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Random vs Planned Blogging

Posted By Darren Rowse 31st of August 2006 Miscellaneous Blog Tips 0 Comments

One of the things that I enjoy about blogs is how random they can be.

Within the blogging medium it’s quite acceptable to bring together a collection of seemingly unrelated ideas over the course of a week or more. I guess this comes partly out of the personal blogging scene where it’s not unusually to see a post one day on the blogger’s political views, to see them post a little later reviewing a movie they’ve just seen, posting the next day a link to a fart joke that they just came across and then following it up with a description of last night’s date.

There’s something wonderful about this (it can be a wonderfully surprising ride to read such blogs) however recently I’ve found myself advising quite a few business bloggers and entrepreneurial bloggers to think through their posting a little more.

The Problem with Random Posting

While random posting can be a lot of fun and works well for some blogs (particularly those who build themselves on the back of their weird and wacky approach) it can also be quite frustrating for those readers who come to your blog not to be entertained but because they want to learn something.

Planned Posting

I’ve been asking myself the following question each Monday morning over the past few weeks….

Where do I want to take my readers this week?

In doing so I’m beginning to look at each week as a mini journey with readers.

I don’t ask this of all my blogs (particularly those whose content is more ‘newsy’ and where the breaking news within the niche determines what I post) but on my blogs like ProBlogger it’s a question I’m very intentional about asking.

In answering the question I map out a posting schedule for the week and identify a number of topics that I want to cover on each day. Some weeks this results in a series of posts (like last week when I tackled persuasive blogging) and other weeks it will result in a random looking collection of posts that may or may not seem directly related but which fit within where I want the blog to go this week.

I still throw in random or newsy posts that I didn’t plan on at the beginning of the week – but am finding that the result of this planning at the start of the week (or at the start of the month – as I do on one of my blogs) is more effective communication, positive reader feedback and increased repeat readers coming back to see what’s next.

One last benefit of it is that I’m feeling a lot more focused and in control of where my blogs are headed each week. Instead of waking up on Thursday morning and stressing that I need to not only write something but have to think of a topic – I already have an assignment waiting for me ready to start writing up.

How far ahead do you plan posts on your blog? Do you plan ahead at all or are you more spontaneous? Do you think about the journey you want to take your readers on over a period of time?

About Darren Rowse
Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.
  1. I had a whole month planned out with my new blog because I wanted to see if I had enough ideas before committing to it. I used the list almost exclusively for about 10 days. Then I started going off on tangents. I love having that backlog of topics though. I plan on taking some time of the upcoming weekend to plan out November.

    A major advantage to having a preplanned list of topics is it helps avoid a lot of the me too type posts where everybody reacts to the hot news story that nobody will care about in a couple days.

  2. To start, I don’t know why but you caught me off guard with having “fart” written on this page, yes I’m all for the potty humour and just didn’t expect to see that word here. It had my giggling throughout the rest of the post.

    I think I fit somewhere in the middle with planning and randomness although I usually don’t write my plan down and sometimes forget where I’m heading. Currently I have a couple of posts I want to write that are still in my head but I’ve been filling my blog up recently with events that had just happened or something I stumbled upon during the day which I’d rather post about. This may hurt the planned posts however because now they may be a bit outdated (but looking at your previous post today about the echo chamber I might be in an “okay” state — although the posts have nothing to do with the online world).

    I’m also still in the planning stages for a new topic centric blog (my first forway into a possible semi-pro type of blog) which I have posts planned as well but once again not written down. The thing is though this blog deals with experiences and so the posts will need to tie-in with those at a somewhat relevant time (I think anyway). But currently I’m just stressing on a design — your words of wisdom do help though in leading into a direction.

  3. I try, oh I try, oh oh do I try to plan ahead. But, it seems as soon as I sit down to write the planned post, a new idea slaps me across the brain.

    However, I do have a written down overall approach to the road I want to travel; at least for a few months.

    The spontanious posts seem to work well for me with the current blog I have, since it’s more of a hiccup of my thoughts and intrests, but I suppose I’ll need to create a solid routine for blogs I’m planning in the near future.

    By the way Darren, I’ve been reading this blog for almost six months, and now that I’m actually starting to participate around the “blogosphere,” and create my own internet persona, I just wanted to say how much I appreciate your help.

  4. Since mine’s a purely personal blog, I rarely have much in the way of planning. I skip around from one topic to the next every day, rarely dwelling on one subject for long. In a sense, though, it’s a sort of planned spontaneity, since my blog is constructed with multiple broad categories and focusing on any one would mean neglecting another.

    The mentality that you point out, I think, stems from a desire to be (or, for some, to appear to be) genuine. People by their very nature vary in their interests from one day to the next, or at least in their focus on those interests. In this context, planned posting comes off as disingenuous or artificial. I think the two genres (i.e. personal and business/entrepreneurial) are very different in that regard, although each has its place and its audience.

  5. Most of my blogs are news blogs, and do not require strict planning. However, I usually have some larger articles ‘breeding’ and revise those topics on Fridays to make my planning for the coming week.

    I prefer to plan on Friday to have a flying start on Monday. It is alo a good way to finish the week knowing that everything has been taken care of…

  6. Now, this is some good advice! I’ve talked to my husband recently about this too. Planning vs. random posting. I was begining to think that doing some planning ahead would work better than just sitting down and writing about the first thing that comes to mind. The problem with doing that is in the end you usually end up with mish mashed jargon that has no real point or direction. I feel like I haven’t made an effective statement and that I trully didn’t know what I was talking about or trying to get acrossed. So, if I felt that way, how would my readers feel?! Working from a list of topics, and then fleshing those out with points and areas to highlight and expand upon would work better. I’d feel more complete as well as my readers :). Thanks for the advice and clarity!

  7. It’s kinda ironic that I plan more for my personal blog than my pro blog. I guess it’s because I write for a topic that demands up-to-date information (Smartphones and PDAs).

  8. My partner at NLL and I have a great compatability in our writing. Our goal is to educate women on finance, business and investing- but make it fun! We both have a unique voice and different expertise. She keeps it stable with meaty posts which allows me to mix it up a little. I have actually done four blog series the past four weeks. Then we use the weekends to play a little.

  9. I have adopted a simple rule that has improved the quality of my posts: I never post immediately. I save as a draft and come back to it later. I always find ways to improve it or I add an image or more links. This doesn’t work well for news blogs, but in my case my goal is quality original content. The best thing for capturing ideas that pop up is a simple paper notebook (believe me, I’ve tried a million web and computer based methods–notebook works the best!). I create super short drafts and build on them later.

  10. It varies a lot.

    Some sites are news-based and react to that.

    On others, there’s a mix and I do plan posts I want to do, but not necessarily at an exact time.

    Yet others there’s some kind of set schedule for one or more posts each day. For example, I’ll do at least one of a particular kind of post each day, and on a Wednesday will do a particular feature. This is on a collaborative blog, and other writers there also have their own set pieces, so I think it gives readers some continuity – so they know on a Wednesday they’ll get this or that post – but they’ll still get the breaking news.

    Sometimes there’s an event that I want to cover, so that will dictate what I post – for example I covered Steve Jobs’ recent Keynote speech at WWDC06 live, and then posted follow-up reaction.

  11. My blog posts are fairly spontanious. Things come up in everday life that I have to write about. However, I do have a few projects that I am working on at once, so I have a general idea of where my blog is going.

  12. So far my approach has been to keep a notebook right next to me and whenever I have an idea for a post, I note it down with a few comments. Right now I am using that list to randomly pick from and create my posts, so I am planned to an extent but not too rigid with what posts will be done and when.

    Something new that I am trying is a monthly (or weekly if I get the demand) poll where the visitors can select the topic of a post. Unfortunately I only have one vote so far and that is from someone I know, but I like the idea of having regular “features” that visitors can expect to see.

  13. I can appreciate the benefits of a more structured posting schedule and if I had more time on my hands I would probably plan ahead a little more than I currently do.

    I do have a number of draft posts saved from ideas I had, but ran out of time to follow-up. One day, I’ll work through the pile…

  14. Since I’m blogging in a science and health niche, and I’m still building my mark or authority in it, so I plan my posts on weekly basis. I only post randomly just to break up the ‘geeky-ness’ of my blog. I’m often surprised by the results as those random posts recieve a higher number of comments and indicates that all my readers do enjoy the break.

  15. I write on my journey in IT with life encounters and some reviews in between…real life events that started way back when I was in secondary school…so its pretty much planned…but not the sort of planning like darren mentioned here. The reviews part may need some plannng especially if I want to have more of it in the future.

  16. I use a combination of random posts and carefully planned posts on my three blogs. I have a pad of paper alongside my computer to jot down ideas for potential articles as they occur to me.

    To help me keep organised however, these ideas are then transferred to a MSWord table I keep open as I write. This table has four columns – the date plus one column for each blog. I type in the title or subject of each post as it is written and highlight it when it is posted. This gives me a instant picture of what I have already written about and any gaps means I haven’t posted anything on that day, which spurs me on to do so.

    Future post titles or subjects are then typed in where there are gaps in the plan. This gives me a overall view of where the blog is heading. This is very fluid and changes are often made as I go. When writing a series of posts these are planned and written well ahead of time and often posted ahead of time as well. These are the kind of articles that won’t date. For example, on my travel blog ( http://www.trevorstravels.com/ ) I am writing a series of articles on a recent trip to Nepal.

    All the posts planned and written well ahead of time give continuity to the direction of my blogs. The random blogs in between these planned posts give the blog more life and variety – and more spontaneity I hope.

    This approach wouldn’t work for everyone – but it works for me.

  17. Trevor, it works great for some people. The combination is almost a requirement for a local city website like mine ( http://www.hoboken411.com/ ), because besides planned posts such as restaurant reviews and other things I can “time” without pressure, there are “news” events as well, such as the local crime and fire scene, which get published as they happen.

    It’s nice to be able to plan 1-3 weeks out in advance, but that can often be difficult. When I’m pre-published like that, I may tend to slack off too, then find myself behind the 8-ball and struggle for content. But I’m learning as I go, and have gotten better at the planning.

    I keep a Google calendar of my forward posts, and WordPress lets me save them as drafts, or pre-publish them and see a chronological list of what articles are upcoming.

    So I guess it all depends on the type of blog you run. Some, the content actually dictates what posting style you could/should use, whereas others it can be up to the author.

    Darren, great information as always!!


  18. You forgot to note how easier it is to crank posts with a set plan in mind. If there is a specific direction for the week, you narrow down your focus into that topic, allowing you to think about ideas you would never even have considered without the set plan. It’s sometimes amazing how many sides a single subject can be approached from, all of them a worthy post subject in themselves.

  19. I wish I had the discipline to plan more and of course the luxury of time.

  20. Funny you should ask…or rather post a topic about planned posting. For the last week or so (and I’ll probably continue it for another week or so), my posts are planned & pretty much written out for the day because of research I’ve done in the past. Other tasks are overwhelming my time so having these planned posts ready to go has cut my blogging time in half or even more. While I think a planned posting schedule makes your readers happier, it also helps out the blogger too! Thanks for the great post!

  21. I personally think Planned blogging can get you write a good story and hence grab you tonns of visitors, and as far as random blogging is concerned its just as good as to populate your blog and gets your pages indexed and mostly not making you generate some traffic,

    my 2 cents

  22. in a way a blogger is very much like a cartoonist that can’t draw!

    in how the plan their week. and sometimes we even get a special ‘Sunday’ feature.

    question thought>>where does all the stuff go, that you want to say but is just plain irralevent?

    do we try to squeeze it in, or should we all have dump blogs!

    lately in my artmaker blog


    i try to consideratly go off topic.

    that is to say i acknowlage what my readers might be here for.. and i try to bring the topic around, however feebly

  23. I think I will try this, i have recently started blogging and I think i will try planning ahead frist, will let you know in a week how it went.

    Asian Blogger

  24. 楼主说的确实对我很有用,多谢了!@_@~~

  25. I guess mine would be planned, because each day I do a painting and then post it on my blog with a little write up. And then I also write random posts about what’s happening, depending on whether I get a commission or buy a book and want to review it or something. I can’t really plan for those. I would like to start doing one major, planned article a week. With all the paintings I’m posting, and the random content, that’s a pretty good many. I think I will straighten up and do more planned blogs, about two or three a week, once I get my own domain. Right now I’m still trying to figure everything out (And the sad thing is, I’ve been signed up with blogger since 2001).

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