Organize the journey of your site through a blog progress journal

I have been blogging for more than 10 years. There have been time when I needed to go in to redo steps on a site and could not remember how I have done it previously. This caused me to spend a lot of time to search for the steps again- and sometimes I am not able to find the original blog where the steps were first posted.

Please learn from my painful mistake and document the steps down. It would save you a lot of time and hassle in future. Just a few minutes- you can jot down using your quickest scribble.

Since last year, I’ve tried many experiments and enhancements on my blogs. I’ve changed my site’s layout, install/uninstall plugins, paid for themes and plugins, started new blogs and implementing various ideas.

Because I was attempting to do so many things at once- I knew that I needed to document my steps down. Or else I would likely forget about it.

Fortunately I took the time to write down my steps because when I had to repeat the installation of a plugin (that requires certain hardcoded shortcode) or a good idea (with steps) that I wanted to repeat on other sites, I already have the steps.

I even briefly list down the steps I need to take each time I want to start a new subdomain which includes installing my theme and tweaks that I do, must-have plugins, changing the site’s settings, how to activate Askimet (it is easy to forget the steps), activation codes that I need for Google Analytics and site customization steps. 3 months later when I am starting a new site, I was grateful to have the checklist in place to ensure that I do not forget any steps.

How did I set up my blog progress journal

1. Identifying the correct type of book

My blog progress journal

Above: My blog progress journal 

In my opinion, the best type of book is thick notebook or a journal. Choose a book which you love the look and feel of it….because you would likely be writing on the book often enough. For me, I use a brown inexpensive journal book which I like the feel of the soft, pliable pages. Personally I do not like hard cover or ring books.

If you have a past year desk diary that you never got to use, you can also consider utilizing it for your blog progress journal.

2. Creating a table of content and label the pages

Blog progress journal table of contents

Erm….I do not have beautiful handwriting. It is not about calligraphy or decoration but what’s important is that the journal needs to be functional and useful.

Table of content is important for you to quickly zoom in to look for the information that you need. It is much faster to check the table of contents than to flip through the pages. Why waste time and tax your memory (eg wondering hmmm… did I did the site first or install the plugin?).

Leave at least 10 pages blank for table of content. Do note if you experiment and do a lot of tasks, you would be making multiple tweaks in a single day. Sometimes 10 pages are also not enough. Personally I ran out of space for my table of contents before the pages in my book ran out.

You can allocate the first 10 pages for table of content and structure your content based on the date instead of page number. For example you can create a table as follows:

Date Subject Remarks (if more detail explanation is needed)
18 Jan Tweaks in blog theme Setting up Skin Editor, layout width, tracking codes
20 Jan Plugin X Bought plugin X and steps to install
22 Jan Create customized footer


3. Be disciplined to document your steps
I know, it is exciting to try something new on your sites. Documenting the process is not really my strong trait but I made myself do it because it is necessary. I would be trying out the steps and then find that it works. Then I would have my blog progress journal next to me and scribble away (I have quite untidy handwriting).

Blog progress journal

Within a few months, I’ve written about 100 pages on my journal.

Aside from highlighting strategies or listing experiments, I also jot down the mistakes that I’ve made so that I will not repeat them.

Bells and whistles… do you need them?

I don’t think it is necessary to spend a lot of money on fancy pens, planners and stickers because you would probably be scribbling anyway ….unless you have very good handwriting. If you are serious and constantly working on the blog, believe me, you would refer to the book regardless of how it is.

But, I do use Frixion pens when writing some of the pages. It enables me to delete errors or misspellings easily since I write quite quickly.

If you are not into planning but need to push yourself to be disciplined and organized, fancy expensive planners with extra bells and whistles may help to keep that motivation going. However, I find the situation is a little different when it comes to my blog progress planning- because I do refer to the book extensively to remind me of important steps that I might have forgotten.

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