From Chaos to Clarity: How Jessie Festa Stays Organized in Travel Blogging

Yvonne Ivanescu Yvonne Ivanescu
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Travel blogging can be an exhilarating yet demanding profession. Just ask Jessie Festa, the founder of Jessie on a Journey. In our recent How to Avoid Travel Blogging Burnout: Blogxiety Webinar, Jessie drew on her extensive experience to share three invaluable steps to staying organized as a travel blogger. Ready to tap into her insights? Let’s explore these foundational steps together.

Jessie began her journey in travel blogging in 2011 and now manages two successful travel blogs and teaches others how they can turn their passion for traveling into a full-time profession. 

Screenshot from Jessie Festa's presentation on the How to Avoid Travel Blogging Burnout: Blogxiety Webinar
Jessie Festa is a full-time travel blogger, and a blog coach with number of courses.

Step #1: Audit Your Tasks 

Listing or auditing your tasks is the first step. Whether quarterly, monthly, weekly, or daily, you must organize your tasks. This exercise goes beyond organization; it’s about understanding where your energy goes and how effective it is in achieving your goals. Think of it as decluttering a room. By laying out everything, you instantly recognize what’s essential, what’s redundant, and what can be repurposed or repositioned for better use.

Remember, before auditing anything, you must be clear about your blogging goals. What is it that you want to accomplish with your blog? Only by understanding your goals can you effectively understand if your actions bring you closer to what you want to achieve. 

CUT: Eliminate irrelevant tasks

As you scrutinize your list, there will be tasks that don’t align with your goals. These are your excess baggage. Consider cutting it loose if a task doesn’t move you forward or contribute to your blogging objectives. It’s about optimizing your efforts, ensuring every step you take has a clear purpose. 

For example, if affiliate marketing, getting onto Mediavine, and passive income are your goals, pouring hours into every social media platform might not be the best strategy. Stay focused, trim the excess, and prioritize tasks that benefit your growth.

COMBINE: Combine & repurpose content

Along with cutting, you should also be combing tasks. Efficiency is the name of the game. One of the smartest moves you can make as a blogger is to get more out of your existing content. A long-form article can be cut up into bite-sized posts for social platforms. That Youtube video? Its audio could be perfect for a podcast episode. By repurposing content, you’re maximizing your efforts and ensuring your message resonates across different channels. 

Step #2: Streamline to Save Time

Next is to look at all the remaining tasks and figure out what you can automate and streamline. So what is automation? At its core, automating tasks means using technology to perform repetitive tasks without human intervention. This can help improve efficiency, ensure consistency, and save time for more critical tasks. 

If you are still scratching your head on tasks that you could potentially automate, here are a couple of automation examples to get you started: 

Sharing opt-in freebies

What are opt-in freebies? An opt-in freebie or resource is valuable content offered to users in exchange for their contact information, primarily their email address, to build an email list and foster deeper engagement. You can share these opt-in freebies automatically with tools like plugins, chatbots, or email service providers. 

For example, on Instagram, you can write something like “For access to my free travel photography cheatsheet, write CHEAT SHEET in the comments!” You can then use a tool like ManyChat, which will automatically send a DM with a link to the cheatsheet to anyone who writes those words in your comments. 

Onboarding emails 

Got a new subscriber? Great! Now, you’d typically want to warmly welcome them, introduce them to your blog, and guide them through what they can expect. But writing an email for every new subscriber is not practical. Automation can send a sequence of welcome emails. 

Jessie does this brilliantly with her five-day profitable blogging course. Once you sign up, the course content is automatically emailed over several days, creating a systematic and interactive onboarding process.

Sales and evergreen sales funnels

Sales are the lifeblood of any blog. While live sales events and product promotions are essential, there’s something to be said about the power of evergreen sales funnels. These are set sales paths that guide a visitor from interest to purchase without your active participation. 

For instance, after someone downloads your freebie, they can be taken to a thank you page with a limited-time offer. This evergreen system ensures you have a sales mechanism working round-the-clock.

Sharing new blog posts 

Consistency is vital in blogging, but do your subscribers get notified every time you hit publish on a new article? Automation tools can send push notifications or emails to subscribers every time you publish a blog article, ensuring your content gets the eyeballs it deserves.

Ultimately, automating these tasks ensures your blog runs smoothly, even when you’re busy exploring a new city or taking that much-needed break.

5 Ways to Prep for Success

Screenshot with 5 ways to prep for success from Jessie Festa's presentation on the How to Avoid Travel Blogging Burnout: Blogxiety Webinar
5 ways to prep for success

But before you start automating and streamlining your tasks, you must plan ahead. By setting things up in advance, you ensure everything is organized and strategically aligned, paving the way for a smoother and more efficient workflow. Here are 5 ways you can prep for success: 

  1. Create an annual content plan
    An annual content plan is like a roadmap for your blog. It offers a clear view of what topics you’ll cover throughout the year. You should not be sitting at your laptop daily and thinking: what should I write about today?

    Take the time to do keyword research and look up topics that make sense for your audience and that you could rank for. Once you have all the keywords, organize them in a calendar based on seasonality and the best time to post. Jessie argues that she likes to prioritize low-hanging fruit. If she sees a keyword that will give her a boost in traffic pretty quickly, she prioritizes that keyword.
     
  2. Do keyword research before traveling
    Traveling is an experience, and you want to capture the essence of a place. But there’s also a strategic side to it. Doing keyword research before you travel helps you understand what people are interested in. Maybe brunch in Paris is trending, or perhaps there’s a hidden gem in Tokyo that everyone’s searching for. 

    By identifying these keywords, you can tailor your travel activities and content creation around what your audience wants. Remember, to transform your blog from a hobby into a business, always prioritize what your audience wants before your personal preferences.
  3. Craft canned email responses
    Emails are a constant in blogging. From collaboration offers to reader queries, your inbox can quickly become overwhelming. Canned responses are pre-written replies to common questions or requests. They save time and ensure consistency in your communication. Tools like TextExpander make this process even smoother. Instead of typing out a complete response, a short code instantly populates your email with the right message. 
  4. Use templates
    Templates are your best friend when it comes to consistency and branding. Whether it’s for Pinterest pins, contracts, or email pitches, having a base design or structure that you can tweak as needed ensures that you’re not starting from scratch every single time. This helps you maintain a cohesive brand image and considerably reduces prep time.
  5. Importance of taking notes & organizing photos
    While traveling, it’s the tiny details that often make the most compelling stories. As a result, the last thing that can help travel bloggers save time is taking notes while traveling. 

    At the end of each travel day, Jessies does two specific things. First, she writes blurbs of her day—short, to-the-point outlines that she can draw on when she writes her blog posts later. On top of that, she goes through her photos and favorites the ones she loves. This habit ensures that everything she needs is right at her fingertips when she’s back home. 

Tools for saving time

As a travel blogger, there are probably a million and one things you need to do, and not enough hours to do it all. This is why tools can be a game-changer. The best part is that there is a tool for almost everything you need. 

With the help of partnership platforms like Travelpayouts, it is convenient to earn through affiliate marketing. Graphic design platforms like Canva allow for quick visual content creation. AI tools, like Jasper and ChatGPT, aid in content planning and research. And let’s not forget about social media schedulers that automate post timings across platforms—Jessie’s favorite is Later.com. These tools aren’t just about saving minutes but about enhancing your overall productivity and content quality.

Step #3: Create a Repeatable Schedule

The last step is to create a consistent and effective schedule that helps with time management and aligns with your unique goals as a travel blogger. By having a system in place, you can balance spontaneous adventures and the structured aspects of blogging.

Crafting a Schedule Based on Unique Business Goals

Each travel blogger has distinct objectives. What is it that you want to accomplish with your goals? Your goals dictate your schedule. For Jessie, she breaks up her month into weekly sprints. 

She dedicates the first week to content outreach, which includes blogging and reaching out to brands/bloggers she might want to work with. The second week is promo planning. In the back of her planner, she has a basic piece of scrap paper with each month written out and a primary focus for that month. For Jessie, this focus directly ties into her goals of growing her traffic, community, and income. So, what are your goals? Write them down and write what needs to be done monthly to move that needle. Jessie’s third week is for creating travel blogging course content, and the last week? Well, it’s for overflow, basically whatever she couldn’t get to before. 

This works for Jessie, but it might not work for everyone. The point is to get hyper-focused on your goals and create a repeatable schedule that forces you to accomplish the steps that will get you to that goal. 

Batching and Time Blocking

We know that there aren’t enough hours in the day, but you can accomplish your goals a whole lot faster with batching and time blocking. 

Batching is about grouping similar tasks. Dedicate chunks of time to similar activities instead of jumping from writing a post to editing a photo or replying to an email. Maybe each Monday of the month is dedicated to scheduling out all of your social media content for the month. Or every Tuesday is focused on recording podcast episodes. This focus increases efficiency and reduces the mental load of constant task-switching.

Time blocking, on the other hand, is about allocating specific blocks of time to certain tasks. It’s a visual representation of your day or week. If you’re writing from 9 AM to 11 AM, that’s all you do—no checking emails, no social media scrolls—just pure, dedicated focus. Segmenting your day into these blocks ensures that each crucial task gets undivided attention. And when it’s time for a break? You truly relax, knowing that you’re on track. Want to learn more about this? Asana wrote a great article on why you should be time-blocking your calendar. 

Screenshot showing time blocking calendar from Jessie Festa's presentation on the How to Avoid Travel Blogging Burnout: Blogxiety Webinar
Time blocking is about allocating specific blocks of time to certain tasks

Recap & Action Plan

To further reiterate Jessie’s transformational steps, let’s quickly zoom out and take a bird’s-eye view of what we’ve covered. Begin by auditing your tasks. Lay everything out to determine what is essential and what isn’t. Once you’ve pruned the unnecessary tasks, streamline and automate where you can. Use technology to your advantage, letting it take over repetitive chores. Finally, create a workflow that reflects your business goals and personal rhythms. 

Equip yourself with scheduling tools that resonate with your needs. Whether it’s a digital calendar, a task management app, or even a good old-fashioned planner, find what keeps you on track without causing additional stress. Some popular tools among bloggers include Trello, Asana, and Google Calendar. Utilize them to set reminders, track progress, and ensure that your work aligns with your overarching objectives.

Final Thoughts: How to Stay Organized as a Blogger

Without a strategic approach, your travel blog risks remaining just a hobby instead of evolving into a thriving business. Outline your goals, manage your time wisely, embrace tools and techniques, and always ensure your workflow supports, not hinders your passion.

Lastly, while managing time and tasks is vital, so is managing your energy and mental well-being. Remember to take breaks, indulge in activities outside of blogging, and reconnect with why you started traveling in the first place. Embrace self-care, regularly check in with your mental state, and seek support when needed. A healthy mindset isn’t just good for you; it enriches your content, making it resonate more deeply with your readers.

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