In the interest of "paying it forward" since so many experienced bloggers have helped me, I thought I'd share my blogging time-saving tips for new bloggers.
The REALLY important first thing: when you're a new blogger, there's little feedback on your blog. It is REALLY easy to spend your time on social media instead of your blog, as people respond to you right away, which is much more fun than sitting alone typing away to no one.
Decide NOW if you want to be a blogger or just play on social media. If you want to be a blogger, set a limited schedule for the social stuff and SHUT DOWN all your open tabs with social stuff in it when it's time to work on your blog. Your notifications will be just as notifying later.
Second, I have several text files crucial to keeping me organized.
I always keep my text file with urls open so I have them handy; that file is called "post urls.txt" and also has my social media links, anything I find I need fast access to. It is stored in my Dropbox, so I can access it from both my computer and phone if I happen to be on my phone.
Similarly, I have my "blog to do.txt" in my Dropbox and open while working. This is where I write down things for later, as otherwise I get distracted from the task at hand. If it occurs to me I should X later while I'm currently Ying, I just write it down and continue with Y.
I also have my "social media.txt" where I keep stuff I plan to share on my next visit to HootSuite, gleaned partly from my group/communites and partly from my personal web surfing. This is not open when I'm actively blogging, but is whenever I am doing my scheduled social stuff.
And finally, my Dropbox also has my "post ideas.txt" which is very important to have handy everywhere as inspiration has a habit of striking when I wasn't expecting it. As long as the idea doesn't hit in the shower, I can capture it.
Third, I blog in batches. Why? Because in a week of hard work, I can get a month's worth of posts done. Due to my disability, I never know when I will suddenly be unable to do anything for a week or more. It's happened too many times for me to count; I may be too fatigued to even think tomorrow. By organizing and scheduling, I can make certain that even if I am not being directly interactive in social stuff, I am still as present as I can be.
In my world, anything with a deadline is stressful unless I can do it in advance. Unfortunately, some stuff you CAN'T do in advance. I can't write a link love for March in February, for example. In joint projects, like the cookbook one I've been participating in, there's specific deadlines for providing recipes (which I HAVE to do), but also dates for the launch sale, and when it ends and such.
But EVERYTHING that I can do in advance, I do. I think even if you're not disabled, this is a decent method of organizing to save time. It's worthwhile cause it turns out there's a world out there where we can actually DO the things we blog about, garden, cook and raise chickens. And the cats need petting (and the husband too).
I start by looking at my ideas file. When I start working, I pick ten various topics for the next month as I have decided 10 posts/month is what I do.
I know I will do a link love, a "vintage" post (also sharing someone else's stuff, but an in depth post), a personal post, a homesteading topic, a kitchen or gardening tip, etc. I have to limit the research posts to once a month as they take 10-12 hours each (occassionally up to 30!), but those are my favorites, and my readers seem to like them too. It's part of what makes my blog mine, but I can't do a bunch of them.
I have templates for each of the types of posts I write to make it faster. There was a time investment in making the templates initially. Occassionally while I'm writing, I realize I want to change a template and do so right then, both in the post I'm writing and in the template for the future. I wrote the templates while designing my blog, before I had a single post written, so they've been adapted over time.
Once I have decided which 10 posts I will write, I have a general idea of what I will say, so know if I will need to ask people for links via a roundup. I make those posts in my groups/communities first so as to have stuff available when I get to writing.
Then I do keyword research for all the posts at once. Having all the appropriate sites up at once means it only takes an hour or so.
Then I make the graphics for all of them. If it's a recipe or homesteading/gardening type topic, I likely already have photos on my phone and need to transfer them, resize, etc. But all posts need at least the one main image and a social sharing image. Those of you with some actual photographic or artistic talent probably won't have to struggle over this the way I do, but it's handy to do all at once regardless, having those programs and the appropriate sites open at once. This takes maybe half a day to do, sometimes up to a day.
Then I write all ten posts. This takes several days, easily half of which is for my research post, as I insist on going back to original references for those. I also get into a fugue state when writing that one, so have to schedule it carefully in terms of my real-life commitments as I need big blocks of time where I won't be interrupted.
When the posts are done, I upload them all to my blog and schedule them on the blog over the course of the following month.
As I add each post to my blog, I grab the URL and add it to my text file for URLs so I'll have it for roundups or link shares later.
I also edit my "ideas" file as I go, deleting the posts I have written. Some stuff you can't do in advance, like link love posts, so there may be "holes" I need to keep track of in my post schedule also - I track that there. Recently, I had to keep a post on "hold" until I obtained permission to use a graphic, so didn't upload it when written - it was also a "hole" for a while. I keep notes about anything that is missing.
After adding a bunch of posts to the blog, I then schedule them in Hootsuite to get posted to FB, G+ and Twitter the day after they go live. This means even if I am bedridden, I will have SOME presence on social media for a month. I breathe a lot easier when this is done.
It takes me about a week to do all this for a month and the writing is the most time-consuming bit.
Again, I will reiterate, though I like writing, it is SO much easier to do it on social media where people respond (example: this post!) I really have to shut down the tabs with Google+ and Facebook and just do my work until it's done or I'd never be able to get ahead.