Thoughts on Thursday: Minimizing

Minimizing….

and the Right Type of Content

Today’s topic is about minimizing your blog, specifically in terms of becoming more aware of what type of content that is posted, how often different content is posted, and of course what that looks like over the course of a week and the month.

When I first started blogging, I had no idea what I was doing, and my posts were very infrequent. I had no “schedule” for the days I posted. That’s kind of necessary to keep your readers in the loop – and to let them know that you still have a presence in the blogosphere. When I came back from hiatus, I decided to post on regularly on Tuesdays and Thursdays, which worked well when I was able to read up, read ahead, and schedule posts out over a month in advance thanks to my Christmas break (and ability to totally ignore D’s family during that break and on weekends).

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During those first few months back, I became obsessed with having MORE. I was still a baby blog, but I was over a year old and I had nothing of significance to show for it! There were 6 month bloggers who were going places. Even if that’s not quite the reality of the truth, that’s how I perceived it. I felt stagnant and a little insignificant, so I thought doing MORE would increase my visibility and traffic, and spiral out from there.

Of course, there were time constraints. I’m not a stay-at-home mom/wife, so it’s not like I literally had all day to read if I so chose. I was working 70+ hour weeks and squeezing in reading everywhere I could, including at stoplights.

By MORE I mean I started doing blog tours. Several blog tours…a month. I tried balancing my review request books with my blog tour books, but invariably my blog tour books took precedence over my review request books because if I didn’t have my blog tour review ready, that wouldn’t be good (and as educators like to say, there would be a consequence imposed, of some kind). I didn’t want to be on the outs with the tour organizers I’d just started working with, so I’ve been giving priority to blog tours. It is something that has its own advantages and disadvantages, and not only am I putting off review request books, but I’m putting off books I want to read just for enjoyment. That’s no bueno.

So I started three weekly memes (The Sunday Post,  WWW Wednesdays, Feature Follow Friday) which I slowly incorporated, to try to still have a draw and content for my readers, and more importantly, content that’s relevant to book blogging. Having content for three days would give me more time to read up and ahead, and schedule reviews further out.

And then summer hit. I had (almost) all the time in the world.

You know what that means.

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Look at that. Seriously, take a moment to actually LOOK at my June and July schedules. What’s worse is that’s not even all of them! The last-minute posts aren’t included.

Do you realize how crazy that just looks? My eyes eventually glazed over whenever I’d look at my calendar. I started getting so overwhelmed, and a little blinded by the muchness, that I had to start crossing off days as they happened.

Then, after my commitment to being an active part of the blogging community, I noticed one and then two and then three bloggers walk away from our world. The main reason? Too little time…and it felt like work.

I had an epiphany. Wasn’t I doing the same thing? Stressing myself out over books and deadlines and scheduling? I made a deal with myself before summer started to clear out my Kindle (over time, not in summer) and reduce my book downloads…but I wasn’t even getting time to do that, because after everything else, there was just no more time left for more reading. To keep a semblance of balance, I have really toned down my book downloads, and I stopped accepting books for review at the end of April.

I realized this calendar format I was using allowed me to have the mindset that I could fill the box. The whole box. I had the whole box to fill. It didn’t matter if there were four or five things on one day, there was still room, right?

Wrong.

Something revolutionary happened in the hardwiring of my brain. Parajunkee posted this great blogging organizer. I decided to use this great tool she labored over and was generously providing to bloggers.

Somehow, just by simply changing the way I physically was looking at my schedule for the month, and the way the calendar was arranged, I saw some things I had easily overlooked before.

  1. I more easily noticed repetitive holes in my monthly schedule. All of a sudden, I had nothing for Thursdays!
  2. I found the perfect place to put that discussion content I wanted to have. Hello, Thoughts on Thursdays! ToT was born thanks to Parajunkee, no doubt.
  3. I could easily track how much availability I had in the month.
  4. The line spacing limits how much I can actually put on a line. When I’ve got a post scheduled for a day, that’s generally it – pick another day. My exclusions for this are my meme days, and to finish out my summer children’s book blasts.

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I also decided to completely utilize everything Parajunkee was handing out, and it has really helped me visualize what types of posts I’m doing each month, so I can more easily put a cap on each type once it’s reached its ceiling.

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What’s below the big sticky are my weekly discussion posts, which I don’t want to share yet!

On the top right are all of my blog tour books, with my scheduled review date. As you can see, my review for Sprung (Witchbound #2) is ready to roll out. {I finished Eleanor, I’m just putting off writing the review.}

On the bottom left are the blasts I’ve signed up for in September. So far I have two.

On the remainder of the right side I have open for non-blog tour reviews, author interviews and guest posts.

Even though it seems silly, putting the content of my schedule in a different format, a graphic organizer of sorts, helped me truly see how I’m operating my blo20140820_201600g.

I also have been tracking other things about my blog. You know, those important things like numbers and stats? I realized I wasn’t being as unsuccessful as I thought, but I had never really looked at it before. In the last three months alone I’ve had more traffic and viewership than I had the first four months of the year combined! However, I do attribute a lot of that traffic and visibility to some of my tours I’ve been a part of during the summer months. The data doesn’t lie, so I am now trying to monitor what I’m doing that is highly successful.

I’ve also started paying quite a bit of attention to those top two boxes on the stat tracker page, and my own additions to the bottom of the page. I am trying to go forward limiting my blog tour (review) commitments and my blast commitments, but I noticed something else that’s important about looking at these numbers.

Notice how my guest posts and author interviews are slim? That’s an area I need to work on. I’m not a review-only type of blog; I feature authors. I thought back to how this decrease started, and I realized the more blog tours I took on, even if I signed up for an interview or guest post, I was featuring very few. One reason is because I wasn’t getting those types of stops on tours, but I also was ignoring a larger base: the authors coming to me for review requests. I had an author contact me a few weeks ago about that very thing, asking me to feature her. Thanks to Madhvi, who I hope will be a reoccurring figure around Land of 1000 Wonders, my eyes have been opened even more to how I have been limiting myself by spreading myself too thin.

With Parjunkee’s help via her awesome blogging organizer (just go download it now, thank me later), I have realized that less can be more. I need to work on minimizing overall here at G1000W, but also minimizing certain types of posts, and amping up others.

To achieve some of my goals, I’m very committed to my Fall Months of Review by Genre, where I will feature one genre each month. If you’re an author or a blogger and would like to share a post during one of these particular months, please send me an email at girlof1000wonders@gmail.com. I would love to have you!

September will be dedicated to reviews of romances.

October will be dedicated to reviews of all crimes and mysteries.

November will be dedicated to reviews of diverse reads.

December will be dedicated to reviews of all things Christmas and winter.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Have you ever felt overwhelmed about your blog?

  • What were the main reasons you felt overwhelmed? 
    • Did decreased available time play a factor?
    • Did you ever feel that blogging was becoming a job, and not really fun anymore?
  • How do you spice things up with yourself about working on your blog?
  • Have there been times when your scheduled commitments (like a blog tour stop or guest post), hinder the scheduling of your blog?
    • Have you ever had a scheduling conflict and moved something to another day?
    • Is more of your time dominated by certain types of content you feature on your blog?
  • How do operate your blog, in terms of scheduling content?
    • Do you use a calendar system? 
    • Is it first-come, first-serve?
    • Do you have a monthly quota for any type of content post? (i.e. reviews, blasts, blog tours, etc.)

Leave a comment telling sharing your self-reflections about your blog.

9 thoughts on “Thoughts on Thursday: Minimizing

  1. Hey Charlie
    Gosh it takes such effort to run a good blog – I love hearing your thoughts about it – you’re doing a great job! Look forward to guest blogging!
    Madhvi

  2. This is a fantastic post! Thanks for the heads up on Parajunkee’s planner – though I generally like to do my planning electronically rather than on paper, I plan to take a look at it to see if it might be worth trying out. I definitely think that I could diversify my blog a lot more. I tend to do mostly reviews with a smattering of discussion posts and other things mixed in. And while my blog has grown quickly, I know that there are definitely things I can do better – and things that I should be tracking more carefully. I’m not always great at planning ahead (a general personality flaw that isn’t confined just to my blogging!), but an attempt at organization can do nothing but help. Thanks for your great ideas – I’m going to be saving this post to re-read later and give it some more thought too!

    Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction

    • Thanks, Nicole! I’m glad it’s appreciated. I put off doing this post until later in the month because I wasn’t sure how it would go over. I thought for a while I could do electronic planning, but that was a bust for me. I’m glad it works well for you! I realized I needed to start paying attention to things that I was just like “lalalalala” about. Sometimes, we just gotta grow up, right?

      Happy reading!

  3. I love the idea of reviewing a specific genre each month! I thought about trying something like that waaaaaay back in my early blogging days, but nothing ever came of the idea.

    I’ve felt overwhelmed by blogging a couple of times, but those were in the early days. Back when that happened, I did start to think of blogging as a job, because I didn’t have an ACTUAL job and I dedicated everything I had to my website. But nowadays I’m over that hurdle, and I definitely see it as more of a fun hobby 🙂

    As for spicing things up, I like to come up with new feature ideas a lot. Many of them don’t actually happen, but still, it’s fun to think of them. And events as well! I don’t host many events, but I’m slowly starting to think up more because I really enjoy them.

  4. I used to think scheduling and organization was the hard part for me. I’d mark up my Google calendar with different features for every day, but then I’d quickly ignore all of the reminders Google sent to my inbox. Then I realized it’s not an issue with scheduling, it’s an issue with coming up with post ideas. How can I make book reviews more interesting? How do I come up with a discussion topic that hasn’t been written about a million times? To me, that’s the overwhelming part. There are so many book blogs out there, how do I make mine memorable?

    I’ve never felt like blogging was a job, but I do feel disappointed in myself that I haven’t been a dedicated blogger who posts regularly like many other book bloggers. Sometimes coming home and trying to be creative is exhausting after working all day, even though the book blog is supposed to be a hobby. I’m slowly easing my way back into blogging after an a 3 month hiatus though. I’ll be honest, it’s been challenging, but I feel a little rejuvenated, and I’m trying to not put too much pressure on myself.

  5. I’m a big fan of the Editorial Calendar plugin for self-hosted wordpress since it shows your scheduled post in a monthly calendar format and then I can immediately see what days I still need to schedule something for, it has [DRAFT] next to posts that aren’t finished (but they still show up on my calendar if I’ve put a tentative date on them) and it has unscheduled drafts on the side which is where I keep my half-finished ideas, haha. The biggest thing though, whichever organization method you use, is to still enjoy blogging and reading! 😉

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