How to Build a Content Plan For Your Blog

If you have a blog, chances are good that you’ve been knocked off your blogging schedule a time or two.

After all, it’s just too easy to let your business, family and other commitments get in the way.

But, you want 2012 to be different, right?

If so, then it’s time to get your content plan in place for your blog now.

For former journalists like me, we call this an editorial calendar. But, this doesn’t have to be a scary and complex document that schedules every post for the entire year.

Instead, let’s look at this as a basic framework to help you stay on track and have a well of ideas and topics at your disposal.

Sound good?

If so, let’s get started.

Step 1 – Build your topic categories.

The best blogs are those that are focused around a central topic or theme. For me, I blog about marketing and social media tips for small businesses. Although I can talk about a number of topics within that framework, but it helps to identify the main topic categories your blog posts will fall under.

For me, my main topic categories are blogging, business tips and resources, marketing, social media and leadership.

Take a few minutes to think about the main categories of your blog. There shouldn’t be too many. Really, 3-5 categories are just fine.

Step 2 – Brainstorm topic ideas.

Now, start brainstorming topics in each of those categories. Give yourself 30 minutes or so to come up with as many ideas as you can.

Draw inspiration from the questions you get from customers, from articles and books you read or from your every day experiences. And, if you need help getting your creative juices flowing, check out these blog post ideas.

Don’t edit or worry about perfect headlines right now. Just jot down ideas and themes you can use to help you build posts down the road.

Step 3 – Determine how often you want to post.

This is a tough question that most bloggers struggle with. And, there are no right answers. However, it helps if you post regularly and consistently.

I encourage most new bloggers to start with posting once a week. It’s enough to keep your site fresh, but it’s not completely overwhelming. And, if you decide you want to do more, you can easily ramp up the frequency from there.

When you think about it, weekly blog posts means only 52 posts in a year. You can do that!

Step 4 – Determine when you want to post.

If you’re going to post once a week, think about which day of the week you want to post it. Take into consideration what time works best for you, but also what makes sense for your readers.

You can always change this up a bit to test different approaches, but starting out, I think it helps to determine in advance which days you plan to have something new.

Step 5 – Start filling in your calendar.

Once you’ve got a good list of topics ready, you can start plotting them out on a calendar. So you don’t get overwhelmed, just start with one month at a time.

Print out a calendar to write in the topics for the month or if your blog is on WordPress, you can use their nifty editorial calendar plugin to plan your posts.

When you get close to the end of the month, you can pull from your topic list to flesh out the next month. And, as you get new topic ideas, add them to your list so you never run out of things to write about.

Get Started Now

Building a blog editorial calendar helps keep you accountable with your efforts. And, it won’t leave you guessing when it comes time to sit down and write.

If you want to take your blog to the next level this year, stop what you’re doing today and take a few minutes to get your content plan in place. You’ll be glad you did.

Do you have an editorial calendar? What questions do you have about this process?

About Laura Click

Laura Click is founder and CEO of Blue Kite Marketing, a Nashville-based integrated marketing firm. In addition to being the lead blogger on the Blue Kite blog, Laura is a proud Mizzou alum, avid runner and dog lover. You can connect with Laura on Twitter at @lauraclick, on LinkedIn or Google Plus.

  • http://www.davemadethat.com Dave Delaney

    I love the way you’ve broken this down to some simple rules that make blogging easier. I’ve often suggested that first time bloggers should start blogging, but don’t make their blogs live yet.

    Blog for a month until you get into a rhythm and then make it live. You should have a good idea after a few weeks of producing content.

    The WP editorial plugin is great!!! I love the way you can easily move posts around the calendar. Very cool.

    • http://flybluekite.com Laura Click

      I think that’s good advice, Dave. I’ve encouraged that too for new sites/blogs. Or, go ahead and make it live, but don’t tell anyone about it until you’ve got some experience under your belt. Every blogger is a little wobbly when they first start out, so it’s good to get some momentum first. 

      And yes, love the editorial plugin. So easy and it makes planning cool!

  • http://twitter.com/adamtoporek Adam Toporek

    Very timely post for me Laura! I’ve been working on this a good bit lately. I like the idea of starting with categories; I had not come at it from that angle. As for blogging schedules… don’t get me started.  :)

    • http://flybluekite.com Laura Click

      I like framing it by categories because it helps keep your topics balanced. I have a running document for tracking all of my content ideas and it’s divided by category. It works well for me!

  • http://calebmcnary.com/ Caleb McNary

    Thanks for the insight, Laura. I just launched a blog this week, and have just started experiencing the terror of knowing that I have a lot of writing to do. Your tips are very helpful

    • http://flybluekite.com Laura Click

      Congrats on launching your blog, Caleb!!! I think you’ll find that starting with an editorial calendar now will be a huge help. It’s all about building and sticking with the right habits. Good luck and let me know how I can help!

      • http://calebmcnary.com/ Caleb McNary

        Thanks Laura, on my to-do list this week is to start building an editorial calendar! Do you have any examples of documents you use effectively that help you?

        • http://flybluekite.com Laura Click

          It’s funny you ask – I’m working on a document template to share with my email list. I may even post it here. I should have it ready within the next few days. I’ll make sure you get a copy of it!

          • http://calebmcnary.com/ Caleb McNary

            Ha, that’s a happy accident. I look forward to using it.

  • http://twitter.com/croyseniles Christine Niles

    The wordpress plugin is amazing!  I’ve been using a google calendar to schedule/plan my blog content, and it’s been such a pain to compare and and manage draft and scheduled content.  THANKS!!

    • http://flybluekite.com Laura Click

      Yes, the plugin rocks! I love how you can drag and drop items around. It’s very handy. So glad to help!

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  • http://twitter.com/clutterbuggeek Ashley

    The link to the plugin returns a 502 – bad gateway error as of 4/1/13. I tried to find another link, but it looks like it might be broken.

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