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.