Saturday, July 15, 2017

Reading the Paranormal Presents: Getting ahead and staying ahead


*swaggers in and cracks knuckles*

Okay, people. We're going to talk about scheduling a little today. Why? Because I'm STUPID ahead on reviews for the blog and I want to share how I got there.

First off, this blog has been around a while. I'm not older than sand or anything, but my first review went live in September of 2010 and in the book blog world that's a LONG TIME. In other words, I do have some experience in figuring things out from a blogging standpoint.

(For the record, those early reviews were a little painful. I'm much more engaging now. So, you know, there's no need to go check them out.) (And if you do, don't say I didn't warn you.)

As of the writing of this post (which is being done at the end of June), I'm scheduled into April of 2018. I have 200+ posts scheduled and about 50 drafts (mostly my Sunday recap posts) that I won't finalize until the week of.

Just so we're clear, I do read fast. But reading fast is only part of it. For me, the key is having a weekly plan of attack and staying on top of reviews.

Weekly plan of attack? you ask.

Yeah. Have a schedule in mind for your blog. Are you going to post two reviews a week? Three? Daily? Do you participate in memes or events? Map them out and plan out what you're capable of maintaining. (because burnout is a real thing, man. It can sneak up on anyone.)

When I first started, I posted mostly reviews, with a few memes thrown in. I also hosted or co-hosted a few reading challenges (remember those?!?!) and needed to make sure I had room in my schedule for those posts.

Honestly, I was a little crazy in the beginning. I posted multiple reviews a day sometimes. I participated in A LOT of different events and challenges.

Looking back on it, I'm shocked I kept it up as long as I did.

At some point, I sat down and took a long look at what I was doing. This blog has ALWAYS been a hobby for me and I was putting a lot of time and energy into maintaining it while working around my full-time work schedule. You know, the one that paid the bills. It was exhausting at times. Really exhausting.

But my mama didn't raise a quitter and instead of quietly letting myself fade away I decided to change up the way I ran Reading the Paranormal. Instead of posting multiple reviews a day (they basically went up as soon as I finished a book), I limited myself to one a day and started scheduling the rest.

Having a week's worth of reviews on tap was liberating. It meant I didn't have to worry if I had a bad day (or WEEK!) and didn't feel like reading. It gave me flexibility to read more of what I wanted to read.

Building up a buffer of reviews also forced me to really plan ahead for the other events I participate in. Namely Bout of Books and Bloggiesta (although that's a more recent addition).

Okay. This post is getting kind of wordy, so I'm going to *ahem* attempt to get to the point.

Make a plan of attack

If you can't post every day, don't. You can always change your weekly schedule if the one you started with doesn't work for you. That can mean adding extra days of reviewing OR taking them away.

No one says your decisions are set in stone.

Have a way to track what you're doing (and where you're scheduling things)

Personally, I have a dedicated day planner to keep track of what reviews are scheduled where and what days I still need to fill. For the record, since I am scheduled so far out, I bought a planner I could customize and filled in the dates myself. It goes through February of 2019, so I have a way to go before I finish it off. don't have to use a planner. That's my thing and it works for me. Figure out what works for you and run with it.

Try to review books as you read them

Some of you might be rolling your eyes at this or grumbling under your breath that you TRY to do that. Trust me, I get it.

For me, keeping up on reviews means I don't feel guilty when I binge read a series. I try to review within a week of reading (at most! Usually, I try for 2 days.) so I don't have to struggle to remember what happened in the book. This means I write the reviews faster because the book is fresh in my mind. Which is good because faster writing frees up more time for reading!

And to go along with that...

If you can prep posts, do it!

When Bout of Books rolls around, I have a list of books I plan on reading. Since I know what's on tap, I draft up everything I can so they're ready for me to write my reviews immediately. Drafting review posts has been the single greatest contributor to keeping up with reviews during that particular readathon.

If I don't have to mess around with pulling links or blurbs, I'm more likely to write the review right after I read the book.

I also draft posts for books I've accepted from authors for review. I KNOW I'm going to read them, right? Why not make things easy for myself down the line?

Every so often, I also go through and draft up my weekly recap posts and any other posts that are on my docket. Some posts are time sensitive (such as my series tracking posts--which I can't schedule until I've updated it with the books I've read that quarter) and some are reoccurring (blog housekeeping goes up the first Saturday of every month, rain or shine!). Those types of posts I tend to do at the beginning/end of the year for the entire year (whether they're sitting in draft form or actually scheduled).

Participate in organizational events

Say what? I'm talking about events like Bloggiesta or review-a-thons. Bloggiesta is a good time to catch up on tasks you've been putting off (although, if you stay on top of the little things, you can focus on BIG things instead!). Review-a-thons are a good way to motivate yourself to get those last few reviews written so you're caught up.

Socializing with others doing similar tasks and/or announcing your goals are an EXCELLENT way to motivate yourself to get things done. You know how good it feels when you cross a task off your to-do list? YEAH. THAT. Accountability, man. It works.

And finally...

Don't be afraid to reassess

If your plan of attack was overly ambitious and you can't maintain the original four reviews a week you thought you could, CHANGE IT. Keeping yourself happy is the best way to remain motivated.

If blogging is fun, you're more likely to stick with it, right?

I'm not saying any of these are a full-proof way of getting ahead and staying ahead, but these are the things that work for me. Look at it this way, I could be abducted by aliens tomorrow and, based on my blog, nobody would know until April of next year. Which sounds kind of sinister when I read it back, but I'm going to imagine myself out seeing the galaxy with a hunky, muscled alien instead of being probed in uncomfortable places.

Well then.

Here's to sexy aliens and plenty of scheduled down time!

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