• Tips for Being an Organized Blogger

    One of my new years resolutions this year was to get myself more organized as a blogger, particularly my finances. I wanted to give you an update on where I was at with all that- but also, I wanted to see if you had any other life saving ideas for being an organized blogger yourself. I’m a little nervous thinking that maybe I’m the last one to know about these things but hopefully there is something here that might benefit you and your blog/business (and if not please share any other organizational tricks you have!)

    Just an FYI I’m not paid to write about any of these services, I just have loved my experience using them and would highly recommend them to other bloggers/small business owners.

    1. Freshbooks.Screen-Shot-2013-04-03-at-2.47.59-PM

    A about a year ago I started to grow my blog (more about my job blogging as a career here) into a team of paid contributors, you can read all about them on my about page. And I started feeling a little out of control with my finances. There were so many people getting paid and money coming in from different places- it all made my head spin and I couldn’t tell you in one given month what I was making or spending. It was nuts! I did a little research and decided for 2013 I was going to change all that. The biggest change I made was using freshbooks.  I seriously can’t believe I functioned without it.  I’ve only used it for 4 months so there are still lots of things I might not use/know but here are a few things I  love about it so far (ps there is about a $20 fee/month but totally worth it in my opinion):

    1. It organizes all of my income coming in and out each month into pretty charts and graphs

    2. It makes a really easy way to send and keep track of invoices (even when you’re getting paid monthly via snail mail check). So much easier than making a time-sucking/soul-sucking pdf with your logo and more professional than paypal.

    3. I can track expenses for paying my team really easily and organize them so I can fill out tax forms in a cinch when the time comes.

    4. If you work hourly it’s super easy to track hours and then just click a button at the end of each month to create an invoice for unbilled hours and send it. boom. So much easier than counting hours and making a pdf.

    5. I can also add expenses, track receipts and time track hours from a freshbooks app on my phone.

    5 . During business hours I can just call a number and ask a nice person working for freshbooks a silly question about how to do something (life changing! I hate having a system I don’t know how to use well). This might be one of my favorite things! I’d definitely be frustrated without this. There are all kinds of video tutorials as well but I’ve found it’s so much easier just to pick up the phone and ask a quick question.

    Keep on reading for a couple other organizational tools I’ve found…

    2. Hellosign/Hellofax.

    Screen Shot 2013-04-03 at 1.53.23 PM

    Okay, so about a year ago I was complaining to my sister in law Jordan of Oh Happy Day about the annoyance of signing contracts. Having to print it out, sign it, scan it back in, blah blah blah it took forever. She was like, um why aren’t you using hellofax (they’ve since split into hellosign and hellofax but they still work together the same). HELLO! Maybe I was the last person to know about this but it makes me happy every time I use it, thinking about how much time it’s saving me (and paper!).

    Someone sends me a document to sign (pretty much any format- pdf, doc, docx, word). I save it, and then open it in hellosign and sign it right here. It saves my signature so I can just plop it in wherever and you can also add text and dates, anything you need. Then I just add in a phone number (to send as a fax) or email (this is usually how things are sent) and push a button and it’s done. TWO SECONDS. I’ve noticed that my ad network, Federated Media, even started using it a few months ago.

    Plus I’ve never paid a dollar in the last year for using it and I probably use it at least once a week (I think if you fax a lot you might have to pay at some point but for just uploading, signing, and emailing back to someone I haven’t had to pay anything).

    3. Google Calender.

    googlecal

    Might be a bit of a no brainer, but I recently I started really diving into the color coding option for google calender and it has made such a difference. I now have a bunch of different ‘calenders’ (as you can see from the image above): Blog Editorial (just posting schedule),  Julep editorial (the Minted blog I manage),  Misc blog (anything other than editorial schedule- mtgs, calls, to do items, deadlines), Family schedule (trips, playdates, dr appts), Liz personal (mostly to-do items, reminders). Seems simple but it gives me anxiety just thinking about living without it. Also I love that I can add items directly from my phone or the computer (you just sync your calenders to your phone).

    Also, a few other random ideas:

    1. Private pinterest boards for editorial inspiration and brain storming ideas with the teams I work with.

    2. Keeping electronic lists of topic ideas for different categories (I have lists for fashion, diy, food, misc).

    3. Whenever I get paid anything, I always move over 30% of the total amount into a separate account for taxes so I don’t get screwed come tax time! With deductions, it’s not usually as much as we have set aside but I’d rather have extra than not enough. Also, we use Turbo Tax and really like it.

    5. I just started using Shoeboxed which keeps track of receipts and is connected to Freshbooks but I’m still wrapping my brain around it. Anyone use it?

    I feel like I’m just getting started here, anyone else have genius organizational tools as a blogger/small business owner?

     

      
  • 25 comments

    1. […] Tips for Being an Organized Blogger […]

    2. Michelle said… April 5, 2013 9:10 pm

      Liz! Not that it’s that big of a deal, but you should have posted an invite link for Shoeboxed; I just went and registered and it made me a bit sad that I wasted a free credits opporunity for you! haha

    3. Tan of Squirrelly Minds said… April 5, 2013 3:23 pm

      I’ve been meaning to organize my invoices and all that awful stuff for about a month now. They’re so scattered all over the place that I’m intimidated to start, but leaving it longer will only make it worse Thanks for this post! It’s giving me that little extra nudge needed to get going

      • Liz Stanley said… April 5, 2013 3:30 pm

        freshbooks! do it!

    4. Melissa said… April 5, 2013 10:48 am

      These are all amazing tips! I’m mentally filing this post away for when I decide to get more organized, ha!

      One thing I did for myself this year was start making a list of monthly themes for my blog in Evernote. Whenever an idea pops into my head, I just open up my note, figure out where that idea fits best, and plug it into the list. By February, I already had more ideas than posting days for the entire year, and I’ve already had to start an overflow list for next year–and I’m not doing any extra work to come up with ideas! It’s kind of crazy that being more organized and structured with stuff actually makes you feel more liberated! Who knew?!

      • Liz Stanley said… April 5, 2013 3:30 pm

        I’m convinced now I need to get back to using evernote! Thanks Melissa!

    5. Faraz said… April 5, 2013 7:24 am

      Hey Liz,

      Faraz from FreshBooks here. Stopping by to send along a BIG thank you from all of us at FreshBooks for the awesome write-up. It’s great to hear that you’re enjoying things so far & if you ever need anything or want to learn more, we’re just a phone call away :).

      P.S -> If you ever make it to Toronto from San Fran, drop me a line (faraz@freshbooks.com) – we’d be happy to say hi in person over a coffee or lunch (on us of course) & show you around our offices :).

      Thanks again!

      Faraz

    6. kristina said… April 4, 2013 10:58 pm

      Great tips Liz! I will have to check out Freshbooks. Would’ve made taxes a lot easier last year!

      I use Google Calendar and the colors tons too. Love them. I need a better method for lists that somehow works with Google calendar or something… so that I actually remember about my “to dos”… if they are anywhere but on my phone, I forget about them… and if they don’t have alerts tied with calendar I sometimes miss them too. If you have a better method- share! My brain is zapped these days.

      • Liz Stanley said… April 5, 2013 3:27 pm

        Try evernote for that! They have an app too- there’s a discussion about evernote a little earlier in the comment below…

    7. Em Levy said… April 4, 2013 10:46 pm

      Wow. I wish I knew about hellosign a long time ago!

    8. christy said… April 4, 2013 7:45 pm

      Thanks for the info. I am not a Blogger, but about to step into.the world of self employment as a speech therapist and these will be great tools for me. Especially fresh books!

    9. annie diamond said… April 4, 2013 6:38 pm

      Liz,
      I think I’ve said this before, but I am always so in awe of how generous you are with your information. I’ve never heard of Hello sign/Hello fax or Shoeboxed. I used to be so organized…you know old school organized, but now I’m a mess. I’m signing up for these tomorrow and hopefully by the end of the weekend I’ll be heading on the path to a new way to organize everything. Thank you so much!
      annie

    10. Kelly @ Studio DIY said… April 4, 2013 3:50 pm

      Umm two things… the fact that when you call Freshbooks, a real human actually answers the phone pretty much makes my LIFE. Every time I call, I ramble on about how happy it makes me to talk to a real person right away. And I had NO idea about HelloSign! Holy Cow! Our scanner has been broken for months so I always have to make my boyfriend scan everything from his work. THIS is amazing!

      And I live off Google Calendar.

    11. Wendy Ballster said… April 4, 2013 3:06 pm

      YES thank you! I need to get my act together too. freshbooks sounds god sent!

    12. Madeline said… April 4, 2013 1:57 pm

      hellosign? why couldn’t someone have told me about that 5 years ago?!

      • Liz Stanley said… April 4, 2013 2:05 pm

        I KNOW. that’s exactly how I felt when I found out about it! it’s the best!

    13. Allie said… April 4, 2013 12:32 pm

      This reminded me of an onion article my friend shared with me yesterday…. “‘That Seems About Right,’ Says Soon to Be Audited Blogger.” Haha! Definitely better to be organized! (http://www.theonion.com/articles/that-seems-about-right-says-soontobeaudited-man,31898/)

      • Liz Stanley said… April 4, 2013 12:36 pm

        Oh geez…worst nightmere!

    14. Giulia said… April 4, 2013 12:31 pm

      I use Evernote. I like that I can add voice notes, images, links, etc to each note I make. It sinks between my computer, phone, iPad and is simple to use.

      That’s where I have a running list of recipes I want to recreate/adapt for my blog – a lot more than I could ever publish in a year, but I don’t want to forget about my ideas.

      I also use Pinterest private boards if I’m working on a food theme/direction, so not everyone sees what I might be up to.

      I use Outlook, as my calendar, but that’s because I have a corporate job where we use it. However, I also use it as my private calendar/blog calendar and it all sinks and I see it on my phone at home, or my home computer.

      I have 4 email accounts on my phone, each dedicated to specific things I do.

      • Liz Stanley said… April 4, 2013 12:35 pm

        Ahh yes, Evernote! I used to use that and kind of forgot about it. I’l have to check it out again. Great for lists/passwords/etc and you can access it from any computer which was nice. Thanks for the reminder!

        I have three different email account as well- again, kind of annoying but easy to keep things separate it seems.

    15. Lisette Wolter-McKinley said… April 4, 2013 12:16 pm

      Great tip! We could all use a little more organization in our lives.

    16. Janssen said… April 4, 2013 12:08 pm

      I love that you share these kinds of things on your blog – it’s all fascinating to me! Keep it up.

    17. PJ | Bunny & Dolly said… April 4, 2013 12:04 pm

      So you use Google Calendar on your computer and the built-in calendar on your iPhone? (I’m assuming you’re an iPhone user!) But it doesn’t color-code on your phone, does it? How crazy does your phone calendar end up looking?

      Also, do you use a special program to create those electronic lists you mentioned or do you just use stickies or a notepad?

      • Liz Stanley said… April 4, 2013 12:11 pm

        It does color code on your phone (it has a little round circle with a color next to each item)- it’s linked up to the google calender. I can add an item and select what calender it should go under on the phone too.
        But there is a lot, so I usually just hide the calenders I’m not looking at so it doesn’t overwhelm me. For example, I only look at the Julep calender a couple times a week so it’s usually hidden, even on the computer.

        I just use those sticky notes on my dashboard for lists and color code them by topic- but do you have a better method?

      • Liz Stanley said… April 4, 2013 12:13 pm

        sorry one more thing- you have to manually link your phone calender to your google calender and when you do that you can select which calenders you want to view on my phone. if you have questions about how to do that, happy to walk you through it- just shoot me an email at liz(at) sayyestohoboken.com

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