How to Chill Out When You Forget to Post

How to Chill Out When You Forget to Post

There are days when you don’t have a post ready. When you suddenly realize that you’ve blown your own regular posting schedule and that no new post is going to go live. Your stomach clenches. You panic momentarily. You kick yourself.

No post. How could you have forgotten? What will you do?!

Oh god.

That’s what happened to me this morning around 9am. I’d been having my coffee and checking my email when I realized I’d missed the boat. I cursed under my breath and mentally gave myself that good swift kick.

“Way to go, James. You blew it.”

And then the moment passed and I recouped my sanity. So no post went up this morning. So I didn’t have any extra drafts kicking around.

So what?

Did life as I know it alter substantially because I missed my usual 1am posting? No. Did gods strike me down with lightening and take away my crown to cast me out forever? No. Did a slew of angry readers contact me and barrage me for not keeping my schedule? Nope.

In fact, the rest of the morning passed without incident. I finished my coffee, had a chat with a friend, answered some email, worked on a project and basically enjoyed my day. No post?

No big deal.

Now this approach flies in the face of traditional advice, the kind that says you must absolutely keep your schedule and always post consistently at a regular time and on predictable days. You should have months of pre-written posts time-stamped and ready to go, and you should never be caught short. Never. Ever, ever. Consistency is key or thou shalt be doomed.

Well, it’s true. Consistency is good. And because I believe in having a reliable posting schedule that readers can predict, I sat down this afternoon and wrote this post.

But I didn’t rush. I didn’t panic and drop everything when I realized I’d missed the mark. I didn’t tie myself up in knots. I had that momentary “crap, I forgot” moment and made a note to take a bit of time this afternoon and catch up.

Then life went on, and I went back to my coffee.

You see, I didn’t see the point in sweating the small stuff – and you shouldn’t either. Yes, you should keep a reliable, consistent posting schedule and no, you shouldn’t post erratically or throw up stuff whenever you feel like it, but if you miss a rare day or two by accident or because you had stuff going on…

It’s okay. It’s just a blog.

In the grand scheme of life, that missing blog post doesn’t matter that much. Within three days (or even three minutes), no one will remember anyways. Your family will still love you. Your readers will be there for you. Your business, your blog, your reputation or your world won’t crash.

Just make a note to catch up when you can and follow through when you have more time or peace of mind.

And honestly, you’ll do a better job for having given yourself permission to relax. You won’t throw up some crappy post in a panic, the sort that makes readers think, “Oh, filler. Um. Yay?” You won’t splatter out some hasty writing that rambles around and doesn’t make much of a point.

You won’t twist yourself up, feel guilty or berate yourself until your self-esteem is so bruised it can barely limp. You’ll just sit down and say, “Okay, time to write a post now,” and you’ll write it and publish it and that’ll be that.

The world will keep right on turning, and you’ll keep on feeling healthy, happy and relaxed.

Now isn’t that nice?

Your turn: You ever miss a day of posting? How’d you feel about it? What did you do?

Post by James Chartrand

James Chartrand is an expert copywriter and the owner of Men with Pens and Damn Fine Words, the game-changing writing course for business owners. She loves the color blue, her kids, Nike sneakers and ice skating.

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  1. I have one of those obsessive posting schedules β€” that I often don’t make. Client work, of course, tends to take precedence.

    But I’ve gotten better about not stressing out. Hitting a schedule consistently is a good thing β€” but if I miss a day here or there, my readers aren’t going immediately abandon me. As long as it’s a once in a while thing, I’m pretty sure most readers won’t assume that they’ve been left high and dry.

  2. I find it incredibly frustrating when I run out of time. I shoot for 2-3 posts per week, and there are weeks where I only get one in and I feel like I’m some kind of screw-up. It feels good to know that there are other bloggers that struggle. Every time I read something about how to blog successfully, they all say that you should live and die by your posting schedule. But boy, the day fills up quickly!

    Thanks for the article – it’s a winner, and it keeps us little people motivated when we need it.

  3. After blogging for 10 years, I finally learned to let it go. I’ve been terrible about new blog posts in my own blog (as opposed to clients’) beyond the weekly links (no original thought) and an occasional new post. It’s awful. But I’ve given up a lot this year on both professional and personal side of my life — which tells me, I’m too busy.

    People say… you need to make room for so and so. Well, you can only make room for so many things that some things have to be sacrificed. If I stay up later to do my blog — for example — then I am sacrificing my sleep. When I don’t sleep well, I get less work done the next day.

  4. Thanks for sayin’ it. Last week, I just could not come up with the inspiration or time to write my typical Friday post and after worrying about it for several days, I realized that it was a good time to switch my schedule anyway. Tuesday works better for me in terms of my energy and work. So it turned into an opportunity. And when inspiration finally did strike, I got two posts in the time it usually takes to do one.

    It also helps me to remember that I have a small audience who are very busy people anyway, and an occasional week off is not going to be a problem.

  5. This has happened to me as well and I reacted pretty much like you did, James-at first, panic, and then, I thought, Why am I getting my tinsel in a tangle? It’s not like I mess up all the time.” Of course, it helps I don’t have the number of followers like Men With Pens. πŸ™‚ It’s reassuring to have the ‘A’ team come to the same conclusion.

    I just read a post by Sean Platt about when we let others dictate how frequently we post versus doing what’s best for our business. It resonated with me when he asked if your blogging was really more a hobby than a business activity-in other words-is it delivering the right kind of action?

    This is why I love RSS. Since I am challenged with my own posting schedule, I can hardly keep other blogs straight. With RSS, when a new post pops up, I decide when to check it out.

    Thanks, James.

  6. Patrick Vuleta says:

    There are a few reasons why you might miss a post:

    1. You genuinely forgot.
    2. You were too busy.
    3. You had nothing to say.

    This article applies more to number 1 – you genuinely forgot. It might also apply to 2 – you were too busy.

    However, if you’re chronically too busy or had nothing to say, you might need to take another look at exactly what you’re doing with the blog. I seem to say this a lot, but it’s better to have a less frequent but consistent posting schedule instead of a very frequent (daily to 5 days a week) schedule that carries risks of number 2 or number 3 happening more often.

    Other commentators here are correct in saying client work takes precedence, but this should be accounted for properly in your posting schedule in the first place. Don’t make a trap of setting a 5 per week schedule if you can’t sustain it should you get the client work you want.

  7. I feel like I absolutely have to have a Teaching Tip Tuesday post up each and every week, but as for the rest of my blog, I’ve eased up my expectations and no longer follow a strict posting schedule.

    Blogging should be fun. It shouldn’t become a chore. It shouldn’t stop us from living out our lives. Our readers will wait for our content and we shouldn’t feel guilty for taking a day off here and there or for foregoing our regular schedule.

    That’s how I feel about it now.

    Thanks for another great post (regular reader – irregular commenter. Sorry)

  8. This is exactly what happened to me today with my newest website. For the 1st time I’ve committed to a posting schedule, publicly announced it and was about to blow it.

    I didn’t have any drafts ready but I do have an ‘idea box’ where I create interesting headlines as they come to me mostly while reading across the web.

    I, like you James, ended up working and finishing in the afternoon. I was tempted to provide ‘filler’ but I have such a strong distaste for it I couldn’t bring myself to do it. Authenticity is best.

    The end result? I remembered a story where I gave up $120,000 to make $30,000 instead. That wouldn’t have happened if I didn’t relax and remember the back up plans I had in place for just such an instance.

  9. I like what Scott Stratten had to say about this at his BlogWorld Keynote. He said there’s a blog he loves so much, that if he sees a new post has gone live while he’s driving, he’ll pull over to the side of the road to read it. He said, “Be the kind of blogger that your readers care that much about.” (there really shouldn’t be quotes there–it’s a very vague recollection, but you get the idea!)

    The thing is, each and every time you post filler instead of incredible content, you train your audience to ignore your posts in favor of whatever else is filling their lives. It’s too easy to stop reading. You have to deliver incredible content each and every time.

    So is a schedule important? Yes. But incredible content is MORE important. So don’t stress about missing a day. Worry about whether your posts are good enough to make someone pull over to read them.

    • Patrick Vuleta says:

      More than just training readers to ignore you, dodgy content also dilutes the effectiveness of SEO considerably. Or more specifically, the chances of that SEO converting to a sale or continuing reader.

      Just say 50% of your website has bland, boring content. 50% has good content.

      Assuming all pages have equal SEO, when an unknown reader does a Google search, they then have a 50% chance of hitting content which will cause them to immediately discount your site, even if elsewhere on your site is suitable.

      Posting bad, rushed content is playing roulette with the search engines, and if you stack too much against you – the house wins.

  10. The blogosphere needs more advice like this. I loved this reminder: “It’s just a blog.” I’m quite regular, but if I miss a day, I post the next day. I don’t fret about it. Thanks for giving us well needed perspective.

  11. Much to my disappointment, I have *never* had a chorus of outraged readers (or even a single enquiry) when a posting-day has gone by without a post. I really doubt that anyone notices.

    I don’t know about everyone else’s blog reading habits, but I have only the vaguest idea of which blogs post on which days. I also don’t necessarily read all the blogs in my RSS reader every day. What I do notice is frequency – so, there are some blogs where I’d expect more than one update per day (e.g. Problogger) and others where updates are rare and much welcomed (Remarkable Communications).

    So I’m pretty relaxed about my posting schedule. I try to write two posts per week, but I don’t sweat it if that drops down to one.

  12. Last week my blog had its best week ever. An A lister tweeted my post and I got 80 visitors.
    This week I didn’t post. I worried about it. Felt like I was sabatoging myself. Worried some more. But some lousy things happened to my son and I was emotionally drained. It’s not writer’s block, it’s not even lack of coffee.

    So, I decided I need to be like King James. I need a crown! That’s it. If I just put on a blogging crown and take back my power I can get through this.

  13. This really turned into a nice topic James, despite the unique circumstances which lead to the post.

    Personally, I produce 2-3 articles every week, and could easily go to a Mon/Wed/Fri schedule but I never have simply because I don’t want to feel like I have to . Some weeks I’ll do Mon, Thurs, Sat….and others I’ll do Tues/Fri/Sun. This may go against ‘the rules’, but it still makes me feel like I’m in it because of the passion for writing and teaching, not because some mystic schedule tells when when I’ve got to write. Ya feel me?

    But like Ali, I don’t focus so much on schedules, just frequency, and so the same style works for me.

    Thanks for the conversation James.

  14. Ugh, I’ve had one of these mornings–when you remember, “Oh crap! I forgot to schedule a post!” What can you do though. Most of the time I do exactly what you did, and calmly move on. In the beginning though, in order to stay on schedule, would whip something together. These last minute, halfhearted posts were better left alone, IMO.

  15. Hi James,

    I don’t mention it or sweat it if I’ve missed a post, I just keep going to the next post. My motto: Life is supposed to be fun! Yes, we try to turn even fun into work and work into drudgery and so on.

    Frankly, most of us are galloping so fast to the cliff of conformity and are so busy trying to fit our feet into the footprints of the person in front of us that it would take a few missed posts to notice if someone missed a blog post.

    To get off the beaten track, why not miss a post? To jump out of the rut? I went from 3x a week to 2x to 1x a week. It feels rights.

    Everyone put down your whips!

    Giulietta

  16. Post missing, who does that. Its a cardinal sin isn’t it?

    I have missed a few here and there and like you say its no biggie. The key is to not slip into the ease of missing them, then make missing them a habit. That habit will end you up with no blog to care about missing in the first place.

    Chat soon
    Dwayne

  17. I’m trying to keep to a personal goal of one post a week on a particular blog. Over the course of a week, it is *really* easy to forget or procrastinate. Lately I’ve been using the WordPress Editorial Calendar plugin which lets me schedule future posts.

    What’s that? WordPress natively does that? Yes, but the plugin lets me drag-n-drop future posts in a familiar calendar view. I can see at a glance if I have two or three posts “in the hopper.”

    Having some future posts scheduled to be published takes some of the pressure off, and I find I can concentrate better on the post I’m writing at the moment. I also challenge myself to write not one but two posts…or at least capture the main outline of it so I can fill it in as the muse allows.

  18. Amen! (And good save.) I’ve found myself doing this more and more frequently. Traffic obviously goes up when I post, I get some emails, sometimes a post will lead to clients. But lately I’ve been slack about posting a few times a week because, well, I’m DOING THINGS THAT PAY ME. And sometimes I just don’t have anything to say. And guess what? Like you said, it’s totally okay.

  19. Oh heck! I didn’t know that there were rules about being consistent and regular. I post to my blog when I have something to say – that’s quite often – If I can’t be a**ed then I don’t post. If I need to worry about it then it would have to go on my worry list and that would mean it wouldn’t get worried about until – short pause while I look at the schedule – September 2013.
    I can explain a worry list if you want me to

  20. This is great advice on ANY subject. Chilling out about schedules and deadlines makes us far better writers and business people in the long run. True success isn’t about rigidly following a plan–it’s about authenticity.

    The first time I missed a post back when I was posting daily, the world didn’t stop turning and no one threw virtual tomatoes at me. And I realized I felt much better about not forcing myself to post, so I decided to drop back to 3 times a week, and I actually got e-mails from readers saying they appreciated it–they love my content, but they had too much to read and it was easier to keep up when I didn’t post as often.

    I now write another blog, and I have a schedule, but since it’s one I chose, I can unchoose if I want to. As a blog reader, I couldn’t care less when blogs post. I subscribe and I generally get behind in the reading anyway.

  21. I too am guilty as charged for missing the intended blog schedule.
    Phew! What a relief to hear that we’re all human.
    My Xmas downtime plan is to brainstorm as many blog article ideas as possible while the thinking space is unencumbered and to start the new year with a stockpile at the ready!

  22. I missed this week because my dad died. Sometimes there are more important things in life.

  23. it’s best to post nothing than rubbish – of which there is too much of on the net already. Blogging is for fun. If you force yourself to post it loses its enjoyment and becomes a chore.

  24. For me, some weeks/months are better than others. It doesn’t hurt me too much to skip around as my blog is just a hobby, its not exactly consistant, but oh well, as you said, the world won’t come to an end.

  25. I came to this same conclusion after having an “episode” like what you described and you know what, the world did not end and i simply posted a good relevant article from ezine articles(with author link resources in tact of course)! Great post all bloggers need πŸ˜‰

    btw,
    i found you from a footer link at Barbara Ling’s site..

  26. Great advice and how good it is to be able to come up with a good post by expressing your failure to make that blog post. I’m currently caught up in a blog posting slumber because I haven’t posted since October. There are so many thoughts/topics on my head. But then, reading valuable ideas from blogs like Men with Pens fulfills me. Thanks. Congratulations for making it as one of the top 10 blogs (#2) in 2010.

  27. Hi James!

    I couldn’t help but smile the entire time I was reading your blog because this same incident recently happened to me as well!

    Just like you, I was taken off-guard when I did realize that I missed the mark but well, decided it was a welcome respite after all. Took off some days to relax, read, and be inspired by things happening in the real world. That way, my perspective took on a whole new path and I gained new insights and gained new experiences along the way.

    Thanks for sharing!

Trackbacks

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Tony Mack, John D, Troy Manning, Vivienne White, FreelanceCamp 2010 and others. FreelanceCamp 2010 said: How to Chill Out When You Forget to Post http://bit.ly/fdCRnb […]

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