Thursday, October 05, 2023

Index indication

Sometimes, I get fixated on something and I keep working on it until I either sort it out or give up. Both have happened—sometimes on the same thing. Recently, I’ve been trying to get my blog and podcast content organised, something that’s still in the fixation stage. I wonder how this one will turn out…

I became fixated on what could be called “content management systems”, a way to plan out content for blogs. I knew they exist because I’d seen them on Pinterest a few years ago. However, that’s not where this all began: It was my podcast that started it.

Sometime back, I joked on the podcast that I could use an index of podcast episodes so I could tell what I have and haven’t talked about already. However, that joke turned serious the longer I produced weekly episodes, and not just for knowing what I’d already talked about. It also realised that it would be useful to plan topics for various times of the year. Part of why I wanted to do that is that I always forget stuff, and there have been episodes where I’ve forgotten to talk about something, and the topic is kind of old when I remember it.

I then realised that if planning podcast episodes would be useful, then planning blog posts would be even more so because I publish blog posts much more frequently than I post podcast episodes, and because I have certain recurring posts to keep track of.

I tried to figure out something on my own, initially trying spreadsheets, and then designing a calendar. None of that was working for me.

Next, I decided to go back to Pinterest to see if I’d “pinned” any of what I was thinking of. I had (I think?), but none of them, nor what I found in searches, were all that useful. Many offered “free downloads” that could only be had if one joined their email list, and I wasn’t going to do that, especially when so many of the sites didn’t even produce a screenshot of their supposedly “best” system. It was back to my own work.

What I did find useful, though, was to see what sort of stuff others thought was important to note—most of which was totally irrelevant to me because the only social media promotion I do is to share stuff to the AmeriNZ Facebook Page, and I don’t have any sponsorships/partnerships/etc. to worry about. They didn’t even use tags the same way I do—it was all about search engine optimisation (SEO), not a way for readers—including me—to find related content easily.

However, tracking the tags used could be useful, I realised.

Back to spreadsheets: I created what’s essentially an index of blog posts, something that—for now—records the date of publication, the title, the code number I give each post, and the tags I applied to the post.

I realised immediately that I had a potential non-serious problem: I’d made the spreadsheet to record one post per day. If I don’t have a post on a day, that doesn’t matter—the line will remain blank. But sometimes I have two or more posts in a day, and that means I have to make sure those lines are undated (because the spreadsheet automatically updates the date on each line). Certainly not a big deal, but something I hadn’t thought of before I started.

I think an actual database would be better because I could include more information that I could then more easily search. Many years ago, Nigel and I bought a database programme called Bento, but that programme was discontinued in 2013 and won’t run on modern Macintoshes (although it will run on my old MacBook Pro). The programme was a simplified version of FileMaker Pro, a full-featured database programme also sold by Apple subsidiary Claris, and it ain’t exactly cheap, especially since it’s now subscription-only (it’s also not suitable for my needs). I’ve looked into replacement database programmes, but that got too hard for me to sort through, and it became one of those fixations I gave up on.

I still have uses for databases, and one day I’ll return to that search again, but right now I’ve decided on simpler solutions, including spreadsheets. I think some sort of calendar that I write things on by hand may be the best short-term option for planning podcast episode and blog post content in advance—assuming I can come up with a design that works for me.

I also developed a far-too-detailed spreadsheet that was a radically revised and expanded version of one I originally created to keep track of my progress toward my annual goal of one-post-per-day on average (the most recent spreadsheet I have available of that was from 2017, and that, oddly enough, was a year I didn’t make my annual goal). After making it (and then repeatedly correcting formulae…) on that detailed spreadsheet, the index one was easy.

All of which avoids one question: Why?! I create all these spreadsheets because it gives me a sense of control over my own life, and I find that calming, and that, in turn, brings me a sense of peace. I’m fully aware of how weird that will sound to some people, and that others might scream out, “Cool!” To each their own, and all that.

Right now, though, I have to go and figure out how to have two lines for a single day because I have another blog post coming later tonight. It wouldn’t be a proper fixation time if I didn’t try to test everything thoroughly.


Roger Owen Green said...

Besides searching my own blog to make sure that I haven't written about that before, I tend to write long and break it up. I just wrote a blog about Las Vegas, which I'll break into three parts.

Someone once complained: why do I almost write about people when they turn 70. Why not 58, e.g.? Mostly o I don't end up writing about them again. One only has one 70th birthday. I have broken my own rule, writing about Stevie Wonder at 60 and 70, and Paul McCartney at 70 and 80, but these are exceptions

Arthur Schenck said...

I've often searched the blog, and sometimes—including within the past few months—I find that the idea I had for a blog post was so good that I'd already done it. I also learned that I can't rely on tags because some I added later, some I forgot to include—lots of reasons. As a final option, I'll sometimes say that I've talked about something in the past without elaborating. That's because I couldn't find anything by searching my blog, but couldn't rule out having talked about it here—or maybe it was on the podcast, or privately to a friend. These days I can't be sure.

I'd never thought of doing a long post and breaking it up, but since I've, um, borrowed so many of your techniques, I may give that a go, too.

Roger Owen Green said...

It occurred to me that the great thing about going to the cinema to see a current movie or attending a play, or traveling is that I'm sure not to replicate. When you go to Fiji, I'm sure you won't write about the PREVIOUS time you were in Fiji.:-)

Arthur Schenck said...

That's true. There's certainly no danger it'll become yet another recurring series.