When I started blogging, I remember sitting nervously staring at a blank screen. How was I supposed to come up with a good blog post that would drive traffic, engage visitors, and get them to convert on the website? It’s a tall order for any blogger, yet that’s exactly what our blog posts are supposed to do.
Since then, though I still have much to learn as a blogger, I’ve picked up a few tricks of the trade that have helped me quite a bit. One is to use an editorial calendar. An editorial calendar is just that: a calendar that lists the posts that you have coming up. Having an editorial calendar can also help you to get the most out of your blogging.
Note that there are different ways to create an editorial calendar, and if you search online, you’ll find numerous templates. Many are designed for larger businesses. What I offer here is a straightforward approach that works for me and that has worked for other small business owners.
Why Have an Editorial Calendar?
Having an editorial calendar can help you in a few ways:
- You can ensure that your content is aligned to your business goals. If you’re just writing about topics as they catch your fancy, how do you know that they’re helping you to meet your business goals? You don’t. However, by taking the time to plan ahead, you’re more likely to find that your content is strategically aligned with your goals.
- It’s easier to write when you know what you’re writing about. Coming up with a topic to write about and actually writing about it are two different steps. Many new bloggers do what I did when I was first starting out: sit down to write without knowing what they’re going to write about. You’ll find that blogging is much easier if you already know your topic ahead of time.
- You’ll be able to blog more regularly. If you’re just blogging when you get around to it, you might find that you publish three blog posts in one week and then don’t publish anything for the next month. However, if you have an editorial calendar, you’ll be able to decide in advance when you publish your posts and make sure that you’re posting on a regular basis.
Developing Your Editorial Calendar
Developing an editorial calendar does not have to be too difficult, and you can do it in three easy steps. The biggest challenge is actually to be clear about who your ideal client is. Let’s face it, you can’t plan content if you don’t know who that content is for! Who will be reading your blog posts? Who are you trying to reach? You’ll need to answer those questions first.
Once you know who you’re writing for, proceed with these three steps:
- Draft a list of the top 10 questions that your clients are already asking you. Client questions are the best source of blog content! You can write an answer to each question, and each of these can be published as a separate blog post.
- Create an Excel spreadsheet or a Google doc to serve as your editorial calendar. All you need are two columns: the date and the topic. In the date column, list the date that you will publish your blog post. For example, if you would like to publish your posts every Friday, list the dates for the next few upcoming Fridays in that column. I find it helpful to list the most recent date at the top, so that older posts eventually go to the bottom.
- Take your list of 10 questions and assign one per week. You’ve now planned out your blog posts for the next two and a half months!
Now that you have your blog posts planned out, you can start from the top and begin writing answers to each question. Try to answer each question thoroughly and follow best practices for business blogging. Depending upon your individual preference, you might find it helpful to either set aside time to write each day, such as 30 minutes in the morning, or you might want to block out a day to just write all the posts out at once.
In either case, you’ll find that it helps to know your topic in advance, because you’ll be able to start thinking about your post before you sit down to write. You may find that you get ideas about your post even when you’re working on something else (this is just how our minds work). Be sure to jot down those ideas and come back to them when you sit down to write.
Two final tips that are worth keeping in mind are:
- Keep adding to your list of ideas. The 10 questions that you came up with are just the start. As you get more questions from clients, keep adding this to the list. Once you go through your first two and a half months of blogging, you’ll be able to review your list and plan out your blog posts for the next two months.
- Remember that this is a fluid document. If a time-sensitive topic comes up that you want to address on your blog, such as a review of a conference that you’ll be attending, then by all means do so! You can juggle topics around as necessary on your editorial calendar.
Have you considered using an editorial calendar before? What has been the challenge in using one?
photo credit: photosteve101 via photopin cc