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Disclaimer: Once again, I’d like to point out that I’m not an expert blogger and I’ve muddled my way as best I can, so I’d like to share some more of the things I’ve learned along the way. (Also, there are a few affiliate links in this post and I might get compensated from qualifying purchases.)
This is intended to be a sort of user guide for my Blogging Planner. (If the document downloads with the spacing off on the Monthly Planning page in my Excel program the document looks like some of the pages are off center until it is opened in editing view. Your documents should be fine for use and printing once they are opened to edit.) When I first started planning my blog, I didn’t realize that there were actual things called Blog Planners. Programs, Apps, and documents which could be downloaded/printed/subscribed to for assistance in planning your blog. Once I did become aware of it, about three weeks into my blog (why I didn’t find this in the literal years of research prior to starting my blog I do not know), I immediately set about trying to find one that would work for me.
Most veteran bloggers have something which helps them plan what they are going to do. So, if you are patient in looking, you may find something which works for you and fits your budget. My budget was “free”, and my needs were “comprehensive”, because I was a noob. Nothing which fit my budget really met my needs. I needed something which spelled out what to do every step of the way and broke it down for me. So, I took things I learned I needed through my research and created my own in an Excel workbook.
What I like about the fact that it is in an Excel workbook is that when I first started, I could just print the whole thing out at one time and make myself a hard copy. Whenever I need extras sheets of whatever I’m working on I just print out more copies of that particular sheet with the “Print Active Sheets” option. The other good thing about using an Excel workbook is that if I so choose I can add equation formatting to it so that it becomes bookkeeping software (yes I know how to do that) and I can link data from various pages to get a comprehensive look at my blog’s finances.
The copy which I’m offering for free through 12/31/2019 does not have any equations. It is a workbook intended to be used in hard-copy form (meaning printed out). What you’ll need to make it work for you:
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- 1 ½ inch or larger binder with pockets and front cover pocket. I like with the transparent plastic on the covers so you can customize them.
- Plastic binder tabs with pockets. Pockets are preferred as they can be used to store extra sheets before they are put in protective sleeves for use.
- Binder sheet protectors
- Pencil & good eraser or a pen (and great penmanship)
- Binder 6-pocket organizer The brand I use is the Studio C in the affiliate link. I’ve used mine for years and carted it from one place of employment to another until I finally decided to use it in my personal business organization.
- Large binder accessory pocket
- Business card holder sheets
The 6-pocket organizer is where I keep notes on works-in-progress and receipts of expenses. The accessory pocket is where I keep my pens, pencils, erasers, and sometimes extra flash drives and memory cards. Neither one is essential to the function of the planner, but they are very useful to me.
My blog planner is also suitable for a vlog or YouTube channel planner. I developed it the way I did so that my son could also use it to organize his thoughts regarding his YouTube video channel on Minecraft and other game play. If you are a seasoned blogger looking at this planner and thinking “this is so basic”, that is because it is intended to be basic. If you have ideas or suggestions of what to add to it, please let me know in the comments.
Now for an explanation of each page in the planner.
All About My Blog-Vlog – That page asks two important questions which any blogger/vlogger/YouTuber should be able to answer before publishing anything online. “What is my blog/vlog about?” and “Why do I Blog/vlog?”. Both questions are essential to any blog. It’s the “About Page” on a blog or vlog website essentially. Don’t fill this out with the intension of it being the “About Page of a blog/vlog. This page was intended to just be answered for the blogger/vlogger to figure out what they are doing and why.
Short-Term Blog/Vlog goals – Everyone knows that in order to achieve goals you have to have them. “I want a successful blog.” May be a valid desire, but what exactly does successful mean? To me a successful blog is a blog which earns its keep. So, if I’m paying for a blog to be hosted and the cost of anything I make for the blog/travel expenses, then the blog better be paying for itself and then some with earnings. Unless you are a blogging savant or someone so well known that readers will flock to any new endeavor you create (I’m looking at you Neil Patel! *scowl face*), that doesn’t just happen overnight. It also needs to be quantified. Short-Term Goals are what you want to have going on from the start of your blogging career for six months into it. That is the day you download and print your Blogging Planner to six months from that day.
There is room for four goals on this page. Be specific when you write them, or as specific as you can with the space allowed. Do you want 100 followers by six months? Then you better include how to get those 100 followers. (Networking, submitting your blog to search engines, advertising to your social medial followers, and starting your blog the right way and not the wrong way that I did.) So, while 100 followers by the end of six months may be your ultimate goal, getting those followers requires healthy blogging practices and dedication to the habits which will make you known and popular. Make sure you know what your goals actually are.
Mid-Term Blog/Vlog Goals – These are for your next set of goals. Where do you want to be a year and a half after starting your blog? My planner has room for 4 major goals to be worked towards over the next year and a half. They don’t have to be related to the short-term goals, or the short-term goals can be stepping stones to the mid-term goals just as the mid-term goals can be stepping stones to the long-term goals. Do you need classes or supplies to progress your blog?
Long-Term Blog/Vlog Goals – Where do you want your blog/vlog to be in three years? What do you want out of it? Are you in college and graduating soon? Will your blog interfere with your chosen career or will it act as an example of what you are capable of doing in your field? Do you want to be an astrophysicist or attorney, but you are posting cooking blogs and video game reviews full of rude comments? How is this blog helping your life goals? Maybe before you plan your blog you need to do some life planning. I don’t know and I can’t say. Only you can make that determination. Before you start your blog/vlog determine if it is only going to be a hobby, or if it’s going to help you pay your bills one day. Just in case it isn’t obvious, as time goes on, the long-term goals should make the transition to mid-term goals, and mid-term goals should transition to short term goals. Marking the transition date on a calendar can make it easier to keep track of when it is. (Oh, wait. I included one of those.) More goals can also be made at that time, or really whenever you want.
Blog/Vlog Support and Contacts – This page is a no-brainer. It is the contact information for whoever you need to contact if something happens to your blog, if there is a bug or a problem with something technical. Maybe you want to keep your internet provider’s support contact information there or the tech support for your computer. It could be the repair shop for your camera or the store you order your supplies from, or the owner of the property you needed permission from to film on. I don’t know. It’s for whoever you will need to contact to make things happen and get you back on schedule.
Passwords – Bloggers and vloggers have a lot of different online accounts and a lot of passwords. From websites, to social media, to bank accounts, and affiliate accounts. Passwords are needed for all of them and they should be changed regularly. This is a page where all of a person’s accounts and passwords associated with blogging can be listed and a reminder date set for when they should be changed. It is usually easiest to change them all at the same time when they are changed. 1Password is an incredible service which is used as a plugin, all passwords are saved by the app which only requires one master password to open, it then uses the memorized passwords for all accounts added to it to access those accounts when it’s time to log into them.
Blog/Vlog Change Tracker – I don’t remember where I read about this, but it is a genius idea which I should have thought of on my own. Sometimes, a person makes a change to how they have stuff set up on their website, and it breaks a perfectly wonderful website. I used to keep a programming change tracker when I used to program games in dos and basic with my dad for fun. Sometimes you make a little change and it screws stuff up. Knowing what changes you have made to a program (or a website, since they basically are programs even if the actual coding algorithms were programmed by someone else and just auto cut and paste for you through the user interface of most blog sites.), will enable you to debug and correct your issue easier. It can also help you determine whether it was something you did or a new update to the host site which did it.
Blog/Vlog Monthly Ledger – This is just a basic ledger for tracking incoming income and outgoing expenses. There’s a place to write the month, name of the expense, and a column for expense amount, income, balance after transaction, and notes about the expense or income (source/destination). It does not specify the year anywhere but that is easily written in with the month (ie. October 2019).
Blog/Vlog Annual Ledger – Same thing as a monthly ledger but at the end of the year (or preferably at the end of each month) once expense and income totals have been computed for each month they are added to the Annual Ledger entries for that month. Simple, but effective.
Monthly Budget – For the new blogger/vlogger who has money to spend on their blog/vlog, a budget planner may be in order. How much money can be spent per month? What things will be purchased? What percentage of the budget will each item be.? Has spaces for budget total amount, month, expense item name, amount budgeted, percent of budget, actual cost, due date (for monthly/annual bills) and balance of budget remaining. Some months may have higher budgets/expenses than others like say when annual hosting plans need to be renewed.
Annual Budget – The annual budget worksheet is similar to the annual ledger. However, the annual budget is intended to be decided first then the monthly budgets can be determined once it is known what needs to be budgeted for over the course of the year. Setting an annual budget should probably be in the short-term goals.
Affiliate Income Tracker – For a slow-start blog (a blog built one post at a time which went live from its first post), affiliate income probably won’t be an issue within the six months to a year. Unless a blog becomes very popular there won’t be a lot of visitors to that blog for the first six months to a year. However, a blog which is quick-started (goes live with many posts already on the blog and promoted through many different channels to attract more traffic), being able to track the income from affiliates partnered with, should be a priority. This sheet provides income tracking by month over the course of a year for 18 affiliates which is more than enough for a blogging noob. It also has a target earnings amount space and a breakdown area where you can put what you have earned per day so far and what you need to earn per day to reach target earnings. A concrete reminder of what you are aiming for right on the sheet.
Affiliate Program Information – This is a profile sheet for tracking affiliate partners and programs. Only information for one affiliate can fit on each page. But it is a comprehensive list of things to know for each affiliate program.
Ad Campaign Tracker – For websites/blogs/vlogs which are selling something (ie. Authors selling books) an ad campaign tracker is important. It tracks what social media site or advertiser was used/paid for the ad, the start date, end date, cost, hits for page, bounce rate, click through, and purchases/views. Not all of these items may apply for all bloggers/vloggers in their tracking data.
Now we get into the actual planning part of the Blog/Vlog Planner:
Monthly Blog/Vlog Focus – For creators who want a monthly theme or just so that post and videos can be relevant to the season or date they will be published/go live. Plan by month/week/holiday/events for a whole year on one page.
Monthly Planner – Break that year of planned posts/videos down into individual months with a to-do list of what is needed to get that month’s posts/uploads ready for publishing. Check off your blog, YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest posts once they are ready and scheduled. What day of the week will each be on?
Blog/Vlog Series Planner – Planning a series of related posts or videos can be a little bit daunting sometimes. How many blogs do you see out there that are all just kind of willy-nilly posting things? Food blogs with popcorn chicken one day and crème brulee the next with no continuity. That’s how most blogs and vlogs are, loosely related topics within a central theme. But sometimes, bloggers/vloggers want to plan a series of posts or videos about the same topic. The Blog/Vlog Series Planner page is helpful in this respect. Pick a series name/theme and write in what your post/video titles will be. Check if it is a video/blog post or both. Do photos need to be taken? There is no where on this sheet for describing each blog post or video. This page is meant to be used in conjunction with the
Post/Video Planner – This sheet is a basic planning reference for individual posts and videos. It has places for the title, start date, completion date, summary, and a checklist of things you need to make sure you do before starting out your post or video. Checklist includes; the summary, any research necessary, safety precautions reminder, legal disclaimer reminder, budget planning, script/post, supply list reminder, supplies purchased (check off when all supplied purchased), and reminders to plan any photos, videos, posts, or images needed. There are five blank spaces for any other reminders a blogger/vlogger may need to add to their checklist and at the bottom a reminder to edit, add affiliate links and schedule the completed document or video for publishing.
Post/Video Supplies List – At some point in the planning process every vlogger/blogger may need some kind of supplies, especially if doing a blog or video series about crafting/cooking. The supply list is just that, a list of supplies which a blogger/vlogger can document where they purchased the supply or experienced the activity and how much it cost. The total cost for the post is calculated at the bottom of the page. Receipts for all expenses related to a particular post can be stapled together for record keeping.
Blog/Vlog Ideas – So, exactly what it says. A place to write blog/vlog ideas. It isn’t necessary to have a dedicated page for this. Ideas can easily be written on any old scrap of paper or in a notebook, whatever. However, some people (ahem, me) find it easier to keep track of things which are specifically blog related by just having a dedicated space for them like a blog/vlog idea sheet. Ideas from the sheet are then expounded upon and fleshed out with the Post/Video Planner sheet.
There it is. A full explanation of my Blog/Vlog Planner which I created for my personal needs. I hope it is as useful to others as it is to me.
Just a reminder. I am by no means an expert. These are just things which I have discovered over the admittedly short span of my blog’s life. If you like my content, please click subscribe or use the subscribe button bellow.