30 March 2016

Blogging 101 Tools: Paper, Excel & Google Analytics

Epic Blog - Blogging tips and tricks for beginners - Blogging Planne
Planning, scheduling and keeping track of the performance and stats is what bloggers do on a daily basis. Unless you have a blog that seconds as your personal diary or you are happy with zero viewers, you probably don't need any planning or tracking. The rest of bloggers can relate to the fact that it's nice when someone reads what you have to say. If one of your goals is to grow your blog, then blogging tools have to be present in your day-to-day life. They are deep-rooted in my everyday routine. There are many instruments that help bloggers keep up the pace but I am not going to go over all the amazing apps and tools today. Instead, I will describe three key ways I use to run Miel and Mint successfully daily: paper (aka planner and to-do lists), Excel and Google Analytics. 

Epic Blog - Blogging tips and tricks for beginners - Blogging Planne
I know a number of bloggers who kissed a pen and a notepad goodbye but instead they type and save ideas, blog themes, blogging to-do lists and other blogosphere related stuff on their phones or laptops. It does work and makes perfect sense since our phones are with us pretty much 24/7 (digital addiction & FOMO are a thing). However, a planner girl will always be a planner girl (with a little healthy'ish obsession with stationery). If you are like me, you definitely have a notebook or a planner where you keep everything blog-related. I used to have two separate notebooks for Miel and Mint: a bigger one for post planning, storing logins + passwords and outlining the calendar and collaborations and a smaller one which went everywhere with me for occasional note-taking purposes. 
Epic Blog Planner - Blogging tips and tricks for beginners
We all know that routines do transform and become more perfected and suitable as we learn on the go. In my post here I was sharing thoughts on how to generate your ideas and how much paper actually helps with that. With that being said, now I prefer keeping everything blogging-related in one planner and that is my Epic Blog Planner. I have a separate daily to-do list which helps me to remember to schedule tweets or take photos on a certain day but other than that everything I do for Miel and Mint paper-wise is kept in one place. The description for the Epic Blog says that it's not your average monthly agenda but an editorial one-year planner that helps you brainstorm, organise, and create compelling content and products for your blog. Sounds pretty exciting, doesn't it?
Epic Blog Planner - Blogging tips and tricks for beginners
What I really like about it is that it doesn't start like an ordinary calendar that you are obliged to fill in. It's divided into pretty amazing sections like "a mini business plan for your blog", "your ideal reader", "your blog post process and style", "your monthly theme, goal and income planning" and others. Going through a few of the basic things like, for example, setting up your blog promotion strategy might sound like a waste of time for some but we all know that having goals and plans really helps you get where you want to be within a defined period of time. Obviously, this is just one page out of many that help me to set my goals in order to come back and check out the progress later.
Epic Blog Planner - Blogging tips and tricks for beginners
The section I use to the most is the actual planning which is the biggest one (about 75% of the planner). It contains monthly content ideas and themes pages, a calendar with a little area for notes on the side and stats track records, including pageviews, most popular posts, average time session, income + expenses and other important info. 
Epic Blog Planner - Blogging tips and tricks for beginners - Blogging calendar
Apart from writing down all the valuable data, I also take random notes and doodle in this planner to make it more "me". I add sticky notes for different thoughts here and there, grow the list of my favourite bloggers, posts I need to come back to or products that I must check out. I used to keep track of my collaboration in my email's inbox but it gets overflooded and I can't spend ages searching for that one email which mentions the date of the post or when the product was received for a review. So I put that down in my planner along with the contact information.
As much as I love writing and using the planner or my to-do list, Excel is another amazing tool I turn to every day. There are so many ways to use it! As you might remember from my How To Be Organised & Plan Your Posts article, I showed you how I use Excel for tracking my posting schedule. While my planner contains all the ideas and thoughts, Excel sheet includes what was actually published and what must be written.  
Excel blogging calendar
I use simple colour coordination for tracking: green is what has been posted and yellow is what is in progress. As you can see, I had to re-schedule posting this article to later because of, well, life. So yeah, it's not set in stone which might make you stressed or anxious and you can easily move a post to a different date and day if you'd like. I am working on achieving a minimum of two blog posts per week going up to 3 (or 4 tops!). This schedule works perfectly for me because when it's less that 1 post weekly it might feel like I took a way too long "blogging break", and when it's every day... well, let's just say I can't physically produce a post every day and I don't feel the need in the first place. Everyone has their own pace, available time for blogging and ability to publish content :)
Excel spreadsheet for blogging - blogging stats
Another thing I always use Excel for is creating spreadsheets for tracking stats. If you have been writing those down on paper, that's fine. Although, those numbers and graphs might be easier to look at when they are built in Excel. You can make a basic spreadsheet like this one where you can track your pageviews and following on social media. It's always great to look back on a previous month and see how far you've come. It also helps you to trace those days when your traffic is low and analyse why it happened (lack of blog posts, social media updates or other reasons). On top of that, I use it to see what social media platform is growing the fastest and which one I might put aside for now, especially if it's not that popular and it's not bringing much traffic to the blog. 
Speaking about traffic, that precious word takes you right to the most important tracking tool which doesn't require any input whatsoever - Google Analytics. While you have to scribble notes in your planner and type in the data in your Excel spreadsheets, Google Analytics does all the work for you. All you are left to do is log in and analyze. 
How to use Google Analytics for blogging
I won't be turning this post into a tutorial on how to use Google Analytics but I will mention top 4 stats you might want to start tracking right now:
1) Acquisition: 
It gives you a clear picture of where you traffic is coming from: what channels (for example, maybe your top source is social media, e.g., Instagram); number of sessions (or page visits) according to the dates you have chosen; your bounce rate; average session duration and a few other indexes.
2) Audience:
This section gives you an overview of your readers (and also includes some of the data mentioned in Acquisition): Behaviour will show you how many new vs. returning visitors you have; Geo will list everything about the location of your visitors; Demographics will display the age and gender of your audience (hello to my 7.4% of male readers!).
3) Behaviour:
Not only this area (once again) includes all the essential numbers you have already viewed (e.g., your page views) but also it has some valuable data regarding your blog content. If you go to Behaviour > Site Content > All Pages, you will see what posts are getting most views which can benefit you in planning and producing content that will get similar traffic numbers.
4) Real Time:
If you are ever wondering who's browsing through your blog posts at this moment, Real Time Overview gives you a clear idea. You can see where your visitors are from, what traffic sources referred them, which page they are currently viewing and what device they are on. Pretty neat and handy!
Conclusion: 
There are other important features Google Analytics offers but these are the basic and important ones you need to check out as soon as you can. If you are not on Google Analytics, create an account and enjoy tracking.
Epic Blog Planner - How to use it - Blogging planning
Hope you enjoyed this post and found it helpful.
Like I mentioned before, there are many amazing tools bloggers use every day 
but these three are the absolute essentials which can benefit any blogger, 
either they are have been around for years or a few weeks. 

Related Posts:

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Leave a comment and let me know how you organise your ideas, themes and schedule posts.
Do you have a blogging calendar?
Are you a planner girl or do you prefer digital tools?
Do you use Excel spreadsheet and Google Analytics?

I'd love to know what your basic and most important tools are 
for being organised and keeping track of everything.
Yay - I'm back :)
Missed you all!

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3 comments

  1. Thanks, Katie. I think it's great to share useful tips and also learn how others go about planning & tracking. Epic Blog planner is just amazing, I keep all my notes there along with the calendar and other bits and pieces :) Glad you enjoyed the post, hon.
    xox

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  2. Thanks Holly & Ivy. I think having a calendar and a good tracking system does help no matter what the blog is about. When I have a certain trip coming up I make sure to take note when I am planning on posting about it and as it happens I simply make sure to track the places I visit along with the photos I take - if that makes sense :) It does, however, require less planning when it comes to writing about your experiences which is great.
    xox

    ReplyDelete

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