be able to start in September. With all that in mind, I decided I needed to spend less time working on my blog without compromising what I’m posting!
The first thing I did that I’ve been doing for a month was planning my content. I use Scrivener as I like to have all my documents accessible, and I can add custom meta-data that I don’t think you can have on MS Word. I have parent categories for my posts (books, lifestyle etc), as well as sub-categories (e.g. reviews) as well as the date the post will go live on, and the status (to do, scheduled, published etc). I like being able to view a Scrivener folder in Outline view, which offers whatever stats you want in columns. For my blog, I find the Outline view more useful than Corkboard (post-it style notes for each document in a folder, limited meta-data view) or Scrivenings (shows the content in each document separated by a dotted line). Having it in almost a spreadsheet format lets me see at a glance what I’ve got planned, and what I have yet to plan (I’ll add documents titled LIFESTYLE or REVIEW if I don’t know yet what it will be).
The other thing I’ve been doing for a little while now is using an app called Preview. Preview allows you to see how your posts will look in your instagram feed. It imports your current posts, and allows you to add draft posts. You can add captions to your drafts, save # categories, and schedule your posts. It won’t post for you currently, but it will send you a notification (though I’ve found this a bit unreliable) when you have a scheduled post due to go live. I try to write my captions in advance, and then I schedule a time to post. When I get the notification, I can just go into the app, copy the caption, and then it’s super quick to paste the caption and publish the post.
Last week, I decided to start taking my instagram photos for the week in one go. I started out taking photos in the morning, and scheduling them on Preview for later on in the day but that was just getting annoying! Now, I do all my bookstagram photos and blog photos for the coming week on the same day. I also edit photos as soon as they’re taken and upload the edited and unedited versions to Google Drive, just in case.
This week, I started to really go for it on the scheduling front. I got some recommendations on Twitter for sites to use to schedule tweets, and the most common answer was Tweetdeck. Tweetdeck is provided by Twitter. Though Twitter is starting to roll out native scheduling in the desktop version, it’s not yet available for all accounts. As Tweetdeck is run by Twitter I feel pretty secure in using it, and I’ve not had any issues yet. I’m able to manage multiple accounts from a single log in, and the different columns mean I can easily see my notifications across different accounts on one screen.
The other thing I’m trialling at the minute is scheduling Pinterest pins. The most popular option, Tailwind, only allows 100 free pins before you have to pay for a subscription. I was looking for a free option, and I came across Hootsuite and Later. Both these options allow you to manage multiple different social media accounts and schedule posts to different accounts, but I’m only using them for Pinterest currently (though I had to use my instagram to create an account with Later). Hootsuite allows you to schedule up to 30 posts at a time on the free plan. You can also pin to multiple boards with Hootsuite, whereas with Later it seems you have to create the post multiple times to do this. Later also only allows 30 pins per month on the free plan. This allowance apparently refreshes every month, but I’ve not used it for long enough yet! Currently I’m using both of these apps. I do like Later because you can save captions to use with later posts, which is great if you make new pins for old posts.
My final piece of advice is to not just plan your content, but write it and schedule it in advance. The groundbreaking thing I’ve started to do this week is to do everything (or as much as possible) for my blog on Saturday and get the week ahead sorted. I’ve made myself a little checklist. I try to do this in this order as well as much as I can, so I don’t get confused!
1. Take photos for my blog instagram.
2. Take photos for twitter/pinterest.
3. Take photos for reading journey insta.
4. Edit the photos, and upload the edited and unedited to Google Drive.
5. Write blog posts!
6. Schedule blog posts. Make sure I add the Read More tag, photos, backlinks, tags and categories.
7. Schedule tweets to go out after the posts with links to the new posts! Sometimes I schedule one for a few days later as well.
8. Schedule some pins for my old posts (I’m currently using Hootsuite to schedule pins for old blog posts)
9. Schedule pins for my new posts (I’m using Later for new blog posts at the minute!)
10. Write captions for my blog instagram posts on Later and schedule them.
Having this little Saturday routine really helps me to free up time during the week. As you see, quite a lot is pre-prepared, but I do make little edits here and there during the week to make sure everything is relevant. I also still spend a lot of time on social media interacting with other people’s posts, this is just a way to make sure I’m not spending hours every day crafting my own content. I find it much easier to just get into the mindset and get it all prepared than to have to get into the mindset everyday. I have no intentions to stop interacting with the community on social media, or stop blog hopping, but by doing this I hope to make my blog more sustainable in terms of the amount of time I need to spend on it each day. Social media interaction can quite easily fit around other tasks, whereas things like writing blog posts needs a block of time, which I might not always have. I’m not going to put pressure on myself to do this amount of preparation and scheduling every week either, because I’m aware that some days I might want to prioritise other things, and write posts as they’re due to go out, and that’s okay as well!
What works for you? Are you a planner and scheduler like me, or do you just post when you have time? Let me know!