Are you a Blogger, or someone with a business who is about to start 'blogging'? Great! You are in the right place, because over the coming weeks we are sharing tips and inspiration based on our own experience of blogging, over many years. Getting Started with Blogging was the first post in the series. If you are new to blogging and haven't read that one as yet, take some time to do so and then return to this post.
Today we are diving into the 'nitty-gritty' of blogging; by helping you to plan for what you are going to write about. When I first started blogging and for many years after, I essentially sat down in front of my computer, put my hands on the keyboard and started writing. Sometimes this really worked for me and I wrote some ok content, but as I got busier and the Internet became crowded with content that appeals to the same target market I want to appeal to, I discovered that this approach leaves a lot to be desired in terms of creating quality blog posts that engage your audience. It is also a stressful way to approach the job of blogging, because there will be days where you sit down with the time you have available to write and the ideas for what to write about, just don't come. On these days, you will spend hours just working out what to write about and researching your topic, instead of actually writing and publishing your post.
Without a plan you are essentially blogging at random and leaving a lot to chance in terms of whether your content will actually appeal to your readers. A better way to manage 'blogging' is to plan your content.
First Things First
Before you dive into the job of creating a Content Plan for your blog you need to develop a clear idea of why you are blogging, who you are pitching content at and what type of information will most appeal to them. If you can't answer those questions start by:
- Defining your Blog's why - this is the reason your blog exists, or simply what you want to achieve via your blog. If you can't describe it in a sentence or two, take some time now to brainstorm your why and write it into a neat paragraph.
- Setting some goals - write out some milestones and put time-frames around achieving them. Your goals might include, posting consistently 3 times a week, growing a loyal readership who regularly share your posts, turning blog readers into customers.
- Get to know your audience - who are you writing for? Your ideal audience is based on your ideal customer. If you haven't given this much thought, take some time now to develop an outline of who your ideal reader is. What do they want to learn? What inspires them? What questions can you answer for them?
Now is the fun part. Start brainstorming ideas for your posts. I use a BIG blackboard and post it notes for this activity. I like the post-it notes because I can move them around and as the ideas start coming, group them under themes. A whiteboard, notebook, spreadsheet or table will work just as well too.
Having themes for days of the week you will blog is also very helpful (we talk about how often to blog in Getting Started With Blogging). For example, if you are a Wedding Blogger you might have regular posts for; 'real weddings', 'trends' and planning tips. Having themes to write to, that are based on what you know your audience likes to read, is a great strategy when it comes to planning content. This Blogging series of posts is an example of a theme that we created as part of our Blog Plan. Another approach is to have a focus for certain weeks of the year; for example, seasons, holidays or fashion weeks - what will work for you and your blog really comes down to who your audience is and what your goals with your blog are.
Once I have my topics I create a Spreadsheet with the following columns:
- Week - to help you keep track of the weeks of the year.
- Date - this is the post date
- Date written by - I schedule in my writing days to keep me on track and I tend to write several posts at once. I use colours on my sheet to help me highlight posts I am going to write together on the one day. You may find it helpful to create a second tab on your spreadsheet to group posts that will be written together.
- Focus - what do I want this blog post to help me achieve?
- Post Type - does it fall into a category or theme?
- Blog Title - give it a name to help remind you what you had in mind when you came up with the topic.
- Images - finding images for your blog posts can be incredibly time consuming. If you have an image in mind, make note of it here (this is where our library can come in handy!).
- Research Notes - when brainstorming the topic did you research it? If you found useful articles that you want to be able to refer to when you write your blog post, include details here for easy reference.
Creating a plan for your Blog content will take time, but once you have done it, it will save you much more time than it cost you and even more importantly, your plan will help you to write the type of content your readers want to read.
How Far Should I Plan Ahead?
This really is up to you, but if you are new to blogging and/or planning blog content, I suggest planning no more than up to 3 months ahead and then reviewing how your posts were received before planning new content. As part of your review process consider those goals you set for yourself and whether you are closer to achieving them than you were before you implemented your Plan. If not, adjust, if you are, set new goals and keep going.
Have you created a Plan to help you manage your blog writing? If you have some tips to share please leave them in the comments and of course, if you have questions about creating a plan, add them here too.
Need images for your blog posts? Visit the library.