If you’re wondering how to plan and publish content on a consistent basis then you’ve come to the right place. Read this article to discover how you can set up the editorial calendar for your blog for an entire year.
Now, before you open a spreadsheet and start jotting down ideas, the first thing you have to do is to set some goals for your blog. Begin by considering your overall business goals. What is it that you want to achieve in the coming year that will help you to grow your business? Is it more brand awareness? Do you need more engagement from your fans?
Do you need to focus on building loyalty and trust, or do you need to generate more leads and increase your conversion rates? Whatever your business goals are, your blogging goals should align with that and help you to achieve them. List your goals in a clear and concise way. For instance, you could have the following goals:
- Boost email list by 25% in 90 days by adding more targeted, gated content on the blog.
- Increase site traffic by 15% in 60 days by providing your audience with more targeted content.
After setting your goals, you can then use the following strategies to create and publish the exact type of content for achieving them:
1. Create Audience Personas
If you want to get the most out of the content you create for your blog, you must know your target audience – who they are, what their interests are, and what they need. Having this information allows you to craft content that is highly targeted and ultimately drives the results that you want (the traffic, clicks, downloads, shares, conversions, and so on).
Think about the various people that you are targeting and then create audience personas for each of them. Everyone is different, but there are a lot of similarities among the various groups of readers. Put together audience personas to give yourself a clearer picture of the people you are targeting with your content. This will help you to create content that is perfect for the needs and interests of your audience.
2. Design Your Editorial Calendar
Now that you know your goals and who you’re targeting, it’s time to create your content creation calendar for the year. The first thing you must do is to open a blank spreadsheet in Excel, Google Sheets, or any other program with similar templates. The first sheet (or tab) is going to be for the overall planning of your calendar. The first thing you’re going to start with is the content mix.
Outline Your Content Mix
In order to keep things interesting so that your audience stays engaged, you should vary the types of content that you create. Mix it up not just in terms of topics but in the content format as well. Here’s a list of some content that most blogs produce:
- How-to guides
- Opinion articles
- Product reviews
- Case studies
- Research papers and studies
- Interactive content: polls, quizzes, personality tests, interactive maps, and so on
You may need to add a few more additional types of content to this list depending on your niche. Write down the types of content that you intend to publish. Color-code them so that it’s easier for you to navigate your editorial calendar.
Next, add 12 extra sheets, one for each month. This will make it easier to organize your content. You should have 13 sheets in total.
Now that you have your sheets, you can add the columns shown below:
- Publishing date
- Deadline for first draft
- Headline for blog post
- Author of blog post
- Content type (how-to article, opinion article, infographic, etc)
- Keywords targeted by post
- Call to action
- Images for the post (screenshots, featured image, screenshots, any other necessary visuals)
- Space for jotting down notes about the article
Add Relevant Events and Holidays
When planning your editorial calendar, you have to keep important dates in mind. For example, if you are a B2B, you will be interested in industry events attended by your target audience so that you could write a post about the event or about your experience while attending. Or if you sell cupcakes, you will obviously want to be ready for any holidays where your customers may want to buy holiday-themed cupcakes.
Keep track of important holidays, industry events, important business dates (like product releases or events), and relevant novelty holidays. Make a note of these dates in your editorial calendar and use it as your cue so as not to publish any content on those dates or to create content that is specifically themed for that occasion.
These dates may bring lots of opportunities for themed content depending on your type of business, so you should stay prepared.
Establish a Regular Posting Schedule
The next step is to establish a regular posting schedule. All successful bloggers have a consistent publishing schedule that they stick to, and you should create one, too. It doesn’t matter if you post once a week or several times a day, the point here is to be consistent. Keep a regular schedule and this will help you to build your readership.
Use your social media analytics for determining which are the best days to post and promote. Your blog posts are not like your social media updates in that they aren’t necessarily going to be read the minute you publish them.
This means that you have to focus more on when and how to promote your blogs than the actual publishing date. Social media analytics will help you in this regard because it will show you when your audience is most active online so you can determine which days are best for publishing and promoting your posts.
3. Generate Blog Post Ideas
You now have a solid framework for your editorial calendar. The next step is to brainstorm some ideas for blog posts. While it may take some time and effort to come up with dozens of interesting topics and other types of content all at once, in the long run, it will save you a whole lot of time. While doing this, make sure that you keep your goals for your blog in mind.
Also, think of your audience personas to ensure that the content you come up with fits their needs precisely. Every piece of content that you craft should be strategic and it should work to help you reach your goals by catering to the needs or interests of your ideal audience.
Here are some tips on how to come up with ideas for a year’s worth of posts:
Look at Popular Content in Your Niche
Try to understand the main type of content that is being shared in your niche and which one gets the best results. Take a deeper look and use that research as a means of getting inspiration from your competition and other relevant bloggers. Use tools such as Feedly and Flipboard to help you keep track of the latest and best content in your niche.
Also, subscribe to the top newsletters in your niche and use those emails to find the most relevant topics in your industry. You can also use tools such as BuzzSumo to find out which content is searched for the most based on your keywords. You can filter the results by content type, date, word count and many other filters.
If you so desire, you can order the content by the total number of shares on social media as well as by the total shares from your preferred social media network. With this kind of information, you will be able to understand which type of content generates shares on social media. Shares usually translate to a higher value to the readers and ultimately more traffic to your site.
Things to look at when analyzing the top performing content in your particular niche include:
- The types of headlines being used
- The subjects being covered in your niche
- The needs they are meeting
- The value that is being provided to the readers
- The word count and structuring of articles
Use tools such as the Google Keyword Planner to help you come up with blog ideas. Keyword research tools can help you to understand how your audience conducts their searches online. You will have a clearer picture of what keywords they use so that you can improve your headlines as well as your overall blog SEO.
Start your keyword research by looking for keywords that you normally use. List up to 20 of them, including long tail keywords (these are just groups of two or more keywords). For example, a search for the term ‘content marketing’ brings up tons of suggestions that you can sort by search volume to find the keywords that are searched for the most.
Look through the results to find the keywords that are not too general. The key here is to find the ones that are better targeted toward your audience. Use those keywords as inspiration for your posts.
Cover Popular Topics From a New Angle
There is no need to reinvent the wheel here. You want ideas that will work effectively and get you the desired results. Your Google Analytics will show you which of your content is performing the best, and once you identify which of your posts have brought in the most traffic, you can then use that information to create new posts.
For example, if you have a great-performing older post on email marketing tools, you can think of new ways to talk about the same subject, say, ‘Best Email Marketing Tools to Measure Your Results’. Or even ‘Best Email Marketing Tools for Managing Your List More Efficiently’. If your top-performing post turns out to be a bit dated, write a new post with updated information.
Use these tips to create variations on the topics that you’ve already covered:
- How-to posts
- Common mistakes
- Case studies
- Best tools or apps listicle
- Real-life examples
- Research others’ content
- Best tips and tricks listicle
Also look through social media for your best performing content. Your social media platforms have built-in analytics that can help you to see which ones of your blog posts got the most engagement when shared. You can also use tools like Agorapulse to accomplish this goal. Use the posts that got the most shares, clicks, and likes as inspiration for more ideas.
Review Blog Comments
There’s a wealth of information that is hidden in blog comments. Start by checking the comments on your own blog. Search for questions that your audience has and determine what it is that they want to learn more about.
If there aren’t enough relevant comments, look at blogs that are similar to yours. If they target the same audience and cover the same subjects as your blog then you will probably find valuable information there.
4. Add Your Content Ideas to the Calendar
The tips and techniques outlined in this article should be more than enough to help you generate dozens of ideas for your future blog posts. Now it’s time to add them to your calendar. If you only post once a week, then try to make sure that you have at least 52 ideas, one for each week of the year.
If you post twice or three times a week, you may have to spend a little longer on this, but it will be worth it in the end. Don’t worry if you can’t get to that number, now that you’ve started thinking about this, ideas will continue to flow to you even after you’ve finished creating your editorial calendar, and you can just come back and add them here.
The Bottom Line
Use the editorial calendar to help you stay focused on your blogging goals and improve productivity. If you’re someone who is used to coming up with ideas at the last minute and blogging for the sake of posting something, then you will benefit immensely from following this calendar consistently.
It will help you avoid such issues as well as to keep you publishing consistently. With each post you plan in advance, you will be able to ensure that you’re working toward your marketing goals by focusing on the content that actually gets you results as opposed to blogging aimlessly just to fill a spot on the calendar.
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