Are Spreadsheets the Secret to Successful Blogging?

Over the past year or two, spreadsheets seem to have become increasingly common in the book blogosphere. Bloggers routinely share scheduling habits with their followers, explaining how creating a spreadsheet keeps them organized and on task. Some bloggers may even offer their spreadsheets for others to use, as well. The complexity of some these spreadsheets can be staggering, with bloggers recording everything from season of the year to genre to age range, then determining how to arrange it all. Whatever keeps a person organized is probably a good idea! But does every blogger need to keep a spreadsheet to be successful?

The proliferation of spreadsheets can sometimes make it seem like there is only one “right” way to blog. And the sheer complexity of these spreadsheets can make them seem authoritative. Surely anything that has 15 columns and a sophisticated color-coding scheme must be the secret to successful blogging! However, I think it is important to remember that, ultimately, there is no one correct way to blog, to write, or to schedule. Everyone’s personality, habits, and style are going to be different, and what works for one person may not work for another.

One helpful way to look at this may be to recall how writing is taught in schools. Usually, teachers inform their students that the writing process consists of brainstorming, creating an outline, writing a first draft, revising the draft extensively, and then editing/proofreading. The process laid out tends to be very linear, and to suggest that all effective writers go through the same steps in the same order. But do they?

My writing process, in fact, looked very different in school. Most often, I would simply think about a topic for days or weeks, perhaps jotting down quotes or snippets of ideas on a piece of paper. Then, I would sit down and write out the whole paper, revising, not at the end of the draft, but as I wrote the draft. I do not believe I ever did a major revision of a draft because I had already done that work previously. I never did a mind map or anything else students are taught to do in order to brainstorm. And, if I was required to turn in an outline for credit, I would simply make one up, or I would create what is called a reverse outline, relying on the full draft I had already written. I suspect a good many students also create their own, effective writing processes that are nothing like the process they have been told they “ought” to do.

I think blog scheduling is very similar to this. There may be good organization ideas or “rules” out there that make sense and provide a good starting place. But they are not rigid. Just because one person likes to color-code books by genre does not mean everyone needs to do the same. My own scheduling process, in fact, tends to be very loose, and it is something I store in my head rather than in a spreadsheet. For example, I know that my co-blogger posts reviews on Mondays and I post reviews on Thursdays. Either of us can post a review on Saturday. Friday is reserved for our Classic Remarks memes. The rest of the dates are flexible, though I like to post discussions on Tuesdays since so many other people tend to post memes on that day, and I think it makes our content stand out. I also keep in mind seasonal trends, remembering to schedule reviews of spooky books in October, lists of romance reads for Valentine’s Day, and so on. The organization is simple enough that I can memorize it without spending time creating a spreadsheet, filling it out, and color coding it. Personally, I would rather spend time blogging than fussing over a spreadsheet.

The current popularity of blogging spreadsheets suggests that they are a tool many people find useful. And that is excellent! However, bloggers who are unsure about starting a spreadsheet or who do not feel enthusiastic about it need not worry. Just because something is trendy does not mean it is the the only way to do something. Everyone has their own unique blogging style–and that includes scheduling. Starting a spreadsheet may be worth a try, if a person is looking for more structure in their scheduling or a more effective way of scheduling than they currently have. But if scheduling without a spreadsheet works, then it works! In the end, there is no real “secret” to blogging success, just different approaches that may all achieve the same goal.

What do you think? Have you tried keeping a spreadsheet? Why or why not? If you have, did you find it useful?

22 thoughts on “Are Spreadsheets the Secret to Successful Blogging?

  1. Carol says:

    I keep a paper calendar for scheduling and tracking my blog posts. But I keep a spreadsheet to track maintenance……once a week I update an old post and reshare it, so it helps me to know where I am in the process. I also keep a spreadsheet to track my reading (as a backup and extension of goodreads). So I guess my answer is yes, I do use spreadsheets for some aspects of blogging. Great question! It’s always interesting to see what others do!

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    • Krysta says:

      The calendar makes more sense to me because it’s a visual look at how everything is laid out. We tried a calendar early on, but just didn’t keep up with it. I guess organizing is just not for me! XD

      Liked by 1 person

  2. kat says:

    I can’t stand spreadsheets. They always look more chaotic than my brain does, which is never helpful. I prefer calendars and good old fashioned paper, so I use a 3-ring planner. It’s so helpful to be able to just flip it open whenever I need to and see everything I need in one glance instead of having to turn on a device and go searching. All the spreadsheets look like a lot of fun and probably perfect for those who want to keep track of everything humanly possible, but they’re just not for me.

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  3. BookerTalk says:

    Good question. I did a recent post asking bloggers how they kept track of their owned but unread books (also known as TBR) and some used spreadsheets but others just had a notebook. So it very much depends on your personality I think and also what you want to keep record of – blog posts, books read etc.

    I’ve seen some of those spreadsheet templates and while I admire the skill of the people who created them I don’t want to spend all my time just filling in a spreadsheet with info that doesn’t seem particularly important to me – like the page count of the books I read.

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  4. RAnn says:

    Nope, no spreadsheets. I read what strikes my fancy, and do the book haul memes on Monday. I review when I finish reading, and if the publisher wants a particular review date, I push that button. This is a hobby for me; all those spreadsheets make it sound like work.

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    • Krysta says:

      They do sound like work! And if I’m spending time doing all that work, I’m going to start to wonder if I wouldn’t be more productive writing an actual blog post rather than color coding the blog post I plan to write….

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  5. ashley says:

    I have spreadsheets, but I kept them simple. I use them for statistical purposes. I have a book acquisition tracker, format tracker, book source tracker, weekly page count tracker, and a book list spreadsheet.

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  6. Lisa @ Bookshelf Fantasies says:

    This is so interesting — I never gave spreadsheets much consideration as a tool for blogging, so I’m amused to hear about how they’re used. I use spreadsheets constantly in my worklife. The only spreadsheet I use related to blogging is a simple one, just to keep track of my current ARCs and their upcoming release dates, so I can see what my “obligation” reads are and try to stay current. Other than that, I don’t do much fancy scheduling, so I don’t need it.

    In terms of keeping track of my books, I used Goodreads and Libib, and that’s plenty!

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  7. Amber Elise @ Du Livre says:

    I wa so in love with all the templates I saw out during the last few weeks of 2020 but I know spreadsheets aren’t for me. I love the idea of collecting all that data but they’re too restricting for me. I have started using airtable for a few blogging/ARC aspects but thats about it.

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  8. Eustacia | Eustea Reads says:

    I’ve not done a spreadsheet, but mostly because I don’t have a plan for my blog. I have decided that I’d roughly do 3 book related posts (Mon Wed Fri) and 2 tea related posts (Tues Thurs) a week, but I don’t panic if I don’t have enough content (like when I had to stop drinking tea for two weeks).

    I do, however, use Planoly to plan my instagram drafts, but that’s just because I want my feed to look pretty.

    Like

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