When I first began blogging, I posted every day when my son went down for his afternoon nap at 1 pm. Every day I wrote an original blog post including an image. Just thinking about this now makes me laugh. How in the world did I expect to reasonably keep up that schedule?
Balancing work, family and my blog can get crazy at certain times of the year like around the holidays. In the past, I would just stop blogging for a week here or there and pick up when life slowed down. But as far as strategies go, that one wasn’t great.
Two years ago, I became a monthly contributor to The Glorious Table blog. With posts going up six days a week from twenty plus contributors our editor wisely established the requirement that our blog posts were due two months in advance. For the first time ever as a blogger, I was forced to think ahead about what I was going to say, and it was the best thing that could have happened to me.
The requirement to write one post for the future encouraged me to think long-term about all of my blog posts. Once I started thinking strategically, a content calendar became the tool to help me keep all of my ideas organized.
Using a content calendar allows bloggers to strategically develop blog ideas incorporating keywords, flow, and long-term goals.
A common mistake bloggers make is not taking the time to optimize their content. Writing excellent content is great, but if Google can’t categorize it correctly, web searchers won’t find it. Catchy titles are fun, but web crawlers don’t catch nuance. A meta description with a keyword also featured in your blog post becomes even more necessary the more creative your blog titles stay.
Developing a list of keywords to write content around will keep blog posts focused overall, but more specifically will help create titles and meta descriptions that tell the web crawlers to direct your content to the people searching for the subjects on which you are writing.
An ideal content calendar at a minimum will include:
- Dates for future content to publish
- A space for blog title development
- A keyword to write the post around
If you have a goal to post twice a week on Tuesdays and Thursdays, you will write out the dates for let’s say three months, and then move from there. You may realize that a holiday falls on one of those times or a special event you would like to highlight.
Once you have filled in your blog ideas for the three months, move on to flow. From a big picture view, you will be able to evaluate if the blog posts are in the best order. You may notice that you have three posts on the same subject with similar titles back to back. At this point, you can choose to create a mini-series or spread the posts out depending on what better supports your long-term blogging goals.
Blogging takes too much time and energy to write without a goal. Perhaps you want to increase your email list, develop an eBook, or an online class. Maybe you want to accomplish all three of these things. Regardless of the long-term goal, a content calendar is the first step to developing the right strategy to achieve it.
Excellent content takes time to create. It includes research and rounds of drafts and edits. When you develop a content calendar, you can save relevant articles for future blog posts to refer back to when you carve time to write.
The most significant value a content calendar brings to a blogger is the ability to develop consistency. When you know the content you intend to write, you can carve out time to write a few blog posts at a time. You may not believe me, but I guarantee you will discover the same thing I did. When you have your content calendar filled out with blog titles and keywords, and part of your research done in advance you can write two to three blog post drafts in the time it usually takes you to write one.
Beyond Blog Posts
If you Google “content calendar” you will find extensive options. Some are free, others charge, and the only thing they have in common is that each one is unique. The great thing about that is that it means you can create a content strategy that works best for you, and expand or shrink it at any point to accommodate everything on your plate.
In addition to blog posts content calendars sometimes include space to highlight:
- Email subjects
- Offer subjects
- Social Media scheduling
- Blog link-ups to participate in
- Guest post ideas
- Blogs to read and comment on
- Backlink strategies
- Images to look for
- And so on
If you have never used a content calendar, it’s time to start. The best part is, you get to decide how detailed your calendar is! I suggest starting with fewer details until you get into the routine of working ahead. Focus on the necessary aspects of organizing your blog posts. As you develop the discipline of working off a content calendar you can decide for yourself what details to include tracking.
We’ve created a simple worksheet to help you get started. You can download it here. Are you looking for help developing content for your website? Our expert team is passionate about creating personalized, high-quality content for our clients. Let’s schedule a time to chat!