Define Your Blog Agreements

Janne Kemppainen |

When you work with other people, you may have unwritten rules that define the ways you work as a team, how things are done in your team. When you write the rules down you get what they call team agreements. They help define how the everyday work is done in your team, the core hours when people should be available, how everyone should have a say in decisions, and so on.

This made me ask: Could I adapt the concept to my blog? Today I’m talking about an idea I came up with, called blog agreements.

A loose definition

Just as team agreements your blog agreements should define the ideal way you work with your blog. They should define the commitments that help you stick with your blog and create new content.

Create a list of things you’re ready to commit to and that will have a positive impact to the blog. Just as team agreements, these should determine the ways you work for your blog, but you can also use it as a prioritization tool for the types of work you do.

Your blog agreements should be concise, to the point, and actionable. Don’t write twenty action points because you cannot remember them all.

Each rule should be a concrete thing you can do, not some vague idea such as “create better posts” or “do more keyword research”. Everyone wants to create better posts, but is it something you can just suddenly start doing?

An actionable example for a rule that can improve your posts could be “ask feedback for every post before publishing”. Or if you’re optimizing for SEO, then have a rule that states “do keyword research before writing any content”. Over time, this can evolve to a checklist that you’d go through for each post.

Things to consider

I will not dictate what you should put in your own agreements, but I’m trying to give you some ideas to use as a starting point for your own thought process.

You might do lots of meta work that doesn’t really help you create new content but merely gives you some instant gratification. Here I’m naturally talking about checking your site analytics. Do you do it multiple times a day? Could you reduce it to just once a day?

I know I’m guilty of this. It’s just so tempting to refresh the analytics page to see what blog posts people are reading. It’s good to know what kind of content works well with your readers, but that does not need to be real-time.

Social media is another huge time sink. Even if you’re using it to spread awareness of your blog, stop to think if it is the best way to spend your limited hours. Some interaction with the people in your social sphere is good, but joining heated arguments for hours takes away from your biggest asset, new content on the blog.

You should also consider what ways of working you find the most useful. If you need to do a lot of research for each post think how to split the work. You could have a time slot for producing new content ideas, another one for research, and one for writing the posts based on your findings. You could also consider keeping a journal where you can jot down all new ideas and refine them before blogging.

At which time do you get your strongest ideas? If you think your most productive hours are in the morning, then schedule some time for blogging in the mornings if possible. By scheduling the time you’ll make it an “official” part of your day just like any other hobby. If blogging is your profession, then you presumably already have it scheduled.

Adapts with you

You should not set the blog agreements in stone. If you find out that something just doesn’t work then you need to change your rules. But be sure to update your agreements document so that the change is deliberate.

If you agree to create two blog posts a week, then try to reach that goal. However, if your personal life gets in the way and it just feels impossible, then don’t feel ashamed to drop your expected output!

The document is for you and only for you, so you should be the one who is committed to it, and that’s just not possible if you set unrealistic goals.

Make your rules visible. Print them out or write them down on paper and stick them to your wall in a place where you can see it.

This will help you remember what you’ve promised to yourself. Add a picture of yourself with a serious face if you need to remember who you are accountable to.

My agreements

This post wouldn't be complete if I didn't provide my own agreements, well here they are:

  1. Spend 20 minutes a day to write on paper

    • can be anything
    • take notes and store thoughts
    • refine ideas
    • use a timer
  2. Aim for one published blog post a week

    • use the paper notes as help
    • possibly batch create posts and schedule them over the coming weeks
  3. Check blog stats once a day at 9.30

    • don’t check the analytics every hour, it does no good to you

So far I have only three of them, but that's ok.

The first point talks about writing on paper. I find it easier to concentrate with a paper sheet than on the computer. There are no distractions from social media or news, and so on. I start by setting the timer on my phone and then start reading and writing on sheets of A4 paper.

I got the idea of doing handwritten notes when I ordered the reMarkable 2 e-paper note taking device, which I will hopefully receive in November. Now that I’m working from home and don't have to ride the train every day I thought I could use the time that I save to work on my ideas the first thing in the morning.

The second point sets a goal to publish one blog post a week. For various reasons I haven’t done that recently but still, that’s what I’m aiming for. This ties together with the first point as I can use the (e-)paper notes as support during writing.

The last point might be the most difficult one for me, but I’m trying to limit how often I check the analytics. It can be just as addictive as social media. I notice that I’m obsessive about stats. Am I going to get more visitors today than the same day last week? How many monthly visitors do I have? Will I break X amount of visitors a month this month?

None of that is something that I can really affect directly. Organic growth takes time and the best way to grow is to be productive and not get caught up inspecting the history and making predictions. It is okay to see what type of content is popular, which of your existing posts you should try to improve and what topics aren’t likely to gain viewers. Just don’t do that multiple times a day!

Conclusion

Lately, I’ve failed to follow these guidelines that I’ve set to myself. All of them.

I could say that I’ve been preoccupied with other stuff, but I just haven’t prioritized blogging high enough recently. I know that you probably don’t care about the frequency of my posts but I would really like to have at least one new post a week.

One major problem has been YouTube. Not because I watch it too much, but because I want to create video content for my new posts. What can seem really simple can take hours to record and then edit, even if you have written the same blog post beforehand. I have one post waiting to be published just because I need to use it as an example in the video I’m planning to create.

I hope that these thoughts work as an inspiration for you to start thinking what are the most important things that keep your blog afloat.

What do you think about the idea? Does this make any sense?

Share your thoughts on Twitter.

p.s. I'm starting to consider adding one more rule to the list:

Done is better than perfect.

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