I just realized it’s been 4 years today since I started this blog! Yay me! Queen of commitment, consistency and quality content (please stop laughing). I love blogging. I love reading. I really hope I will keep book blogging for a long time, and right now I have found a good system that works for me and I find joy in the way I blog. So I thought I’d share my terrible system with all of you!
There are THOUSANDS of book blogs, and each of us have such distinct personalities and ways to stay organized. I love seeing people talk about how they do their scheduling, how often they post, how much time they spend blogging etc, so I thought it would be a cool idea to write this post as a mix of discussion and tips. I don’t expect my tips will work for everyone, I think I’m actually a bit of an exception when it comes to the way I do blogging – I am more of a “write all my posts for the week in a day” kind of blogger, I love starting and not finishing posts right away and tend to not do much editing work. It just works for me – I like doing all the work in one go for hours than a little bit every day during the week; this stimulates my writing and creativity brain cells and I tend to write more creatively like this. On the other hand, this means I often spend half my Sunday blogging instead of, I don’t know, getting a life or something.
1. I write down my main impressions about a book on my phone or journal
Because I tend to do all my blogging on Saturdays or Sundays, this means I end up writing reviews for books days (sometimes weeks) after I’ve read them. I don’t review every single book I read, but still it’s hard to keep up. The details of what I read and my impressions start to fade pretty quickly. For this reason, I do two things to make sure my thoughts are fresh when I am ready to review:
- I use either my journal or my phone’s notes app to jot down my main thoughts while I read the book, OR:
- I sometimes will also sneak in other books in my reading week so that I finish the book I want to review closer to the reviewing day. I know, basically cheating.
2. I like to have dozens of drafted posts in different stages of readiness
To me, this has several advantages:
- it helps me quickly write down some ideas for a post before I forget;
- it gives me time mature my thoughts with no pressure to finish or polish my writing (I speak ESL, so I’m quite paranoid about sounding silly in English);
- it takes off the pressure of coming up with new posts every week, because if I have no books to review or no time/energy/creativity to come up with a new post, I can just post a draft that is basically ready;
- it helps me stay motivated to keep blogging, because I have something to look forward to posting.
Some posts I draft for YEARS, no joke. Here’s what my drafts look like as I write this (April/21):
I doubt I will be posting the Blog Post Ideas for Book Bloggers Part 2 this year at all (sorry). So although I do my blogging mostly on weekends, whenever I get an idea for a post, I write a draft immediately, even if it’s just the title.
3. Talking about drafts, I have drafts for all my most-repeated posts
I feel like most of us do this by now since WordPress has introduced the blocks function, but it’s something I had been doing since before that. It cuts down so much time for my blogging: I have a draft for monthly wrap ups, weekly wrap ups (although a lot of times I just copy last week’s and update it) and reviews. Here’s what my draft for Reviews looks like, pretty simple:
4. Every January I draft posts I want to make sure I will publish that year
I always have a few days off in January and I normally am with family and not travelling much, so it’s a downtime I look forward to every year to organize a bit of my blogging. For me, that’s my most anticipated reads of the year, my best-of-year list, my birthday and Christmas book haul, my prediction and reaction to the Women’s Prize for Fiction longlist, etc. The year of my 30th birthday I started drafting that post as early as 12 months prior to the posting day.
I also tend to add every book I love to my “best of the year” posts and then cut them down to my top 3 per category until December comes. This helps me see which categories/genres I’d like to read more of throughout the year and plan what to read.
5. I always have a “joker” post
This is actually just a more specific way in which I do point 2. I normally have SEVERAL posts which are barely started, or which I plan to work on for months. But there must be at least one post which is 100% ready to publish, a “joker” which I can publish anytime if I have no time to blog at all. This gives me an extra week of breathing time. Which is why sometimes you will see a review for a book I read months ago pop up.
6. I re-read my “References for new ideas” when I run out of creativity
When I run out of ideas of what to write, or I’m tired of reviewing books (gasp), I go back to where I know I will find some different ideas: my Blog Post Ideas for Book Bloggers post. Obviously I am selling my own fish here, but on that post I also linked to other bloggers’ posts if you’d like to check out, and you can totally write your own. The point is to have a place that you go to when you want to get some inspiration. In the past I also used to go to some websites like Buzzfeed Books and Book Riot to look for inspiration, although I don’t do that so much anymore. By now I’ve been blogging for so long that I automatically read a book and I’m like “oh this reminds me of this other book, I should write about that”.
7. I’m actually quite flexible with my blogging
Although I tend to post a few times a week with a fixed post on Monday with my weekly or monthly wrap up, I am actually quite flexible when it comes to blogging. I will sometimes skip blogging for a week altogether and add a joker post that week. I write when I feel like it, I experiment with some formats and play around with different post ideas. I don’t force myself to be creative (I will spend MONTHS posting nothing but reviews + wrap ups). While I enjoy coming up with creative posts, I enjoy even more not having to do it. I blog as a hobby and gain nothing from it except my own enjoyment, so I don’t care if my views go down, if my SEO is totally cr*p, if everyone else is blogging in a different way.
What does not work for me but could work for you
I’ve seen lots of bloggers talking about how they stay on top of their game and while I admire their commitment, creativity and organizing skills – I’m lazy. Minimal work for maximum output is what I MUCH prefer. This means I am constantly late in answering comments (sorry again), take months to answer tags or will sometimes miss a great opportunity to publish a post when it would maximize its views (for example, review a popular book right before its publication) but it’s the way I found to keep this book blog going for over four years now (!!!!).
Here is what other bloggers do that could work for you:
- Don’t have fixed days to post at all
- Or entirely the opposite: create a calendar to see when to post & what kind of posts you want to write (a weekly wrap up? Reviews? Tags? Lists?).
- Sneak in some blogging time during your lunch break or commute
- Keep a blogging journal (I did this for a few months and was really fun! But so time-consuming. But also a good idea for a post, ha!)
- Keep a spreadsheet! Kal from Reader Voracious has an amazing template that will bring tears of joy to your eyes if you are a spreadsheet fan. Truly it’s the thing of dreams. Here’s this year’s template: 2021 Ultimate Book Blogger / Reader Spreadsheet Template
- The Quiet Pond also talks about how they make time for book blogging, with tips that are a bit different from mine: 8 Tips on How To Manage a Book Blog On A Busy Schedule