If you’re anything like me when I started blogging, you’re spending about 40% of the total time spent creating a new blog post on coming up with and deciding on a topic for the post. By setting aside some time to come up with a long term content plan for your blog, you’ll save a massive amount of time while also ensuring that content you create has a clear objective and is inline with your long term vision for your blog. While you definitely do not have to plan for a year ahead (you may prefer to do this once every quarter), in this post we’ll look at the steps necessary to create 12 months worth of content. The simplest tool to use for planning a year of blog posts would be Google Sheets.
Setting A Blog Schedule
When it comes to anything in life, consistency is key. Always try to set a realistic goal for yourself – you know how much time (and self-discipline) you have so don’t set impossibly high expectations. Instead, start with an achievable goal that can always be increased later down the road. I generally recommend starting with 1 blog post weekly. Make sure you include deadlines such as the first draft (don’t be one of those bloggers that publish without proofreading first…) due date and the publish due date.
Pro tip: Add these due dates to your calendar so you’re reminded of your commitment.
Mark off noteworthy annual events/days
Once you have your publishing dates populated in your spreadsheet, go ahead and indicate any holidays or other annual events that might influence your content themes. While some obvious ones like Christmas and Halloween always seem to get featured, don’t forget to look at fun days of note like National Pizza Day (if you have a food blog) or World Afro Day (if you’re a natural hair or beauty blogger).
Objectives and Content Mix
While there is definitely no set rule book you HAVE to follow when it comes to blogging, it will help your SEO and your long term goals if you decide on a central theme and stick to it. By deciding exactly who you’re writing content for, you’ll have a much easier time coming up with blog topics and keeping readers on your website once they’ve arrived.
There are numerous types of blog posts you can create – it’s important to decide which content types are the best fit for your blog niche. A great way to gain some insight is to look around and see what types of content other bloggers in your niche are doing. Listicles, product reviews and pillar posts (long, in-depth blog posts optimized for one of your main keywords) generally do well in most niches.
For example, if you’re a SFX beauty blogger trying to establish a reputation for yourself and earn an income from your blog then you need to frame all your content so that it’s in-line with that objective. For example, if you’ve decided that your monthly content mix will be pillar post, opinion piece, portfolio showcase and product review then your December themed blog posts might look something like this:
- Week 1: How-To blog post | DIY Nightmare Before Christmas Makeup Tutorial with links to products used (affiliate links)
- Week 2: Industry Insights | Things I wish I knew when I started my SFX makeup career
- Week 3: Portfolio Spotlight | Images of your work on a model in a fun festive/NYE theme
- Week 4: Product Review (affiliate link)
Mega Blog Post Brainstorming Session
Now that you have your schedule, annual themes and desired content mix, it’s time to get to work and brainstorm some actual blog post titles. It’s important to note that these titles will get changed and reworked when you actually sit down to write the blog post but it’s always great to have that starting point so you don’t have to waste any creative energy on the day pulling a blog post idea out of thin air.
If you’re not sure where to start, Google or Pinterest search engines are excellent ideation tools to find out what your readers are looking for. A blog series is also a great way to generate content. For example, a lifestyle blogger might have a “Monthly Favourites” feature, a personal finance blogger might do a “Monthly Income Report” or a DIY blogger might have a “Monthly Thrift Store Makeover” series.
Pro tip: There are certain title formulas that are proven to perform really well with great click through rates – you can learn more here.