Do you tend to write blog posts the day they get published or do you plan ahead and manage to stock up your blog a week or more ahead?
I began using an editorial calendar years ago to help me write blog posts ahead of schedule. I would call my workflow with the editorial calendar a mixed success.
A few years back, I heard Syed Balkhi, the man behind the WordPress “how-to” blog, WPBeginner, speak at a WordCamp event. He told the audience that he and his team write blog posts about six months in advance.
You can imagine the collective gasp heard across the room. Six months in advance!? How could that even be possible?
I certainly wouldn’t be able to claim that kind of milestone here at Patrick’s Place. But I do try to remind myself of one important difference: at least a portion of the posts I write are at least somewhat topical. That is to say, the posts refer to recent events or news items. Writing six months ahead of time would be fine if you weren’t referring to more recent events in what you write.
Still, I’m not even six months ahead on grammar posts, and some of those don’t rely on recent developments.
I try to stay a couple of days ahead.
I hope you notice that I said I try. I don’t always succeed. Once in a while, I do better than that.
Last week, for example, I had a major life change: I moved to a new home. (I’ll write more about that in the coming weeks.) I knew it was going to be a hectic week of packing and moving belongings from Point A to Point B. In the middle of the week, I had movers come to relocate the big stuff. I’ve been moving boxes a few at a time before and since. I still have a good bit to go, but the pile at the old place is definitely getting smaller, I’m happy to report.
But I knew in advance that last week in particular was going to be a rough one. I also knew I wouldn’t have internet access for at least several hours here and there.
So I managed to focus my efforts the week before and I cranked out a week’s worth of posts and scheduled them in advance. Each day last week, a new post appeared on schedule. I had written those posts the week before, not the day of.
In essence, I took a week off from my blog in terms of writing posts.
You didn’t notice, of course, because my editorial calendar helped me plan ahead.
But last week was an exception. Normally, I am a day or two ahead of schedule. I’d love to maintain a week of posts at all times. I’ve tried. Sometimes, I succeed. Usually, I don’t.
How far ahead should you write blog posts?
I’m afraid this question is a lot like another annoying blogging question too many ask: How many times should I publish on my blog?
That’s because there can be no single “right” answer. It depends on you, your time, your schedule and your workload. It also depends, I’m afraid, on how much “life happens.”
It’s virtually impossible, I’d wager, for most bloggers who write without a team to get six months ahead of posting. The exception might be those who only publish once or twice a week or less. I used to publish seven days a week. Last year, I trimmed that to five. Losing those two days — Saturday and Sunday — made a huge difference.
Only you can decide how far ahead of schedule you can get. More importantly, only you can decide how far ahead of schedule you can stay.
The best answer I can give you to the question is this: Make a goal of writing two posts ahead of schedule. Dedicate some time this week to write the next two posts for your blog. The next time you blog, try to write at least one more, possibly two more posts. That will keep you two posts ahead and might even help you reach a third.
No matter how productive you get, expect that it won’t last. That’s life.
Don’t sit down and try to write a week or more ahead in one sitting. When you rush that much content, it will invariably be of lesser quality because you aren’t spending the proper amount of time on it.
Like everything else, staying ahead of schedule requires time and commitment. It doesn’t happen overnight.
And you certainly can’t maintain it overnight.
Start with two extra posts and see how it goes. If you can’t maintain it, that might be perfectly fine for your blog. No two are the same. No two bloggers are the same, either, for that matter.
If your blogging content suffers because of an ambitious schedule, it’s time to change the schedule, not sacrifice the content.