Unique Trello boards for writers — how to organize your craft

Looking for the powerpoint or printable from my #Trello4Writers class? You found them! Click here for the powerpoint and here for the handout.

Trello is an excellent tool for project tracking, whether individually or with a team, but the beauty of it is really in its simple customization. You can set it up to do some pretty cool stuff and I’ve used it in some unique ways to help me organize and keep track of my writing work.

If you’ve never heard of Trello, let me start with what it is: a cloud-based collaboration tool. You can sign up for free (yay!) and keep track of lists in a visual way. Visual is big for me. When I’m stuck on a writing project, I often doodle about it or jot down brainstorming ideas because giving myself a visual gets my neurons snapping again. Think of it as a virtual board of notecards. You can organize the cards into columns, or statuses, and you can include lots of information on the cards, such as comments, file attachments, checklists, labels, and due dates. Yes, it sounds like a lot, but if you take the time to sit down and tweak things one afternoon, you can set up a board that perfectly suits your needs.

Maybe you can try one of my five unique Trello boards to get you started:

  1. Tracking submissions
  2. Brainstorming board
  3. Research board
  4. Editorial calendar
  5. Book launch planner

Trello board basics

A Trello board consists of columns and cards. Use the columns to organize your cards into groups. Here’s a very basic board I used to keep track of articles I worked on for a freelance technical writing project I did where I was updating knowledgebase articles.

I entered all of my work as cards in the first column, “Articles to-do”, then as I worked on each one, I moved it to “Articles in-progress,” then, “Articles submitted for approval,” and finally, a submitted and reported status. This way, I knew for sure I had followed through to the end of what was expected of me for each article.

Each card can have more detail than simply the title. This board was a simple, to-do list so I didn’t need to add more, but you can include due dates, attachments, detailed descriptions, checklists, and more. In some of my boards below, I’ll show you ways I’ve used those, along with some screenshots, of course. Because visual!

If you want more of a demo on how to use the app, hop on over to YouTube and search for a tutorial. There’s a bunch over there.

Now, let’s get into the nitty gritty details of each one. Or, feel free to scroll down to the one you want to check out the most!

Tracking submissions

How do you keep track of your writing you’ve submitting to magazines, websites, and contests?

Many websites now use Submittable for accepting submissions. You can log in to your Submittable account and see what you’ve submitted and its status (I have two in there with a big ol’ REJECTED, ouch!). But, how do you keep track of POSSIBLE submissions and what about drafts you’re working on? And what about submissions that weren’t through Submittable? Here’s what my tracking submissions board looks like.


Looks quite different, doesn’t it? These are my columns: Submission Possibilities; Draft in progress; Need to edit; Submitted; Rejected/Accepted; Post on personal blog.

Isn’t it cool how these cards have pictures tied to them? This comes from the details on the cards, so here’s one of them, opened up:

So much great information! First, there’s the description, which I grabbed from their site, giving me the initial details of what they’re looking for in submissions. Then, I’ve added attachments. If I click on “Submission guidelines”, it takes me to their guidelines on their site. The second attachment is what gives the card a cover image: the jpg. See how it has “Remove Cover” under it? I will go to their website and right-click on their logo, copy the image URL, and add it as an Attachment to the card. Then, as long as it’s the right format, Trello will automatically add it as a card image. Pretty. Also on this card is a checklist. I used it to list out ideas that I could work on to create a submission.

One thing that I haven’t put on this card, but is on other cards is a due date. The nice thing about using that is I am able to switch to a calendar view in Trello and see if I have certain submissions that are required by a certain date and work on those before it’s past! To do that, you enable the free calendar “power-up” (you can have one power-up per board for free accounts). A calendar link is added to the top right of my board and when I click on it, it displays like my screenshot below. To add it, go to Menu > Power Ups > Enable Calendar.

Awesome. I have some work to do before Saturday!

Finally, a note on my very last column: “Post on personal blog.” If I have submissions that have been rejected and I don’t think I can rework them to submit elsewhere, then I post them on my blog and add a link on. At least it’s published somewhere, right?!

Brainstorming board

I create social media content for some small businesses and coming up with fresh stuff every month gets tough! Especially because good, image posts are what the algorithms pick up more than links. I have a Trello board to brainstorm ideas for captions to write to go along with images from a stock images library I use. In my board below, the columns are each small business I create content for, which is why I’ve smudged them out. I am their ghostwriter so I don’t get a byline, but that’s cool. I also have cards in there to remind me of certain keywords to remember. These I’ll often search through Twitter hashtags to update (although they are currently very generic ones for this screenshot, sorry!).

How can you create a brainstorm board? For each idea, create a card. Jot down notes on it. Attach files or images (similar to pinning on pinterest, right?). You can create columns to organize the cards in whatever way works best for you. You could also color-code them based on which ones you like the most (green), are okay (yellow), and won’t work (red).

Research board

A writer told me something once that has stuck with me over the years. In not-her-exact-words, she said, “I wonder what Google thinks of my search history?”

When researching, especially for fiction, what do you ask Google? “How do I kill someone with an ice pick?” Go check your Google Activity. See what it says.

You could set up a Trello board to keep track of your research. It would have been great to have this when I was in college and had this grandiose idea that I would write a Civil War historical fiction. Guys, I read so many books about that era and I even found books that gave me specific things like the dialect they used at the time and what the culture was like. For this book, I can imagine that I would have create a column for each character. Each character would have cards that had details like their physical description, specific quirks, phrases they used often, where they lived, if they died, and so on. I’d have a column for each location.

Maybe, with Trello at my fingertips now, I can start over again on that book. I wrote about 50 pages, typed, but then when my friends living next door read it out loud, I threw it all away. Oh well!

Editorial Calendar

This one I haven’t personally done because I’m super old school and instead, have a calendar hanging on the wall above my computer, see?

However, I read about creating one on Trello over on HubSpot.com. Here’s a summary and you can click on over to their post for more details:

  1. It’s purpose is to keep track of which blog posts you plan to publish when.
  2. Big sites use Trello to do this: HubSpot, Mashable, ReadWrite, The Changelog. (Not me, though!)
  3. You can use the columns to keep track of a post’s progress (Ideas, researching, on hold, writing, editing, graphics, published). Each card is a single blog post.
  4. You can use the columns to organize posts based on type. Assign due dates and use the Calendar feature to see your timeline.

There you go. That’s the basic gist of it.

Book launch planner

One day, I’d love it if I NEEDED this board. Unfortunately, that day has not come yet, but did anyone here read The Secret? Okay. I admit: I never did, but I HEARD that part of “the secret” was to live as though you’re expecting things to happen that you want to happen. An example a friend used to explain this to me (the friend had read it) was your closet. If you’re single and don’t want to be, then does your closet tell the universe that there’s room in your life for somebody else? If it’s crammed full, then there’s no room. I should have asked my friend to show me what HER closet currently looked like. Hey, my closet as a single woman was totally full, but it was organized! So at least I had that going for me. (When I married, my husband used the closet in the OTHER room… until we had our first kiddo.)

Well, anyway, end of tangent and back to the point of this section: the Trello board for promoting a book launch.

This idea also came from the above-mentioned HubSpot.com post.  I melded it with a post from Writer’s Digest about how to have a successful book launch and came up with these ideas for a future, book-launch-planner Trello board. Maybe I should make it tomorrow and I’ll be informing the universe that I’m ready for an agent to knock on my door and ask about my incredible memoir. (Don’t tell the universe I haven’t finished writing it!)

  1. Create a column for venues. Attach pictures. Color code it based on which ones you like the most. Put down details like contact information, location, parking, size, etc.
  2. Create a column for conflicting dates. Enter in a personal vacation by creating a card with a due date of the day you’re gone. That way, when you use the calendar feature, you can see that you aren’t scheduling conflicting events.
  3. Create a column for food. Which venues can you provide it? Where will you get it from? Cost?
  4. Create a column for advertising. Cards should include graphics design, flyers, social media, media alerts, etc.
  5. Create a column for your spiel. For the actual events, what are you going to say? Write some of your favorite quotes from the books down on cards.
  6. Create a column for shopping. Besides food, you might need to buy other things, like enough copies of your book (I dunno, do publishers give you some?), pens for signing, bookmarks with your book info on it, etc.
  7. Create a column for things to write when you’re signing. Write down short phrases on cards… things that might relate to your book / character / genres, etc.
  8. Create a column for thank you cards. Make someone’s day by sending them something in the mail that they can hold in their hand! People don’t do that so well anymore. Keep track of who you can send cards to and why by creating a virtual card with the details.
  9. Color code the cards so you have a visual way of seeing when they need to happen. “Pre-launch” could be orange; “Launch Day” could be blue; and “Post-Launch could be green.

And there you have it. My unique ways to use Trello to track your writing craft.

It’s a rather particular industry, this word-crafting world I’m in. I’m creative, but I have to keep track of so much if I want to do well and make good money from it. The stereotype that right-brain people can’t be organized is exactly that: a stereotype.

Project management for writers and entrepreneurs

Keeping track of projects is a skill. It’s a taught and learned skill. Project managers, who have trained and tested and certified in this, are paid big bucks. Keeping track of it all and doing it well matters. As an entrepreneur and freelance writer, I’ve had to adapt systems to what works best for me. Here are the four ways I do it and a brief summary of each.

  1. Kanban board: For running a household, I have a Kanban board. I wrote about what it took to set it up on my personal blog: “Our family Kanban board–what happens when mom was a CSM in her previous life.” I expanded on it and wrote about the benefits of using a similar board for entrepreneurs for HER Magazine: “Creating a Kanban board for entrepreneurs.” It’s always a work-in-progress and adjustment. I’ve been working on updating it with the ability to include my five-year old in using it with us. We’ll see how well that works and make changes from there! For details on what it is and why I use it, you’ll have to click on my links above!
  2. Editorial calendar: I have a good-ol’ paper calendar hanging on the wall right above my monitor. On it, I write down the ideas I’d like to post on for my personal blogs. I’ll admit that I’m not consistent and with only myself to hold ME accountable, I miss “publishing deadlines”. This is certainly one of my weak spots!
  3. Scheduling tasks as calendar items: I no longer use to-do lists. Checking off the box didn’t help me stay on task, but my new system has worked a thousand times better. I schedule specifically what task I’m going to work on as a time block on my calendar. I live and die by my Google Calendar. I use it to keep track of family appointments, bills and direct deposits, and writing work. If I have an email I need to respond to, I schedule it on my calendar. If I have an article I need to edit, I schedule it on my calendar. When I’m working on content creation, it’s a block on my calendar! I have set times each day where I work (based around my kids’ schedules), so I try to schedule these work “appointments” during those times a day or two out. That way, when I sit down at my computer, I know exactly what I’m going to do first. Unless Social Media butts in!
  4. Trello boards: For both collaboration and my solo work, I use Trello boards. These are similar to Kanban boards, but hosted online. It’s all about the cloud these days, yo. It’s a great way to organize tasks and keep track of whether those tasks are in progress, finished, researching, etc. There are a bunch of awesome ways to set up Trello boards for a variety of projects. I submitted a proposal to present at a writing conference on this, but they didn’t choose it. In the future, I’ll put together an overview in a blog post. Here are my five ways to use them: tracking submissions; brainstorming board; as an editorial calendar; planning a book launch; organizing research.

These are the ways that I try to be organized. It’s always an attempt, right? But just remember this excellent quote: “Organized people are just too lazy to look for things.” Thanks for that, Bertrand Russel.

How do you organize your work? What’s your favorite system?

25 hashtags for writers on social media

I drew a resource for myself in my sketch book: good hashtags to use, as a writer, on social media.

I realized that I kept repeating the same search online, looking up hashtags to use for posts on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. I never remembered them from the last time I looked some up. Thus, my reason for drawing a resource. If you’re visual, like me, it’s nice to have something sketched up, instead of just a list, but… in this here post, I’ve included a list for you as well. I’m nice like that! Picture first, then list. Hope you find this helpful, too. And if you do, share it on social media! Choose a hashtag to use. Rad.

  1. #Writing Prompt: Share good writing prompts or search for this hashtag to find some when you’re in need.
  2. #LitChat: Post questions for other writers or use this to share a writing event.
  3. #WriteTip: Share your favorite writing tips or a link to a post with helpful tips.
  4. #FridayReads: Tell people what you’re currently reading.
  5. #IndieAuthor: Posts from or for independent authors.
  6. #amwriting: Tell everyone that you’re on task.
  7. #TeaserTues: Share a teaser, or little bit, of your current project/novel.
  8. #FF or #FollowFriday: Promote friends and followers.
  9. #FP or #FridayPhrases: Share whatever you’re working on.
  10. #NaNoWriMo: For use with the crazy month of November if you’re doing the novel-writing challenge.
  11. #WritingContests: Share contests that are currently accepting submissions.
  12. #WroteToday: Get in a little humble brag, how ’bout?
  13. #WIP: Ask for a feedback when you hit a roadblock in your current writing project.
  14. #MustRead: Share a book you love or one you’re putting on your to-read list.
  15. #GreatReads: Similar to above.
  16. #PromoTip: Share tips (or search for them) about promoting your own work.
  17. #WritersLife: Share something about the life of a writer (specifically that writers will really get).
  18. #AuthorRT: Ask others to re-tweet.
  19. #WW or #WritersWednesday: It’s your day! Share any thing writing on Wednesdays.
  20. #WANA: We are not alone. Post this as you work. Writing is lonely so take a moment to reach out.
  21. #BookGiveaway: Share a link to a book giveaway.
  22. #Novelines: Share a quote from your own book or from a favorite you’ve read in another’s.
  23. #WriteGoal: Share your goal. Be held accountable by the internet.
  24. #VSS: Very short story. Post some flash fiction.
  25. #WritersQuote: Share great quotes about writing, editing, publishing, musing, and creating.

Which one of these is your favorite to use? I’m a frequent #amwriting user.

Content creation: building posts off of previous posts

Often, the hardest part about blogging is coming up with good, original content. Here’s one idea that I’ve seen on plenty of sites and use myself: build new posts off of previous posts.

How is that original?

Two reasons:

  1. You make sure you’re building on the previous content, not simply reposting.
  2. Remember that many visitors are first-timers so it’s new to them.

Pick and choose your favorite from this list of ten ways to do this:

  1. Check your site stats and make a list of your top three posts. Pick one and go. Or pick all three and find a unique way to tie them all together.
  2. Think about past posts and write down the ones that you had the most fun writing. Expand on those.
  3. Do you have a post that was barely brushing the surface of your topic? Grab that and get in deep with the details. (This is something I should really work on doing myself as I’m often a minimalist writer.)
  4. Take a stroll down memory lane, sharing a list of past posts and telling thoughts on what made them useful as well as why they’re still relevant.
  5. Share a past post that highlights one of your personal successes. Avoid bragging, but use it as a post where you can explain the steps you took to achieve what you did.
  6. Share a past post that highlights one of your failures. Writing about difficult challenges can be incredibly related posts because we’ve all dealt with struggles. Plus, it’s empowering to review experiences where you learned resiliency.
  7. Mash together two supposedly unrelated topics. Similar to #1, this one would be to choose two past posts that are on opposite topics and finding ways to relate them. For example: if you had a great how-to post, could you combine it with an entertainment post and come up with clever ways in which the latest Transformers movie taught you about organizing laundry? (Ha!)
  8. Have you read a recent book that reminded you of a past post? Review the book and link back to that post.
  9. Check what’s hot right now on Google Trends and find past posts that could relate.
  10. What’s the big box office hit out right now? Give yourself a date night and go see the movie, then grab part of the storyline and tie it into a previous post.

If you need something to do to procrastinate writing your next post (something I am excellent at), come like my Facebook page where I share some of the internets’ best gifs and short videos; they’re good for a laugh, or have an actual tie-in to writing.

Bonus:

These are some of my favorite posts I’ve read this week about what it takes to create great content.

The Nine Ingredients That Make Great Content. This comes from Kissmetrics Blog, which is a good resource in its entirety as well. What I like about this posts isn’t the nine tips (although they’re important and legit), but the examples they include at the end. For me, reading through a posts of how-to tips is nice but I learn way more when I consistently read good content. Go check out the examples and spend time reading through those sites as well.

7 Steps to Writing Your Best Blog Post Every Time. I like the last step here the most, where she mentions this tool, called Hemingway, which is like a digital English teacher. In fact, it reminds me of my high school English teacher whose favorite thing to do was to circle all of the adverbs. Hemingway will highlight the number of adverbs you’ve employed. Excessive use means you’re tending more towards telling your audience things rather than showing them your subject.

25 Content Marketing Tips Every Marketer Needs To Know. This Forbes article has an extensive list that includes a couple of gems, in my opinion: “The best marketing doesn’t feel like marketing”; “Repurpose old content in a new way to bring something fresh to users who may not have seen it”; and “keep track of the most popular topics and content types that are bringing in or driving traffic to your site.”

5 ways to use themes for content creation

One of the hard things about posting consistently for me is coming up with good content. I often feel like I use up all my idea-generating brain cells on writing I do for clients, drying up the well for my own site! Have you ever felt the same?

One trick to help you out is to come up with a theme and follow that. It helps with organization and keeps you on topic for the purpose of your site.

Here are some ways to do it that I’ve found helpful:

  1. Write based on your readers’ needs. As you create content, do so with them in mind. Relate to their experiences and challenges. Find ways to make connections.
  2. Create content about key topics. For me, I focus on writing as a business so I search out subjects and stick with one for a month or so. This month is part of posts that relate to content creation. After that, I’m planning to do posts that relate to website maintenance.
  3. Review your best posts. Do you have posts that received the most traffic? Can you build on those? Sometimes, you don’t even have to create a brand new post, but create a “why this topic still matters” or, “more about this post”. Build on what you know works well already.
  4. Follow related social media accounts. This is something I do on Twitter for my clients that I write for. I find other twitter accounts in the same industries and follow those to find great articles and content I can glean from. Where applicable, I send them straight back to the link, or reference the source. Other times, it gives me a great idea for a silly caption to go with an image and then, bam… there’s my Facebook post for an IT consulting firm.
  5. Create a daily game plan that follows themes. This is something I used to do on my personal blog. Each day of the week was a specific post, such as the cell phone pic of the week on Tuesdays. This format really helped when I wanted to post almost daily because I had a structure to follow (and a graphic header already created), and I more or less needed to fill in the blanks on the template. Using this strategy, I created the most posts on a consistent basis, although they were all pretty short. Ain’t nothing wrong with brief. Brief is often better.

Those are simply the first five that I came up with today. It’s far from an exhaustive list. How do you plan your content? Come follow me on Twitter and let’s follow others for more content, hey?

promoting your brand on social media

Let’s make a list. I like nice, short posts that get to the point. Isn’t it annoying, sometimes, when you want to try out a recipe you found online, but you have to scroll through all of these paragraphs and images to get to the actual recipe? (If you’re my husband, you like reading all of the background on creating food and dishes… me, I’m often dealing with a brief time span to sit at the computer and print a recipe before small children start climbing over the chair.) Well, I’ll stop rambling and get to the list.

Social Media Resources for your freelance biz (some of these I learned about from Nineveh Madsen, founder of HER Magazine, which is a great read!).

  1. Write a blog. For me, this is not only helpful for getting traffic to my site, but also a valuable tool to keep me writing. As a freelance writer, it’s important that I’m writing often and writing different types of content as well.
  2. Make memes. I’ve only done this a handful of times, but if you’re talented at this humor, it’s an easy way to get some viral content. Search for a meme generator on Google and get started with your favorite.
  3. Generate gifs. For this one, I make them in Photoshop. Google Photos will auto make these from my cell phone pics and videos for me. That’s cool when I get a notification that I have one. Or, you can use Giphy, which is a well-known site. Click on the Create button at the top.
  4. Create social media graphics. Canva has a limited choice of free designs you can use, a larger selection of pretty cheap options for purchase, and a Pro plan, which, to be honest, I have no idea the cost because I haven’t bothered looking into it. I usually find free stuff that works just fine for me. They’ve made a decent UX so it’s super simple to put these together. Eventually, I’ll get the android app for my phone, but I need to get a new phone first!
  5. Find content shared by others. Why do all the hard work when somebody already did? I like to save favorite images and gifs from Reddit. If you haven’t joined Reddit yet and don’t quite get it, here’s my introduction (reddit for dummies) to the site to help you get started. Once you set it up with your preferred subreddits, it’s an awesome tool. Here’s a good example of an image I found through Reddit. Good times…

What’s your favorite resource for creating and sharing content on social media?

Why, How, and What for Content Calendars

A content calendar has become a must-have for me and my blogging because my freelance writing business has grown. I used to post on my blogs willy-nilly. I lacked consistency and I lacked themes. I’ve learned that these matter if I am going to stay consistent with this blog. Why bother on my personal brand blog when I have enough work to keep me busy?

The more you write, the better you get!

So here is a quick blog for you on why a content calendar matters, how to set it up, and what to include.

Why use a content calendar

A content calendar simply schedules what you’re going to write, whether it’s for your personal blog, a business, or a client. It helps with organization and it keeps you posting. You lose readers when your content stagnates. You also lose your audience if you’re repetitive or without a purpose. This is where themes come in handy, but that’s a future post (which I’ll go back and link once I’ve written it).

To sum it up: use a content calendar for organization, consistency, and purpose.

How to set up a content calendar

Start with the calendar that works best for you. Personally, I use Google Calendar like crazy. I have several calendars all linked to my Google account so they display at once, color coordinated. What kinds of calendars, you wonder? The family calendar, the school calendar (my husband is a Principal so I’ll create a new one when my kids start public school), a money calendar (bills, direct deposits, etc), writing tasks, and on.

HOWEVER

I do not use Google Calendar for my content calendar. This is because, for me, I want the tangible experience of writing it down. I have a calendar hanging on the wall above my monitors. I bought it at T.J.Maxx. Because deals, yo!

Now, follow a couple of helpful steps to determine what goes on the calendar. BTW, I’m not an expert in this, but have my own experience of trying things out to share so tell me what you’ve found works best for you!

  1. Brainstorm content. This one deserves some sub-bullets…
    1. What matches with your brand? Your persona? Your niche? Do you portray yourself or your business as casual or serious? How do you want your content to reflect this?
    2. What needs to you address for customers? Are you a trusted source for something particular in your industry
    3. Decide if you want to follow certain formats. Perhaps you want to post news-based blogs. Or maybe you’re into writing how-to articles. Do you have webinars or videos to share?
    4. Share stories. People connect to stories. My mom and I have a business hiring musicians and our story is #lifeofastudiomusician because guess what?! People don’t really know what goes on behind the scenes of recording CDs, playing at concerts, prepping for hosted events, and so on. We share the story through our social media. Go us!
  2. Create a calendar for one to n months. For me, I typically fill in about two months.
  3. Adjust the calendar for trends. Remember, you want to be relevant and if you’re rigidly sticking to the schedule, you won’t address current trends that affect you. Also, you can totally change direction if you find your analytics are slipping. If it’s not working, change it!

What to write from your content calendar

Now that you have your game plan, what should you do with a note on that calendar such as what I have for mine: “LE.com content creation post 1 – content calendar”. For me, this means a blog post on this site (I have a personal blog I also put on my calendar). For you… it could mean…

  1. A long-form blog post, between 1,200-2,000 words with carefully organized headers, bullet points, lists, and images, because that’s a lot for a reader to digest.
  2. A short post, between 300-800 words that gets right to the point and shares something actionable.
  3. An Instagram post that shares your visual story.
  4. A Twitter post with appropriate hashtags.
  5. A Facebook post using a good image (because the algorithm likes pics).
  6. Another resource that can build blog traffic such as SlideShare, commenting on other blogs, contributing to online forums, guest posting, YouTube videos, podcasts, and on!

Good luck. Have fun, and let me know how you do this!

Defining a content creation game plan

I have been inconsistent with posting blog content on my own website. I have legitimate reasons that include two small kids demanding of my time, a house that needs a little cleaning, paying customers with writing deadlines and expectations, and a weekly soccer league. I mean, isn’t it obvious that the soccer league takes precedence to blogging?

I know what it takes to stick to a blog post schedule for me. Either I have a content creation plan or I have deadlines that an editor or client holds me to. Since there’s no editor or client for my personal site, it’s painfully obvious that I’m long overdue for setting up a plan.

I had a plan, years ago, for posting on my personal blog. I had themed days each week. Because of that, I often posted M-F, a short post each day. I used rather quirky themes. Friends told me my “therapy Thursdays” was strange. Fine, whatever. It was my favorite because it was a fun writing exercise with a specific format. I had a pretend therapy session with a doctor and wrote it out as a scripted conversation between the two of us. I feel like it helped hone my ability to write dialogue. I did, however, retire it.

Therapy Thursdays wouldn’t work on this site. Obv. Here’s my game plan, instead, for setting up a plan. I’ll try to revisit it again in a few months and see how well it’s working and what needs tweaking. Share with me your game plan so I can add the bits and pieces that I like most.

  1. Get a calendar. I did this recently at a nice, little trip to T.J.Maxx, everyone’s favorite grab-bag store. I never know if the item I’m hoping to find will be there when I waltz through their doors and yet, I leave with a cart full. Last time, I left with dry shampoo, two pairs of shoes, and three workout tops. I went in to look at rugs.
  2. Write a monthly posting schedule and plan content ahead of time. For me, I chose to include both my personal blog and this writing blog on my calendar. Sundays are for personal writing, Wednesdays are for this site. Let’s see if those days work okay. For coming up with my content ideas, see numbers four and five below.
  3. Hang the calendar near my computer. I affixed a good ol’ command strip to the brick wall behind my desk. Done and done.
  4. Have a theme for the month. For my personal blog, I’m continuing my 2017 theme, #yearofbeautiful, writing posts about things that help me feel more confident, connect with others, and living authentically. For this site, the next two months will be dedicated to my content creation planning, this being the first post of that theme.
  5. To get the specific ideas, I refer to my saved ideas, which come from my “secret” Pinterest board. I wrote about that in a past post, “How I use Pinterest to create blog posts”.
  6. My last step is to work on understanding my website stats. This will involve everything from tracking past posts with the most traffic to coming up with keyword strategies. I’ll be doing more research on this and creating a content post about it in a couple of weeks. Exciting, right?

For me, once a week is enough. Some people, especially if they’re pushing for a lot of traffic to monetize their site, would need multiple posts a week so planning that a month or two in advance would be a big help in making it a doable goal. We’ll see how easy it is to come up with content each month. How does your plan compare with mine?

6 Project Management tools for writing

“…prepare yourself—holistically, mentally and spiritually—to take on a project that exists entirely in your head.” Garth Stein, author of The Art of Racing in the Rain and A Sudden Light.

The above quote comes from praise Stein gave about a book on writing and I loved what he said there at the end.

Writing is working on the project that exists entirely in your head.

It makes me think that it would be FASCINATING to know the thoughts of the great authors out there. What projects are bubbling around in various stages in their minds?

The book that Stein praises, I have not read, but I’ll post a link here (affiliate) because it sounds like an enticing read to me. Has anybody read it? Thoughts? Fearless Writing. 

From Amazon, this book “teaches you how to thrive as a writer… to find and enter a flow state… quiet both internal and external critics” and such.

I keep going back to Stein’s comment/praise. If writing comes from the projects brewing in our heads, then that means, we writers, are constantly working on projects.

I worked on projects in a very formal setting in my past life as a software tester and business analyst. One of my favorite roles was that of a Scrum Master, which is a term used in Agile software development for a role similar to Project Manager.

This brings me to my big question for you: if writing is like working on your project in your head, then you, as a writer, are your own project manager.

How’s that going for you? How are you excelling as a project manager?

I went to both Project Management and Scrum Master training, but to be honest, I never CONSCIOUSLY applied those skills learned to my career path as a writer. So, I’m doing that now. Or at least, I’m beginning by making note, here on my blog, of tools from the PM world I can use in my writer world. How would you make use of each of these tools?

  1. Task board
  2. Roadmap
  3. Retrospective
  4. Daily standups
  5. Planning meetings
  6. Demos

In subsequent blogs, I’ll take each of the above six tools and ramble on about how I’m going to implement it as an active tool in my writing life. Follow along!

How I use pinterest to come up with blog post ideas

You’re casually scanning through one of your favorite websites, jumping from article title to title when, bam! That article. That looks interesting. That could be a blog post on your site.

But, you don’t have the time to sit down and write immediately.

You don’t even have the time to read through the article right now.

You THINK you’re going to remember the details later that evening when you set aside some time to write and sit down at your computer, right? You think! And when you sit down, what happens? I end up checking Amazon’s Today’s Deals, hitting up the sales on Woot.com, checking my Facebook notifications, scrolling through Twitter posts, reading the titles of news from my local news site, or going through emails.

What was that super rad idea I had earlier?

Stupid memory. No use to me!

Whether I’m on my phone, desktop, or laptop, if I see something that sparks a blog idea, I immediately save it to my secret Pinterest board. For me, mine is titled “working mom”. What would you title yours?

Helpful step: change the default description and write a note to yourself on how you would use the link or picture for a blog post.

I don’t always do that step so well. Boo, me. It’s pretty important so don’t be like me.

Pinterest sometimes shows me interesting content that I can add to my secret board because it crawls through my secret board. Obviously, that means the board isn’t very secret, but are we surprised here? Do we really think the things we post on Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, and so on are actually private? Nope. So I suppose that Pinterest employees may have decided to check on my secret board every now and then and steal all of my ideas. But! Can they write them as well as me? And, do they have a sweet action typewriter graphic to go with the post? I think not!

I also like to check out some shared writer boards on Pinterest. There’s tons of great content when you join those, plus you can share your own work to get more traffic, or generate feedback. Two boards that I am a part of and really like: Writers Promote Yourself and The Write Stuff. What boards do you like? How have you used secret boards to help in your writing process?

Now, if only Pinterest could also save all of my incredible ideas I have in the shower!