I’m here with my monthly blogging tip! Turns out, my 12 Common Blogging Blunders post is my highest performing post so far. Obviously, this means you guys liked it and would like more on the blogging tips front! As ever, I am here to deliver :)
First thing to know about me? I’m a planner-holic. I love buying organizing supplies…. pens, journals, planners, paper, folders … anything remotely supply-ish is a money-spending heaven for me. I’m always looking for ways to better organize my blog and have picked up some useful tips and tricks along the way. This going to be a bit of an info-dump, and I want to put out a disclaimer before we start.
Disclaimer: All of the following resources are things you can use to blog more efficiently. This doesn’t mean you need to use literally every resource in this post. I don’t. But I certainly do use a majority of them. Just because my method works for me, doesn’t necessarily mean it will work for you. I challenge you to test, mix and match, to see what works best for you.
Disclaimer #2: When I say “organizing your blog”, I am not talking about the overall appearance of your blog (although I am planning a post about that which I hope to release in May-ish). What I mean is planning for your blog. If you’re a casual blogger for casual reasons, you blog when the wind moves your hair just right and have nobody relying on you… then don’t worry about it! I envy the stress-free-ness of your situation. However, if you need resources to help you de-stress and keep your blog running smoothly…. continue reading :)
Why you need to organize your blog
And you must. 6 reasons…
Organizing your blog… well, keeps you organized
An unorganized blogger looks like an unprofessional one. No matter what you’re blogging for, hobby or business, it’s always important to put your best foot forward. If you want people contacting you asking you to review something, host a guest post, or are interested in buying from/working with you, it’s important to maintain an organized front.
You must look like you have your shit together, even when you don’t. No one wants to buy from someone who’s business is a mess, who can’t stay on deadline or loses information constantly.
It’s okay to make mistakes, but it’s not okay for your mistakes to become part of your brand.
Keeps you consistent
One of the most common blogging mistakes is being an inconsistent poster. Yes, I know it’s pot calling the kettle black, because I’m not exactly consistent. But it’s something that I’m working on because I don’t want my inconsistent posting to define the brand I’m trying to build, even if that brand is talking about books and giving blogging tips once a month.
When you organize yourself, it allows you to plan your posts so they are published consistently, even if they’re not written consistently.
Allows you to plan ahead
I have three monthly requirements of myself blogging-wise every month (besides the post-twice-a-month goal)
As a Goodreads member, I review books all the time. The challenge is to take that review, tweak it and turn it into a post. For that I need rational thoughts, not just the gifs and exclamation points that dominate Goodreads reviews. I also need graphics and pictures. A blogging tips post takes about five days of work to compile.
But a backlog contribution is the most important one, isn’t it? I’ve had emergencies, vacations, breaks, spouts of forgetfulness, diseases and other factors that, for whatever reason, took me offline where I miss a deadline and my blog goes too long without a post. So I keep a backlog of posts that are not timely, and can be posted whenever I forget to write a different one. Boom. Planning ahead.
Another thing I do, is each month I sit down and look at the holidays–mostly off-the-cuff ones that no one celebrates, like “National Freedom Day” or “National Wear Red Day” and see if it sparks inspiration for posts that can happen that day. The former, I could do Favorite Dystopian Novels, or Fictional Rebel Movements Most Near and Dear to My Heart. The latter, I could do an Instagram post featuring books with red colors.
Looking ahead to what’s coming allows you to plan ahead. For example: Last January, I got hit with a brilliant blogging campaign I could do to help bloggers out with the new year. Darn. Too bad I got the idea about 15 days after the new year had already started. Had I bothered to look ahead, I could have had the months of preparation necessary for the campaign to be successful.
Allows you keep track of things
Tracking things allows you to discover the things you’re doing that are working, and the things that are not. What people seem to like, and what they don’t.
It allows you to remember things you would have otherwise forgotten, like a Blog Tour you signed up for six months ago and would have forgotten had you not written it down as a reminder on the editorial calendar. There’s honestly nothing worse–except for maybe running out of chocolate–than disregarding a commitment you made, just because you forgot. It loses the respect of the person you disregarded and of people coming to your blog.
Shows what works and what doesn’t
Don’t romanticize the art of blogging. People read the posts they want to read information on and see how it benefits them. Reviews aren’t as popular as discussion posts, because discussing with people the thoughts of a book benefits the reader. Discussion posts aren’t as popular as posts chock-full with tips, because the reader learns things as he/she reads it over.
Pay attention to the kind of content you publish, and what gets the most attention. That is the kind of content you’re audience wants more of.
Maximizes overall efficiency
All of the above makes you a more efficient blogger. Keeping track of all that needs remembering and by constantly keeping your finger on the pulse of your blog, you’ve not only become a better blogger, but a much more capable one. One people will want to read from.
Ways to organize your blog
Now that we’ve gotten all the “why’s” out of the way, it’s time to move on the “how’s”.
* Each title in pink print (typically the resource being named next to the number) leads to a link where you can view the resource as a PDF to view and/or print it. The PDF will appear in a different window.
** All of the following resources were created by me and thought up by me as I had need of it. Please don’t attempt steal these and write them off as your own or publish them elsewhere with your name on it. If you intend to share in any way, please give me credit.
Calendars allow you to look ahead and plan for the future, rather than get bombarded by the present. Utilize the following resources so you’ll never spend another night tapping away at your keyboard into the early morning because you missed a deadline.
- 6 Months At a Glance Calendar — I made this after my Year at a Glance Calendar (#5), because it was so helpful, but I wanted to go more in-depth. So after completing the year, take an in-depth look at the next six months and everything you hope to accomplish/are thinking about doing. You can look back at this later so you don’t forget anything.
- Editorial Calendar — This calendar is a basic month (where you fill in the month and the dates) tailored towards planning a month at a time for your blog. I write things I want to do on a certain day in pencil, writing it in pen when it’s scheduled. I write down things that are happening (like blog tours)/ideas in the “Post ideas” column, have my backlogged posts and monthly requirements of my self in the “backlog” column and any blog upkeep I need to do under the “blog maintenance” column.
- Social Media Calendar — Kind of like a social media editorial calendar, this SMMP (Social Media Monthly Planner) allows me to jot down my scheduled social posts, ideas of when I should do what, and track what’s working, what isn’t, what’s popular, and what’s not.
- Weekly Post Organizer — A checklist, brainstorming chart and planner all in one, this weekly post organizer (of which there are two posts per page, if you post over two posts a week, print off two copies so it’s front and back) lets you plan ahead for the week and juggle writing and planning for multiple posts at one time.
- Year at a Glance Calendar — As I said in #1, the Year at a Glance calendar is super effective, but it doesn’t allow you to go super in-depth. Instead of having two calendars with the exact same thing, I modified the way I used this calendar. My YAG (Year At a Glance) Cal is now tailored towards themes. For example, I have ideas for NaNoWriMo in November, Blog Spring Cleaning for March and Character Yearbook superlatives in May. Now, I tend to look at a holidays and what happens in that month and come up with ideas I could be doing to tailor towards the season.
Trackers allow you to, well, track performance and ensure you’re not forgetting anything.
- Blog Log — Bloggers typically don’t change their blog a whole lot on a regular basis. But when you do, it is helpful to log what changes you make. If you go in and want to make your site masthead three points bigger, only to log back in a couple of hours later to see that it’s disappeared altogether, it’s helpful to go back and look at the changes you made recently, making it easier to go back and undo whatever mistake has been done. This is especially helpful when you are revamping your blog or are moving to a new site location.
- Giveaway Tracker — I don’t run giveaways regularly on this blog and when I do, I’m typically only sponsoring one, not actually buying and sending out the product myself. However, if you have many giveaways at a time on a regular basis, a giveaway tracker makes it easy to keep the winner’s information on hand and be aware of whether you still need to send the product out or not. Really, it keeps all your giveaway ducks in a row :)
- Stats Tracker — A stats tracker allows you keep track of followers for your blog, website and various social media sites. The idea is you to log the number of followers each month, and it allows you to see where your readership flourishes, where it suffers and where you may need to put more effort in.
- Shipping Tracker — This is something that I just think everyone, blogger or not, should have. I don’t know a single person–except for maybe great aunt Mildred–who doesn’t order things online. People are prone to forgetting the things they order online and it can be helpful to have a place to write down your order, where you ordered it from, and when it’s supposed to arrive.
- End of Post Checklist — There are so many steps to take after you schedule your blog post. This checklist (that I have hanging on my wall above my computer) makes sure you do everything you can to optimize your post, making it more appealing, noticeable and gain more traffic.
- Before Publishing Checklist — It’s arguable that there are even more steps to take after you write your initial post, and these are the most important. These steps force you to maximize your post and make sure you have done everything necessary for your blog post to be effective.
- Guest Post Checklist — After 15 or so emails back and forth with an author who wanted to do everything right with her guest post, I made this checklist. It’s everything I want my guest post-er (typically an author) to consider and do when writing a guest post for me. I send this to every guest post inquiry to make sure they are confident and know everything they need to do to get the job done.
- Planning Your Month — A great resource to print on the back page of an editorial calendar, it allows you track your followers on various social media accounts from the beginning of the month to the end of the month, keep track of your backlogged posts, plan monthly goals and have a theme/focus for the month to keep you on track.
- Managing Review Requests — One of the worst things you can do is commit to an author to promote their book and help them get their sales up … and completely forget about it. This chart will help you track your review requests, digital and print. It can get confusing sometimes when it takes an age for the book to arrive and then when it does you don’t know why that book was sent to you. Keep all your information in one place, and prevent insanity!
- Promotions Organizer — All the tiny details in one place to ensure you forget nothing and have everything covered when it comes to a guest post.
- To-Do List — Every resource hotspot needs a to-do list! Keep your list of tasks in one place, and quell the urge to put sticky-notes in a host of random places you’ll never find.
- Post Topics Brainstorm — Bloggers have LOTS of blogging ideas … keep them in one spot! This brainstorming page will allow you to keep all your ideas contained to these pages… and keep track of when they’re used!
- Blogging Book — I’ve preached out about the blogging book NUMEROUS times, and am planning a separate post for it. But for now, convert a notebook you already have, and designate it your “blogging book”. I have one. It has a table of contents in the front and then each of the pages has a category. For instance, page 5 is “Listed posts” and on all the lines down the page I have ‘listed post’ ideas. Page 36 is “Humorous posts”, page 48 is “Blogging posts”, etc. I have pages where I plan out my posts with talking points and websites where I found information I could use. This is SO USEFUL!! Watch out for a post on this very soon.
Print vs. Digital
Of course, all these are useless if you organize your blog digitally. Some (more expensive) WordPress plans come with a built-in editorial calendar (which would be pretty great). Some people have these same trackers, they just use them in word and type in as they go. You can use Google Sheets or Excel to organize your thought, and there are some companies that do all this for you!
I use majorly print resources when it comes to my blog. I may create them using the internet (like mapping out the bookstagram photo challenges), but I always print them out and put them in one of my many folders and organizers designated to that particular aspect of my blog. I like print because I feel like I organize my thoughts better this way, when it’s written down. I have papers (like the checklists) taped to the wall above my computer so I can just glance up and get the information I need rather than search through endless document files.
And those files are endless. If I wanted to find the banner for my Vulnerable Alpha Male Case study, I would go to Documents > Blog > Posts > Post Graphics > Banners. If I wanted to find one of the images I created for my Love Letters Valentine’s Day campaign, I’d go to Documents > Blog > Posts > Projects > Valentine’s day Love Letters Feature 2017 > Images > Social Media. Maybe I want to find the background image I used from my (hilariously accuarate, if I do say so myself) post on the Book Slump, I’d go to Documents > Blog > Post > Post Graphics > Backgrounds.
I am extremely organized and know where everything is, but that doesn’t mean clicking through all the files and having 13 windows open for one post doesn’t get tedious. I may be different from others my age, but I prefer to have all the papers spread out in front of me.
That doesn’t mean there aren’t benefits to using digital planning. I have numerous reminders apps on my phone, millions of email pockets (I don’t print out all my emails, I’m not that far gone… only if they’re related to a project I’m currently working on) and have used many apps that have been beneficial to me.
There are only three negatives to digital, as far as I’m concerned.
- My Wi-Fi sucks. That means, my router’s in a bad mood, I can’t access shit.
- You can’t organize based on need, only by the function the app you’re using, and what it will allow you to do.
- It’s not pressing. To me, a paper taped on my wall or sitting on my desk is more likely to place the fear of god in me as far as urgency goes, rather than a line of text in a box I can only see if I feel like pulling up a specific browser or app.
But, you can’t deny that applications are enormously useful because you have them on hand, at your fingertips no matter where you are. Useful applications for planning ….
- Google Sheets *preference
- Google Docs
- Google Calendar
How do you prefer to organize your blog? What resources do you use most? Did you find this post helpful? Let me know in the comments below, I’d love to hear from you!