One of the first things I learned as a mommy entrepreneur, was a loud and insistent lesson from my infant son. That lesson in productivity has literally been my founding principle, the thing I work on, think about, optimize, and contrive, since the day I brought him home from the hospital.
Every business owner knows that there are never enough hours in the day, and unless you’re a robot willing to work tirelessly at every waking moment, you’re going to need to master a productivity rhythm.
About a year into life as a mompreneur I noticed something surprising. I thought I was a productive person before the baby, but now, I can shove 6 hours worth of work into the 2 hours that span nap time. The work I can crank out in those 2 hours is just as high quality, just as passionate, as the work I used to be able to complete in a full day pre-baby. So what happened? What made the difference?
The simple answer is…I learned how to utilize my time better. I found tools that I can rely on, processes that cut out redundancy, and I learned to focus 100% of my energy for short periods of time.
One of the greatest tools out there, one that literally saves me hours every day, is Trello. If you’ve gotten serious about blogging, you probably already know how vital a content calendar is to the process. Originally my approach to planning content calendars was pretty standard. I had a super detailed and complicated spreadsheet which I used to plan out my topics and post dates, I had another set of files where I actually wrote the content, an Evernote account to track my ideas, a folder for images, and a LOT of totally wasted time.
Trello changed all of that for me.
I now use Trello to act as a combination content calendar/collaboration tool/scheduler/and content development tool. It has become the main organizational system for every one of the blogs I manage and offers a level of control and awareness I just haven’t been able to get from any other platform.
What Is Trello?
Trello is an organizational tool. Its a free to download, free to use web app that can be customized and appropriated in an infinite number of ways to support any project or need you can come up with. The flexibility is the exciting part. It breaks your projects down into small, manageable blocks of content that you can move around and manipulate with total freedom.
As a blogger, Trello works beautifully to first collect your ideas, plan and schedule your content, collect the media that supports each post, and most importantly, perfect the process you use to produce stellar content.
The Set Up
Trello is made up of 3 elements. “Boards”, “Lists”, and “Cards”. The “Board” is the big category of content you will be organizing. Your board could be representative of your blog for example. Each board can be populated with “Lists”. These are the divisions within your Board, and the real power of this productivity tool. Finally, “Cards” are the pieces of content that can be added, edited, and moved between the Lists.
I’m going to show you exactly how to set up Trello to manage your blog and save you time.
The idea we will be working with is that all your posts start as ideas. Simple, unrefined ideas travel through a series of steps which refine them, add to them, and mould them into the finished, publishable content.
Start by creating a Board for your project.
Once you’ve got a fresh Board set up, it’s time to create the Lists that will become the guide for your content creation process.
My Lists are:
The Ideas List is the dumping ground for your moments of inspiration. Everything that pops into your that might someday be the foundation of a great post goes here. The fantastic thing about Trello is that it allows you to put as much or as little detail into each Card as you like.
For me, this List is populated by 2 types of cards, differentiated by a Label.
Raw ideas with nothing more than a headline or statement go at the bottom of the List, and ideas that have a little more substance to them go at the top and get a Label.
If a card has a Label, this indicates that it has an outline of a full post attached to it.
When I’m ready to begin working with a post, I take the card from the Ideas List and drag it over to the Drafts List.
The Drafts List Contain only cards for posts that I am actively writing. Trello allows you to attach documents to each card, assign due dates, checklists, and even collaborators to each individual card.
Trello gives you the power to own your process. Every stage of post development has your own personal spin on it, and so should the Lists you create to manage that process. You will probably find that, as you work with the set up, your Lists will move around, change order, you might choose to add or remove a List, or rename the ones you have. That’s totally ok, and you will find that this whole thing is really a personal exercise.
Posts under the Edit List are fully written articles which need to be edited for readability, spelling, grammar, and personality.
Once a post passes the edit tests, if moves onto the next phase of production.
Because of the way Trello is set up, it makes it very easy to “batch” your posts. Meaning, you can work on the same type of tasks for lots of different projects, all at the same time. Do all your edits together, do all your images together, and save yourself a lot the time it takes to switch tasks.
Cards in this List still require images. Once the images have been attached to the Card, it gets moved to the next List.
The final stop of each article, before being published, is the Queue List. Completed posts sit here until they are ready to be loaded into the blog and scheduled for publishing. Keeping posts at this level in an easy to see format allows you to make on the fly content changes to your editorial calendar.
Once a post has been published, It shouldn’t simply go away. Recycled content is one of the keys to successful blogging. Once published, posts should go into rotation to be re-published, and revisited to continue to bring you traffic.
Your blog and your content development process take time to build, and they change as you change. Get started with a system like this, and let it evolve to support your unique style.