Friday, June 16, 2017

Girlboss Tools to Get You Organized

Hello, beautiful - and welcome back to Haley Marie Blog! I don't often write about my personal experience as a blogger, but today I thought I'd share some tips for all the busy college gals trying to bust their way into the blogging world.

Blogging, like everything else, is never as easy as the pros make it seem. However, as college students trying to juggle classes, homework, part-time jobs, extracurriculars and blogging, we face an even tougher challenge trying to make it as small online business owners.

I've been blogging on various platforms for over three years now, and I only just recently feel like I really started to "get" what makes a blog successful. Lately, I feel like I've really found my groove when it comes to my productivity and content organization - and I can't wait to let you in on all my secrets!

Today, I'm going to share five of the strategies I use to balance my blog with the rest of my life for all the busy college bloggers out there. These are techniques and platforms I wish someone had told me about when I started my first-ever blog three years ago. But while I might not be able to go back in time and teach myself to do it differently, at least I can help the next generation of college bloggers get it right the first time :)

For level one basic organization: my Eccolo planner

If I had to pick any one of these organization tools I couldn't live without, it would be my Eccolo Ltd. planner from TJ Maxx. A planner probably seems so #basic I shouldn't even have to mention it, but you wouldn't believe how many people I know in college who still aren't using one! While it's pretty obvious how a planner can help you organize your life, I'm also a huge fan of using my planner to organize my blog. Firstly, my planner has an adorable weekly layout that includes a weekly to-do list and notes, so I like to use this space to jot down any post ideas or blogging tasks I have to accomplish throughout the week. Secondly, I always write down the titles and due dates of my scheduled posts for the week in my planner to ensure I remember to take the time to promote them despite my busy day-to-day life. Thirdly and finally, I love to set goals for the week ahead, whether personal or blog-related, by writing them in my planner! Some bloggers like to keep a separate planner for their blog, but I prefer to keep everything in one planner because, let's face it: the work of a blogger is never done ;) 

For the world's best content calendar: Google Calendar

Girl, if you're a blogger and you're in college, then you need a good content calendar to keep your blog organize and on track! I like to stay at least a week or two ahead on my blog posts just in case some unexpected life stuff - such as a test or a busy work week - pops up, but using my content calendar, I'm actually blogging almost a month in advance right now. There's many opinions out there on which content calendar is the best, but in my opinion Google Calendar is the one calendar to rule them all! As a college blogger, I like Google Calendar particularly because you can actually create multiple color-coded calendars and view them all on one screen. Especially since I started my side blog Politibow, I've found it especially useful to see where my blog posts on Haley Marie overlap with my content on other sites (like Politibow posts or guest posts on other blogs), as well as with big life stuff like doctor's appointments, therapy, exams and work.

For seamless social media posts: Buffer

Now that I'm ahead on my blog posts, I only recently decided to start upping my social media game by scheduling my Instagram, Facebook and Twitter posts with Buffer. If you haven't heard of Buffer, it's a free service for scheduling social media posts (with paid subscription options). At no cost to you, you can schedule posts to Facebook and Twitter and receive reminders to post to Instagram from the Buffer app. Honestly, Buffer has been a GODSEND for the @haleymarieblog account on social media. Throughout the day, it can be difficult to remember to post to Twitter, Facebook and Instagram the recommended number of times while you're busy bouncing from one thing to another - not to mention, you can't live your entire life behind a screen! I love that Buffer allows me to schedule my posts and forget about them instead of needing to constantly be glued to my phone to interact with my readers. With Buffer, I'm actually posting more often and getting more interaction from readers than I ever have before, which I think is SO cool! The only thing I don't like about Buffer is that you have to pay to include Pinterest in your plan. Currently, I'm not doing this since it's summer and I have plenty of time to pin; however, I'm considering investing in a paid Buffer subscription or BoardBooster subscription for my Pinterest account during the school year. TBD on how that goes, but I'll be sure to let y'all know what I think! :) 

For a decluttered inbox with zero effort: Spark

At one point in my life, I was so frustrated with my hundreds of email notifications (in the name of full disclosure, I'd just like to point out that most weren't from Haley Marie Blog - most were just from LUSH/Poshmark/Victoria's Secret telling me that sh*t went on sale) that I actually deleted the mail app off my phone. Since I have clinical anxiety, I'm not a person who feels good when she checks her email first thing in the morning; it leaves me feeling stressed and dreading my day rather than looking forward to diving right in. However, since I'm also a person who likes to stay organized, I soon realized that ignoring the clutter wasn't the right answer. So, I downloaded the Spark mail app, a free app for your phone that automatically sorts your email into personal emails, newsletters and promotional mail in a minimalist landscape. That way, you don't actually have to open every email that comes into your inbox to figure out what to delete - Spark does that for you! How cool is that? 

For monetization without the #struggle: Google Sheets and PayPal

Finally, let's talk about blog monetization. It's no secret that I've written sponsored posts and included affiliate links in the past - but I'm not exactly getting rich here, either. Blog monetization is something  I'm still working on (like many of you!), but I have to say, it's gotten a LOT easier since I started using Google Sheets to keep track of the money that goes in and out of my blog. Google Sheets is basically Microsoft Excel for the web. In my Sheets account, I keep a spreadsheet called Blog Expenses 2016-17, where I used its formulas to create a simple spreadsheet that adds up my blog income, adds up how much I've spent on my blog and subtracts my outgoing expenses from my income so I can see the total amount of money I've made this year. It's not just helpful (y'know, for tax purposes and whatnot) but it's also a great way to look back on the year and see just how many cool things I've accomplished! Additionally, you might have noticed that I mentioned a second app/tool in this section - and that tool is PayPal. If you're interested in monetizing your blog, I highly recommend signing up for a PayPal account. PayPal is one of the easiest ways to create invoices and request payment from potential business partners. I especially love it because you can create a custom link for yourself and e-mail it to people you're working with so they can easily pay you the fee you've requested. That's why I 10 out of 10 recommend PayPal for any college blogger who's looking to make a little extra cash from her blog!

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