A little while ago I wrote about my essential tools for running my blog. In that post, I briefly mentioned how I use a bullet journal to keep my blog organised. Today I thought I would share how I use my bullet journal to manage my blog.
One of the things I love about bullet journals is how you can use them to keep track of projects. The bullet journal system makes it easy to connect ideas through your notebook. If you’ve never tried bullet journaling before you should check out the official website or read the book.
The bullet journal system works because it helps you log and track tasks and notes. Part of this system is based around the idea of collections. This is a series of tasks and notes related to one topic. In this case, I have a collection for my blog. Everything relevant to my blog falls within this collection. Using collections makes it easy to find any relevant pages in your bullet journal.
But its not good enough to keep track of this data. The bullet journal system is set up in such a way where you define your goals for a project. Then through the tasks and notes work on things which help you achieve those goals. Through the rapid logging system, you’re constantly looking back on tasks you still have to work on. You can then decide if these tasks are still relevant or can be deleted. This is useful because it challenges you to work towards your goal or reevaluate those aims.
One of the great things about bullet journal collections is that they can be customised to how you work. This means that your collection will be different from anyone else’s. In this post, I’ve shared some bullet journal spreads which I use to track my blog. But this is an example of what you could do. These spreads can be customised to create something which works for you.
How I Use A Bullet Journal To Manage My Blog
Long Term Plan
If you have a blog its always a good idea to have a long term plan. When I’m setting up a bullet journal spread for my blog one of the first pages will be a long term plan. These long term goals don’t have to be groundbreaking. For example, mine is to make enough money from my blog to cover all the fees which come from running a blog.
One of the things I learned from The Bullet Journal Method is that you should do more than set out a long term goal. You need to define why you want to achieve this goal and how you’re going to do it. I use the 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, method which I found in the book. For this, I set out my 5-year goal. Then I set out mid-term goals, ones I want to achieve in 2 days, 3 weeks and 4 months. These mid-term goals are things which feed into that long term goal.
Part of this method is also setting out goals which could be achieved in the next hour. You write out some simple tasks, usually ones you’ve been putting off. Which you could do in the next hour that will help you achieve that long term goal.
This long term plan spread doesn’t have to be complicated. It’s possible to make something artistic. You may want to do this because you should refer to these pages. To remind you of what your long term aims are or update them if circumstances change. But I prefer a more minimal style of planning in my bullet journal so this spread is quite simple.
Goal Setting & Tracking
— It should be noted that I am using ad impressions as an example of how you can set and track goals. Display ads are not the best way to make revenue and most of the numbers I give in this section are speculative. —
Now that you have your long term plan you have to set your goals and how they will be tracked. For example, my long term goal is to make enough money to cover my maintenance fees. I need to go work out what this number is. Say its £300 per year. I then need to go figure out how many ad impressions I need to achieve this goal.
So it works out that I need 1 million ad impressions in a year to make that £300 goal. Those ad impressions work out to 500,000 views. So I need to get 500,000 views on my blog over the full year. I can then work back from that and figure out how many views I need each month and each day to achieve that goal. So I need 40,000 views per month and about 1300 views per day to make that £300 goal.
Now that I have the numbers set out for my long term plan I can start looking at my midterm goals. These smaller goals help you keep on track with the long term plan. How many views should my blog be getting in the first year which will feed into that long term plan. This is all still speculation. But in this example I’ve set out that for 2020 I want to get 40,000 over the full year. I will then break this down into how many views I want per month and per day.
I will make these same calculations for year 2, 3 and 4. All these midterm goals feed into that bigger long term plan. I have a spreadsheet on my computer which compares these numbers to my actual blog stats. But I also have a table in my bullet journal which does the same thing. Once I’ve set out the goals I then compare them to my actual blog stats. There is no point setting out clearly defined goals if you can’t check that you’re staying on track.
I’ve chosen to focus on my year one goal. This spread is very similar to my blog stats spread which I will mention further down the post. It’s possible to combine this goal-setting layout with your blog stats. But I’ve chosen to keep them separate because I track my goals using my full-year stats.
Once I’ve figured out long term plan and how I’m going to track those goals. I need to figure out how I’m going to achieve those goals. In this example, I decided to start doing keyword research. I don’t have a specific layout for this section. I would describe it more as a series of notes. But this is what I like about the bullet journal system. I can take notes down, but as I’m doing this I can start noting tasks I want to do which relate to these notes.
I start by brainstorming keywords which relate to my blog’s niche. So stationery. I then go on to find more keywords which relate to that niche. If you want to learn more about keyword research this post is really good. [that Reddit post]. Once I have keywords I can start coming up with ideas for blog posts which target those keywords.
This is the point where I start tracking specific keywords and blog posts which target them. Sometimes I have ideas for multiple blog posts which target the same keyword. But it’s a good idea to not write multiple posts for the same keyword because it will hurt your SEO.
The rapid logging system works well for this. Just because I can’t use an idea in its current form doesn’t mean I can’t use it at all. I note down all the ideas I have. Ones which relate to keywords and any other ideas for keywords which I could go on to research.
Once I’ve started coming up with ideas for blog posts I can write down any notes which relate to those posts. So maybe one post idea could link to something I’ve already written. Or maybe I have an idea which could work better as a series of posts on a similar subject.
Like I said before I don’t have a specific spread for these types of notes. Though I do try and keep it organised. I do this using colour coding and specific bullet journal icons. I mark anything which is important. If there is something I want to do I note it down as a task. Any ideas which I want to turn into full posts are highlighted.
Once I have a concrete idea for a blog post I will then migrate this into my blog post tracker. I’ll talk about this more further down the post.
I like having a spread in my bullet journal which tracks my blog stats. I’ve seen examples where the stats tracker is incoporated into the monthly set up. But, I find its better to have one bullet journal spread which tracks your stats for the full year. This makes it much easier to compare stats month to month.
The exact things you want to track might change depending on your long term goals. It can also change depending on where you blog and how traffic is measured. Google Analytics will have slightly different traffic numbers compared to WordPress.com.
I’ve found it a good idea to track my views and visitors. This is important because this is one of the numbers I have set concrete goals for. I will also measure how many views per visitor and the number of posts I uploaded within a single month. It’s useful to have this extra data along with the views and visitors.
I like using a minimal layout for my bullet journal stats. This is something I’ve been using for a few years now and I’ve found it works well for me. I have my spread set up the same way in my bullet journal and in a spreadsheet on my computer. This makes it easy to transfer data from one to the other because both spreadsheets are the same.
You don’t need to have this spread saved in a spreadsheet as well as in your bullet journal. But it is much easier if you want to refer to past years. Rather than looking through old bullet journals. It is much easier to refer to one spreadsheet which stores all your data.
Blog Post Tracker
My blog post tracker is another spread which I keep a copy of on a spreadsheet as well as in my bullet journal. Rather than writing one post a week, I plan out all my blog posts in advance and write the posts in bulk. This makes my post tracker spread essential when it comes to staying organised with my blog.
This spread is another simple layout. On this, I keep track of all the posts I want to write. I don’t have specific dates I want to upload posts. The order of my blog posts can change and I use my editorial calendar to keep track of this. But I always try to write blog posts in the order they appear in this spread. It can be easy for me to ignore certain ideas because I think others will be easier to write.
This blog post tracker is split into multiple columns. I have the title of the blog post, though this could change as I’m writing the post. Sometimes its easier to note down the topic of the post instead. I then note down which keyword I will be targeting. After that, I have specific tasks which need to be done to finish the post. So writing, grammar check, taking photos, SEO etc.
I will also track if the post has been scheduled. Though this isn’t as useful because sometimes I will schedule a post before it completed. I can do this because I use the blog post tracker. It doesn’t matter which order I finish my tasks so long as they are complete before the post goes live.
I don’t like having a complicated editorial calendar in my bullet journal because it can change a lot. If I do have some sort of editorial calendar I will pencil in the posts which I have planned out.
This can still be a useful spread. Especially for planning out in advance. If I decide I want to do a series of posts over a week. Or try some sort of post everyday challenge an editorial calendar can be useful. I need to highlight the fact that this spread is only for planning out when my posts go live.
I use spreadsheets and a few other tools to manage my actual editorial calendar. The one which shows all my scheduled blog posts and when they will go live.
It sounds strange to have a bullet journal spread to plan my editorial calendar. But this is what works for me. The actual design of this spread can vary. Sometimes it depends on if I want to integrate this spread with my monthly log. Or if I want it to be separate.
Even then the design of the calendar will change depending on how I lay out my monthly log. With a more traditional planner layout, I have more space for each day. I might decide to write out blog posts on sticky tabs rather than writing it down in my notebook. This means its easier to move posts around while I’m planning out my schedule.
The editorial schedule and blog post tracker are my two most used bullet journal spreads. These help me keep my blog organised. I keep both of these spreads saved on my computer as well as in my bullet journal. The digital versions make it easier to reference when I’m looking back. But the bullet journal versions help me plan out the work I need to do to keep my blog running.
Wow, this post ended up going way more in-depth than I intended. I hope this gives you a good idea of how I use my bullet journal to manage my blog. As you will have been able to see from this post. Its a little more complicated than writing a few blog posts.
The thing I love about the bullet journal system is how it helps you set out goals. Then figure out the steps needed to achieve those goals. I find its much better knowing what my end blogging goals should be. Rather than posting something every week with no long term aims.
You will notice that my actual bullet journal spreads are very minimal. I don’t like doing a lot of art journaling in my bullet journal. Though this is acceptable. I like the way I use my bullet journal but you’re more than free to adapt these spreads into a version which works for you.