Let me tell you a story about an unfortunate blogger…
Once upon a time I only blogged occasionally. It was enough to just have a few computer folders to organize my blogging: Blogs in Progress, Completed Blogs, and Blog Ideas. I had bits and pieces of fragmented semi-organizational system in notebooks, on my calendar, Trello boards, and more. Some stuff I just tried to remember—never a good idea!
Without everything in one location, every time I wanted to work on my blog I found myself riffling through items all over my desk and searching through my computer. I couldn’t get a handle on what I already did, what I was about to do, and what I would possibly do in the future. I was frustrated. I was wasting time.
What’s a disorganized blogger to do?
If you just blog occasionally, it may be fine to just write articles as you go along. But once you start blogging regularly, that’s a big mistake—as I found out. You can be much more productive if you pre-plan your articles and keep track of them using an all-in-one system.
That’s where creating a blogging calendar comes in.
The main point of any calendar is to keep you organized, make sure you are ready for upcoming activities, and keep on track. To do this, it’s much more effective to have everything in one. While it make take a bit of time (usually not much) to set up your calendar, it’s much less stressful than repeatedly playing hide-and-seek with your papers and files to find, sort-through, and organize your blog-related information.
Your all-in-one blogging calendar gives you a place to organize all the information for the blogs you plan to write, keep up with a consistent publishing schedule, and determine what you should do next. You’ll have an easier time thinking up new articles, tracking results, figuring out what matters to your audience, and refining your program over time.
Give Your Mind a Rest by Attaching Dates to Activities.
You’ll actually feel calmer once you attach specific due dates to articles. Once everything is in one place, in one document, you have an at-a-glance view rather than a jumbled up mess. You’ll see things you wouldn’t see without this tools—such as if there are topics that you cover too much and others you haven’t covered enough.
And since publishing your blog is a complex process, you can break your articles into smaller tasks, assigning dates to drafts and edits, finding images, and getting any necessary approvals. No longer will you need to scramble at the last minute. You’ll feel even better if you review your calendar often to keep things from falling through the cracks and then seeing all that you’ve accomplished over time.
What Should My Blogging Calendar Look Like?
There is no single ideal blogging calendar. It’s yours to create based on whatever keeps you and your blogging team organized. It can be simple or complex. It can be a spreadsheet or a visual calendar tool. It can be a stand-alone tool, or you can link it to other calendar and project management apps.
To find the format that will work best for you, it helps to know the answers to these questions:
- How frequently will you post? This translates into how much stuff you have to keep track of. Will you blog once a month, one a week, once a day? Coming up with new content takes time, so be realistic about how often you can consistently post (consistency is important to credibility). At first you can experiment with days of the week and time of day. You can mark these on your calendar and see if there’s a pattern to when you get the best response.
- What matters to your audience? If you have a single blog, it’s best to select a narrow audience. Then identify a list of five to 10 topic categories you think they want to read about. You’ll want to vary these within your calendar and keep track of how each of these categories perform. Dump poorly performing topics and try new ones—over time you identify the topics that matter most to your readers. You can also do this for “types” of articles, such as listicles, reviews, and Top 10s.
- How many people are on your team? A solo blogger will not need the same sort of organization tool as someone who has a team of writers, graphic designers, social media experts, or an outside agency. Will it be a “live document,” such as on a Google Drive, or a static document in a shared folder?
- What is the creative and publishing process? How does the piece progress through the organization during the creation process and afterwards when you are promoting it on social media? What steps are needed to get interim and final approvals for copy, graphics, keywords, and other elements?
- What format will be most useful? You may decide to have a spreadsheet, a calendar, or some other graphical representation. You’ll need to identify what works best for your team and organization.It might take several attempts to get it right so that it’s clear, has the right elements, and is easy to work with.
- Are there dates and seasons that are important to your business? As you set up your calendar (and as you update it), note down specific dates and time-frames that will need relevant articles—such as holidays, events (such as conferences), promotions, and product launches.
How Do I Create My Blogging Calendar?
As discussed, everyone needs to find a system that works for them. I happen to like spreadsheets. Excel works great, and Google Sheet are even better because they can be linked to your calendar, they are accessible to team members, and they’re in the Cloud, which makes you less likely to lose them.
I actually have use a workbook with several sheets. The columns I have don’t all fit on my computer screen, which I find difficult to work with. Plus, it’s easy for me to separate out some of the information onto a separate sheet, but still have them right at hand. For example, I have a separate sheet where I just brainstorm article ideas and assign topic categories to them. This helps me see the categories in which I have to think up more topics. I also have a separate page that tracks the LinkedIn groups I shared my articles with and when I posted them (to see which groups and times generate the most response).
As a solo blogger, I don’t need something very complex, but I do like to keep track of details that help me analyze my progress.
Here are the columns on my main sheet:
- Blog Name: I play around with this while I’m writing, and eventually the final name goes here.
- Category: It’s helpful to sort articles by category so I can how much I’ve planned and published for each, if I’ve rotated them fairly evenly over time, which have generated the most response.
- Published date (plus columns for day and time): I’m experimenting when the best time to publish is, so date and time are helpful. I may drop these columns later.
- url: This is just for convenience; I can cut and paste it without going into my blog site.
- Clicks: I have to know how many people clicked on the article.
- Likes: This extra metric helps me gauge audience response
- Status/Notes: Here I just note anything extra it would be helpful to remember.
Creating high-quality original content is hard, time-consuming work. The key phrase there is “high-quality,” which is critical for attracting traffic, increasing shares, and building trust with your audience. Bad quality content can do more harm than good if it turns people often and reflects poorly on your brand. If you have a calendar but can’t keep up with creating the content, either revise your calendar or turn to a qualified freelance copywriter or agency to outsource content creation. Contact Boston-based copywriter Amy Westebbe, (617) 699-4462, email@example.com