This question from James of My Fitness Guide hit my inbox this week:
“My question is, when starting a new blog, do you write a list of all your blog topics first, then plan to write one of them per day, or do you write it all as fast as possible to build your archives, and then try and think of a fresh new blog topic every day?”
Here’s my answer (I’d be keen to hear yours in comments).
James – I generally suggest a few things with regards to content when I’m starting a new blog.
1. 5 Posts Already Published
I like to have at least 5, preferably 8-10, articles already published on the blog – so when people come they can see you’ve written useful stuff already and don’t just see a blog with one post.
At b5media we ask our bloggers to have around 10 posts already written before we launch but I think 5 would be my minimum.
2. 5 Draft Posts
I also like to have at least 5 posts already written but held in reserve as drafts that I can post in the next few days after launch.
I find that when launching a blog you can be a bit distracted by the excitement of it all, by promoting it, by responding to comments etc – so content creation can sometimes take a bit of a back seat.
If you have 5 posts in reserve (I’d even prefer to have more than that) it means you can keep any momentum from the launch going for at least 5 days without having to write a whole lot more. In fact I usually start a blog with just 3 posts a week and gradually increase the frequency of posts over time – so 5 posts in reserve can almost last two weeks.
3. 20 Post Ideas
Lastly – I also like to have a list of possible topics to write about in future (I try for at least 20).
I actually like to write this list as part of the process of even deciding whether to choose a topic or niche because it helps me to work out whether I’ll be able to sustain writing on that topic for the long haul.
If you can’t think of 20-30 post titles/topics pretty easily before starting a blog it could be a signal that you’ve chosen the wrong topic.
Having this list at your fingertips means you’ve always got a topic to write about in the first month or so of your new blog.
And You’re Off and Running
I find that between having a few posts already up on the blog, having a few in reserve for the coming few days and then having a list of topics to write about that creating content for a new blog is not that difficult.
The numbers of posts that I’ve mentioned above will vary from person to person (and even for me I’ve not always exactly followed this formula) but I think it’s probably a pretty solid way forward.
The only thing I’ll add is that it’s really important to put your best foot forward in terms of the quality of your content in the early days of a blog.
Of course you’ll want high quality posts as every post on your blog going forward – but a few really high quality and engaging posts in the first week of your blog can really launch it and help establish some good traffic and subscriber numbers in the early days of its life.
What Do You Do When Starting a Blog?
I’m interested to hear what your experience is with creating content on a new blog? How many posts do you launch with? How do you keep the posts coming in the early day of a blog?
i started my last blog with just 1 post, because it’s still in an early phase and I’m busy at the moment but I have at least 20 posts in mind, ready to be “deployed in production”.
Interesting tips anyway, thanks!
Great advice Darren. I would also recommend using a Launchpad type of page as well if you’re having stuff prepared. Such as the Launchpad Theme ( http://themeshaper.com/blog/wordpress-domain-parking-theme ) for WordPress.
I believe Silverback did something similar. You can always customize the look and feel appropriately.
That is so amazing. Since I have wanted to start a Blog I have been writing Topic after Topic on paper, titles just flowing in my head at all times of the day, I carry a notebook around with me everywhere (even to the shower, i know its crazy) because I never know when I am going to get a title or topic. And I have so much content now within the first few days. I dont promote my blog for the very reason that there is nothing on there yet. Now if I could figure out how to put it all together on a blog and launch it I will be all set. Thanks for the info Darren
Great advice. I spent a year working on articles before I launched. I spent that time planning and writing and building up. Probably a little excessive, but I wanted to make sure I really wanted to do this. I thought–if I can wait a year and churn out articles during that time and still have the desire to launch the blog–then at that end of the year, go for it.
Great info, thanks! I wish I read this before I started my first blog. I usually keep 5 or 6 ideas in my notebook for future posts and I try to shedule weekend articles two weeks out. During the week I usually stick to trade posts so nothing scheduled. The notebook is key because I get my best ideas away from the computer.
Great suggestions, and all true. When I launched my first blog I had no idea what I was doing. I launched with nothing but one post and an “about me” section. Thankfully, I know better now.
I always have blog posts prepared ahead. I launched my blog with a lot of posts – and now i keep notes on ideas for the future. Although a lot of my posts depend on the photos I can get…so they can be very spontaneous too.
I’m just really starting to shape my blog, so good advice here. If you’re stuck in a blogger’s block, here’s an article from Chris Brogan on 100 blog topics you can just write about: http://www.chrisbrogan.com/100-blog-topics-i-hope-you-write/
Great advice, Darren!
When I started my blog about 2 years ago, I just did one post at a time. Probably not ideal, but I didn’t know any better. However, I was worried about being able to come up with posting ideas, and it hasn’t been a problem because I’m pretty passionate about my topic (literature & writing).
Thanks for the great tips!
Thanks Darren, this will surely help me out for me. Hope to make a good year ahead for my blog.
This sounds like pretty good advice, once again. I’m in the process of putting together a schedule. But I was thinking the number of articles would have been much higher than the 5 you suggested. Your archives also have been a great source of help for numerous questions I’ve had; something I often come back to. Thanks again Darren.
lol, Darren, what a way to make me sound like an illiterate!
“Hey Darren, I just thought of a blogging question so I’ve come all the way over to problogger to ask you. My question is, when starting a new blog, do you write a list of all your blog topics first, then plan to write one of them per day, or do you write it all as fast as possible to build your archives, and then try and think of a fresh new blog topic every day?” – myfitnessguide.NET
Don’t worry, apology accepted.
I keep a notepad nearby and whenever I think of an idea for a post, I write it down. Then, when I need something to blog about, I just look at my notepad of ideas and flesh something out from there.
As you said to keep some reserved posts, i am always having topics to write about. But i am a student and do not get much time to write on my blog. . .
I just launched my blog. I have a plan, which I’m sure I’ll tweek at time goes by. I launched with only 3 posts, and have a couple in reserve. Maybe due to my personality or subject matter or just the fact that I love photography and writing, I don’t like to write too much in advance.
I have many places and topics in mind. My goal is to post about 4-5 posts per week.
James – so sorry, I cut and paste the wrong part of the question into the post – really sorry about that. Fixed now I hope!
Absolutely great advice for bloggers who are just starting out.
I didn’t begin with a stockpile of posts and ideas when I started, but I new enough about my niche and was so passionate as well that I found it really easy to be inspired for my next post.
I found the best way to develop post topics is to read blogs in your niche. Maybe an even more important way is to read the comments on other blogs in your niche.
Usually the comments will tell you what visitors are interested in reading.
prefaring is the important point, right from the first…thanks
I like the practicality of your plan.
I like the 10 posts done and 5 drafts handy approach.
Great article Darren. You’ve reminded me to get stuck into the dozen articles I have in progress, plus the few Apple-related articles I have started in the last few days.
I also find that writing about the moment or the days-activities are a good place from which to find inspiration. A person’s day usually involves Good Eating, Exercise, Computer Problems, Saving Money and lots more related subjects. Thus, all subjects generated from just getting out of bed each morning!
A very good article for starting a new blog. This strategy can be follow to your existing blogs too. Very good advice and must be followed.
John Wang – I actually used that theme for a while to hide my blog while I was working on it. It is somewhat flawed because you can’t capture the email addresses, and if you upload any content it is delivered via RSS prior to the official launch.
It was pointed out to me that its more of a squeeze page. If used, you should give a date thats relatively close and also provide an incentive, like a free report.
Jeff Chandler is using a maintanance plugin on his new project http://www.wptavern.com as he prepares for that launch. You guys have read his posts on here a fair bit and it would be worth watching how he launches his blog
On a different note, I love the subject of blog launches and would love to read further posts on the matter. It seems to be a really hot topic around the blogosphere. Perhaps something to do with all the new years resolutions, lol?
I just started a blog yesterday an started with one post but have put 4 more up today. My blog is about a rather specific topic and I am waiting for quite a few companies to get back to with with some information I need before making posts about them. Drop on by and take a look if you like.
Always look forward to your posts. For beginners it is important to remember that brief posts work just as well as longer ones.
I used to struggle with posts until I read Zoe Westhof series on Focus: http://tinyurl.com/79z7at. I sat down and wrote out 30 ideas in an hour. Now my goal is to post daily or at least 3x/week.
I also found creating a separate folder for interesting posts or using de.li.cious is a big help. So many times I recall a quote or article but can’t remember where I found it. I also have a file on my desk for articles I find in print.
Write about what you know best but also look at what other bloggers in your space are writing about.
Keep the discussion and comments going. Some great ideas.
Nice timing. We are just starting a company blog so I’m busy working on articles. It’s hard work!
Awesome links posted in this comment thread too. Thank you all. :)
This is quite informative I think I will start using this strategy in the future because I often find myself at a wall wondering what I will blog about. Thanks!
Thanks for all tips on creating a blog post.
I think that when writing any blog posts it is important to make sure that whatever you are saying is of useful value to the people that are subsequently going to read it.
It needs to be either entertaining, stimulating or informative and provide some form of benefit to the reader.
For example, if you have learnt something new you can explain how you learnt to do it. Or if you made a mistake, how you made the mistake and how you turned it around. This then provides useful information to other people, helping them to avoid making the same mistake in the future.
Start a journal and document the things that you do the things that you learn so you may then use this information as the basis of your blog posts.
Another thing you can do is tie in your blog posts to a current media story or trend to make to more relevant.
I have discovered a very easy way to speed up the time it takes to create any blog posts using a very useful piece of software. I can now create blog posts in a fraction of the time he used to take me!
My blog deals with reflections on Chilean culture and I like to use a lot of photos, so I carry a small but good quality digital camera in my purse at all times to take shots of interesting things that I will write about later. I often carry it in my hand as I walk around town doing my daily routine. This gives me graphic material AND ideas.
These ideas are really good. I started my blog with a single introductory post but I filled up the space quickly with a post every other day. Topics for my blog are easy to come up with so I do not really have a problem there. For more details feel free to visit my blog at: http://www.eznetbusiness.com
great post…as usual your post is so helpful and you really gave me a heads up from this post….I have started drafting for my blog so that I could launch it once it has substantial content. Your approach towards starting a blog is really good…thanks again..!!
You certainly provide some great advice which I wish I would have had about a month and a half ago when I started my blog! My approach was really “ready, fire, aim” where I just posted one article on day one and pushed to publish 3 -5 a week thereafter. The content from my articles are really a combination of life experience, books, and current events which all converge to form my topics. For this reason I generally like to write my articles on the day of publishing, however I have found value in building a backlog for when I have writer’s fatigue.
In month one I had great results with closing stats of over 3,100 a day and 20,000 for the month. I have had trouble finding benchmarks on what to expect, however what I have found and what I have heard from others suggest that these are good stats for just starting out. Thank you for the great advice and I look forward to reading future articles!
for me, i just post what i think that time. but of course i already do some draft in my mind. if not, its hard to make a good post.
Good advice especially for bloggers who write their posts at the eleventh hour. To keep readers coming back to your blog, you need to fulfill reader expectation. Most readers, once they get interested in your blog, would want to see something fresh every day.
At my blog
I have made a resolution to make daily posts. I have three to four post ideas in advance and in this way I can fulfill the resolution of making daily posts.
The way I prepare for my posts is to write down titles of the posts in a notebook. I take a lot of time to get the titles right. They are usually the final titles I will use in the posts. Once I get the titles right, the writing part is easy for me. I write the post in longhand in an exercise book a day before the post is scheduled. In this way, when I start typing it into the blog text box, I can refine the content further.
If you’re new to the game, it’s advisable to carry a notebook with you and make notes when you read other blogs, books, magazines or when an idea strikes you
Great article, I’m not STARTING my blog, but it helped me a little. :)
Have a great day!
well…..sometimes very difficult getting fresh and good idea….., I would like to ask……good source for getting idea or inspiration? thanks b4
Seriously, blogging should be for those that really like writing. For good writers, writing is like an addiction. If they don’t write several times a day, they feel like something is missing. So, I don’t think anyone should start a blog unless he or she loves to write, or he or she is sure to get good content from other sources.
Fantastic blog post as usual. I’m signed up for your feed so I don’t miss a beat, but I’m usually running around all over the place to stop by and comment. But I had to stop by and say this was another great one. I’m afraid I didn’t do the things you listed above and I found myself at several writer’s blocks so I didn’t post regularly. Of course, rankings were terrible. I decided to blog everyday and boy am I seeing hits soar…like 500% or more, so there’s a lot of truth in what you say…had I written up blog posts or even ideas ahead of time, I might even be in a better position with my blog. Can’t wait for your next feed to come through my email box. ;o)
Great ideas! If I’m anywhere near my computer when I get an idea for a new post, I start it as a draft simply entering the idea as a title with the word “idea” at the beginning. I jot a few notes in the body and save it. Not all my ideas occur near my laptop, but I’m less likely to forget about them if I enter them there.
I just launched two blogs. One blog is just an old travel blog where i use to write travel stories. I revived old posts that were still relevant. So there was already more then 8-10 posts.
For the new site I am building with a friend, we started with about 12 posts. We are now promoting the blog but we want have 2 posts a week and we are aiming for more.
The blog is not aimed to be as our main source of income. We ( the authors) have both full time jobs. If I was working full time on it, then I would advice more updates in the week. Every time after a post we see a traffic drop, and a little spike when we post stuff.
great post! I think i need to have some draft posts ready in case i get busy… or if i want to publish more content @ hot traffic times!
thanks for the insight darren!
Your post about staring a blog was spot on.
IMHO, the most important statement was, “If you can’t think of 20-30 post titles/topics pretty easily before starting a blog it could be a signal that you’ve chosen the wrong topic.”
Blogging is a marathon nnot a sprint
Silicon Valley Refugee Retired Early in Ajijic Mexico and Lovin it!
Casa Preciosa Ajijic, Mexico
As I read your advice I’m not a good example how to start a blog. I’ve started in a niche I felt comfortable in and I considered myself as a rather knowledgeable person. I’ve had just a couple of ideas for posts and two pre-written posts: one already published and one ready for publication. With planned frequency of 2-3 posts per week I had no real buffer.
Fortuantely I blog a lot about thing which happen to me at work, so on the beginning I had no problems with creating new content and I was able to keep planned posting frequency.
One thing I screwed however – for me all promotional and networking stuff took the back seat so somehow it was easier to focus on content. This by the way I consider as my biggest mistake – because of lack of time I dropped promotion and networking struggling to keep posting frequency. I should probably have dropped frequency a bit. How do you think?
I had thought about this and implemented it. Not in the scale which is mentioned in the post, but in a minimal manner.
I started my blog in June 2008 and was pretty much excited about it and tried to come up with techie stuff in a more humane way and I would say that if I look back now, I have done what I could and in a way, am happy, but not content.
Thanks for this awesome post.
I wish I had thought about this stuff before I launched my most second blog. My current blog is all about me and grew very organically so I didn’t think about preparing posts in advance for my second blog, which is more about sharing information… I guess it’s still not to late to build up those posts and just start from here…
Good Tips, I Had Thought about this Before, but yet to implement it, i i ever thought that there is no one do it, so unexpected that Darren Do it…
Ok I’ll Try It Darrens Thanks,
Could not agree more.
I recently took over the blog for oDesk.com. I not only did not go with my gut and do an immediate blog redesign but on my second entry on “most in demand web technologies”, It hit Digg FP. Nice exposure and links but I felt that it was for the most part wasted since there was no other content to inspire people to stick around. Social media can be a lot of work so it is a shame to waste it with minimal content to inspire future readership.
I keep a spiral for each blog and jot down a checklist of great post ideas that pop into my head. I use this checklist to create a mapped monthly plan of attack for my blogs. I also keep a pad by my bed because I frequently wake up in the morning with several fantastic post ideas that I will soon forget if not written down :)
As I’m browsing the internet I get article ideas and so I write post right then using the Firefox add-on ScribeFire and post-date it so that I have a couple of days cushioning for publishing.
Thanks for some of your great ideas to add to my collection.
After reading this post i was so happy because, as a new comer i’ve been already following your steps.
my site http://blogbooze.blogspot.com started with about 4 posts. even though i published it on the net i didn’t gave it much publicity because it’s just started. But now i have started my publicity campaign very slowly and hopes to improve it in coming days…
Our blog is relatively new, however to the blogging scene we’ve been around for quite some time. We recently launched this new blog beginning November last year only because we finally found a host for the blog.
And I had a few topics and articles in mind waiting to be publish so the launch was relatively easy. It is now though going back to work and managing this is proving to be only slightly difficult but it is getting there, we currently already have 18 subscribers and has had some good reviews which we are yet to add to a dedicated page just for testimonials.
I totally agree with the suggestions in this article. I think having just one or two posts in there when you launch a blog will just create a not so good first impression.
I often do a minimum of 5 and then I might even do a couple of future dated posts just to ensure that content flows consistently during the early stages of the blog.