Do you ever find yourself struggling to come up with content ideas?
When you look back at your content on your blog, does it ever seem kinda random?
In today’s episode, I will walk you through how to create a blog editorial calendar that will help you accomplish your blogging goals.
An editorial calendar is a calendar where you plan out all of your content for a predefined period of time.
This can be anything from jotting down blog post titles on a sheet of paper and assigning dates to them to creating a complex spreadsheet where you map out your content.
Side note: I took the time to create a 2017 Blog Editorial Calendar spreadsheet. Want it? Sure, no problem!
There are three main reasons I believe that every blogger should consider creating a blog editorial calendar.
“A goal without a plan is just a wish.” Antoine de Saint-Exupery
Would you try to build a house without a blueprint? I wouldn’t.
Yet, so many of us approach blogging that way (myself included). Here’s the thing – if you’re in this blogging thing for real, you’re building a business.
To build a business, you need to have goals. And to accomplish those goals, you need to have a plan.
If one of your goals is to launch a product teaching people how to clean their houses on March 1, you want to create the right kind of content at the right time to prime your audience for buying that product.
A blog editorial calendar will help you do this.
I know, I know – you’re a rebel blogger. You don’t want structure. Structure is for people who work the 9 to 5. Right?
One of the major misconceptions among creative people is that structure limits creativity. I’ve come to learn over time that this is far from the truth.
When done well, structure can give you a platform on which your creativity can actually flourish.
It doesn’t mean you can go outside of that structure. However, the structure allows you to organize your ideas in ways that can lead to creativity.
Have you ever found yourself struggling to come up with a topic for your post that’s supposed to go live tomorrow?
I know I have, and that’s wasted energy.
Instead of doing that, spend some concentrated time creating a great editorial calendar and then use your energy to create the content.
Because it’s the content that will move the needle and get people to do what you want them to do.
Ok, you’re sold. And you’re ready to run out there and create your editorial calendar.
Before doing so, it’s a good idea to do some basic research. The goal here to to figure out what kind of content your audience (or potential audience) is looking for.
Here are three ways to do that, one of which is applicable even if you don’t have an audience.
One of the best ways to know what your audience wants is by simply asking them.
I know, it seems simple. It is. And it’s also extremely powerful.
Create a survey and post it on your blog, send it out to your email list, and share it on your social channels.
The most important question to ask on the survey should go something like this:
If you could wave a magic wand and have one problem solved with your [insert niche topic here], what problem would you solve?
This question gets to the heart of the matter. It helps you to understand what your audience is struggling with.
When you understand that, you can step in like superman and save the day. Why?
Because everybody wants to buy from Superman. Duhhh!
Google Analytics is a powerful tool. It’s a great way to spy on your audience. It literally shows you everything they do on your site (and you were worried about the N.S.A?).
Here are some of the things you want to find out in Google Analytics:
When you know the answers to those questions, you will be in a better position to create the content that is already working well for you.
Listen to the episode and you’ll find out how to find these details in Google Analytics. It can get a little tricky, but it’s worth figuring it out.
A great way to come up with blog topic ideas is by looking at the questions people are asking on social media. This is something you can do even if you don’t have an audience.
Join Facebook groups related to your niche and see what’s being discussed. Do Twitter searches and see what comes up over and over.
Go wherever your audience is and see what the chatter is all about. This will help you come up with content ideas.
Once you’ve done your research, putting together your blog editorial calendar is actually not very complicated.
It will take some time, but you’d be surprised to see that you can actually knock it out in one afternoon.
Here are the three steps I recommend:
When I decided to create an editorial calendar for 2017, I knew I didn’t want to come up with random blog post ideas. I wanted it all to be connected.
In other words, if someone listened to this podcast episode, I want the next episode to be the logical choice to listen to next.
When you sit down to create your editorial calendar, come up with a theme for the year, one for each quarter, and one for each month.
Of course, the monthly themes should make sense in the context of the quarterly themes and the quarterly themes should make sense in the context of the theme for the year.
This will make the next step easier.
Once you know your themes, just start throwing titles out there that fit those themes.
Use ideas that you got from surveying your audience, checking Google Analytics and/or Social Media to come up with those titles.
Once you have your list, arrange them in a order that makes sense to you.
This is it. This is where you start plotting things out and giving dates to those content ideas.
It’s where the commitment happens.
When doing this, make sure to pay attention to any holidays that would affect your niche. If valentine’s day is around the corner, my blog post might cover something like “ten ways to show your blog readers that you love them”
Side note: That’s actually a pretty good idea that I just came up with. I’m about to go and revise my editorial calendar 😉
There are two other points you should keep in mind when creating your editorial calendar.
Because you went through the process of creating an editorial calendar, there will most likely be a logical flow from one piece of content to the next.
If that’s the case (and I encourage you to make that the case), make it obvious that they are connected by linking them to each other strategically.
This will encourage your readers/listeners/viewers to stay around longer. By doing this, they will be more likely to subscribe to your email list and even buy your product.
And yes – that’s a good thing 😉
Just because you have a structure, it doesn’t mean that you can’t ever deviate from that structure.
Come on! We’re bloggers. We are rebels (somewhat).
Just kidding (not really).
It’s important to allow for your creative juices to flow when they flow. If you feel led in a different direction for a specific blog post, feel free to explore that leading.
Remember, it’s important to have fun, and sometimes that fun comes in spontaneous ways.
Ok, so you’re ready to go and create an awesome editorial calendar for 2017.
You have all kinds of amazing ideas on how you can create a great spreadsheet that will allow you to track everything.
Hold up. Take a minute and breath. Slow down speed demon.
I already did the hard work for you. Yep, I created an editorial calendar spreadsheet.
It took me weeks to create and refine and it’s ready for you to use it.
Let’s end this bad boy with two questions. Do you use an editorial calendar? If not, will you start? Let me know in the comments area below.