April of this year will mark my fourth year as a blogger and I would like to think I’ve learned some things over the years. Alas, not how to gain lots of followers, design a visually stunning layout, or receive boxes full of books from publishers (you know, the ones with all sorts of cool swag or multiple books that you see the stars of Youtube receive).
I know there are plenty of posts out there full of tips on how to reach a wider audience and engage with readers. What I want to share today are some of the more…let’s say…administrative tips and tricks I’ve developed (some more recently than I’d like to admit).
If you’re starting out, these might make your blogging journey easier. If you’re already established, it might be worth doing some extra legwork to make things easier in the future!
I’m going to talk about some of what goes into maintaining my blog like the sites I use to keep it running and how I plan posts and keep my files organized.
Clearly, I use WordPress. 😀
After the recent Photobucket Debacle (hereby known as PD – you can read my mini-rant here) I needed more storage here to host my photos. I decided to get a paid personal plan for about $48 a year – which isn’t too bad. This subscription also allows my blog to be ad-free, which is a nice bonus for my readers (unless you use Google ad-blocker and then you’ve likely never noticed). It also gained me a domain name sans the WordPress tag, which also makes me sound like a pro!
I don’t make any money from blogging and I never thought I’d end up paying for the hobby (I figured that’s for the popular accounts), but with weekly image-heavy posts and the recent lack of free image hosting, it’s something I decided to do.
I also use PicMonkey to edit my photos. Once upon a time, when I was in college, I knew a thing or two about using Photoshop, but I haven’t opened the program in years. Maybe it’s lazy of me, but I like the options that PicMonkey provides and they’re easy to use. Up until recently, they provided a free service, with some of their more “special” features available through paid use. Sadly, they changed their services and require payment in order to save a picture. Forced to choose between re-learning Photoshop, finding another service, or paying PicMonkey, I decided to pay them for an account. I forget how much, exactly, but it’s more than what WordPress charges yearly, though less than $70.
In the span of a few months, my free (at least monetarily, as I do invest quite a lot of time) hobby racked up quite a bill. For now, I consider it worth it, but we’ll see what the future holds.
I also use Google Drive because I have a desktop and a laptop and I like to be able to switch between both. I regularly remove photos and files that have been posted to my regular hard drive though, so I’m not hogging up space. I really don’t want to pay Google for more storage too.
I use the monthly view in my planner to write out what posts I’m going to upload and when. At times, I’m able to get ahead of my posts and schedule most of the month in advance, other times I’m writing posts a few days before they go up. I aim to post mainly on Monday, Wednesdays and Fridays at 11 am EST, because I’ve read that consistency is key.
Honestly, I don’t pay a lot of attention to my metrics to see if the time I’ve randomly chosen is getting me the most views – with all the shitty algorithms these days, I don’t think it really matters. I know WordPress doesn’t use the same ridiculous formula that’s currently crippling my Instagram account, but I’m not about to spend a lot of time trying to figure out when my readers are most likely to check their feeds for posts. I only set aside time once a week to read the blogs I follow, so it doesn’t matter to me what time they post. I just don’t have time to worry about it and again, since I don’t earn money from it, I’m not largely affected.
In addition to creating and scheduling my new posts, I’m working my way back through my old posts to clean up after the PD. Some of my earlier posts weren’t affected, but not knowing what I was doing back then, I uploaded pictures at full size. This was an unnecessary drain on my storage, so I’ve been downsizing those images.
While downsizing and cleaning up old images, I’m also sorting through the files on my computer. I unhelpfully dumped everything into two folders, Judging Posts and Posted Stuff. Yes, just Posted Stuff. Not thinking I’d ever need to go back and touch these files, I stupidly refrained from adding any other subfolders or pertinent file names. That’s right, all my files are just named whatever string of numbers my phone (usually date based, which is at least somewhat helpful) or my DSLR named them. SIGH.
So, I would advise you to perhaps create a folder for each year of your blog and then subfolders for months or types of content. I’ve now made myself yearly folders and even more recently, monthly folders, to better keep track of what was posted when. I’m also renaming any photos I edit based on the title of the book or blog post to make them easier to reference. Part of me wonders if I should have labeled them with the post date, but I’m not about to switch that all up now. You see, I’m still learning, even as reconstruct my blog and storage folders.
I also keep my originals in case I need to go back to those and create new edits. This comes in handy when I want to create a banner or header graphic.
Sometime last year I also started saving the word files for my posts. Previously I’d type it up and then delete the file after posting. Why did I do this? I’ve no idea – it seems silly not to just keep the files in case I should lose the blog completely or something. Past Millie didn’t think about how long she’d be doing this I guess.
To sum up:
-Look into paying for image hosting and blog services
-Plan your posts ahead of time if you can and post consistently
-ORGANIZE YOUR FILES AND SAVE YOUR WORK
Hopefully, you found at least some of this useful! Maybe you can learn from my experiences. If you have any tips for blog maintenance, feel free to share them with me. I’m sure there are other things I could do to make things easier.