My Secret Weapon for Creating Incredible Blog Posts
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Creating A Content Calendar For Bloggers That Saves You Time and Sanity
I don't know about you, but as a work-from-home-mom myself, finding ways to save time and stay organized in my business is a major priority.
Writing blog content in particular seems to be one of those recurring tasks that takes up a ton of my time.
It’s only been in the last year that I have finally started feeling like I have a good system in place that helps me create blog content my readers really want to read, get it done on time, and be able to plan ahead for vacations and other breaks.
Because who wouldn't want to take a vacation once in a while without needing to work on the go?
I'll admit that I've certainly done my fair share of both. I've worked from a cafe on vacation time in the past, and sometimes it's really fun!
But there are certainly those family vacations where you need to simply disappear off the face of the map and have your business keep running without you.
As my maternity leave looms in the next few months, I'm thinking more and more about managing my content calendar so that I am ready to take off a few months with my sweet little babe once she's born.
(Yep, it’s a GIRL! I’m too excited.)
In today's post, I want to share the content calendar strategies that have worked really well for me in the past so that you can start implementing them in your own business as well.
Let's start with my favorite one, the big hitter…
1. Create and Schedule Two Months of Content in Advance
For me, getting ahead of my content calendar has always been the best productivity and organization idea I've ever implemented within my business.
It doesn't seem to matter how organized I am in other aspects... if I'm trying to create and publish my content on a month by month basis, it always ends up failing.
So here's what I mean by getting ahead of your content calendar.
WordPress allows you to schedule your blog posts out in advance and be published automatically by the platform, instead of you having to manually publish them.
This is a fantastic tool because it means that you can create and format blog posts weeks or months in advance, and then WordPress will publish them for you whenever you tell it to.
When thinking about things like vacations and maternity leaves, this is my first strategy for making sure that fantastic content keeps rolling out when I need to take these breaks. And that's not the only time!
Ideally, I like to have at least two months of blog posts in my publishing queue at all times. I consider this to be a bit of an “insurance” policy for when real life comes up against my business.
Sometimes, life just gets in the way! Maybe you get really sick and have to take a week off, or all your kids pick up some awful stomach virus and there goes 5 days of your work time.
Maybe something stressful happens and it throws your household out of whack for a little while. Or summer rolls around and you're spending way more time having fun outside and less inside working on your business. (That’s awesome, you won’t regret that time!)
Or heck, maybe sometimes you just get in a little funk and need to take some time off to rejuvenate. I've certainly been there, and there's no shame in that!
If I had to choose only one content planning tip to live by, it would definitely be to have my blog content scheduled in my publishing queue several months in advance.
And remember, this isn't limited to just your blog posts! You can schedule emails in advance, your social media posts, and even your Pinterest pins!
It takes a fair amount of work upfront, but once you do it you will be so relieved to have that pressure off your back.
2. Plan Ahead for Holidays and Seasonal Content
My second tip for a successful content calendar for bloggers is to plan ahead for holidays and any seasonal content you want to put out.
If you have a food blog, for example, your content is probably going to be heavily dependent on what season the post is published in as well as any holidays that are coming around.
You don't want to have your favorite Easter bunny cookie recipe flying out in June, or a Yule log recipe that comes out in February.
One thing I love about writing and uploading my blog posts and other content in advance, is that I can plan well ahead for holidays.
There are a number of reasons to do this, including if you want to run a sale on a particular holiday. This is really something that should be planned in advance, so don't wait till the last minute!
I recommend planning and scheduling new content at least two months in advance.
Not only is two months simply a good insurance policy for getting content out there when life gets in the way, but that's about how far in advance you want to plan for holidays.
For example, you don't want to plan Thanksgiving content the week before Thanksgiving. It's too late for those posts to gain a lot of traction!
Ideally you want to publish holiday content six weeks before the holiday itself (and of course you'll want to give yourself a couple of weeks to actually create and schedule the content).
You can always schedule more content than that in advance if you want to. I would love to have three to six months of content in my queue waiting to go out at any given time! Unfortunately, I'm not quite there yet.
3. Make A Plan for Last Minute Trending Content in Your Content Calendar
One question I get asked often about having a content calendar is how to deal with trending content that comes up unexpectedly.
Let's say that you have two months worth of content scheduled to go out in WordPress, and then something comes up that you really want to write about. It's time sensitive, and something you need to get to right away.
No big deal. When unexpected topics come my way, I will simply bump one of my currently scheduled posts out a week to make room for the trending content.
You could also simply upload an extra post that week, and I'm sure your readers wouldn't complain!
4. Batch Your Content Creation for Maximum Productivity
At this point you probably have a good idea floating around in your mind of how you would like to create a content calendar in advance.
But how exactly do you actually get all of this work done?
It's true, the first time you create and upload everything on your contact calendar... It’s a metric shit-ton of work! That being said, if you keep up with it from there on out it isn't too big of a task.
My favorite productivity tip, especially for writing blog posts, pin titles, or creating social media posts, is to batch them.
Batching works off of the idea that the human brain works best when it isn't constantly switching from task to task.
It takes time and mental energy for us to change tasks, and so it's in our best interest to focus heavily on one task for a set amount of time until we are truly done.
As a busy mom and someone with ADD, I've found that this is absolutely true for me. Switching tasks frequently does not work out very well!
So instead, I batch my blog post creation so that I am dictating an entire month's worth of posts in one or two sittings per month.
This allows my brain to dig deep and get creative without bouncing around trying to do other things at the same time.
Keep in mind that I don't edit or upload my posts at this time! This is only for outlining and dictating the actual content. I do, however, batch the editing process in one sitting, and outsource the uploading to my VA.
Batching has been an absolute game changer for me. It used to be that I would try to write and upload two posts per week every week, and it was so dang hard to stay consistent!
I've also found that the quality of my work has gone up when I batch. Once I get into “creative mode”, as I call it, I'm able to create some really great stuff. But until that point, I feel like nothing I write is very good.
It takes me a good 10 or 15 minutes to really get into the groove of things and by that point I don't want to stop.
Dictating four to eight blog posts in one big creative session has helped me so much, especially because I can spend the rest of the month focusing on other tasks when I do that.
5. Where to Get Content Ideas Your Readers Will Love
Another question I get asked frequently is where to get content ideas your readers will love.
(AKA, How do you make your blog more popular than the others in your space??)
This took me a little while in the beginning. Oftentimes I used to just post whatever was on my mind or what I thought my readers might like.
Turns out, I'm not always very good at making these guesses!
The best way to get really good content ideas is to simply answer the questions that people ask you over and over.
What questions do you get in your email or in your Facebook group frequently that you could create posts about?
Once you start looking, it's really hard to not find handfuls of them!
If people aren't asking you questions yet, or you need even more content ideas, the next place to look is at successful content in your niche.
Getting inspiration from content that you KNOW for a fact has been popular is a great way to write blog posts, emails, and social media content that knocks it out of the park time and time again.
I've laid out three killer strategies for uncovering crazy successful content in your niche in my new Plan Your Blog Biz course, and they are strategies that have helped me create blog posts and other content my readers really love.
Plan Your Blog Biz is my complete process for planning and running your blogging business in an organized, efficient way.
It's perfect for busy bloggers who need some help getting organized and creating an easy to follow blogging plan.
Check out Plan Your Blog Biz here.
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