[This post is part of the 12 Days of Systems Challenge brought to you by Val Geisler of aspire&grow. If you want to get a handle on your systems and processes in 2015, get signed up for Systems Finishing School today. If you’re just getting started, scope out Brittany’s post from yesterday.]
Here’s a not-so-shocker for ya: copywriters write a lot.
I’m talking: (Brilliant) blog posts. Pristinely polished client work. Cute social media snippets. And (sometimes, if I’ve consumed a lot of caffeine), the occasional newsletter or sales email. (Seriously guys, if you could see my RescueTime summary + witness yourself just how much time I spend creating content, you might cry. Ugly style.)
Now don’t get me wrong. I loooove writing (obvs). That’s why I have, you know, decided to make it my livelihood.
(Yep, that’s one BIG but, and I cannot lie.)
The fact that my day-to-day requires soooo much content creation means I’ve had to get really intentional and serious about how I organize my content ideas AND structure my time so I can get it all done (without wanting to rip my hair out). (I paid a lot for this hyper-blonde ‘do.)
Enter, Trello and Google Calendar.
Okay, so here’s the thing: As a copywriter, I’m equally left- and right-brained, so any system I follow in my biz has to work for both my super logical, organized side and my creative-go-with-the-flow side. And for this particular system, I also needed a way to track myriad content types – my client projects, my blog posts and the other premium content I create (e-books, worksheets, you name it) – and their deadlines.
I’ve experimented with tons of different systems for content creation (I’m a total app junkie – kinda like an adrenaline junkie but way dorkier. I’ll try anything once!), but I’ve never found one “thing” that could “do it all.”
Luckily, I’m hella resourceful and over time, I’ve been able to create and refine a system that works juuuust perfectly for me.
Today, I’m going to peel back the curtain + share the self-created system I use to maintain my hectic content creation schedule, complete with action steps you can take to create your own.
I know not everyone’s business requires creating content for clients and your own biz, but most (if not all) online entrepreneurs put together some kind of content on the regular, so I think everybody can glean something from this. (And BTW, content is totally not limited to blogs or client work. It can really mean anything from vlogs to social media posts – whatever your unique business requires.)
Ready for a peek at how I wrangle my content creation with trello and google calendar?
First of all, I keep my editorial calendar on Trello. If you don’t know about/haven’t tried Trello, oooh girl, you’re in for a treat! This visually appealing little app is amazing – and it’s my absolute favorite way to keep track of content I’m creating for my own business.
Here’s how it works: Trello’s entire interface is made up of various “Boards.” You can create a fresh Board for whatever project you’re working on. And then, within each board, you create various Lists with “Cards” (essentially, To Do’s/Tasks) underneath each list. Each “Card” can then include things like a due date, a colored “label” and other information, such as links to Google Drive (if that’s where you happen to draft your blog posts, for example).
Here’s what my Content Creation Editorial Calendar Board looks like behind-the-scenes:
In case you can’t see the image or it’s not clear, I have the following lists on my board:
- Blog Post Writing – This list includes posts I’m currently writing. (Which, at the moment, is this one.)
- Guest Post Writing – Same idea as the first category, except for guest posts
- Coming Up – This list is reserved for blog ideas that I know I want to write in the next month. (I try to blog twice a month, so I usually keep this list topped up with at least two ideas ready-to-roll.)
- Premium Content – Similar to “Coming Up,” this is where I list any premium content I want to create over the next month.
- Blog Ideas – This is the end-all, be-all of my blog idea collection. I think it’s super important to keep all of your ideas in one place. And thanks to Trello’s easy drag-n-drop, I can arrange them in any way that makes sense to me. (Higher priority posts on top, lower priority posts on bottom, lumped by category – you name it!)
- Premium Content Ideas (not pictured) – This list didn’t make the shot, but this is my master list for premium content. I brain dump everything here I want to create – even if I’m not sure if I’ll ever get to it.
Here’s why I love Trello for my ed calendar and you should, too:
- Prettiness: It’s nice to look at. (And that makes my right brain all kindsa happy.)
- Drag-and-Drop Feature: One of the main reasons I got into biz was to have more freedom in how I work, so I love that you can easily drag “Cards”from list to list. If I decide I don’t want to write a particular blog post that month, I can send it back to the “Ideas” List and pull another one into the “Coming Soon” list. No biggie!
- Due Dates + Labels: Each “Card” (or piece of content) can include Notes, Due Dates and Labels that easily tell you where you are in the process for each project. (I often use colored labels like, “Draft,” “Ready to Publish,” etc.)
- Calendar feature: Wanna see all your blog post due dates in one spot? Trello’s “Monthly View” allows you to see your entire month at-a-glance – which is awesome if you need that visual. (I know I do!) You can also drag-and-drop them and move them around to suit your fancy.
Action Step 1: Create An Editorial Calendar on Trello
- Sign up for a free account over at Trello.com. It should take like, 30 seconds.
- Create a new board called “Editorial Calendar” (or whatever you like!)
- Create lists for each category of content you create in your business. Feel free to swipe my lists above as a starting point. You might also want to add categories like: Vlog Outlines, Promotional Emails/Newsletters, etc.
- Create appropriate cards under each list to house your tasks and ideas for that category.
- Color code your cards as applicable – Maybe a Draft post is blue, and a Ready-to-Schedule post is red. You get the idea.
- Watch your life transform. (And save yourself some serious stress!)
Now this is where it gets fun: I also have an “ideal schedule” set up in Google Calendar that allows me to “insert” items from my Editorial Calendar onto my actual calendar so that I, you know, actually get them done. Honestly guys, I keep everything in my Google Calendar – mani/pedis and business meetings alike. It’s easiest for me to not compartmentalize things and I feel like keeping alla my “To Do’s” In one place gives me a better sense of the overall picture of my life – so I know when I’m overbooking or stretching myself too thin.
Here’s a look at my ideal schedule, if you’re curious:
My ideal schedule is the same every week and has “chunks” of time blocked off for specific must-do activities in my business – all content creation included. I update this bad boy every Sunday with the specific projects I need to work on that week. When I’m ready to do this, I’ll pop open both Trello and Google Calendar and decide when I’m going to write each piece of content. Usually this means pulling 1 blog post idea and 1 premium content idea into that week’s schedule.
For example: The “Share Daily Message” and “Content Creation + Blog Posts” time slots are specifically for working on items from my Editorial Calendar. On Sunday, I’ll check whatever is in the “Coming Up” column and insert the name of that blog post into the Event Name for that day (i.e., “Content Creation + Blog Posts” becomes “Blog Post: 5 Sexy Sales Page Strategies” or “Content Creation: Newsletter”). I don’t include the due dates for these posts on my Google Calendar – that’s what Trello’s calendar is for. “Client Work” is filled in (usually weeks in advance) with the name of the particular client(s) I’m working with that week.
I love this because it means that at any point during the week, I can just glance at my Google Calendar to see everything I need to create that day.
But the best part for me – once again – is Google Calendar’s ability to drag-n-drop different events. This makes swapping things around easy breezy. If I decide I don’t feel like writing that blog post on Tuesday, I can easily drag it over to Friday and trade spots with Friday’s Client Work. Ta-da!
Action Step 2: Schedule Content Creation Time in Google Calendar
- Create an Ideal Schedule: I created mine with the help of my business mentor and it’s fucking fabulous. We took into account my energy levels and natural creative ebbs and flows. Of course, since this is an “ideal” schedule, it changes some weeks, depending on what is actually going on in my business, but I start with this baseline schedule each week. (This could probably be a post of its own, so don’t fret if it feels overwhelming. Start with a general outline and you can work it out organically from there.)
- Move items from your Editorial Calendar to your Google Calendar each week: I’ve dedicated Sunday afternoons to scheduling social media and creating my content schedule for the following week.
- Revel in the flexibility. Like I said, you can also move items around on Google Calendar simply by clicking and dragging. If I decide to move tasks, I’ll keep the amount of hours allotted the same so everything still gets done – just not necessarily during it’s “ideal schedule” time slot.
Will this work for everybody?
I think the thing about any “system” is that they must be personal. There’s no one tool or app that will work flawlessly for every business model or every business owner’s personality. But I do think that experimenting with a system like this and then making tweaks over time to make it your own is a wonderful place to start!
Your Turn! //
Okay ladies, I’ve shared my secret content creation system and now I’m turning it over to you. Do you have a particular system, tool or app you use to manage the content you create for your business? Do us all a solid and share your systems in the comments! If not, go ahead + give this one a try and tell us about your experiences. Curious minds wanna know!