By Laura Roeder published May 18, 2012

How to Plan Your Blog Posts for a Year in Advance

plan your blog posts, CMIYou 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.

Here’s how:

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.

Author: Laura Roeder

Laura Roeder is the founder of LKR and is a social media marketing expert who teaches small business owners how to create their own fame and claim their brand online. You can find her on Facebook, Twitter and check out LauraRoeder.com. For LKR’s free weekly newsletter, go to GetTheDash.com.

Other posts by Laura Roeder

  • http://www.biggerpockets.com Joshua Dorkin

    Pre-planning is a great way to avoid blog drought. One of the biggest problems that I see most bloggers have is consistency.  I always recommend writing as much as you can while you’re “in the mood” to help you contain those periods when you’re not.  Scheduling via an editorial calendar plugin or some other means helps you get through those periods.

    Great recommendations!

    • http://www.ricardobueno.com Ricardo Bueno

      Agree with you 100% on “consistency!”

      I know one agent who closed 23 escrows last year. 20 of them, leads generated as a direct result of her blog (IDX registrations). She said that the turning point for her was when she committed to making writing and marketing her blog an official part of her prospecting time. So she’d schedule an hour a day to write – market reports, neighborhood reports, things to do around town, et cetera. 
      Not too many people commit to a schedule like that. But making any sort of commitment, and staying consistent is definitely key. 

      • http://www.biggerpockets.com Joshua Dorkin

        We keep running into one another today, @ricardobueno:disqus !  I see it with many of our blog contributors, and of course, with other top real estate bloggers.  The ones who do it and do it well get a LOT of leads from their blogs, period.

        Interestingly, I’ve been in an email discussion with someone a marketing blogger, but who fell off for a long time (many months). In his articles he espouses consistency for his clients, but broke the golden rule for himself. As a result, his traffic has plunged dramatically along with all the positive capital he had built up prior to the dropoff.  He has been working hard to rebuild that audience, but appears to be floundering now, unfortunately.

        I believe that the lesson is that consistency is key and planning your posts ahead of time will absolutely help you make sure you keep that consistency.  

  • http://propertyagents.co/real-estate-lead-generation-course Muhammad Ayaz

    Great tips laura! certainly planning for post is a very crucial point in blogging and if you do your planning that keeps you intact with writing the post consistently but planning writing post a year ahead is really difficult I think that’s how you missed some of the immediate topics.

    I want to ask you one question. How did you manage the hot topics arises other than your scheduled posts? 

  • http://www.rebeccarachmany.com/ Rebecca Rachmany

    This is fine but it almost guarantees that your blog posts will never be current. It requires you to talk about things that are “always” relevant. In today’s world, I don’t think that leaders in our industry can afford that. The most common questions we get (at Tech-Tav) these days are about HTML 5, for example. If we plan our posts a year in advance, we won’t be able to address what is happening in the field there. Our best blog posts have always been on something that actually happens to us, in other words, current events. OK, documentation events might not be thrilling, and most are planned in advance. The one thing we do, certainly, is put the time on the calendar for blogging. We also keep a running list of “general” topics. However, those topics are almost always less popular than topics that connect to what’s happening NOW in the industry.

    • http://www.shortcutblogging.com/ Dave Young

       It’s going to be different industry by industry. We’ve got a client who is blogging about his company’s software features. It’s a stable industry and it’s easy to plan out a year of posts this way.

      I think that the first step should be something like a year of planning for evergreen topics, and maybe run them all on the same day of the week.

      As you get more ambitious, you could add a 2nd day and hit the NOW topics using a curation method for example.

      We offer a free tool for generating a year’s worth of topics. It only works if you’re already an expert in your field. In 37 minutes, you can come up with about 64 topics. Opt-in is required.

  • http://socialforyour.biz/ Social for Your Biz

    The only problem I have with planning out content a year in advance is that things change and what was a great strategy 7,8, 10 months ago may not work when it comes time to post.

    • http://www.shortcutblogging.com/ Dave Young

       That’s why you should only plan your evergreen content this way. You should always have several different content-creation strategies going at once. By having a year’s worth of topics listed, you’ll NEVER sit down to write and be staring at a black screen wondering what the heck to pull out of thin air today!

  • milesdesign

    Laura,

    Great suggestions! Our design firm follows a
    similar approach. For me personally, I keep a list of all of the topics I want to write about (eventually), and tackle whatever I’m most excited about the next time I’m free to write. Obviously some of my “future” topics may not be relevant by time I get around to them, but I’m guaranteed to have a few options to choose from when I’m ready to go.

  • http://humanwebsite.com.my/ Kent

    One of my strategy to build my own blog content is by reading other people’s blog, which help a lot. Especially when I use Twitter, Google Alert and Google Reader, I never run out of topics.

  • QamarfarryZaman

    Blogging brings in business, right? So, use these tips to plan your blog posts and you can set yourself up for success for the next year. 

    Fresh and Targeted Traffic is a key to success

  • BeFreeProject

    Great tips! I will definitely be implementing some of these strategies on my blog.