Today’s post wraps up the Plan Your Blog Post series with a workbook, including free editorial calendar printable (download at bottom of post).
If you want to be more efficient and consistent with your blogging, this workbook will help you keep it simple, manageable and effective. It will also help you think of blog posts that are derived from your customer needs and support your small business goals.
If you haven’t started the series yet, you can find the detailed posts here:
WORKBOOK AND PRINTABLE EDITORIAL CALENDAR
WHAT TO BLOG ABOUT
One way to make blogging easier is to have a list of blog ideas waiting for you.
The first part of the Workbook will walk you through creating Categories, Themes and Blog Post Ideas.
With just 4 Categories, you can quickly build up a list of 6-month’s worth of blog posts ideas. These blog post ideas will then be fed into your Editorial Calendar.
You can print out the blank table in the Workbook or, if you prefer, transfer the information to a spreadsheet or app like Trello or Evernote.
The best system? The one you’ll actually use. As someone who heralds from the pre-Internet world, I understand the love of hard copy as much as I love my apps. You're not alone!
Just keep it simple and easy to add to:
The Categories will guide you and keep your blog posts relevant.
The Themes (or sub-categories) will help the ideas flow and give balance to your content.
The Blog Post Ideas will fill up your editorial calendar and make getting started much easier.
These will change over time. Don’t feel pressure to get it spot-on at the start. And, certainly don’t feel pressure to stick to your original ideas if they don’t work.
Opportunities will arise you can’t foresee. Some posts will take off in the most unexpected way. Capitalise on that knowledge and refine your themes and posts over time. There is definitely an element of educated guesswork at this stage.
So, you’re aiming for simple, easy to update, and flexible.
Download the Workbook and print 4 copies of page 3 (scroll down to the bottom of post to get the Workbook).
Work through the 3 steps on page 2 and fill in one sheet for each Category.
Refer to The What blog post for a more detailed explanation.
USING AN EDITORIAL CALENDAR
Simple and flexible are still the order of the day.
The list of categories/themes/posts you came up above with will feed into this. The thinking behind your Editorial Calendar will spark ideas that will feed back into your themes and posts. These two systems support each other.
Do not feel overwhelmed by the idea of an annual planner. What we plan for a year away is nowhere near as detailed as what we plan for next month.
This is also a valuable exercise in long-term blog management. An annual, often seasonal or cyclical, calendar will give you a template that will work year after year. It’s time well spent.
And, not to labour the point, but this is a working document. It won’t be perfect in one sitting. In fact, it will never actually be finished. So, make sure you have a pencil and eraser to hand!
Print a copy of page 5 and work through step 1 on page 4.
If you blog once a week, print page 6 and work through step 2 on page 4.
If you blog more than once a week, print page 7 and work through step 2 on page 4.
Refer to The When blog post for a more detailed explanation.
MAKING IT WORK
You should now be sitting down with 6 sheets of paper (or a few tabs on a spreadsheet) containing at least 6 month’s of weekly blog post ideas.
There’s no tucking this away in a cupboard and thinking the job’s done:
Diary time once a month to look ahead and plan next month’s posts.
Diary time once a quarter to look ahead and add detail to your annual planner.
Diary time to sit down and actually create the content.
Have a workable system for capturing post ideas on the fly. Transfer these to your master list each time you sit down to review the month ahead.
If you’re new to small business blogging, this simple system will get you off to a great start.
If you already blog but suffer with a lack of consistency, this process will get you back on the wagon in no time at all.