Developing and Tracking Blog Posts

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Blogging is a great way to contribute to the discussion of a favorite topic. Writing and publishing blog posts allows a person to express their thoughts in a shared atmosphere.

However, most resources on blogging suggest regular posting as necessary to maintain engagement with followers. Regardless of the frequency of posting, a writer who regularly blogs should have a plan to aid in developing and posting articles.

Many blog resource pages offer some form of paper planner to aid post development. Those may be helpful and I certainly don’t discourage the use of such planners.

But in this article, I share my method of tracking blog projects. Much of what I use today as a blog writer came from my experiences as a novelist in earlier times.

The Parts of My System

My system for tracking blog posts consists of two parts. The first part of the system is my planning board. Some may address this part of the process with a paper planner, but I find the visual aspects of a planning board work well for me.

I have already posted an article about the second part of my system, my use of Scrivener as my writing platform. However, in this article, I’ll focus a bit more on the planning sections of that software.

This article was developed using Scrivener

Planning Board

With experience, I have found that I like a planner that is ‘front and center’ in my writing area. In my case, I use a magnetic white board, which allows me to place note cards using small magnets. The board I use measures three-feet by two-feet, a nice size for visual display.

A white board also allows you make notes directly on the board using erasable markers. However, in my particular case, I don’t use markers. I divided the board into sections using thin plastic tape. Next, I made labels for each section.

planning posts
Figure 1 – My planning board

I create 3×5 index cards for blog post ideas, which I place in the IDEAS section on the left. Then, as I begin work on a post idea, I move the card to the IN PROGRESS section – the lower center section.

Finally, when the post is ready for publication, I place the card in the PUBLICATION section on the right side, ordered top to bottom by planned publication date.

The final section – upper center – is for a printed calendar which provides a visual display of the planned publication dates for each post.

I remove the card from the planning board after I publish the post on my blog website.

Scrivener

As I stated in my previous post, some might consider Scrivener an overkill when it comes to a writing platform. Of course, it is perfectly acceptable to develop your writing using a word-processing app such as Microsoft Word. Before I discovered Scrivener, I too used Word for my writing.

Scrivener’s advantage lies in the ability to integrate research in the same platform as the article you are writing. Additionally, Scrivener allows the writer to keep the drafts of all posts in one place, and to have the current status of each article to be readily displayed. 

The Scrivener desktop is divided into three sections: the Binder, the Editor and the Inspector. For this discussion, I will focus on the Binder and the Editor only.

Ideas for Blog Posts

Figure 2 – the Scrivener Binder

The Binder section is similar to my planning board. When I get an idea for a blog post or while it is in development, folders in the Binder help organize the projects.

At the top of the Binder, I have a folder called Blog Ideas – highlighted in blue in Figure 2. Within this folder are sub-folders holding overall ideas for blog posts. I may include a small amount of description, but the areas aren’t at all fleshed out.

Within the sub-folders are one or more text areas – represented as chapters in larger written works – for the actual development of the article’s text.

In addition to positioning ideas within areas of the Binder, I also use a color code system. I tag most pending ideas with brown, indicating to me that the particular folder contains only an idea.

The Planner

The planner is an option of the Editor area – the center part of the Scrivener desktop. When the planner view is selected, all underlying elements of the selected item are displayed as index cards.

Figure 3 – The Scrivener Binder and Editor Panels, showing the planner option

If the selected item in the Binder is a folder, the index cards represent sub-folders. If a sub-folder is selected, the card display represents the individual textual elements within that sub-folder.

In the example, I am showing the sub-folders from my Blog Ideas folder. As I mentioned, most of the cards are brown, indicating an idea for a blog post. However, in the example shown, I have one card colored light green. This indicates a pending recipe post. Another is shown in red, telling me that I have done some work on the post but decided to put the entire idea on hold.

On the planner display, you can move cards around simply by clicking and dragging with a mouse. In this way, you can rearrange sub-folders. In the case of text elements, you can rearrange the order that text is displayed. This is useful for easily repositioning entire paragraphs within a longer text. Unlike using a standard word processor, no cutting and pasting is required. Simply dragging and dropping quickly relocates text elements.

Pending Posts

Once I have decided to begin work on a blog post, I drag and drop the idea sub-folder further down the Binder area. There, I have folders representing each month. I make my best estimate of which month I might post the final article and move the sub-folder to that folder month.

Figure 4 – The Scrivener Binder and Editor Panels, showing the planner option

In Figure 2, I have the active planning month – October – highlighted in red. When I open the October folder as shown in Figure 4, several sub-folders are visible representing articles anticipated to be published in October.

I have also color-coded the article sub-folders. In my system, pink indicates that the article is completed and has a definite scheduled publication date. Blue indicates that writing on the article is in progress. 

Green indicates that the article is completed, but I haven’t decided on a definite posting date yet. Yellow indicates that writing has not yet begun, although I may have started writing an outline.

Research

The last part of the Binder I want to discuss is the research folder. Unlike a standard word-processor, Scrivener provides this folder specifically to store research toward the writing projects. 

Figure 5 – Research section of the Binder

As with other folders in the Binder, the research folder allows you to create sub-folders, and even folders within those sub-folders. This structure allows the writer to include text, book references, website addresses, photos, or any other research he feels necessary.

In my research folder, as shown in Figure 5, I have created sub-folders for each month, and within those, I have sub-folders for any research I have captured. The research sub-folder titles correspond to the title of the article. 

So in the example, under the sub-folder labeled Declutter, I have a text document where I have listed some examples of decluttering one’s electronic life. This makes it easy to capture references and address them in the article – the be titled Declutter Your Electronic Life1.

The Editor

The Editor panel can easily shifted to the text editor. There, as shown in Figure 5, I actually write the article. Depending on what I highlight in the Binder, I can see either an entire article or only the specific section I am currently working on. I usually use the latter view because it helps maintain focus2.

In this example, I have the section relating to the use of the Planning Board from earlier in this article. The gray highlight in the Binder shows where the section is currently placed. Additionally, the number of words in that section of the article is shown at the bottom.

Figure 6 – The Scrivener Editor

Before Posting

There is still a little work to be done after I finish writing the article in Scrivener. I copy the entire article and paste it into the WordPress editor on my blog website.

There, I complete the article for publication by adding photos in appropriate places. Every post should have at least one photo. Two or three is usually better. One photo should also be set as the featured image. This is the image that will appear on your blog list and also on social media.

The WordPress editor also alerts me to any SEO issues or readability issues, using the Yoast SEO plugin.

Finally, in the WordPress editor, I tag any internal links showing relationships between this post and others I have previously published3.

Ready to Go

When I’m satisfied with all the links and photos, and both the SEO and readability indicators show green, I schedule the article for publication.

However, because I try to schedule at least two weeks in advance, I always keep an eye on the publication schedule because there are times when I develop an article that I want to publish on the next regular date. But with WordPress, rescheduling is simple.

I hope you have found this information helpful for your own writing.

What process do you use for planning your writing, whether it’s for a blog post or some other type of writing? Tell us about it in the comment section below.

NOTES

  1. In this example, I haven’t done a lot to develop this article, so it’s still listed under the Blog Ideas folder. However, I have the research under October since my goal is to publish that article sometime near the end of that month.
  2. Since it’s easy to move sections around in the binder or planner at any time, I’m not concerned if my writing of a section actually turns out to belong somewhere else in the article.
  3. External tagging, such as providing a reference to another website, is done within the Scrivener editor during article development.
Mike Worley

Mike is retired and lives in Louisville, KY, USA. He writes about lifestyle issues, particularly those affecting senior citizens. He also enjoys photography and works part-time as a college volleyball official.