When it comes to operating at my highest level of productivity, I place a huge emphasis on preparation and planning. I find that my most productive months stem from a few hours of planning at the beginning of each month.
Take a little time to get your head straight, re-calibrate, and plan your content for the upcoming month. I promise that you will find yourself accomplishing so much more, and at a faster pace.
First things first, download your FREE printable checklist that will help you to remain accountable and complete these useful monthly tasks. Just click the button below to grab your copy.
Stay accountable and organized every single month.
This is my personal monthly task list that I complete before I begin any content creation for the month.
1. Document Last Month's Analytics
It is important to document your blog's statistics each month so that you can track the progress that you make. Create a spreadsheet in Excel and take note of the following:
Unique Monthly Visitors | How many new people visited your site the month
Total Visitors | The total number of people that visited your site the month
Top 3 Posts | The three most popular posts for the month
Bounce Rate | The percentage of visitors who navigate away from the site after viewing only one page
Total Income | The total amount of income that was made the month
Total Expenses | The total amount of expenses that were incurred for the month
Net Income | The total amount of monthly income, less the total expenses
Additional Notes | Include any other relevant notes such as brands that you collaborated with, events you attended, etc.
2. Determine the Theme of the Month
Before beginning to plan your editorial calendar for the month, determine if there are any upcoming holidays, milestones, or blogger events that might influence your content direction. For example, if it is April, cater your content to spring. Feature posts highlighting your favorite spring accessories, light salad recipes, or spring cleaning tips!
3. Plan Editorial Calendar for the Month
Once you have determined if there are any special holidays or events occurring this month, you can begin planning your editorial calendar. I like to plan upcoming blog posts in my Epic Blog Planner. It helps me to stay organized and keeps all important information in one place.
Make sure to not only plan each blog post, but to include any shopping lists or materials necessary to write the post. In the blog planner there is a place to list each post and the items you need to complete it.
4. Plan Content Shoots
After you have your editorial calendar planned for the month, you can begin planning any shoots that you might have in the upcoming weeks. I like to keep a secret board on my Pinterest account with photo inspiration for each shoot. I then make a shot list and a supply list for each separate shoot so that I know what I need to collect beforehand.
This keeps me from running around the day of with my head cut off trying to curl my hair and find a blue place mat (or insert random object needed in shoot here) at the same time.
5. Plan Instagram Shoots
I find that when it comes to Instagram, batching my Instagram photos into two shoots per month helps me to stay on top of posting consistently high quality content several times a day.
At the very least I try to have two weeks full of Instagram content planned so that I am prepared for the days that I shoot the actual photos. Make a shot list and a supply list for all of the outfits, items, etc. that you need for the shoot and it will take a lot of the pressure off of producing the quality photos that you want.
6. Schedule Social Media Posts
Pre-scheduling my social media posts on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest takes some of the pressure off of managing my social media strategies on each platform. While it isn't necessary to plan and schedule content for the ENTIRE month, I would at least schedule out posts two weeks in advance.
Here are some social media scheduling tools that are available to check out and see if they are the right fit for you and your business:
7. Set Monthly Goals
Setting goals each month will help you to clearly define your objectives and the steps that you need to take in order to complete them. In addition to this, it is helpful to be able to look back on the goals that you have set for past months and reflect on the progress that you have made since setting them.
Think of it as giving yourself a mini blog report card! Everyone loves a gold star.
Reflect on the intentions and goals that you would like to set for the upcoming month. Are there any brands that you are wanting to work with? Any traffic goals that you would like to hit? Take all aspects of your business into consideration when setting these goals!
I like to then, break each goal into five manageable steps that will make the goal easier to complete.
8. Budget for Any Purchases
Take a few minutes to plan for any large purchases or monthly fees that you will be paying this month. All of those little $20 here $30 there purchases really add up. I like to get a rough idea of what I need for the month and what I will subsequently be spending.
9. De-clutter Your Space
I struggle to work in a messy environment. Clutter = distractions in my book! I like to take an hour or so at the beginning of each month to make sure that my desktop is clean and tidy. I will file any papers that need to be put away, dust off my computer monitor, refill the giant bowl of skittles that I have on my desk... you know - the necessities!
In addition to cleaning my physical desktop off, I like to go in and de-clutter my laptop and desktop computer desktop. Boy can that thing get messy... After a month of blogging it becomes a virtual garbage can for random files and images that I don't need to save.
10. Reflect on the Past Month
Think back on the month before. Was there anything that you would have approached differently? What could you have done more efficiently? What was your greatest accomplishment?
Reassessing your methods and goals each month will keep you on track and ensure your productivity and progress as your blog continues to grow.
Stay accountable and organized every single month.
Take the Time to Prep
By taking a few hours at the beginning of each month to plan, you are setting the foundation for a stress free, productive month. Success is when hard work and preparation meets luck. Do the prep work now and you will thank yourself later!