Blog Tips: Staying Organized & Keeping Up With New Posts | Hello Pretty Bird! - A beauty and not-so-glamorous lifestyle blog

29 June, 2014

Blog Tips: Staying Organized & Keeping Up With New Posts

Time to talk about the sexiest aspect of blogging: Time management!

Blogging time management

This month's topic was requested by Tracy of Fanserviced:

An excellent suggestion, so thank you! Time management and organization seem to be oft-discussed topics in blogging advice posts, because (a) balancing everything can be hard and (b) everybody seems to do things a bit differently. Hooray for keeping it simple. If you read my blog regularly then you've probably noticed that I post more than once per day on average, which obviously takes a bit of forethought, so I today I'll be sharing my methods for planning ahead and keeping track of everything. Will my insane process work for you too? I have no idea. But maybe it will give you some new ideas, at least.

Quick tip before I get started: Right click - open in new tab if you want to enlarge any of the images.

STEP ONE: Log all products I'm going to write about in a spreadsheet.

blogging worksheet spreadsheet

I do this mainly to keep track of PR samples, but there's no reason you couldn't use a similar log to keep track of products you've purchased and want to write about or just random ideas. I log everything in chronological order of when I received it, and if I haven't blogged about a particular product/idea/whatever I change the text color to purple. That way I can easily skim through my log and see what hasn't been covered yet. As a general rule of thumb, I try to blog about most products I've received for review within a month (though there are some exceptions—more on that later). I also try to do that with products I've purchased for myself, because if I wait too long I tend to forget about them (and that does happen sometimes, unfortunately).

FYI, the "Value" and "Solicited" columns are things I keep track of for tax purposes, so if you're only logging things you bought yourself no need to worry about that stuff. Unless you really want to track your spending. Oh, and it's a good idea to make new logs periodically (maybe monthly or quarterly) so the list doesn't get too long.

STEP TWO: Once you've established everything you're going to write about, make a calendar.

blogging calendar

There are all sorts of apps you can use to make a calendar, but personally I prefer to use a Microsoft Office template because it's easy to copy/paste and move things around at a moment's notice. I back up the file occasionally on Dropbox in case my computer explodes. Monthly calendars are my favorite because it really gives you the opportunity to plan things in advance and space out similar or difficult topics from each other—in fact, I usually start planning my calendar two months at a time. Do I end up making changes? Tons. But being able to see my blogging schedule in a visual format helps me see where there are gaps (in case I come up with a last minute topic), and helps me plan to-do lists so I don't get overwhelmed.

STEP THREE: Plan a to-do list, and stick to it as much as possible.

blogging to-do list

To-do lists can be kept in a Word document or in a physical notebook. Whatever's easiest for you. I usually plan out my to-do lists a few days in advance—that way I can write or take photographs for certain posts in advance, and not be scrambling on the day-of to get them finished up. Really pressed your time? Write your posts in big batches a couple times per week! I highly recommend keeping some sort of list/schedule like this if you have a "normal" job, because obviously there are going to be days when you can spend a few hours working on your blog and other days when you're not going to be able to do anything at all. When you finish something, cross it off the list or change the color in your document! That keeps you focused and feeling like you're making progress. And if you have trouble finding the time to reply to comments or leave comments, don't do it every day. Add it to your to-do list a couple times per week and try to keep up with it at least that often.

Setting personal deadlines?

I think setting deadlines for blog post ideas is a good idea, because otherwise things tend to linger on your to-do list forever and make you crazy. Here are are the deadlines I usually set for myself:

  • Most products received for review: Within a month.
  • Skincare products: Up to six weeks. It takes a while to test the efficacy of some things, after all.
  • Subscription boxes: Within three days of receipt. That may sound harsh, but think about it: Tons of other people are going to be writing about the same thing, and most boxes come out monthly, so there's a very short shelf-life on how long they're interesting and relevant. If you're receiving boxes as part of a subscription, you also usually know roughly when they arrive during the month, so you can tentatively "pencil" them in on your calendar.
  • Other crap I've purchased for myself: Whenever. As long as the items aren't grotty-looking it's fine to save these for a rainy day. Bear in mind that it might seem a little weird to be writing a brand feature about limited edition Spring releases in Fall, though.
  • Random brilliant ideas/tutorials/themed posts etc: There's no real time limit for these, but frankly if I haven't mustered up the enthusiasm to write something about my random brilliant idea within a month or two then it should probably be moved off the "to-do" list until I can think of a way to make it more interesting. Also, keep in mind that some things are seasonal—save the gingerbread house photos for December.
  • EOTDs, OOTDs etc: I don't really do these, but I think it would be odd to sit on them for more than a week or so.

Take photos in bulk.

This is especially important in winter, when there's a very limited amount of natural daylight, but honestly you'll save yourself a ton of time if you photograph a bunch of stuff at once regardless of the season. You don't need to have started using a product to take photos of it for when you eventually blog about it!

Oh shit, I didn't have time to do the things on my list! What now?

It happens to me sometimes. I just push things back on my to-do list and calendar accordingly, but I would advise you not to just add everything to the next day because you'll get overwhelmed. Space it out in bite-sized chunks over a few days.

Maintaining multiple blogs?

Frankly, having more than one blog is a bitch. Especially if you have to do other stuff, like going to your job or school or whatever. I actually do have another blog, but my only real goal for that is to update it at least once a week (which I fail at a lot of the time, haha). If you're managing frequent posts on multiple blogs, I would probably plan them all out on the same calendar, but maybe color-code them by which website they belong to for clarity. One calendar because there's only one you, after all. Unless you have assistants. But if that's the case you probably don't need to be reading my weird homebrew organizational posts.

On that subject, I think at a certain point you need to be honest with yourself about how much you really have time to do. For a while I wanted to keep my other blog updated at least 3 times per week whilst still posting 7+ times per week on HelloPrettyBird, but I just can't keep up with that pace. I decided that HelloPrettyBird is more important to me, so I give it much more love and attention—sorry, other baby blog. I think it's OK to prioritize, and if you realize that you only have time to post on your secondary blog once a week, so be it. That is way more than a lot of people do, honestly.

Organizational resources:

Google Drive: Easy, cloud-based document management/software (requires a Google account)

OpenOffice: Free word processing/spreadsheet software

Calendars That Work: Free printable monthly calendars (up to 2 months at a time)

Free Blogging Printables: A Pinterest board I made with all sorts of free printable organization crap

Todoist: A to-do list app

Tracy, I hope this kind-of-sort-of answers your question! And if anyone has any questions about any of this, feel free to ask in the comments.

Other people reading, how do you organize your future blog posts? Do you find planning and organization to be easy or overwhelming?


  1. Sometimes I can be super organised, the next week not at all. Five years in and I still can't find that balance Wunderlist app and website is a big helper for me - while i'm not a big user or lover of lists, having something to tick off helps keep me on track at least. I've tried having a blogging calender, have weeks and ideas planned out for certain dates but being a lifestyle blogger most of all, something will come along and i'll want to blog about it and it throws the whole "plan" to pot. One day i'll work it all out haha

    Great ideas though!

  2. I have struggled recently to keep up with posting 4x a week so I have cut down to 3x. I usually have a bunch of posts ready to go for the week but that hasn't been the case as of recently. Between my full time job, keeping up with other blogs, and my life outside of blogging I haven't been able to work on my posts as much. You are VERY organized..props for that. I am not AS organized but I do keep a notebook where I map out the month and I note which posts I plan to publish for the days/weeks. I also brainstorm ideas in my notebooks and list posts that I am working on and finished posts. Not quite as organized as you but its all in one place. Question though, why do you need to keep track of sponsored posts for tax purposes? I've only done a handful of sponsored posts but I want to make sure that I shouldn't be doing this too.

  3. I will check Wunderlist out, thanks for the suggestion! I think organization/time management is a really tricky topic because people all think differently. Like some people hate lists, others can't live without them. And you make a good point—it really depends on what you're blogging about too. It makes sense for a blog that's mostly lifestyle content to be less structured, but when you're dealing with a lot of product reviews or things like sponsored content (which always has a specific deadline) it pays to think ahead.

  4. I think writing everything down in a regular notebook is just as organized! I used to do the same but then I misplaced the notebook for a week and went crazy, haha.

    Regarding press samples and taxes: I didn't really start getting them until this year so the whole thing is new to me, but I've read widely differing opinions about whether or not they should be counted as "income", with the "income" being determined by the retail value of the products. I think any product given explicitly in exchange for a review could be construed as a form of barter, which is definitely taxable by the IRS. As for stuff that is just randomly offered to you by companies ... I'm not sure actually, but I'm keeping records now in case it is.

    Anything you get paid actual money for (like sponsored posts in exchange for $$ or advertising/affiliate revenue) is definitely taxable though, even if you don't get a 1099 form for it.

  5. For products given in exchange for reviews, I don't even know where to begin with that type of stuff but I guess I can bring it up to my accountant during tax season. Its def not that much though. The affiliate links I've only made pennies on so far so its not really significant for me yet. But who knows what it will bring in the future. Thanks Rebecca!

  6. No problem! And if you see an accountant anyway I'm sure they'll be able to advise you. If you're only accepting products occasionally it's not going to make a huge dent in your income or anything.

  7. I'm so bad right now. My personal life is sapping my motivation. This post was a great reminder for me that I really need to get back on top of things. I have been sitting on some PR samples for way too long. Haha.

    What is your other blog about?

  8. Do you have a list of the posts you're behind on? I'd at least start with that, because crossing things off a list is very satisfying, haha.

    My other blog is basically just a place where I occasionally ramble about music and TV shows and other things of that nature. I don't share it here because it's pretty low-rent. I just looked at it and apparently three people "liked" it on Facebook, which blows my mind because Analytics says it gets like ... 10 visitors a week. I'm famous!

  9. Right now my motivation has hit rock bottom, I do find keeping a to do list does help me out a lot!! Thank you for the tips!

  10. No problem! And if your motivation is really that bad, it's OK to take a break and reevaluate what you want to focus on. I do that once in a while.

  11. Hello this is Tracy of Fanserviced!!! So sorry that I'm late to the party--I've been mobile-blogging from the beach for the last week, which somehow causes Disqus problems! Thank you so much for writing this!!! Seriously, this is really helpful. I think that some of my stress comes from being so disorganized and not having a schedule. Your faux posts are hilarious btw. I think I may need to get organized and come to terms with the fact that I can probably only manage two reviews per week max instead of doing two and feeling bad that I didn't manage more. ahahaha Hmm...I will work on this... THANK YOU!!!!

  12. I hope there's a rad costume that goes with being the Batman of bloggin ;)

  13. Hello Tracy of Fanserviced! I think having some sort of list or schedule (even if it's not as ridiculous as mine) will alleviate your stress greatly. There's probably even some sort of calendar plugin you can use on Wordpress, right? Or even Google. But yeah, two thoughtfully-prepared reviews per week are better than two reviews and a big old bag of stress!

    PS I'm glad SOMEBODY noticed the fake posts. :P