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how to use basecamp to organize your blog

Posted in Blogging by

Basecamp is a project management software, and using something like this isn’t just a good way to organize your blog or business. It’s also a good tool to have on your resume – especially if you want to transition to a remote career. Many companies use this to organize projects and tasks within the organization, and you can make it work for your own business as well. Here’s how I’m using it for the Desi Does empire!

basecamp

The first screen displays your “Teams” as well as your “Projects.” I use two different teams – one for Desi Does Pizza ideas, since it’s less structured than my business here. I use the second one to manage communication or plan out any ideas I might have for guest posts or social media help. The “My Stuff” section of Basecamp lets you easily see your outstanding assignments, quick links to your most used parts of Basecamp, tasks that are due, and things you’ve recently worked on.

how to use basecamp to organize your blog

You can sync Google Drive files or even create a doc directly on Basecamp. I love this because I can just note down any post ideas or start to draft a post.

My favorite part is the option to create project templates, so every month I can easily duplicate my content calendar project.

In this project, I have my schedule of what’s getting posted when, and in the Docs & Files section, I upload the related assets to each blog post. I do this in case I’m out and about and want to be able to easily retrieve any photos if I want to put together a quick social media post.

The best part of Basecamp for business, in my opinion, is the To-dos section. In this section, I have a To-Do card for each day that a blog post will be published. On that card, I break down the process: writing a post, editing a post, taking and editing photos, etc. It may seem basic and obvious, but if you like checking things off, it’s a really great feature.

Checking off and seeing what I’ve already done and what’s still coming up makes it super easy to follow a process and not feel overwhelmed. Here’s a deeper look at the card for last week’s Best Self Co. giveaway post (which is still open for another week!)

Basecamp’s flexibility makes it perfect no matter how big your blog or business is. You could even set it up for your daily tasks or freelance writing. It might seem like a lot of setup, but investing time into setting up templates for your routines can be a huge timesaver in the long run. It might even save you from forgetting simple marketing tasks that you should do weekly!

How do you organize your processes? Do you use a project management tool like Basecamp?

August 9, 2017
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Something new!

Posted in Personal by

If you follow me on Twitter (which you should, I promise I’m really fun,) you might have noticed a slight change in the last few weeks – I changed my username to @desidoesthings from @anortherngirls.

When I started this blog over five years ago, I couldn’t pick a name. This isn’t unique, and I think every blogger knows the pressure of picking the right name right out of the gate. I have to say – I feel like I failed at that. I’ve never loved A Northern Girl – sure, it’s who and what I am, but it doesn’t have a nice ring to it. It’s not catchy like Making Sense of Cents or Helene In Between or Venus Trapped In Mars. I never even really made a proper logo for it (though I do love the clean lines of Futura Medium that has served as the header all these years.)

A few weeks ago, a stroke of genius finally grabbed me. You probably know that I launched a food blog earlier this year (come join us at Desi Does Pizza!) and I recently registered a domain name that would serve as a landing page for all my projects. But I loved that name so much, and I love this blog so much, that it finally occurred to me: www.desidoes.com is what this blog was destined to be all along.

Desi Does feels much more personal – it’s about me, and a better reflection of what this blog is. Whether I’m sharing my blogging and remote work experiences, trying new products or experiences, or traveling, it’s all what I love to do – and what I love to write about.

What does this mean for content?

I’ll still be following the same posting format and content: lifestyle Mondays, blogging Wednesdays, and travel/location independent Fridays. I’ll just be doing it under a new name – one that feels more like me.

I do hope you’ll stick around and consider signing up for the mailing list! If you have a moment, I’d also love your feedback on this reader survey as well. It will help me make sure I’m providing the content you’re looking for!

How did you come up with your blog name? Did you go through several before landing on one you love?

July 8, 2017
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blog about me pages i love

Posted in Blogging by

blog about pages

blog about page

Sometimes, writing about yourself can be the hardest part of your blog or website. A great about page is one of the most important parts of your website, though! What should you include, and what makes a great bio page anyway? Today I’m sharing a few of my favorite blogger about pages, as well as some tips on how to make sure yours stands out!

Helene In Between: Helene is a HUGELY successful lifestyle blogger, and I’ve been following her for quite a few years. Her “about” page is very personal. It tells the story of how and why she and her husband were able to move to Germany. That might not seem like it relates to her blog at all, but it’s exactly what allowed her to move abroad! I’ve gotten so much value from her blog that I joined her Blog Boss Babes group and highly recommend it.

Secret Blogger’s Business: Kate started her second (majorly) successful blog in Secret Blogger’s Business, and her bio page here is gorgeous. The layout makes the content easy to read – as you scroll down, images alternate from left to right, which makes the content super easy to read. It also walks through her past blog journey, some personal info, and successes she’s had with her websites! By the time you finish reading her bio, it’s clear what she’s about and how she can help you.

Emma Lenhart: Emma has a cool, clean blog aesthetic, and her biography page matches as well. She uses a professionally done headshot, and the content on the page aligns perfectly with the photo! That makes it really visually interesting and easy to read.

Like your bio page, but want to make it “pop” more? Check out my favorite tools and apps to improve your writing!

It’s Carmen: Carmen’s “about” page is another very complete bio. She shares her blogging history as well as personal anecdotes (we share the same mac & cheese philosophy!) Plus, she updates it regularly – as soon as she left her corporate job, she noted it in her biography right away.

Catherine Chicotka: A new find for me, I really like Catherine’s site! Her about page, like the others, is well organized and not only talks about what visitors will find on her website but also her brief bio. The photos she’s chosen also tells a lot about her personality, which is great to show on your blog.

Blog Beautifully: I like Krista’s biography page because of its simplicity. Her headshot photo blends in perfectly with the white background, which makes the content stick out. She includes two calls to action at the bottom – a mailing list signup form, as well as the option to enroll in her free e-course. I highly recommend including a mailing list signup form on each page of your site – you never know when someone will be ready to subscribe!

Fitnancials: I’ve been following Alexis’ blog since she started in 2013 (around the same time as me!) and she continues to impress. Her about page is great because she blogs often about her travel journey, and she includes many photos from her trips in her bio. It’s great to see how her blog has helped her succeed!

byRegina: If you’re an entrepreneur or aspiring entrepreneur, byRegina is a blog you have to read. She has a ton of great resources on how to market yourself and monetize your brand. Her bio clearly displays her experience (i.e. why you should trust her) and the clean layout of her website is easy to navigate!

26 and Not Counting: Another Chicago blogger, Jess’ bio page is really fun. She has a quick blurb about her but then features a “Q&A” style survey for a more conversational tone. Even though she doesn’t like coffee, we’ll have to forgive her – it’s a creative and informative biography!

Another one that I think is exemplary is this one from Louise of Oh So Sensitive. Not only is this one of my favorite blogs, it might be my favorite about page as well. She gives some fun facts and quick biographical information about herself, and weaves it into the story of how her blog started and why.

So what should be on your blog about page?

  • Be sure to include at least one photo of yourself. Even if you have one in the sidebar that appears on all your pages, use a different one – it shows different sides of your personality! Plus, not all blog themes display the sidebar on pages.
  • Tell the story of your blog: why you started it, what you write about, and what readers can expect. Think of it as an elevator pitch for your blog – just a few short sentences on what and why!
  • Fun facts about you also help your readers connect with you. You never know – maybe someone visiting your site has the same weird phobia as you, or also speaks Bulgarian! (Swans are terrifying, though, am I right?)
  • I’d also recommend including links to your social media. Even though they’re likely built in to your theme, someone might not choose to follow you until they’ve learned about your personality. This is also a good place to dump in the “extra” social media networks you don’t include in your main navigation, like Goodreads and Spotify!
  • After all that, visitors will be dying to work with you or buy from you. Be sure to include some kind of sales pitch, whether it’s a link to your online store or a call to action for brands to work together!

Join the mailing list and get a free worksheet to improve your blog bio in a few short steps. It includes a checklist to make sure you’ve covered everything, as well as space to brainstorm and perfect your elevator pitch!

Share your blog with us in the comments – I’d love to take a look at your bio page as well!

June 7, 2017
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tools for bloggers for your best writing ever

Posted in Blogging by
This post contains affiliate links from Grammarly.

best writing ever

So you’ve worked hard on filling up your content calendar and now you’re writing your posts. You want to make sure that you’re not using “filler” content – higher quality posts will help you get more traffic and build a dedicated base of readers. (Plus, high-quality blogs will attract more brands and sponsors!) These are some of my favorite tools for bloggers that can help ensure you’re putting your best writing forward.

Hemingway: Hemingway is an editor that you can paste your writing into and it will grade it (their recommendation is to write for a ninth grade reading level), offer feedback for hard to read passages and more. You can even write full posts in Hemingway now (including formatting, for easy pasting into your post) and download a desktop app if you prefer to work in a window without website distractions. Readable is a similar service and can grade URLs as well, but their free version only lets you grade a few links at a time.

Grammarly: I’ve posted before about how much I love Grammarly (including screencasts of it in action!) and it continues to be one of my writing must-haves. Since it works in real-time, it really serves my internal editor and helps me make sure I’m not missing any misspellings or errant commas. I highly, highly recommend checking Grammarly out because it’s the number one thing that has helped my writing out more than any other app or service.

Thesaurus: Grab a desktop copy from Amazon or use thesaurus.com – this is one of the most relied upon tools in my kit. Especially when I’m writing a series or very focused post, I might find myself repeating the same word over and over. A thesaurus helps me mix it up and adds variety to my writing!

Byword: A full-screen program for writing, Byword is great for those who get easily distracted when writing in web-based apps. It’s downloadable for Mac and Apple mobile devices, and I love its simplicity. It also lets you export formatted text to PDF, rich text, or HTML for Blogger, WordPress, and other blogging platforms. If you don’t have a Mac or prefer a web-based editor, sign up to find out with Quabel Writer launches. Or for a more extreme option, try BlindWriter – it lets you set a time limit, then blurs out your composition until the time is up. If you’re a merciless editor (like me,) this is a great way to start exercising editing after writing.

Rough Drafts: While blogging shouldn’t bring back nightmares of homework assignments from school, writing drafts of your posts before scheduling them can help you make sure you’re putting the best content forward. I really like Krista’s five question method and printable – her questions help you really focus on your content.

BlaBlaMeter: If you’ve ever wondered about “junky” words in your writing, BlaBlaMeter is a great judge. Paste in your text and it will grade the quality of your writing – if you’re using all the other tools, your writing is probably checking out pretty well here!

Other Bloggers: There’s no substitute for another pair of eyes. Facebook Groups can be a great resource – many of them have weekly schedules, and some of them (like Rock Your Blog & Biz) even have feedback days scheduled in. Check out a subreddit like r/blogging if you’re more comfortable there. Use these opportunities to solicit advice from readers – they might have some advice you’d never have thought of!

Do you use any of these tools for bloggers? Did I miss out on any that you swear by?

Like this post and want to be notified of more posts and resources for bloggers? Sign up for the mailing list and be the first to know when my eBook for bloggers is available!

May 24, 2017
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blog management / 36 ideas for writer’s block

Posted in Blogging by

writer's block ideasSometimes the thought of sitting down to type out a post can be very daunting. Writer’s block is real, and it effects all kinds of writers – even bloggers. If you find yourself stuck in a rut, here are 36 ideas to try to get your brain going!

  1. Things you don’t know about me
  2. Most embarrassing moment
  3. Q&A: Ask your readers to send you questions on social media and cover them in a blog post
  4. Favorite TV shows & movies
  5. Your five favorite photos and the stories behind them
  6. Post your favorite recipe
  7. Favorite fonts
  8. Tune Tuesday: post your favorite songs, music you’ve been listening to lately, etc.
  9. A Day in My Life: document 24 hours in your life
  10. Write a Buzzfeed-style listicle
  11. Do a favorites post of things you’ve been loving lately (these are one of my favorite kinds of posts to write and read!)
  12. Feature your favorite bloggers
  13. Every day is a holiday – look up what today is and talk about your favorite way to eat that food
  14. What’s the worst date you’ve ever been on?
  15. If you had a million dollars, what would you do with it? (I would buy Kraft Dinners, a la Barenaked Ladies :))
  16. Take part in a linkup: Wordless Wednesday, Fan Friday… there are tons of linkups with different topics. Pick one and join in!
  17. Write a primer to your favorite band
  18. Two truths and a lie: tell three stories (and include photo proof if you want!) but one of the stories is a lie. Get your readers to guess which one it is!
  19. Be a fashion blogger for a day – grab a friend or a tripod and style up your favorite look
  20. Post a haul video or blog
  21. Gather your popular posts and cull them together for new readers
  22. Publish your bucket list
  23. Talk about your favorite books
  24. What’s your morning routine? Are you a shower-and-go girl, or do you meticulously apply makeup and style your hair every day? (I alternate between both of these without shame.)
  25. What’s the last vacation you went on?
  26. Talk about your hometown – best places to eat, fun activities, etc. for anyone who might be looking for a weekend getaway
  27. Describe your perfect day
  28. If your life was a TV show, what would it be?
  29. What’s your favorite sports team?
  30. Try doing a vlog!
  31. How did you spend your last birthday?
  32. Write about your college experience. If you’re still in or haven’t gone to college yet, talk about what you hope you’ll remember ten years after graduation.
  33. Create a challenge for yourself – maybe you want to drink more water or use more coupons. Blogging about it creates accountability!
  34. Talk about why you started blogging in the first place. Why do you continue writing?
  35. What’s the best thing that happened to you this week?
  36. How do you pack your lunch? What kind of snacks do you bring for the workday?

So with those 36 ideas to get you started, maybe it will help you break through the block! (And selfishly, these are all the kinds of posts I like reading. More workday snack posts, I say!)

Share in the comments what your go-to type of post is when you’re less than inspired – maybe it will help a fellow blogger!

July 28, 2014
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