As bloggers we manage projects all the time, even though we might not think of them as projects! In fact, most of the time we are actually juggling multiple projects. Elizabeth Harrin is a professional project manager and author of several project management books, as well as an award winning blogger at GirlsGuideToPM.com and Totally Organised Blogging. Here she shares her tips on project management for bloggers – showing how using project management techniques can make blogging less stressful and leave you feeling more in control!
Have you ever launched a new blog, written an ebook or run a campaign for a sponsor or affiliate? I expect so, or you wouldn’t be here!
If you’ve done any of those, you managed a project.
What is a project?
A project is a series of activities that get you to a specific goal. Like a story, projects have a start, a middle and an end. Projects are how we deliver our blog and business plans. You’ve got a great vision for your blog, but you need to put the work in to get there. Most of that work will be projects – large or small, short or long, but discrete pieces of work that move you to the next level.
Here are some more examples of projects:
- A blog rebrand
- A blog audit or big SEO refresh
- A sponsored blog and social media campaign (that involves more than one post)
- Hosting a webinar
- A product launch
- Turning a bunch of recipes into a print book
- Creating a course
- Launching a podcast
- Launching a membership site
The things in this next are not projects, because they don’t ever finish. You’ll be doing these blog tasks on repeat!
- Writing blog posts
- Creating podcast episodes
- Being present on social media
- Doing your monthly business accounts
- Serving your audience or membership community
- Regular small tweaks to old articles to improve SEO
Do bloggers manage projects?
Managing projects is something we all do as bloggers (and in ‘real’ life – organising a family vacation fits into the definition of having a start, a middle and an end when you get home and all the washing is done!). But did you find your project stressful? Was it a rush to get all the tasks done? Did you come across some challenges you didn’t expect?
You’re not alone – even those of us who work as project managers in big companies (like me), and who do this stuff all day long find project management tough sometimes!
The good news is that your next project – whatever it is – can be easier, faster and cheaper if you use some of the skills that professional project managers use every day.
Why bloggers need to know about project management
Why is it worth brushing up your skills? Because no one’s got time for things to go wrong. Whether you’re a full time blogger or multipassionate – mixing employment with building your online business, life’s better when things go smoothly in a well-planned and organised way.
How to get started with project management
With me so far? Great. Let’s look at some project management basics. There are 5 steps to getting your projects to ‘done’ without losing (too much) sleep over them.
1. Set your goals
First, set your goal. You have to know where you are going and what ‘done’ looks like.
For example, if you are writing an ebook, is your project complete once the PDF is finished and on your computer, or when it’s loaded up on to the sales platform of your choice and you can take payment for it?
I’d say the work is done once someone can actually buy the ebook, not when you’ve shut down Adobe after checking the final version.
Be specific about what you are trying to achieve.
Now you know what you are doing, think about how you are going to do it.
How you should approach the work (what steps are involved in doing the tasks)?
Who are you going to need help from (are you going to write that ebook all yourself or get case studies and stories from other people)?
How much money do you have to do the work (are you doing to get a designer on Fiverr to do the cover or are you going to make it yourself)?
Finally for planning, think about when you are going to do all this. Set yourself some dates and targets for each of the major steps along the way. Continuing the example of the ebook, your major steps and dates might be:
- Plan the content – Month 1
- Write the content – Months 2 and 3
- Design the cover – Month 3
- Create a finished ebook – Month 4
- Write sales page and hook up to payment processor – Month 4
- Test out buying the book, email my list and launch – Month 5
Within each major step you’ll have a lot of smaller tasks to carry out, but you’re more likely to stay on track if you have target dates for when you want work completed.
If you need a hand with this step, I have a complete guide on how to break down your big goals into manageable actions.
3. Do the work
You’ve got your plan. Start the work.
4. Check in with yourself (and your team)
While you’re doing the work, build in regular checks with yourself and anyone else helping you. For example, if you are running an online summit, you might have a VA to help with the admin, speakers to coordinate and affiliates to promote the event.
At least once a month, check in with those groups and make sure they know what’s happening, what they should be doing and what their priorities are for the next month.
If you aren’t making the progress you expected, go back to your list of dates and re-plan them for something that seems achievable now. Hold yourself accountable. It’s your project – you get to decide how important it is and when you want it completed by.
Do this all the way through the project until the work is completed.
5. Close and celebrate!
You’ve done the work. You’ve held yourself accountable and delivered something amazing. You’ve launched or presented or rebranded or whatever and You. Are. Done.
But the work still isn’t quite finished!
You need to make sure that there are processes in place for whatever you’ve delivered to be managed going forward. For example, if you’ve created a presence on a brand new social media platform, you might want to hand over work instructions to your VA. If you’ve moved your accounting to a new software tool, you’ll need to use that every month for your accounts.
Create a process or checklist to move from ‘project mode’ to ‘the way we do business round here’ – if you need to. It won’t be relevant in all cases.
At the very, very end, you should celebrate what you’ve achieved! Good planning and management helps you stay on track so hopefully you delivered your project on time, on budget and got the outcome you wanted.
There’s an easy way to remember these points: use my free project planning worksheet to help you map out what you want to do and how you are going to do it before you get started on your next initiative.
So what’s the next project on your list? Let us know in the comments below or join the debate in the Productive Blogging Community Facebook group.
- How to get more done in less time on your blog
- 10 ways to stop wasting time and actually get stuff done!
- How to write an effective to do list
- 10 ways to be a more productive blogger
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