April 21, 2017

7 tips on how to organize resources for your travel blog and keep them safe

Organizing the stuff that is required for and generated during travels and blogging is very important but often ignored. When we don't organize ourselves properly, especially when we amass huge resources (e.g. thousands of travel photos or hundreds of blog ideas), it leads to clutter and we tend to lose precious time in searching for the required thing and sometimes don't find it at all!

We give here some simple tips on organizing oneself as a travel blogger. 

1. Of course, nothing helps you remain in full control of yourself like a pocket diary

You can use it for jotting down quick information before you transfer it to your electronic device, taking notes and gathering ideas. Keep a few pencils and a sharpener in your handbag in addition to a ball-point pen. Pencils are the best and fountain/ gel pens the worst in rainy or very hot/ cold weather.

2. Organize your electronic resources thoughtfully.

I'll show you one way of doing it but you can have your own system. Again, you will need to customize it depending on whether you have one computing device that you carry everywhere (e.g. laptop or a power-packed tab) or you have one to be kept at home/ hotel and another that has enough computing power and you carry it everywhere.

Let's talk of your main computer (PC/ laptop). Create a folder in your work area (Windows: Documents or My Documents) and not on desktop or common area (e.g. C drive). You will keep all your resources here, so give it a memorable name (e.g. TRAVEL-BLOGGING). Think of organizing this folder like a library where each book has its own designated place. 

travel blogging resource management

Look at the image here. This arrangement is one of the best because it is not too complicated and yet takes care of all aspects of 'inventory management' relating to travel blogging. Look at the top: The main folder has a number of sub-folders inside it, one each for travel destinations, travel events and major topics. Over time, these could be 50, 100, 500,... Each of these sub-folders (e.g. LONDON/ OFF-BEAT/ PHOTOGRAPHY-TIPS) has sub-sub-folders for (i) your own photos, videos and audio/ podcasts; and (ii) research material (This sub-folder has resources you  gather for research, get from the spot and copy from the web). You will place all material created by you (other than own photos and videos) associated with the topic (e.g. LONDON) directly in this sub-folder. These include draft posts, ideas, own research.

Some bloggers prefer to keep all their photos and videos together and have folders for other things. Some have a carefree approach; they dump all their photos from one visit in a folder, keep all other material in one dump and periodically clean their storage of old material. I find that the approach to have folders for major themes is the best, as it builds archives and manages them well.

The main folder (e.g. TRAVEL-BLOGGING) has just three other folders and a document file. One folder is for keeping all software tools. Keep a copy of useful software programs so that you re-install them if the running one gets corrupted. Also keep shortcuts to running programs. The tools for a travel blogger can be paid ones (e.g. Photoshop for major photo editing work) and/or free ones (e.g. Gimp for major image editing work, IrfanView+thumbnails for photo viewing and quick edits). You can also have links to online tools here.

The second folder keeps all external resources and acts as your library. It could include learning resources, brochures, newspaper clips and so on. Remember, you will keep resources specific to a place or event or topic in the related sub-folder.

The third folder will be a common kitchen for all blogging work, not specific to a particular event or place. These would include a spread-sheet for SEO work, a sheet for social media work and so on.

3. How about an electronic scrapbook?

It is a good idea to have a document (e.g. MSWord doc) which you keep for jotting down whatever comes to your mind. It can have a sudden idea that you got while working on another post, a telephone number, some reminder etc. You could be copying things here from your old pocket diary before you discard that. 

Precede each entry with date.

Where to keep this doc? That depends on your device and working habits. I would suggest a few places: (i) On the desktop/ opening screen of your PC/laptop tab; (ii) Inside the main folder (e.g. TRAVEL-BLOGGING folder in the image given above) - in this case, it will be part of your travel kitty but you will need to click at two places to reach it. 

If you have a single scrapbook and that is located on the device that is not with you all the time, you will have to write quick ideas or info either in the pocket diary and then transfer that to this scrapbook when you have time. On the other hand, you can have a scrapbook on your tab or smartphone. But you will have to learn how to sync the two, so that the main one remains updated all the time. If syncing is an issue, you can decide not to work on the main scrapbook but on the portable one only and replace the main one periodically with the updated one.

If you are not averse to experimenting with electronic tools for organizing your thoughts, scheduling, etc, you can try Trello and Evernote. However, many bloggers quit them after some time.

4. Put a short-cut rather than folder itself on the desktop. 

The opening screen (=desktop) on your PC or laptop is not the right place to store a big folder. It leads to many problems including the risk of losing it and slowing down the computer. 

What you should do is to keep the folder at a place that is accessible only to you (e.g. on Windows, Documents or My Documents, depending upon the Windows version). Right click on its icon and you have the option to create a short-cut. Copy this short-cut to the desktop and there you are. In one click on the short-cut, you'll reach the folder but the folder will be safe even if you accidentally lose the shortcut. 

5. Follow a standard naming pattern. You can choose to carry on with common-sense naming of folders and files and leave photos with the native naming system of your camera. But over a period of time, they will create something like a slum city in which there are no street or building names or numbers.

It is better to start using a more scientific naming system from the beginning. A good one, which is not complicated and yet serves the purpose,  can be like this: 2017-3-philippines-boracay (year, month, main place or event and a running number/ keyword/ tag.

As you would notice, this naming system keeps resources in a chronological manner - a thing of special importance to travel blogger. Keyword/ tag is very important because you can dig out such a file easily using the 'search' facility of the computer.

6. Use your browser as an aid to blogging.

On your main web browser, bookmark the sites you need to visit regularly. These should include links to your blogging platform, affiliates/ AdSense/ Google Analytics etc if you have installed them, Google language tool in case your blog is not in English, a good web dictionary and thesaurus (we recommend WordWeb), a forum or community that you often visit, and of course online utilities and tools.

All big browsers of today come with many plugins and extensions that can easily make many of your tasks easy. Similarly, all major mobile OSs come with very useful apps for travelers and bloggers. 

For example, if you are not good in typing, there are tools for taking dictation; if you want to voice over a video and your voice or pronunciation is not perfect, you can try a text-to-speech tool; you can easily convert files online, do a quick-edit on your photo, create a collage of photos, get a draft translation, find meanings of words in the foreign country that you are currently visiting...

7. Sync and back up your resources.

Back up your blog periodically. Blogger and WordPress have inbuilt provisions for backing up the blog. If your blog is independently hosted, contact the web-host to learn how to back up the blog.

Also back up other resources. Over years, you will have numerous photos, videos, recordings, documents, maps, illustrations, projects on Photoshop, etc. These can be easily backed up, and as a blogger you should not ignore this vital action that you need to do only periodically, say once a month. We'd recommend that you back up the resources in more than one place out of those suggested below.  

If you have arranged your resources as we have illustrated above and you take care to copy paste items stored on the phone or camera to the main storage, backing up needs just a few clicks.

Think of backing-up the resources in these places:

a. On cloud. Google gives you G Drive; Yahoo and Bing allow massive free storage on their servers. There are many other free or paid storage options.

b. On your main computer. Install 7-Zip (a free zipping software). Right click on the main folder. Choose 7-Zip and then archiving options. Give a password to the archives and store the secure archives somewhere else on the computer. 

c. On a high-capacity pendrive or external hard disk. It is better to zip the folder with a password, as said above, before storing on these portable media. Alternatively, you can password protect the entire drive/ disk.

Some computer users 'sync' resources between two locations. We do not recommend that if you are not a careful type. In syncing, the same entity (e.g. a MSWord file) is backed up in two places (e.g. on main computer and pendrive) and when you sync them, the new one replaces the old one. However, if you want to keep the earlier version also or you work simultaneously on the versions in different locations, syncing may at times give you pain.

Hope these help. Best wishes!

Other articles in the travel blogging series:

1. Travel Blogging: How to succeed without pain, and have fun
2. Travel Blogging: Don't ever ignore supporting activities
3. Tips, inspirations from successful bloggers

- - - - - Will you mind sharing the article if you find it useful? - - - - - 

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