These Hints and Tips posts are written primarily for blogging beginners. If you have been blogging for a long time, you are probably going to know how to keep track of your posts, so this one about keeping track of your posts is probably not for you … although don’t let that stop you reading on.
I find that there always seems to be something more to learn, and I am also finding that the more I learn, the more it seems that I need to learn.
Keeping track of my Posts
When you start blogging, it’s all about the niche, the platform, choosing themes and plug-ins and building yourself an environment in which to write … and to publish. These are some of the elements that make up the first couple of points in the 7-point blogging plan. At some point, you are going to write your first post, and then your second, and so it goes on … hopefully.
Starting with a mass of ideas for blog posts is one thing. Keeping them together within the structure of a website is something else. Learn how to keep track of your big ideas using post-it notes, without the big walls or marker pens.
Pretty soon, the rate at which you are generating ideas for posts far exceeds the rate at which you can draft them, never mind write them. I currently have 27 posts in outline or draft, all waiting for my attention. That’s what WordPress is telling me because those are the ones that I have kicked off in WordPress.
I have many more pending posts on the post-it pile and on the whiteboard.
Tracking Posts with post-its
The post-it was invented in 1977 and has been a project management lifesaver ever since. I wonder what project managers used before they had the post-it pad at their disposal. I looked on the post-it site and found a quote that could just as easily be applied to the art of blogging:
[su_quote cite=”post-it.com” url=”post-it.com” class=”post-it.com”]… as universal as these products have become, their beginnings were far from certain. Looking back, the birth of our Canary Yellow phenomenon reminded us of a valuable lesson: perseverance or persistence can be just as important as inspiration when it comes to bringing an idea to life.[/su_quote]
There are two features that make the post-it note what it is:
- it has a limited size, so notes are small
- it is easy to move around, making it ideal for planning.
But … even with these positive attributes, it’s not difficult to get yourself into a bit of a mess. Usually, this is because you are trying to do too much at once. Look at My post-it Pile. I have a pile of one-line ideas but I haven’t yet joined the dots. As a Project Manager, I don’t recommend the Random Planner Pile method … but I do have a pile of ideas that I would otherwise have forgotten.
The size of the post-it note means that you only have enough space to write down the basic tracking information, so it should be straight and to the point. You should be recording the title of the post, a few bits of supporting information like the category, maybe the time you expect to take to complete the post or its priority.
At some point, you might want to set yourself a schedule and follow a posting plan. If you do, your pile of post-its can become a to-do list. You could also use mind-mapping software to make the process a whole lot easier, here’s what I did.
The problem of linking Posts you haven’t written!
I am just beginning this blogging thing and I keep having ideas for new posts, which is a good thing! Once I get going with the writing, the ideas for new posts start to come thick and fast, and a lot of the ideas for new posts are usually related to the “old” one.
I am writing and I have an idea for a new post, so I write the idea on a post-it note. I can then forget about it and go back to writing the post, without losing my concentration.
The problem that I have:
I can write posts and pages, and I can build links to other relevant, published pages on the site. This is fairly straightforward because the pages I want to link to are already there!
What do I do if I want to link to relevant pages on my site … but I haven’t written them yet?
You know the story: you’re in the middle of writing an article and you have an idea for a follow-on. You know that you can expand on some interesting bit of detail but it’s not something you want to include in your current article as it will muddle what you are trying to say and it will dilute the message. Even if you can’t write it right now, you know there’s a connection there for the future and you don’t want to lose it.
One approach that I have taken – which also serves as an example of the challenge – is to create a skeleton post. The skeleton post essentially consists of the title and some of the formatting, which would include the slug and the URL. I can then copy the URL and use it to populate the link. I can then make reference to the post that isn’t there, as if it is there.
This works, but it’s not an ideal solution.
The skeleton post will either be live (published on the site) or draft (not published).
If the skeleton post is live, following the link will lead visitors to an empty page with a title. This is not the best experience to present, although visitors are probably going to be thin on the ground at this stage in the evolution of the site. We can probably live with it although it’s not likely to excite the Google bots.
If the skeleton post remains in the draft form, the link will point the visitor to a “Page not Found” page and a broken link may be reported. It would be better if the visitor was redirected to a rescue page, like the home page for example.
… and that’s the example I was referring to earlier.
I am now talking about redirecting. At this point in the article, I would like to be able to insert a link to a post about redirecting visitors to a “rescue page” in cases where the link doesn’t go anywhere – important because the subject of re-directing to a rescue page is not the core subject of this post.
The problem is that I haven’t written the post yet!!! ?
My Future Link Tracking Approach
I am writing articles and at the same time, I am having ideas for more articles. I don’t think that you are going to be any different. When I began all this writing and an idea hit me, I used to think “that’s a good idea, I’ll remember that” … but I didn’t.
It became clear that the more ideas I had, the less I was able to remember. I got to the point where I began to write notes in my notebook, but it was too easy to get carried away developing the idea.
What I needed was to be able to write down enough to act as a memory jogger, allowing me to save the idea and then go back to concentrating on the main task.
I needed to be able to do enough to keep the idea safe, without switching focus.
The post-it note is ideal, just enough space to write the title of a future post, but nothing like enough space to write it.
I ended up with a pile of post-it notes with titles, and the pile is getting bigger. It worked, it allowed me to save the idea and get back to my main task, but now there is another problem.
How do I connect the post I am writing to the post I want to write later?
Each post-it note that I write falls into a site subject Category: structure, subject, resource, legal, technical and so on. The categories are there to make sorting easier and are up to you. The headings you chose will depend on your niche and what you are trying to achieve.
The title, or subject, or idea goes in the middle of the post-it note, in big writing. This is your memory jogger.
I also give each post-it a reference number. It’s easier than writing the title every time, and you can also use the reference number to show where the post-it note, and therefore the article, slots into the site.
All of this is quite useful if you are restricted in wall space, and if the people you share your wall with aren’t keen on marker pen. There is a post-it note app for the iPhone and iPad, and it’s probably available on android too but its utility is limited by its inability to actually do anything useful. It is also possible to use mind-mapping software, which is what I do. Follow the link to see how.
In my Future Link Tracking Approach example, above, you can see that I am using a pyramid model for the numbering. This is because I am applying established Project Management methods to the building of a blog. If I use the pyramid model for the numbering, I can link similar items by their references and I can also identify posts and their sub-posts.
[su_note note_color=”#e0e7e9″ text_color=”#6c7a89″]
At this point, I would like to explain my approach to the pyramid model for post and page numbering in more detail. It’s a reasonably interesting topic, but it’s not directly relevant to this article.
So … I want to write it, but I want to write it somewhere else, in another post. I have therefore noted the topic on a post-it and it’s now been added to my post-it pile.
When I pick up the post-it note in the future and I write the post, I will be reminded that I need to return here to take out this note and replace it with some more words and a proper link.
This is how it works
The article on the use of the Pyramid Model is going to be a Resource. A resource is a bit of background, a technique or a bit of information that might be useful or interesting, or both. In my world, all references to Resources begin with a “3”. The article that I have not yet written about using the Pyramid Model for numbering will be article number [3.2.1] and it will be in the Project Management group [3.2], under Resources .
So … I’m writing a post, number [2.4.2], about keeping track of future links (coincidentally) and it occurs to me that it would be a good idea to write a supporting article in the Project Management resource category about numbering conventions. I have written the intended subject in the middle of my post-it note as a memory jogger, I could also have written the proposed title, and I have given it a post reference number based on the pyramid model. In my example, this would be number [3.2.1].
Now, when I get around to writing the article about the pyramid model of project numbering, I can see from the post-it note that I need to revisit post [3.2.1], to establish the intended link. I haven’t created any links that go nowhere and I have minimised the count of pages “under construction”. It’s a plan …
It’s not difficult, but it’s a habit that works best if it is sitting on a broader framework with some established structure. Establishing the structure is one of the key elements in setting up a blog, and setting up a blogging structure is a small part of the 7-point blogging plan.
It’s also possible to use mind-mapping software to achieve the same results. Whilst I have a lot of post-it notes in front of me, stuck around me on the whiteboard and the walls, I am in the process of transferring all the information to a bit of software on the mac, which is also available for the PC. Once you have got the hang of the post-it note method, have a go here with the mind-mapping.
When we write posts, we get ideas for new posts that we can link to, but we can’t be writing all the posts at once. The deeper we get into a subject, the more questions we ask and the more ideas we have, and the more posts we can write. We might be able to keep track of a lot of things but keeping track of the links across an ever-growing network of interwoven posts and pages is not easy, especially if the target posts and pages have not yet been written.
Using a post-it Planner approach can help. There isn’t enough space on a post-it note to write anything but a few words, but there is enough space for showing how one post is related to another – and that works for past, present and future posts.
|Category||infrastructure, legal, post, page, housekeeping|
|Ref:||a numerical reference identifying this work envelope|
|Title||The title of the post/page or the subject of this work envelope|
|Priority||(1 to 5) or (1 to 10) or colour coded, maybe|
|Links (in)||the work envelope refs of incoming internal linking pages|
|Links (out)||the work envelope refs of outgoing internal links|
Using a post-it to represent an article is quick, and you can’t write lots. The purpose of the post-it is not to define the contents of the article, it’s to record the relationships of the article to other articles. This is especially important for articles to be written in the future. When they are eventually written they can easily be related back to the article that inspired them.
A pile of post-it notes works well, but it’s also possible to use mind mapping software. Whichever method you chose, the purpose is the same: to help you to maintain the logical integrity of your site.