In this post I draw on some project management techniques that I routinely use in my day job to help set up my new WordPress blog. This is an article that originally appeared at Heatheronhertravels.com called Project Planning for my WordPress Blog. I wrote it at a time when I had just moved my Heatheronhertravels site from a Blogger platform over to WordPress and was trying to work through all the different tasks I would need to cover.
Dear readers, you may know me as a travel blogger but I also have one foot in the world of Project Management. Never one to let my experience to waste, I’ve been applying some Project Management techniques to setting up my blog, which I’d like to share with you.
First let me explain what makes this blogging exercise a project. A project is a distinct piece of work that will deliver something at the end, in my case a new WordPress blog. This is different from the ongoing work you might do to improve your blog once it is set up, such as building up your readership.
At first the task of moving my blog from Blogger over to a self-hosted WordPress format seemed daunting. A year’s worth of posts to move, not to mention with all that techie stuff with servers and HTML, and learning a new blogging platform. It made me feel quite faint just to think of it.
This is where project planning can help to bring order from the chaos and leave you feeling more in control. There are two Project Management techniques which I’ve found helpful, although they’re common sense really; Work Breakdown Structure and Schedule.
Work Breakdown Structure
First I made a Work Breakdown structure. This is really a list of all the things you can think of that need doing, organised into different areas of work. You can start with a blank piece of paper, writing down the different areas of activity and then breaking them down further into the smaller tasks. You may find that some of these activity areas are ones you want to subcontract, such as designing or customising your theme or website. You can take a look at my Work Breakdown Structure below – click to enlarge and view in more detail.
Once you have a list of all the activities and tasks in your Work Breakdown Structure, you can make a Schedule.
Schedule or Project Plan
A Schedule is a list of the activities and tasks with timescales when you plan to do them by. That way you can monitor how you’re doing and not feel bad if you’re not up and running immediately. The most widely used tool for setting up your schedule is called Microsoft Project and most often a Project Manager will use a view which has the Timeline across the top, and project activities and tasks represented by bars across the page. They will also show major milestones, or key points in the project on the schedule.
When planning you will find that some tasks are dependent on others. For example, I can’t link my hosting account to my domain name until I have registered my domain name. Other tasks can run at the same time, for example I can be choosing my WordPress theme at the same time as setting up my hosting account. You can see a simplified version of my Project Plan below – click to enlarge and see more detail. (I used Excel rather than Microsoft Project)
Your Work Breakdown Structure and your Schedule make a major part of your Project Plan, but there are a few additional things you might want to consider.
1. Communicating to your Stakeholders. Stakeholders are anyone who may have an interest in your blog, such as readers, journalists, advertisers. You’ll want to let them know what you’re doing, so you don’t lose their interest and support.
2. You’ll want to consider Issues and Risks which might affect your project. An Issue is something that has affected your project and may be a problem, a Risk is something that might happen. When you know what your Issues and Risks are then you can think about how to manage them. An example of an Issue is that I may not have the time or skills to customise my site, but I can manage this by employing a developer to do it for me. An example of a Risk is that I could lose my readers because they don’t know where to find my new site, but I can manage this by the communictions I do and the way I direct readers from my old site to my new site.
So there you are – that’s Project Planning made easy! Just be thankful you didn’t have to sit endless Project Management Qualifications like I did, to learn these easy techniques for your blog.