If there's one thing I've learned from winging it when it comes to my blog, it's not to wing it when it comes to my blog.
Do you ever get this feeling? You know need to publish new content - so you spend 5 minutes thinking up what seems like a good idea - and an hour creating said good idea - only to end up not loving it - then right back where you started in need of new content.
I used to feel like this all the time. But you know what simple lesson I've learned? Planned content makes for effective, worthwhile content; and I hate to break it to you non-planners - but if you want to run a successful business, you have to be proactive.
Here are my tips for staying organized and on task with your blog...
Learn How to
If you're running your blog as a business, the ability to multitask is going to be one of your most important qualifications to meet.
Rule number one: don't be a messy multitasker!
Effective multitasking doesn't have to be a complicated process, but it does need to be a process that you plan out. Your first step to planning out your tasks should be to list all of the major working parts of your blog that need to be attended to on a weekly basis. For example: blog posts, social media posts, newsletter, collaborations, finances, stats, brand contacts.
Then, based on your schedule, designate days of the week to tackle each task for the week following. For example:
M / Post planning, T / Social media scheduling,
W / Collaborations/Contacts, TH / Finances, F / Newsletter
Spreadsheets and printable resources are your friends!
The more efficiently you keep track of your tasks, the more effectively you'll be able to execute them. I mean, common sense, right?
Planning Your Blog Posts
I personally choose to do all of my planning in a notebook with printable resources. My reason being that everything else in my life is digital and I found myself more apt to commit to using a tangible resource. Martha Stewart's discbound letter-size notebook is my best friend (also comes in this pretty blue). Some people prefer to keep track of all of their planning via Google Calendar or CoSchedule and that's fine too! At the end of the day, all that matters is that you commit to having a plan.
Two key resources I use when planning content for blog posts:
1 / An at-a-glace monthly outlook with a list of post ideas and key dates
2/ A monthly calendar where my blog posts are then assigned to certain dates.
I typically set aside a day at the very beginning of each month to fill out my at-a-glance monthly outlook. I jot down any and all post ideas related to the season, upcoming collaborations or scheduled shoots where I can pick out a theme (for example if I'm shooting an overalls looks my post idea might be 3 ways to style overalls this Spring).
Then, I utilize my monthly calendar to assign those posts a week at a time.
How you can stay ahead of your posting schedule:
+ Set aside time to draft your posts for the week ahead. Nailing down your written content takes a huge weight off!
+ Set aside time to edit and prepare any photos you'll be including in your post (I always have mine ready so it's just a matter of popping them into my WordPress)
+ If you're using affiliate links, set aside time to create your sliding widgets and folders
These are all tasks that can be a part of your weekly 'post planning day'!
Planning Your Social Media Posts
I use an editorial calendar to plan out my social media posts (similar to my blog content calendar), which helps hold me accountable for making sure I am promoting my blog posts through every social channel.
Whatever is being published on the blog in a given week, is also being scheduled for Pinterest, and published on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram Stories. Don't miss out on any of these opportunities to drive traffic to your blog!
In addition to sharing my blog content on social media, I also have designated content that I share each week specific to each platform.
How to stay on top of social media:
+ Instagram - use a grid planning app like UNUM to plan out your feed a week or so in advance
+ Facebook - make use of the FB scheduling tool! My intern and I plan 2-3 posts per week, usually a month in advance
+ Twitter - use a scheduling tool like Buffer to get your Tweets ready for the week!
+ Pinterest - invest in Tailwind! I also set aside time here to schedule pins a month in advance
These are all tasks that can be a part of your weekly 'social media planning day'!
Staying on Top of Collaborations and Keeping Track of Brand Contacts
When it comes to outreach, managing collaborations and keeping track of contacts, some months will be easier than others! Don't fall into the hole of getting behind on these tasks though, because they are often some of the most important!
When it comes to this area of my business, I stay organized on Google Drive, so I can access important brand information from anywhere.
Contacts + Collaborations:
At the start of each year, I make a master list of all of the brands I'd like to work with in the coming year, and add them to my spreadsheet as I obtain contacts. This way, I have a running list of anyone and everyone I may need to get in touch with. I also add my contacts for past collaborations, along with PR contacts to this list - it is seriously my holy grail!
On this spreadsheet, I also keep track of if I pitched to the brand, their response, completed collaborations, and any other notes I may need.
In a separate spreadsheet, I track all of my paid sponsorships so I have one place where I can refer to due terms, due dates, received payments and follow up notes. This is especially important because once you start working on multiple projects a month, it is so easy to forget to follow up!
Income + Expenses
I manage my in + out with a free program called And Co. It's a super easy way to track income and expenses, the only downside being that you are manually inputting your in and out. If you're just starting out, this is a great website to check out.
A few reasons I haven't yet switched to Quickbooks: a) the investment (although I'm more than sure it's worth it!), b) entering everything manually (although tedious during busy months, helps me to really know my finances in and out) and c) the lack of time I have right now to learn new software
You can read more about my income/expense breakdown here!
Keeping Track of Your Growth
Tracking your stats each month is not only a great motivator as you work towards your personal goals, but it can also come in handy when pitching to brands. I have a calendar reminder on the last day of every month to update my stats, and the whole process takes less than 5 minutes!
You can download my exact excel tracking template to use for your own stats in the Blogging Resource Library!
Staying organized and on task means tending to a lot of moving parts, but your content and growth will thank you for it!
Would love to hear any tips of your own in the comments below!