My 5 Step Blogging Process

One of my goals this year is to be more consistent in my blogging, and one of the ways I aim to achieve this goal is just by being more organized. I’ve slowly started to  develop a process to this madness, learning from other bloggers along the way. I hope some of these tips will be helpful to other bloggers but, if nothing else, can be a fun informative way to see how I blog. :)

My 5 Step Blogging Process

1. Organize and Planning
I’m a bit of an organization freak, so it is so essential for me to organize and plan my blog posts on some minimal level. Holly introduced me to this amazing site called Trello, and I use it to organize and plan my blog posts. She wrote an awesome post about how she uses it to organize her blog, and I now use Trello very similarly. I keep a list for post ideas and series that I do regularly, and then organize when I plan on publishing them by month. It’s very easy to move cards to a specific month or from month to month if your schedule changes. You can also add due dates and checklists to each card.

This keeps me from staring at a blank draft page and from having no idea what to write or talk about. It also give me consistency! Life gets busy and I don’t always have the time I need to dedicate to writing new posts, but if I have already planned them out ahead of time, all I have to do is do some minimal editing, sometimes add a few pictures, and hit publish.

2. Drafting
The next step is to actually write out a first draft of my post. I actually do most of my drafting away from home. When I have down time at work or school, it’s easy to pull up my Trello board, see posts that I want to write about, and start drafting them. I then email them to myself and then later upload the draft to WordPress and edit. (I don’t like to have all these drafts cluttering up my WordPress, so that’s what I send them to my email because my inbox is a complete disaster. I’ve accepted it and moved on.)

This is a very rough draft – I just write what I’m thinking and worry about editing and refining later after I have all of my thoughts and ideas down. I like to let my drafts sit for a day or two before I come back to them, that way I have more of a fresh perspective on it and can include points that I may have forgotten. However, that doesn’t always happen. If it’s a time-sensitive topic, I draft and edit right away. But sometimes I don’t touch a draft for weeks!  

3. Editing (and Adding Pictures)
This could really be broken down into two steps, but I tend to edit my posts and add pictures at the same time. After I’ve let the post sit for a couple days (or sometimes weeks – let’s be honest, haha) then I start to edit. This can include checking for spelling and grammatical errors, rewording or rephrasing, adding links, removing paragraphs, adding and taking away points, adding pictures, etc.

I add pictures in the editing step and not during drafting because I may remove certain points that I didn’t like, and then a picture may then be irrelevant. It’s silly to waste time editing the picture if I’m not going to actually use it. I also tend to really reorganize posts, so when I move the last paragraph to then be the first paragraph, I end up moving the pictures around, too. Saves me a bit of time!

4. Publish
Yay! My post is edited and I have deemed it ready to be released to the public. Sometimes I schedule my posts to be published, but normally I just publish in real time because I like to return comments after I publish a new post.

5. Return Comments
I cannot emphasize how important returning comments is. Returning comments builds awesome relationships with other bloggers, and it drives traffic to your own blog. I respond to comments in two ways. I usually respond to the original comment on my own post, acknowledging that I’ve read the comment and to answer questions. It’s like a, “Thanks for your comment! I’ve read it and you’re awesome!” I love discussions, so this also facilitates that.

I then comment on the person’s blog. I’m not concerned about how many comments I get on a post, but I really appreciate feedback. So by returning comments on their blog after I publish, I tend to receive more comments on that particular post. Most of my commenters are recurring readers, so if they’ve already commented on my last post they now have something new to comment on.

And that’s it! Not really too complicated, but it keeps me on track and I think it’s really helped with the consistency and quality of my posts the last several months. Do you have a blogging process? I’d love to read your system and get some tips for my own. I’m always looking for ways to improve my blogging. :)

Treat yo self

Yesterday was the last day that Andrew and I both had off before the start of the new semester. His back had been bothering him for a couple weeks and he wondered if I’d want to go get a professional massage with him. The idea of paying a stranger to touch me for an hour kind of puts me off, but I’ve had friends who have had them and absolutely raved about them. We thought it would be a fun “date” kind of activity so Andrew booked an appointment.

He then suggested we make a day of it since it was our last day off together. We had quite a few restaurant gift cards from Christmas that we hadn’t used yet, so we decided to go to lunch and dinner with them. We also had some other gift cards – me to a book store and Andrew to a gaming store. Andrew joked that we could have a “treat yo self” day with all the spending we were doing.

Treat yo self (verb): A day where one treats themselves to the finer things in life. Invented by the TV show Parks and Recreation, where Tom Haverford and Donna Meagle spend a day solely splurging on things for themselves. Clothes? Fragrances? Massages? Mimosas? Treat yo self!

The idea of a whole day spent splurging on unnecessary items regardless of the price tag absolutely horrifies me. But since all of our spending except for the massages were from gift cards, it was fun all day to do or buy something and then say, “Treat yo self!” Andrew brought the sass like Donna, and I brought the pizzazz like Tom. :P

We started our day with lunch at Buffalo Wild Wings, which is without a question Andrew and I’s most frequented restaurant. Those wings, tho. We had to eat a bit fast because the closest one to us is about a half hour drive and we wanted to get to our massage appointment on time.

I was a bit nervous about the massages. We filled out some paperwork about our preferences and after a short time of waiting (we were a bit early), they took us into a low lit room. They told us to dress down to our comfort level and they would return when we were ready. I couldn’t help but giggle at how weird this was to me as we undressed. I climbed under the sheets of the massage bed and was so happy to find out that the beds were heated! I am perpetually always cold, so having the heated bed seriously felt like heaven. I was all ready for a nap when the masseuses came back in!

Andrew had his masseuse focus solely on his back and shoulders – since that was where he was experiencing a lot of pain. I was more there for relaxing than health reasons, so I opted for the full body massage just to try it. I also mentioned that I had some minor soreness in my back and shoulders I’m sure from just general poor posture. She had to tell me to relax a bit at first (because uhm – this stranger is touching me! Weird!) but slowly I was able to unwind. She did some deep tissue massaging on my shoulders  – which hurt but felt really good at the same time, and the rest she did just light to medium pressure. The leg and arm massages I don’t feel like they did anything, it was just to feel nice.

Before I realized it, our hour was up. I didn’t want to get out of the heated bed! They greeted us outside the door with cups of water and some instructions saying that we might be a bit sore the next couple of days where they did the deep tissue massaging. Overall, it was a really relaxing experience for me, but I don’t think I would go again except for health reasons. The price just seems too high to make it more than an occasional occurrence.

We had planned on going to the bookstore afterwards, but I think the massage made us both feel really lazy so we just headed home. We had been trying to find a good day to watch Gone with the Wind since it was on our IMDB 250 list, but just hadn’t gotten to it because the movie is so long – nearly four hours! We started it but only got about an hour through before we got hungry (why are we always hungry? :P ) so we paused and went to get some dinner.

We decided that Italian sounded good. Normally we don’t order drinks, but we had gift cards and – treat yo self! I ordered a frozen strawberry margarita for Andrew and I to share. It was really good! The alcohol wasn’t too strong and you could really taste the strawberries. Once we were full, we drove to a nearby game store so Andrew could buy a game he’s been eyeing that was on sale. We had fun looking through the games and the special controllers they had, but didn’t buy anything else.

We headed back to the apartment and finished the rest of Gone with the Wind. It wasn’t what I was expecting, but I think I liked it. However I’m a bit tired this morning because we were up until about 11:15PM finishing it. Even my boss commented that I looked tired this morning.  :O But everyone once in a while you gotta…

Treat yo self!

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