Image from Flickr by Joe Lanman
You’ve probably heard the saying If you fail to plan, you plan to fail. In the fast-moving online world, you might feel that flexibility and in-the-moment inspiration are more important than careful planning … but by creating a content plan, you’ll find it much easier to reach your goals.
Your blog’s content plan will help you:
- Come up with all the ideas you need
- Find time to write great posts
- Organise your promotions and product launches
- Stay consistent and build reader loyalty
- Line up great guest posts
- Create extra resources, like white papers
When you’re running a business, there’s often precious little time to sit down and create blog content – even though you know it’s a crucial part of growing your audience and attracting new customers. By taking an hour to put together a simple plan, you’ll save yourself lots of time in the future: you’ll have ready-made ideas just waiting to be written.
Here’s how to get a quick, simple plan in place:
Work Out Major Events for the Next Six Months
Grab a piece of paper or open up a new document on your computer and write down a heading for each of the next six months. (If you prefer, you could plan for the next year or just the next three months.)
What major events are coming up? Think about:
- New products you’ll be launching
- Conferences you’ll be speaking or exhibiting at
- Any vacations that you’ll be taking
You’ll want to factor all of these into your content calendar:
- If you’re launching a new product in three months’ time, you may want to create a series of posts leading up to that launch.
- If you know you’ll be attending a conference next month, you might want to mention it to your audience now and encourage them to come along and meet you.
- If you’re going on vacation soon, you could write a few posts ahead of time, or line up some guest posters to cover for you.
Once you’ve got any current events in place, look for months that don’t have anything going on yet. You might want to use these to create a free white paper or mini-ebook for your audience, or you could re-release a product or create a special offer.
Think about seasonal tie-ins, too: Christmas is an obvious one, but you might also want something for Hallowe’en, Mother’s Day, Bonfire Night, Shrove Tuesday…
Plan Two – Five Posts Each Month
You could aim to plan every single post – and some bloggers do. But one of the easiest mistakes to make with content planning is being over-ambitious: if you try to plan out 25 posts each month, you’ll probably give up before you’ve finished month #1.
I recommend planning at least two posts for each month: even if you only write those two posts, you’ll still keep up some momentum with your blog.
Ideally, plan one post for each week. Of course you can write more if you choose to – but it’s better to have one great post rather than five rushed ones, and it’s also useful to have a bit of lee-way for throwing in topical posts as the months go by.
You’ll want to plan:
- One or two series of linked posts. These are great for encouraging readers to subscribe, and for digging into a topic in-depth. A series of three – four posts can make great launch content, if you’re about to release or re-release a product.
- A balance of different topics. You may want to brainstorm lots of different ideas and then slot these into the six months. Try to get a balance between beginner-friendly content and more advanced material.
- A balance of different post types. Yes, list posts are popular (and easy to write) but you’ll also want to include other formats – like how-to posts, Q&A posts, or roundups of valuable resources. You might want to plan one big post each month: perhaps “The A-Z of…” or an in-depth guide to a particular topic.
- Guest posting opportunities. To start with, aim for one guest post each month on a major blog in your field. This will bring in new, qualified leads – and it’ll boost your SEO efforts.
Of course, your plan isn’t set in stone. You’ll find that opportunities and ideas come up over the next few months – and you’ll want to incorporate some of these. But by having a clear, simple plan for at least a few of your blog posts, you’ll make it much easier to build and maintain momentum.
If you’ve got any tips to share about blog content planning, or any questions, just pop a comment below.