Building a Writing Calendar

A writing calendar, or publishing calendar, if you prefer, is a good way to stay on track with your writing. Just sitting down at a set time and coming up with a topic to write about is like asking a comedian to “be funny” right on the spot. It’s a lot easier if you plan for it and know it’s coming. Most people who will tell you that they are a comedian have a joke already memorized for when you inevitably ask them, “Can you say something funny, right now?

A writing calendar works the same way. Instead of sitting down and trying to instantly come up with a good topic for your parenting blog on the spot, you instead check you calendar and see what you were going to write about today.

It doesn’t take much for a writer to start writing. Sometimes nothing more than the title is enough of a prompt. For those ideas you have with a little more nuance, feel free to jot down a few lines of text to get yourself going in the right direction.

What kind of calendar you use is a matter of preference. Some people prefer an electronic calendar. A mobile based calendar means you always have it with you to tweak or add items to. An online calendar can give you the same benefits. A prefer a big paper calendar that I can quickly jot notes on while in mid-project, and that I can stick Post-It notes to when I need to add, or flesh out ideas.

Whatever kind of calendar you use, the key is to actually USE IT. That means not only putting items on it to be written, but READING those ideas and then writing about them. It can be all to easy to add an endless list of “to be written articles,” only to completely forget to look at your calendar when it is actually time to write.

Take a look around your mobile device’s app store, or wander into the office supply store and take a look at planners and calendars. Pick one you like, and start using it today.

 

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Writing Calendars and When To Ignore Them

As a professional writer, one of the things that always strikes me as odd is when new, or aspiring, writers ask me, how to come up with things to write about. I have notebooks full of more article ideas that I’ll ever be able to write in one lifetime. However, I understand how it can be difficult to just sit down at 8:00 a.m. and start typing.

There reality is that most writers actually have lots of things to write about. They either just can’t force those ideas into their brain at will. And, when they do come up with great ideas to write about their topic, they dismiss them as not worthy, too complicated, or something like that.

A Blogging Calendar or Writing Calendar

This is where a blogging calendar, or writing calendar comes in handy. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy. I use one of those desktop blotter calendars you can get for less than $10 at any office supply store, or from Amazon. Fill in a topic on each day for each blog, or website, that you generate content for. Soon, you too will have a tons of topics. As an added bonus, you can start to see trends and upcoming events that you might want to capitalize on.

writing muse hideout

For example, if you are filling in your April writing calendar, you might want to consider topics on Spring, or on filing your taxes, or planning for a big Mother’s Day weekend. You may also happen to notice that you are writing a lot about a specific topic. You can either take the opportunity to spread those topics out, or conversely perhaps market the upcoming list of topics as a way to get detailed information for your readers.

The trick to effectively using a writing calendar is to be willing to move articles around. If you need to publish something else on the 23rd, then just cross out the original article and write it down on a new date.

Most importantly, you need to know when to ignore your writing calendar.

Sometimes, you’ll get the writing fever, where you muse wakes up, jumps on your back and whips you forward. As an experienced writer, you know that these days and times come with far too many less motivated days in between. When you want to write: write. And when you want to write about certain topics, then do that. Your publishing calendar will be there later when your muse hops off and goes to lie down in the warm fields of grass for a long rest.

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10,000,000 AdSense Impressions

Today, I got a fun little message from Google AdSense on my AdSense dashboard telling me that I had my 10,000,000th Lifetime Ad Impression last week. It doesn’t appear that I get anything for that feat (other than the accumulated earnings made along the way), but unlike other metrics I see from time to time, this one feels good.

However, it feels like I should have more money for all those ad impressions. 🙂

10 million ad impressions

Somehow, I’ve never really noticed the “All Time” option on the Google AdSense reports, but this notification made me take a closer look. Those 10 million ad impressions came from around 3.8 million page views, and resulted in close to 85,000 clicks. It’s hard to draw any conclusions from that considering that the webpages that make up those statistics, and even the AdSense program itself, has changed quite a bit over the last two or three years, but even if it doesn’t affect any strategies or plans, it is still fun to look at.

Now, I know that 10 million impressions isn’t really much for a content company or other corporation, but considering my business is a one-man operation run from my basement home office while working as a freelance writer, freelance web developer, and work at home dad, well, I think 10 million impressions is pretty, well… impressive.

Of course, the goal is to get to $10 million in earnings, not 10 million impressions, so there is a lot of work to be done going forward. Blogs need update, websites need refreshed and expanded, apps need developed, newsletters need written, and services need sold, but for now, we’ll take a little bit of time to celebrate a job well done, so far.

confetti celebration

 

So, what’s next?

I’ve been revamping some of my online empire, and building up my freelancing business. I’m working from a new overall strategic vision that combines the two as a single business entity. From there we can move on from six-figures and start shooting for seven. Stick around, and we can take the ride together.

Happy 10,000,000 page views to me.

 

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Google Update and Writing Online for Money

One of the keys to making money by writing online is to get enough traffic to your money making websites. Ranking highly in search engines for frequently searched terms is one way to accomplish this. While Google updates the algorithm that chooses how to rank websites on their search engine results pages (SERPs) on a frequent basis, most of those tweaks can be ignored by writers looking to profit by writing online. However, when the big updates come out, it is important to at least check and see how you are being affected.

Google Counting Links

There are really only two main parts to Google’s search ranking algorithm. The first part is how closely a particular webpage fits the phrase searched. In this case, the best thing is an exact match to the title tag of the webpage. Or, if there isn’t one of those, then an exact match to a header tag, and so on. Of course, a close match comes next, and so on.

search engine updates

In a place as big as the internet, there is a pretty good chance that for any given search term, there is more than one page that matches. When this happens, Google essentially counts how many links point to each page that matches and then ranks the one with the highest number of incoming links at the top.

Everything else Google does is basically a tweak to the above formula in order to keep people from cheating. Many of the supposed 200+ ranking factors at Google are nothing more than the increasing or decreasing the value of incoming links. Links that are nofollowed count a little less than those that are do follow. Links from comments are less valuable than those in the middle of content. Links from higher ranking sites count more than those from tiny abandoned sites, and so on.

As a writer building online websites to earn money, you probably check to see what you rank highly for, and how much traffic that drives to your website. For the most part, changes in these rankings come slowly and infrequently. That’s because, your site and the other sites that rank don’t necessarily gain a bunch of incoming links, without you (or them) doing something to manually boost them. When, that happens, it generally only happens to one page, so you’ll see your webpage go from ranking 4th to ranking 5th. That’s just normal.

Big Google Updates

But, sometimes, Google makes a big update and that can dramatically shake up the rankings. Not only can you go from 4th to 12th, or from 8th to 1st, on one page, that same thing can happen to multiple pages across several different websites.

It’s best to keep at least one ear open for these kinds of changes. A quick check of the headlines at seroundtable.com (it stands for Search Engine Roundtable) can let you know if a big algorithm update is underway, or if it’s just strange things afoot at the Circle K.

The important thing is not to panic. These changes often lead to big movements, but wait for them to settle down and see what is, and is not, permanent. Then, maybe go through, and update and tweak the pages that you lost some ranking on. Most importantly, keep adding fresh, useful content.

If there is one static thing in Google rankings it’s that the search engine values sites that are current over those that have gone stale, and that more content means more pages to attract links and gain authority.

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