Planning can save you time
Having some sort of plan for your blog can help you keep on track and focused. Especially when you are making money from your blog, it's very important to keep track of what works for you and what doesn't work. Planning ahead can save you from a headache later when something goes wrong or if you want to make your blog more professional.
Having an idea of your goals pushes you to reach those goals.
Planning for the future
There are a ton of things you can do today to make your life much easier in the future. These are just a few ideas:
Post regularly or on a schedule
If you want readers to return to your blog, you have to give them a reason to. If you only post once every 3 weeks, that probably won't happen. Sticking to a consistent post schedule will give your readers a reason to return and expect new content. And it'll help you look more professional.
Automate your social media to post when you blog.
Jetpack has a plugin called Publicize that can do this for you. You can also use Hootsuite to schedule your social media posts ahead of time. This way, even when you're not online, you can still reach your readers.
Make a business plan.
This can be useful if you have monetized your blog, or if you plan to. A business plan can help you get all your ideas down on paper and see the big picture. Regina has an amazing template you can use here.
Use a calendar to plan your posts & schedule drafts.
There's a great plugin called "WordPress Editorial Calendar" that I use to schedule and write all my posts ahead of time. I have over 13 months of blog posts planned and scheduled right now. This makes the whole "writers block" much easier for me.
When you install the plugin you can add, edit and move posts on the calendar. When I think of a post idea, I make a title, write my ideas and schedule it. As time goes on I can add images, SEO and then the content. This also makes it easy to do batch work. For example I can spend an hour making 100 images for the next 4 months of blog posts. It saves time and it lets me write when I really feel like it.
Plan some giveaways and reach out
Talk to other bloggers and work together to reward your readers and generate new ones. Comment on other blogs, join communities, follow other people on social media. No one wants to follow someone who isn't active. Reaching out to others is the best way to grow.
Planning for disaster
BACK UP YOUR BLOG.
When I first started blogging on blogger, I have over 200 blog posts and one day, they all vanished. I had to start from scratch. Back up your blog and keep it safe. I use this plugin to backup into dropbox.
Optimize your images.
I use a plugin called "WP Smushit", get it, use it, love it. If your blog ever goes viral, you'll want images that load fast. This plugin sizes them down and removes old deleted images to keep your server running quick.
Pick a better host.
If you're using a free host right now, consider spending some money on a upgrade. Getting a good web host can be the difference between a successful site and another just another blog, on page 29 of Google. I suggest BlueHost but there are some other great ones (MediaTemple for example).
While I think it's important to have an idea where your blog is going, it's also important to enjoy your blog. Don't let deadlines and page views make you hate your hobby. Money shouldn't be the driving force behind your site, if it is, you'll burn out fast.
What do you use to plan your posts or plan your future for your blog? Any tips or plugins you can't live without?