The first thing I did when I got a lump sum of money was buy a Dropbox subscription. Having a means to store A LOT of files has been in me since I started collecting MP3s. These days, I need all of that space to store the many, many files that keep my businesses and side projects afloat. Google Docs just won’t do, and a basic Dropbox soon fills up. Once I got mine, I felt like it was the beginning of a new phase in my life (for real).
As someone that doesn’t know how to stick to a couple of ideas, I often find myself having creating brand new folders for new brainwaves (that may or may not turn into something big in the future). Even if nothing comes of it, creating these folders each time means I get the chance to think of lots of aspects of the project before I consider putting any more thinking time into it.
I’m sure it would be helpful for others to see how I operate, I’ll breakdown of each of the folder structure for most of my projects. Bear in mind that specialist ones are bound to have lots of additional folders (like an ecommerce one would have Product ones, etc).
This covers what’s in pretty much each of my projects’ folders and why they're here:
Possibly the most important of them all is to have a folder where I store the access details for my projects. As soon as I come up with a viable name, I will snap up the .com domain and all the social media handles to go along with it (just in case I decide to pursue it).
There is no way I can keep track of all the emails and chosen handles (if they’re not perfect) without a spreadsheet. Sometimes these project folders are dormant for a couple of years before I decide to expand on them, so this is vital.
Once a project comes to life, these details will graduate to LastPass. Until then, they need to be housed somewhere like this.
I was absolutely thrilled when a university module required us to create a business plan. It was the first time I’d ever considered how easy they are to create and how helpful they are in figuring out how viable an idea is.
I’ll admit that I’m not as thorough with all of the ones these days as I used to be, but a basic business plan is always sat in my folders to give me some direction, especially if I don’t come back to the idea for a while later.
- Keyword Research
- Web Copy
Every project needs a website to go with it. Even ones that are purely social-focused, I make sure I’ve got another web asset out there (as there’s a lot of power in having a portfolio of websites and domains). Within this folder, I go into great detail on the various aspects I need to create to get it up and running. First and foremost comes the keyword research, and then all of the superficial things come along with it too.
I make sure to store the web copy of all of my sites on Dropbox just so I’m covered if something happens, or if any backups don’t quite go to plan. Plus, I write all of the content on Word, so it makes sense to just keep it all in one place. If a website needs a blog, this will fit in here too.
- Competitor Analysis
No idea is 100% original. I can accept that now. That’s why I always keep a list of competitors in a folder, so I know where my idea fits within that landscape. I use this as a chance to assess what other businesses are good at (where they’re winning with SEO or a particular social media platform) and figure out how I’m going to slot myself in.
In here I’ve got folders for assorted inspiration and also one where I update the state of the competition, to see how many have entered the game, fell out of it, and whether my business has taken over some of them.
- Social Media
- Branding Guidelines
The marketing one is a where a lot of the day-to-day action happens. If there’s any advertising, it would sit in here. It’s obviously where all of the social media assets sit. If I want to do any content marketing beyond blog content, I would keep it in here.
One of the more static things that sits in here are the branding guidelines. I can’t explain to you how excited I was the day I was given access to Harvey Nichols’ copywriting guidelines. Since then, I’ve made sure I’ve got some of my own for all of the projects that require it (especially if I’m outsourcing written work).
Reporting is great. You should do it more. If you want to know what a basic report should include within it, I’ve done a post all about it. I do monthly ones for all of my projects, so have them all housed here. I also do additional ones like backlink analysis, inventory reviews and things along those lines. Having them all in one place means that I can reflect back whenever I need to and make improvements as and when they need to be done.