Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Blog Planner (with Free Printables)

Organization makes me happy. I love having everything all tidied up and pretty. So I knew that if I wanted to make my blog plans for 2014 happen, the first thing I'd have to do is get myself organized.

I started using the Blog Planner a little bit last year, but it didn't quite work the way I wanted it to. I hopped back into Publisher and busted out a new Month-at-a-Glance Sheet and redesigned the way the binder will be used. Let me take you for a tour. Along the way, I'll give you a few freebie files so you can make your own blog planning binder.

The first page in the binder is my To Do List. (We'll come back to the stuff in the pocket later.) I'm using my To Do List to keep track of my progress on blog projects that have been planned, but not scheduled to a specific day. That way I make sure I don't forget about them. Right now, I have designing a new cleaning schedule for our family and reorganizing my meal planning process among the items on that list.

After the to do list is a spiral notebook. I love me a spiral notebook. To be honest, I just love office supplies. Binders, folders, spirals, pens, paper...oh my. My two favorite stores in the world (other than scrapbook supply and fabric stores)? Staples and The Container Store. 

I know I'll end up using this spiral for quite a few plans, but right now it's my planning organizer for the items I want to get done in the house, sorted by room. These are projects that I want to complete and use for blog items. For instance, my list for the scrapbook room includes purging supplies, reorganizing my paper scraps, and sorting my memorabilia. This way I make sure to attack each specific item and document them while I get things completed.

After the spiral comes my favorite part of the binder, my new Month-at-a-Glance Planner.
Month-at-a-Glance Planner
The Month-at-a-Glance has the names of all the planned posts so that I don't forget anything I have specifically in mind for a particular month. It will also help me remember what day I'm planning on having a particular post published. This way I can start getting ahead on blog posts instead of feeling like I have to sit down and write them the day I am planning on putting them up. Much better, because right now I still have a small handful of drafts that have been forgotten along the way.

When I finish a post, I can mark it as scheduled in the bottom check box for that day. On the day of publishing, the planner reminds me to post to all of my social media sites in order to get the most traffic directed to each post as possible.

The Blog Post Planner is the meat of the Blog Planner. Without it, the rest wouldn't work nearly as well.

Blog Post Planner
The Blog Post Planner is a more detailed and individualized version of the Month-at-a-Glance. This is where I can make notes to myself about what I want to specifically include in each post, as well as where I got each idea (in case I used a project I pinned to Pinterest as inspiration).

I used this part of the binder last year, but without the Month-at-a-Glance to keep things organized by the month, all of my posts were jumbled and it made it difficult to find each one easily. Now they're kept in order by date that they will be published. I'll show you how I'm adding in unplanned posts a little later...

A lot of posts have a project and those projects take individual planning. The next item in the binder - the Project Planner - keeps me on track.

Project Planner
I can use the Project Planner to keep track of all the supplies I need to buy and what pictures I should be taking as I make each item. I've had a tendency to get finished with a craft project just to realize that the only picture I have is the end. That makes creating a blog tutorial a LOT more difficult. This way, I can track the fabrication of each project by individualized steps and check them off as I go. Again, I have a spot to note the source of my inspiration. I think it's very important to note your sources. Original creativity is great, but a lot of times the best products come from ideas that grew out of projects made by others. It's only fair to give them a little credit along the way.

Remember that stuff in the front pocket of the binder? Along with scrap paper I add when I write down project ideas without the binder handy, I have a series of pre-printed labels stored up front. These are for my unscheduled posts. Most of the time, these unscheduled posts fall into some particular categories, so I've made up labels to be ready to go for them.

BOTY Labels
I never know when I'll finish a good book that warrants a review. This way, I just write the book and the author down on the label along with the date the post is planned and then stick it into the Blog Post Planner portion of the binder in between the posts that proceed and follow. It helps me remember to schedule the publishing as well as track my social media.

Same goes for posts about food...

Recipe Labels
And scrapbooking posts...
Project Life Labels
Speaking of scrapbooking posts, I use a planner for my Project Life as well. It's stored in the same binder and helps me track what we did on specific days and aids me in pre-planning my layouts.

Want to see more of this and get a free printable to use yourself? Head on over to my post about my Project Life Planner and get yourself a little more organized.

And there you have it! All nice and tidy and ready to roll. I have my Month-at-a-Glance planners all filled out and ready to tackle the monthly themes for 2014. Now it's time to dive in and start planning those individual posts. It should be a good year.

All of the planners I've shown you on this page (with the exception of the Project Life Planner - which is featured on another post) can be printed for free by clicking the links by each corresponding picture. Enjoy!

The planning and organizing for January continues in a few days. I'll be working over the next couple of weeks to reorganize my craft supplies after the mess that came from December's crafting. I'll be sharing my progress with you soon. Happy planning!


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