Monday, August 29, 2011

Six Organizing Tips for Writers

I am chronically (hopelessly?) poor with my organizing skills, which is surprising considering my love of lists. And charts. And data bases. It is with the interconnections and the upkeep where I go wrong. Horribly, horribly, wrong.

Twenty lists and none of them cross-referenced and none of them helping to support each other. Poor organization leads to poor plotting with stories and articles and I find that often, where I intend to go, is not where I end up. That is not necessarily bad if the destination is logical in relation to the starting point, and if it doesn’t take me so long to get somewhere.

When I wander in the deep, that is a problem, for me, the reader, the story and the article.

So, today I organize. (Huzzahs all around! Grand trumpets proclaiming my savvy declaration of ‘getting my shit together’. And etc, etc.)

I’ve read other people’s lists on how to, ‘Be A Successful Blogger’. I, of course, do everything the opposite to what wisdom says, as if I live in a perpetual state of opposite day. However misguided I may be, I do have a few thoughts on how I might tackle my issue with organizing (so in fairness, I added the fact above that I may be delayed intellectually by not following basic do’s and don’ts and what follows should be absorbed with that in mind).

Here goes, the six things a blogger needs to organize:

  1. Who do you link to on your blog? You should have a list of ten to twenty blogs or relevant sites that you personally visit on a regular basis. Your readers will appreciate your links more if the sites feel connected in style or subject matter to the blog you write. Make sure you link to blogs that are informative, professional and active and only request a link back to your site after reading this article for more information on linking.

  1. Daily blogs require daily content. You need ideas in the hopper, so to speak, and it doesn’t hurt to have ready to go ‘fillers’ on file for the times when you are stuck for inspiration. A plan in advance means less disruption and more reliability for the readers who will be turned off if you miss too many days, or have an inconsistent schedule for updates. Even blogs that regularly post as few as one new post a week should have material ready to go because inactivity kills readership.

  1. Gather information. A writer needs essential information in an easy to find place with as much information centralized as possible. Notes for future posts, contacts for bloggers who might write guest posts, the blogs and sites where you get ideas, all this should be at your fingertips. I prefer a physical binder, but of course a more digital version works just as well. Make certain that there is a backup for all the links and bookmarks you have so that you don’t have to try to rebuild the information from memory in case something happens to your computer. This link explains how to back up bookmarks for Chrome. A web search can help you find the best way to back up bookmarks on the browser you use.

  1. Promotion; what have you done, what works, what do you plan to do in the future? Writing a blog is easy, but if you write a blog, you should give thought as to whether the effort of writing that blog is worthwhile. You need to drive traffic to your site. If you write well and write informative content you are ahead of the game, but you also need to be able to quantify progress. You also need to be an active participant in the community of writers, which means that you should be reading and commenting on other blogs. It doesn’t hurt to buy the books of the bloggers you read as a way to gain some positive karma and to support your fellow writers in the ways you wish to be in turn supported.

  1. Write your goals.  Twenty daily readers? How do you get twice that number? Which posts are popular and why? Which get the most comments? Remember to state, at least for yourself, what your blog is about and the purpose of the blog. Ask, ‘What is my six month goal, my goal for next year, for five years from now?’ Be realistic. Thousands of readers would be great but, really?

  1. How much time do you blog?  Take into consideration the time you spend reading other blogs, commenting, preparing content and actually maintaining your blog. All this takes away from your writing time. There has to be a benefit. If you find that you are spending two, three or more hours a day on blogging and getting less than a hundred hits a per day to your site, you have to consider whether your time is being used in the best way.

This is where I will begin today. I have a binder, I have a plan, I have motivation. Now I just have to get it done. How about you?

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