Picture Frames, Bank Accounts, and Your Blog

What do you do when it’s your scheduled day to blog and the writing won’t come? Do the tumbleweeds reign when you’re low on blogging ideas? How about when you have a busy week ahead of you, but you still want to post? You might do like I recently did and take a week or so off. You wouldn’t have to though, if you developed a blogging bank account.

The idea for this post came to me several months ago. I held back on writing it, because I hadn’t yet taken my own advice. Sunday night Skellie posted her #1 tip for creating better content, which is essentially the same idea and reminded me I needed to listen to my own advice. This post is just as much for me as it is for you.

Assorted picture frames
Photo by michale

A Story about Framing Pictures

About 10 years ago I worked in a custom picture framing shop. You know the place where you take a print you want framed and you ask for some help choosing mattes and frames. Then you have the shop cut the materials and put it all together for you. I was one of the people helping you with all those things. It was one of the most enjoyable jobs I’ve ever had, but that’s not the point of this story.

A few months into the job several employees had moved on and the responsibility of making sure the day’s schedule of frames were built and ready for customers came to rest on my shoulders. At the time we scheduled 8 frames a day to build and on the Monday I took charge we were working on Tuesday’s frames. We had yet to hire more people and me with my 4+ months of experience had been at the job longer than the minimal staff left.

For awhile I knew I wasn’t going to get much help keeping up with the schedule and the first week or two I worked with a nervous energy. Nervous that I’d fall behind and energetic because I had no other choice. I did manage to keep up and after a few weeks started to get ahead.

We scheduled frames two weeks out. If you came in today with an order it would be two weeks before we’d call to have you pick up the finished product. The previous person in my position had maintained the frame building so we were always working on the next day’s frames. That system could fall apart easily with one busy day and I set out to change it.

Two Monday’s after I started I was building Wednesday’s frames. The following Monday I was working on Thursday’s frames. A couple months later and we were two weeks ahead. In fact if the materials were cut and ready for assembly they were likely built within the hour.

Being so far ahead accomplished a lot. For one I knew I could skip building frames for two weeks and we’d still have happy customers. Sometimes the frames wouldn’t fit together as well as you’d like. Warped wood was usually the culprit and the only solution was new material. Being so far ahead in the schedule meant we’d find out we needed to reorder the materials well in advance. Our work as a shop became better because we had the time to give more attention to that work.

I increased the schedule to 9 frames a day and got a raise. I increased it to 10 a day and got another raise. 11 and another raise. If someone came in with a rush job it was easy to get it done and the owner was certainly happy with the extra 50% price tag on the “rush” labor. We became a highly efficient shop putting out high quality work. The shop owner made more money, the shop’s employees made more money, and the customers were happy in large part because we had two weeks of flexibility in our schedule.

So what does this have to do with blogging? Read on.

Bank Card
Photo by The Consumerist

What is a Blogging Account?

Substitute blog posts for picture frames and change the metaphor in the above story and you have an account at your blog bank. Instead of writing posts the same day you’re planning on publishing get ahead of schedule so you have some in store.

Imagine when you write a post you don’t publish it. You deposit it in your bank account for later use. When it’s your scheduled day to publish you don’t write a new post, but rather stop by the bank and withdraw a post for publishing. As long as you can maintain your account you’ll always have something to publish.

You build up your account by writing more than you need. Just as I managed to get ahead of the framing schedule by building nine and ten frames a day instead of the scheduled eight you’d write an extra post or two a week beyond what you expect to publish. If you’re publishing three posts a week write four and deposit the extra one in your blog account. In three weeks you’ll have a week’s worth of posts in your account.

There’s no reason why you can’t build up several months worth of posts if you keep at it.

Twenty dollar bills
Photo by jenn jenn

The Benefits of a Blog Account?

There are a number of benefits to having a supply of posts written in advance and having a positive cash flow of blog posts.

  • Time off If you have posts written for the next two weeks you can take those weeks off and still keep your blog running. We all have weeks when we run out of ideas or have too many other things that need to get done. Having an account filled with posts means your blog continues as usual.
  • Better posts Since you’re not writing the post you’ll be publishing today you can work on it over a few days. You can then deposit it and withdraw it a few days later to work on it again. The extra time will give you more opportunities to edit and make your posts better.
  • Increased posting schedule If you’re able to continuously write four posts a week you might decide to start publishing four posts a week. You’ll be in the habit of writing more and may find yourself able to write five posts a week while still growing your account.
  • Less pressure to writeIf you’re not writing the post you’re publishing today there’s less pressure on you to get it done and less pressure to get it right on the first draft. Regardless of what some like to believe, most of us do not do our best work under pressure. Knowing you’ll have time to change your words makes them easier to get out.
  • Withdraw posts for guest blogging You’ve no doubt seen guest blogging recommended as a way to attract new readers or promote your brand. You’ve no doubt immediately wondered where you’d find the time to write a guest post when you’re having trouble keeping up with your own blog. If you’re maintaining an account of posts you’ll always have one ready for any guest posting opportunity.
  • Time posts better Timing has a lot to do with how much attention a post will attract. A story that’s popular today becomes overdone and tiresome tomorrow. The good news is many stories come back around and gain popularity at a later date. Today’s tired story is under served six months from now. The next time the story breaks you might have a post ready to catch the wave of interest.

Diversify your Assets

Taking the financial analogy a little further you’ll want to diversify what’s in your account. The same way a variety of stocks in different industries makes your entire portfolio stronger a variety of post topics will make your blog account stronger.

Consider the last two benefits above.

There may be many different blogs that will allow you to guest post that are related to your topic, but each might call for a different post. Given the topics I usually write about I could possibly guest post for a blog about blogging, or one about search engines, or one about marketing, or one about social media. Some posts appropriate for one blog could easily be made appropriate for another or tweaked a little so they were. A post such as how to build your brand through social media might be equally at home on a blog about business and marketing as well as one on social media. Not all posts will work across blogs so well. If you have a diverse blogging account you’ll have a post available for any opportunity.

You generally can’t control the stories that are going to become popular in the future. At any given time one of hundreds of ideas can start to spread. If all the posts in your blog account are on the same topic you’ll have to wait for that topic to become popular again. If you have posts in your account on a variety of topics it’s much more likely you’ll have one ready when the next popular idea arrives.

I mentioned at the start I haven’t been listening to my own advice. If I had this blog wouldn’t have been as empty as it’s been the last couple of weeks. While I may not have taken my own advice on building a blog account, I’m 100% convinced the idea is a good one and if we both start building accounts today our blogs will significantly improve. This post is in the “do as I say” category and not the “do as I do” category. At least not yet.

Hopefully I can revisit this post in a couple months with a case study of blog banking success. I hope you’ll be able to do the same.

Download a free sample from my book, Design Fundamentals.

5 comments

  1. I think this is a great idea. I wish I’d known about it sooner. With all the health issues I’ve been dealing with lately, all the blogs I write have suffered. Having some posts done in advance would have mitigated some of that.

    I may have to set up a blog bank of my own.

  2. Yeah, but once you get a post finished aren’t you just itching to hit publish? Are you speaking against immediate gratification? You know that if that idea catches on our entire economy will collapse don’t you? What kind of American are you anyway?
    ;)

  3. @Kristine – Sorry I didn’t post when I first thought of writing this. You’d have been blogging along without anyone knowing you were taking some time off. Then again had I followed the advice I wouldn’t have had to mention I was taking a short break a couple of weeks ago.

    @David – Funny. I’m not good for the economy am I? Encouraging people to save instead of spend and put their money back in so it flows around to everyone.

    Think about how you write a post. Don’t you take some time to edit and refine it? Putting a post in your blogging account gives you more time to make it better. Some posts should be published right away. News obviously shouldn’t be held back, but most posts don’t need to be published immediately.

    You might want to publish them right away, but that doesn’t mean you should.

  4. I kid. In the long run we would all be much better off if everyone learned to do without so much immediate gratification.

    Furthermore, I agree with you. As you know my last “project post” was pretty much finished several days before I published it – after soliciting your very helpful input I might add. Thinking about it for a few days and re-reading and polishing makes a big improvement in my writing. At least I think it does.

    Getting someone else to take a look at it is really helpful too.

  5. I know you jest. I do enjoy immediate gratification as much as the next person though.

    I do know your latest project and I know you agree that holding off on publishing for a few days and asking opinions helped make it a better post.

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