If you write for or maintain a blog, you’ll know that one of the hardest parts of your job is to come up with consistent, engaging content. Posting regularly to a blog is one of the best ways to market your business and grow a community around what you do. In fact, companies who regularly post to a blog receive 97% more links to their websites than those who don’t. Those who update regularly over a long period of time see more results as well — blogs that have over 51 posts see an increase of 53% traffic, blogs with over 100 posts see an increase of 3x that traffic, and blogs with over 200 posts see 4.5x the traffic — posting frequently is key when you decide to host a blog on your website.
With that in mind, what’s the best way to make sure that your blog is maintained with engaging and informative content? A resource that we have found essential is a content or editorial calendar. A content calendar summarizes the strategy for blog content; outlining major themes, topics and resources for your blog. A plan of 1 – 6 months helps to create a long term strategy for what your blog content will be, and can be used to guide your efforts and plan how you will use your resources. And face it; having a written plan with due dates and schedules is one of the best ways to keep you accountable.
Since we’ve convinced you that a content calendar is the way to go, here are 7 steps that you can follow to build a content calendar of your own!
Step 1: Determine How Many Posts You Will Write
Before you start to develop a strategy around topics or themes, you need to know how many posts you are planning to write, and how often you will be posting. Hubspot recommends that bloggers try to post over 16 posts per month (4x per week), but for many companies, that schedule can be unrealistic. If you’re just starting a blog or just starting to post regularly to your blog, 1x per week is a great goal, though statistics show that at 10-11 posts per month is when you will start seeing the most traffic results from your efforts. If you have the resources, aim for 3-5 posts per week. If not, make sure you set a reasonable goal. Posting once a month is better than not posting at all, after all!
[Graph from Hubspot about Blogging Frequency]
When determining how many posts you will be producing, don’t forget to consider creating different kinds of content such as: whitepapers, infographics, or ebooks. These engaging and informative types of content are read and shared more often than blog posts, and sites that feature infographics have 12% faster traffic growth than those who don’t. Keep in mind how many of your resources will be taken up by these types of content — infographics, ebooks and whitepapers are often longer, involve more research, and require graphic design assistance that blog posts do not.
Step 2: Determine Where Your Content Is Going
The next step of building a content calendar is to decide where the completed content is going to end up. Likely, much of the content that you produce will be going to your own blog, but you should also plan to contribute some of those posts as guest posts to important blogs and websites in your community. Contributing guest posts is a great way to build your brand’s authority, equity, and send signals to search engines and communities about your contribution to the web. Acting as a thought leader in your industry is a great way to build trust and respect with potential clients as well.
Determining where your posts will end up will help you with the voice and approach to each topic – after all, you would write differently for your own community than you would for someone else’s. Once you have determined a possible placement for a guest blog, be sure to make notations about their style guidelines and length requirements to your content calendar so you can minimize the number of revisions you will need to do to meet their standards.
Step 3: Develop a Theme
Now that you know how many posts you want to write and where you will be posting them, you can start developing content topics! One of the best ways to do this is to develop themes – a broad theme can help to guide writers and topic choices, and also create a comprehensive experience for your readers. For best results, plan out your themes for a few weeks or months at a time. This will help you to appear as an expert on your chosen topic areas (and after researching and writing multiple blog posts on a topic, you will become an expert!) and will also make it easy to refer to earlier blog posts as resources. You can also build on previous posts and create a series of posts, which can then be repurposed into a whitepaper or ebook — the possibilities are endless!
Step 4: Pick Individual Topics
Step four is to pick the individual topics for each blog post or type of content. Using the themes you chose earlier, break each theme down into individual posts, each covering a part of that theme. Think about how blog posts can refer to each other and how they can work together. Have some fun with topics too —throw in a quiz or an anecdotal story to add some personality to your blog and drive engagement.
You can also use this step to develop your headlines. Copyblogger has found that on average 8 out of 10 readers will read your headline, but only 2 of 10 will read the rest. Writing a great, engaging headline is a large part of having a successful blog, so take your time here and write headlines that will intrigue and interest your readers.
Step 5: Expand Your Scope
Since you don’t write the blog posts in your content calendar right away, you should write a brief description about what you want each post to be about before you forget. Include in this description the goal of each post, the questions that you will answer, and any specific notes about the content that you will need to remember later. Don’t count on just your memory; the more information you add here, the easier it will be for you to write these posts later.
Step 6: Resources
This step is quick, but vastly important — add links in your content calendar to articles, blog posts, and books that you will use when researching each blog post. Again, this will make it as easy as possible to start each blog post when it’s time to write it, and you won’t spend valuable time trying to find that one resource that you remember from weeks ago. Also, if there is more than one person writing for your blog, including resources will make it easier for other writers to craft the blog post you were envisioning and meet your expectations.
Step 7: The Most Important Step of All – Approval
If you write and maintain your own blog alone, you can skip this step, but if anyone else reviews and approves your blog posts, this is the most important step of all — gaining approval. There’s not much worse than spending hours of effort on writing a blog post about a certain topic only to find out that your manager doesn’t like the topic, and wants you to write something else. Avoid this by going through your finalized content calendar with anyone that has a say over what goes on your blog. Make sure that everyone has come to a consensus with what blog posts should be about before you start to work on them.
If you follow these seven steps, you should be well on your way to maintaining a frequently updated blog with interesting and engaging content! Do you use a content or editorial calendar when you write for your blog? How do you organize yours?
BONUS: Content Calendar Template
Download our RelationEdge Digital Agency Calendar Template to get started!