By implementing effective blog systems, you create an effective routine for ensuring the things that MUST get done, happen.
A few weeks ago I was chatting with Jo-Anna, a member of BlogPro Mastermind, about priorities. She is a personal trainer with a vibrant and growing business who is excitedly looking forward to a variety of different growth opportunities. At the moment, we’re working together to establish a strong foundation for her business that will support pursuing those opportunities. Like so many of my clients, she’s been frustrated by the sheer number of things, programs and software that it feels like she needs to understand and implement as her business grows.
“I just need a list – what do I need and when?”
Her lament is not a new one. Whether your business is online or brick and mortar, there are a dizzying array of moving pieces to building a comprehensive and accessible brand in today’s global market. Our readers and customers want services, information and goods that are available at the touch of a button. That requires significant infrastructure behind the scenes. As you’re starting out and scaling up, how do you develop that infrastructure without spending yourself into a hole or driving yourself to burn out?
One key aspect of answering that question is systems. Systems are the repetitive, consistent routines we create to ensure that we do the things that must get done. For bloggers and small business owners, systems can put some shape in our often fractured efforts to grow! But what do we need and when? That answer will vary depending on your goals, plan for growth and resource. But, I use this list as a starting point – for each stage this is a baseline of the tools and systems I recommend by clients have.
From the start, there are some basic components that you need to have in place if you are looking to grow. Whether you have a hobby business, blog for professional branding, are building a portfolio or are considering monetizing in the future, these are the systems that lay your ground work.
Annual & Quarterly Planning -If you’ve been around BIB for more than a minute, you know that I take my planning seriously. It is incredibly hard (and asking for burn out and frustration) to expect yourself to create high value content consistently with no prep, planning or research. This doesn’t have to be an elaborate system. It could be as simple as blog planning sheets like my KickStart pages, a notebook where you record ideas and plan your posts for the month or an online tracker where you store ideas and drafts. The key here is that knowing where you want to go takes so much of the guess work out of how to get there. When you’re not sure what to do, you simply ask which option gets your closer to your goal.
Basic Bookkeeping – Again, we’re talking basic. Do you know how much you spend on your blog or business? What do you need to make to be generating a profit? What would you need to make to quit your day job? Starting now, track your expenses. When you are generating income, you’ll need these records for tax purposes so get in the habit from the beginning. A simple google doc or spreadsheet or a free app like Wave are all possible solutions.
Content Creation – Whatever your goals, content creation is a core and essential system. What do YOU need to create high value content? Is it quiet time to write? Research to get prepared? Conversations with fans or collaborators to get your creative juices flowing? Figure out and work out a routine. Schedule time to create content – social media posts, emails, printables, blog posts. Whatever it is that YOU are creating.
Branded Social Media – You don’t need to be everywhere, that would make it incredibly difficult to keep up when you are a one man show. But you do need to be where your ideal audience is. Looking for 30 year old moms? Pinterest is probably important. Aiming younger? Consider Instagram and Snapchat. Everyone, and I mean everyone, should have at least a minimal presence on Facebook so that people can find or tag you. And each of those channels should be branded with colors, language, and visuals that tie strongly to your brand. It is simply part of having a presence in today’s commercial world.
Scheduled Professional Development – Even if you don’t know exactly where you want to end up, you need to be actively growing and learning. Read great books. Listen to podcasts. Participate in Facebook groups that bring you into contact with awesome potential collaborators. And my personal favorite, join sites that deliver personal development and helpful tidbits directly to your inbox through workbooks and blogging resources (that would here at Blogging In Balance, by the way).
You have your founding systems set. You know you can get your to do lists done. And you’re ready to look forward to the next step. It’s time to start building new opportunities into your work flow. Now, we’re drilling down into exactly what your audience wants to see more of. How are you serving your audience? Are there there new needs you could be meeting? How can you develop the relationship with your audience into an even stronger, more engaged one?
Site Analytics – This is a non-negotiable. If you have an online commercial presence, you need to have site analytics. I work with Google Analytics, which has an array of free tools. Analytics give you an incredible amount of information about what is working and what’s not. Use that information to inspire your editorial calendar and where to focus your social media efforts for maximum effect.
Email List – Social media is a powerful way to meet your audience where they’re at, but you must remember that it is always rented space. Your profile and list of followers belong to the social media channel. There are a number of horror stories of celebrities and professionals and business that lost everything they had built when their pages where unceremoniously shut down (some with no warning) after the social media channel determined terms of service had been broken. An email list gives you a direct line of communication with your audience. Used responsibly and effectively, it allows you to build a relationship be delivering high value, relevant resources straight to their inbox!
Opt In Development – Opt In is a bit of a buzzword in the online business world at the moment, but it’s an important part of the process. Today’s consumer has an endless supply of solutions at the their fingertips via the smartphone. You must prove that you have something useful & valuable to offer them before they engage with you. An opt-in is a popular way to do that while building your email list. You offer a resource that your audience accesses by signing up for your email list. Part of your growth strategy includes developing this content to offer your audience.
Monetization Strategy – You might not be quite ready yet to jump into income generation, but it’s time to start seriously considering your options. What direction do you want to go? Will create something original? Would a multi-level marketing business be a good fit for you? Would affiliate programs be an option? What about services? There are so many ways to monetize your online presence. Streamline your efforts and make the time you invest as efficient as possible by developing a specific and targeted strategy to work towards.
Refine & Grow
Automate Expense & Income Tracking – As you begin to generate income, it becomes vital that your expense and income tracking is on point. That’s because taxes are involved. It’s time to consider the services of a bookkeeping or tax professional to help figure out the best system for you.
Collaboration – While collaboration is a fabulous idea at any stage, it becomes a tremendous one as you grow. Connect with other professionals who serve the same population or are wrestling with the same challenges. Building a tribe helps you to weather the personal challenges and often presents professional opportunities. Masterminds are my favorite way to push myself to the next level.
Add Services or Original Products – Even if it wasn’t in your original plan, an established and growing audience makes it worth considering the development of original services or products. In particular, the development of passive income streams can be a buffer between you and the natural fluctuations in the market. Freelance professionals especially should be on the lookout for eBook or program opportunities. You have valuable insight and experience to share, it’s just a matter of determining the right platform.
New Program Development – The day to day running of your business can be exhausting. That’s why we turn to systems to create efficient and effective methods for checking off the to do list while building in the space for development. You have to have the breathing room to grow. Social media algorithms are going to change, new competitors will emerge and your audience is going to be looking for something new. Part of your weekly schedule should be anticipating and preparing for those changes.
What do you do now?
Establishing a routine with systems that work for you is a process. It takes trial and error, plus repeated assessment. Don’t be afraid to start simple. What is your timeline for creating a blog post? Consider:
- how far out do you need to start drafting to not be in a hurry?
- when can you create the graphics?
- what is the best time to share it on social media?
- when can you share it again?
Create a list of all the tasks required to take you from planning to completed and promoted blog post. Then, put those on a calendar and test it to see if you forgot anything and how long each tasks took you to complete. Try scheduling it out for the next post. Does your system work and keep you on task?
Grab the Blog Systems checklist and start working through one by one. How many of your systems are working well?
Need a little more help developing your systems? We’re working through the Blog Systems Workbook in the Blogging In Balance community, and I’d love for you join us!