You’ve started a blog and now you need a system to organize or a planner to keep you sane. You’ve got posts, social media, tasks, expenses, email newsletters to write and maybe even affiliates, income and virtual assistants to assign tasks to. There is so much to do!
Is there any way to organize EVERYTHING you do for your blog in ONE place?
Yes. (Allow yourself a sigh of relief.)
As a former project manager, I have experience in creating tools for companies to organize all their productivity in a dashboard format. That means simple, customizable and super organized. (Here’s some hat tipping to fellow perfectionist organizers out there!)
BLOG PLANNING 101, HOW TO SCHEDULE YOUR BLOG
Blog death is a scary thing. Many blogs begin and because they lack organization and goals, they die. On the other hand, there are successful blogs out there, plowing forward with efficiency and making a good income while they do so. What do all these successful blogs have in common? They have a schedule, goals and operate on an oiled system.
You can too.
1. Start with a successful system
I created a fully customizable, comprehensive system as a Google Sheet. Sounds crazy, right? Yet it includes drop-down menus to change the statuses in your editorial calendar, tells you when a task is coming up on your schedule and more.
Don’t have a Gmail account? Don’t worry, you can easily create a Google account and access it.
Some of the features:
- Editorial Calendar
- Goal setting
- Task management (assign tasks to VAs or just yourself)
- A general dashboard for your go-to links
- Expense tracking
- Affiliate tracking
- Guest posting
- Notes (to remember those pesky html codes etc.)
- Social media scheduling
EDIT: Additional content has now been added such as a mega calendar and an updated goal setting page.
Check out the Blog Management/Planning tool HERE.
Here are some added bonuses that come with the download:
– Opportunity for a review with your blog URL on the final Blog Management Course website
– Free access to the final Blog Management Course + final polished tool
– Access to a private Facebook group of serious bloggers
If the number of downloads are GONE and you are unable to get the tool anymore, you STILL have the opportunity! I will be releasing a full on Blog Management Course in the beginning of 2018. You can jump on the waiting list here.
2. Decide on your blog schedule
How often do you want to release a blog post? Google picks up blogs more often on searches depending on the frequency of posts. This is why you will see more large blogs posting multiple times a day. I see solo, entrepreneurial bloggers posting every day or every other day to boost traffic.
But what if you just don’t have that kind of time? Don’t worry about it. Do what you can do. Michelle Schroeder-Gardner who runs Making Sense of Sense (and makes over 100,000 a month blogging) recommends newer bloggers to post once or twice a week. Right now, I post once a week. With another business and being a mompreneur, there’s a lot to juggle. My posts also take around 5 hours from start to finish.
How long a post takes you is an important factor in deciding how often to post. Time how long it takes you to write your blog post and check off these to-dos below. If this is how much time and energy you normally put into your posts, compare it to the hours you have a week to put into your blog. Make sure you have more hours to spare in order to commit time to steps 3-6 below.
Blog post checklist:
- Research and create a solid SEO title & keyword(s)
- Edit the post
- Add affiliate links, check all links are working & make sure they open in external windows
- Make sure there is a call to action at the end of the post
- The post is formatted, styled and easy to read
- One or two pins are added with an alt description
- Images are created for social media sharing
- The blog link is short and simple
- Your blog post has great SEO
- Make sure you link any of your other related posts
3. Schedule your blog in advance
How “ahead of schedule” should you be? Three months ahead or more is perfect. Two months ahead is great. One month ahead is good and a few weeks ahead of schedule is okay. If you are writing and scheduling your blogs within the week and don’t have anything beyond that, you may be setting yourself up for a harder blog-life balance, blog burnout and/or blog death. What happens when you have so much going on and you just can’t write? Or if a major life event happens and you suddenly disappear from your readers for a period of time?
- It will be harder to come back. Once you are gone, the harder it will be to get back at it. Check out my post 5 Steps To Work Through Blogger Burnout if you are here.
- Your audience will not feel like you are dependable. If you are consistent, people will know what to expect from you and as humans, we like things that follow a pattern and are predictable.
What happens when you are a couple months ahead of schedule? This means you have eight weeks of blog posts on the editorial calendar with the status of: “ready to publish.”
- You have the breathing room to write posts. Have you ever wrote a post thinking, “I have to get this out today!!!” How did that go? In my experience, the last minute post is thrown together, not fully thought out and just simply not as effective as it could be for your blog! If you have a cushion of posts, you don’t need to feel the pressure. You can let your creativity flow, feel accomplished and take the time to create your best posts ever.
- You can plan ahead more effectively for Holidays and events. Planning ahead also allows you to effectively schedule things like your best affiliate posts for November (the high tide for Christmas season), New Years etc. or whatever the best time for your blog niche is. It also relieves you of pulling out your hair to push a post out.
- You can step away if needed. Take a vacation or spend some time with family. a list of blog posts ready to publish, allows you to be “AFK” (away from keyboard) if you need to be.
4. Plan your newsletter and social media
Decide to excel at 1-3 social media sites. If you are a new blogger, you may want to test the waters of a few (realize that this will be time-consuming and you more than likely will not get results right away – don’t worry). Once you have found one that really drives traffic, focus on upping your game there. Take courses, learn, learn, learn and really try to be the best you can be. During this time, you may want to fade back on other social media outlets and just not push them as much. Have a presence but don’t fill your precious time with social media sites that are returning you with almost zero traffic.
Test out how often you need to post. On Twitter, many bloggers post all day long. On Facebook (depending on your audience), bloggers post anywhere from 3-4 times a day to every few days. On Pinterest (the algorithm changes) bloggers can post 30-70 pins a day to different boards. Find a top blogger in your niche that is successful in the social media outlet you want to pursue and see what they are doing.
A newsletter list is your best, most targeted group of people. This group is like your own personal “social media” in which you have segmented and can target. If you don’t have a newsletter going out, start now. Most serious bloggers use ConvertKit. It’s worth the price tag if you can swing it. If not, try MailerLite. It’s pretty awesome.
Decide how often to communicate with your email list. A good rule of thumb is to send an email when you publish a blog post, if your affiliates have sales and when you launch a new product. Check the best times to send out your newsletter and A/B test. Get subscribers by creating killer opt-ins that your audience just can’t refuse. This includes adding their email for downloadable lists (such as a budget sheet, blog check-list, or registry list), signing up for discounts, product giveaways, and freebies as well as ebooks or different types of courses.
5. Schedule time to be a person
What I mean by this is, as bloggers, we can get so wrapped up in the blog posts, the social media schedule, the email list etc. that we forget to take the time to be real people. That means finding a handful of blog groups you participate in, networking with other bloggers, answering emails, responding to comments on your blog and communicating with those who post to your social media or message you.
The con is that you could detrimentally fill up your previous time with these actions. Be sure to take note of the length of time you spend here. Try to get other more time-sensitive things done when you fire up your computer before you start responding to comments.
On the other hand, if someone reaches out to you, don’t let days go by. Try to respond to people within the day. Schedule a certain amount of time at the beginning and/or end of the day to communicate with followers. Do the same thing with networking but make sure you find the time to do so.
6. Improvement and product development
Last but not least, a blogger must grow. This can be a difficult area to find the time for with all the other blog to-dos. If you are a new blogger, try to take classes in areas where you want to grow the most. Put more time, effort and money into things that are succeeding. Don’t beat a dead horse. If your Twitter has zero reactions, don’t pour time into classes and reading blog posts on Twitter if your Pinterest is blowing up. If you have nothing doing well, (hey, it happens – don’t worry!) look at super successful bloggers in your niche with a hefty following and see what they are doing right. Do they have any course recommendations?
Schedule in the time during your week to consistently improve. Make sure you follow 5-10 other top bloggers in your niche. Comment on their posts and ask them questions. Learn from them.
If you want to increase your profit, the best way to do so is to create your own product. If you are interested in this, take the time to research what you could do. There are so many ideas out in there in so many niches! From toddler activity books, cookbooks, calendars to ecourses on blog affiliate marketing and budgeting – there’s something out there that you can market. Join a blog group, ask questions and see if others may be interested. Other bloggers are so helpful!
Blog planning 101 summary
In the end, successful blog planning and management is a balancing act. Always remember the reason you started a blog and why you keep blogging as well as your goals. Believe in yourself and always, always, always plow forward. Here’s an overview to move forward in the right direction:
- Have a successful tool you use to organize your blog like The Blog Management Tool. Remember to sign up for the waiting list here for the next release if all the downloads are gone.
- Decide how often you want to release blog posts and at what time. Stick to it. Let your readers know if you are going to make changes (posting more or less). Be careful if you are planning on posting more and make sure it fits into your schedule; a.k.a. don’t set yourself up for burnout.
- Schedule your blog posts in advance. Try to have at least two months of blog posts ready to publish.
- Plan your newsletter and social media posts. Release a newsletter each time you publish a post, even if your email list only includes your mom and a couple friends. Use MailerLite to start out but if you have the income, go with ConvertKit. Add must-have opt-ins to your blog posts. Target 1-3 social media outlets and become awesome at one.
- Network. Touch base with followers and other bloggers. Schedule a set time each day to respond to blog comments, and social media messages/comments. Also, schedule time during the week for blog groups on Facebook as well as read and comment on top blogs in your niche (on their social media or blogs).
- Improve and develop. Take time monthly or quarterly to be a part of classes, read ebooks or brush up by following blog posts. Research to create a product and schedule time in to develop it. As you are working on this product, write blog posts about it to create hype and allow yourself time for the product.