7 Time-Saving Ways to Streamline Your Workflow. There are never enough hours in a day, but there are a ton of ways to increase your productivity and put some aspects of your business on auto-pilot.
This is Lesson Eleven of my Free Blogging as a Creative Business Course
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7 Time-Saving Ways to Streamline Your Workflow
Work Smarter, Not Harder is a buzz phrase for businesses these days. But, what does it mean?
To me, it means making good use of time-saving tools, resources, and strategies that you that help you manage running a small business. There are never enough hours in a day, but there are a ton of ways to help you increase your productivity and put some aspects of your business on auto-pilot.
Make no mistake: Working smart and working hard are not mutually exclusive concepts. But if you can find better systems to do more in less time without sacrificing quality or results, do yourself a favor and use them.
Bottom line: Working smarter allows you to have a life outside of your laptop!
The Seven Ways I Streamline my Workflow
Over the years, I’ve learned to use some excellent resources that save me a ton of time and help me put various aspects of my business on autopilot.
One: Hire Life Help
Everything costs you time or money. There will likely come the point in your business that your time is more valuable than money. That is when you’ll want to focus on hiring help. My blog is my baby, and especially in the early years, it was hard to give up control of doing it all.
So I eased into hiring help by starting with life help. I hired housekeepers to come bi-weekly, and I started using a meal delivery service. I currently use and love Hello Fresh.
If you’re a mom with little ones, look into Mother’s Day Out program (MDO), usually run through local churches. My kids were in several fabulous programs via MDO, and the cost is low. It came out to about $4/hour.
Two: Hire Work Help
When it comes to hiring work help, there are two main ways I’ve done this over the years.
The below is a fundamental overview, so if you have specific questions on either of the below things leave a comment at the end of the post.
I didn’t list particulars like costs or how to pay guest bloggers because it varies so much for every blogger and niche, but I’ll be more than happy to discuss and address any questions you have with full transparency.
Virtual Assistants (VAs)
Figuring out what to hand over to your VA can be challenging. I recommend listing out everything you do and start with the tasks that drain you. VAs can help with social media, bookkeeping, roundup posts, writing emails, and more. If you’re looking for VA help, I use and highly recommend Sara and Cali of WestPar Media House.
Consider hiring some carefully-selected guest bloggers to create blog posts for you. Create a set of post guidelines to keep consistency for your overall site.
Three: Tools of The Trade
I’ve discussed many of these in details over this course but here’s a quick roundup of my most-used blogging services and plugins.
- Comment Reply Email. This plugin hasn’t been updated in a while but works wonderfully still. It merely notifies people via email when you reply to a comment they’ve left on your blog post.
- Elementor. Whip up dreamy landing pages with this drag and drop style editor. I can’t believe what you can do with the free version. I created the landing page for this course using it!
- Drafts for Friends. I use this every time I’m doing sponsored work. It allows me to quickly create a unique link I can send to clients so they can review the draft of my blog post before it goes live.
- Social Warfare. Social sharing plugin. It adds buttons to your posts that make them easier for your readers to share. It’s free, but I pay for the pro version because the upgraded features are fantastic. Start with the free and upgrade when your budget allows for it.
- Genesis Simple Hooks. This plugin provides a super easy way to add coding to your website, even if the backside coding is not your strong suit. It’s not mine!
- Hello Bar. Add an announcement bar or pop-up to your site in no time at all with this service’s plugin. There’s a free and paid version. You can set how often it shows and when it shows. I made them all pop-up at once to take a screenshot to show you two of the four style options (below). The free version is terrific but I currently use the paid version on both my blogs. HelloBar uses a plugin to function, but it’s easiest to start your bar on their website.
- Yoast SEO. This makes Search Engine Optimization a breeze. I talked about this at length back in Lesson Five.
- Ultimate NoFollow. Any links you make money from must be marked “no follow.” This plugin lets you do that with the check of a box (shown below). No coding needed to make your links “no follow”!
I use all of the following on both of my blogs.
- MiloTree – One unobtrusive, smart pop-up that can grow your email list, Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube.
- Co-Schedule – This is what I use for my editorial calendar. I wrote about it ay length in Lesson Four on Blog Planning: Creating Your Editorial Calendar.
- Grammarly – “The world’s best automated proofreader.” Indeed. It’s pretty much like having a personal editor on your staff. Artificial intelligence style. Grammarly also works when I’m typing in emails, my browser, and more!
- Tailwind – I use Tailwind for all my Pinterest and Instagram scheduling. I wrote about how I use Tailwind for Pinterest in Lesson Seven and how I use it for Instagram in Lesson Nine.
- Linktree – This creates a handy clickable menu from my Instagram profile link. I use the free version.
Four: Make Use of Mockups and Styled Stock Photos
Professional looking photos are essential in the blogging as a business game. But even if your photography skills are up to snuff, mockups and styled stock photos save a ton of time!
- I have annual subscriptions to Haute Stock and Kate Max.
- If I want a specific kind of mockup or stock photo, Creative Market is always the first place I look.
- If you’re newly starting out and don’t have a budget, Unsplash has your back. They have a huge selection of totally free photos!
Five: Timesaving Templates
Templates are one of my all-time favorite ways to work smarter. See the main image at the top of this post and every post I put up on this blog? All created from a single template. So in addition to saving me time, it keeps my branding on point. Win, win.
I have an entire file of templates for both my blogs on my laptop.
While you can create your own templates, I usually opt to buy them on Creative Market. I love this one by BluChic because it includes ten styled stock photos and you can use it in Canva, a free design program.
Powered by Creative Market
Six: Create Roundups of your own content
Have you seen how a lot of bloggers do round-ups of other people’s content? While those are usually great for traffic, they also encourage people to leave your blog to head to someone else’s. Two of my most popular posts of all time on my main blog are roundups of my content.
If your blog is new and you don’t quite have enough content to do this yet, make it a goal to create enough posts of the same type that you’ll be able to do a roundup in the future.
Seven: Grow with Giveaways
Done right, giveaways are fun for your readers and a great way to grow your social media and email list! Over on my main site, I’ve been running one giveaway a month for a full set of Tombow Dual Tips. While I pay for this out of pocket, I consider it part of my advertising budget. Running a Facebook ad would probably cost me more and not give me as great of results as targeted giveaways do.
- I host giveaways exclusively on my blog. I almost never run them via social media because they’re so much harder to manage.
- The Rafflecopter widget is the entry form I use to run my giveaways.
- Be sure to go back and brush up on keeping your giveaways legal back in Lesson Three.
I hope you found my 7 Time-Saving Ways to Streamline Your Workflow ideas helpful!
Up Next: My Top Ten Blogging as a Business Tips
In the final lesson of the e-course, I’ll be sharing my top ten tips for blogging as a creative business.