How to blog every day

35 comments on How to blog every day
5 minutes

Recently someone asked me how I manage to post every day. (It’s really six days a week.) I’ve built up a lot of blogging speed since I started in 2007, and I thought you might like to know how I did it.

Foremost, I’ve committed to it. This is something I do; it is not optional. At least that’s the attitude I take toward it. There are exceptions, such as the one-week break I took last October, and a few days missed due to extenuating life events. But I make those choices deliberately. Six-day-a-week blogging is my default.

I give my morning breakfast time to blogging. I’m either writing or processing photographs while I sip my coffee and eat my eggs. I give it 45 minutes to an hour every weekday and Sunday morning, and on Saturday I spend all morning at it except for doing laundry and other minor chores. Sometimes I work on the blog during my lunch hour, too, and I even do minor edits to posts on my phone when I have ten minutes to kill.

I work very hard to keep 2-3 weeks of posts queued and ready at all times. Sometimes life gets hard, as it did in June when I had so much awful insomnia, and I can’t manage my morning ritual. Queued posts help keep the blog going during those times.

Even taking photographs is working on the blog. Why won’t this camera fire? -oh.

I didn’t start at six days a week — that’d be like running a marathon at a 5K pace, never having trained. I built up to this frequency and have kept it for about five years now. Before this I posted three days a week, and before that 4-6 times a month.

Each time I increased my posting frequency, my pageviews and comments went way up. And all the writing practice keeps improving my skills. I like both; they reinforce my choice to do this.

Still, to post six days a week and still hold down a full-time job and raise my children meant I had to learn how to write faster. I’m pleased to say that I spend about as much time now posting six days a week as I used to spend posting three days a week.

To do this, I learned a great technique of freewriting on a topic for 15-30 minutes, without editing, and then stopping. I go back later, usually on another day, for 15-30 more minutes and edit it into shape.

In freewriting I just let the words come however they may. I sometimes surprise myself with the things I write! If during freewriting I find my ideas don’t flow naturally I let myself rearrange sentences and paragraphs a little until they do.

In editing I worry about which words to use, how to spell them, what order to use them in, and where to punctuate them. If I do this during freewriting I bog myself right down, and every post takes five times longer to create.

Using this technique means I often have many posts in progress at once: some in freewriting and some in editing. As my 15-30 minute block ends I wrap up loose ends as best I can and maybe leave myself some notes for what I still want to do with the post, but then leave the post for a later session.

Another key to my frequent posting is that I have some easy post types. My Saturday Recommended Reading post is easy: I just add to it all week as I find interesting articles to share. I barely edit those posts because they’re all about the links.

My “single frame” posts are also fast to write. I look for a photo that makes me want to tell a story or make a point. I freewrite two to six paragraphs about it in one session, and then edit the paragraphs in another.

Another fast post to write is “here are a bunch of photos about a subject.” My travel posts often fall into this category. I write a couple introductory paragraphs and then just write to the photos: here’s what you see, here’s some interesting stuff I can think of about it.

At the end of my recent bout of insomnia I found myself with almost no posts in the queue. I needed five easy posts to build a week’s cushion, so I shared the series of photos I took of the same subjects, e.g., the Wrecks Inc. sign and the sunsets through my back door. Those took 30 minutes each to put together. Because I post so often I find my creative muscle is strong, letting me generate ideas like this quickly.

My camera and film review posts have fallen into a format that makes them faster to write, but especially the camera reviews can take several hours to finish. They often need a lot of research about history and usage, which I try to do in 15-30 minute sessions just like freewriting and editing. I write my research into the post as rough notes, and build the opening paragraphs around it. Then I share a bunch of photographs I made with the camera, and write about my experience with the camera as I made those photos.

I write ideas for more substantive posts, such as my essays and personal stories, on sticky notes and leave them around my desk. As I think of things I want to say in those posts, I create the draft post if I haven’t already and record my notes there. These posts take real time to write, so I tend to work on them only when I have 2-3 weeks of posts queued. I work on them bit by bit over weeks and, sometimes, months.

I write about whatever I want — it’s a personal blog after all. Anything is subject fodder. I write about photography and cameras a lot because it’s a lifelong interest and I’ve found my largest, most engaged audience there. Yes, I pander shamelessly to you film photographers!

If you blog, what tips do you have for keeping it going?

To get Down the Road in your inbox or reader six days a week, click here to subscribe!
To get my newsletter with previews of what I’m working on, click here to subscribe!


35 responses to “How to blog every day”

  1. nevergowrong Avatar

    Can you really help me

  2. J P Avatar

    I do the freewriting thing too, although I use the less genteel description of barfing into the keyboard. I once had a teacher who said there’s no such thing as good writing, there is only good rewriting.

    Being self employed I have some flexibility, so if I get smacked with inspiration at 9 on a Tuesday morning and I have nothing I absolutely have to be working on, I will run with it for a bit and get the words down in rough.

    I tend to work in real time and in the week before publication I decide which draft will get its day in the sun and spend free time editing.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Barfing onto the keyboard is how you get all the thoughts out. It seems counterintuitive at first, but it’s actually efficient and effective. Learning to rewrite is the hard part.

  3. JoHawkTheWriter Avatar

    Jim, you are so right. Consistency is the key coupled with the idea that it is non-negotiable. Writing and posting every single day (my schedule) is a challenge that is growing easier over time. The success of getting each post done is addictive and therefore, reinforces the habit. I love reading your posts.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Yes! Keeping at it is self-reinforcing. And the more you do it the easier/faster/better it becomes. Thank you for the compliment!

  4. Stuart Templeton Avatar

    Very interesting post Jim – some great advice. Posting everyday even for a short period is hard, so my hat’s off to you. Here’s a question for you though – how much time do you spend a day reading and commenting on other blogs? Sometimes that seems to be more work that the actual writing and taking pictures.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      The whole trick is to schedule posts well in advance so that when inspiration isn’t striking it’s not a big deal, the queue will cover you.

      I follow a lot of blogs and do a lot of skimming/scanning of them rather than full-on reading. It also limits my ability to comment because of the time it takes. I should probably cut down on the number of blogs I follow, which will let me comment more often.

      1. Stuart Templeton Avatar

        Cutting down is a good idea – it can become a full time job!

  5. Dan James Avatar

    Jim, plenty of good advice here. As you know I wrote a similar post the other day, and much of our approaches closely overlap. Especially keeping writing blitz sessions separate from tidy up, editing sessions, and having multiple posts “in the air” at the same time (I currently have 129 in draft!), as well as just the simple commitment to having a blog and keeping it updated that seems so hard for many people – even posting once a week or so.

    I wanted to ask you about a couple of things if I may.

    How increasing your frequency of blog posts increased your page views.

    I’ve done some analysis of my stats very recently and found that my monthly page views aren’t any more these days posting 20 posts a month, compared with 18 months ago when I was posting 12-14.

    I do feel there’s a kind of ceiling or a plateau we reach – though your blog’s is higher than mine! I have thought about posting every day, but given the trend I just mentioned I can’t see this would be worth it. I feel more inclined to actually reduce my posting schedule a little and free up some time to write better quality posts and encourage and answer comments more fully.

    So, do you think your blog has an optimum posting schedule?

    Photographs for blog posts.

    I went through a fairly extended phase where I found I was taking photographs almost entirely to use in blog posts. So in my photo walks I was thinking “will this do for a blog post image?” rather than “what are the photographs I most want to make today?”

    These days I’m far more back to making photographs more selfishly, to please my own whims rather than what might make a pretty picture for a blog post.

    What are your experiences of this?

    Thanks Jim!

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      I suppose I should do a dive into my stats sometime to be sure, as there may have been many factors that contributed to the stats spike that correlates to the beginning of my six-a-week schedule. I do know that four posts I wrote generated a LOT of search traffic for four years, but even if you remove all of those hits I believe my stats were still noticeably up. At the beginning, my new posts got 20-40 views in the first two days and then fell way off. Just multiply: three vs. six new posts a week, you get lots of new pageviews. The thing I can’t quantify for sure is my belief that more frequent posting netted me more regular readers. But now a new post gets 30-100 pageviews in the first two days.

      The one thing that my schedule does rob me of is the ability to respond more thoughtfully to comments — and to comment more/more thoughtfully on other blogs. I’ve been thinking about that a lot lately and am not sure how to balance that.

      I’m not sure whether my blog has an optimum posting schedule. I’m optimizing for my own pleasure and increase of skill, and I’m achieving that. The pageviews are a very, very nice benefit.

      I don’t find myself often out shooting just so I have something to blog about. I still love experimenting with old gear enough that I pretty constantly have film in some camera or other and will just go for a quick photowalk at lunch or something just to get a few snaps in. I let the photos I take generate many of the posts I write.

      1. Dan James Avatar

        I think we all need to find a balance that works. Like you I’m considering posting perhaps a little less often to give more time to comment, as these conversations are one of the fundamental reasons I have a blog in the first place.

        I don’t like those blogs where the author just replies “Thanks for reading!” to every comment (or doesn’t reply at all!) (You’re certainly not one of these!). I think if someone’s gone to the trouble of leaving a thoughtful comment and adding to the conversation, we should pay that back with equal thought.

        It’s great that we’re in this position of having the freedom to post what we want and find an interested community around it.

        Yeh I also find that most of the posts I write come from the out in the field experiments I’m doing with photography. It keeps it real, as they say.

        1. Jim Grey Avatar

          You do realize I take extra care to reply to your comments, and to leave thoughtful comments on your blog, because I know we both value it. Because I’m spread thin I don’t give the same level of effort to every comment and every blog. I do have it in the back of my mind that perhaps I need to rebalance things so that I can be more engaged with the blogs I do follow.

          1. Dan James Avatar

            Thanks Jim, I do appreciate it and it goes both ways. I don’t follow many blogs so have more time and inclination to focus more on those I do. Do less, do it better, has been my motto in most areas of life for years. My brain can’t cope with too much in the air at once!

          2. Dan James Avatar

            Jim, just thinking about this more, I admit because when we speak it’s either on your blog or mine, and the conversation is at the same kind of depth, I assumed you were like this on all blogs you comment on. Thanks again for your thoughts and the time you take, it is appreciated.

  6. analogphotobug Avatar

    WOW! Great post, because I was about to ask how you managed this posting schedule. I queue up posts also, but I only post about twice a week.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      This is a major hobby for me and I’m willing to invest the time. It’s felt great to improve my writing skill and speed over the years — I love building expertise!

  7. Heide Avatar

    I commend both your discipline and your pragmatic approach to blogging, Jim. I also admire how methodical you are about your writing and photography, while still allowing room for creativity. All these years later, you continue to be an inspiration! Thank you for that.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Hoo! The view from way up here on this pedestal is stunning! ;-)

      Thanks H, I can always count on you for encouragement!

      1. Heide Avatar

        You can indeed always count on my support, Jim, even if my comments are a bit sporadic these days.

  8. Ric Bell Avatar
    Ric Bell

    Thank you for sharing how you prepare and get to the end result. I’ve always been curious how people actually create stories, blogs, write books, etc. I’m too private a person to ever succeed at this though.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      I do have a lower need for privacy than most people.

  9. John Holt Avatar

    I’ve been away from “regular” writing for some time, many years, in fact. I really appreciate your insight on how you do daily blogs. Thanks for this!

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      I’m happy you find it to be useful!

  10. Alton Franklin Avatar

    You are a real Community Service, Jim! I know it is an echo, but I really appreciate all the good advice and recommendations you have provided! The amplification you have contributed in your answers to the questions folks have posed here is, likewise, greatly appreciated!!! Keep on keepin’ on, and Best Wishes to you and yours!!!

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      I’m happy you found some inspiration here!

  11. […] via How to blog every day — Down the Road […]

  12. jammiecg0001 Avatar

    Interesting, I’m more of a bitter blogger. I write for my own sake, out of curiosity or to formulate my own thoughts into something resembling coherent thoughts. I’ve often spent an hour carefully crafting some concise 100 word response to post some esoteric place online that might be read once or twice before drifting to the bottom of obscurity. Sometimes, after writing something up just perfectly, I just delete it, as if by deleting it I prove to myself it was purely for my own amusement, no ego involved. I don’t care who reads what I write, and not how many, but I do care what people think of it, as long as they think for themselves.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      I was more or less in that boat when I started this blog, but when it started to attract a readership — especially the others in the world who like using old film cameras — I realized I had something here and I got serious about it.

  13. […] been feeling like I’ve neglected this blog in 2019, so when I read Jim Grey’s helpful post full of tips to help you write more often, I thought I’d give one of them a go: the single […]

  14. Charlotte - 35mm Avatar

    Thanks for the tips, Jim! I wrote a post about a single shot I took years ago, after your inspiration – hopefully doing it more regularly will get me back into the swing of things!

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      I’m happy you took something useful away from my post! I find these single shot posts to be easy and fun. And when the well is dry, writing a few of them never fails to prime the pump for me.

  15. docwortspiel Avatar

    Nice post, interesting thoughts. It inspired me to think about me and my blogging. Thank you! :-)

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      You are most welcome!

  16. TheHairy1 Avatar

    I’m just starting to learn this now.
    Key, for me, was having the right technology. The ideas fly. They get written down, But writing the posts and getting the photos sorted meant sitting in my office when I wanted to be out.
    A lightweight chrome book and I’m now able to get the ideas out more effectively, just sitting outside or in front of the TV. Saturday is a blog day!

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      The right tool for the job, I always say!

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: