Blogging in lockdown: how to prepare

Scenario A:

You are planning to fill your extra time available during the next phase of lockdown, with some online learning. Blogging is popular right now as are many other self-help type online courses. If blogging is something you have wanted to learn, now is a good time to start planning that out. In this week’s post I provide some helpful planning tools, prepping processes, and advice for those who are new to the art of blogging for family history stories.

Scenario B:

You are a Toastmaster planning to explore and complete the Pathways Elective ‘Write a Compelling Blog‘. You are not sure what to blog about or whether you can manage the technology involved. In this blog post I provide some tips on how to stretch beyond the instructions contained in your project brief and discover some tips on how to plan and prepare smartly for this project.

Planning Tools

Plain and Simple: your Diary and Calendar

Get some stickers from your local stationers and decorate your diary or calendar to provide highlighting, reminding, and rewarding of your blogging activities. Or just simply write your planned blog post titles on the pages of your diary.

Smart and Straightforward: your Blog site (drafts)

If you already have a functioning blog site (Blogger, WordPress or other), plan to create your posts using the draft feature. You can plan, store as a draft, edit later and publish when ready.

Stunning and Collaborative: Trello Boards

For those who wish to collaborate on the scope and content of the stories for your ancestors, try using Trello. In this online software you can create a ‘board’ with Scene and Story ideas about each person and share with other family members.

Stylish and Organised: Dabble Writer or Story Planner

For those who are already using online software for their writing projects, you may like to step up to another level and try Dabble Writer or Story Planner. Each one of these tools enables you to plan, plot, write and create worlds, ‘in the cloud’ and therefore always be able to work on your stories wherever you are and on whichever device you prefer.

Prep Time

During Prep-tober, the month before National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), I have learned how important it is to prepare well for a substantial writing commitment. This applies to bloggers too, in my opinion; and definitely to those attempting to write a compelling blog.

Begin planning your blog series at least a week or so prior to publishing. This will give you opportunities to carve out quiet time in your diary or calendar. You may find it best to think and write early morning or early evening if you have a busy day schedule. Alternatively, if you have other commitments in the evenings then daytime blogging is for you.

Note: if you have a goal of writing your blog posts on a consistent basis across a month then you will need to be quite disciplined with your time and avoid distractions and interruptions.

What to do to ensure you can maximise your blog writing time?

Here’s my tips – lessons I have learned in my prep for NaNoWriMo.

  1. Notify: When you begin your blog writing time, let your family and friends know that you are not available during that time. Emergencies excepted. Add and activate an ‘away‘ message for your emails.
  2. Organise: Plan for meals in advance, to avoid the need to be creative in the kitchen; let the recipes be your guide and plan meals in advance. Order your meal packs to arrive at your door on those busy days.
    eg. Hello Fresh and other services are worth considering. Check what is available in your time zone.
  3. Prepare: Determine where you will be writing your blogs and prepare that area so that you have everything you need in the one place. For instance, if you have a dedicated office space in your house or dwelling, spruce it up with a bright calendar and stickers to remind and reward your efforts. Consider a de-clutter process to ‘clear the decks’. If its the corner of another room which other members of the household use, screen off that corner for privacy.
  4. Discuss: Social and peer learning are great strategies you can implement for blogging. Immerse yourself in social media groups of like minded bloggers and find out how they plan their time. You can discuss your plans for blogging in these two discussion forums: Digital Storytelling Online in Facebook and LinkedIn.
    Please jump in there for some sharing of ideas.
  5. Collate: If you are planning a series of blog posts to complete your Elective Project in the Toastmasters Pathways program, gather all your project resources in the one folder. Download and print the project checklist, description and evaluation proforma.

Enjoy the process of planning and creating your blog posts!

Advanced Blogging in the Past Lane (free webinar)

If you need some guidance in starting or refining your family story blogs you are invited to attend the FREE webinar on 1 November 2020 at 11:00 AM AEDT.

Details and registration available here.

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