You need to track a variety of things as an Internet entrepreneur.
This is especially true if you’re building an authority Internet business that deals with a large amount of links, web accounts and content pages.
In a given week, you have to track:
- Links to promotions and affiliate offers
- Autoresponder and broadcast email messages
- Published blog posts and social status updates
- Ideas to develop into future articles and products
- Marketing actions you’re currently testing
- Networking contacts and related websites
Now, most people manage each of these items in a separate document or piece of software. A simpler solution (in my opinion) is to run your entire business using a simple document.
In this post, I’ll talk about the “master document” that I use to manage my authority site, DevelopGoodHabits.com (DGH). To start, I’ll talk about why it’s important to create this file. After that, I’ll provide seven real-world examples of how I use it. And then we’ll finish off with a simple action plan for implementing this strategy.
Let’s get to it.
Since 2007, I’ve managed each of my Internet businesses with a single file that I cleverly call “the master document.” (Okay, I’m not very original.) Whenever I’m starting a new site, like DGH, I’ll open a new Excel file and start recording pieces of information related to that project.
The main purpose of the master document is to save time while writing blog posts, creating paid products and networking with other people. Each morning, I pull up this document and keep it open throughout the day. Invariably, I’ll always need to grab a piece of information from this sheet or quickly record a thought. By continuously having this document at my fingertips, I save at least 30 minutes a day of personal productivity.
Now, you could easily make the argument that there are advanced software programs that can do the same thing. But, I have yet to find one that manages disparate pieces of information in an easy-to-use format like Excel.
Update: I’ve had a few people ask to see an example of the master template. While I can’t list my own in full detail (because I have some private notes and emails), I can show a good example. Click here to get an Excel version of this document.
The key to a functional master document is to create a tab for each aspect of your authority business. Here’s a simple three-step process to get started:
#1: Open a file using your favorite spreadsheet program. I prefer Microsoft Excel. But you can also try a free tool like Open Office Calc.
#2: Create a separate tab for each part of your authority business. Starting a new tab is really easy. On a PC, scroll down to the tabs at the bottom of the sheet and “right click” the mouse. Then choose the Rename button to name it what you want. (Here’s how this looks on a PC platform.) Finally select the Insert button to add the tab to the document. This brings up another screen where you have to add a worksheet and hit the OK button (here’s how that looks.)
Simply repeat this process as many times as you need, creating a section for each area of your business.
#3: Manage this document on a daily basis. This means doing things like: Adding links to new blog posts, updating affiliate/promotional links, recording good ideas and updating all expenditures.
At first, all of this might seem like needless busy work. But, you’ll be glad to have every important piece of information in a single, easy-to-access interface.
You might wonder what actually goes into one of these documents. It really depends on the nature of your business. My advice is to include information that you use for the day-to-day operations of your business. So if there’s a file you’re constantly opening, odds are it should be added to the master document.
To illustrate this point, let me go over ALL of the tabs I use for DevelopGoodHabits.com:
I’m constantly linking to old articles while creating new content. This can be a tedious process if I had to scroll through my site whenever I need a link. Instead, I maintain a list of every article I’ve published.
Here is how this tab is organized:
- Date published
- Title (or working title)
- Type (MVP, product review, Kindle promo, specific habit overview or habit concept)
- Link to the article
- Notes and any reminders
With a publishing schedule, I’m able to keep track of old articles. Plus, it gives me a chance to know what future content should be created. For instance, as I write this article, I’m looking over this document and see that it’s been a month since I wrote an MVP caliber post. So this has given me a reminder to start planning one of these posts.
You can’t build an authority business in isolation. Instead, you should reach out to other bloggers/authors/experts and establish solid relationships.
Now, I’ve often found the practice of networking to be disingenuous. It seems like the common recommended strategy is to approach other blog owners and immediately pitch them with a guest post or request to share an article. Me? I prefer to develop organic relationships by initiating a conversation and seeing where it goes.
Networking is a long-term process. So it’s important to keep track of who you’ve talked to and what was discussed. Here’s how I do it on a tab in my master document:
- Name of the person
- Website or social media handle
- Contact information
- Affiliate program (I’m always looking for good offers to promote. This is why.)
- Initial outreach sent (Yes or No)
- Notes (What I like about this person and anything we’ve discussed.)
My attempt to network is still a work in progress. But, I find that dedicating a tab to this process is a great way to build a database of influencers in your market.
Sure, there are lots of WordPress tools that can manage web links. Unfortunately, I find them to be unwieldy to manage on a daily basis. That’s what I have a tab that includes every link that’s related to a marketing promotion. This includes:
- Current affiliate links
- Product review pages
- Potential affiliate products to promote
- My social media accounts
- My Kindle books (without an Associates link)
- My Kindle books (with an Associates link)
- Squeeze pages and other list building pages
- Places to submit guest posts
You’d be surprised at how easy it is to become overwhelmed by the sheer volume of web links. However, when you put them into a well-organized tab, you’ll discover it’s easy to grab the right URL in a few seconds.
If you’re like me, you probably get dozens of ideas every single day. The trick is to write down and follow up on these thoughts. Whenever inspiration strikes, I record it in the “idea garden” tab in the master document. Here’s how it breaks down:
- Blog post ideas
- Kindle book ideas
- Potential traffic strategies to explore
- Social media status updates to post
- Anything else that pops up
To be honest, my idea garden is a bit of a mess. The important thing is I use it to record every thought and review this section on a weekly basis.
A good autoresponder sequence can shape the opinion that readers have about your content. Whereas most marketers use their list to pitch products, I focus on sending good content, before asking anything in return. (Read my book Email Marketing Blueprint for more on this.) So what I like to do is map out an autoresponder sequence in advance and make sure each message matches the overall theme of the authority site.
Right now, I’m still developing my autoresponder sequence. But here’s the information that I currently include in this tab:
- Subject line of the email
- Number in the sequence
- The action I want people to take
- Notes and relevant information
Creating a good autoresponder sequence is a bit of a balancing act. You want to hook the interest of subscribers, but you also don’t want to overwhelm them. When you map out a sequence in a master document tab, you’ll see how each message fits into your overall email strategy.
If you read my first traffic and income report, you’d see that running an authority business costs money. What’s important to remember is to track every expenditure and make sure each is a worthwhile investment. That’s why I have a tab on my master document for every cent that I spend. It’s broken down into five sections:
- Web Development: Domain registration, hosting, WordPress them and web design tweaks.
- Content: Blog posts, editing, web articles, lead magnet creation and a few eBook sections.
- Graphics: Stock photography, logo design and eBook covers.
- Mobile Apps: Graphic design, wireframing, programming and app store submission.
- Marketing: Press releases, Fiverr gigs, paid advertising and various experiments.
It’s important to keep this information in separate columns, so you know where your money is going and if you’re getting a decent return on investment (ROI).
You should always test different things with your authority business. Sometimes a small tweak or change can have an amazing impact on your bottom line. The problem? It’s a pain in the butt to track every current marketing experiment. Often, it takes weeks—even months—to get reliable results and it’s easy to forget about a test during this time.
That’s why I include a simple three-column tab called “marketing experiments” on my master document. It includes the following:
- Date of the experiment
- Action (what am I testing and why)
- Notes (important metrics, quick reminders and follow up ideas)
Running different tests can do amazing things for your business, but it’s not easy to track them. With the “marketing experiments” tab, you can create a weekly habit of reviewing what tests are running and what can be tweaked.
As you can see, a master document can be used in a variety of ways. While I provided seven examples of how I use it, you can tailor it to the nature of your authority site. Simply think of the information/links that you access on a daily basis and then create a tab for each part of your business.
The master document provides a simple tool for maintaining important information in a central, easy-to-find location. You won’t waste time looking for a random link. Instead you’ll have everything at your fingertips.
Now, it’s time to turn this information into action.
Right now, I want you to do three things:
- Create a new Excel spreadsheet (or use a comparable program.)
- Categorize your business information into separate tabs.
- Keep this document open while you’re doing work.
I’m a big fan of simple solutions. By implementing the master document process, you’ll have an easy tool for maintaining information and following up on the ideas that pop up throughout the day.
Okay, it’s your turn.
Do you use something like the master document in your business? If not, how do you maintain the piles of links/ideas/notes that regularly pop up? Have any suggestions on how to improve this process?
Sound off below and let me know your thoughts.Take Action. Get Results.