Blogging with a Bullet Journal – Tracking for the Beginner Blogger

A bullet journal is a simple notebook that organizes all of your lists in one place. It doesn’t have to be complicated. Whether you’re a new blogger or have been at it for a while and want to jump start your business, try using a journal to set some goals, plan, and track your results.

It’s no secret that I love my bujo (fancy planner-speak for bullet journal). Bullet journals are fabulous for flexible planning and tracking statistics. Which is exactly what you need to get a jump on blogging!

Blogging with a Bullet Journal – Planning and Tracking for the Beginner Blogger

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Road to the Bullet Journal

Before I started blogging I did my research. It’s difficult find honest blogging advice for free – a lot of tips are from bloggers promoting themselves or affiliates.  My inner skeptic kept me from buying products from websites selling products about how to sell products.

“Check out my video sessions about how to start your blog by a successful blogger! Only $99 for the course! Learn how to sell blog tips to bloggers! Then join my affiliate program to sell my blog tips to bloggers looking for blogging tips on how to start a blog!”

Yikes.

I read every article I could get my mouse on. Weeding through advertising to find a few common threads.  Just about everyone said to blog what you love for at least a year before seeing any results. No problem. I can commit. The rest of the advice boiled down to the following points:

  1. Focus on a few social media platforms

  2. Blog less, promote more

  3. Focus on what works

Focus on a few social media platforms. I was only on Facebook and Pinterest when I started, so I joined Instagram and Twitter. What was working? What wasn’t? Was I gaining followers? Is social media driving business to the blog? Is it driving Etsy sales?

Going back and forth between phone, iPad, laptop, Facebook, Twitter, Etsy, Instagram, blog, and YouTube was getting crazy! I couldn’t keep track of what I’d posted where or when. Let alone what was working and what wasn’t.

Blog Less, Promote More. Blogging less was easy. The first few months of blogging was writing, writing, writing. I had so much to get out, and I wanted to start with a good number of posts before introducing it to friends and family.

I was gradually tapering off my blogging and vlogging to 1-2 originals per week, but it wasn’t consistent. I was posting at all hours of the day and night and any day of the week. I had to create a schedule to produce consistent results.

Promotion? I was completely lost. I want to start a business – not simply a friends and family following. More research, please, and I needed a way to keep track of it all!

Keep doing what works.  That makes sense. If one area of the blog is outperforming the others, let’s focus on that. But there’s all of this information everywhere! Video views. Blog stats. Followers. Likes. Retweets. Comments. Etsy sales. Visitors. Clicks… and on and on and on. How do I even figure out what is working? What time do I post? What days are the busiest?

On top of all of this, I have to keep track of ideas and financials. I searched for blog tracking printables online. There are a bazillion to choose from. None of them were meeting my needs. There was either way too much or not nearly enough.

Honestly, I’ve never been great about filling out pre-made forms.

 

Enter the Bullet Journal

I was introduced to the Bullet Journal in an online group of planner-loving homeschoolers. I love my lists and was intrigued, but I am a visual person – traditional bulleting was not going to work for homeschool – where I prefer a monthly and weekly calendar spread.

However, bullet journaling is exactly what I needed to get a handle on all things blog. Future planning, performance tracking, promotions, financials, and ideas all in one spot.

If you’ve never seen it before, here is the basic idea from the Bullet Journal YouTube channel.

 

A Bullet Journal is Perfect for Beginning Bloggers

Track what you want.

All businesses have many moving parts. Yours and mine are not the same. This is the reason standard forms do not work. Blogs are each unique (at least you hope it is), and when you’re starting small you’ll want to track everything.

I started with the dot-com blog, two YouTube channels, social media accounts, an Etsy shop, and an affiliate program. It’s a lot to keep track of.

You’ve got your own priorities.

Micromanaging every single detail was not realistic.  I was overwhelmed with the onslaught of information. I needed to sort out what my priorities were rather than trying to keep track of a ton of random stats that weren’t adding up to anything.

Planning for flexibility.

My system of bullet journaling includes very simply planning ahead and tracking what I’ve accomplished. This allows me the flexibility to publish in advance, cluster easy tasks to save time, and schedule posts and shares weeks or months in advance.

Scheduling blog and social media posts when people will see them is key. For me, sitting down with Netflix and a beer and scheduling a month of shares is much more pleasurable and efficient than doing one every day – or worse, only when I think of it.

Tracking daily helps me make adjustments and changes to get the most out of each post and promotion. I can see weekly and monthly trends and compare the results of different actions.

For example: My busiest Facebook and blog times are Sunday and Monday between 7 and 9pm. Keeping track daily showed me these trends. Now I can capitalize on high traffic times by posting new material, scheduling pins, and posting to social media when my people are online. 

All your screens on one page.

The most flexible part of bullet journaling, is that I can include and change whatever information or data I want at any time without reformatting, adding pages, or taking time away from blogging. A bullet journal allows me to keep track of all my top stats in one place. I can see my results at a glance, and I can easily revise my priorities from month to month – or even more frequently – when I see something isn’t working.

Can you track all your stats online? Yes. If an online analytics program works for you, great. I would rather track my priority stats myself (in addition to looking at online analytics). This might not be appropriate or even feasable for a booming business, of course. For a small start-up blogger, hand-tracking statistics will give you insights that you might miss browsing overall stats on several different websites.

You can’t find a cheaper solution.

Bullet Journaling for your blog is going save you time and money. Spend your time writing, recording, and networking, not filling out paperwork some other blogging “expert” put together or paying for a program with a million features that you don’t want or need (yet). A big notebook and a pencil is all you need to get started.

 

My Blog Bullet Journal Set-Up

The Notebook

I found an adorable, tabbed, 5 subject notebook from Studio C. My preference is tabbed pocket dividers and notebook paper. It’s pretty, the lines are easy to follow, and there’s plenty of space.

 

The tabs divide the journal into five sections: Log, Goals, Ideas, Marketing, and Income. Each has a pocket folder in the front for loose pages. I use super sharp pencils and Micron pens to keep things tidy.

You may prefer a more traditional bullet journal with numbered pages and an index.

A Weekly Schedule

A rough outline of my weekly schedule can be seen at-a-glance on the cover of my journal. Here, I can see what is scheduled for the day as well as reminders for marketing and promotion. You’ll notice that it’s all done in pencil. I’ve been erasing and rescheduling as I go. Erasers are your new best friends.

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Log and Tracker

My most used section of the journal – I keep my log/tracker monthly and draw post logs one to two months ahead, depending on how far in advance I’m planning.

The left side of my journal is the log. I first number the month and add letter abbreviations for the day of the week. Weeks are marked off Monday – Sunday with rectangular boxes on half the page.

  1. Set up each monthly list with space for three actions each day
  2. Refer to weekly schedule and write in actions lightly in pencil
  3. Write in titles as decisions are made, e.g. when I start working on a new post I’ll pen-in the name on the post date
  4. Completed actions (post scheduled, image shared, video posted) are checked off

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Facebook Shares: I share ideas from other bloggers in order to network and support great blogs that I use in my planning, homeschool, or home life. I usually bulk schedule these a month or so in advance. It works out well for homeschool shares because I also plan my homeschool by month and can line up activities that we are actually using.

Originals, Reshares, and Humor: My best traffic is between 8 and 9PM, so original posts and shares go up between 7:30 and 8PM. I have a rotating schedule of original material to share at this time, which includes blog posts, vlog planners and playlists, reshares of current and older blog posts, and conversation starters.

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The right side of the page is my tracker. This is where I track all of my social media, sales, and blog goals. I grid this area just before the start of the month when I’m setting my monthly goals. Goals change from month to month, and my tracker reflects those goals.

Side-by-side log and tracker makes it easy to see which posts and promotions give me the biggest bump in traffic and sales from day to day to the weekly trend and the up and down of the month.

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Goals

The second tab is Goals. Each month I choose a goal area and set a few small, measurable goals. My goals are not always monetary. As a beginning blogger, my main goal now is to create a following, so my goals reflect that. In turn, the data I am tracking will provide insights on goal progress.

Goals may also relate to time management, marketing, monetary, or networking. I keep my long-term vision here, too, along with any other short-term goal planning and brainstorming.

 

Ideas

My most free-form section, Ideas, is under tab 3. My blog is not linear. I have multiple threads going at once:

Homeschooling – blog posts, play lists, lesson plans, homeschool life
Planners– Plan with Me vlog, blog posts, Etsy designs
Life and Humor– life with kids, random humorous posts, original memes, blog posts, videos… and more.

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I’m not a linear thinker or planner. My style is to work ferociously on many ideas at once when inspiration strikes. I found myself with post-it notes all over the place. Lists in my car, on the back of my checkbook, in my phone, on my iPad, in my weekly planner, everywhere. I was starting blog drafts twice – once the first time I had the idea and a second time when the thought occurred to me again.

Now, all of my ideas are here in one area. The plan here is to freely jot down ideas, code them by color (homeschool blue dot, humor green dot, etc.), and cross them off as they’re moved from an idea to the log as a planned action. Planner printables, stickers for plan with me videos, and the random sticky note are kept in the ideas pocket.

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Marketing

My marketing section contains info on my networking and promotions in social media. Facebook groups, weekly linky parties, Tailwind Tribes, and dates for promotions are kept here. It’s easy to see weekly patterns of promotions to compare to post performance in my log.

I also keep track of my upload process and posting procedures here. This prevents missing steps when I’m creating original material. Uploading a video to YouTube is easy, but making sure I hit all my marketing points is a multi-step process. Checking off all the steps at once saves time and reduces mistakes.

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Income and Expenses

Tab five is your basic income and expenses register. It was simple to backdate the register by checking my accounts from when I started my business.

If you’re not keeping track of your own business finances, start now! Companies and computers make mistakes. Keep an eye on your income – whether it’s through a simple ledger like mine or through another program. Get to know what is coming in and what is going out. Starting a blog is very different than collecting a weekly paycheck. Money comes in various forms – credits, Paypal, direct deposit, and goes out in as many ways.

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Use it!

The most important part of having a bullet journal is consistently taking it out and using it. I leave my log/tracker page open next to my computer and fill it out each morning. Since all of my stats are kept in one place, it’s easy to click through and record my daily stats. I can also see what needs to be done that week and how far ahead I’m working.

Using my bullet journal to plan and track my blogging, vlogging, and Etsy sales has helped me become a more consistent, organized, and time-efficient blogger. I hope that you can use some of the ideas here to maximize your time, focus your energy, and grow your blog!

Let me know how it’s going for you in the comments below. Follow #alltheplanners on Facebook and Instagram

 

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