I wasn’t going to write this post until another entrepreneur friend asked me about it, but it seems like it would be beneficial to share how I keep The Cultivate Method’s marketing organized. When I set up this organizational system, I drew from my previous experiences as a solo marketing team at a startup and from years of being in corporate.
For the purposes of this blog post, I’m going to break down my organizational tips into stages: planning, execution and measurement. These stages correspond to where I’m at in terms of launching a campaign or running an ongoing channel, like social media. If it helps you to break it down differently, definitely try it!
When I plan, I start from the top and work my way down. I build an annual plan that I think will get me to my overall business goals that year, and then I break down the year into quarters and themes. Each quarter is then broken down by month, and I set monthly tasks and goals for myself. I keep all of this in one tab in a Google Sheet because I like being able to move things around easily and see everything in one place. For a deep dive on annual planning, you can check out this recent blog post.
This same Google Sheet is also where I keep my brand, design and editorial guidelines (eg. the hex codes for The Cultivate Method’s colors, the feelings I want to evoke in all of my marketing) in another tab. I also have yet another tab for my message house, which is a framework I use for creating a coherent and cohesive message for my brand. Keeping all of these in one place saves me a lot of time, because I know where this information is when I need to use it.
On a weekly basis, I stay organized by using Trello. I have a Trello board called “Weekly To-Do’s” and I pull goals and tasks from my planning Google Sheet into this board. Not all of the goals or tasks from my Google Sheet are something I can do in one sitting, so if needed, I’ll break them down into smaller tasks. For example, if I am writing a blog post, I’ll break it down into a “research” task that has to get done before my “writing and editing” task. I’ll also write down tasks I need to do on a recurring basis - these “keep the lights on”-type tasks can be daily or weekly to-do’s. Each task gets its own Trello card, and these cards are organized into lists on my board.
I have a list for each weekday, Monday through Friday. Basically, each of these lists becomes a daily to-do list for me. I also have a “backlog” list, to organize tasks that I know I’ll have to do in the future. If I’m working on a big project, like launching The Cultivate Method, that project will also get its own list. As I complete a task, I move its card to my ‘Done’ list. At the end of the week, I can use that list to see what I accomplished.
Next to my ‘Done’ list, I keep a copy of my monthly goals. This helps me stay focused and remember my larger goals, and it’s a great tool to reference when I want to look back at how I did at the end of each month.
Full disclosure, prior to starting The Cultivate Method, I worked at Atlassian, the company that owns Trello.
To stay organized as I execute, I use a few tools.
For blog posts like this one, I keep a content calendar in Google Sheets so I can plan ahead for upcoming blog posts and keep track of what’s in progress and what I’ve already written and published. This content calendar links out to individual Google Docs where I write my blog post drafts. I also have a Google Doc template for new posts, so I can get started more easily. These Google Docs are organized in two folders in Google Drive: “Drafts” and “Published”. When a blog post is queued up for publishing, its corresponding Google Doc is moved from “Drafts” to “Published”.
For social media, I use Canva to create posts and use free stock image sites like Unplash for images. Once I’ve created a post, I queue it up in Buffer. I make sure to repurpose and reuse content from my blog and other sources across all of my social media channels. Buffer makes it easy to schedule posts ahead of time, but I also keep an eye on my posting schedule so I know when I should sign on and engage with my audience.
Finally, I also save hard copies of all of my Instagram content in Dropbox. This makes it easier for me to search and find older posts, in case I want to reuse them, and serves as a backup. I keep my Dropbox organized in folders by channel and date. For instance, I have an “Instagram” folder, with sub-folders for each week’s posts.
Once I’ve posted or shared something, I also need to measure it and figure out if it was an effective use of my time. Measurement also helps me decide if I should make more of a certain type of content or focus on a certain theme. I rely on Google Analytics for information about my website and blog content, and I pull my numbers each month and track them in another Google Sheet. I also keep track of social media performance in another tab in that Google Sheet, and I pull those numbers directly from each social media site.
This system of organization works for me because I’m a solo entrepreneur with plenty of marketing experience. It should continue to work for a while, and even scale up to when I get to hire some additional help -- in fact, my content calendar and Google Docs system is very similar to what I implemented when I managed a rotating team of 5-10 contractors.
From my experience, I know this system won’t work forever. It will probably start to break down once I have multiple team members. At that point, transparency and visibility and being able to know who is doing what becomes even more important, and this system will likely evolve. And, I’ll make another post sharing what my new organizational system looks like, too.
Until then, I’d love to know - are you doing anything similar or have you got a favorite organizational tip to share? Email me at email@example.com.
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