If there’s one area I could drastically improve it’s getting better organized. This is my refrain for years. I won’t change. I’m sloppy in almost every regard of my business (and life).
I have dozens of Google Sheets but haven’t bothered getting Google Workplace. I really should so I can organize all those sheets. It’s out of control.
I rely on Gmail for filing documents more often than file folders on my computer.
I’m not kidding. I email myself emails with documents attached and keywords in the subject that serve as tags for searching. When I need it, I search in Gmail.
Part of this is because the Mac computer search function is horrendous. Truly awful. I never find what I need. Gmail’s search function is unreal (makes sense given G is a search engine).
The only reason my taxes and financials are in order is because of my bookkeeper and accountants. They insisted I get Quickbooks. Moreover, every quarter my bookkeeper sends me emails until I provide her what she needs. Usually, it’s the email with “you won’t get that reimbursement this quarter unless you get it all to me by X date” that prompts me to get her what she needs.
When I ran my books it was mayhem. “Ran” is generous. All I had were credit card, PayPal and bank statements at the end of the year which I dumped on my then accountant. I ended up paying far too much money in penalty fees and interest to the tax authorities for filing late and failing to pay installments.
I do understand how high-earning celebrities manage to end up owing the IRS millions of dollars. That would be me.
The biggest near catastrophe was years ago when I also handled my corporate books. I failed to renew my annual corporate docs for a few years in a row. This was before the corporate registry sent out email reminders.
Me being me tossed a lot of unopened envelopes in the trash including reminders to file corp. renewal forms. It’s not like it’s hard. It takes about 5 minutes.
Out of sheer luck I happened to open the “Final Reminder” from the corporate registry. If I didn’t get them the annual report filed within a couple weeks they would remove my corporation from the registry. That’s another way of saying my company would cease to exist.
That would be a catastrophe because the tax authorities would consider it a deemed sale and I’d owe taxes on the value of the company as if I sold it.
That’s when I hired a lawyer to handle the filings. Clearly, I was not up for the task. It’s only $300 per year which I consider an insurance policy.
My business life is a litany of mistakes stemming from my being wholly unorganized.
This leads me to the issue we all face and that is avoiding paying for / publishing articles on topics already covered on our sites.
How do I avoid ordering articles on topics I’ve already published?
Before I tell you my simple, seemingly inefficient system, you should know I have ordered articles on topics already covered on my sites on several occasions so my systems are not foolproof.
Usually, I can use some of the duplicate articles. I use as much as I can so it’s not totally wasted.
I try to keep my workflow as simple as possible.
I have a master Google Sheet that has every article published on every site.
At least it should. Sometimes it’s not updated as quickly as it should be.
The problem arises from using separate Sheets to track content from various content sources. They don’t need access to the master so I set up sheets for WriterAccess, individual writers, etc.
They get access to the sheets they need.
In a perfect world, the titles added to those individual sheets get added to the master. As I said, this doesn’t always happen.
New cluster topics
Regularly I find new cluster topics that I know I haven’t covered which makes it easy to avoid duplicate orders.
My clumsy solution
If you’re more organized than me you don’t have to take this step. This is the price of being unorganized.
For many keywords, I search in Google the keyword plus my site name to see what comes up. I do this to see if I’ve covered the topic.
Example: “Income report April 2021 Fatstacksblog”
Interestingly, the tag archive ranks at the top with April’s being the second listing. I like that result. I wouldn’t have known that had I not checked in Google.
It takes seconds to check topics with your site name in Google.
Before you scoff at my inefficiencies, this process serves additional benefits (that I wouldn’t have discovered had I not been so unorganized).
1. See all articles for a topic in Google: When I search in Google with a keyword plus my site name I see a list of all articles on that topic. On MANY occasions simply viewing my articles in the SERPs is really helpful in the following ways.
2. Missing topics: These days most topics I cover have several articles on it. Seeing them listed helps me identify any topical gaps.
3. Which article ranks at the top for the keyword? often my intended cornerstone does not rank first for the topic. Instead, it’s a subordinate article which is interesting. This prompts me to investigate both articles further to see what’s going on.
4. Google presentation: I’ve discovered many errors in titles and meta descriptions seeing articles in the SERPs.
5. Opportunities for updating: With thousands of published articles there are many that could use improvement and updates. This process often helps me identify articles that could use some sprucing up.
6. Internal linking opportunities: Seeing all articles on a topic in the SERPs also helps me identify more internal linking opportunities. I go into each article to ensure internal linking is up to snuff. While I internal link as new content is published, it’s not done perfectly. Moreover, it’s interesting to see which articles Google lists out for various topics. Often articles I forgot about or I didn’t consider as all that relevant are listed.
If searching seed keywords for my sites in Google is so valuable, do I do it systematically?
By systematically, I mean do I go through all topics and sub-topics weekly or monthly?
No, I don’t. But I do it regularly on many different topics that it does serve as a quality control function.
Currently, it’s a hit-and-miss process which is fine with me. In a perfect world, I’d have a quality control team combing through every article updating everything weekly but that’s not financially feasible. The cost of such a team would tens of thousands per month. Not worth it.
Why don’t I use some online workflow organization software such as ClickUp, Asana, Monday, etc.?
I’ve tried many. I’m sure they’re great for some folks but I loathe that stuff. I’ve spent hours setting it up only to stop using it after a week.
At the end of the day I’m okay being unorganized
It works for me. Stuff gets done. It is a balancing act. It’s not like I don’t track anything. I do. I just don’t do it as well as it could be.
I place huge importance on enjoying my workday. This requires reducing or eliminating everything I don’t like doing such as phone/Zoom calls (almost 100% eliminated), obsessing over spreadsheets and micromanaging. If mistakes happen, that’s okay. At the end of the day, I can say I enjoyed the day.
Jon runs the place around here. He pontificates about launching and growing online publishing businesses, aka blogs that make a few bucks. His pride and joy is the email newsletter he publishes.
Hyperbole? Maybe, but go check it out to see what some readers say.
In all seriousness, Jon is the founder and owner of a digital media company that publishes a variety of web properties visited and beloved by millions of readers monthly. Fatstacks is where he shares a glimpse into his digital publishing business.