There’s a clock ticking. Can you hear it?
With every tick tock, you’re reminded just how long it’s been since you wrote a blog post.
At this point, blogging may be the last thing you want to do. But your customers and followers need to hear from you. And you know it. When you’re a small business owner or entrepreneur, coming up with regular content that adds value for your existing and potential audience is hard work.
Particularly when you put it off to the last second… Tick tock, tick tock.
The trick is to plan ahead. And your secret weapon is a blog content calendar!
A blog content calendar takes the blood, sweat and tears out of the last minute scramble to produce blog posts.
It’s a strategic working document that outlines the blog topics you should be writing about, and when according to your weekly or monthly goals!
It’s so important because it maps out your planned blog content alongside key dates in your business calendar; like new product releases, events and seasonal themes (for example, Valentine’s Day, Christmas, New Year).
The best strategic content calendars focus not just on topics and publish dates. They also include relevant offers and “calls to action” associated with the article, a timeline for creating it and then promoting it via social media and other channels.
More on that later. For now, I’m going to convince you that a blog content calendar will change your life….
3 reasons why you should create a blog content calendar today:
1. It’ll ensure your content is consistent and relevant
The best thing about a content calendar is that it keeps you focused. Focus your blogging efforts on the topic areas that matter to your business, then your customers will come to you for content relating to those themes.
A content schedule can help you stick to task, while ensuring there’s enough variation to avoid repetition. It can let you identify holes in your content that you aren’t covering and help you see where you might be over-focusing.
It also provides a clear connection between your content strategy and lead generation opportunities.
2. You’ll never miss a blog post
Use your content calendar to plan ahead. Check it regularly to remind yourself of what’s coming up, what you need to do besides writing (for example, source images or other media), and when to begin.
It will keep you organized because every phase of writing a blog post will be in one place. You’ll be able to plan and track your deadlines, topics and graphics like a blogging pro.
3. No more last minute scrambles and late night sweats
Just writing out your plan will help you stick to it. Research shows that 42% of people achieve their goals when they write them down first.
Using your content calendar to set goals makes you accountable. It helps you get the job done and you can feel good about your accomplishments as the weeks go by.
Plus, there’s a lot less guesswork when you know in advance what you’re going to be writing about. No more late night stressing over your next blog post idea!
So, here’s how to use a blog content calendar (It’s easier than you think and it will save you heaps of time in the long run.)
First, have a think about what sort of tools will best suit your situation.
The beauty of online tools like Google Sheets is that you can easily amend details as things evolve. They can also be shared if you’re collaborating with other contributors. Try Google Drive or Dropbox for file sharing and collaboration. Skype or Google Hangouts are great for online communication with other team members.
Are you a paper and colored pens kind of planner? Create an offline visual of the month ahead and actively work on it. You can print out our free calendar template and fill it in using color codes.
My personal preference? Do both online with an editorial content planner + offline with a calendar printable!
To make your life even easier, start with these free downloadable printables we made earlier: Free Printable Content Calendar Templates.
How to use the printable content calendar templates?
- A yearly plan of your biggest goals and projects. For this a sheet marked with all the months and ideally split by quarters works best.
- A monthly snapshot where you plan your editorial content in order to achieve the goals of each month. You can use our Free Blog Editorial Planner to then work on each piece of content in more detail.
- A weekly planner where you focus on the most important tasks for each day. I recommend keeping it anxiety free and not adding more than 3-5 tasks that you really want to achieve in a day. This will help you stay achievable and accountable and keep you blasting through your week instead of “trying to squeeze in one more task”.
- When the month is over, review your goals and measure your progress towards your bigger objectives.
- Reprint the template the next month and the weekly planners, and move on to the next objective!
We hope these tips will come in handy for streamlining your blog content calendar strategy. Stay tuned for more resources on how to be a better blogger!