If you are like many small business owners, you probably already know the importance of having a blog to increase your authority in your niche. A blog is the surest way to drive organic traffic to your site and to increase your sales. Whether you are creating all of your online content yourself, or have hired a firm to do so, you may still be unaware of the importance of this little known but powerful tool – the blog calendar.
Preventing the Death of Your Blog
There are literally tens of millions of blogs on the Internet with millions of new blog posts each day, so it’s not just enough to create a blog and post occasionally. In order to ensure that your posts are reaching your target market and having the effect that you desire, you need to be able to strategically plan your content so that will actually reach your intended audience.
Consistent posting and a clear message, along with original, interesting and informative content are the keys to a successful blog, but there are several obstacles that lead to the abandonment and failure of most blogs:
- Your business takes off and you become too busy to write and post.
- You run out of things to say, or become too bored with writing your blog, after all, you have a life to lead outside of work!
- For whatever reason, your content fails to “catch on,” so your business suffers from a lack of traffic from new and repeat visitors, a lack of engagement from your readers, or fails to lead to conversions and greater sales.
The good news is that if you struggle with a lack of consistency and focus in your blog posts, regardless of the reasons behind it, the blog calendar is your antidote to these potentially deadly pitfalls.
How a Blog Calendar Can Breathe New Life into Your Blog
A blog calendar is more than simply a list of post assignments and deadlines. In addition to helping you to be able to make regular posts, a blog calendar can resurrect a dead or dying blog by helping you to accomplish these objectives:
- Crush Writer’s Block and Reader Boredom in One Stroke! One of the initial stages of creating your blog calendar is gathering ideas for content. When you share your blog calendar with your team, each of you can then use this phase of planning the blog calendar to become sounding boards for one another, which will boost each member’s insight and creativity as each bounces ideas off of the other. This results in more focused and unique content that has a greater chance of being appealing to your target audience.
- Prevents You From Missing Opportunities. How many times have you missed a chance to write a great blog post that would tie in something happening in the world at large with your own products and services? How many times have you written a great blog post that achieved this objective, but then you failed to share it on your social media accounts to boost its visibility and increase your traffic? When you have a strategic plan for your content, you plan your posts weeks or months in advance, so you are aware of key holidays, events and potential breaking news that you can then work into your blog posts to boost the visibility of your business and its products and services. The blog calendar helps you keep up with posting your content as well as sharing it on your social sites so that you don’t miss out on any opportunities to increase your visibility.
- Eliminate Wasted Time and Sharpen Your Focus. You are probably well aware that your time is valuable. It’s a limited resource as well, so you should choose to spend your time wisely. A blog calendar allows you to sharpen your personal focus as well as the focus of everyone on your content and marketing teams.
In effect, using a blog calendar to plan out the type of content you will post, how often you will post, who will create the content and so forth puts everyone on the same page so that everyone’s energy is focused on achieving your objectives and working in concert with one another rather than against one another. In the long run, this helps you to save time to spend on other projects that need your attention.
Your customer’s time is valuable as well, and readers will not “waste” time visiting a site that doesn’t regularly inform or entertain them. When your content is focused and presents information that they want and need, in a unique or entertaining way, they will return for more, on a regular basis, and many will convert visits into sales.
How to Get Started Using a Blog Calendar Today
You don’t have to use spreadsheets or special programs to create and track changes to your blog calendar, but there are several free online templates that make it a bit easier to create and manage your own blog calendar. CoSchedule, MyMarketingCafe, Vertical Measures or our own Clever Streak Editorial Calendar are a few of the free Blog Calendar templates that you can download online, but there are dozens more that you can find by conducting a simple search online.
Regardless of which template that you use to create your blog calendar, there are several key points to keep in mind as you begin to strategically plan your content creation.
1. Identify the time frame that you will plan out your posts. Many entrepreneurs have a master annual calendar that identifies key dates for holidays, and events that are important to their core products and services. Flexible plans are then made for the number and dates of blog posts for the year, so that team members have a broad overview of the content they will need.
Key things to keep in mind while planning your master annual calendar include identifying your target audience and their core demographics and preferences and how specific content can appeal to the various segments of your target audience.
This master calendar is then broken down into more manageable chunks of time, such as months and weeks. In general, planning is more detailed for these smaller chunks of time, especially as the dates for the blog posts draw near.
2. Once you have a rough idea of how frequently you plan to post, and what your target audience looks like, it’s time to start planning individual posts. Gather your team and begin to brainstorm ideas for your future blog posts. Three good questions to ask yourself as you plan posts for your blog calendar are:
- Is there external current news, such as something happening in the world, that interests my target audience and that would tie into my products and services?
- Are there upcoming events that would be interesting for my target audience to learn more about? Examples include new product development, product launches, and upcoming interviews of principals or awards involving the company or products and services?
- Are there upcoming holidays or other important dates that relate to my products and services?
- Is there existing content, perhaps in another format, that we can repurpose into new blog posts.
3. As you consider these questions, come up with the broad topics that you will write about, and conduct your keyword research so that content can be created but also optimized for SEO purposes. This is also a good time to decide what sort of metrics you will use to measure the results of your posts.
4. Once the keyword research has been conducted, assign the posts and keywords. Now, your team can begin to work on specific assignments and are aware of your deadlines before you begin creating the content.
If your blog posts will have additional media present, such as videos or pictures to go along with the written content of the blog post, make these assignments at this time as well.
Decide where the content will be posted. Will it just be your blog, or will you share it with various social media channels as well? Set those deadlines as well to ensure that none are left out
5. Ensure that you leave time in your blog calendar for a review process before the content is pushed to whatever blog or platform you have decided upon. This will ensure that the content that you post stays on message for your brand and looks polished and professional.
6. Post your content and measure the results. Brainstorm with your team about what you could have done differently to strengthen your message and focus and then use what you have learned in your future planning sessions.
As your proficiency in using a blog calendar grows, you will find that it will become a process that helps you to constantly refine the focus of your message and improve your results. Not only will you sharpen your focus and become more consistent in the quality and frequency of your blog posts, you will reap the rewards of a thriving blog that builds your authority, strengthens the brand of your products and services and drives traffic to your business.
Does all of this sound a bit too much and overwhelming? Would you rather just deal with the process of running your business? No worries! Contact us today and let us handle all of your content creation needs.