Friday, October 9, 2009

Set Up A Blogging Editorial Calendar


Use a calendar to organize how and when to publish particular kinds of content on your blog.

You can set up your blog calendar in several different ways, depending upon what works best for you. You can buy a printed calendar of any shape or size that meets your needs from Staples or Office Depot, or use an online calendar program like Outlook or Google Calendar.

For me, I like to start with a paper version, so I can easily flip around, write, erase, and look at the entire year’s plan quickly, all from the comfort of my living room or my daughter's house when I'm watching the grandchildren.

Begin planning your blogging calendar around your blog’s topic(s). Are they date sensitive? Are there events and activities that can be scheduled into your blog calendar?

For the family historian this could be your ancestor's birthdays, anniversaries, date of death, etc. Write a post about that ancestor. Miriam Midkiff of Ancestories does an excellent job of this.

Are you blogging about a family reunion or a society event? Calendar these assignments and blog about them in advance to promote the reunion or event. Afterward review the event for your readers and include photographs or scrapbooks.

Seasons and Holidays

There are lots of family history topics that can be associated with the seasons and holidays. It is an excellent idea to blog about nostalgia and holiday memories. If your ancestors came from a foreign country you can post about the customs of those particular areas.

Many GeneaBloggers share stories about past holidays that include recipes and stories about their family. Religious holidays are a perfect time to post personal stories and lessons about a particular culture.

Holidays are great reminders — Thanksgiving you can share family recipes - Christmas "must have gift lists for the genealogists," gifts you're making using your family history - the New Year, things you resolve to do for the new year with regard to your family history projects, etc.

What about “Spring Cleaning?" Tell your readers how you are organizing or reorganizing your family history projects. You may even wish to schedule a blog makeover. Add a new picture for your header, change you color scheme.

Nontraditional holidays offer inspiration for great blog-post content. A few examples:

-- September 19 - International Talk Like a Pirate Day, spread a little humor Matey. (This is so appropriate for Seattle's Seafair.)

-- October - Family History Month.

-- October 15 - Blog Action Day Bloggers all over the world are asked to blog about the same subject on a single day. Try tying it the subject into your family history.

And my all time favorite nontraditional holiday:

-- December 16 - National Chocolate Covered Anything Day.

"The key to writing blog posts involving traditional or nontraditional holidays is that the posts don’t have to happen on “the day.” You can lead up to them with posts in advance of the holiday. Spin the holiday events across a week or two, or more. Tell stories of how people in different areas celebrate the same holiday differently. Or find a new angle on an old holiday story."

Your family's perspective on the holidays will help others around the world understand more about your family and their culture, a specific place, or time period.

A variety of calendars available online can help you schedule holiday events from around the world, from the world’s major religions, from history, from literature, from cultures and even including local and regional events that occur in your area.

Here are some sources available to you for calendaring and inspiration:

-- This Day In History From The History Channel
-- On This Day In History - MSN Encarta
-- Today In History From The Library of Congress American Memory Collection
-- On This Day In History From The New York Times
-- On This Day In History From The BBC
-- On This Day In Canadian History
-- Today In Literature - Great Stories, People, Books In Literature
-- Literary Events Calendar
-- The Earth Calendar a daybook of holidays and calendars around the world
-- The American Secular Holidays Calendar
-- Holiday Smart
-- Calendar Source
-- Belief Net's World Wide Religious Calendar
-- Holidays On The Web
-- Time and Date.Com
-- This Day In The American Civil War
-- The Genealogy and Family History Blogger's Almanac - From The Family Curator

Schedule Those Carnivals

"Carnival, Festival, or Challenge – all are themed writing events designed to bring together articles on a given subject. Typically, the Carnival Host will announce the a Carnival Theme and invite participants to submit entries. There is no formal application or registration. Yet, there are a few informal rules that help make things run smoothly." The Family Curator

Denise Levenick of The Family Curator has written two stellar posts regarding Carnivals and how they work. They are Grab the Gold Ring with a Memorable Carnival Post, Part 1 and Blog Writing 101: Grab the Gold Ring with A Memorable Carnival Post, Part 2. These should answer any questions may have regarding Carnivals.

-- Smile For The Camera - the 10th of the month
-- Carnival of Genealogy - the 1st and the 15th of the month
-- Festival of Postcards - the 20th of every other month (next edition Oct. 20)
-- The Graveyard Rabbit Carnival - the 25th of every month
-- Cabinet of Curiosities - the third Monday of every month
-- Central and Eastern European Genealogy - the 15th of the month
-- Canadian Genealogy Carnival - the 29th of the month

please contact each host for upcoming themes

Self-Motivation for Bloggers

Create regularly scheduled blog posts:

-- weekly digest or link list of what you've published every week
-- link lists on Fridays or Saturdays to summarize what you’ve discovered surfing the Web over the previous week

Now I realize there are daily prompts for GeneaBloggers from the blog of the same name. They are a great inspiration, but why don't you create some of your own. Make them unique and individual to the purpose of your blog.

Here is an idea of regularly scheduled posts for footnoteMaven:

-- Monday - Posts of Note From The footnoteMaven (Blog posts I enjoyed from the following week.)
-- Tuesday - Across The Street And Down The Road (My corner of the world - then and now.)
-- Wednesday - Word Of The Week Wednesday (A randomly chosen word and its definition plus a short ancestral story that depicts the word with a photo and description.)
-- Thursday - Thinking Thursday (Whatever I'm thinking about that has grabbed my attention.)
-- Friday - Footnote Friday (Articles about sources and citations.)

Put these regularly scheduled items on your blog calendar, mark those subject days.

When you’ve filled your blog’s editorial calendar with regularly scheduled post assignments and deadlines for reunions, local events, holidays, this day in history, this day in literature, and special occasions, how do you schedule other subjects you'd like to blog about?

There are tons of articles I want to write about? Birding in the 1900s, modern day tintypes, my collection of family photographs, an article on the cursed corset, a great way to display letters in my family history projects, and so much more. So, I've made a list of all the things I want to blog about but haven’t gotten around to doing. First I determine how much time I need to complete them? Then I schedule a start date and a due date into my calendar.

Once scheduled, a post doesn’t have to happen in one sitting. You can research online and at your local library saving the post in draft format, adding information and thoughts over days, weeks, or months. I’ve written several articles that took me weeks to complete. Two examples are Finding That Two Hundredth Edwardian Woman In A White Dress and What's In A Name.

I work really well under a self-imposed deadline. If I calendar it, I have a starting point and a due date. This encourages me to finish what I've started.

Think about doing a series of articles. It could be about information that would be too lengthy for one post. Jasia of CreativeGene did a wonderful series of articles on Using City Directories that are listed below.

I Won the eBay Bid
What's In A City Directory
City Directories: The Introduction
City Directories: The Indexes
City Directories: The Statistical Department
City Directories: Chronological History
City Directories: Miscellaneous Information
City Directories: Directory of Names
City Directories: Street Guide and Directory of Householders
City Directories: Classified Business Directory
City Directories: Additional Information

Just because it's in your calendar doesn't mean it's set in stone. Your calendar is a living breathing thing that expands when you get a new idea, or something happens in our personal or family history life. Make room for these light bulb moments, for that random post that just pops up unannounced. Always leave room to add last-minute thoughts, ideas, tips, techniques, or news as you find them.

17 Comments:

Blogger Gini said...

footnoteMaven, once again you have helped me to put things into perspective, thank you for this most wonderful post and the links provided. I actually went on line yesterday searching for "This Day in History" I love finding out what happend on a given day! Thank you. I like your series of "How To's" for bloggers.

October 9, 2009 at 1:31 PM  
Blogger Jasia said...

Your organizational abilities are most certainly admirable, fM. I try to do the same sorts of things you do in terms of organizing posts. You have polished your technique better than I but organization has never been my strength. Still, I'd be lost without my calendar to reference future postings!

Yeah! Let's hear it for creativity and originality! I so appreciate your suggestion for people to come up with their own lists of daily posting topics rather than using someone else's prompts. I am sooo tired of knowing what I'm going to find in the geneablogosphere when I fire up my computer on Tuesday... yep, here come those tombstones again, and Wednesday... lots of interesting pictures with little or no story (boring if you don't know the people in the photos), etc. So here's to creativity... hip hip hooray!

Thanks for another terrific post on blogging fM!

October 9, 2009 at 1:49 PM  
Blogger footnoteMaven said...

Gini:

You are most welcome and congratulations on your Family Tree 40 nomination.

I hear you're retired, so I'm anxious to see what you have in store for us.

-fM

October 9, 2009 at 2:17 PM  
Blogger footnoteMaven said...

Jasia:

I too long for more originality. While prompts are good for those initial forays into blogging, the cream rises to the top when a blogger can carve out a spot for themselves that is uniquely their own.

-fM

October 9, 2009 at 2:21 PM  
Blogger Kathryn Doyle said...

fM,
Add my voice to the chorus of praise! I've been using Julie Cahill Tarr's version of her Blog Editorial Calendar since she published Managing Your Blog(s) last November. Mine is a spreadsheet workbook that now resides on Google so I can access it from anywhere. I keep the first sheet for jotting down ideas and have one page devoted to each year's posts. It's definitely a MUST to keep track of the society's events.

October 9, 2009 at 2:21 PM  
Blogger footnoteMaven said...

Thanks Kathryn:

I just went to look at Julie's post, thanks for the link. Hers is a real "How To." I'm the warm and fuzzy end of the spectrum.

I've recently done a great deal of reading on magazine publishing and how they do it. Organization is everything.

-fM

October 9, 2009 at 2:47 PM  
OpenID pastprologue said...

Killa,

You're shaming us with some killer posts this week! ;-) In addition to the calendar, I have to add how useful it is to have posts written in advance. I had the foresight to get my act together before vacation so my blog wouldn't be dormant. Unfortunately, I didn't count on being so lazy/busy after coming home from vacation, so my blog had more posts while I was away than since I've been back. Thanks for a good one.

Donner

October 9, 2009 at 4:33 PM  
Blogger footnoteMaven said...

Donner:

You are welcome my friend. My vacation from Hell reminded me how much I loved blogging. As well as clearing the brain so that I could think, plan, and get my MoJo back.

I will never leave home again!

Killa

October 9, 2009 at 5:29 PM  
Blogger Donna said...

If you keep saying you will never leave home again, you will tempt me to come up with a reason to MAKE YOU COME OUT HERE.

(Of course, since I'm being sarcastic, your blog won't let me use Open ID to comment even though I just left comments here with Open ID...)

October 9, 2009 at 5:40 PM  
Blogger Family Curator said...

Motherhood was good training for blogger-hood. The first thing I did when I started blogging was to trade my Daytimer for a Blog Calendar. I have to admit, however, that your level of organized posts and subjects are still in my dreams.

Thank you for the wonderful inspiration and for sharing your practical ideas for managing our blog life. I love all the links, especially for the Carnivals, as I had some difficulty locating hosts for the article you mention.

As always you've given a great resource.

October 10, 2009 at 6:02 AM  
Blogger footnoteMaven said...

Denise has posted a brilliant article at The Family Curator, Use Blog Prompts to Jump-Start Your Writing

Here you'll find a different take on blog prompts, great advice, and her new feature - The Blogger's Almanac.

Thank you Denise, keep that inspiration coming.

-fM

October 10, 2009 at 12:01 PM  
Blogger Jenna said...

All I've got to say is "WOW" you are an inspiration!!

October 10, 2009 at 3:45 PM  
Blogger footnoteMaven said...

Jenna:

Thank you so much! Having read your blog, I know you have it in you.

I'll be visiting to see how it's going.

-fM

October 10, 2009 at 4:00 PM  
Blogger Nancy said...

Just had to say thanks for your post. I've been considering starting a genealogy blog of my own and this piece gave me so many organizational ideas and motivation to go ahead with my plans.

October 10, 2009 at 7:27 PM  
Blogger footnoteMaven said...

Nancy:

I'm so pleased to hear you are about to venture into the world of blogging. Congratulations! Our community of geneabloggers is a warm and welcoming place. Please drop me a note when you're up and running.

And thank you for stopping to comment. It's good to know I helped in some small way.

-fM

October 10, 2009 at 7:44 PM  
OpenID pastprologue said...

fM,

Does Tim still do the Cabinet of Curiosities? I haven't seen it for months, and according to the link it's been "discontinued". I don't remember reading that it was ending or why.

Donner

October 15, 2009 at 12:42 PM  
Blogger footnoteMaven said...

Donner:

Blogger often shuts me down, must be something I am or am not doing.

So I went to check. There was one in April, no more and no explanation. It was really popular, wonder what happened.

-fM

October 15, 2009 at 3:36 PM  

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