Behind the Blogging Curtain

I’m always intrigued when I hear how other bloggers do things.  A glimpse behind the scenes.  So I thought I’d share with you a long-winded discourse of my own blogging process.  And another day, I’ll tell you about the flip side of this experience for me, reading other people’s blogs.

Revealing all:  First, let me share a few of my, ahem, personality quirks.  Because I think they factor into my blogging process.  But, you can be the judge of that yourself:)  I am a bit of an over-planner and over-thinker.  I’m not very good with spontaneity, although I try.  And I am a wee bit of a perfectionist.  But I’m reforming in that area of my life, much as I am reforming with the yo-yo dieting.  Blogging has required me to “let go.”  If every post had to be perfect before I published, you’d never read anything on here!

Ideas – the good, the bad, and the unpublished:  I have a long, long list of blog ideas.  Really long.  Like “several pages of a word document” long.  These are ideas that have come to me over time, some recently, but some as far back as my first months blogging.  But I rarely refer to that particular list, because I also have a much shorter one of ideas that are more front and center in my thoughts, to work on “soon.”  Often an idea comes from a post title that popped into my head.  But other times I can’t for the life of me think of a creative title to match a particular post.  Yes, there’s that little perfectionist coming out, obsessing over something as silly as a post title.

The write stuff:  Sometimes I just feel like writing.  But most of the time, I tell myself I need to start working on a post and then I look at my lists for inspiration.  I love when something happens or a light bulb goes off that sparks an immediate burst of creativity and desire to write it out.  Those usually end up being my favorite posts:)  They tend to flow fastest and easiest from my mind to my fingertips.  I “feel” them… the words and the ideas… and the whole process just flows.

Thinking about writing:  For some reason my best blog ideas seem to come when I’m nowhere near my computer.  I’ve written some amazing posts in my head during long bike rides, only to be disappointed when I got home and couldn’t remember what I wanted to say.  I have a notepad in my car and have often tried to scrawl thoughts while driving or at a stoplight.  And I have notepads in my bathroom and by my bed too.  Sometimes the little notes make it into a whole post; sometimes they just get added to my “ideas” list; sometimes they make no sense later and get scrapped.  Sometimes I can’t decipher what I wrote!

And NOT writing:  If I sit down at the keyboard to draft a post and get stuck, I’ve learned to walk away.  Often I’m just not inspired to write or can’t concentrate.  Sometimes I have what I think is a great topic idea but it just won’t gel in a creative way in my mind.  For me, it is not just that I have something to say, but also how I say it.  I think my writing is often different from that of other “healthy living” or diet bloggers:  I write less about what happens in a day in my life or advice, and more about… well… I’m not sure exactly how I’d describe it.  Maybe more of an essay and less of a diary?  You tell me.

And REwriting:  Regardless of the topic, I like to draft and redraft and edit and edit again.  I rarely write a post and publish it soon after.  I have always been this way with my writing, everything from my annual holiday letter to the yearbook tributes for my sons.  Sometimes I make major changes over time to a draft; sometimes the first pass only gets minor tweaks.  It never ceases to amaze me that I can reread a post five or 10 times and only then find a typo or clear grammatical error.  And yes, my inner perfectionist does try to get the grammar correct most of the time.  Although I’m a big fan of literary license:)  And hyphens and ellipses.  Love those.

The vault:  I like to have several draft posts written at all times.  I never know when I’ll have “blogger’s block” so it helps to have something to fall back on.  Some of my posts get written and not published for weeks or months.  One even took a year to see the light of day.  Often enough time has passed that I have to make changes to the post because something in my life has changed.  Or it would no longer make sense.  Some have become obsolete and no longer hold true or describe what’s going on in my life.  So they either sit in my drafts folder indefinitely or get moved to the trash.

Scheduling – aka “planning trumps spontaneity:”  As you probably know, I blog on a schedule.  Right now that’s Mondays and Thursdays.  When I started, I posted daily, then gradually cut back over time.  I’m not a very “go with the flow” person: “over planning” is my middle name.  So I guess it helps me to know the set days of the week when I intend to put something out here.  I also figured out that it works best to schedule publishing my posts a day in advance, setting them up to publish early in the morning.  This way, the readers in earlier time zones or who like to read first thing, can find the post waiting for them:)  And I no longer wake up thinking, “I need to get that post published,” and jump out of bed.  Yes, I used to do that.

Comments – manna for bloggers:  Another change I’ve made over time is how I respond to comments.  I have found that it’s much more efficient for me to read comments in batches.  So, for most posts, I don’t read them as they come in, but wait until the next morning when I sit down and respond to the bulk of them at one time.  After that first day, they tend to trickle in slowly.  Despite no longer having my responses automatically emailed to you, I do still reply on the blog itself to probably 95% of all comments.  Love the sense of having a conversation:)

Rule breaking:  Over my almost-two-years of blogging, I’ve learned a lot about how I’m “supposed” to do things.  I know my posts are often (okay, almost always and today is a case in point) too long.  Believe me – I really do try not to ramble and often cut out bits and pieces during my many edits.  I know I should include more pictures.  I’m working on this but it’s all too easy for me to waste time surfing online for just the right picture.  And often I can’t find one I like.  And then there are the ones I’ve tried to take myself or had my husband photograph.  Also, I don’t pay any attention to things like keywords and SEO.  And only rarely look at my stats or analytics.  Bounce rate?  Monetizing?  I’ve got other things on my mind.  Like conquering the technology that continues to confound and frustrate me but comes with blogging as a necessary evil.  And while I do try to maintain a presence with social media, I have to admit that I usually forget all about my Twitter and Facebook pages.

Summing it all up:  I blog because I enjoy it. (Most of the time.)  I blog first for myself but always have my readers in mind when I’m writing.  I try to balance saying too much or too little or being repetitive, with being my authentic self.  And I appreciate each and every one of you more than words can say.  Which is making quite a statement considering how very loquacious I am:)

Your turn:  So… anything else you’d like to know?  Or care to share something about your own approach to blogging?

 

 

 

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71 Comments

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71 responses to “Behind the Blogging Curtain

  1. I really, really enjoyed this post! I always find it fascinating to see how other bloggers do this thing that we do. thanks for the sneak peek into your blogging process!

  2. I really enjoyed this post Karen! I know that I often wonder, “am I doing this right”? I am a rule following girl and there are no rules here- so it can be uncomfortable at times to hit that send button. You touched on so many areas that I have wondered about! I can’t wait to hear how people comment on this!! Thank you!!

    • Karen

      I subscribe to a handful of “blogging” blogs and they always have lists of things to do and things to avoid and the like. Most of it I ignore:) But every now and then there is a real nugget in there.

  3. I love love LOVE the “talk nerdy to me,” and in my nerdy fashion, I keep hoping you obtained these photos from free sources on the web instead of violating someone’s copyright on the photo. No attributions! Eek! Okay, enough worry about you, but you’re my friend – that’s why I care.

    First, I don’t think you should consider your posts too long. It depends on the rule you’re following, and this is about your rules. So longer sometimes is perfectly fine!

    I’m a planner too… for the most part. I have a document of ideas and outlines, but if something totally excites me, I’ll write it and publish it soon. I plan to post on Wed and Sat on my new blog, and I find myself looking at my planned posts thinking, “Oh, I want to post that one the first day instead of waiting two weeks.” Of course, I won’t. But still…

    I’m guessing this is a post that will generate lots of that manna for bloggers. 🙂

    • Karen

      And now you have me worried about all the other images I had intended to us on future posts!

      I have tried to write less… really. I know that I myself appreciate a shorter post:) But I will read regardless of length if the content is good.

      I’m curious about days of the week… wondering if there are better ones for posting if we only do a couple days. Part of me thinks the weekend is great because there are many fewer posts that day.

      • Yes, days of the week is a good question. That’s part of why I chose Saturdays. The most important thing for me is that I don’t subscribe to blogs that post seven days per week and definitely not ones that post more than once in a day. I’m not committed to Wed and Sat, but I need a schedule for msyelf — like predictability.

  4. The thing I most love about blogging is how two approaches can be so different, yet as we’ve learned, the friendship can transcend all differences. Your “differences” have made me better and our “differences” have translated into a wonderful friendship in BlogLand and in real life! I wish for others that same level of friendship! It truly is priceless.

  5. I don’t include many pictures in my blog either, and I know that that would really help out my blog. It seems like I don’t take very many pictures, or else when I write a blog I don’t have the picture to go with what I’m talking about!

    • Karen

      Honestly, as a reader, I don’t care if there are photos or not. I’m there for the writing or the blogger. But, I admit I do enjoy most shots of the blogger so that I can connect with the real person more easily. I least like lots and lots of food photos because they can make me hungry:)

  6. VERY INTERESTING! 😉 I keep lists of things to write about too & like you, write in advance cause I am slower than slow! I used to write my posts the day before the publish date but it got too stressful for me cause I am so slow. Having something in advance is mentally easier for me even if I have to tweak it before I publish.

    I am not too set on what I write about & things sort of come to me or I see a show or read something.. it can be more random than I care to admit! 😉

    You really have it down to a science! 😉

    • Karen

      Yes – that mental thing you said – me too! Much less stressful to have stuff there waiting. I also pay attention to when I publish things so that I don’t have too many similar posts in a row (in tone or topic). And I spread out my thumb posts, often thinking “it’s been a while since I’ve done one… time to get on it.”

  7. I get inspiration for posts while exercising, too. Especially biking. Nice to learn about your process. I am not surprised that you spend a good deal of time and effort in your posts, it shows. Me, not so much. Sometimes, though, if I have something that I think is important.

    I wonder how much time you spend a week blogging? Do you ever keep track? I am asking because I am easily drawn into blogging as a sport and have to set parameters.

    • Karen

      That’s a good question. I don’t keep track. Some days/weeks it is more than others. Keep in mind that I don’t have a job and don’t have kids at home either, so my time is “my own.” I consider blogging much like any other hobby I guess. I might just have to pay attention for a week or so and see. Maybe not during the holiday season though which I don’t think is a good test. I will admit that I have cut back in commenting because it just took so much time. I had to tell myself it is okay not to comment on every single post I read:) And, I read wayyyy less books than I used to now that I spend so much time blogging and reading blogs!!

  8. Love this post! And I love your blog!
    Dawn

  9. I, too, write the most amazing posts while I’m away from the keyboard. I seem to do my best ‘writing’ in the bathtub. Somehow it never seems to come out the same.

    I don’t include a lot of pictures in my blog either. Most of the time it is because I’m impatient and ready to publish once I have something written. I don’t want to take the time to find a picture. Although, I admit I like seeing neat pictures along a good post.

    I read quite a few blogs. Everyone has a different style and each has their own appeal to me. I’m glad they’re all a little different. Or maybe not…maybe then I wouldn’t use so much time reading blogs…hmmm…
    Lori

    • Karen

      I agree… it’s nice there are so many different styles out there. I once heard or read that there is an actual reason why we do such great thinking when bathing or exercising. But I can’t remember that either!!

  10. I can relate! It’s been difficult for me to blog lately.. I just don’t feel inspired because my goals and motivation has changed (albeit temporarily!)

    • Karen

      I wonder what you will do when the baby comes! Will you become a mommy blogger or will you be one who doesn’t want to put her little one out there in the “public?” I wonder what I would have done if the internet was around when I first had kids.

  11. Wow. I wish I put as much into my blogging as you do. I have to admit, I simply brain dump.

    Way to go!

  12. I love this post! Thanks for sharing how you do it. I’m pretty similar. I have about 100 blog posts written or half written right now. Sometimes I get a creative bug and just whip out a bunch of posts to save for later. It makes holidays or vacations easier.

    • Karen

      100! Wowza! I think I have about 20. The worst is when I have a great post and then, before I publish it, someone I follow writes one on the same topic.

  13. Karen, this is great! You and I share many quirks when it comes to writing, I think. I too have a list of blog subjects I’d like to tackle. I think the post title is totally important. I have often waited days to post until I could think of an appropriate title. When I had my previous blog, I think my titles were better but these days with limited time, I do the best I can. I also write loooong posts that I sometimes wonder if anyone will have the patience or stamina to read!
    I really love your blog so whatever it is that you do, keep doing it! And thanks for letting us get a glimpse behind your blogging curtain!

    • Karen

      And I couldn’t come up with a title I liked for this to save my life! I had another one on here for the longest time. Then second guessed I should have gone with it. Some readers probably don’t even look at the titles! And I suspect many just skim the posts. I know I have sometimes been guilt of that myself.

  14. Ooooh, now I know your secrets! You’re so thoughtful about this, I’m impressed.
    I’m just so glad you get something out of blogging because none of this would be the same for me without you.

  15. Loved this. I’m a bit of a perfectionist too and will check and recheck what I’ve written for spelling errors and such. Still, there are times that one will get past me. I also have great ideas when I’m walking and once back home, they seem to disappear into a black hole. 🙂

    • Karen

      Sometimes my husband will catch them when he finally reads the post and then I rush to fix them. And I discovered, the hard way, that there is no spellcheck on my titles! I admit that I have done internet searches a time or two on a grammatical issue.

  16. KLA

    I hear you about the long posts. Brevity is not one of my strong suits either and I’m just now starting to include pictures, but it’s kind of a pain in the behind.

    I can’t imagine having all sorts of drafts for multiple posts and re-writes. I just seem to want to get it out there. I want to schedule the publishing of my posts, but I have no patience to wait.

    In any case – thank you for taking us into your creative process!

    • Karen

      That’s what I love about subscribing – I actually have no idea when anyone else publishes, they just pop up in my reader and I read:)

  17. Thank you for sharing this Karen. I don’t think your posts are too long!

    I do struggle with that on my blog though. I just can’t seem to make short posts!

    I have notepads and notebooks full of ideas, recipes and products I want to talk about. I have several drafts on hold at all times. Some of them are an idea that I stalled on once I got started. Others I feel like I need to do more research on before posting. Sometimes after I go back and read it I wonder if I really want to share that topic in blog land for all the world to see. So I hold on to them until I feel good about posting or decided to “trash” it.

    I spend way to much time editing content, I need to write and hit post sooner.

    I’m still trying to figure out how much time blogging is too much time. I’ve lost my balance somewhere along the line.

    • Karen

      Yours are mostly long because of the recipes which, IMO, doesn’t count:) I do like how you include what is going on in your life and commentary besides just the cooking stuff. Yes, balance is key. If it feels like too much it probably is. But if you enjoy it and it doesn’t get in the way of living, I say spend away:) It’s a hobby for me, just like something else might be.

  18. Thank you so much for this peek at your blogging process! I always find it interesting to see how different people approach the same task. From one long-winded blogger to another, I don’t do things the way “they” say they should be done either. We’re just blogging renegades, I guess. 🙂

    • Karen

      Ah, that makes me smile. I would also admit to being a blogging novice as much as a renegade. Which sounds odd considering I’ve done this almost two years now. But so much I don’t know. And so many analytic or other kinds of sites like that!

  19. I really loved this post because it gave me some ideas on how to do things…as you probably noticed, I sometimes go great guns and then there’s nothing for a week or so. If I was a little better at planning (ahem) I’d probably be a little more consistent. That said, I am 100% with you on the rule breaking section…I’d have pretty much said the same thing 🙂

    • Karen

      Honestly, because I subscribe and have a horrible memory and read so many blogs, I rarely have any idea of anyone’s blogging schedule. That’s what I love about my reader… up it pops and I read it:) But, I do tend to notice a long absence of someone I regularly follow. I used to sometimes email to check in if that happened but have stopped doing that. Too big brother feeling.

  20. Very interesting–a nice little analysis about your personality!

    I used to plan. My favorite posts I’ve written were well-planned and have very few comments. My more popular posts are the impulsive crazy thoughts that just pop into my mind. Why do my readers like me best when I’m at my worst? More analysis needed there. We probably all should have MRIs done while reading and writing blog posts. 😀

    🙂 Marion

  21. Miz

    and I LOVED this post as after so many years blogging Im ready to SHAKE THINGS UP! a bit.

    xo

  22. Great post Karen, and really informative! I’m ready to rework my blog, but just haven’t had the time. I don’t put as many pics as I would like, although I’ve added more this week than I have in a long, long time.

  23. I’m glad that you have found what works for you … that’s really what it’s all about. The thing I love about blogging is that it’s all mine and I can say and do whatever I want. 🙂

  24. I put the same effort into writing my Internet column as I do writing scientific articles for medical journals. I can’t stop myself, it’s a matter of doing my best. That’s the way I roll.

  25. I liked reading about your process – even though I already knew it for the most part. I knew it because whenever you mention something about your process I think “Huh, that is exactly the opposite of my way”. I do not call it a process. I call it cursor blinking, yapper translates into fingers then hits “publish”.

    Maybe if my name was attached to it. I never proof read. if I did I would erase the entire thing.

    I do have a pile of idea posts where I wrote the idea of a post and have it in the draft can. I probably won’t publish them because they either bore even me (quintessential navel gazer) or they are kookier than my normal posts.

    The one thing that bugs me is having to write when I don’t bleeping feel like it. I do not want anyone to worry. I mean if people are nice enough to read and comment and care about me… hence ” BAWK! I hate Chicken”. LOL

    I love your blog because I love your writing style. You give me a good chuckle and you are totally relatable. You could write 10 page entries and it would make me happy.

    Clearly I need to read the blog rules. I am long winded, I ramble, I never correct spelling or punctuation or run ons or delete inanity. I only just looked at my stats a couple weeks ago after reading in another person’s blog about crazy searches that got to them. I had no such fun search terms, but found that people with alternative lifestyles love me. Teehaw. I love that.

    Honestly the whole thing cracks me up. 6 months in and I still scratch my head over people reading my blog. Yours – well, your conscientiousness shows. You hooked me and held your line tight.

    • Karen

      Well, dear Munchberry, I do thank you for your kind words:) And when I eventually write my post about why I read certain blogs, yours will be on my mind as one I read for many different reasons, but tops of that is that you always make me smile. I know I have told you before that I so enjoy your sense of humor:)

      I totally don’t think you should write if you don’t feel like it and should post when you want to. That’s why I subscribe! In the past I have emailed certain bloggers if they “vanished” just to voice concern and support and check in but it felt very big brother-ish so I don’t do that anymore.

      When I got my first blog comment I was so shocked and surprised. So unexpected. Someone actually read what I wrote!?

  26. Roz@weightingfor50

    HI Karen. Such an interesting post!!! I’m more of a “sit down and bang it out” kind of blogger I guess. I do think about topics when I’m not in front of the keyboard, but rarely write them down and my posts just “come to me”. Whether they’re of interest or not? Some are, some I’m sure not so much, but it’s my life, and some days are more interesting than others. Have a great Friday.

  27. I can relate to almost everything you wrote here. And yes, I used to jump out of bed thinking I needed to get my post published as well. That hasn’t happened in a while and I’m thankful, because if I’d kept up that schedule I probably wouldn’t be blogging anymore. It’s hard to find a balance in the beginning, but it does come, thank goodness.
    I think your posts are always interesting, which is why I hang around like a groupie all the time!

    • Karen

      It’s kind of like being in a new relationship. That initial excitement and high. That eventually lessens. And sometimes gets replaced with the whole love/hate thing. And then comes balance and compromise and finding a happy place.

  28. for me the writing and comenting part is easy i can sit down and ramble for hours. my problem is finding time toread and comment on others blogs. I find it hard to keep that going daily so now I read blogs in tome frames i’ll sit down on wed., fri, and sunday to catch up. as for the posting part i have tons of stuff saved and ready to go.

  29. I do a lot of the same things. I am especially obsessed with having a ton of different blog post drafts going at one time. I’m talking usually 50-100. It’s good, because when I’m stumped I can always go back to one of those and see if I have the inspiration to finish. But sometimes it’s overwhelming to know I have all those unfinished ideas out there!

    • Karen

      That’s a lot! I think I have 15 or so. But some are only a few words while others are pretty much complete and just waiting. I love finishing a draft and knowing I have another one ready to go.

  30. Karen, I thought I’d commented on this post, but must not have. It’s a great one. In some ways I feel like I’ve been blogging for a while, but in others I feel a bit like a newbie.

    Like you I am prone to over-editing to death, but while I do that in my primary blog (where I rarely post) I try to do it less in my diet blog.

    My posts are also often too long and I should contemplate breaking them down into separate posts, but by then I am on a roll. Because of my need for instant gratification I’m not good at saving posts for a rainy day, rather I want to post what I write then and there… though I am improving at this.

    I make a concerted effort to read a heap of other blogs, particularly those of people who’ve taken the time to comment on my posts, and I leave comments as well as much as possible. Because my posts aren’t overwhelmed with comments, I also try to respond to each of my commenters because I really do appreciate people taking the time to visit my blog and leave a comment.

    Again, great post!

  31. Such an interesting post. I post 6 times a week and it is just what’s on my mind that day. Nothing earth shattering because I just blog mostly for me. I am not building a brand or anything.

    I do have 2 or 3 “deep thought” posts that I am working on, but it can take forever for me to polish those up and post!

  32. Great post Karen. So many fabulous tips for any kind of writing.

    And, yes, the learning to let go…well most of us are working on that aren’t we? Don’t know that I’ll every be cured from over editing though…

    Keep up the fabulous work that you do!!

  33. Hi Karen,
    I’m stopping by from SITS – congrats on your day! I really enjoyed this post. I do love seeing how other bloggers work. I especially like your notes about commenting. This is so important and something I need to work on. I tend to get busy and don’t comment like I should. A dedicated time the next day makes enormous sense.

  34. Hello! Found your blog via SITS – love it! I’m very new to the blogosphere and so appreciate your sharing your thoughts and experiences – it can be lonely sitting at the computer, wondering who else is out there – thank you!

  35. Fun read. It sounds like we are very similar except for one thing. Okay, two things.

    I never save a post for later. If it’s done, I want it out there. Kind of like giving birth.

    And I don’t like to change my posts once they’re done. I write a lot in my head before my fingers ever hit the keyboard. Then it’s a natural flow process. I try not to over think it. I’m a perfectionist, too. Knowing that about myself I know that I just need to take the leap. I spell check and read through it once or twice for spelling and grammar and then it’s gone — into the ether!

    Sometimes, months later, I will reread for one reason or another and find an error. I have had to learn to fix it and let it go. No stress over past mistakes. Trust me, this is big progress.

    Thanks for paying attention to your writing, to grammar and spelling. Those of us who know the difference appreciate it. A lot.

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