This is a guest post from Julia Sydnor, who is the geeky gal behind Pixel Frau.
For years, I had the same goal every January: start blogging on a regular basis. I knew blogging was a good way to get more traffic to my website, but every year my blog ended up sad and neglected. January always started off well and I’d post at least once a week. Then I’d miss a week in February. Then two weeks in March. April went by with only one post. And by July my blog was a ghost town.
Things finally changed when I made a blog editorial calendar. Editorial calendars have been used for centuries in in the publishing world. They make it easy to keep track of your blogging schedule, blog post ideas, and holidays that might influence your blog topics.
A blog editorial calendar is more than just a calendar. It helps you develop a blogging strategy. It allows you to set it and forget it. Your blog starts working for you, instead of you working for it. Your blog becomes a powerful tool for your business that attracts new customers, builds relationships with them, and helps you get more sales.
Figure out how often you’re going to post on your blog. Be realistic here. It’s better to consistently post twice a month than randomly post every day one week followed by three months of no posts at all. There are lots of successful blogs that only post once a month. But they do it consistently. Every. Single. Month. Consistency is key.
I’m going to make this easy for you and give you the answer. Blog for your customers. Not just the customers you already have, but also the customers you want to have. Niche, ideal customer, tribe, target audience—whatever you want to call it, that is who you should be blogging for.
If you need help with this step, read Defining Your Target Market in Two Easy Steps.
You probably already have blog categories, but I’m guessing they were randomly assigned based on whatever post you wrote at the time. Let’s start from scratch and determine blog categories based on who you’re blogging for.
Brainstorm 5-10 blog categories that your customers are interested in and are related to your business. For example, if you make wedding jewelry, your blog categories might be wedding dresses, wedding cakes, wedding jewelry, wedding planning, wedding hair, wedding makeup, and wedding flowers. These are fairly broad categories, but still specific to your customers and your business.
Come up with 10 blog post ideas for each of your blog categories. I like to grab a pen and paper, set a timer, and scribble away. Don’t censor yourself here. Write down everything that pops into your head.
Sticking with the wedding example, here are some blog post ideas for the wedding hair category:
Notice that these blog post ideas aren’t about you and what you sell. They provide interesting and useful information for your potential customers, which is why they’ll attract new readers. Brides-to-be will google these topics, land on your blog, discover all the great information you share, and they’ll come back to read more. Don’t worry, we’ll get to blogging about your business in the next step.
Blog posts don’t have to be lengthy. An image or video can be a fantastic blog post. You don’t have to generate all the blog content yourself either. You could compile a list of resources or find photos and videos from other websites. As long as you have permission to link to the material, you’re good to go.
Once you start brainstorming, blog post ideas will start popping into your head at random times—in the shower, while you’re cooking dinner, during your morning commute. Set up a system to capture those ideas. Evernote is great for this.
This is where you determine what and when to post about your business. Write down craft shows you’re attending, product launches, special sales you’re having, and any other upcoming special events for your business.
Write down holidays that might influence your customers and your blog topics. For example, if Christmas is a big deal for your ideal customers, you’ll want to make sure you have Christmas-related posts on your blog in December. If there are seasonal considerations specific to your customers, like summer wedding season, write those down as well.
Now let’s put everything together and make your blog editorial calendar. Get a calendar. You can use an online calendar, wall calendar, spreadsheet, yearly planner, colorful post-it notes arranged in rows, whatever works for you.
Start by filling in your business events and any related blog posts you want to write about them. Then fill in the holidays and their related blog posts. Then start adding blog posts from your list of blog post ideas. Try to mix up the blog categories and types of posts to add variety. For example, you might have a hair tutorial, followed by a wedding dress photo, followed by a list of wedding planning resources.
I like to schedule posts 2-3 months in advance. It gives me enough structure to keep my blog running smoothly, but also enough flexibility to move things around when needed. You’ll find a balance that works for you the more you use your editorial calendar. For now, schedule at least one month of blog posts.
You didn’t think you were going to get out of this without writing blog posts, did you? 😉
Write at least two blog posts. Most blogging platforms, like Blogger and WordPress, let you schedule posts in advance. Schedule those two blog posts to be published on the days marked on your editorial calendar.
Your editorial calendar will only work if you keep up with it. Check and update your editorial calendar on a regular basis. Add new events as they come up. Brainstorm blog post ideas and schedule blog posts as needed.
Set aside time next week to write a couple more blog posts. And the week after that, and the week after that. Some days you’ll feel like writing and some days you won’t. Take advantage of the days when you’re ‘in the zone’ and write several blog posts at once.
This is a guest post from Julia Sydnor, who is the geeky gal behind Pixel Frau. She teaches Etsy sellers how to make kick-ass websites with WordPress. Want to craft a website for your creative business? Head on over to PixelFrau.com to get started.