Blogging is easy. Blogging regularly is not. Fortunately, there is Trello for that. It is a project/task management application created by great folks in Fog Creek, and it has helped me publish one post a day on this blog. Here is how I use Trello for blogging regularly.
Signup for a Trello Account
First, get a free Trello account. You can signup using Google account. After you enter your own username and password, you can login later using your unique credentials. It is optional, just pick the one you prefer.
Welcome on Board!
After you create a new account, a Welcome Board appears. This Board teaches you the basics of Trello.
Although you can archive your Boards, Trello currently does not support Board deletion. Rather than creating new Boards for testing sake, play with Welcome Board instead.
Create New Board for Your Blog
I assume you are now ready to create a new Board for your blog. Click Board, add New. Use your blog title as the Board’s title. I use BWQ | Dian Ara’s Quest. BWQ is the project code. I have to do this because I have a dozen of Boards, each represents a standalone project I am currently working on.
You can optionally add description to any Board.
Manage the Lists
Upon each Board creation you get 3 default Lists: To Do, Doing and Done. You can edit these Lists to meet your needs. You can also add new Lists.
Although you can archive Lists, Trello currently does not support List deletion. If you want to tweak Lists to create a method that suits you best, play with the Lists on Welcome Board.
Card = Post
In other projects, Card might represent a milestone, or a task. For my personal blogging one Card represents one post.
You can create as many Cards as you like. You can either archive or delete them.
Trello + Kanban = FTW!
With Trello I can implement Kanban, a concept I really like because it helps me focus. You can read about Kanban elsewhere on the internet, but in a nutshell, it has following rules:
- Work is a continuous flow, from left (start) to right (end)
- Visual matters A LOT
- Limit your work in progress (WIP)
Before you start creating new Lists, think of how your blogging process actually flows. Mine goes like this:
Since I prefer looking at everything in a glance, I keep the amount of Lists short. On my Macbook I can only do this with 5 Lists at maximum. And I need to hide the Activity widget on the right bar.
Check Your Action Steps
On each Card you can create as many Checklists as you like. I use it as a reminder, what action steps are required to complete a blog post. I love the green icon that appears whenever all items on a Checklist are checked. Like I said, visual matters in Kanban. Even if the task needs only one-step action, I use Checklist anyway. The green icon somehow gives me a sense of accomplishment.
Topics vary from one post to another, but the action steps to complete each post are relatively the same. So…
The Magic Trick: Template Card
… I create a Template Card containing a Checklist with all action steps required to complete a post. I can copy Cards so I keep 3-5 Template Cards. Whenever I come up with a new idea to write, I will just edit one of those Template Cards’ title.
Since Template Card will soon become new Draft Cards, I put them on the first List: Ideas, Draft, Info. When I am ready to work on one of them, I will drag-and-drop it to the second List: NOW Writing.
After I write the post, I move the Card to the third List: Scheduled.
If I need to publish it immediately, I skip the Scheduled and move the Card to the last List: Published.
Published also serves as an archive List. One Published List equals 1 month of blogging. When I start a new month, I create a new Published List and archive the older one.
For Multi-Author Blogs
Trello is great for collaboration. If you have multiple authors working together on your blog, just invite them to your Board. You can then assign some authors to some Cards (=posts).
To communicate to each other you can add comments on Cards. You can even mention them by typing @username, and they will be notified.
The Magic Trick: Calendar as Feature Image
Trello supports file attachment. If you attach an image, you can optionally make it your Card’s feature (=cover) image. I attach some monthly calendar images I found on the internet, and use them as visual tools to plan which topics to publish on certain days.
Yes, I can activate a calendar widget on Macbook’s Dashboard and access it with a single click. This trick, however, offers 0 click. I just need to look at everything in a glance. I am that lazy. ^.^
Trello Notifies, Not Reminds You
Trello’s notification, both in-app and sent via e-mail, notifies you whenever you are invited and mentioned as well as when there are changes done to Cards, Lists and Boards you subscribe to.
Notification does not work as a reminder. This might be a minor drawback if you do not stick to your computer nor connect to the internet as much as I do. If you need to be reminded that you have to write tomorrow at 8:00 AM, just use your phone’s alarm application.
Do you have any method or tool to help you blog regularly? Have you tried Trello? If you have, I would love to know how it works for you. ^.^