Juggling regular blog posts with a full-time job, professional qualifications and a life (!) means that planning, organisation and scheduling are non-negotiable. We all have our different ways of managing our time effectively but I get asked soooo much how I plan my content and what my top organisation tips are that I thought I'd do a proper post dedicated to the topic.
The Basic Steps
As soon as an idea pops into my head, I make a note of it on my phone and when I get home I create a draft post with my initial thoughts (often this is literally just a list of products to include in it). I have a blog schedule and post 3 times a week: Tuesday is a general beauty post with skincare or makeup, Thursday is something more focused like a review or haul and Sunday is for lifestyle content. This gives me a starting point for generating new ideas and of course there's always seasonal content if you're lacking in inspiration.
I then create a calendar entry (more on that in a minute) for in a few weeks when I think I will have developed the idea into a complete post. It doesn't have to be a solid commitment (in fact, I end up moving things around a good 80% of the time) and can always be bumped back, but having it in my planner keeps it in sight for me.
I pretty much always write my posts before photographing them but everyone has their own approach to this. I often write on the train, offline, before copying and pasting the words into Blogger and formatting everything.
I keep a little box of props I can just grab and go with. As it's winter and I obviously work, I take my photos in bulk on the weekend. I generally go for lazy Sundays and my ideal light is between 9am and 1pm in the best-lit area of the house.
I pretty much always edit my photos as soon as possible after taking them and go through them chronologically to ensure I don't miss anything. When I save the finished version to an external hard drive (a must unless you enjoy waiting half an hour for your laptop to start up), I always re-name after the posts title so I can find it later. It's also handy to create folders e.g. Beauty, Lifestyle, Travel or sort things by year just to keep things tidy.
I schedule my posts to go out on specific dates at a consistent time.
7. A Final Proof-Read
Usually over the weekend, I will proof-read all of the posts I have going out for the coming week. I'm sure a few typos still slip through the net but I find that right after I've written a post is the worst time to check for mistakes! I am so used to reading the words that my brain sees what I meant as opposed to what I've actually written, so I always give myself some distance from the post before coming back to it.
Tools of the Trade
I create every one of my posts as an event in my calendar, which I can then access from my phone, tablet or laptop. It gives me a clear view of what's coming up and I can see if I have two posts that are a bit similar scheduled back to back so I can swap things round to build in some variety. It also allows me to plan my photography because I also put personal stuff in my calendar (in a different colour, so I can filter to one, the other or both) so I can see when I'm going to be busy or away and can plan to take my photos for an upcoming post a bit sooner. It also gives me the flexibility of being able to pick things up and move them around without the need for lots of rubbing out or tip-exing.
I do actually also use a physical planner as well. I actually got this one from FeelUnique for Christmas and also purchased extra stickers from Etsy (which you can buy here and here). This is not a bullet journal - I did look into that (after reading dozens of posts on them that didn't actually explain the concept, someone finally linked this video explaining them) but for me it overcomplicated things and tries to solve a problem I didn't think I had. All I needed was a way of tracking where I was and a traditional diary did the job, I just added in some extras to make it more visual.
I have the 'Blog Post' stickers on each day I have something scheduled and use pink for beauty posts and green for lifestyle. I pop in a note when I've received something in the post from a PR contact and cross it out once I've emailed them to let them know it has arrived (more on managing PR enquiries later!) I also have stickers that say 'to photograph' which I put on my photography day and list all the shots I need to take then underneath. I have 'to email' stickers, which I put under any posts that contain press samples so I remember to send the link across to my contact. I have a few other random stickers I use to designate other little jobs I have to get done but I also find the social media stickers really useful - underneath each post I add the sticker once I've shared the post on each channel so I know where I'm up to.
This is a really handy app one of my colleagues introduced me to. You can create different to-do lists with tasks on them and set alerts for a specific time so you're notified when you have a little job that needs doing and you can tick it off once it's done. It's really great if you're on the go.
I'd say emails are definitely my major point of improvement when it comes to blogging, partly because there's soooo much rubbish that comes through, it's hard to sift through it all and partly because I answer emails all day at work so it's not hugely appealing when I get home... However I operate a system: if it looks spammy (e.g. trying to sell you 'SEO expertise' or 'guest posts' or trying to get you to join something random) then I delete, if it's not addressed to me specifically then I don't feel the need to reply to every single mass press release email (I will only come back to them if it's of interest, which I think is what they expect) and if it is directed towards me, I save it in a folder called 'Need to Reply'. I try to reply to everything in that folder at least twice a week.
Dealing with PR
This kind of deserves its own little section because it's often quite a big part of what we do as bloggers. I always try to manage expectations when it comes to press samples; firstly, whilst I'd never accept a product I had no intention of featuring, products are sent for consideration so whilst I will always give an update on products I've willingly accepted I don't *have* to review every single one (or I'd do nothing else). I always say there's going to be at least 30 days before I'd post on something (2 weeks to test, 2 weeks to create the content), longer for products that need it like skincare.
I photograph each individual product I receive and note it in my planner under the date it arrived so I know exactly what I have and when I received it. After I've started testing it, if it seems promising I then look at my calendar and consider where it might fit in. If it's relevant to a post I have coming up then I'll add it to the list of products I'll be putting in it (i.e. my draft post) or if it seems to warrant it's own post or triggers an idea for a new one then I'll pop that into the calendar.
Sometimes stuff just doesn't go to plan! Whether it's a random occasion coming up on the weekend you were going to take some photos or you accidentally forgot to take an important shot, it always helps to have a backup plan. I keep a few stock photos (e.g. a cosy-looking shot of some products, a magazine and a notebook) in my arsenal because I can easily write a lifestyle post on a variety of topics with that as the generic image. I also have a few shots of some of my favourite products on hand because they can easily be adapted into a post (e.g. a photo of the products that are in my skincare tub right now could be made into 'My Top 10 Skincare Products of the Moment') or you can just upload them to Instagram as exclusive content if you don't end up using them.
I really hope this has been useful and clear and has answered some of your questions, however if you want to know anything else then do comment below!
What are your top tips for organising and planning your blog content?