When we talk about developing a business like a blog our focus should always be on our reader’s experience. It is by far one of the most important aspects of our brand. A strong reader experience will bring your reader back, and increase the frequency that they will share your work with friends and family. However, to get to that point there are a lot of little things along the way that we need to take care of. And this is why you need a killer workflow as a blogger.
You may be starting out blogging as a hobby and now want to build a business around it, or maybe you are a photographer showcasing your amazing work online. Or perhaps you are a Mom (or Dad) who wants to work from home to be there for their kids as I do. Whatever reason you are coming at blogging with, there is going to be a bunch of little details and organizational stuff that will impact how you function.
Picture this, inspiration hits and you madly start typing away on the keyboard. Your so excited, the post seems perfect that when you are done typing you just go ahead and hit publish. About a week later you are wondering to yourself “hmmm… why isn’t that post doing so well in my analytics?” And when you go back to check on the post it’s self you realize you missed some key things (like Pins for Pinterest), or even photos and art in the post its self… and you definitely didn’t edit or proofread that one…. yup, I’ve been there and done that, bought the t-shirt. It was my first ever post, and while I can claim ignorance as a newbie these days I wouldn’t let myself get away with that.
Whether you are just starting to blog, or are an experienced entrepreneur, having a workflow that works for you will help prevent mistakes or missed opportunities in the path to growing your business. The question usually becomes more of a “how do I build a workflow?” as opposed to “Do I need a Workflow?”.
So where do we get started?
First – Break down your process into sections or areas
This would be every step of the way that you need to do something.
So for my blog posts workflow, I have
– SEO & Research
This tells me that for each post I write I have to look at these areas and DO something with it. Of course, you can and should also go a bit higher level with your blog as well, and section out your blog tasks & to-do into the bigger picture of the blog itself, and then break each of those down further at some point.
Second – List all the “little” To-Do’s”
Below each section, you are going to want to list every task you handle. Things like your Keyword, and LongTail Keywords, types of Monetizing you want to work with or incorporate in your blog. This is where you get into the details of how much research and how many words you write per post, or where you look for art or what you need to take your own photos. Anything and everything you do needs to find a spot if you are unsure of where a task fits drop it in a “miscellaneous” column for now and come back to it.
Many people (myself included) find it helpful to have this list with them as they work through the tasks, that way as you do something you can just write it down. This part of the process can be time-consuming and more than a little tedious, but it is very worth it.
You may even want to list out things that you are not doing now that you would like to do in the future. Like adding your new post to a weekly newsletter for your subscribers.
Third – Decide how you will track your workflow
There are three ways the Senior Level Executives I’ve worked with have tracked their productivity and time management (aka Workflows) Digital, Pen and Paper or Combo.
Digital – there are many different ways you can track essentially anything including your blog’s workflow online these days. And many of us find it helpful to be able to check where things are at on the go with apps or site logins. I personally track all my workflows (blogging, work and home related) through Trello.com. I find having various boards for different sections of what I do helpful in a multitude of ways including keeping me focused on what I’m doing as I work on something.
If you are setting up a digital system I would plan accordingly in order to set up the account completely and get yourself on track instead of piecing it together as you go. You may find down the road you want other functions in the flow that was not accommodated for and it can take a bit to adapt the systems if you are not familiar with them. However, if you need you can always access my Free Resource Library to get started with my Beginners Blogging Workflows, just copy the boards using the included instructions in the boards to get started.
Pen and Paper – If you are heading this route I recommend setting up a printable checklist based on what you outlined in the first and second steps. You will want to be able to print a copy for each job or section and keep it easily accessible for reference as you work. I’ve seen some pretty cool binders and filing systems come out of people who work primarily in Pen and Paper including one Executive that is a huge fan of Bullet Journaling and uses a dutch door system so he doesn’t have to re-write the tasks every week.
Pen and Paper based workflows are often the simplest to implement but can be challenging to see where everything is as it progresses through growth. It can also create some additional expense in the form of supplies needed and time required to sort through the papers.
The Combo – Most people I’ve worked with are either Pen and Paper or Digital type people. However a small percentage are combo type people, and I have to admit I fall squarely into this group myself. I love my digital track for the ease of use and accessibility, but I’m also a bit of a stationary junky and I collect notebooks and pens to a degree that drives my husband nuts when he finds them.
Figuring out a Combo system is something not many people want to do, and that is ok. It means having information in 2 spots which can be distracting and somewhat stressful for some people. However, if this type of system works for you over time you will find a system that takes the best of Digital and the best of Pen and Paper and marries them together.
For instance, I keep my templates as cards in Trello. When I sit down to write a new post (such as the one you are reading now) I just copy the template card into my “working drafts” list and start working through the checklists from top to bottom checking things off as I go. Then once the post is ready for editing I print it out & proof it & edit it, update the draft and hit publish. Easy Peasy, But I keep a weekly list in my Bullet Journal that shows what I expect to accomplish that week for the blog (you can see how I do that in my post – Smart Goals, How I set up and use Smart Weekly Goals) where I give myself the flexibility to arrange and plan out the big stuff that needs doing.
Even when I’m at work during the day I keep my Work Trello Board open so I can track various projects, and tasks I’m handling from each executive. Yet I still reference my weekly spread in my bullet journal which stays open on my desk all day as well.
How will a workflow impact your business?
So now that you have the basics of a workflow in place how will this change your business?
Well in all honesty if you follow the flow you will be able to efficiently and effectively serve each and every reader that comes to you with a consistent and helpful experience. This, in turn, will result in more frequent visits from the same reader and in a likelihood a loyal subscriber that will even buy from you.
What is left to do now is to customize your workflow. It will get to the point that you know and understand the timeframe for each task and start to pre-schedule them. Every time you do research and SEO development for a post, you will know exactly how long you need to spend time on that task to write a good post. And every time you need fresh photos and write new descriptions on pins you will know how much time you need to set aside.
This helps not only in giving you a great overview of your current availability but shows you where you can “sneak” tasks into your busy schedule. Especially if you are a work-from-home parent who is also watching little ones as you grow this business. Knowing which tasks take 15 minutes vs an hour can help you plan for getting more done in a day without sacrificing all your time with the kiddos you are there for in the first place.
This is also going to show you if you have room to tackle a new aspect of the business. Recently I’ve been working through building my Workflow Management Course I would not have been able to build an email course if I didn’t already know how much time it was going to take me to build the relevant posts and emails needed before the release.
And aside from scheduling, there will be these unique and amazing little details you are going to add to your workflow that will truly capture your reader’s attention. By systematizing the tasks you’ve already outlined you are now free to work on bringing out your personality in your blog, and that is what your readers will connect with the most. It’s letting those little pieces of our selves infuse into our writing that helps readers connect with the person behind the screen. And if you are stressing over your “to-do” list it’s rather challenging to let that personality come out and have some fun.
Why you REALLY need a Killer WorkFlow?
After years of working with a variety of Senior Level Executives, I’ve strongly come to believe that this one piece of your business will truly change how you approach everything else you do. I can speak from experience, that you will have a better grasp on how much you can actually get done, and so much more.
And I know it’s going to improve your stress levels as you navigate these intense times building your business. With that in mind, I hope you will join me in the Workflow Management Course. Where I will show you how to break down each of the steps I take when building a new blog. And I’ll be giving you access to my Free Business Resource Library. Plus an opportunity to see the system that lets me handle multiple Executives, A Blog, side business, as well as have time for my kiddo and hubby and still get dinner on the table regularly (Yes I’m nuts I know).