Productivity

  • How to Break Your Business Out of a Funk

    It happens to us all. You’re cruising along happily in your business and then you hit a wall.

    Your productivity and motivation disappear.

    Your income slows down. Or, even worse, comes to a complete standstill.

    Things just don’t feel like they’re working any more. It’s a horrible feeling as a business owner – you’re not sure whether it’s time to throw the towel in or it’s just a bit of a business funk.

    I’ll tell you now, that more often than not, you’re just in a bit of a business funk and it will pass. Your funk might just last for a couple of hours but it might last weeks or even months.

    So, you know you need to break your business out of a funk but how? Don’t worry, this post is going to outline all of the ways you can tackle that business funk and your biz moving forwards again.

    Break Your Business Out of a Funk

    ** This blog post contains affiliate links. I may earn a small commission to fund my latte drinking habit if you use these links. You will not be charged extra, and you’ll keep me supplied in caffeine which enables me to keep creating awesome new content for you. It’s a win for everyone, really. For full details, please click here**

    Review Your Goals and Your “Why”

    A great place to start when you’re trying to break your business out of a funk is to go back to the roots. Think about why you started your biz in the first place.

    Taking a step away from the day-to-day tasks and the immediate hurdles that you might be facing in your business at the moment and looking at the bigger picture can be really helpful.

    If you don’t have a “why” or any big-picture goals, then now is the time to get them in place. Chances are that you do actually have them, but you’ve never sat down and thought about them as your official business goals! Whether you’re starting out from scratch, or just feel like revisiting and updating your goals, check out this post all about how to set business goals the right way.

    By going back to the “why”, you’re refocusing your mind on the end goal which should give you a new lease of business life and a renewed sense of determination.

    Take Some Time Off

    I don’t know about you, but some of my best ideas come to me when I’m not working. Whether it’s in the shower or when you’re stuck in traffic on the way home from Ikea, inspiration strikes us when we’re least expecting it.

    Not only is taking time off from your business good for new ideas but actually taking a step away from your business and switching off from it completely is great for your mental health. We spend far too long staring at screens or pouring over our latest creations.

    We rarely take time off.

    I know for a fact that I never, ever switch off from work. Even if I’ve turned my laptop off for the day and we’ve put a film on, I’m still checking emails on my phone or scrolling through social media and “networking” with other business owners. I just don’t stop!

    And I know it’s really bad for me – it’s often the cause of my business slumps.

    If you work too hard, you will get burnt out. So taking some time off from work completely will help you get some well-deserved rest. Try and leave the stresses of work behind; even if it’s only for a couple of hours. You can always build up to eventually taking a full day or even a week off!

    Have a Business Retreat

    Working “in” your business is very different to working “on” your business. And, if you’re trying to break your business out of a funk, there’s nothing better than taking some time to work “on” your business.

    Working in your business is all about doing the tasks that make the business function and bring in money. Working on your business is all about strategising and putting in systems that help you work in your business efficiently.

    But it’s hard to work on your business when all of your time is spent working in it – completing client work, creating new products…basically doing the things that make you money. And then of course, once that’s all done, you want to take some “time off”. Time to keep your house clean, time to eat and time to watch Netflix.

    That’s why a retreat is great. It can be as simple as setting aside a day to work in your home office or local cafe and focusing on those systems and cleaning up your business functions (like finally getting round to organising your inboxes!) If you’re looking for something a little more heavy-duty, why not book yourself an AirBnB for the weekend (or week), pop your out of office on and really get into things.

    If a retreat is out of the question for you or you want to find more time to work on your business and not just in it on a regular basis, check out this awesome post from Nesha Woolery.

    Chat to Other Business Owners

    I will bet all of the hazelnut lattes in the world that you are not the only business owner who’s trying to break your business out of funk right now.

    Every single day there will be thousands of entrepreneurs and business mums just sitting there at a complete standstill in their business wondering what the hell to do!

    So why not reach out to them and chat about what’s holding you back at the moment. It doesn’t matter if they’re in a slump at the moment or not, chatting with other business owners is always inspiring and might be just what you need to get back on the horse and get your business out of a funk!

    Facebook groups are a great place to meet other business owners. There are groups for business mums, businesses in your local area or businesses in the same niche as you – whatever your criteria, there will be a group for it. Why not check out the Flourishing Business Mum’s Facebook Group and grab a copy of my list of 201 Facebook Groups for Bloggers and Entrepreneurs to get you started?

    Learn Something New

    Depending on what kind of funk you’re in, you might want to learn something new that’s biz related – or maybe not!

    I often find that when I need to get my biz out of a funk, I focus on one area of it that I know I need to improve and set about teaching myself how to do that. For example, I know that my email funnels could be much, much better which, in turn, would help boost my revenue. So, if I’m feeling stuck in my biz, I look for blog posts or courses etc. to help me build better funnels.

    This links back to working on your biz rather than in it because you’re still doing something to build and improve your business but you’re not getting bogged down in the things that are frustrating you at the moment.

    Alternatively, why not take a complete break from your business and learn something new that you’ve always fancied but never tried. It might sound weird but when you need to break your business out of a funk, focusing your mind on something completely different and entirely capativating can help massively.

    If you’re a creative like me, it’s no use trying to switch off from work by watching a film or going to dinner. Your brain will still be running a million miles an hour, thinking about your biz. BUT, if you’re learning something new, that big ‘ol brain is so focused on absorbing that new information that you forget about those business frustrations. When you do eventually go back to working in or on your business, your mind will have had a well-earned break and your focused and clarity should be much better!

    Try Something New

    If you really, really, really feel stuck and can’t possibly see a way to break your business out of a funk, maybe it’s time to mix things up a little.

    In my mind, being in a funk and quitting are a long way apart and there are a lot of steps and possibilities in between.

    So, before you give up, take a look at those goals and your overall “why” and rethink things. Are there things in your business that just aren’t working? Are there parts of your business that just aren’t bringing an ROI (return on investment)? Or are there things that you’ve wanted to try for a long time but never had the chance to?

    Sometimes, trying something new in your business gives you a new sense of purpose, determination and enthusiasm for what you do.

    The only thing I will add to this one is a word of warning – think carefully about any big changes you might want to make. Whilst adding a couple of new products to your line is a fairly minor adjustment, having a total rebrand and targeting an entirely new market is likely to slow business way down in the short term.

    Believe in Yourself

    One of the biggest walls I hit with my businesses comes down to self-doubt and the downward spiral that ensues!

    Sometimes I find myself doubting my products and services so much that I don’t promote them. I think I’ll improve them (and myself) before I start promoting and showcasing what I have to offer again. Then, because I’m not promoting, business slows down a little which only makes me doubt myself more. And so on.

    I know I’m not alone in this and that means neither are you!

    Getting out of this mindset can often help you break your business out of a funk but the big question here is how to break yourself out of that mindset and break free from the cycle. For me, the answer is to keep pushing through regardless – that’s just the best method I have found to work for me personally.

    For other people, it’s about looking back at what has worked well and really celebrating those achievements. Other people invest in a coach to help them through. It all comes down to trying different tactics and finding what works for you.

    So there you have seven ways to break your business out of a funk.

    Is there anything I missed off the list? Let me know what works for you when you need to get out of a business funk. 

  • 20 Awesome Tools to Skyrocket Your Productivity Today

    Are you ready to skyrocket your productivity and get more done?

    When I speak to people (whether they’re mamas or not), the thing that they say they struggle with the most when running a business is productivity. When I ask what’s holding them back, “I don’t have time” is the most common answer.

    They are either lacking the time to get everything done or simply getting distracted by things around them.

    But there is an answer to this – to use our time differently and run our businesses in a more effective and efficient way. To get more done in the time we have and to spend less time sitting at our desks buried in work.

    It’s time for us to claim back our time, streamline our businesses, work more efficiently and, most importantly, have time for other things in our lives again.

    There are tonnes of tools and apps out there and the temptation can be to try and use them all. At the same time. This will only get you bogged down in playing around with those tools and apps and spending even less time in your business. But don’t worry, I’ve got you covered with this list of 20 awesome tools that will skyrocket your productivity.

    Skyrocket your productivity with these 20 awesome tools. By using these simple tools and apps to organise your business you can streamline your business, become more efficient and spend less time in your business

    ** This blog post contains affiliate links. I may earn a small commission to fund my latte drinking habit if you use these links. You will not be charged extra, and you’ll keep me supplied in caffeine which enables me to keep creating awesome new content for you. It’s a win for everyone, really. For full details, please click here**

    20 AWESOME TOOLS TO SKYROCKET YOUR PRODUCTIVITY

    Planning and Project Management Tools

    Asana

    If you’re ready to skyrocket your productivity, we need to start with the very basics – planning!

    All too often we get excited by the prospect of a new project and just dive in head first with very little planning happening. We get distracted by unimportant tasks and new business ideas and, before we know it, we’ve forgotten about important tasks and deadlines.

    If you work with multiple clients and customers you DO NOT want to be missing deadlines!

    That’s where Asana comes in!

    Asana is a free project management tool that allows you to keep track of everything business related (and non-business related if you really want to!) You can have up to 15 team members and unlimited projects and workspaces on the free plan too.

    I personally create workspaces for each client so that we can share everything within that workspace and then create projects within that workspace. You can assign tasks to team members and set deadlines for them too which is great for when there is more than one person working on a particular thing. Your clients can also allocate things to you too which saves time and multiple emails clogging up your inbox.

    Google Calendar

    Alongside Asana, I use Google Calendar to help ensure that my personal life, business and any other appointments don’t clash or get out of hand.

    Any appointments that I schedule through emails, such as client calls, automatically get added to the calendar. I add in any personal appointments I have too (midwife appointments, lunch with my mum etc.) so I know what times I am working each day.

    My Google Calendar is synced to my phone and I share it with my other half too which means that no matter where I am, I always know what appointments I have scheduled, when I have meetings and when we have family things planned too.

    I actually take things one step further and use my Google Calendar to block out time each day for pretty much everything. Whilst this might be too much for some people, it really helps my productivity. For example, I know how long I have to complete housework before I start my workday. The temptation when you work from home can be to keep doing chores all day long which isn’t great for your business! Having set times for different things in my life such as client work, my blog work, general admin, housework and general downtime, means that I’m more productive in each of those windows that I have blocked out.

    Skyrocket Your Productivity

    Airtable

    Even since Zoe Linda introduced me to Airtable I’ve been obsessed with it!

    In their own words, Airtable is a spreadsheet that acts like a database. Now, I don’t know about you but I **LOVE** a good spreadsheet! And, whilst the initial set up of a good spreadsheet might take me a few hours, over the course of a few months, they can save me hours, if not days of work!

    I use Airtable to plan and track everything in all of my business from content calendars to finance and sales funnel tracking. I find Airtable much easier to use than Excel and, as someone who is very visual, I love the way it looks (hello, colour coding heaven!)

    If you want to learn more about how to use Airtable to skyrocket your productivity, check out this post by Terra from Uncork Your Dork.

    Client Management

    Dubsado

    I’ll hold my hands up now and say that I put off investing in Dubsado for way too long! I thought I could manage my clients using spreadsheets, Word and Excel (yeah, not even the online versions!)

    The moment that I signed up to Dubsado and saw what it was actually capable of, I knew it was going to make a huge difference to my productivity. Instead of sending emails to potential clients with lots of questions about what kind of assistance they required, I could create a template and set it to send automatically when someone completed an initial inquiry form. I could suddenly send contracts that the clients could sign with the click of a button which would then form part of their record in Dubsado. I could create and send invoices at the click of a button and auto-schedule payment reminders instead of having to set diary dates and chase people manually!

    It really does save tonnes of time having everything you need for one client in a single place – no need to refer back to a long string of emails and Facebook messages to track down minor details. And, as an added bonus, each client can have their own client portal so that they too can access things like their contract, emails, previous invoices etc. in one easy to access, convenient place.

    The Contract Shop

    You’re probably sitting there thinking this isn’t a tool that can skyrocket your productivity but bear with me!

    One of the things that we try to do when we first start our businesses is…EVERYTHING!

    We literally try to do every single thing ourselves. And I get it, I really do. I was the same. Part of it is a pride thing – we want to be able to say that we built our businesses from scratch all by ourselves. Another part of it is money – if we’re just starting out, not many of us have “spare cash” lying around to just pay other people to help us.

    BUT sometimes, we need to get help from other people. And the legal areas of running a blog or business are one of those times. I spent hours and hours researching what terms and conditions I needed to have on my site and how to make sure I was GDPR compliant. Then I spent days writing those Terms and Conditions and a Privacy Policy. And then even more time double-checking and worrying about them.

    In reality, all I needed to do was head over to The Contract Shop and purchase the ready-made GDPR Compliant Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policy Template, add in my own details and paste them onto my site.

    The great thing about The Contract Shop is that it’s run by Christina Scalera, who really knows her legal stuff and has something for pretty much everyone! Here are just a few examples of what you can find in The Contract Shop that will save you not only time but also the headache of having to draft things yourself:

    Calendly

    No more going backwards and forwards 20,000 times over email with a new client just to find a time that suits you both for a 20-minute call!

    With Calendly, you can set your available times, send a link to your client and they can choose a time that suits them from your calendar. It’s super simple and free to use (there are some features that you’ll need to upgrade for but I’ve found the free version fine!)

    Simply set up a free account, make sure that you keep your availability up to date and say goodbye to all of that wasted time trying to set up calls.

    Social Media and Graphics

    SmarterQueue

    Really want to skyrocket your productivity? Then SmarterQueue is what you need in your business! Social media scheduling used to be a huge black hole of wasted time for me. Don’t get me wrong, social media and marketing your business is ESSENTIAL but it can take hours and hours of time. Time that you could be spending working with your clients directly or creating new products to sell to your customers…or you know, hanging out with your family! With SmarterQueue you create categories for your posts like these:
    • Own blog posts
    • Own products
    • Affiliate links
    • Posts from other people
    • Tips and tricks

    You then add a whole list of posts to each category and select the time slots that you want to share those categories with your audience on each platform. And what really saves you time? If your mark those posts as “evergreen” SmarterQueue will recycle them for you once they’ve been posted. You don’t have to log in and retype them every week or month! If you want to know more about using SmarterQueue and how I’ve saved myself over 8 hours a week using it, check out this post.

    Planoly

    Planoly is my favourite tool when it comes to scheduling Instagram posts.

    I’ve found that I’m much, much productive when I can batch tasks. This includes scheduling my Instagram posts which I do every Sunday for the week ahead. I sit down for half an hour, plan out my content and schedule it out.

    There are a couple of reasons that I chose Planoly as my go-to Instagram scheduler and they all come down to saving time and being more productive.

    Firstly, you can use Planoly on your laptop/desktop. I don’t know about you but I hate typing out long captions to an Instagram post on my phone. I can type much faster, and more naturally on my keyboard.

    Next up, you can save groups of hashtags within Planoly and add them to your posts with the click of a button. For example, I have a group of productivity related hashtags, a group of VA specific hashtags, a group for my favourite blogging hashtags and so on. Trust me when I tell you that this feature will save you so. much. time.

    Third on my list is the drag and drop grid planner feature. You can see how your images will look on your grid before you post and, if you’re not happy with the layout, you can rearrange them. This isn’t necessarily a time-saver but it is a dream come true for those of us seeking the perfect 9 square!

    Finally, and most importantly for me, Planoly is a trusted third-party app to Instagram. This means that they are allowed to automatically post to Instagram for you. You simply add the caption and hashtags to the image you want to post, schedule a date and time and select “autopost”. Repeat until you have scheduled your posts for the day, week or month and Planoly will take care of the rest. No more push notifications on your phone. No more having to log into the app on your phone and copy everything over to Instagram.

    Tailwind

    Let’s face it, none of us has the time (or the energy) to be on Pinterest 24 hours a day. Well, maybe we do for home inspiration and hairstyle ideas, but not for work!

    In order to save time and avoid spending hours trying to pin 50 pins each day, I schedule ahead of time using Tailwind.

    Tailwind has a Chrome, Firefox and Safari extension so you can pin from anywhere which is a huge timesaver. You can also batch pin by pinning one single pin to multiple relevant boards. Tailwind also has great analytics and suggests the best times for you to pin so you don’t have to work it all out for yourself.

    If you’re completely new to Pinterest and you’re not sure where to start, check out this eBook from Ana at the She Approach.

    It’s not just any old eBook though, here’s what you get: 

    • A 170+ page eBook with detailed strategies on how to get started with Pinterest, craft an advanced pinning schedule and boost your blog traffic like a pro
    • Access to 17 case studies from bloggers and biz owners who mastered Pinterest (and their best kept secrets)
    • Free video training: How to create stunning Pinterest graphics and templates in Canva
    • Free video training: How to find, report, take down and prevent stolen images on Pinterest
    And all of this is just $35! It’s an absolute bargain and perfect for anyone just starting out with Pinterest or looking to boost their accounts and traffic.

    Canva

    You know all of those lovely graphics you need to create for your website and social media accounts, including pins for Pinterest? Imagine how much you could skyrocket your productivity is there was a quick and easy tool to help you create them?

    Well, there is and it’s called Canva! Now I know that the graphic designers out there will be cringing at my recommendation of Canva, screaming at their screens that tools like Photoshop and Illustrator are much better but for most of us, Canva will do the job. Plus it’s super easy to use.

    How does it save you time? Well, you can create as many templates as you need and simply edit the text each time you need to use one. If you’re not creative or you simply don’t have time to sit down and put a set of templates together, check out these beautiful templates from Bluchic:

    Styled Stock Society

    When it comes to making our websites look great and curating those lovely social media graphics that entice people to click through to our sites and buy from us, image is everything.

    When I first started blogging I would spend hours putting together flatlays, taking hundreds of pictures and editing them. Just for them to look less than ordinary and actually make my blog look pretty amateur. Then I came across the world of stock photos and, more specifically, the Styled Stock Society membership.

    There are currently over 1,400 images in their library with new content being added each week. There really is something for everyone, with categories such as lifestyle, desktop, mockups and seasonal images.

    Communications

    Slack

    Emails are so last season!

    Whether you’re working in a team or looking for a time-saving way to communicate with your clients, I will always recommend Slack. It’s kind of like going back to the old days of MSN messenger but with new, quicker, more professional technology!

    You can message each other instantly, share documents and create team channels (like group chats), making those one-line emails a thing of the past.

    Not only is it quick and easy to type your shorter messages into Slack but it also means you won’t have as many emails in your inbox each day which is another task off your list. Another added bonus is that it’s free to use. Like most of the “free” tools, there are upgrades available but I’ve never needed to upgrade to the paid version of Slack.

    Loom

    Do you feel like you’d be able to skyrocket your productivity if only you didn’t have to write or type everything out? I hear ya!

    Loom is an amazing tool that you can record yourself and/or your computer screen with. As a VA, this is a total lifesaver. If I need to show a client how I’ve set up a new workspace or Airtable spreadsheet, I simply record a quick tutorial on my screen. No need to write a 20-page manual for them.

    And it works the other way too. I often ask clients to record themselves completing a task that they have allocated to me to do in the future so that I can follow the exact same process at them. Having the video makes it easier to follow instructions and it means that you can go back and re-watch it again as many times as you need.

    Oh, and did I mention that Loom is free too? There is a paid version but I’ve never needed to use any of its features.

    Zoom

    Sometimes (most of the time) it’s much easier and more time efficient to jump on a call and talk something through with someone. Emails can be misread and are often long-winded, causing more confusion than they solve!

    That’s why I use the free version of Zoom to have video calls with my clients. It’s really easy to use. You create a meeting and send the link to the other person (you can be super efficient and send it to them via Slack!)

    There are a number of options available so you can use Zoom in a way that suits you. You can opt to use the audio only (great for those days when you’ve got a call 2 minutes after you’ve woken up!), you can use your camera and you can share your screen. You can mix and match these options too.

    One feature of Zoom that I absolutely love, and is a great time saver, is the record feature. You can record your video to play back later. This is ideal for initial discovery calls with clients where there’s lots of information that you want to note down. You don’t want to get distracted by handwriting notes during the call so just record it and listen back later.

    Emails

    ConvertKit

    As most of you will already know, I always recommend ConvertKit to anyone looking to build an email list.

    When you first look at ConvertKit and all of its amazing functions you might wonder how this amazing tool will skyrocket your productivity. Surely, you’re just going to lose hours on end trying to get everything set up?

    Well yes, and no.

    It might take you a while to get to grips with ConvertKit and get everything set up. But, once you do, you can automate pretty much everything email related in your business! From delivering freebies to new subscribers to creating and automating free email courses, there’s nothing that ConvertKit can’t do for you!

    As I mentioned, there are tonnes of functions and things that ConvertKit can do for you which can be overwhelming. That’s why I joined – and would recommend to anyone else wanting to use ConvertKit to join – the ConvertKit Club by Elizabeth Buckley-Goddard

    If you’re unsure about joining the membership or just want a quick guide to Convertkit, Elizabeth also offers this free beginners guide to Convertkit.

    Gmail and GSuite

    I have to say that the biggest thing I ever did to increase my productivity was to get organised!

    It sounds silly but every single day I was wasting so much time looking for documents and images and emails and…well, basically everything because nothing on my laptop was in any sort of order.

    When I got myself a professional looking email with Gmail, I took advantage of the storage that came with it. Not only did Google Drive provide me with the perfect place to save and organise my stuff, but it also proved to be a fantastic way to share documents with clients and team members too.

    Others

    LastPass

    Do you spend 10-15 minutes searching for your login details every single time you need to log into anything online? I know I used to.

    Originally, I kept them in a spreadsheet but, well…you know, that’s not very safe! Then I discovered LastPass.

    It’s a great tool that saves your login details securely. The Chrome extension will automatically complete the details on the login screen of online programs you use. You can also share passwords with other LastPass users without them actually being able to see what your password is. This is great for client work or when you’re working with a team of people. You can send your details via LastPass meaning that they can log into your accounts without seeing your password

    It will also generate passwords for you should you need to create new passwords for anything.

    Grammarly

    When I sit down to write a blog post or long email, I like to write. And write. And write some more until everything I need to say is on the screen. I don’t like to write a few words and then edit and then write a few more and edit. It’s just not my style.

    I also don’t like to write a huge blog post – like this beast that is over 3,000 words long – and then spend an extra 2 hours proofreading it. Quite honestly it’s a boring task. Plus, I’m usually so tired from writing that I don’t actually spot my own mistakes.

    That’s why I use the free Grammarly extension. It’s basically like Word’s spellcheck but for online “stuff”. Yes, you have to go through and correct the red underlined words but it’s faster than editing from scratch.

    Bluchic Templates

    I mentioned Bluchic templates earlier in this post but they’ve saved me so much time that they’re getting another mention.

    On top of the Canva Social Media Templates, Bluchic also sell some beautiful Landing Page Templates.

    What. A. Game. Changer.

    I’ve honestly spent hours and hours trying to create the perfect landing pages for various things. And, no matter what I did, they never seemed to be quite right. After purchasing a theme from Bluchic (the one I use on here), I was so impressed that I checked out some of their other stuff too.

    After purchasing the templates I’ve been able to create sales pages, tripwires and more in the blink of an eye. All of the pages have played a huge part in automating various areas of my business, in particular in setting up sales funnels.

    The bundle of templates includes:

    • Opt-in Page
    • Tripwire Offer Page
    • Thank You Page
    • Webinar Registration Page
    • Live Webinar Page
    • Sales Page
    • Offer Expired Page

    The templates are designed to be used in WordPress with the Elementor plugin which I’m a huge fan of. You simply upload the templates, add the relevant one to your page and edit the content to suit your needs! Easy peasy!

    Not only will they help you save time in the short term but they’ll take you a long way in automating other parts of your business too!

    Tomato Timer

    The final tool on this list of 20 tools to skyrocket your productivity today – the Tomato Timer!

    There’s not really much to say about this. I am a huge fan of it and use it every single day.

    You may or may not have heard of the Pomodoro technique. The idea is that you work in short, uninterrupted bursts. So, you work for 25 minutes with no extra browser tabs open, no phone, no TV etc. followed by a 5-minute break. When I do this, I use the Tomato Timer to keep track of my short bursts of work.

    Why? Because I have zero self-control. And every time I pick up my phone I spend 45 minutes scrolling through Facebook and Instagram! With the Tomato Timer, I just open up another tab and leave my phone completely out of reach.

    Phew! That’s a long old list. Whilst it might seem overwhelming, making small changes and using these tools in your business will save hours of time.

    Let me know what your favourite productivity tools are in the comments below.

  • How I Save Myself 8 Hours Each Week on Social Media

    What if I told you that you could save time scheduling social media?

    We all know how important it is to be active on social media to build our brands, network and grow traffic. But what nobody seems to talk about is how time-consuming it all is. I could easily spend all day every day on social media (and that doesn’t count my own personal accounts where I watch cute animal videos for hours on end)!

    When I first started out, I would spend 10-12 hours each week scheduling social media posts. Every Sunday, I’d put on a film (well, usually 2 or 3 films), sit down on the sofa and schedule my social media updates and promos for the week ahead. With around 20 Tweets, 2 Instagram posts, 2 Facebook Group posts and 4 updates on my Facebook Page each day, I would easily spend 5-6 hours on this.

    Then came Pinterest. When I was pinning things manually, I would spend at least an hour each day on Pinterest.

    Whilst what I was doing was time-consuming, it was working. My traffic from social media was growing daily, But, maintaining that level of work each week was impossible. That was until I found a solution!

    Here’s how I save time scheduling social media each week now (by about 8 hours).

    Save Time Scheduling Social Media

    **This post may contain affiliate links for products I love. If you make a purchase through one of these links, I will earn a commission at no extra cost to you. For my full disclaimer, please click here**

    1. Plan Your Blog Content Ahead of Time

    One of the main things that helps me save time scheduling social media is knowing what I’m going to be posting.

    There’s nothing like a last-minute blind panic to slow you down. Trust me, when you rush, you make mistakes and everything takes twice as long!

    Planning ahead also means that you can batch tasks which saves more time. You can read my full post on increasing productivity by batching here.

    I use a simple blog post planner to plan out my blog content at least 2 months in advance. You can grab a FREE copy of my blog post planner template here.

    Knowing what you’re going to publish and when on your blog might not seem like it’s going to save you any time when it comes to social media scheduling but I’ll get on to that in more detail in a second.




    2. Use Templates for Images

    If you’re looking for a way to significantly save time scheduling social media, templates are it!

    Here I’m talking about using templates for your images and graphics. I’ll be talking about templates for your updates and promos later.

    Really helpfully, every social media platform requires different dimensions for your images! So, for each blog post that I write, I create 6 images – one for Facebook, one for Twitter, 1 for Instagram (which doubles as my featured image) and three different pins.

    Creating 6 new images for each post I publish could take hours. But, because I use templates, it takes me less than 10 minutes to create all 6.

    I’ll be completely transparent and honest here and tell you that it took me the best part of a weekend to get all the templates set up but it was so worth it in the long run.

    Here’s how to create your templates:

    Main Image

    I started by creating Pinterest images because they are the largest in terms of dimensions (which helps when it comes to resizing later).

    Using Canva, I created a Pin using their Pinterest Image template. I added in the shapes, colours, fonts etc. that I wanted to feature on all of my graphics, ensuring that they were on brand. Then I uploaded all of the stock images I had and created 50 copies of the same pin, each with a different stock image in the background.

    I have all 50 of these templates saved in a folder on Canva now. Each time I draft a new post, I go into that folder, choose a template, make a copy of it (so I don’t lose the original template) and edit the text to fit the new post. It takes me no more than a couple of minutes to make a pin for each new post.




    Facebook, Twitter and Instagram

    Once the pin is ready, I use the “File” button in the top left-hand corner and hit “Magic Resize”.

    Save Time Scheduling Social Media

    The magic resize function is one of the main reasons that I upgraded my Canva account to pro. It takes the image you’ve already created and makes another copy of it in the correct dimensions for the social media platforms you have selected.

    So, after clicking “Magic Resize”, you will see a list of social media platforms to choose from. Simply select the ones you need and hit “Abracadabra – Resize!”

    Save Time Scheduling Social Media

    The new images will usually require some slight adjusting to make sure that everything fits correctly but in a matter of seconds, you can go from having one Pinterest image to having one for each of your preferred social media platforms!

    Additional Pins

    One of the best pieces of advice I ever read and implemented when it comes to Pinterest is to create multiple pins for each of your posts.

    So, as I mentioned before, I spent a good few hours creating two additional sets of Pinterest templates:

    Save Time Scheduling Social Media Save Time Scheduling Social Media Save Time Scheduling Social Media

    As with the other Pinterest templates, I just select one, make a copy and edit for each new post.

    So now, for each new post I create, I can have 6 images in under 10 minutes just by using the templates I have on Canva.

    3. Use Templates for Your Updates & Promos

    For a little while, I used to write new updates each week. After typing “Do we follow each other on Instagram yet?” 3 or 4 times each Sunday, I realised that I should probably be saving these updates and promos somewhere and simply copying and pasting them.

    I appreciate that not many of you will have taken so long to realise this!

    So I created a spreadsheet like this to save them in:

    Save Time Scheduling Social Media

    As you can see from the tabs across the bottom, there are templates for my blog posts, my other social media accounts, freebies & courses and for affiliates.

    Each time I create a new post, freebie or product, I draft 3 or 4 attention grabbing Tweets and save them in the spreadsheet. I then copy these and expand them out a little bit for Facebook updates.

    Once you have your template Tweets and images ready to go, it’s time to start scheduling!

    4. Use a Scheduling Tool

    My original scheduling tool of choice was Hootsuite. And I would still recommend it to bloggers on a budget or those who are just starting out. I would, however, definitely recommend the pro version for $10 per month.

    Each Sunday I would copy and paste the template updates into Hootsuite for each of my social media platforms. Having the templates ready saved me a couple of hours but I was still spending faaaaar too much time on it.

    So, I went on the hunt for something better. Something that would help me save more time. My first port of call was MeetEdgar. I’d seen a lot of other bloggers using it and it had been recommended to me by a couple of people in Facebook Groups.

    MeetEdgar offers a 14 day free trial with no obligation to continue – you don’t even have to add your card details until you decide you want to. I registered for the free trial and had a play around with it. I must admit that I found it really difficult to get to grips with to start with. But, once I was a bit more familiar with it everything looked great.

    That was until my free trial ended and I was faced with the $79 per month price tag! The price now seems to be $49 per month, so they’ve clearly been listening to people.

    Now, I’m not one to shy away from spending money on my business but $49 per month seemed really steep – especially when MeetEdgar only supports Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

    That’s when I came across SmarterQueue.

    [divider]

    Grab your FREE 30-day trial here

    [divider]

    How Using SmarterQueue Saves Me 8 Hours Each Week

    Before I go into all of the ways that I save time scheduling social media through SmarterQueue, just feast your eyes on this little video clip.

    At the moment, you SmarterQueue covers these platforms:

    • Facebook Profiles, Pages and Groups
    • Twitter
    • Instagram (through their phone app)
    • LinkedIn Profiles and Company Pages

    They also have a couple of others in the pipeline which will be coming soon:

    • Google+
    • Pinterest

    [divider]

    Grab your FREE 30-day trial here

    [divider]

    Categories and the Content Calendar

    Save Time Scheduling Social Media

    Scheduling your social media content is super easy with SmarterQueue. As you can see from the video above you create a list of categories and fill each category with your posts and updates. You then schedule the categories and SmarterQueue posts something from that category at that time.

    Here you can see that I have created 8 categories – all of which are colour coded. You then use the calendar to schedule which category you want to post when.

    Within each category are the templates that I used to have the spreadsheet I mentioned earlier. So, within the category “Own Blog Posts” there are 3 or 4 Tweets and Facebook posts for each and every blog post I’ve ever written.

    Within the “Social Media Promo” are all of the templates I have that are along the lines of “why not follow me on Twitter”.

    It’s all fairly self-explanatory really! You create your categories based on the types of content you share on your social media account. The number of categories you can have is determined by the package you have.

    Save Time Scheduling Social Media

    When you have created the categories you need, you can add content to them by clicking “Add Content” from the main menu across the top of the screen.

    When the pop-up appears you can select which category and which social media platform you want the content to appear on. Then it’s a simple task of writing your post (or, if you still have a spreadsheet you can bulk upload!)

    Save Time Scheduling Social Media

    You can choose whether you want it to be a one-time only post or Evergreen content that will be recycled.

    Recycling Evergreen Content

    This was the selling point for me really.

    We all know how quickly social media newsfeeds move and, as a result, how important it is to share your updates and posts multiple times.

    On SmarterQueue you can write a post, select “Re-Queue After Posting” and that post will be looped around again and again in your queue. It’s kind of like the Looping feature on Boardbooster. No need to rewrite or copy and paste that post ever again!

    You can even choose how long you want that post to be re-queued. It can never expire or you can choose a set number of posting times or a date after which the post expires. How cool is that?

    Save Time Scheduling Social Media

    Finding Other People’s Content to Share

    A huge part of running a successful blog or business is about networking and sharing content from other people. I used to trawl through my favourite blogs to find articles that I could share with my audience and then add them to my calendar in Hootsuite.

    SmarterQueue makes this so much easier and, you can do it all from your SmarterQueue dashboard!

    You can find content from other people by using a search term or hashtag. Or you can let SmarterQueue suggest content for you. So, in the example below, I searched for “#bloggingtips” on Twitter which returned loads of results. Now all I have to do is scroll through and select which ones I want to share.

    Save Time Scheduling Social Media

    You can also instal the SmarterQueue browser extension which means that you can save content from anywhere online.

    FREE Trial Anyone?

    I know from experience that a huge part of deciding whether to buy something is whether it works for you personally. Just because I’m totally in love with SmarterQueue doesn’t mean that you will be.

    You may work in a different way to me or the features may simply not be what you’re looking for.

    So, why not give it a try for free?

    The free trial is usually 14 days. BUT, if you use my link below, you get a whopping 30 days free! That’s a great amount of time to allow you to get things set up and really see the benefits of using SmarterQueue.

    [divider]

    Grab your FREE 30-day trial here

    [divider]

    In Summary

    Skipped to the end of the post? Here’s what you missed:

    • Have a content calendar for your blog so you know what’s coming ahead of time
    • Create templates for your images using a tool like Canva
    • Invest in a tool like SmarterQueue to loop your evergreen content – set it and then forget it!
    • If you’re not ready to invest in a tool like that yet just yet, opt for something cheaper like Hootsuite and use templates stored in a spreadsheet
    • Grab your 30-day FREE trial of SmarterQueue here.




  • How to Explode Your Account and Gain More Followers on Pinterest

    We all know that Pinterest is a game changer for bloggers. So, it comes as no surprise that people are always looking for ways to gain more followers on Pinterest!

    There are varying opinions out there on how often you should be pinning each day but, it’s safe to say, you should pinning at least 40-50 pins per day if you want to see a significant increase in your followers, re-pins and blog traffic.

    That’s a lot of pinning.

    If you’re like me, finding all of those interesting pins for your boards isn’t the issue. You’d happily spend every single hour of every single day scrolling through Pinterest. But let’s face it, who has time for that?

    I’ll let you into a little secret. You can pin throughout the day and even while you’re asleep, gaining more followers all the time. How? With the little miracle that is Boardbooster.

    Gain More Traffic on Pinterest

    **This post contains Affiliate Links**

    How Can Boardbooster Help You?

    A very good question my friend!

    I’ll start by telling you a little bit about Boardbooster. Well, you probably already know this…it’s a scheduling tool for Pinterest. As I mentioned above, we can’t all spend all of our time glued to Pinterest ensuring that our pins are evenly spread throughout the day and consistent.

    Having a scheduling system in place could allow you to gain hundreds, if not thousands of new Pinterest followers with very little effort.

    There are three main elements to Boardbooster that will help you achieve this – Scheduling, Looping and Campaigns – but we’ll get to those later. First, let’s look at how to set up your Boardbooster account.

    Getting Started with Boardbooster

    You can try Boardbooster for free here. After your free trial is over, you can choose from their monthly plans which start as low as $5.00 per month and go up to $30.00 per month. It’s one of the best investments I’ve made for my blog.

    Once on the Boardbooster website, click on the button that says “Sign Up”. It’s that simple. You don’t need to give any card details when starting your free trial. That comes later.

    You’ll be asked to input some basic information such as your name and Pinterest account details but it is all really simple and straightforward.

    Gain More Followers on Pinterest

    Scheduling

    Scheduling does what it says on the tin really. It allows you to schedule pins to be pinned at a later date. This makes it look like you are active on Pinterest even when you’re not. Bonus!

    The way that scheduling works is that a second version of each board is created. These are then marked as “secret”. You then add your pins to those secret boards and Boardbooster pulls them through to the public version of the board at the time and frequency that you specified.

    I know that sounds a little complicated. When I first read about scheduling on Boardbooster I thought, well that just sounds like pinning to me, why wouldn’t I just pin straight onto the public boards?

    But trust me, it saves you a whole heap of time and you can be “pinning” whilst you’re not even on Pinterest which will free up time to be working on other things.

    Gain More Followers on Pinterest

    Setting Up Scheduling

    Log in to your Boardbooster account. Click on “Pinning Tools” and then “Scheduler”. From here, select “Add boards”. Boardbooster will then connect with your Pinterest account and present you with a list of your Pinterest boards (including your group boards).

    Gain More Followers on Pinterest

    Select each of the boards that you want to schedule and then press  “Continue”.

    This next phase will take a little while. Boardbooster will “talk” to your Pinterest account and create secret boards for each of those boards that you have selected in the previous step. Just be patient with it.

    You will be asked to configure the boards at this stage. I would recommend accepting the suggestions made by Boardbooster at this stage. They will look something like this:

    Gain More Followers on Pinterest

    Once your scheduler is set up you can go back through and make changes as required. From your scheduler home screen, simply click on the board that you want to adjust and you will see a menu like the one below that will allow you to choose how often you want to post to each public board and during what times.

    Gain More Followers on Pinterest

    Adding Pins

    Your scheduling is now set up but you obviously need to identify pins that you want to pinned. Each of the secret boards will have “-” in front of their name so that you can easily identify them on your Pinterest account.

    Log in to your Pinterest account and start searching for the content you want to share. When it comes to pinning, you want to pin to the secret boards that you have created. Each of the secret boards will have “-” in front of their name so that you can easily identify them on your Pinterest account.

    Gain More Followers on Pinterest

    Looping

    Looping is one of my favourite things about Boardbooster. It basically means that it will “loop” your oldest pin on a board and move it to the very top.

    Why? Because the pins at the bottom of your boards can get forgotten about. A lot of people will only scroll so far down your boards, especially if they have a lot of pins on them.

    It also counts towards your “daily pins” so that target of 50 pins each day seems even more achievable.

    Setting Up Looping

    Log in to your account and select “Pinning Tools” and then “Looping”. Next, click on “Configure Looping” and you will see a screen like this.

    Gain More Followers on Pinterest

    From here, you can select the boards that you want to loop on. Boardbooster will automatically exclude any board groups from this list (although it does give you the option to add them in, but I’m unsure why you would include them).

    Once you have selected the boards that you want to loop on, you will be given the “Configuration” options. This is where you set up how often you want to post and at what time.

    At the moment, I have mine set to 2 pins per day, at random times between 4 pm and 10 pm which is when my followers on Pinterest seem to be the most active.

    Gain More Followers on Pinterest

    You’ll see here that I have it set to loop chronologically which means that it takes my oldest pins and moves them to the top but you can set this to random if you want.

    The best part of this is that if you enable the “deduplication” and then set the number of days to 5 (which is the automatic setting), Boardbooster will delete whichever version of the pin has fewer re-pins. This means that you won’t have multiple copies of the same pin on each board. What’s even better? You don’t have to go back and manually remove them!

    Below the “deduplication” box, there are two more boxes that you can enable – “Protection for Viral Duplication” and “Protection for Pins with Comments”. By enabling these, you protect your popular pins from being deleted in the deduplication process.

    Finally, click submit.

    A word of warning with looping – only start looping on boards that already have lots of pins on them. If you start looping too soon you’ll simply be looping the same 10-15 pins day in, day out which would get repetitive. Personally, I only loop on boards with over 75 pins on them.

    Gain More Followers on Pinterest

    Campaigns

    The campaign function of Boardbooster allows you to pin all of your blog posts to your Pinterest group boards without having to do them individually.

    As you know, Pinterest Group Boards are amazing and will help boost your Pinterest account and blog traffic in no time at all. Bing able to automate your posts to group boards is a life saver and will free up lots of your time.

    Setting Up Boardbooster Campaigns

    Log in to your Boardbooster account and select “Pinning Tools” and then “Campaigns”. Next, click on “Random Campaign” and you will see a screen like this:

    Gain More Followers on Pinterest

    It’s probably pretty obvious but you should call your campaign something simple and that will make it easy to identify.

    The “source of pins” is where you want your pins to come from (duh!). I would suggest choosing the “List of Boards” option. I have a FlourishingFreelancer.com board that is solely for my own pins, so I use this as the “source” here.

    The target boards are the boards that you want your content to be pinned to. This is where you would select the group boards that you want to pin to. Once you have selected the boards, you will then be given the option of how often you want to post to each of those boards. Remember to check the rules on each of your Pinterest Group Boards to make sure that you’re not pinning the wrong content or pinning too often.

    Click “Save” and you should all be set up to go with your campaign.

    So, what are you waiting for?

    You can get started with Boardbooster today and get your first 100 pins free. So, what are you waiting for? You’re all set to gain more followers on Pinterest with minimal effort!

    I just know you’re going to love it as much as I do!

    Click below to access your 100 FREE pins and get started!!

    Gain More Followers on Pinterest

  • 20 Must Have Apps for Bloggers

    It’s no secret that bloggers are busy, busy, busy. But fear not, there’s tonnes of Apps for Bloggers out there that can help with your productivity.

    Blogging is a 24 hour job but we all know that it’s not possible to be sat at your computer or laptop all the time. We live in a world where everyone is constantly on the move, especially bloggers! So what’s important is being able to manage your blog and everything else that goes along with it no matter where you are. Luckily, apps exist!

    Here are my 20 favourite apps for bloggers.

    Apps for Bloggers

    **This post contains affiliate links**

    1. WordPress

    I usually get inspiration for blog posts at the strangest of times…on the tube, when I’m out running, when I’m at the shops.

    I used to just make notes in the notepad app that came with my phone and then copy them over to WordPress and fill them out into full blog posts once I was back at my laptop. Then I realised I was wasting my time!

    Every time I started making notes on the notes app I was copying them over into WordPress. That was before I realised that there was a WordPress app. Downloading that app was the best idea ever!

    Now I can do draft blog posts straight into the app which syncs with my WordPress account online. It also allows me to read and reply to comments on the go, as well as checking my WordPress stats.

    2. Facebook

    Chances are, you already have the Facebook app on your phone. Let’s face it, who doesn’t. But did you know that there’s a different app for Facebook Pages?

    If your blog has it’s own Facebook Page, I would highly recommend downloading the app as it allows you to do so much more on your page than the normal Facebook app does.

    As with all social media accounts, I like to stay engaged all day rather than trying to spend hours “catching up” in the evenings.

    3. Twitter

    This might just be me but I’m a bit of a Twitter addict so whether or not I had a blog, I’d have Twitter on my phone.

    It’s no secret that engagement is one of the key factors in getting traffic onto your blog so having social media accounts at your fingertips 24 hours a day is a godsend! Especially when it comes to Twitter as it moves so quickly.

    If like me, you schedule promotional Tweets for your blog throughout the day, it’s nice to be able to Tweet naturally in between. For example, breaking up your promotional Tweets with photos of a cute dog your saw on the train or your morning coffee. It also allows you to retweet things as and when they show up in your feed and reply to any Tweets you receive.

    4. Hootsuite

    This is more of a peace of mind app for me. I schedule all of my social media updates for the week ahead on a Sunday afternoon using Hootsuite. So I like to have the app on my phone to check what I’ve scheduled whilst I’m out and about.

    I like being able to check when my promotional Tweets are going to be posted before I post something to make sure that nothing clashes.

    The Hootsuite app is super easy to use and, whilst I like to schedule all my updates for the week on my laptop at the weekend, this app is perfect for doing this on the go!

    You can access a 30 day free trial of Hootsuite Pro below.


    Hootsuite - Social Relationship Platform

    5. Later

    Formerly known as Latergramme, Later is my favourite tool for scheduling my Instagram posts. The best part of it is that you can see your 3×3 grid preview and drag and drop images into an order that you are happy with before you hit “schedule”. This makes styling your Instagram so much easier than trying to guess whether or not your latest image fits in with the rest of your images!

    You can find out more about Later here.

    6. BoardBooster

    Pinterest is kind of a big deal in the blogging world right now. One of the main “problems” in implementing a good Pinterest strategy for your blog is pinning consistently throughout the day. Most of us have lots of other things to be doing during the day than sitting at our laptops refreshing our Pinterest home page and pinning to our boards. BoardBooster takes this out of the equation by allowing you to queue and schedule pins.

    Read about how to explode your Pinterest account using Boardbooster here.

    You can grab your first 100 pins for free by clicking on the image below.

    Gain More Followers on Pinterest

    7. Boomerang

    You know those really cute video clips you see on Instagram when it plays forwards and then backwards? Yeah, those ones. Ever wondered how to create them?

    I mean, it’s no great mystery as they all say “Boomerang” on them! I love making those little clips on Boomerang so it definitely had to make this list.

    8. VSCO Cam

    I love, love, love this app for editing photos.

    The basic package is free but you can buy add-ons in the app such as extra filters/settings.

    The app is really easy to use and makes basic iPhone images look much more professional. You can either take photos through the app itself or upload them from your camera roll.

    9. Layout by Instagram

    This free app is great for creating photo collages. It’s really easy to use and you just access photos straight off your camera roll. Then you can move the photos around to the positions that suit you using the pre-set templates.

    10. WordSwag

    WordSwag is an amazing app for making images with text that are perfect for Instagram.

    You can select from the image library on the app or upload your own photos. Then you can add your own text or choose quotes from the menus on the app.

    Finally, you can edit by choosing from different fonts, text layouts and colours. The app lets you save the image to your camera roll or upload it to your social media accounts directly.




    11. Canva

    This app lets you create beautiful graphics and professional looking designs. You can edit images, add text, stickers and frames etc. Canva lets you upload your own photos or choose from the hundreds of free stock images on there.

    Canva is what I use to edit all of my photos for my blog by adding my branding. Being able to do this on the move saves me loads of time in the long run.

    12. Bloglovin’

    As a blogger, I love to keep up to date with all of my favourite blogs. Sometimes the only chance I have to do this is when I’m on the move.

    The app also means that I can save blog posts to read later rather than having to trawl through my Twitter feed to try and find it when I get home.

    You can also use the Bloglovin’ app to track stats and new followers (which I know pretty much every blogger is obsessed with!)

    13. Kindle

    Whilst this isn’t necessarily an app that will help you blog, it will help you get more reading done. As a blogger/writer, reading is one of the most important things you can do to improve your writing.

    We’ve already touched on how busy bloggers are so, if like me, you find it hard to find time to sit down and read, having the Kindle app in your hand at all times is a dream come true!

    14. Evernote

    I primarily use Evernote on my laptop but I also have it on my phone too.

    Evernote lets you take notes, create to-do lists, take snippets of websites and save pretty much anything you find online.

    The best part is that the app syncs between your phone and your laptop so you will always have access to everything no matter where you created it.

    15. Wunderlist

    Wunderlist is a beautiful organisational app. You can create to-do lists and manage your tasks all in one place using different categories and folders.

    It’s great for productivity and staying organised. What’s even better is that you can share your lists with other people and you can both work on, and tick off things from the same list. Fantastic if your blog has a whole team working on it!




    16. Remember the Milk

    Remember the Milk is another great productivity app just perfect for bloggers.

    It’s essentially a to-do list but you can set up reminders to come through by email, text or notifications on your phone.

    One fantastic thing about this app is the ability to arrange things how you want with different priorities, lists, categories and tags. The app also integrates with Gmail, Google Calendar and Evernote which is an added bonus.

    17. Google Drive

    I cannot recommend Google Drive enough for bloggers both on your laptop and your phone.

    Laptops have a horrible habit of dying at the most inconvenient times which could lead to lost work. Saving documents on Google Drive takes this risk away.

    Having the phone app means that you can access and edit your documents no matter where you are.

    18. Dropbox

    Dropbox is like my Google Drive for photos.

    Having so many apps on your phone will inevitably take up large amounts of your phone’s memory. Add to that the hundreds and hundreds of photos us bloggers take every day and your phone’s constantly reminding you that it has no storage space left.

    Uploading your photos into a Dropbox account straight from your phone is a massive help with this storage issue.

    19. Gmail (or other email account)

    This one is really obvious in my opinion but no blogger could possibly survive without having access to all of their email accounts on the go.

    Whether it’s to email yourself a reminder for something (hopefully you’re using one of the above apps for that) or replying to time sensitive writing opportunities, emails on your phone is a must have.

    20. 1Password

    Quite simply, 1Password is one of the best apps ever invented! You can store all of your login details to everything all in one place! How good is that?!

    Whilst I’m usually pretty good at remembering my passwords, having 48,000 different passwords can sometimes get a little too much for my blogging brain.

     

    Are there any apps that you swear by? Have I missed anything off the list? Let me know in the comments below.

     

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  • How to Blog Efficiently – Part Two

    Want to blog efficiently? As I mentioned yesterday, there were two main questions I received from you guys about becoming more efficient:

    1. How do I spend less time writing?
    2. How do I spend less time on photos?

    In Part One, I explained how you could identify your weakest points in blogging. Today, I’ll explain how to address those problem areas. The main focus will be on writing and creating images but I’ll also touch on research, editing and social media briefly too.

    Blog Efficiently

    **This post contains affiliate links**

    First off, I’ll just put the examples I used yesterday here so I can refer back to them again:

    Example One – Brighteyed and Bewildered

    Research – 10 minutes

    Writing – 30 minutes

    Photos – 25 minutes

    Editing – 20 minutes

    Example Two – Flourishing Freelancer

    Research – 30 minutes

    Writing – 1 hour 30 minutes

    Photos – Just over 5 minutes

    Editing – 10 minutes

    Writing

    Let’s kick this thing off by looking at how to reduce the time you spend writing without compromising on quality. Sounds like a dream right? Well, it’s not that difficult…well at least not in theory. There’s always those little speed bumps such as writer’s block and life that can get in the way from time to time.

    Here’s how I go about writing a post:

    1. Create a titlecreating the title first gives you guidelines. You know what you’re writing about and you need to stay within the boundaries of that title. This will help your focus for the next three steps.
    2. Research – Assuming it’s not a personal post, you’ll probably want to do a bit of research. The tip to keeping this concise and efficient is to only make notes whilst researching and not try to write as you go. Scan read any articles and posts that you need. Jot down the key facts, figures, quotes etc. in a notebook. Then move on to the next step.
    3. Outline – Now that you know what you want to focus on and you have your research at hand you can make a start on the post itself. I open WordPress at this point and type out my post in bullet point format. If I have a few proper sentences or paragraphs that pop into my mind I’ll type them up too (so many times I’ve had genius sounding sentences in my mind and then forgotten them!)
    4. Flesh it out – Next, I go back through the bullet points and flesh them out with full sentences and more detail. I don’t like to edit as I go along as I often end up reorganising a single sentence about 15 times. Instead, I write from start to finish and go back and edit afterwards.
    5. Edit – Once I’m done with writing the post, I go back and edit. I check grammar, spelling, the way sentences and paragraphs read (I would highly recommend Grammarly to assist with this). I also close the post down, go back after a couple of hours and then read the post out loud as this helps me pick up on any other errors I might have missed.




    Photos

    I’ve recently tried a new approach which now works great for me. Firstly, I’ll tell you my old approach just so you can see if you are making the same, time-consuming mistakes that I was.

    1. Write a blog post. Look through photos on my iPhone, laptop and Facebook for 3-4 photos that fitted the theme of that particular post.
    2. I then used Canva (which I still absolutely love!) to resize, edit, add filters, icons, text etc. Without fail, I would add my blog name to each photo.
    3. Add photos to my post

    This approach was taking me forever! Spending time on your photos if they are an essential part of your blog is understandable. For example, if you’re a fashion blogger or a photographer (duh!). But for some blogs, like this one, the main purpose of the images is to simply break up the text.

    The first step I took to cut back on the time spent was to upgrade my Canva account . It’s only $12.95 (or £11.47) and has saved me so much time it’s incredible!

    If you’ve got a keen eye you’ll notice that I have 26 different images – they’re saved on Canva as templates and all I need to do is change the title of the post on each one. This is for a number of reasons: 1) my website is already on there which is great for branding and promo, 2) I only have to make minor amendments before they’re good to go, and 3) it creates a strong theme for my blog and for Pinterest boards etc.- it’s super easy to identify which images are from my blog.

    There are two key features on the paid version of Canva that made my decision to upgrade easy. Firstly, you can save your “Brand” on there. This means that you pick your colours, fonts, logos etc. and save them under the “brand” tab. Then, whenever you create a new image, all of those options are there ready and waiting. No need to remember HEX Codes and font names. Secondly, there is a “Magic Resize” option. No matter what dimensions you create your image in, you can click on the “Magic Resize” button and resize your image to fit any Social Media channel (or to custom dimensions if you wish). Can you imagine how much time you save by creating a single image and then magically resizing it so that it is perfect for Pinterest, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram?

    Social Media 

    Scheduling social media updates is still massively time-consuming for me. I’ve created a worksheet with some standard Tweets in such as “follow me on Facebook/Instagram/Pinterest”, “sign up to my newsletter” and “follow me on Bloglovin”. Obviously, they’re worded differently and I have a couple of variations for each one just to keep it fresh. When I open my weekly planner in Hootsuite I scatter these “marketing” emails throughout the week to start with.

    I then go through and add in my “new post coming in half an hour” tweets on the days that I know I’m going to post.

    Each time I finish a new post I then schedule Tweets around it. I always post at 8 pm so add a Tweet at 9 pm and 11 pm and then scatter a few through the rest of the week. I cheat a little by copying and pasting the same Tweet over and over again. I make sure that I change the Tweets slightly for two reasons. Firstly, just copying and pasting is obvious and spammy. Secondly, Hootsuite knows that it’s obvious and spammy and won’t actually let you post identical Tweets one after another. Finally, I’ll go through and add some Tweets that link back to some older posts.

    I’ll do the same for Facebook but I don’t post on there anywhere near as often as Twitter.

    A word of warning though – try not to have your Twitter feed full of promotional Tweets. I know when my promotional Tweets are scheduled and try to “Tweet naturally” in between them – photos of my desk/lunch/coffee cup, general grumbles about the underground, stories about toilet roll phone calls…

    People are becoming blind to generic promotional and marketing Tweets but people will always love people so it’s important to get your personality across.

    Being able to blog efficiently is a skill that will only come through practice. I really hope this post (and Part One) have answered your questions but if you have any others, just shout! Let me know in the comments below if you have any other time-saving tips.

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