I wrote this entry five days ago!

If you’ve been working with a webmaster or company that manages your Web site, the comment that I wrote this entry five days before it appeared on the site isn’t news. In fact, probably everything you do on your site has that sort of time lag, even if you don’t want it to occur.
Wresting control of your site back into your own hands is a big win, obviously, so it can track exactly what’s going on with your business or, as the case may be, in your life. But that has its own problem: if you know you’re going to be out of the office but need something to show up on your site, how do you do it?
That’s yet another reason why a weblog makes such a splendid content management tool. Given that best practices with blogging are to have at least two entries per week, a lot of people instantly conclude that they have to spend two days each week writing, but that’s not true at all.
In fact, I’m writing this a week in advance to make just that point.

I’m writing this entry on April 7th and it will stay in a to-be-pubilshed queue in Movable Type (my blogging tool of choice) until the 11th of April, when it’ll just magically appear. Specifically, it’s scheduled to be published at 2006-04-11 13:50:32, just in case you’re a stickler for details.
But you can do more than that, because you can schedule postings with a high level of granularity so your site can continue to be adding new material, “fresh content” as I like to talk about, without you being within fifty miles of a computer terminal.
On my other weblog, Ask Dave Taylor, I sometimes schedule things out for when I know I won’t have time to get to the site and compose new Q&A material. I also sometimes publish content in other magazines or on other sites with a republication agreement that gives them a 30 day exclusive. Do I mark my calendar? No, of course not. I immediately also post it to my weblog, but schedule it for 30 days in the future.
How far will I take this? Well, since I think it’s one of the core features of a weblog pretty darn far. Check this out:

Movable Type future entries queue

Here you can see that the bottom couple of entries have been posted in the last day or so (they have a little green circle that shows they’re “live” on the site) while the ones queued up for future publication are just sitting and eagerly waiting for the proper time to roll around.
(of course, by the time you read this, most of them will have gone active on the Ask Dave Taylor site, but that’s a good thing! In fact, pop over there and check out the entries and marvel how you cannot tell that they were written days in advance).
Compare this capability to how you currently manage your own Web site. I bet your solution is more awkward if not downright impossible.
It’s yet another reason to consider using a blogging tool as the foundation of your Web site. Even if you don’t think of yourself as a blogger, there’s no reason not to leverage the power of blogs to help manage your Web site.
And as for me, well, pretend I just pushed the “publish” button instead of the “schedule” button five days ago.

5 comments on “I wrote this entry five days ago!

  1. Dave, I’m gawking.
    My first reaction to this was that WordPress doesn’t have that feature. But looking back in my administration, it does; I’ve just never thought of trying it.
    I’ll definitely sit down and write more next time I am in a writing mood, and let the posts leak out by themselves.

  2. I will definitely try this strategy – it makes so much more sense. If I was writing an article for an offline publication, I would leave it a few days then edit, edit, edit. But, I write my blog every morning – as it comes out. Then, after hundreds of people have already read it, I find typos, typos, and more typos. Thank you – I’m going to change my ways.

  3. Thanks, Catherine. Worth noting is that you can also save your postings as “unpublished” and fine tune them for a day or two, THEN publish them when they’re ready. I often spend 30 minutes or longer flipping between the “edit” and “preview” mode, for example….

  4. Hello Dave,
    Very good how-to. I find that I write a lot for a couple of days in a week and the rest of the time, I’m quite busy with other things. This is definitely a good tutorial – thanks for showing us what’s going on behind the curtains, while you are going from conference to conference.

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