Revisiting Your Blog Topics Backlog

Sprint Board

I can’t speak for all bloggers, but if you’re anything like me you have dozens or hundreds of topics ready to go at any time. I’ve written about my blogging workflow before, but any time I have an idea for a post I log into WordPress, create a new post and save it as a Pitch (via the awesome Edit Flow plugin). That way it’s there and waiting for me when I get ready to fill out the post.

I noticed a few days ago that my backlog of topics was getting really long, so I decided to do a little editing. Looking through the list I found that many of the posts I had pitched or stubbed out didn’t make sense any more. Many were related to some then-current event. Needless to say those aren’t going to be of any value going forward, so I deleted them. If the post had some merit then I tried to come up with a way to make the topic more evergreen. (Evergreen is blogger-speak for content that is always timely and helpful).

Today’s a good day to take a few minutes and browse through the unpublished articles and pitches you have and do some paring down. Start doing some writing for the topics that you still really like. Delete the ideas that don’t make sense any more. At the end of the day you’ll have a leaner, tighter blog.

Image credit: roolrool on Flickr

My Blogging Workflow

I thought it may be of some interest to other bloggers to know how I’ve been managing my blogging workflow and how it’s evolved since I started blogging back in February.

Wordpress

I use WordPress (with the Genesis WordPress platform) on my own domain, so I have full control of my site and the WP install. The first thing that I did was to install a few plugins that I find invaluable for helping me manage the plethora of partially written posts that I have. I use the Edit Flow plugin for several features: extra post statuses, a great calendar, and several other options for the editorial process. Edit Flow has replaced Editorial Calendar for me because Editorial Calendar became rather buggy after WP 3.1.

Here is my typical workflow:

  1. Choose a topic and save it as a pitch. I usually just put my idea as the post title and enter any additional thoughts in the post itself. This helps me quickly pick out articles I want to continue with as I browse through my list of pitches. I save the articles as a Pitch (from Edit Flow) instead of a draft so that I can keep them separate.
  2. Write article. When I get around to actually writing an article I change the status to Draft. This is also when I revise the post title match up more closely with where the post is heading now that text is finally being added.
  3. Add image. I typically only add one image to each post, and it’s usually just placed at the top of the post. It’s unusually difficult to find good images under a Creative Commons license to use in my blog posts. (There’s definitely room here for a new startup to solve this problem. There’s a freebie idea for you.) I currently use CompFight.com to search for images on Flickr. The interface is simply better for finding appropriate images than Flickr itself.
  4. Add metadata. This is the time to choose categories, enter tags, SEO data, excerpts, etc. Genesis does a good job of integrating the SEO fields (post title, post description, etc.) right in the post page, so it’s a standard part of my workflow now.
  5. Scheduling. Once everything else is finalized I will look through the calendar generated by Edit Flow to see when my post should go out. I try to base my scheduling based on the immediacy of the content (is it related to something in the news?), how many posts I’ve done on similar topics recently, etc. I try to mix up my topics and the types of posts I’m putting out as much as possible.

The workflow hasn’t changed much since the beginning except for the Edit Flow plugin. I realized early on that I need to have more statuses available than WordPress was giving me. There are several options out there for adding more statuses or creating custom ones, but the total package available with Edit Flow made it a clear choice for me.

What is your blogging workflow like? Is there something obvious that I’m missing or something that could help me? Comments welcome!