How to Organize Your Content in a Spreadsheet: 7 Steps

You have a million great ideas for your blog or social media content. You jot them down on sticky notes, scrap papers, or your notepad thinking they're the best, only to lose track of them later. While you want somewhere to sort and plan them, you aren't quite ready to invest in another software. There's also the problem of wanting to share them with a coworker.

You wonder how you're ever going to get your content ideas happening.

Why not use a spreadsheet?

I know, it might sound pretty old school when there's plenty of great, new software out there, but hear me out.

Not only do you likely already have a spreadsheet software available to use, but you might also know how to use it already, and the same goes for your coworker. It can definitely help bridge the tech gap, especially when working with someone outside of marketing.

In this post I'll show you how to make a layout you can organize your content into in 7 steps. I've decided to keep the layout simple, but this is to get you started. Perhaps another time I can share a more complex version, or maybe I'll spare you. Regardless, here's how to create a simple spreadsheet layout that will help you sort your content ideas and start putting them into action.

 

Example content spreadsheet

 

1) Get Started.

Start with a blank sheet and fill in your titles. For this example, I have "type" meaning type of post, image, Facebook copy, Instagram copy, blog/ other copy, status, and notes. There's no correct way of organizing your sheet; it's what works for you. As you work with it, you'll likely think of more columns you want to add, or you might find you can combine or take some away.

 

Titles added to content spreadsheet

 

2) Select and freeze the top row.

Freezing the top row will keep your title at the top of the document as you scroll down. Do this by selecting the row, then "view" in your menu, and next "freeze." Choose "one row" to freeze only the top.

 

Freezing the rows of the content spreadsheet

 

3) Add a dropdown menu.

Next, you want to add your dropdown menu under "type." To do this, right-click the cell under the title to bring up the context menu. Select "data validation."

In the data validation panel, set your criteria to "list of items" and type the items you want to include in the field. Separate them with a comma.

In this example, I used social, blog, web, and other.

 

Adding a drop-down menu to the content spreadsheet

 

Now your drop-down menu will be there. Give it a click to test it out. Copy and paste it into multiple rows in the first column.

 

 

4) Add colour coding.

To add your colour coding, right-click all of column A and head down to "conditional formatting" in the context menu.

 

Adding colour coding to the content spreadsheet

 

Make sure the range says "A:A" so that it applies to the whole column and not one cell only. Under format rules and "format cell if..." there will be a drop-down menu. Select "text contains" and in the value field add the type you want to colour code.

You can give the entire cell colour by clicking the little paint bucket or you can give the text colour by clicking the A. Keep in mind it's best to keep it something that's easy to look at. Yellow on orange might be a bit tough to read.

 

Where to find conditional formatting

 

This is what it will look like colour-coded.

 

What the colour coding looks like in the spreadsheet

5) Repeat.

Next, you'll want to repeat the previous two steps to create the status column. This is where you'll mark your progress and / or communicate it with your team. For this example, I used to-do, in progress, drafted, complete, and posted. Other suggestions could be "please revise" or "for review" if the process involves proofreading.

 

What the content spreadsheet looks like with statuses

 

6) Add your work.

Now you can start filling in your ideas.

 

What the content spreadsheet looks like filled in

 

If you aren't familiar with how to insert images into Google Sheets, you select insert in your menu, images, and insert image in cell.

 

How to fill in the blanks

7) Filling in the blanks.

This step is optional, but you can do it to see if you like it better or not. If you aren't a fan of the blank spaces, you can use conditional formatting to fill the cells if they're empty.

 

Example content spreadsheet

 

Notes

You won't be able to pull a quality image from your spreadsheet later, so keep them all together in a folder where they're easy to find later. This column is more for reference. If you're collaborating with someone, they'll need access to the images folder as well.

Long-form content is best kept out of the cells of a spreadsheet as it will be difficult to format in spreadsheet software. If you're working alone you can have your drafts in an easy-to-find place on your computer. If working with someone else, you can add a link to a shared document.

Conclusion

Now that you've created your own content spreadsheet, it's time to take those content ideas from your sticky notes and start putting them into action. If you're new to content marketing, or you feel stuck on ideas, one place to look for inspiration is your customers. Are there any FAQs you can address in your content that might be helpful?

I'm still working on getting more tutorials up that might help with content marketing. For now, if you're interested in reading some of my other posts, you can find them here.


DIY Upcycled Pen Cup

I know a new pen cup isn't a huge purchase. There are some fairly decent-looking ones on sale at the office supply store for as low as a dollar. However, when you can turn it into a DIY project and make some, why not? You may already have what you need at home.

A while ago, I made some from some old tea tins. At the time I was really into trying new teas and didn't quite feel right putting the lovely tins into the recycle bin so I saved them for later. Most were silver and I had some copper ones as well.

Any tin will work for this as long as it's sturdy enough to not tip over.

DIY pen cup

How to make your own

To make your own, peel off the label and wash all the residue from the glue off before decorating. I spray painted some of mine, but I can picture many different ways to decorate these such as wrapping in colourful tape, paper, twine, fabric, or ribbon. You could even have fun with glitter or stencils - be as creative as you want!

If you are wondering how to spray paint them, once your tin is clean, make sure it's dry and sand it with steel wool or fine-grit sandpaper. It doesn't have to be too much. Simpy scuff it a little to give the paint something to stick to. Remove any dust with a damp cloth and make sure it's completely dry again before spraying. Make sure to follow the safety and use instructions according to your can of paint.

The spray paint should be specific to metal if using a metal can. Again, check the back of your spray can to make sure it works on the surface you're painting.

Note on choosing colours

When I made these I had black and gold paint I needed for a few other projects. The paint cans went a long way, so I suggest if you aren't using paint that's leftover from another project to pick a colour you don't mind using later to prevent waste.

I'm happy I went with more neutral colours when I made these as my home office has changed a few times since, but I've found a place for them each time. Since I started working from home, I organized most of my sewing, art, and craft supplies into my closet, but have kept these out paintbrushes, markers, and all.

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*Make sure to wear proper personal protective equipment and take safety precautions for all DIY projects. If you aren't sure, please research beforehand.


How to: Make Your Own Bath Bombs

A while ago I posted some homemade bath bombs to social media. Since then I’ve had a few requests for a tutorial on how I made them so I thought I would put something together using my favourite example, Rose Oatmeal. This is a great one for beginners!

Much like other DIY projects, the end result is that you’ll have bath bombs that are much less expensive than purchasing the finished product- and of course, the sense of accomplishment that comes with making something with your own hands. This recipe doesn’t make too many bath bombs, however, I personally prefer making mine in smaller batches. It's a safer bet, they won't sit around as long if you don't use them right away, and working in smaller batches allows you to make a few different scents if you’re making many to give away as gifts. Also if you're experimenting or new to learning, it’s less wasteful if things don’t go exactly as planned (happens).

I’ll jump right in, beginning with what you need, and go through the steps one at a time!

1. Gather all your tools and ingredients

You are going to need:

Ingredients 

  • 1/2 cup baking soda
  • 1/4 cup food grade citric acid
  • 1/4 cup epsom salt (I’ve also used sea salt as a substitute)
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil
  • Essential oils (optional)
  • Oatmeal flakes (optional)
  • Rose pedals (optional)

Tools

  • Bath bomb molds*
  • Medium mixing bowl
  • Whisk

* I’ve read that a meat baller works in place of bath bomb molds, but haven’t tried it myself

2. Mix together dry ingredients

Using the whisk, mix salt, baking soda, and citric acid in the medium sized bowl.

3. Melt and add coconut oil

You can melt your coconut oil (carefully) by placing it in a small bowl and setting it on top of a cup of hot water, stirring it until melted.

Once melted, add it to the dry mixture and stir until it starts to look like wet sand - or snow just because I’m Canadian.

4. Add essential oils

I added 30 drops of essential oils here. For this batch, I used tea tree oil, but there are no rules of course! Pick your favourite, or a combo of favourites, and add them in. You can also go without if you prefer scentless.

Once you have your oils in there, mix your creation some more until it’s well blended.

5. Decorate (optional)

Use a hand blender to grind up a handful of oatmeal flakes and rose pedals. Then put them in one half of your mould. Avoid creating a pile because the mixture needs something to stick to.  A small layer at the bottom will do.

6. Put them in the mould

Pack the moulds as tightly as possible and squish them together. Wait 3 minutes before removing. Don’t worry, you don’t need to stand there and hold them the whole time. I wrap mine with rubber bands so that I can walk away and do something else.

7. Unmould

Carefully take your new bath bombs from the moulds and place them on a soft towel to dry. Keep them out of reach of children, pets, and curious spouses. Let them dry for 24 hours so that they have plenty of time to become solid. 

Note: after one hour, my boyfriend casually grabbed one on his way through the kitchen because he wanted to see how they turned out. My thinking is he may have given it a slight squeeze because he exclaimed something across the house about how solid they were. It lived and I laughed, but be sure to communicate with others not to touch :) 

Once solid, they're done!

Enjoy!