Discussions Only We Know
Today we're talking scheduling. Do you schedule your posts ahead of time? If so, how far in advance? And what tools do you use?
When I first started blogging, I had no idea how anyone could schedule posts ahead of time, much less be ahead as far as a month. I posted my reviews pretty much the day after finishing the book, so what was there to schedule? But one day I made the "mistake" of reading a book for review "too soon," and I couldn't post my review about it for another couple of weeks in order to be within the 30 days of the publication date that most publishers prefer. So I scheduled it. And somehow I got even further ahead--I really couldn't even tell you how.
Before I knew it, I was a week ahead, and then a month. At that point I made it my goal to try to read 2 books a week. If I can keep up a pace of two books a week then I can post two reviews a week. And therefore, I can keep a schedule for myself. I've consistently been a month ahead on reviews since that point, and my life as a blogger has been so much less stressful.
Before I discuss how I schedule my posts, I want to pose the question to you who want to schedule ahead but don't know how to get started. Do you post consistently now? Or do you posts reviews just whenever you can? Why not save up a couple of reviews instead of posting them immediately? If you don't post consistently anyway then what's the harm in holding them for a while, right? Go ahead and type them up, but save them for next month.
Here's how I schedule my posts and the tools I use:
I purchased the printable blogging kit from Clean Mama. This includes a page called Blogging Schedule. Once you print it out, you can circle the month you're using it for, and then begin filling in the month. I start with the meme's I participate in Sunday Post & Stacking the Shelves on Sundays, Top Ten Tuesday, and Waiting on Wednesday. I fill in all Sundays, Tuesday, and Wednesdays with these posts. So that leaves me with Monday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. I personally chose not to post on Saturdays until recently and usually use that day as my prepping day. So I've chosen to fill in Monday and Thursday with my two reviews of the week. I save Friday for the occasional extra review and/or discussion post. When Fridays are booked, the Discussions Only We Know features are rolled over into Saturday.
Until last year, I always published my reviews in the order that I read the book, but that put me publishing review books outside of the publisher's preferred 30 day window. Consequently, I've added the additional tool of Google Calendar because of the ease of rearranging my scheduled posts. Even though I'd prefer to publish my reviews in the order that I read them, it's more important for me to maintain a good working relationship with publishers. Therefore, I've begun rearranging my posts according to the release date of the review books that I read.
For example, I read The Maze Runner back in March of 2014. At that time I was already scheduled to May. So the first time I scheduled to post my review of The Maze Runner was May 6th. But as I read more review books that needed to be posted within their 30 day windows, my review of The Maze Runner kept getting pushed back. I eventually published my review of The Maze Runner on July 1st. And here's the kicker, the post date is always subject to change on books that I read for fun. My "review" books now take priority, but I still schedule plenty of reviews for books that have been published for a while too.
Of course my calendar is color coded. Blog posts are in teal/light blue. Review books are in light gray. Posts that are tentative and not set in stone are in dark blue. Book release dates are in light pink/purple. And special event type posts, such as the Series Enders Reading Challenge Monthly Wrap Up posts are in orange. (Yellow and green are personal.) As I do use this calendar for pretty much everything personal and blog related, I blacked some things out.
I still go ahead and type up my reviews usually within a day of finishing the book. I format a chunk of them all at one time and save them as a draft until I'm 100% nailed in to their scheduled dates--usually my post dates are still fluid until a week ahead. Once I'm 100% on the schedule date, I'll proof the review again and then *set it up to post automatically through blogger.
So that's reviews. Thankfully, the folks at The Broke and the Bookish posts the scheduled Top Ten Tuesday topics several months in advance. This gives me PLENTY of time to prepare my list of books for each topic. There's another printable I bought from Clean Mama called All Over Everywhere List. I take one section of this page for each topic. There is 8 lines, but I can easily squeeze in 10 items (or more as I tend to go over 10). If books automatically pop into my head as I'm assigning each topic a section, then I'll go ahead and fill those in. If not, then I might wait until closer to the scheduled date for that topic to think about it. But this helps me stay on top of this meme.
In the same way, I have a spreadsheet that I keep for Waiting on Wednesday posts. For any series I'm reading, the books that aren't released yet automatically made my spreadsheet for Waiting on Wednesday. This gives me a big chunk of books for the future. However, sometimes that book isn't set to release for another year or two. In cases like this, I've made the personal decision that I will only feature books for Waiting on Wednesday that both have a cover released and at least some sort of description. If I have several Waiting on Wednesday posts already prepped and formatted, then I publish them in order of the release date--books with the closest publication date get posted first.
Again, color coordinated. Green means ready. Blue means I'm dying to do my post on these books but I'm on hold for some reason. Orange means I need to read a previous book in the series. And red means the post is ready, but I'm too far from the publication date to want to feature that book yet. As you can see, I do need to update this spreadsheet. I see at least two books that are already published on this list. Whoops!
And that's pretty much it. That's my scheduling process. I hope I didn't thoroughly confuse anyone. So yeah, if you do it differently, what's your process? Which tools do you use to schedule your posts ahead of time? If you don't schedule ahead of time, do you see this as something you might be able to try in the future? Let me know!
*Please tell me that everyone knows how to set their posts up to publish automatically for them in blogger? Sorry Wordpress peeps. I can't help you out there.