[Disclaimer: This post contains a few affiliate links. Thanks for your support!]
Staying organized is key for success as a blogger. Without organizational tools, you can waste hours figuring out what to post, when to post your content, and how to best use your social media time. There is no single magic tool that will help you stay organized. You must figure out which tools are the best fit for your blogging needs and organizational preferences. I’m sharing the tools I use and discussing exactly how I use them to stay organized and work efficiently.
The January page of my 2017 blog editorial calendar.
First and foremost, every blogger should have an editorial calendar. An editorial calendar helps you keep track of all of your blog content so you know what you’re publishing when and can plan accordingly to get it published. In the past, I’ve kept a paper editorial calendar. For 2017, I’m using a digital editorial calendar. I’m sharing my blog editorial calendar template right here. As much as I love paper organization, I think the digital format will be better suited for moving content around as I finalize my publishing schedule. It will also be helpful for color coding the current state of my content. I’m using different colors for posts in idea, draft, scheduled, and published stages. Additionally, the digital format allows me to pull up the same calendar in Dropbox on different computers and even on my phone, which has already been extremely convenient. (You can also do the same thing with Google Drive!)
[Please note: You may have to adjust the page spacing slightly depending on the fonts you use for the calendar. Feel free to edit the notes section at the end of each monthly page as well.]
Social media scheduling: Boardbooster and Later
Social media scheduling tools allow you to schedule Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram content in advance, freeing up the bulk of your day for other tasks. I’ve spent several months researching and experimenting with varying social media scheduling tools. Most social media tools cost money, and I want to make sure I’m using my funds as efficiently as possible to meet my blogging goals. Ultimately, I decided on Boardbooster and Later. Currently, I’m paying for the Boardbooster 500 pins/month plan ($5/month), and Later Plus plan ($9/month, or $7.50/month if you pay for the entire year upfront.)
I’ve only been using Boardbooster and Later for a couple months but have been so happy with them already. Boardbooster is exclusively a Pinterest tool. I know there are more powerful Pinterest tools available, but you can’t beat the price of Boardbooster. If you’re serious about boosting your Pinterest presence and driving significant Pinterest traffic to your blog, a pin scheduler is a must. Spending a few hours each month scheduling pins enables you to publish 15-20 pins per day, spread out so followers aren’t overwhelmed with all 20 pins at once. I’ve been using Boardbooster alongside multiple Facebook promo groups, which makes it difficult to pinpoint exactly how much traffic has come just from Boardbooster. But the combination has yielded huge results. Over the last few months, my Pinterest likes and traffic have more than quadrupled and continue to increase each week. I’ll talk more about my specific numbers as I provide updates for my 2017 goals.
I use Later primarily for Instagram and Twitter. I’ve just started using it for my own Pinterest content. You can also use it to schedule Facebook content. Later has been a game changer for Instagram. I absolutely love being able to schedule Instagram posts right from my computer without having to transfer photos to my phone and type out long descriptions and a couple dozen hashtags on a tiny phone keyboard. The ability to schedule content and increase my descriptions and hashtags with ease doubled my Instagram likes and engagement instantly. It’s only been increasing from there. I’ll also talk more about my Instagram progress and pinning with BoardBooster versus Later as I give goal progress updates.
If you’re considering either of these programs, please give them a try. They’re both absolutely free to try with no upfront credit card information provided.
To-do lists / ongoing brainstorming
I have a regular composition notebook for my client freelance jobs and other freelance work (i.e. Constant Content). I have a smaller notebook (pictured above) for my daily blog to-do lists (i.e. social media sharing, FB group commitments, pictures to take for an upcoming post) and ongoing brainstorming for new post ideas, general blog ideas (i.e. new ad networks, email campaign strategies), and much more. For example, since I started Michelle’s affiliate course, I’ve devoted a page to affiliate marketing ideas.
I cannot stress the importance of ongoing brainstorming enough. When you create any type of content on a regular basis, you have to keep the ideas flowing. There will be weeks that your content will come together easily, and there will be weeks that you’re racking your brain trying to figure out what to publish. When you’ve been brainstorming, you always have somewhere to turn for that next idea and won’t spend hours staring at a blank computer screen. You won’t ever use all of your ideas, which is fine. Find a system for brainstorming that works best for you so you’ll stick with it.
Since I started my blog, I’ve been using a Shutterfly notebook, which I really love. If you want to design your own notebook cover, Shutterfly is a great option. Watch for a promotion, and you’ll be able to get one for 30-50% off. I also love the small notebooks from Minted. I recently got a couple with some blog giveaway winnings (more on that soon) and will be using them after I fill up my Shutterfly notebook.
Finally, a couple years ago, I quit using my Google Calendar and started using a paper planner. I know that seems crazy, but it’s worked pretty well for me. There are so many people who use their paper planners for everything. If you can do that, more power to you. Clearly, given the other organizational systems I have in place, I don’t. I have a Filofax Finsbury. There are numerous free and for purchase Filofax resources as well as tons of general Filofax inspiration online. The only resources I use consistently are the monthly and daily pages.
I use my paper planner for keeping track of calendar commitments (i.e. appointments, meetings) and super exciting household tasks I don’t want to forget (i.e. replacing the furnace filters). I also use it as my wallet. I hope as I wrap up my big household projects this year and finally establish a more regular household routine (i.e. cleaning, errands, etc), I’ll be able to to use it to organize all of my household tasks. If all goes as planned, I’ll be sharing more about it.
My paper planner helps me stay organized as a blogger because it helps me keep other aspects of my life organized and efficient. You have to determine if you want to keep track of blogging tasks in your regular planner or in a separate planning tool. There is no single system that works for everyone.
What blogging tips and tools help you stay organized?
Leave your input in the comments!