What’s the secret behind blog post planning? For me, it’s the apps I use and the strategy of how I use them. Here’s my guide to what I do and how I do it!
Step 1: Plan What To Read
This can be sometimes be the easiest or the hardest step! I choose what I want to read by my mood (usually, what I’m most excited about to read), or if a book is from a publisher, I try to read them about a month out from their publication date, in the order of earliest publication date.
I keep track of what I’m reading, want to read, have read, etc. on Goodreads. I create shelves to keep organized, like a shelf for books I own that I haven’t read, NetGalley requests, etc. It one of my most used apps, and I’d be so lost without it!
Often, because I am on the go more than anything, I listen to audiobooks. I tried Audible and enjoyed it, but I decided to go the economical way and downloaded Libby and Hoopla as my main source of audiobooks. Both require a library card, but they are completely free apps that allow you to download or stream audiobooks to your phone from your local (participating) library. I use Libby for the Lexington Public Library, and Hoopla for the Scott County Public Library. Hoopla has a five audiobook per month limit, so months where I race through audiobooks, I often max that limit. Libby has no limit. I find that often, if I can’t find an audiobook on one app, I can find it on the other, and both are very user-friendly. Just search for the book you want, click “borrow” (or “hold”, as this is an option too) and listen! When you’re done, you just click to return, or it will automatically return when the loan is due. No late fees for me!
I also have downloaded the local library apps (Lexington Public Library and Scott County Public Library) for the ease of reserving books to hold for pick-up. As much as I enjoy browsing the shelves, I sometimes just don’t have time- so this allows the books I want to read to be ready for me to swing by, pick up, check out, and go. It also makes it easy to renew books I just haven’t gotten to yet.
Next, for reading eARCs, ebooks, and such that aren’t compatible with Kindle, I use the Bluefire Reader app. For those that are compatible with Kindle, I use the Kindle app. However, I haven’t used these very often, now that I have an actual Kindle.
Last but not least, I keep track of my home physical book collection with BookBuddy, an app that allows you to scan the ISBN barcodes and automatically keep track of your books. I find this comes in handy when I am book shopping and I can’t remember if I’ve bought a certain book or not. The trick is to maintain the app after every haul and unhaul! This also comes in handy for collections of vintage books, because you can also manually enter in it’s information- great for when they don’t have barcodes or easy to find ISBNs.
Step 2: Blog All About It
Obviously, the first app in this section is the blog host site- in my case, it’s WordPress. I believe WordPress offers a lot of customization for the non-professional, and though there is a learning curve, once you’re familiar it’s a pretty user-friendly host site. I still think the desktop usage is the best, but the app is great for last minute updates, adding photos, and perusing other blogs. When it comes to blog planning though, I constantly utilize the ability to schedule posts– during my day job’s busy season, I have scheduled out posts as far as two months! Ideally though, I like to at least schedule the week out, so that as I’m reading a book (or two), I’ve already got reviews being posted. This takes the pressure off of having to hurry up and finish reading a book so that it can be reviewed and posted. The best way I have found to plan what exactly will be posted and on what day is with an old fashioned paper calendar (one with big enough squares to write in), and a pen. White-out also comes in handy for when you have to rearrange a few things!
I also have found that the Voice Recorder app comes in clutch for voice memos when I have sudden brain storms and no time to write down the idea, as well as attending author discussion events. In that instance, I get accurate quotes and information, instead of relying on my memory… which isn’t always that reliable! When I do have time to write and brainstorm, my Notes app (not pictured) is fantastic. I can keep hashtags stored for Instagram, blogging ideas, bookstagram inspo photos, giveaway outlines, quotes, etc. stored in one place.
On occasion, I get a sudden brainstorm of what I want to say in a certain review as I’m reading. I don’t want to stop to write down the phrase, but I don’t want to lose the thought either- so I whip out the Dictate app. The app will voice record and dictate the statement, and then I just copy and paste it into a new note on the Note app, or into a new post on the WordPress app. When I have time, I’ll go back in and edit to make sure my full thought is expressed. I also have learned that the latest update on the WordPress app has integrated dictation, but I haven’t updated my app or put this to the test.
Lastly, these two apps fall under their own specific categories for usage, but are best mentioned here. I keep track of all the local author events and update them on the blog via the Google Calendar app, and I use the Google Sheets app to keep track of giveaway entries and bloggers that I want to add to my WordPress Bloggers Directory.
Step 3: Add Photos
When it comes to adding images to not only the posts but to the site pages, I keep it simple. I use my iPhone camera to take the photos, and the simple photo editor on the iPhone photos gallery to tweak the contrast. If I need text or to make the image more of a graphic, then I use the Over app, which is my photo editor of choice. I’ve tried others but you have to pay for certain features, and it gets complicated. If I’m creating a photo grid or need a border, I use the Pic Jointer app. If I’m feeling really artsy, I may use the Color Effects app, which saturates or mutes the colors in a photo.
Step 4: Promote and Share on Social Media
I forgot where I read it, but somewhere I saw the advice to share your posts on many social media outlets, but focus and engage on one particular outlet the most. I share my blog posts on Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest, but the outlet I focus on most is Instagram. I really enjoy the #bookstagram environment, and find I get the most feedback on my content there. Plus, who doesn’t love looking at photos of pretty book images?! Anyways, I have set up WordPress to “press” new blog posts to Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest automatically, so all I have to do is promote the posts on Instagram.
Occasionally, I will use the Crowdfire app to promote older blog content. This app allows you to schedule posts at intervals depending on your busiest traffic time. It’s user friendly and easy to set and forget. When it’s ready to upload more content, it’ll send you a notification. I have only used this app for Twitter, but I aim to connect it to my newer Facebook page.
Additionally, if someone contacts me directly through my contact page, I have set up a Gmail account specifically for the blog. I do my best to respond to all feedback and requests as quickly as possible!
I do find that it takes a balancing act to be active on social media and yet still allow myself time away from my phone. I’m already in front of my computer eight hours a day, so I work social media into the day when I can, instead of pressuring myself to be on there, constantly engaging. I don’t mind tagging #latergram if I need a day away from social media!
Okay, now it’s your turn!
What types of apps do you use for blogging? What is you blog post planning process? If you’ve posted about it, please share your link below! Also, please share your thoughts or questions. If you want me to expand my thoughts, please let me know where and on what, and I will do my best!