When I started blogging, post ideas came to me all throughout the day. I’d scribble them down on post-it notes at work, type in my phone on the drive home (at stop lights…), and generally filled my purse with folded sheets of notebook paper until it was ready to explode. Then, I’d shove all of those papers into a notebook, pick at random for what to write about, write + publish.
To say that “system” wasn’t working would be a gross understatement. Does this sound like you? For your sake, I hope not! But if it does, take a read on how to organize blog ideas with Trello and how its completely changed my blog workflow: taking an idea all the way through posting + promotion.
How to Organize Blog Ideas with Trello
Before jumping in, below is a quick overview on how Trello operates.
Three Main Components of Trello:
This is where you group information at a high level for your process or workflow, think of it as your binder. I use one board and label it “Editorial Calendar”.
These are the smaller chunks of information you’d want to group together, such as each step in your process, like tabs within a binder. I created 6 lists:
- Write Post
- Content Upgrades
- Photos/Image Creation
- Schedule Promotions
These are your individual ideas. This is where I list blog post ideas – assigning each to a new card. To complete my analogy, these are the pages you insert in your binder behind each tab as the section develops.
So, boards are static like a binder, but all the pieces inside (the lists + cards) can easily be moved around – just like tabs or loose pages, but without the three-hole punching because no one owns those anymore. Cards can move onto a new list or to a new board altogether. Lists can shift in order or move to new boards as well.
Here’s a glance at my Editorial Calendar board. I go into details below, but you can see the lists flow from left to right, the colored blocks are labels to help categorize and the due dates are visible at a glance. Don’t mind my creepy blocked off squares – don’t want to give it all away!
The goal is to complete each “list” task and move your card down the line. So it goes from Idea to Outline onto actual Writing, then Content Upgrades (optional step – not all posts will have), onto Photos/Image Creation and finally scheduling out Promotions!
The idea of using Trello this way really made sense when I read this article from Gregoire Gilbert on how he uses it to manage his sales pipeline. It’s really pretty brilliant and totally clicked for me. Suddenly it was like yaasss this is everything I need. A way to dump all my ideas down, then move them on down the line when ready, and have a pretty view on the status of everything. And if you’re asking yourself – wait, you mentioned an editorial calendar somewhere? Yes! I talk about it halfway down, but check out all the other awesome stuff you can do first!
A Trello Card Close Up:
Example of a card, (shh it’s not really past due, just haven’t archived yet – You can read the post here!) Below the “Activity” section, it shows all comments added, when it moved boards, etc. And I’d usually have the “Description” section filled in with my outline, but I moved quickly on this one.Is your content management process working for you? See how Trello can improve your workflow via @theshopfiles Click To Tweet
How to Get the Most Out of Cards
Add Members / Subscribe
A shared team workflow – Just think of the possibilities! You can see when work is completed, new ideas added, or assign a writer to each post or task. There are two options – Members & Subscribe. I would use “MEMBERS” to assign who is actually related to completing the task and then optionally “SUBSCRIBE” to those cards you’d like to receive update notifications. That way it won’t get confusing on who’s working on what, but you can still stay updated if their work relates to you.
Use Labels to Organize
Labels allow you to color code + categorize your cards. I have my labels set to my Blog Categories and have 1 for “DO NOW” to help further define my priorities or hot button issues. You can use multiple labels on a card, but think through how that will organize you or keep it streamlined to one.
Especially for larger more complex posts, its an easy way to stay focused and break it down into mini steps. For example: when prepping the #BizPinChallenge, I had a checklist for must-do’s before writing post: Determine Categories, Create Secret Pinterest Board, Research Content, Add Targeted Pins, etc… The little check box at the bottom of the card (last card on the right) shows how many tasks you’ve completed, clearly I just jumped ahead on that one, 1/5 ugh.
Include Due Date
Set the due date as your “go live” date, this allows you to use Trello as your Editorial Calendar (more on this below)
You can attach images, links, resource citations, etc. from almost anywhere – your Computer, Google Drive, DropBox, Box, OneDrive or a link. Talk about options.
Use Description Section for Post Outline
This keeps all ‘working ideas’ and your thought process in one location – the little block of lines at the bottom of the card in collapsed form, like in the Trello one on the board view, denotes there is a description written.
Use Comments section to leave notes to yourself
Each comment can be those million and one ideas that creep up – follow up with this person or do research into this point. That way you can see your thought process unfold and create more in-depth articles, without ever worrying about leaving “Research this?” in an actual blog post. The speech bubble at the bottom of the collapsed card shows comments have been added.
Use Aging Power Up function
This feature starts to visibly ‘age’ cards that haven’t been updated recently. Totally optional, but I’ve found it helpful to identify areas at a glance that I’ve been ignoring. (From your main board view, click Menu in upper right corner, select Power-Ups, enable Aging)
Create a Post Archive
Once a card goes through the cycle, your first option is to archive (instead of delete-must archive a card before able to delete it). But I love the archive function as it keeps all my thoughts on that card if I want to refer back or see all my “old posts” in one place. What might I do with that? Well, check out this post for “25+ Ways To Do More With What You Have”
How to Get the Most Out of Due Date Function
Visually see date when reviewing your list of ideas
Helps you prioritize or rearrange post ideas based on previously scheduled date
Create Calendar View
Enable the “Power-Up feature (From your main board view, click Menu in upper right corner, select Power-Ups, enable Calendar). This will work as your full editorial calendar. *Cue angels singing* It shows category labels and post title, see example below!
Prioritize your work by filtering cards by due date to see which upcoming posts are due or overdue. (From main board menu, select “Filter Cards”)
Plan content in advance and schedule posts that work or build on each other
Within the calendar view, you can click on cards to update information, change the due dates around, or just drag to a new date. Here’s a glimpse of what it looks like:
Benefits of Using Trello to Manage + Organize Blog Ideas:
One Home For Everything
All information is in one place – ideas, workflow, links, images, calendar
Once you have multiple blog posts/cards sitting under a list, batch away! Create images for multiple posts in your “PHOTOS” list, schedule all Twitter or Pinterest content once it hits “PROMOTIONAL” list. My ideas list is generally just a stream of conscious, then I weed out what makes it to the outline phase, which brings me to my next point:
Write when inspired
Instead of sitting down with one idea and being forced to write it, Trello allows you to build on ideas, switch them up, add new ones – all while working in one platform. I often find I can crank out several post outlines in a sitting and then go back at a later date to pick one to focus on completing. This gives time to let the piece breathe, come back with a fresh perspective, and then dive in to finish the whole thing. I’ve also found I waste a lot of time correcting + playing around with formatting once I’m in the WordPress editor – Trello allows me to just write. Get out the ideas. Dump them into a card. Worry about proper sentences and formatting later. JUST WRITE.
Filter by label
If you set up your labels as blog categories, you can see that particular workflow and focus + prioritize to complete certain tasks by category. Helpful if you’re specifically working to build up that content on your blog or working towards a launch and you’re supporting with specific themed content to promote.
Keeps track of all your activity
When you last added a comment, updated the description or added a link. This can also be extremely helpful if you wanted to use this as a shared workflow for your team.
The App is Good – ok, Great
You might be saying, uh of course it should be, but let’s be honest – not all are. It’s easy to use, fairly streamlined and functions well, so you’re really never without a place to put all those ideas.
PS. My “outline” at this point is over 1,000 words. Seriously, I just flowwww so much better here.
Bonus Idea for Trello
Use boards to track just about anything you regularly need for business! I created a Board for “The Shop Files – Notes”. When creating images or promotional content, you often need to refer back to brand colors or fonts used, so on this board I keep lists for:
Branding: Pantone color #’s for brand or project, Fonts to Use, Photography image Ideas, etc.
General To Do List: A lot of times you just don’t feel like writing, but you need to work on your business, so create a spot to organize those tasks as well, examples: Update About Page, Fix ‘xyz’, or Reach Out to X for Interview Idea
Okay, so what do you think? Would Trello help with your workflow and as your editorial calendar? What other workflows could you use this process for: on-boarding clients, gaining new clients, working with new vendors, product/ebook creation, testing new product ideas, the list is really endless – I’d love to see what you come up with, let me know below!