So as I admitted in Monday’s post, (in case you hadn’t already figured it out) I’m a bit of an organization geek, so today I’m sharing my blog planner for this year. My previous blog organization has consisted of a monthly calendar with posts and deadlines filled in hanging on my studio wall, and a running to do list that remains on my desk at all times. On the to-do list I’ve gotten in the habit of putting a star next to 2-5 things to accomplish in a day (depending on how much time I knew I’d have) and focusing on crossing those things out.
I recently read Ruth Soukup’s ebook How to Blog for Profit (Without Selling Your Soul) (affiliate link) and was inspired to make a custom blog planner like she does. I liked a lot of what she had, but I also knew I needed to customize for my own organizational habits. So, I pulled up InDesign and made a bunch of my own pages, then like she does printed card stock front and back covers and had the covers laminated and the whole thing (all 166 pages of it!) spiral bound at Kinko’s. It cost me $8 and will hopefully take me through the year.
So what’s inside? Well, for each month I have a page for major goals for the month. At the bottom of that page I have a place to list out all the projects I need to sew and work related to my patterns. Limiting myself to 3 site improvements only has proved useful, because sometimes I get into tweaking my site and that can be a total time suck. And reminding myself to connect with people helps me compose those emails related to projects and/or business goals that I keep putting off.
I followed that with a calendar page to plan out my posts – which is what I’ve always used – and a lined page to keep my running to do list for things that don’t fall under the category of writing blog posts or sewing.
Since I tend to post 5 times a week and send out a newsletter, I made my weekly planner pages reflect that. I put in a checklist for the common steps I follow for each blog post, and also checkboxes to make sure I shared it on some social media. I’m playing with that part – I may decide I want to add to/take away from the particular social media I listed. When I’m sharing a post that isn’t actually sewing, I just substitute “Project made” for “project sewn”. I printed the weekly post planning pages for each week – these are what take up the bulk of my planner.
Because I know I’ll be going to a few conferences this year, I also added blank pages in the relevant months for notes from the conference.
Another of my goals this year is to be more strategic in my advertising for my patterns, as well as to keep a record of relevant stats. It’s nice to look back on those things, which I already do in Google Analytics – but I want to be more intentional about it. I track my income through Outright software, but I don’t really look at their month-to-month stats and charts. So I want to look more clearly at where income is coming from and how much, and where I’m spending it in advertising to be more strategic overall with my business. I hope the monthly tracking page I added at the end of each month will help me with that. Delving in, if you will.
To fill in my lovely book, I started with a big sheet of my drafting paper and a bunch of colored markers, then went into an old fashioned bubble brainstorming session. I received Steal Like an Artist: 10 Things Nobody Told You About Being Creative (affiliate link) and one of the things he advocates is making sure to bring your body into your work. While I love the digital world, there’s just no substitute for analog when it comes to creativity. And I get more ideas spilling into ideas when I’m physically writing – with pretty colored markers! – than if I’m listing things on a computer screen.
After my bubble brainstorming, I took another day and then have started to fill in my calendars and posts for the year. I’m up through March already with planning – hopefully now I can execute in a timely manner.
I hope I can work smarter instead of harder this year because I really, really, really want more scheduled time off – just to be able to have free time with all my boys when they’re home. This past year has been really hard in that regard since I’ve needed to work mostly when my husband was home so he could watch the boys. Which kind of meant that whenever they were all free I wasn’t. I got better about taking Fridays mostly off this fall, just due to the necessity of football season, so my new goal is to have a weekend day off each week at least – I want to delve into fun with my family just as deeply as I’m delving into work during the week.
So, I hope this insight into my organization helps. And if you’re looking at my pages and you think to yourself, “Eureka! This is EXACTLY what I need to start doing my own planning!” you’re welcome to print my pages from here.