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Finally, I’m getting around to talking about Trello!
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I know I’ve mentioned Trello a couple of times and it’s one of the blogging resources I can’t live without. I promised a post on how I use it and ta-da! Here it is!
We all know that in blogging, content is king. And if content is king then content management is queen. (And yes, I’m in the middle of the new season of The Crown on Netflix). While it’s really important to produce quality content it’s also pretty important to manage how it’s published. Trello is the free tool I use as my editorial calendar for the blog and also for social media content.
Trello is at its core a collaboration tool, meant to be used in agile project management and based on the Kanban method. Not to bore you too much with this but the Agile project methodology focuses on smaller, incremental deliverables. The Kanban method promotes the creation of lists and tasks to help guide and track the work needed for each deliverable.
But just because it’s meant to be used by a team doesn’t mean a blogger can’t use it if they’re working by themselves. Far from it!
In Trello, you create boards which represent the bigger project or effort you want to manage. In my case, I have boards set up as editorial calendars for the blog, Twitter, and Instagram.
Let’s Get Started!
When you first sign up for a Trello account (which is totally free!) you start with a blank slate. Start by creating a new board. We’re going to call it Blog Editorial Calendar because I am nothing if not original.
Then you create lists within each board which correspond to the stages that the work will progress through. Each list has cards that are the pieces of work, i.e. blog posts. As you work, you move the cards from list to list until it reaches the end of the line.
I like having one list just for post ideas. When I sit down to brainstorm content for the coming months, I’ll create a separate card for each idea. This way I don’t lose sight of it and when I’m ready to start working on it, I can just move the card. The list is named “Ideas – Posts” and the card below will be where the post idea goes.
Create Lists for each Stage from Start to Finish
Create a list for each stage of work that needs to be completed for a post. Also, if you’re looking to increase your subscribers including a freebie in your most popular posts is a great way to do that. Create a list for this too, especially if you’re adding the freebie after the post has been published. The other lists I create are:
- Assigned – means that I’m ready to schedule and start working on the post
- In Progress – means that I’m currently working on writing or researching the post
- Published – means that the post was published and work on this card is completed
Customize the way it looks
You can also customize the background for each of your boards in Trello. I have multiple boards set up and I have different backgrounds for each of them. Also, I’m a super-nerd so I tend to change them to reflect the current season. Right now it’s all about winter. Looks pretty in pictures but IRL? Not so much. To change your background, access your menu in the upper right corner of the screen – “Show Menu”.
The first option is “Change Background”.
Then you can choose another color or a photo. Trello has partnered with Unsplash to provide a library of stock photos that you can use without a need for attribution.
You can use the search feature if you’re looking for a specific style and it will filter your results. I chose “winter”. Brrrr.
Create Cards for Your Tasks
Alright, now we have our lists set up and we’re starting to fill them out with cards. Let’s talk about the cards themselves a little bit. A card starts as an idea (or an idea for a freebie). Once I’ve decided to work on it, I just have to drag it from the Ideas-Posts list to the Assigned List and drop it. I use this as more of a staging area that’s useful when reviewing my calendar. We’ll talk more about the calendar later.
Trello also gives you the ability to edit and enter certain information on your cards/tasks. Creating labels, assigning a due date and adding checklists are some of the extremely helpful features of cards. You can edit a card in one of 2 ways. You can click on it once and get a quick view of options.
Or you can double-click it and open the full card. Here are the options you can change. You can give a brief description of the card. This could potentially even be your meta description for the post. Here’s where you can assign members to it if you’re working in a team environment. You can add labels, checklists, due dates, or attachments (helpful if you’re doing research). You can also add comments or take actions – move to another list, copy the card, follow it and get notifications when changes are made, or archive it so it’s no longer visible (but not deleted).
Use Labels with Your Cards
I like using labels because I can add a little more information about a card without having to create an entirely new list. Labels in Trello are organized by color. There are more colors available if you click Create a new label. Add the text to a label by clicking the pencil icon to the right. The main labels I use are:
- Started, meaning I’ve got a draft created in WordPress
- Needs proofread, which means I need to give it one last review. I always catch a mistake that I missed the first time and Grammarly didn’t pick up either.
- Scheduled, meaning that I’ve actually went into WordPress and scheduled it to be published.
- Published, it’s on the blog.
Checklists are Awesome
You can also create checklists to attach to each of your cards and this is INCREDIBLY helpful. I’ve created a blog post checklist that I include for each of my cards relating to a post. The list includes items that I want to be sure I’ve done before I publish.
It’s easy to overlook some things I should be doing, especially when I’m in a hurry. Adding a checklist for all of the little to-do’s is an easy way to make sure I don’t forget anything. And once I’ve created a checklist and attached it to a card I can reuse it again and again.
While viewing a card, I can hit the checklist button and choose “Copy Items From” and every item that has checklist in it will be displayed.
Then I choose “Blog Post Checklist” and then Add, it will be inserted into my current card. How easy is that?
Now Schedule that Baby!
The last thing I edit on the card is the most important thing – setting a due date! There’s nothing too complicated about the scheduling feature. Just pick a date and time and save it!
Create cards for anything you want to track
Going back to lists for a second. Another thing I use a list for is a project, like craft or DIY projects, that I’m going to do a post about. There are certain things that I need to remember to do while I’m doing a project for a blog post. Also, I need to give myself plenty of time to do the project and then write it up. If I create a card for it, I can schedule it ahead of when I want to publish the post for it.
Then I can create a card for the project separate from the one for the actual post, and then move the project card through the lists. I’ve finally landed on putting “Project:” and then what the project is as a title for the card. I also have a label but putting “Project” in the title is the easiest way for me to tell the difference between project and post at a glance. I also have a separate project checklist that I can insert into the project card with those little details I tend to forget. Like taking “Before” pictures. Ooof, I’ve done that more than once!
Power-ups extend the functionality of Trello
Another really cool feature of Trello is the Power-Ups. There are a bunch of different ones ranging from additional options within Trello or integrations with other applications.
The free version of Trello limits to you just one and the one I would choose is the Calendar Power-Up. This opens up a calendar view of your cards so that you easily see what you have scheduled for a given month. You can switch back and forth between your board and calendar by clicking the Calendar link in the upper right corner (next to Show Menu).
The labels are visible so it’s easy to tell which cards are complete and which ones I need to shake a leg on. I probably use the calendar 80% of the time because it’s for me to tell what’s due and to make sure I have something scheduled on the days I want.
That’s all Folks!
And that’s Trello! I could not run this blog without it. We all have crazy lives and usually have 5 things going at once. With Trello’s list feature, I can work on 5 things at once and track them all independently throughout my process. I can create cards for any work that I need to do whether it’s a post, project for a post or a freebie.
I had originally started my editorial calendar in Excel but it quickly became a pain to manage. That’s when I went looking for a better solution and found Trello. I’m trying to be more consistent about posting on social media so I created boards for Instagram and Twitter too. I set aside an hour or two on Sunday mornings and schedule the rest of the week. After that, I don’t have to worry about a thing, because I know every day what needs to be posted.
If you haven’t yet started an editorial calendar, I strongly advise you to do so immediately. Use my techniques for generating a massive amount of blog content through brainstorming and then set up a board in Trello to get it published and into the world!
For more posts on blogging, check out this link: Blogging