Our Favorite Tools to Be Efficient and Organized Bloggers

Busy. It’s definitely a word we use to describe our current “season” of life. We work full-time jobs, run a full-time blog, and now things are busier than ever with Bridget’s new house and her pregnancy! We’ve officially gone from busy, to full-on crazy mode around here!

But somehow we manage to keep things chugging along here on The DIY Playbook, and that is mostly thanks to processes we’ve put in place to be as efficient and organized as possible. 2 years ago we revealed some of the techniques we use to be efficient, but we’ve learned even more since writing that post.
We’ve done our best to automate as much as possible and want to break down some of the tools we use on a regular basis to be as efficient and organized as possible, in hopes that some of them may help our fellow bloggers or future bloggers tuning in.

Tailwind for Pinterest & Instagram

Spoiler alert: almost none of our Instagram or Pinterest posts are written in real time. We used to choose a photo and write the content of that Instagram post in real time and we found it was negatively impacting our lives (and marriages). You don’t even want to know how many times we told our husbands, “Hold on one second, I just have to post this to Instagram and then we can go!”. Only to still be busy posting it 10 (or 20!) minutes later. Eek… how rude!  This was not healthy for our marriages and not worth the stress. 

Enter Tailwind. Now we schedule 99% of our Instagram posts on Sundays for the entire week and all we have to do when it’s time to post is press PUBLISH. Life changing!! The stress of trying to figure out what to say, or trying to rush so we don’t interrupt our daily lives, is gone. We do the same for Pinterest using this tool that is free unless you choose to upgrade for more options/analytics.

Shared Photo Album for Instant Insta Content

Another Instagram trick we learned along the way is starting a shared photo album of photos to eventually post on Instagram. We both add Instagram-worthy photos to this arsenal as we snap them and then use this collection as a library when choosing what to schedule for the week. This has been an efficient way to stay organized because we always know where to find our photos, especially on days when we want to publish an Instagram photo that correlates with what’s on the blog. No more scrolling through thousands of old pics to find what we need. This is such an easy trick that has made a world a difference.

When you’re editing images for a blog post, be sure to choose a few and crop them square. Then export original size, upload to your phone, and you’re good to go!

Google Calendar for the Win

The DIY Playbook only runs because of our Google Calendar. Honestly, we’re not sure what we would do without it directing us on what is upcoming each week. We fill it in at least 2-3 months in advance (although it changes some!) and it dictates our to-do list. Once we see a project coming up on the calendar, we often add those supplies or anything else we need to do to prep to our to-do list. Once something is added to the to-do list, we know for a fact that it will get done.  

Each of us refers to the calendar many, many times throughout the day. We also add deadlines, guest post details, conference calls or general reminders on the calendar so we always know what to expect. Plus we have a detailed color-coding system so we know what projects are done, in progress, need editing, etc. Heck, our google calendar probably deserves an entire post because it works so well for us!

Our Combined To-Do List Keeps Us Sane

Once we see something approaching on the calendar, we immediately add any prep tasks to our to-do list. But where does this collaborative to-do list live?  In a draft in our email. We keep a draft that reads “TO-DO list” updated at all times. This draft has a section for Bridget’s to-do list, Casey’s to-do list, a combined to-do list and a list of posts that need to be reviewed before being scheduled. Being able to see each other’s to-do list and add items (or notes) has been such an efficient way for us to stay in the loop with what’s always on the horizon. Plus it avoids us having to text each other 500 times a day trying to get on the same page or ask questions. When a question pops up, we put the note right in the draft (usually in a colored font) and when the other opens the draft, she can easily see it and add her response.

Drafted Email Templates Save Lots of Time

We receive a lot of emails each day and started noticing a trend of what these messages were requesting. When we found ourselves drafting similar emails back to these common requests (i.e. inquiries about sponsored posts, inquiries about guest posts, inquiries about design services, etc.), we figured there was a more efficient way to get back to these requests.

That’s when we started using “drafted templates” to reply. We simply go to the drafts in our email and choose the template we need for that request. We copy and paste that draft into the response, add some personalization when appropriate, and send away. It saves us SO much time and allows us to continue to meet our expectation of responding to all of our emails within 24 hours of receiving them. Here are a few of the most popular templates we use:

  • Sponsored Post Reply (explaining we’d love to hear more about this opportunity)
  • Sponsored Post Reply (explaining this partnership is not a good fit)
  • Guest Post Reply (for authors looking to write for our site)
  • Permission to Feature our Projects/Photography
  • The DIY Playbooks Stats and Rates (when brands request this information)
  • A draft outlining The DIY Playbook’s Bio (helpful to have on hand for when we are featured on other sites)

Manage Money with QuickBooks

When we first started the blog, we only had a handful of invoices to send every month. Now we have lots of vendors, but we still never had an organized way to keep track of everything. Actually, there were times when we didn’t even realize companies hadn’t paid us…for months. Oops! Luckily, Casey’s husband Finn stepped in and now runs that side of things for us. We would be lost without his help! 

He recently upgraded us to Quickbooks and since we can’t attest to how much time using the program has saved us, we’ll let him tell us why he loves it so much…

“QuickBooks has allowed us to drastically improve how we analyze our business with automated reporting and transaction collection. We’ve linked all of our external bank accounts to the program, so we now have a central source for The DIY Playbook’s financial reporting and performance. I can quickly see how much money is coming in and out every single day. Plus, I can account for taxes and invoice tracking. Now if someone has an overdue invoice, QuickBooks will send an email reminder to that company..so Bridget & Casey don’t have to shake anyone down!”

Mailchimp for Daily & Monthly Emails

We pay to use a company called Mailchimp, which automatically sends out our daily emails without us having to do anything outside of the initial set-up. We also just started using a template on Mailchimp that helps us build our monthly newsletter and send that out each month (have you signed up yet?!). Having a template to plug-in the necessary components keeps the process streamlined and very efficient. Once the newsletter is built, we schedule it to be sent. Then we don’t have to worry about it again until it’s time to build the next month’s newsletter.

In a busy world with a never-ending to-do list, these are some of our favorite tools that have saved us a ton of time over the years. We are always looking for other ways to be more efficient so if we’re missing a tool that you love… please let us know! We would love to check it out and hopefully add it to our arsenal of faves.

Bridget&Casey

  • These are such great tips! I would love to learn more about google calendar, I have it but don’t use it and I probably should!

    • I forgot to mention that I LOVE google photos, do you guys use that for your photos or iCloud?

    • We import our photos from our cameras into iPhoto and then move them into organized folders on our desktops. We then back them up separately on a hard drive every couple of weeks. It can get messy really quick with all of the photos we take, so we try to keep it as organized as possible!

    • We love google calendar because we can really see the entire month and map things out. We color code things in yellow that still aren’t done, and then change them to green once the post is finished and ready to publish. Just keeps us on top of things and it’s easy to move posts around!

  • Kaitlin M.

    Wow! You two are such an inspiration, can’t believe you can do all this while also working full time! I read a lot of blogs but I have to say, yours is the most impressive. You can just really tell how much time and effort you put into each post and all the work you do behind the scenes to make sure you have a new blog post and well thought out social media post each day. You have such business savvy, you need to be teaching classes on all this! 🙂

    • Kaitlin, you have no idea how much your comment means to us. Sincerely…thank you!

  • Pam

    Very informative. I need Google Calendar. I have MailChimp just haven’t set up a newsletter yet, it is on my long to-do list. Thanks for sharing.

  • Leslee Myers

    Thank you for sharing all your tips! They are so helpful and I am already implementing a few of your ideas. Would love a post all about Google Calendar. I’m a paper and pen planner kind of girl but its sounds like such a helpful tool. This has been a great Blog Week!

    • Thanks Leslee! We will add a post about google calendar to our editorial plan…great idea! We are pen & paper type people too, especially with non-blog stuff and our day jobs. But with 2 of us, it’s nice to have the google calendar so we can both see it for the blog, even if we’re in separate locations.

  • I really need to look into Google calendar for myself and my husband…it might help him know what is going on. Haha. Instagram used to let you “draft” posts in airplane mode and save them to post later but that stopped working for me a few updates ago which I was so bummed about because it was easy to edit and write a caption when I had time and post when ready. I should look into Tailwind for that. It would be very helpful! Thanks for sharing all your “secrets” this week!

  • Colleen Berry

    Thank you so much for sharing these tips! They are so helpful. Do you have a scheduler that you use for your Facebook posts? I recently downloaded Tailwind based on your recommendation, but I’m struggling to find one for Facebook.

    • On Facebook you can actually schedule any post! Instead of publishing now, just hit the arrow that says “schedule” and you can choose a time and date in the future.

  • I am curious at what point in blogging you created an LLC, hired and accountant etc? Was it right away before you even made money or after you were already up and running?

    • We did it all within our first year, even before we were making much money at all. It just made sense to keep everything separate from our personal accounts. Highly recommend everyone gets it all figured out from the start!

    • Thank you!

  • Kait S

    Check out Google keep! Great place to share/keep track of lists – maybe for supplies to buy, etc since it would be hard for lengthy notes, but works with the rest of the Google suite to add it docs, sheets, etc & can download the app on ur phone for quick access. Equally helpful for hubby reminders too 🙂

    • Kait, thanks for sharing! Never heard of Google keep, but will definitely look into it. Right up our alley