Let’s face it – you have too much to do.
You are running your business, taking care of clients, adding new marketing strategies….the list is pretty long.
That’s why you need to rethink your systems, or what we refer to as SOP’s (Standard Operating Procedures).
An SOP is simply a routine that repeats, like your monthly bookkeeping, paying your team, or updating your calendar.
You can also have an SOP for your blog. This is especially important if you have outsourced any part of your blogging practice (are you ready to outsource your blogging? Learn how we do it.)
Here’s how it works.
Standard Operating Procedures: The First Step
The first step in creating SOP’s is to identify routines that repeat and you want to take less of your time and less decision making. The goal is to put parts of your business on autopilot so that you have more time and capacity for decisions that really move your business forward.
It’s the difference between having to invent how you will manage the accounting in your business and having a simple routine for getting invoices and receipts to your bookkeeper each month.
Your blog is a perfect example of a somewhat complicated routine that repeats with every article you publish. Let’s start with the steps.
List The Steps
Once I know I need to simplify a routine, or I want to outsource it (we can now write and publish your blog), I list the steps.
This list will likely change, especially if I involve a team member or outsource it, but creating a list is a good way to assess the scope of the routine.
The routine of writing, publishing and promoting a blog has loads of small steps:
- Research the topic
- Write the draft (learn how to write your article faster in this post)
- Edit the draft
- Select images, screenshots, videos
- Create a new post
- Add media including Featured Image
- Edit SEO features: title tag, meta description, category, tags
- Log into CRM and design email to announce a new post
- Write and schedule email
Whew! We’re already at 10 steps and we haven’t started promoting the blog! Sure, you might think this is no big deal – “it only takes me a few minutes.”
Even a simple 300-600 word blog article can easily take 90 minutes to write, edit, publish and promote (and that’s if you are really fast!) Add up how much time you’re spending over a month and there is a great opportunity to get some of this to a team member or outsource it completely.
Create Your Standard Operating Procedures
Your next step is to choose where you will store and update your SOP’s. At Blogworks we have moved all our files and SOP’s to Google Docs. The beauty of using Google Docs is that anyone with a Gmail account can get access. Other benefits include:
- we can control access,
- it’s in the cloud, so no messy emailing of files,
- it automatically saves as you edit
- Team members can easily make edits or add comments.
We keep all our writing templates and SOP’s in one folder and then share it with our writing team.
The design of your SOP can be as simple as a list of steps or you can include screenshots, links to examples – even how-to videos.
Share The SOP With Your Team
Now, here’s the clincher – you have to use your Standard Operating Procedures!
It’s one thing to get inspired, document the routine, but you have to use it, update it and instruct your team members as to why this is important.
Remember, the whole idea of creating the SOP is to free you up. As author Michael Gerber famously wrote in the E-Myth “You need to be working on your business, not in your business.
Once you invite and instruct your team members on how to use your Standard Operating Procedures you need to be prepared for routines to change. It’s inevitable that you will think of an improvement, find some new software or simply change your mind.
A few minutes of updating your SOP will pay big dividends over time.
I have a bad habit of meddling in what my team is working on. Too many years of doing it all myself at times makes me more of a micromanager than a true leader.
That costs me time and money.
Worst, it disempowers my team members. After all, who wants to fully commit to a project or routine if you know someone will edit your work?
The trick, I have found, is to keep my eye on the big picture. Yes, I might be able to tweak a step here or slightly improve an outcome, but at what cost? I am always better to create the SOP, train and empower my team and then to step back.
One final thought. As a business owner, at some point, you might want to sell your company. Just like your client list and products, your Standard Operating Procedures can actually add value to your company. Well documented routines that are being used sends a positive message to the future owner that your company is organized and can possibly run without you.
Liked this post? Here are more posts about keeping organized while you write.
This post was originally published May 12, 2017, and has been updated with new information, facts, and advice. Enjoy!