Nov 15, 2016

My Blogging Secret

Up until a few months ago I really struggled with blogging. It wasn't just that I wasn't posting often, or that my posts were the same things over and over again. It's that I felt like my posts lacked substance and content, that they were missing that something that made people want to come read them. Sure, my blog is mine and doesn't have to be for others, but it's not like I want to put all this time and effort into a show for an empty room. But then I got this idea for a certain kind of blog post, and now?

If you follow Beauty and the Bookshelf you may have seen one of these every Sunday:

The Weekly Forecast is a weekly post here on the blog where I very briefly do two things: recap what posts were on the blog last week, and preview (forecast) what will be posted the coming week. It's the latter that's important and my blogging "secret" that isn't really a secret, except that it's my secret ingredient that helps me to actually blog. Forecasting the coming week holds me accountable. I'm saying what I'm going to post--I'm saying I'm going to post, plain and simple--and so it's like I have to or else people are going to be like, "Hmm, wasn't Rachel supposed to post a review today?" And let me tell you the real secret: it works.

Before The Weekly Forecast I posted, on average, about three times a week--if that. Emphasis on the if that, since I've been especially slumpy with blogging this year and have averaged eleven posts a freaking month. (Which isn't a bad thing. Blogging isn't a race and we work at our own pace, and I was in school. But they're not the numbers I wanted.) With The Weekly Forecast I'm posting, on average, six times a week. Thanks to this little feature I've hit a record number of posts in a month that hasn't been seen in two years. Let's look at the archives.

You can see exactly where The Weekly Forecast started--August 2016. I posted twenty-five times that month--the last time I posted that much was seriously two years ago. You can also see when I fell off the wagon, and I totally have an excuse for that: I was busy with a series reread and my computer was unusable for like a week. And there are some weeks where I don't post six times because I'll miss a post or post too late due to poor time management, but for the most part The Weekly Forecast has saved my blog. But it's done more than help numbers.

My types of posts have vastly increased, and for the better. I used to really only post the same things: reviews, Top Ten Tuesdays, Waiting on Wednesdays, on blog tours. There's not a single thing wrong with any of those, but there was never anything new on my blog and there was no variety. It'd be like walking into Target and never seeing a change in products. Sure, it may be good for your wallet, but eventually it gets boring and monotonous and you stop going to Target.

With five posts a week (plus Sunday's Weekly Forecast) I have to brainstorm. I try to always post at least one review a week, unless other posts that must go up then encroach. I only post a Top Ten Tuesday if I really like the topic and can put it together without much a struggle. And since my number of TTTs and WoWs are the same, if I post a TTT I also post a Waiting on Wednesday. Then I have more days available, depending on if the week has any blog tours and how many reviews I'm posting. (I'll try to group certain books together, or keep a series in the same week.)

My cheat sheet is Google. I can post a "discussion" of sorts (like this post!), or some list of favorites and whatnot, but when I'm looking for a new idea that's creative and whatnot, I go to my dear friend Google. See, on Google I can look up all the holidays, observances, and random days in a month--and I can turn them into a post. Women's Equality Day can inspire a post about Boss Ass Bitches in YA, Pet Peeve Week can help me write a post about bookish pet peeves, and National Video Games Day brings about a list of books that would be super cool video games. There are also posts that come from what I read. I wrote The Serial Salutation after I finished a series and wanted to discuss that feeling you--or at least I--get when that happens. The Nonfictional Mourning of Fiction occurred after I read a book that made me feel sad and I really wanted to talk about those feelings. You see? There's an idea for a post like every damn day.

The Weekly Forecast doesn't just hold me accountable, doesn't just sort of make me post even when I really don't feel like it. It's like a planner, or scheduling an appointment. I don't have to wake up on Saturday and wonder, "Hmm, what am I doing today?" In other words, I don't have to sit down at my computer Sunday night and wonder what to write up to post on Monday--the idea is already there, and the ideas are there for the whole week. It's so, so helpful, and it makes blogging so much easier.

My next step is to work on time management and another kind of blogging. For the former, it's making sure I get a post ready the night before so I'm not posting it at 3:00 p.m. the day it's supposed to be up. Getting it done early lessens the effort and makes everything easier. I also need to work on sharing my posts. My new job has really helped with time management this past week since it takes up my whole day and I can't do any blogging while I'm working, and Tweetdeck has been especially helpful. Tweetdeck allows you to schedule tweets ahead of time, which is super duper excellent. With it I can schedule posts throughout the day, every three hours starting at 5:00 a.m. and ending at 8:00 p.m. PST (with new posts going up at 9:00 p.m PST/12:00 a.m. EST). This is important to do too because if I'm not telling people about the post then they're not gonna see it.

Now that I'm getting my blog up and running there's another big big big thing I need to work on: visiting and commenting on other blogs. I'm sure we've all heard the mother-coined phrase "Treat others how you want to be treated." The same should go for blogging, don't you think? If I want people to read and comment on my blog, then I should do the same to theirs. And you know what I love? When someone comments on one of my posts. That means they read it and took the time to tell me they did, and they did this with their own time and by their own choice. I love that. And I'm working on doing it myself. (And, you know, actually responding to tweets and emails and comments and the like.)

I think that's it? (Especially because, wow, this got lengthy.) I put together this post because, hey, I needed a post, but really because I wanted to share how freaking successful The Weekly Forecast has been. I still feel slumpish sometimes and like I'm blogging to an empty room, but thanks to this feature I'm much more satisfied with my blog than I was before the Forecast began. And maybe, if you been in a blogging slump too, something like this could help you. I know my blog is revived because of it, and it's still growing, and it's all because of a post that takes like ten minutes to put together. I guess that blogging forecasts, like weather forecasts, are just really helpful.

What's your blogging secret?


  1. I'm so happy that you've found a way that works for you. I really need to get back into discussion posts and I love love love the idea you had to google up the day. I might steal that from you...with credit.

    Thanks for sharing!!

  2. Beautiful and helpful post, and I can see you put an effort to write it. Thank you for advices, they are really helphul. I've been thinking lately to post my weekly wrap up on Sundays, not much because of number of posts per week, but because I think it would be easier for me to keep track with my hauls and blog posts, and as a plus there would be a thing where if I said something would go up next week, it would really go up the next week.
    I usually aim for 4 posts per week, 2 reviews, WoW and Movie Monday, but sometimes it's more, sometimes it's less.

  3. That is a great idea! I used to do your "forecast" thing with my monthly recaps where I listed what I wanted to do next month on the blog.

    Scheduling posts is my secret weapon. I always seem to go through bursts of inspiration (like I want to write 5 discussion posts within two days). And then I make sure I schedule one of those posts a month (along with my other ones) so I'm not spewing them all out at once or everyday. Using a Word Doc calendar really helps me with that (but a Google Calendar would be great too!).

  4. Nice post!! And you have a beautiful blog!

  5. I have been in a blogging slump lately, but blog tours and review books have been the only thing keeping me on track. Most of the time review books and blog tours have a deadline that I cannot change. For me, deadlines are the ultimate motivator. If I know that I need to get something done by a specific date, then I can get it done. Reviews and tours are like the backbone of my blog that can always count on. They create a feeling of "you-really-have-to-get-this-done" that other posts don't normally inspire. I have also been trying to do other posts, like discussions and lists, but they don't have the same sense of urgency for me.
    I really loved this post and the detail that you put into it. I think I might start making a list of posts that I need to write (besides reviews and tours) to motivate myself, even if I cannot bring myself to publish a list weekly.


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