5 Things You Can Do Right Now To Start Your Blog

So many of us wonder how to start a blog, if it's even worth the time, etc. Well I'm here to tell you that starting a blog is worth it and it totally doesn't have to be a headache. Here are 5 things you can do right now to start your blog.

upload.png


1. Pick what you wanna blog about  

It's super important that you have a niche or a topic that you want to talk about. This helps you determine who your target market will be, how you'll brand yourself, etc. Pick your passion topic and move on to step 2. 

2. Pick out your website name

And pick out like 2 or 3 just incase. Sometimes the name we choose will be taken and it sucks. So pick 2 or 3 names you want to use. I'll admit this part can be difficult but it's what defines your blog ! Think of words that relate to your topic for example productivity/planning I picked paper and a plan. Cooking you could do two pots and a pan (LMAO!) Or something. Think outside the box and see what you come up with. 

3. Research hosts and pick your favorite  

I personally use squarespace for my domain and hosting. Others include ning, wordpress, Wix, etc. They all have different plans, costs, etc. So make sure to research a little bit. Once you find one, be sure to test your website name ideas to make sure they're available.

4. Sign up for mailchimp like now.  

Trust me when I say you're gonna want to start your email list as soon as you possibly can. Even if you're sending out a newsletter or post notifications, having a client base is super important for later down the road. Be sure to offer an incentive or a reason for signing up. Like discounts, freebies, etc.  Plus when you sign up using my code you get $30 in mailchimp credits to use if you sign up for a paid plan. Dont worry, you can stay on the free plan until you hit a certain subscriber cap! 

5. Make your social media accounts  

You'll want to have corresponding social media for your blog to help promote it. Normally you would want your social media to match your website name so make sure that's available as well! Instagram is a very good one to have if your brand is more visual. Check mine out here; @paperandaplan

Spring cleaning for your website

There's spring cleaning for your home and for your paperwork, but what about for your website? 

It's not far fetched to need spring cleaning for your website either. It's important to see what needs updating and removing on a regular basis, and now is the perfect time to check in with your website.  

Here are some things you can do to make sure that your website is spring clean and ready to go.

upload.png

1. Look over your banners and graphics  

Are they updated with your fonts, colors, images, etc? If not go ahead and fix those and post them to your website. I have a few to fix myself.  

2. Check all your announcements or promos

Are your announcements and promos up to date ? How old really is that intro announcement on your website, or that pop up box for your email list? Updating these regularly shows you're active on your site. 

3.  Clean out any coupon codes if you have them

If you have an online shop linked to your website, then you probably have coupon codes stacked up from some point. Make sure you're cleaning out any old ones you don't plan to use anymore.  

4. Check your bio and update it 

Is your age up to date ? Are you going on a different path now than when you started? Don't just check your bio here, but your business bio as well aka your mission statement. Make sure both of these things are still relevant to you and your brand. 

5. Check for typos

Totally guilty. I almost never check for typos. 🤦‍♀️ I know, I know.  It's something I have to start doing. (Watch there be a typo in this post). Seriously though. If not in your blog posts at least check your website. ESPECIALLY your homepage. That's your first impression. 

6. Clear out your media history  

I know you do it to. You upload pictures for your website and they sit in that little media library section for the entire year. Yeah. So make sure you go through and clear out any old pictures, videos, files, etc. 

 

Do you spring clean your website already? What are some things you do? Leave a comment and let me know !  

How to plan your content for the new year

upload.png

Content planning can be a pain. There. I said it. Truth is, it doesn't have to be ! Often times we make it more complicated than it has to be. I have a process that I use that made content planning super easy for the new year. I finished the first quarter of the year already and it only took about an hour. So I figured this process was worth sharing !  

1. Brain dump ideas  

The first thing I do when I start my content planning is to brain dump ideas. I literally just write down any idea that comes to mind. It's a little more organized once I'm finished, but step one is to brain dump away. I love to look on Pinterest for blog post ideas or inspiration from the pins I saved. Often times I'll find ways to put my own twist on certain topics. 

Tip:  Once I'm finished brain dumping, it's smart to recycle some ideas that i didn't use from last year if I still need to fill in some spaces. 

2. Categorize them  

I personally categorize my blog posts into 4 different main sections. Productivity, business, social media, and blogging. I like to try my best and get one of each topic to write about per month. This helps to make sure my content is always fresh. 

This takes a little while because sometimes it'll fit into more than one section, but it helps to see what I'm working with. Plus I'll be able to tell if I have too many in one category, and basically none in another.  

3. Holiday posts  

I always make room for holiday posts if need be. For example in December I did a girl boss holiday gift guide. So for January i try to focus my posts around starting fresh, February I'll have a couples related post (It's a unique twist so stay tuned!), etc. try to think of what's going on during the month. Are people focused on school, is there a holiday coming up, is it vacation season, wedding season, etc. These posts are important because they can bring in lots of traffic since people can relate. 

4. Make a monthly spread  

I like to physically write out my months and how many posts I'll be posting a week. For 2018 I've decided on one post a week for now since I'll be writing a little more in depth versus shorter posts. Quality versus quantity am I right ? So that's 52 blog posts overall, and there's 4 weeks in a month. So for example I'll write out "January" and 4 lines under it. Then I'll decide what blog posts I want each week and write them in. 

I personally like wriing it out by hand. However you could use spreadsheets, Google docs, etc. For your layout. Google spreads even has a calendar template you can use. I tried it last year with my videos and I loved it. 

You can also click here to get my FREE digital blog planner

It's up to you how many months you want to do at a time. I recommend doing this monthly spread every quarter. I hear about people planning their whole year at one time, but I'll be honest I tried doing that and it just didn't work. Not because I couldn't think of ideas, but because I like to post based on what's relevant. Talking about net neutrality might not be that important in a few months. If I'm using a new program this month and decide to post about it in a few weeks, I may not be using it anymore. Do you see what I mean ? My suggestion would be quarterly or even monthly. I decided to go for the quarter and see how that works. 

There's no one right or wrong way to do this ,  but this was the quickest way for me. Leave me a comment if you do something different !  

See you guys next time. Stay productive ! 

Why your email list is so important

Most of us know of the famous "email list". However, it's even more common that we have no clue how to start them, or what to even do after you set it up. Mostly, why this is even important in the first place. 

We are all told that from the start we should have an email list.... And that's pretty much it. "It converts followers into clients" or "if your website magically goes down, what will you do?" Are commonly said phrases.  

 

Time Management (15).png

Why your email list is so important 

 First off, let's cover why your email list is so important in the first place.

I mean, you have social media right ? What do you need a list for ? 

Social media vs email list

Having an email list is one of the most targeted ways to reach your audience that CARES. When you sign up for an email list, most often it's because you wanted to see more content by them, they offered an incentive, or you signed up for a webinar or something like that. You normally don't just sign up without an incentive. If you do, then you're definitely interested in their content. With social media, anyone can follow you, and for a number of reasons. Maybe you were featured somewhere, or perhaps they just liked your feed. Your email list is often filled with the followers who show up often. I can definitely say that I recognize a lot of names from my Facebook group and Instagram. 

To start preparing

It's very important that you start creating your list early, so when you have a product, service, ect. You already have an audience to sell to. This is the main reason a lot of people create email lists to begin with. Say you have been building your list for a year, and you have 1,000 email subs. Awesome job! Once you have a product or service you have 1,000 people who your email is guaranteed to hit their inbox. On the other hand, if you don't have a list it can be a bit harder to reach your ideal audience. You would kind if just be shooting in the dark. 

Okay, it does convert followers into customers

So of course it converts followers into customers. Think of this on a larger scale. You hear about a new brand and you're looking at the shop. An email sign up box pops up and it says join the list for 10% off. So you sign up, and you buy something. They can continue to contact you about new sales and new releases which gets you to become a repeat customer. Not everyone is going to convert. You'll always have the people who don't want to pay for an ebook or who don't want to pay for online courses or webinars. There's so much free stuff out there, why would they? However you stand a better chance this way.

Time Management (16).png

 

So, what do you do once you have your email list? 

This is probably the part that stumped me the most. I knew it was important for the sake of growing my target audience. What I didn't know is what the hell to do once I had it. I still really don't (haha!....yeah there we go. I admit it.).  However, none of us really ever know 100% what we are doing so it's all good. 

Here's what I do know:  

Email lists can be used for plenty of things. Some of which I listed above. However there's so much more you can offer your list ! You want your audience to feel like VIPs. I aim for this so often, and I hope my email subs feel this way.   You can achieve this by offering exclusive freebies, pre-sale information, new blog post updates, give them sneak peeks of your latest project, ask for feedback, etc. Your email list is your own little personal army of dedicated friends. 

Take advantage of asking for feedback

feedback is one of the most valuable things we can receive from our audience. When you receive feedback, you can then tailor your content, products, services, etc. to the needs and wants of your audience. There's no guessing and checking here! They are literally telling you what they want. So make a small form and send it out! I got a lot of great results from my last survey.

Give them an incentive to stay around

This can be done with monthly freebies, weekly coupons, or really anything. Think about the email lists you're subscribed to. What do they have to offer that makes you want to stick around? I give away my free monthly calendars, and I also have my email list on my priority list to get any freebies I give away first. This is of course a little different for me because I don't have a product to sell (yet!). So I have to get a little creative. 

Don't just keep them around for the selling and promotions

Make sure that your email list doesn't just feel like a marketing platform. Nobody wants just emails about products or services all the time. Make sure to send at least one email every once in a while with nothing but useful information! The reason they are around is because you're helping them in some way. So supply them with some value about a topic they might relate to. 

I really hope this post helped give you some insight about email lists and what to do with them. PLEASE if you have any questions at all, leave a comment on this post and I can get back to you, or go to my contact page and send me an email. I would be happy to help!

As always, thanks for reading.

Planning for your blog in a Bullet Journal

 **This is a guest post ! Please see the bottom for author details.

Since I have been blogging over at Productive Happiness, I discovered that my best ally to make things run smoothly for the blog has been my Bullet Journal. Planning in my Bujo has allowed me to write better blog posts, be more efficient with my posting schedule and manage my social media presence seamlessly. I’ve also been able to visually track my progress and course correct over time for better results. I just can’t live without. In today’s article, I’ll be taking you through my journal with real-life examples of how I use my Bujo in my blogging process.

Time Management (14).png

 

What exactly is a Bullet Journal?

Maybe you are wondering what exactly is a Bullet Journal. In a nutshell, it is any blank notebook in which you write down your tasks, projects, lists and everything you want to keep track of. The principle is to rapidly log your ideas as the day goes by, using bullets, or signifiers to keep track of what type of items you are writing down. If you’d like to know more about the Bullet Journal method, I suggest you start by reading this in-depth article. But the tips I am going to offer you today can be applied in any notebook, even if you are not following the basic Bullet Journal format.

20170910_130632.jpg

 

Every step of the way

 Brainstorming

The Bullet Journal has you covered every step of the way for your blogging needs. The first step that I like to go through before I write any article is brainstorming. I also like to brainstorm for new products, collaborations and social media ideas. My preferred method for brainstorming is the classic mind-map, a visual tool used to represent the different parts of a given topic. Here’s a mind-map I created when I was brainstorming the themes I wanted to cover in my blog.

20170615_062626-01.jpg

 


Planning

There are a few steps that I like to go through while planning my articles and products, after I have properly brainstormed. First, I like to fit my articles into an editorial calendar. I make sure that I cover most themes of my blog in any given month and that seasonal articles are planned for. I like to share a brand-new article every Tuesday and repost an older article every Thursday. In my editorial calendar, I choose every topics a month in advance. Here’s one of my previous editorial calendar :

20170910_130511.jpg

 

Weekly plan

Once my topics are selected for the month, I need to make sure that I remember to prepare, take pictures and write in time for the deadline. I use my weekly spread to keep track of the tasks I need to get done in the next week. I usually plan my week every Sunday afternoons. If you'd like to know more about my weekly planning process, I have written a full article (with tons of pictures) taking you through each step. Here’s an example of my weekly spread :

Weekly spread.jpeg

 

Planning for social media

I like to follow a basic schedule for social media. Every Tuesday and Thursday, I share one of my articles, on Saturdays, I share an article from one of the many blogs I follow. On Fridays, I share a video on my Facebook page, etc. This is my basic schedule, and on Sunday, I select the specific topics I'll be covering on my different social feeds. Instagram is what takes the most effort to plan. Here’s what my plan for last week looks like :

20170910_125323.jpg

 

Planning my ideal week

I like to keep a draft of what I would like my weeks to look like. I like to theme my days, for example Mondays are for writing, Wednesdays are for strategic thinking and planning and Fridays are for reviews and stats tracking. It helps me spread my tasks over the week and put me in the right mood for different tasks at different moments. I keep a visual representation of my ideal week in my Bullet Journal and tweak it as needed.

Writing

Before I sit down to write any blog post, I look at my brainstorming mind-map and draft an outline of what I want my article to look like. An outline is a simple plan, with indented bullets for the different parts of the article in chronological order. You do not need to write any complete sentences, just a few words are sufficient. Here's my outline for today's article
 

20170910_125224.jpg

Tracking

I have to admit that I am a data freak. I think that my favorite part of planning for Productive Happiness is tracking my stats and analyzing the results. My goal is to learn from my mistakes AND my successes in order to keep improving my blog and my income. A basic stats tracker along with a space designated to journaling is what helps me keep on track of what’s working and what’s not.

20170910_125459.jpg

 

 

At the end of the month, I like to compare my stats with those of the previous months to see if I am progressing or not. So far, I am thrilled to report that my stats are booming! My comparative stats tracker is super simple, but clear enough to spot patterns and trends.

As you see, there is a lot you can get accomplished for your blog using the Bullet Journal method. Every part of the blog is covered, allowing you to brainstorm, plan, write and track your stats. Since the Bullet Journal is so customizable, you can tailor your notebook to your specific needs and tweak your system at any time. And most of all, the journaling process is fun, creative and so relaxing! Give it a try, I am sure you’ll find something to love in the process.

avatar bio guest posts.jpg

Anick

Anick Globensky-Bromow is a productivity Blogger with a focus on helping her readers take their happiness in hands. Over at Productive Happiness, she writes about the Bullet Journal, productivity tips and techniques as well as happiness hacks in her weekly blog posts. You can follow her on Instagram for Bullet Journal goodness and on Facebook for her weekly videos.