For many brands, the bedrock of their content marketing is blogging — but blogging becomes a challenge when you’re constantly scrambling to drum up more topics.
Does this sound familiar to you?
Whether your industry is health services or commercial painting, you need a better way to regularly come up with ideas if you want to build online authority and connections through blogging.
One secret is an editorial calendar. If you’d like a better, more seamless way to keep your blog updated and growing, here’s what you need to know.
What is an editorial calendar?
Used for decades in publishing, editorial calendars are essentially content calendars that organize upcoming topics and posts.
What’s great about an editorial calendar is how it allows you to plan ahead for content, so keeping up with a regular blogging schedule becomes more automatic and less based on how you feel week to week.
Editorial calendars allow you to plan ahead for posts to avoid that dreaded writer’s block that strikes every content creator from time to time. More than that, they allow you to strategize about content — planning posts to target seasons, holidays, events, etc., to make the most of what you write.
Steps to Creating an Editorial Calendar for Your Blog
When you’re ready to stop the endless stress of drumming up new content, you’re ready to create a blog editorial calendar. Here’s how to do it.
1. Define your target audience.
The first questions to ask yourself when creating an editorial calendar is about your readership. Who are you trying to reach with your content? What topics will they want to see? When you know your target audience, it’s a little easier to plan content to reach them. Target both your existing audience and the audience you want to cultivate.
2. Brainstorm some topic categories.
Once you’ve nailed down your audience, you’re ready to think about the big picture for your blog. Ask yourself what some of the main subjects you want to cover are. Choose a handful or two of categories on which to focus.
If you’re a fitness center, you might have categories such as “exercise routines,” “trainer FAQ,” “recipe ideas” or “healthy living,” for example. If you’re a tutoring center, you might focus on “news in education,” “at-home learning activities” and “how kids learn.”
Figure out what categories are appropriate for you.
3. Brainstorm topic ideas under those categories.
After you have your basic categories decided, you can focus on brainstorming post ideas to go into each one. Set aside time to do a sort of brain dump in which you jot down all your topic possibilities.
Ideas to get you started include responding to customer pain points, providing tips on processes or strategies, sharing success stories, sharing failure stories, talking about new research in your field and writing about your own knowledge in the industry — in a way that helps your audience.
Come up with a variety of potential posts for each category, and you’ll have a large body of post ideas ready to use.
4. Commit to a consistent posting schedule.
Here’s the part of an editorial calendar that varies dramatically by publisher:
How often will you post? Do you want a schedule of several times a week, once a week, a few times a month or something else? Will you always post on Tuesdays or on another specific day?
Whatever schedule works for you, determine and set it — and stick to it. Then, rely on your editorial calendar to help you enforce the consistency you need.
5. Set your calendar.
The last step in creating an editorial calendar is to actually organize your post ideas into a calendar. You can do this on an actual printed calendar, a spreadsheet or whatever works for you. The important thing is to organize your ideas strategically.
Start by setting posts that relate to specific times on the calendar — anything related to seasons, holidays, company events, etc. Next, fill in post ideas in such a way as to allow diversity throughout the calendar, rotating the categories you’re covering.
Once you’ve done the prep work of strategizing, brainstorming and organizing an editorial calendar, all that’s left is writing blog posts — a task that is so much simpler when the topics are ready and on hand. Write them in advance when possible and schedule them into your blog, and stay flexible so that you can adjust an idea or move the schedule around as needed.
When your current calendar is nearing its end, repeat the process for the next quarter, season or year, and you create a rhythm that keeps building your online authority through your blog.
With a working editorial calendar, your blog will keep getting updated, you’ll avoid the dreaded writer’s block and your online body of content will grow bigger and bigger. For the small investment of planning and strategizing now, you can save yourself a lot of headaches down the road, always knowing what to write next.
So what are you waiting for?
Isn’t it time you tried the blogger hack that traditional publishers have known all along? Get started creating your own blog editorial calendar today.
Shanna Mallon is a contributing writer for Straight North, a leading Chicago SEO company. Shanna has been writing professionally online since 2007.