I know I said we were going to cover installing wordpress today, but I really wanted to talk about how to stay organized in your business ~ well more than how to stay organized, I want to talk to you about creating a system of organization for yourself and your business.
If there was one thing I could go back and do differently it would be this one element of my business. I did not even THINK about an orgnizational system until I was in the thick of things, couldn’t find things, didn’t know what my passwords were, or where to find my affiliate links. It was a mess, and a huge hassle to go back and find everything to get it organized. It would have been so much easier to just get organized from the beginning.
When creating an organizational system it’s a good idea to look at what others are doing, but like most things in internet marketing you will probably have to tweak it to fit your situation and your learning/organizing style. The thing is, someone can have the “perfect” system for staying organized but if it doesn’t work for you and you don’t actually use it it does you absolutely no good.
What are you going to need to organize?
There are going to be quite a few things you are going to need to keep organized. You will need to be able to find things, access them and track them over time. You may only have 1 or 2 sites now, and only a couple affiliate programs, but over time you will have many more, and while it’s easy to keep track of 1 or 2 things, not so much when it’s 20, 30 or 100.
Website usernames and passwords.
Each time you create a website, whether it’s a blog you plan to make money from or a link blog or a lens, hub or wetpaint site you’re going to need to keep track of the login information.
You may also want to keep track of the keywords the site targets, as well as the platform the site is on. As time goes on you will expand your linking network to many platforms and it will be important to know where your sites are located.
This one is going to be key. You are going to apply to a lot of affiliate programs ~ you will probably use a lot of them as well. It can be very confusing to keep track of as time goes on.
You will want to keep track of how much money you are making ~ but more than that you want to keep track of which sites are earning. This way you can make the most out of each piece of online real estate you have. I can’t even tell you how many sites I put up and then got distracted with something else ~ if I had been keeping track of things it would have been easier to stay focused and get all my properties up and running and earning ~ which would have gotten me to my income goals a LOT faster.
Creating a system to stay organized.
Like I said, there are a million ways you can stay organized. Lynn Terry did a great post recently on her system to stay organized. It’s a great system and a great read. I’m going to talk about how I try to stay organized ~ although my system is not quite as organized as Lynn’s lol ~ it’s still a work in progress.
I’ve tried a couple different things to keep these in order. The one that has worked best for me is a plain old rolodex. I bought it at Walmart for like 7 bucks. Each time I create a new site I write down the username and password, and file it under W for wordpress. If it’s on blogger I file it under B.
I also have a “master network” spreadsheet. I started this when I realized my business was out of control and I couldnt’ find anything. I went back and found every site I’ve made ~ including lenses and hubs ~ every place I created (and I’m quite sure I missed a few only because I forgot about them). I put them all in a spreadsheet. I made pages for different niches/topics and then added them on the corresponding page. I included the name of the site ~ the url ~ keywords targeted ~ platform ~ and username and password.
This has turned into quite a resource, because now when I need to do some linking I can easily find sites in my own network to link from. I named it “my network” and keep it right on my desktop so I can easily find it and use it.
If you don’t have excel you can download open office. It’s a whole suite of office type tools and it has a spreadsheet program ~ it’s free. There is a LOT that comes with it so don’t get sucked in and think you have to know how to use ALL of it ~ just use the pieces you need. Spreadsheets can be confusing ~ in fact, I still only know how to do what I need to do and I’m not sure I’m doing it “right” lol ~ but it works. Here are some very thorough spreadsheet tutorials, to help you get started.
I have to admit I’m not as consistent about adding information to the spreadsheet as I’d like to be, but I absolutely add every new site to my rolodex. For some reason there are times when my computer forgets my password to a site ~ but it’s been doing it automatically for so long that I don’t remember what it is ~ being able to quickly look it up is invaluable, and keeps me from having to change the password so I can get in.
I LOVE Lynn’s plan for managing affiliate programs. I wish I had started this sooner. I however ~ use gmail for my mail. I love gmail for a number of reasons ~
1. you can have unlimited messages come to your inbox. (and I get a lot of email)
2. You can easily label things ~ which is similar to putting it in a folder. (I wish gmail had folders so I could put folders inside of folders, but I’m making due)
3. You can color code stuff ~ I LOVE this feature. It makes it so easy to catch important emails coming through.
4. You can search through every email you’ve ever received.
I have to admit the search function has really kept me from getting really organized in gmail. Since I can search for whatever I’m looking for and it comes up I haven’t gotten very organized thus far. The other day I wanted to log into my lunarpages affiliate account. I couldn’t remember the username or password lol ~ so I just searched in my gmail lunarpages affiliate ~ and up popped my welcome email with the information I was looking for.
It’s pretty easy to use the search, but it would be really nice to have it all organized into labels and here’s why. Sometimes I apply to affiliate programs and then I forget that I’ve done it, what’s worse is I forget what program it was. I may go back to revamp a site and not remember half the programs I could be using to monetize that site. If I have all the affiliate programs for a particular niche labeled with that niche I’ll be able to pull up all the merchant related to that niche.
You could also add this information to your rolodex. It’s another option. Just make sure you file it in a way you will be able to remember.
You could also put the information in your spreadsheet. This would be best if you have created a spreadsheet for each niche, then you would have all your info for that niche all in one place. If you do this ~ make sure you back it up. If your computer crashes your spreadsheet could be lost, so back up to a disk or a portable hard drive or something so you don’t lose it all.
Whenever you get a new welcome email from a merchant site you need to log the info somehow. You will have to figure out which method of logging works best for you, but really ~ figure it out now while you don’t have a million things to keep track of. It will help immensely down the road.
This I have gotten much better about. (thanks to a very cranky husband when it comes time to do taxes) I am not an attorney nor am I an accountant so please don’t count any of this as tax or legal advice, but here’s what I do to keep track of my income and expenditures.
I have a spreadsheet with the months going across the top. Down the side I have each and every place I get paid from, this includes affiliate programs, my coaching stuff, my own products etc ~ everything that sends me money gets logged. If I get a check from commission junction my total goes there. This is an overall income spreadsheet, if you want to keep track of how much each site is making I’d suggest taking some time at the beginning of each month to log which specific merchants/sites have made the money and then log that separately with the specific niche site it belongs to.
Each time I get paid I go in and log it on my spreadsheet. At the end of the month I add up the total so I know exactly how much I’ve made each month. You can easily do this in a spreadsheet by using the Fx bar at the top of the spreadsheet ~ it will add it all up for you. This helps me keep on track, and see what’s working and maybe what needs some extra work. It also keeps me motivated to keep moving forward, building and linking to increase my income next month.
Each time I get paid from a new merchant I add them to the spreadsheet so I always have a running account of where my money is coming from.
This also makes it very easy at the end of the year to just total across my monthlyl income to create an annual income to put in the proper box on the tax forms.
This one got me in huge trouble with my hubby. I never used to keep track of what I spent ~ probably because I didn’t want him to see how much money I was “wasting on this internet marketing thing”. However, many of the things I spend money on can be tax deductions. Now every time I spend money, whether it’s for an ebook, a membership site, hosting, domain names ~ anything work related I print out the receipt. If you buy anything related to your niche I’d print that out too ~ then let your tax man figure it out later. I have folders in my filing cabinet for each month of the year. I just put the printed receipt in the corresponding folder. This has made doing taxes MUCH easier.
There you have it ~ my not so organized system for staying organized. As I have said, it’s a work in progress, as I’m sure it probably always will be. So will yours ~ but do yourself a favor and get started now before it gets so overwhelming you don’t want to do it at all.
If you have any questions about the techniques I’ve described in this post I’d be glad to describe them further to help you get started.
I promise Monday we’ll be installing wordpress. To be ready make sure you’ve got your hosting account set up, your domain name purchased, your nameservers forwarded, and an addon domain added to your hosting account (unless your hosting domain is your niche site domain).