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How to Organize Your Book Blog with Trello

Posted 20 September, 2014 in Blogging Tips / 16 Comments

Bonus: scroll down to access a template for making your own Trello board!

Welcome to the first post of my Bumblings Blog Tips feature! I’m so excited to help you all with your book blogging!

I’ve managed several types of blogs, from personal to business to TV. Yet this book blog has been one of the most complex things to keep track of.

For example, ARCs go through many stages. First you have to read them. Then you have to write a review, publish it, and usually cross-post it to Amazon and Goodreads and maybe NetGalley. And there’s a due date to do it all by.

Then, there’s blog tours. Once again, there’s a date you have to post it on. You also don’t know right away what date that is, since you usually list a first choice, second choice, and third choice on the sign-up.

I normally use Google calendars to plan out editorial calendars for blog, but I feel like the dates are much more set in stone with book blogs. It ain’t gonna fly if you post your release day blitz post with a giveaway a day early.

Plus, regular calendars make it hard to track the progress of a post. You can create an event for the day your ARC review is going to be published, but that won’t help you remember whether or not you’ve finished the book yet.

Book bloggers just have too many “in progress” projects to keep track of at one time. (Tweet this!)

I’ve started using Trello* for all that, and it’s made everything so much easier!

*I’m shameless and have links to some of my unique referral code in this post so I have a better chance of getting fancy features on Trello and Zapier. Don’t judge me, you like free stuff too. (Affiliate dislaimer)

Table of Contents

Want to organize your book blogging with Trello? Here’s my own template to get you started!

What is Trello?

Trello* is a free task management/organization tool. You can use it to organize anything (Literally. That’s their slogan.). You can use it as a web app, and they also have mobile apps for several platforms so you can organize on the go. You can use it however you like, but I use it as a combination of a Kanban board and to-do list.

The foundation of Trello is boards. Boards are usually use for individual topics or projects. For example, I have a board for this feature on the blog, a board for the blog as a whole, boards for each of my other blogs, etc.

Within each board, there are lists. Lists can either be used to break down different sub-projects or to track progress on projects. Just like boards are made up of lists, lists are made up of cards.

Think of cards like individual to-do items. With each card, you can add labels, due dates, descriptions, file and image attachments, checklists, and more.

You can also add members to a board and assign certain members to certain boards. Cards can be dragged and dropped to move cards from one board to another, or to change the order of the cards within a board.

For example, even though I have due dates and the calendar view, I try to rearrange all lists so that the cards are in chronological order by due date. Using it as a to-do list, you mark an item as done by archiving it.

Boards also have power-ups including voting, aging, and calendar views. Voting lets members vote on certain cards. Aging fades a card more and more the longer you go without doing anything to it, making it easy to see what needs to be worked on. Calendar view allows you to, you guessed it, see a calendar view of all of the cards with due dates. Due dates turn yellow as they’re upcoming, and red once they’re overdue.

How I Use Trello for Book Blogging

Here’s a picture of what my Trello board for this blog looks like right now:

Book Bumblings Trello Board

Trello for ARCs

As you can see, except for the “To Do” board, I have one list for each “stage” a post goes through.

When I receive an ARC or a book that I’m definitely reviewing on the blog, I add it to the “To Read” board, label it green (which is the “Reviews” label), and set the due date of the post.

Once I finish the book, I drag-and-drop the book’s card over to the “To Review” list. Then in the card’s description, I make notes and start planning the review. I eventually write the actual review right there in the card.

Once I’ve worked the notes out into actual paragraphs and stuff, I move it over to “To Post” to tell myself that I still need to create the post in WordPress, add the book’s info, teaser images, author info, and all the other stuff I include in reviews.

Trello for Blog Tours

For other posts, like release day posts and blitzes, they go straight onto the “To Post” list since there’s no mandatory reading or reviewing involved. Just waiting for the publicist to send over the assets, and putting them into WordPress.

I have different labels set up for cover reveals, blogging tips, release day posts, and other. Once something from the “To Post” list has been posted (or once any item on a card has been completed), I archive the card (which is basically marking it as ‘done.’).

Trello as a To-Do List

You’ll notice that the “To Do” list doesn’t have labels or due dates or anything. That’s because it’s just a list of things I want to get done, like changing the permalink structure of blog posts and doing some much-needed category and tag clean-up. If I wanted, I could also create categorical to-do lists as separate list, or organize the whole board that way.

Trello as an Editorial Calendar

So one of the easiest ways to see what you have to do for the week ahead is looking at a calendar. But if you set due dates for your posts and enable the calendar power-up, you can do just that:

Book Bumblings Trello Calendar

This makes it easy to see when everything on the to-do lists is happening. The labels make it easy to see that type of post each item is (looking at this now, I realize it needs to be updated. Oops!). 

How You Can Use Trello for Book Blogging

The stuff I just went into is just what I’ve found works best for me. I may have just confused the hell out of you (please forgive me…does showing you this help?).

But just because you don’t think the above method will help you organize your book blog doesn’t mean Trello’s not for you. Here are a few other options that don’t include using lists to track post progress:

  • Create a list for each week. As you plan out blog posts, add them to the right list according to publish date.
  • Create a list for each type of post (release day blitzes, reviews, excerpts, etc.).
  • Create a list for each blog post. As cards, add different items that need to be done for that post (read the book, write up the review, create teaser graphics, post it on social media, etc.)

Tips for Multi-Author Blogs

If you have more than one person writing for your blog, things may seem a little more complicated. Like, sure, it’s easy to plan out the calendar as a whole, but what about each individual blogger?

Now, I have no personal experience with this, since I’m flyin’ solo, but I feel like either of these methods could work:

  • Create a separate list for each blogger and put their assigned posts as cards. By setting labels and due dates, you can switch over to the calendar view to get a more bird’s eye view of the blog calendar as a whole.
  • Use one of the methods described in the other section, assign posts to individual bloggers. As long as each blogger has their own Trello account, you can drag their avatar from the sidebar onto the posts they’re responsible for writing. If you have more than one person working on the post (formatter/webmaster, graphic designer, etc.), you can assign a card to more than one person.

Using Trello with Integrations

If you don’t want to (or think you’ll remember) to go add new cards all the time (even though I didn’t think I would and now just keep it open in a tab all the time), you can hook Trello up to like Gmail or Google Calendar through an amazing service called Zapier*.

Zapier is basically a middle-man for apps. When you have a “zap” with a trigger and an action set up, it’s basically saying “every time I do this one thing in App A, Zapier should automate this other thing in App B.”

The easiest way to explain it would probably be with a “zap” for Facebook and Twitter for cross-posting. You could make the trigger a new Facebook post on your page, and the action a new tweet from your handle. So every time you post something on Facebook, the zap would activate and create a new tweet for you.

Trello is one of the apps you can use Zapier with, which means you can hook it up to literally hundreds of other apps. It’s really cool.

But here’s how it fits into this post:

I do like also having a Google Calendar version of my editorial calendar to view with all of my other calendars. So I set up a Zapier zap to kind of cross-post calendar items.

Every time I create a new card and set a due date, it will show up on that same date in Google Calendar in fifteen or so minutes. You can also use Gmail filters. So, let’s say you have a Gmail label for blog tour emails. When you get an email with all the info you need for your tour stop, you can add the label, trigger your zap, and it would show up on the blog tour list on your Trello board.

Want to organize your book blogging with Trello? Here’s my own template to get you started!

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How to Organize Your Book Blog with Trello

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16 Responses to “How to Organize Your Book Blog with Trello”

  1. I’m participating in Bloggiesta and was reading the mini-challenge at Pretty Sassy Cool. She referred us here for further info. This was extremely helpful. Right now I’m doing the Kanban thing with sticky notes on the wall. It works, but I’d like to try Trello because I can add in dates and see a calendar view. Love your blogging tips.

  2. Vi

    Hi! I found your blog via BookBriefs and I LOVE it! Your design is so pretty and your Blogging Tips content is excellent. Even though I’ve been doing this for a long time, I tend to get stuck in my old school ways and I forget to explore all the new tech and gadgets out there to help make blogging quicker/easier. You two have made me want to give Trello a try for sure. I’m definitely looking forward to more posts from this feature.

  3. This is the most informative post I’ve seen so far on using Trello for my blog. I’ve been fiddling with it for a couple of minutes now, and I’m about to go through all my emails and google calendar to get it all set up. I think it will be way better than my previous system, which relied on starred gmails and google calendar, and got incredibly unwieldy. I’m thinking of combining it with a bullet journal for afk moments, but I think that might be a bit much – in this day and age it’s rare that we’re unable to connect with a tablet or smartphone anyway.

    Thanks for the tips!

    • Thanks so much for the comment! You sound like you could def benefit from Trello’s Zapier integration, so you should look into that if you haven’t yet. 🙂

      I don’t think it’s too much at all to have a bullet journal! I’ve tried that journaling style and it’s too “free” for my #typeAalltheway personality lol, but I do have paper notebooks – several, in fact! Some things I just need to put on paper, and others I prefer keeping digitally. The only con of using both paper and digital is that you have to worry about things syncing up. Every morning, I compare my paper & digital to-do list/planner as I’m planning my day and make sure everything is there.

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