You open the fridge, and stare at the empty shelves, wondering what the heck you are going to eat for dinner. Wouldn’t it have been easier if you’d planned out your meals for the week, slapped some ingredients into a Crock-Pot, and knew that dinner would be ready at the end of each day?
Now, look at your blog. Are you wondering what you’re going to write about today? Don’t you wish you had a “fridge” full of ingredients (aka, topics) and a tasty post simmering in draft mode, scheduled for publication in the morning?
You are well aware that blogging regularly brings new prospects in and keeps your clients coming back to your website, right? Interested and engaged clients and prospects = more money in your bank account. So why aren’t you approaching your blog like the pro you are?
Guess what? You do have a slow-cooker for content, and you can plan beyond just today’s post. In fact, I’m going to show you how to plan your posts for the next year.
1. Brainstorm strategic topics
Your blog’s purpose is to establish your expertise, showcase your unique voice and approach, and demonstrate your professionalism. There are several content types that will support this mission. Here’s where to find and keep track of them:
- Start tracking questions you get from your customers and your prospects. Remember, you are blogging for your clients, not for your peers. What kinds of questions do you get in your e-mail or on social media? Even if the answers to those questions seem very elementary for you, the answer likely contains valuable information for your customers.
- Start keeping a file in a notebook, a folder on your computer, or an e-mail folder. Whenever you receive questions from your clients or prospects, save the question in this folder or document. It can be a simple spreadsheet, a word document, or a group of saved e-mails. How you track this isn’t important — what is important is that you make it a habit to save this information in the same place whenever it comes in.
- Actively seek out what people are talking about in your field. Search social media sites, blog posts, and forums to see what people are talking about in your industry. You can use Google to find these sites, and then simply bookmark the websites you find that tend to address what people are talking about in your field.
- Brainstorm topics that will allow you to answer questions with a solution provided in your business. Your blog’s purpose is to promote your business! This is not a time to be shy or worry that you’ll offend people by making offers or by promoting your products and services. You are providing a logical solution to questions they have, right? Don’t worry about self-promotion, you’re not going to offend people — this is why you are blogging!
- Think about the internal things going on in your business that might interest your customers. Depending on your business, showing what’s happening behind the scenes can help your customers in their own lives or businesses. For example, this approach works well for LKR: We run an online business, and many of our clients are also seeking to build profitable businesses online. By showing them behind-the-scenes action at LKR, we are teaching them the techniques, tools, and strategies we’ve used to build a successful company online.
The more detailed your list of topics/questions the better! You can even break a single question down into content for more than one blog post. For example, answering a question about how to build your e-mail list could be broken down into a weekly series for four straight weeks covering multiple list-building strategies.
2. Narrow down your list of topics
Go through your list and refine it into the 24 most compelling topics. Good criteria for narrowing your list? Think about whether you LOVE the topic, if it’s a subject you have gotten questions about multiple times, and whether it aligns with any upcoming product or affiliate launches you have planned. Make sure they are fantastic subjects that you are excited and motivated to write about. At 2x per month, this is one year’s worth of topics!
3. Now, enter these topics into a calendar
Google Calendar fits our needs best; it’s easy to share, change, and can be accessed from anywhere. And, most importantly, you can easily automate it and set it on repeat – very useful for those goals that you want to make a part of your routine.
However, if you prefer a different system, such as software, or a big paper wall calendar, that’s fine, too. Go with what works for you. Make writing blog posts a part of your routine. For example, add an appointment to your calendar every Monday to write your post. It doesn’t have to be at a set time; it’s enough that you set aside time for it to happen every Monday. (Though this depends on the person. Maybe it works better for you if you schedule an actual time slot for it. Try it both ways and see what works best.)
Take the time to create a calendar of topics and commit to writing regular updates at least twice per month. There is no strict rule of thumb for frequency — but this should be your minimum guideline.
4. Commit to your schedule
Once the topics are entered into the calendar, you need to commit to actually writing about the topic when you say you will. That’s why it’s so important that you love the 24 topics you selected from your brainstorm list.
If it’s on the calendar, it’s on the schedule. Your schedule closes the gap between your everyday reality (writing blog posts and customer service) and your big goals (making more money and traveling). So set the expectation that you’re going to be there regularly and show up like the professional you are.
Remember, if you stop blogging, people stop visiting. If customers come back to your site and you aren’t updating the blog regularly, they won’t likely return again.
Now, Take Action!
Just like you wouldn’t let the food you buy rot in your refrigerator, don’t let your intentions to create an editorial calendar fester.
Remember, here’s all you need to do to plan out your blog for the next year:
- Start tracking customer questions and industry chatter.
- Brainstorm 24 great topics.
- Schedule twice-monthly blog posts using your 24 topic ideas.
- Commit to writing about these topics when you’ve said you will.
- Rinse and repeat.
Take some time today to set up the systems that will help you publish content like a pro and draw in the website traffic, prospects, and clients that you need to fuel your business. We’ve used these same techniques to build a seven-figure online business, so we can say this with confidence: Follow this recipe and you can’t fail!
To learn more about blogging, check out our Ultimate Guide to Blogging.