How to Build a Content Calendar for Your Blog
Have you thought of starting a blog for the website you built, but aren’t quite sure if it will produce any real benefits or results? Consider these statistics recently compiled by the Content Marketing Institute:
- Small businesses with blogs get 126 percent more lead growth than small businesses without blogs.
- 77 percent of Internet users read blogs on a regular basis.
- After reading recommendations on a blog, 61 percent of online consumers in the U.S. made a purchase.
- Websites with blog content have 434 percent more search engine-indexed pages than those that don’t publish blog content.
- Businesses publishing 16 or more posts a month get almost 3.5 times more traffic than businesses publishing zero to four articles.
According to the statistics above, it’s clear that publishing blog posts on a regular basis generates website traffic and targeted leads, and increases conversion rates and sales.
For your blogging efforts to remain effective, however, you’ll need to build and follow a content calendar. Building a content calendar for your blog will keep your blog well-organized, relevant, and consistent. Below are 10 critical steps to building an effective content calendar for your blog.
Step 1 – Conduct Competitive Research
As you’re building your website, you should research your competitors online to see what they’re doing and if it’s working. Do they already have a blog? And if so, what types of posts are they sharing with their audience? Make a note of the posts that have the most likes, shares, and comments. What type of topics do they cover? Are they longer or shorter posts? Do they have a lot of images, video content, or other types of content embedded in them? See how you can cover these topics with a new perspective, or how you can fill in the gaps in the topics that your competitors are covering.
If your direct competitors don’t have successful blogs, then consult online review boards and social media pages that cover topics that are similar to what you want to discuss on your website’s blog. See what people care about and what matters to them. This will help you narrow down your target audience, as well as discover relevant topics to cover in your blog posts.
Step 2 – Define Your Target Audience
While you’re conducting your competitive research, it’ll become easier to understand your target audience and what type of blog content they want to see and engage with on a regular basis. Be sure to document and update this information as needed, so you can continually refer to it as you plan and develop content for your blog. You’ll want to make note of your target audience’s:
- Demographic information (age, occupation, education level, location, salary, etc.).
- Challenges and pain points, and what they worry about the most.
- Business goals and aspirations.
- Attitudes, thoughts, beliefs, and personal goals.
- Preferences in content types, tone and style of content, and where they engage with content.
Sharing content that will resonate with your target audience is critical to your blog’s success. To learn more about how to find and create blog content for your target audience, check out this detailed post published by CoSchedule.
Step 3 – Create a Content Strategy
After you learn more about your target audience and what type of blog content they want to engage with, you can begin building a well-informed content strategy for your blog. First, you’ll want to define a goal that you aim to achieve with your blog. Do you want more website traffic, more sales, or something else? It is important to define a goal before you begin developing blog content because it will ensure your blog remains focused and effective. While you don’t want to bombard your readers with sales pitches, having clear calls-to-action in your blog posts is essential to their effectiveness.
Additionally, when creating your blogging content strategy, keep your target audience in mind and decide what types of posts they’ll want to engage with the most. Do they want to see more infographics, video content, long-form posts, or original research? Also, determine how often you should post blog content. Each blog and industry will have very different needs. Finally, determine how much time and resources you will need to develop, publish, and share your blog content.
Step 4 – Select the Right Tools
Before publishing your posts, you’ll want to ensure you have the ideal CMS (Content Management System) for storing, publishing, sharing, and archiving your blog content. If it doesn’t, you may find yourself unable to publish all the planned posts in your content strategy. Also, does your CMS let you schedule your posts? And can multiple administrators access the blog content to write, edit, and publish it? Such features ensure your blog content is always published on time, every time, according to your calendar.
And, as you’re plotting your upcoming blog posts on your calendar, you’ll want to rely on a calendar that’s based in the cloud (like Google Calendar) so that multiple people can access it and update it at any time on any device, especially if you have a team of writers, content creators, editors, etc. You may even want to consider a project management tool like Trello or Asana. These tools have built in calendars, but also allow you to attach files, include notes, and more. These tools are especially helpful if you work from different locations, are on-the-go a lot, or if you have a team you need to manage through editorial and publishing phases.
Step 5 – Brainstorm Post Topics
Now that you understand your target audience, have developed a blog content strategy, and have acquired the team and tools you need to develop content, it’s time to brainstorm topics for posts scheduled on your calendar. Here are some potential topic categories and content types you’ll want to consider:
- Key events in your industry or popular holidays
- Press releases
- In-depth analyses
- Photo collages
- Interviews with video or audio clips
- Opinion posts
- Guest posts
- How-to posts
- Top ten posts
Check out HubSpot’s list for different content formats and ideas to get started. And, always have an ongoing list of topics ready to plot on your calendar in case something doesn’t go as planned, or something comes up that you want to blog about sooner than originally planned.
Step 6 – Allot Enough Time
When you’re plotting out topics and assigning tasks on your content calendar, be sure to allot enough time for your posts to be edited, published, and shared. Not all posts will require the same amount of time to develop, but you should always allot separate time for doing things like brainstorming, outlining, writing or creating, shooting video, editing, proofreading, publishing, and promoting content. In other words, don’t plan on outlining, writing, and editing a post all in one day, unless you have the staff and resources to do it. And don’t just plot publishing due dates on your blog’s content calendar. Carefully consider every step each blog post will have to go through as it’s being planned, developed, and edited, to ensure it’s never published or shared with a wide audience before it is ready.
Step 7 – Create a Marketing and Promotion Strategy for Blog Posts
You will need to define your marketing and promotion strategy on your content calendar too, to ensure you’re consistently sharing your blog posts with your subscribers and target audience. On your content calendar, include when and what posts will be shared in your weekly email to subscribers, or what posts you want to share on which social media pages where your target audience hangs out. Consistently and routinely sharing your blog content will increase the amount of readers who come to rely on and look forward to the posts you’re sharing.
Step 8 – Use a Content Team You Can Rely On
If you need to create a lot of blog content, or blog content you don’t have first-hand experience creating (i.e., video interviews or infographics), you should plant to hire or outsource a content team you can rely on to follow your content calendar. You’ll want to ensure you content manager, writers, editors, and marketers, etc. all have access to your content calendar tool in the cloud.
While a lot of online bloggers or businesses that blog don’t take the extra step to hire an experienced team and develop a blogging strategy with editorial phases, doing so will help your blog to stand out. You’ll want to ensure your blog content is error-free, grammatically correct, has accurate information, and more, if you want your growing audience to continue to trust you and what you share.
Step 9 – Continually Evaluate Blog Post Metrics to Improve Blog Posts
When you gather information and metrics about your own blog posts, such as the number of views and shares they receive, then use this information to continue to develop the types of posts your target audience cares about. Pay attention to the comments your blog readers leave and remember that conducting your competitive research should be an ongoing process too. Check out what your competition is doing on a rolling basis to ensure your blog remains the most relevant in your niche or industry.
Step 10 – Stay Agile
Above all else, make sure your blog content calendar is easy to update or adjust as needed. Don’t expect to plot out topics once a quarter on your calendar and be able to follow them without ever making any changes. Sometimes an unexpected event may come up that you’ll want to cover, or new technologies or trends are released that you’ll want to discuss first. And sometimes things just don’t go as planned. Always keep your content calendar agile if you want it to remain effective and relevant to your target audience and what they care about.
Be sure to follow the ten steps above if you want to build an effective content calendar for your blog.