One of the hardest things I find about blogging, aside from ensuring I actually put regular time aside to blog, is being organised. I have ideas noted down all over the place – on scrap pieces of paper, in notebooks and in my phone. I am always behind on emails because I get so many every day – not just blog related ones but press releases, retail newsletters. I find it quite stressful.
I started to make notes to myself about how I could be more organised and then realised it could make a good blog post. So I hope others find it helpful – and please do let me know any tips and tricks you have!
A dedicated notebook
It’s stressful trying to remember lots of things in your head. Rather than making notyes about blog post ideas all over the place and then losing them or forgetting about them, it’s a good idea to have a notebook dedicated to blog post ideas. Carry it with you everywhere you go (with at least one pen!) so that if an idea strikes you can jot it down immediately.
If you’d prefer you could use to do apps like Evernote which is available on desktops and smartphones (and synchronises across them).
It’s really important to stay on top of your inbox, if it’s left for just a few days it can become quite unmanageable. Throughout the day, if I don’t have time to properly read, reply to or action emails I’ll at least delete any that are completely irrelevant or not of interest and leave the ones I do want to read marked as unread or flagged. I’ll often do this just from the inbox itself judged on the sender and subject line without even opening the emails. The problem I have is that I often don’t get any further than that and emails stayed marked as unread or flagged for weeks!
So it’s probably a good idea to also set aside time every day or every two days to reply and action emails that require it.
You may also find an inbox folder system useful. Perhaps one folder called ‘Press releases’, another called ‘Reviews’, another called ‘Product samples’ or whatever. Alternatively you could organise emails based on topic. If you have a lifestyle blog like me, you might have a folder for ‘Food’, another for ‘Fitness’ and another for ‘Beauty’, for example. Whatever makes sense for you and helps you to categorise and find emails easily.
Does anyone keep Word doc versions of their blog posts? I personally don’t tend to as a general rule but there are some instances where I might. Keep anything like this filed by date for quick reference.
I’m a writer by day and at the publication I write for we keep an Excel spreadsheet of all topics we’ve covered so that you can easily find and refer to them. I find this particularly useful if I want to refer to or link to an old blog post on a related topic, as I can’t always remember what I’ve previously done. This will also be good for ensuring you don’t have any crossovers in content. Additionally, this could help you to spot gaps in your content and come up with new blog post ideas!
I’d also recommend keeping a spreadsheet of any agreed payments/samples that you’ve accepted. It makes it easy to spot anything overdue and also if you’re receiving money it’ll help when you need to file tax returns.
Decide a naming convention for your photos. It’s no use leaving photos name DSC023938 – what use is that when you’re scanning through your folders for something specific? If you rename photos something sensible, which actually explain what the content of the photo is it’ll be much easier to find things you need.
Photo courtesy of Jodimichelle via flickr
If you’re not careful you’ll feel pressure to blog all the time. Try setting aside specific time to work on your blog so you don’t neglect other things in your life – your partner, friends, family, housework etc. It’s all about priorities. You know what your priorities are – maybe it’s your blog. Maybe it’s not. Adjust the time you’re happy to spend on it accordingly.
Perhaps you could dedicate an hour an evening to your blog. Or two hours every other evening. Or maybe three-four hours at the weekend and schedule your posts throughout the week?
I definitely don’t think you need to set yourself a schedule whereby you feel you MUST post twice a week or something, but I think if you do want to blog you do need to set aside some time for it and it might be easier if you have a set time.
This is something I really need to work on – I haven’t got into a routine of finding a specific time that works for me. It means that I don’t spend enough regular time on my blog, so when I do it’s a big chunk of time in one go and I often end up feeling guilty for neglecting my boyfriend!
It might help to decide how often you want to publish posts and write an action plan which details how you’ll achieve that. Figure out how long a post will take you to write, when you’ll take photos, how much time you’ll allow to edit photos and so on. It’ll help you to figure out what’s achievable for the amount of time you want to dedicate to blogging.
Scheduling social posts
There are loads of great social media management tools like Hootsuite and Tweetdeck which can help you schedule tweets, Facebook posts etc. Even better, you could try a tool like IFTTT (If This Then That) which will automatically take an action every time another action is triggered. For example, you can use it to send you a daily reminder so that you don’t forget to follow up all your flagged emails. You could build an automatic Twitter list based on a specific hashtag. You could use it to automatically add a public bitmark to bit.ly every time you publish a blog post in WordPress. Check it out.
If you’re really bogged down, can you delegate? Perhaps get some ghost or guest writers to take over while you’re on holiday, or one day a week to free up some time? Or alternatively it’s ok to switch off and take a break from blogging every now and then.
Tips from other bloggers
I asked some fellow bloggers to each share their top tip on staying organised. Here’s what they said:
“My main tip would be not to stress about it. If you don’t want to be organised don’t be and just blog when you feel like it.” – Jayne from jayneskitschen.co.uk
“The best way is to keep track of planning your posts, what you are waiting for/agreed with PRs/tracking deadlines. I draft Twitter and FB posts and upload the post images to each post card. I try to tweet an old blog post several times a week so I can just copy and paste these into Buffer and schedule, rather than faffing.” – Lilla from lillaloves.com
“A notepad works wonders for jotting down post ideas/titles when inspiration hits when you’re out and about! Or for the more technological, a note on your phone.” – Lauren from BelleduBrighton.co.uk
“Organisation definitely isn’t my strong point, but I’m an avid list maker. I have lists in notebooks everywhere. I use Google calendars to remind myself of when I’m going to events and always try to schedule posts in advance if I can.” – Alice-May from alicemaypurkiss.co.uk
Do you have any tips for staying organised as a blogger?