For many organizations, a blog is a great way to deliver fresh, topical, and relevant content to an audience. A successful blog keeps users coming back (or subscribing) to see what you have to say next. The trick, however, is finding the time to plan and write content on an ongoing basis.
It can not only be challenging to find the time to write the content itself, but also to identify what to write about. Oftentimes, this can lead to gaps in content being published, or even complete silence from a blog for months on end.
That’s where an editorial calendar can help keep you on a regular schedule. An editorial calendar is an organized list of topics, publish dates, and other pertinent information that will save you time (and keep you away for the horrors of writer’s block) when it actually comes time to write.
It’s better to plan ahead and think through how each post will help support your business goals, rather than write in a panicked state while a deadline looms in the near future. Follow these three steps to create an editorial calendar for your blog.
1. Identify Goals
Before you even start brainstorming ideas, remember why you have a blog in the first place. While every organization’s goals will vary, your blog should aim to:
- Establish your organization as a thought leader in your industry.
- Drive traffic to your website by answering prospect/customer questions.
- Engage your audience or the community through content.
- Share company, product, or service news.
- Improve their site’s overall search engine optimization.
For most companies, the primary goal of the blog is likely to support lead generation and sales. When considering blog topics, look for ways to monetize your content. Ask yourself:
Does this content attract prospects that would be interested in my product/service?
- Can I identify a call-to-action to lead a prospect to the next step in the sales cycle?
- Does this content give a prospect the information they need, without “giving away the farm?”
Always come back to the goals you have for your blog. If you’re attempting to provide educational content for your audience, sharing information about the most recent company picnic might not be a good fit.
2. Brainstorm Blog Topics
Put on your thinking cap because now it’s time to brainstorm editorial topics. It’s always good to think of more topics than you’ll need in case a post doesn’t work out.
Frequently asked questions
What does your audience want to know more about? Make a list of the top questions your prospects and customers frequently ask. Your customer service, sales team, and other customer-facing employees should be able to provide you with some ideas here.
You can also find out specifically what people are looking for and asking using webmaster tools. Look up search queries and look for the terms “who,” “what,” “why,” and “how” to see exactly what questions your customers ask. You should also include these keywords to your posts. Answer the Public is a great, (mostly) free tool (just ignore the bearded man in glasses yelling at you) that shows you the top questions asked on the web regarding a particular keyword or phrase.
High volume content
Leverage web analytics like Google Analytics to find topics that interest your audience most. Look at what existing content is getting the most traffic and where people are spending the most time on your site. If your site has a search tool, pull the list of keyword or search terms they use. This data can help you discover missing or hard-to-find content topics on your site that your visitors find valuable.
You may not always like your competitors, but you can use them for inspiration. Do some competitive analysis by trolling your rivals’ blogs for potential topic ideas. Media kits for industry publications can also be a treasure trove for good editorial topics.
3. Build Your Content Calendar
Now, it’s time to put it all together. But first, you’ll have to work out some technical details. You’ll need to determine:
- How many blog posts do you want to publish a week, month, or year?
- Who will be writing the blog posts?
- How much time will this person/these people need to be able to dedicate to blogging?
- Who will be editing or reviewing the content?
- Who has the final approval?
Keep a spreadsheet of all your topics and keywords developed in your research process. Designate columns to help you keep track of who’s writing what, where the content is in the editorial process, and who that piece is targeted to reaching-a new lead, qualified prospect or customer.
These three guidelines should help you create an editorial calendar for your blog. Now, you just need to stick to it!
If you’re ready to develop a more strategic plan and goal for your website, or need assistance producing enough content for your blog, get in touch with us. Our team of content strategists, writers, proofreaders, and editors can help you attract visitors, build your audience, and convert leads.