Reposted with permission from Donna Grant of February Stars.

HOW TO MANAGE A BLOG WITH CHRONIC ILLNESS

by Donna Grant

There is no getting away from the fact that blogging is hard work. Writing blog posts, taking/finding and editing photographs, marketing your blog… it all adds up to a lot of time and energy. I think when you have a chronic illness it’s important to not put too much pressure on yourself when it comes to your blog. It should be something that you enjoy doing rather than a cause of stress.

There are many articles published on the web about how to be a successful blogger. While these can be helpful, they can also place a number of unrealistic expectations on to you. Sadly, when you have a condition that is characterised by pain, fatigue and cognitive problems, writing on a regular basis can be a real challenge. Sometimes it can feel impossible to come up with new content and brain fog can make writing a nightmare.
I have had a few comments about how people are impressed with how regularly I update my blog. For the past little while I have been posting consistently three times per week: Monday, Tuesday and Thursday. I think it’s important to point out that there may be the odd week I can’t achieve this but it is working well for me at the moment. I thought it might be helpful to share some tips with you on how I manage blogging.

Use An Editorial Calendar & Scheduling

The biggest tip I could give you is to plan and schedule your blog posts. Now when I talk about planning content, the ideal is that you will know what you want to write about on certain days. However, this is something that not everyone finds easy. I fully admit that I can be a ‘spur of the moment’ writer. An idea will come to me and then I will write it down straight away. Often this is when I do my best writing. Sometimes my mind is full of ideas and I can write a whole bunch of posts over a short period of time. Other times I struggle to think of what to write because of brain fog. For me, the key has been planning when I post what I do write.

Previously, I used to write a blog post and then publish it straight away. This worked fine when I was inspired to write a lot. However, when I was lacking ideas, motivation or inspiration my blog would then go quiet. This isn’t ideal if you want regular readers and the thought of not having anything to write also stressed me out. I hated not being able to update my blog. I now schedule my posts as a way of preventing this from happening.

I don’t think it matters how often you post but scheduling can help you to stick to a regular routine. This could be the first Monday of every month. It could be every second Tuesday or perhaps a certain day every week. Maybe you will even be able to update more than once a week. Whatever you choose, pick a goal that is realistic for you and then stick to it.

editorial-calendar

I use a WordPress plugin called ‘Edit Flow’. This is an editorial calendar that allows me to see six weeks of content at any one time. It is so useful for planning blog posts and the plugin makes it easier to see what content I have scheduled. If I go through a really productive phase I can write a load of blog posts and then schedule them to post on certain days. This keeps my blog ticking over when I find I don’t have the motivation to write. Like I said above, I opt to post 3 times per week and on the same days each week. For example, I wrote all of April’s blog posts in the first week of April and then took a couple of weeks off from writing. I then started planning for May. I like to try and be a couple of weeks ahead of myself if I can manage it.

Sometimes a post will crop up that needs to be posted sooner rather than later. For example, there would be no point in posting my unboxing blog posts weeks after I get my subscription box as it would no longer be relevant. If I already have a blog post planned, I simply re-jig my calendar (for want of a more technical word!). The good thing about the ‘Edit Flow’ calendar is that it allows you to easily see what dates you can re-schedule to. If the posts you have created are drafts you can also drag and move them around, which allows you to quickly re-organize your posts.

Give People An Easy Way To Stay Updated

You might decide that posting on a regular schedule isn’t for you. Perhaps that would still place too much pressure on you. Or you may worry that, even if you do post regularly, people may miss some of your content. The best way to handle this is to offer your readers a way to keep up-to-date with your blog. You can of course set up accounts on social media and post links to your new (and old) content. I am on quite a few- Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest. You do not need to sign up for all of these though and I would actually recommend sticking to one or two unless you particularly enjoy them. Social media in itself can be hard work and I’ll talk about ways to make it easier in just a moment. My recommendation would be Twitter as there is a great community of people with chronic illness on there.

The downside to social media is that not everyone will see what you post. A better way to keep readers up to date is to offer email updates. You can set this up to send out every new blog post to your readers or a summary email at the end of each week. You can also go one step further and write a newsletter.

As my list is relatively small, I use the WordPress plugin ‘Mail Poet’ and I personally opt to write newsletters. However, I appreciate this is more work. You can set up Mail Poet to send your updates automatically (on a schedule of your choosing) but I opt for sending out a newsletter every Friday. I include content that doesn’t appear on my blog (often an update on how my week has been and what I’ve been up to), links to other interesting blog posts and finish with excerpts and links to the content that has appeared on my blog throughout the previous week. This means that I write a newsletter every week but it also makes it more personalised. I guess my newsletter has replaced my ‘Feel Good Friday‘ posts. If you are interested in signing up, you can do so in the sidebar (down below on mobile devices).

If you do use Mail Poet, be sure to check with your hosting plan how many emails you are allowed to send per hour and stay within those limits. If you cannot use this plugin, sites like Mail Chimp are a good alternative.

Another way to keep your readers up-to-date is through blog readers such as Bloglovin’. Bloglovin’ is great for people who read lots of blogs. It allows you to access the blogs you follow in one place and shows you new posts that you haven’t read. You can follow me via Bloglovin’ here. Be sure to set up an account and claim your blog on there if you are a blogger as otherwise your site may not be included.

social-media

Manage Your Social Media

If you do set up social media accounts for your blog, you can manage these with a scheduling tool such as Hootsuite. Hootsuite allows you to schedule posts for Twitter or Facebook in advance. I imagine there are similar tools that you can use for other social media networks. Facebook actually lets you schedule posts for your page itself and I opt to use this and reserve Hootsuite for tweets.

Whereas I think it is important to use and connect with people on social media, you can use Hootsuite (or similar sites/apps) to schedule posts promoting your blog’s content. It’s handy as you can opt to post at times when it is more likely your post will be seen- sometimes this will be out with the times you are on social media yourself. As a side note, it’s important to be mindful of time zones too. I may well be tucked up in bed but some US readers will just be logging on to check their social media, for example.

I also use a plugin called Publicize, which is linked to my Twitter account. It will automatically tweet each time a new blog post is published (you can customize what it will say). You can also have this linked to Facebook, Google+, Tumblr and a few others if you use them. I don’t have mine linked to Facebook for no other reason than I prefer to schedule my Facebook posts for later on in the day. I think it’s fine to post the same link a few times per day on Twitter (as it maximises who sees it) but I choose to only post a new link once or twice to Facebook.

With WordPress you can get the shortlink for your scheduled posts once they are written. So if you know you are posting article X on Wednesday, you can schedule tweets for the Wednesday promoting that blog post in advance. It saves you a lot of time and it’s actually something I need to get into the habit of utilising more! I feel as though I spend too much time on social media and using a scheduling tool will help me to step away from it more, without it impacting on my blog.

This is my personal opinion but I think it is important to have a balance on social media. It shouldn’t just be about constantly promoting your content. Be sure to connect and talk to people first and foremost. Share links to other interesting articles in addition to sharing your own too. If you continually only post links to your blog and nothing else it can come across as spammy.

I hope you have found this post useful. If you have any questions, please ask away in the comments. Also feel free to share your own tips on how you manage your blog in the comments too.

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CountingMySpoons

Julie Ryan

Julie Ryan is a freelance writer and editor. She blogs about living with chronic illness at http://countingmyspoons.com - She is also a regular contributor to HealthyWay.com and Prohealth.com

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One thought on “How to Manage a Blog with Chronic Illness

  • April 23, 2016 at 5:51 pm
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    Brilliant post thank you for taking the time to write it. I really don’t plan at all. I cook when I am able and then write posts up when I’m in bed (I spend a lot of time in bed!). What I do is have all the photos taken and all the recipes written down, as I’m making/baking things. I’d like to be able to schedule and think it’s a really brilliant idea, for me though it would feel like more pressure. Yet I, like you, would recommend it. I agree with social media and interaction with other people, not just pushing your own posts. I must get an email sign up for my site! Really enjoyed this post. Sammie.

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