How to Organize Your Blog with Trello
I’m all about organizing and systems to make my writing and the running of my business easier. So when I started to think about how I could take my blogging to the next level, I needed to find a system to corral all the ideas I had for post topics, to-dos, scheduling, etc.
I tried using Evernote to keep a running list of ideas, moving the drafts of posts from notebook to notebook, but I felt like it was just another thing I ended up having to check. I wasn’t able to get the bird’s eye view of my ideas to shape them into an editorial calendar. I tried using my notebook to list ideas, but since I’m a one notebook at a time person, ideas would get lost in the mix. Same with just starting and stopping files in my Google Drive folder.
And then I heard about Trello, a project organization tool. At first, I was on the fence, I thought Trello was just for software development. After reading How to Organize Your Entire Life with Trello on Lifehacker I set up a free account. I was blown away by how a simple tool could give me the perspective I needed and integrate so seamlessly into my business.
Here’s how I’ve set up Trello to keep up with blog post ideas, tasks, workflow and editorial calendar for the Creative, She Wrote blog.
1. Set up a board for the blog
The three core components of Trello are Boards, Lists, and Cards. Each project you’re working on is a Board, and each board looks like a horizontal web page made up of lists. Let’s start with setting up a board.
For Creative, She Wrote I have boards for organizing my business, weekly task management, daily task management, my blog and things I need to do when I move to Maine.
The boards that I regularly work with, I’ve starred for quick reference.
You can also add others to your board to create a team for collaboration, and set each board to public, private, or team-only. You can have boards for your project work and boards for your collaborative projects accessible from one location, no switching out and logging back in; love that.
If you’re following this post as a tutorial, then go ahead and set up a Trello board for your blog. If you’re collaborating with multiple people, you can go ahead and add them to the board too. They’ll be notified by email at the address you define for them and be asked to create an account if they’re new to Trello.
2. Create a list for each stage of your writing process
Each Trello board is essentially a horizontal web page of lists. Lists are a way of organizing your workflow; they’re containers for tasks and ideas.
While researching possibilities for my blog board, I found this example on the Trello blog by Lauren Moon:
This board uses lists for Article Ideas, Researching, On Hold, Writing, Editing and Graphics, Scheduled, Promotion, Ready for Graphics, and Published.
Within the Creative, She Wrote Blog board; I’ve created lists for Ideas, Drafts, Ready for Graphics, Scheduled, and Published posts. The order matches the workflow and the steps to publishing blog posts. A post starts as an idea, is a draft while I’m writing it, after edits is ready for graphics, gets scheduled into my blog queue, and then published.
Because I write a quantity of blog posts at one time, it’s helpful for me to have all of my ideas in one place.
What makes sense for your creative process? Within your new Board, create a list for each step of your publishing process.
3. Assign each blog post to a card
With your board setup and lists created, you’re ready to rock out on the organization. A card is the third component to Trello. A card represents a task or idea, and the flexibility to move from one list to another.
For the Blog board, for each post idea, I create a new card. Whenever I come up with a new idea, I just add it to the list.
Cards can also be moved between boards, copied, subscribed to, and archived. Subscribing to a card notifies you of all of the cards activity. Archiving a card closes it from view, and if you want to delete a card, you must archive it first.
As I begin writing a post, and it moves through the Draft, Ready for Graphics, and other phases I move the card from one list to another, which helps me see at a glance what stage each blog post is at.
Trello also allows you to add more details to each card which for me was the game-changer between a bunch of stickies on my wall to an actual system and tool for organizing my blog.
Here are the features of a card, that you too can access when you click on a card.
What you enter into the title text field is the name on the card in the list. I use it for the tentative title for the blog post.
For blogging, you might use this for an overview of what you’re intending to compose. In my process, I tend to know this when I’m in the Draft phase, so while a blog post is just an idea, I leave it blank.
If you’re collaborating on a project or post, you might like to allow someone to share in the activities to getting it done. When you add a board member to your card they’re automatically subscribed to be notified of a cards activity and can view:
- All comments
- Adding, changing, and upcoming due dates
- Card moves and archives
It can be helpful to create labels for each of your blog post categories and assign those to your card. Labels appear as bits of color on the top of the card. Regarding an editorial calendar, seeing them might help you to schedule various types of post for an excellent blend, or when brainstorming allows you to see gaps or categories that might need attention.
Checklists are lists of actions or steps you need to take for a blog post to reach task completion. I list out each step of the process, the things I need to do: Outline, Write it, Edit Copy, Check Links, Create Graphic, Schedule Post.
Once you’ve created your first checklist, you can copy it to another card for a repeatable process. From the Actions menu, click the Checklist button. In the Add a Checklist window, you can then enter a custom title, and copy the list of tasks from another card.
Creating a schedule and keeping track of deadlines has never been easier thanks to this feature. I use this feature to plan the blog post schedule and keep track of the day and time a blog post will go live.
Trello allows you to see a calendar view of the blog posts due dates for the Board by clicking the calendar icon in the top righthand corner.
Through the calendar view, you can change the due date of your cards by dragging the card to a different date on your calendar and click on the card to view details.
If you’d like to see your calendar in iCal or Google Calendar, Trello allows you to subscribe the calendar by creating a unique link for it. From the Menu, click Power Ups, and copy the unique calendar feed URL. Since Google Calendar is one of the first places I check to organize myself, knowing what blog post is on deck is very helpful for prioritizing.
The attachments feature lets you upload files from your computer, Google Drive, Dropbox, and more. You can also paste a link to URL.
I write all of my blog posts in Google Drive. To add the post as an attachment I select Google Drive from the menu, navigate the pop-up to find the blog post, and it’s added to the card.
With all of this in mind, it’s time to start creating cards for blog posts for each of your blog ideas and get organized! As you follow your publishing workflow for each post, check off the tasks you’ve completed in your checklist, and move the card to the next list in your timeline. It’s so easy to keep track of the details.
I know I’ve found this revolutionary to creating content for my blogs and keeping up with the rigors of consistent posting. I’m currently exploring how to use Trello to stay on top of the other aspects of my business and organizing my day-to-day. I think you’ll find it helpful too.